Inspirations of Courage


l always bring a little bit of Santa Fe with me back to Oklahoma in the form of perspective, information, and trinkets. One of the Creativity and Madness presentations was from a Florida psychologist who shared the story of providing care for her mother who was diagnosed with cancer. At one point,  Dr. Roseman was overcome with fatigue and sorrow and her mother encouraged her to take a break and go shopping. She cried all the way into town (ugly cry she said) and stopped in front of an antique store.  Dr. Roseman knew her mother was right in her advice to take care of herself and she thought about how much courage her mother needed to face death. She wished there was some kind of role model for how to thrive in spite of all odds. Dr. Roseman made herself presentable and walked into the antique store and knocked over a framed picture. It was of Joan of Arc. Roseman  was instantly inspired and became immediately obsessed. She quickly bought the picture and began what would become several years of research into the life and qualities of Joan of Arc as she continued care giving and then grieving her mother. Dr. Roseman began to feel a shift in her grief as an idea formed to create a program based on the example of Joan of Arc to empower women diagnosed with cancer. She pitched the program to Gilda’s Club, a national support community for people with cancer and their families. With permission and participants at the Fort Lauderdale center she conducted a pilot program with integrated art-based medicine and meditations .Dr. Roseman selected themes each week encompassing courage, surrender, and building an army of support. In the final session participants created their own “power shields” through a guided visualization. The results of her pilot study were encouraging.At the conclusion of the six week workshops participants reported less anxiety, a sense of improved quality of life, and more feelings of empowerment overall.The women specifically reported increased ability to express and discuss their emotional and physical needs with their physicians.A much needed courage for this population.

At the conference, Dr.. Roseman used the guided visualization from her study to lead us to create a power shield. I loved this exercise and learned a great deal personally through the experience. I am eager to incorporate this tool in my private practice.

Miss Fox (left) and her Santa Fe friend.

My Santa Fe trinket this year was a small, stuffed fox.

Our rental casita had a small office with WiFi, a great desk, and a charming fox that welcomed me every morning during my writing time. The fox felt like great company and I remembered how one of my Cherokee friends shared her belief that animals are spirits that are meant to bring us wisdom. Curious, my internet search of “fox wisdom” made me smile. It turns out that the fox is a symbol of feminine courage.

Later that day I was taking some time in the local shops and spied “Miss Fox” and knew that she belonged in my office. It takes courage to come to counseling, and courage to counsel. I thought of all of the brave women I see in my office,survivors of various sorts, and knew that Miss Fox would be good company for them on my couch.

So far, back in Oklahoma Miss Fox has sparked conversations about many forms of courage and the obstacles, persistence, and hopefulness that are needed to bring about change.

2017 has been a year filled with weather disasters, violence, threats of war, and national polarization. We all could use some inspirations for courage! Who or what inspires you to feel courageous?