Birthday Pearls

Mindful Reflection

Birthdays have an effect on us, in one way or another. Some look forward to their birthday and some not so much. It can be a time to “take stock,” or assess your situation in life and rewire your personality for further growth. Quieting the mind with reflection helps our personality part that “runs things” to take a needed break (this part is called ego by some, but you can name it anything you want). When we stop our nearly constant mind chat, even for a brief time, we can encounter inner peace.

When such mindfulness happens, we may allow snippets of our personalities we may have pushed away–or exiled from awareness—to show us emotions, thoughts, and sensations that need airing. We can ask ourselves questions that take us to a Plan B, Plan C, or even a Plan Z. Taking time to listen, really listen, to our taking-stock times is healing. New wisdom can develop from old memories. It is possible to restring or rewire old thoughts that have weighed heavily on our minds.

Traumatic memories often hold burdens, both our own and sometimes the burdens we carry for relatives or others. This reminds me of the cone-shaped “burden basket” found in the caves of the Anasazi Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. The tightly coiled basket was worn like a backpack with an additional strap to wrap across one’s forehead to steady a heavy load. I wonder how often the carriers of such burden baskets had headaches. Internal burden-carrying can bring on psychic headaches.

Today is my mother’s 99th birthday. I asked her if she was carrying any burdens from long ago. Mom told me that her father had admonished her to NOT marry my father, but she said to her dad that was exactly what she was going to do! She is happy with her marriage decision, however disagreeing with elders was burdensome. In one of her many pearls of wisdom today, Mom emphasized the importance of questioning. She focused on the word, quest. A song she has referenced for many years has a line with “glorious quest” in it. If you are curious, check out The Impossible Dream lyrics.

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz

6. Even if today is not your birthday, “take stock” of your personality.

7. Are there any burdensome thoughts and emotions lurking in stories you hold onto? 

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

3 comments

  1. Jan,

    Thank you for this! I love your mother’s wisdom.

    And this part has particular resonance, as I deal with my daughter on some troublesome issues: New wisdom can develop from old memories. It is possible to restring or rewire old thoughts that have weighed heavily on our minds.

    Gratefully, Kathy

    >

    Like

  2. Beautiful! Invites us into a kind of transformation that takes us to an inner place of peace, healing and comfort.

    Like

  3. Thank you so much for this! I am sending your mother a card right now! Also, it is Mal and Darren’s anniversary so I am sharing this post with them. I awant you to know that Alyson and I both enjoyed our visit immensely! It was just the right amount of talking, sharing, and exercise! We have both started following a Silver Sneakers beginner exercise program on zoom at least every other day! So thanks! Love, Carol

    On Mon, Aug 16, 2021 at 10:37 PM Pearls of Peace: A Family Psychologist’s Circle-of-Life Blog wrote:

    > Janis Johnston posted: ” Mindful Reflection Birthdays have an effect on > us, in one way or another. Some look forward to their birthday and some not > so much. It can be a time to “take stock,” or assess your situation in life > and rewire your personality for further growth. Qu” >

    Like

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