Resiliency? Not so fast.

Uncategorized Sep 06, 2019

by Anne O'Connor

The brutality of sexual violence seems unbearable. But here’s the thing about seemingly unbearable parts of life: we still have to bear them. How can we help one another bear life’s tragedies, big and small? 

There’s a ton of talk now about resiliency: the ability to overcome—especially quickly. The research is clear that we can build resiliency even after the worst of circumstances. But I wonder if this hopeful perspective is helping us do some thing we humans are already so good at: rushing past the hard parts of recovering from a traumatic event.  

Timing and support is everything. 

There are times when resiliency is too much to ask for.  Sometimes, the weight and the cost of the assault is so heavy and high. How hurt is too hurt? Are there some of us who just won’t be able to stand back up? What do we do then? 

There is a way to help deeply hurt people. But we don’t...

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How to Know Yourself: Look to Your History

self-knowledge Mar 17, 2019

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

For me, this is a day to remember my ancestors and to celebrate Ireland, the green island of my grandparents.

My father’s name was Patrick, and maybe you know that Catholics are fond of celebrating their saint’s “Feast Day.” This is a day on the calendar that the Catholic Church assigns to a particular saint—the patron saint of Ireland. And while I long ago left behind the shame and the guilt and the abuse of the Catholic Church, I’ve had to make peace with the guy who raised me in that church.

So St. Patrick Day in my household always had the fanfare of the holiday—parades and shamrocks and wearing green and a celebration of all things Irish. And the deeper meaning of it being my father’s day. Now, it seems that everyone loves to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I was reminded of how prevalent this is when I looked at the Google icon today:

Google is using the triskelion in a beautiful tribute...

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Ten Reasons I Love Shoveling Three Inches of Wet, Heavy Snow

Uncategorized Feb 24, 2019


I have this thing I do when I notice myself feeling grumbly and irritated. Because most of the time my complaints are minor in the grand scheme of the world, so I like to shake myself out of complaining. And even when the complaints are straight-up legit, there’s always more than one way to look at a situation.

So, I make a list. Right there, on the spot, of all the things that I can genuinely appreciate about the thing I was grumbling and complaining about. The only rule is that the appreciations have to be real. Sometimes it’s difficult to get to 10. But I do it and it always gives me a better perspective.

Today, I decided to do my list out loud and in public, because I’m thinking that some of you could use this list today too. Snow shovelers unite!

Without further ado:

  1. The most obvious: I get to have shoveled walks and a shoveled driveway. I can get my car out and go places. My neighbors can walk on my sidewalks without falling. I can feel like a...
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Looking for the best life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness? Include women.

elections inclusion women Jan 30, 2019

It’s a familiar feeling for women in these United States. We live in the best of times, we live in the worst of times. We live with a president who shows little respect for women. We see violence and division grow each day.

But then we see the faces of the winners in the 2018 mid-term elections and oh!  We are so powerful--we are making the changes. 

Women made history in this week’s elections: Our new U.S. Congress will have more women than ever before in the history of our nation.

Great, right? So how many of our 535 seats available will now go to women? Half--the percentage of women in the country--would be 267. 

But the best we've ever done is more like 22 percent

Results are still coming in, but we know it will be at least 118—up from the previous high of 107.  

It’s great! We are right to celebrate our progress. It’s also not enough.

If the numbers were to reflect the composition of our country, half women and half...

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Say "Hell no!" to overwhelm and focus on what matters most

There’s been a bit of a dust-up in my small town since town leaders decided that all plantings on the boulevards have to go: no flowers, no shrubs, no bushes, no rocks—everything has to be pulled out. A group of residents is working to get a more reasonable stance negotiated with the city.

And I started thinking. I could help with that.  I could help draft language and help meet with the city leaders and help formulate a workable plan with these other good folks willing to step forward. I care about this; my neighbors and my mom have great boulevards and they’re worth preserving. Besides, my philosophy is that more plants are better.
All of which is completely true. But I have this problem: I try to do too much. I care about everything. And I want to be useful! I want to help! 
You already know what happens when I try to take it all on: I am not useful to anyone. 
Recently, I’ve been trying something new when I’m about to plunge...
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Gratitude 2012

For firm mattresses and soft down comforters. And mango with sticky rice. Voicemail messages cheering me on. Unwavering love. The sound of small feet making their way down the stairs in the morning.
For the salty water of the sea. And fresh water lakes. Expansive, fast flowing rivers, especially the Mississippi. For tiny rivulets, and creeks running through the woods; for cold, clear springs; for the pond in Sheila and John’s backyard.  Clean water for drinking; hot water for renewal.
For exercise balls in meeting rooms. And camaraderie of colleagues. For my office painted to match the sky. For chair massages and yoga and tai chi offered by my workplace. For children and dogs wandering the office and the resultant delight of my coworkers. For working together to change the way we have food.
For clean food, lovingly tended, and abundantly available. For the comfort and community of our coop. For a piece of hearty bread toasted, covered in avocado, a bit of salt and pepper,...
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Small groups: the most hopeful thing around

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
I recently completed a year-long commitment to self-development work called the Wheel of Initiation. I’m left in wonder at the power of a small group of people to change the world.
We did change the world. For fifteen people, the world became a shade brighter, a bit easier to accept, and a less random and confusing place.
The world became what it has been all along: a beautiful, supportive place where people can see all of us and find us more than worthy of love and respect. Most importantly, we were able to see ourselves in this way.
What this means is that fifteen people will move out into the world differently. We’ll be more connective and less combative. We’ll accept more and resist less. We’ll find ways to get to places where we want to be more and figure out how to stay out of...
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It's biology: Why a woman is irresistible

Uncategorized Feb 03, 2012

 When it comes to women, we hear a lot about “that time of the month.” Not much of it is any good. Women are a mystery to many men, and, hell, we’re a mystery to ourselves much of the time. But I’ve been wondering why we can’t talk about the other “time of the month”: ovulation.

     Ovulation: the time when our hips move a little more fluidly, when our voices become a bit elevated, when we wear more revealing clothes, when we look good, and even our smell is enticing. This is the time of the month when women feel strong and clear and beautiful. When women are ovulating, they can do just about anything. This is also the time when we women want to jump our partners—or any man passing by, frankly—and get down to it.

     Yeah, why don’t we talk about this more often?

     As in: “Oh, it’s just that time of the month,” says the sultry woman as she...

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One simple question can help you decide how to spend your time and energy

Uncategorized Jan 26, 2012
Winter is a good time to hibernate. Sometimes, the sun won’t shine, the floor is cold, and my bed is so cozy that to leave it seems indefensible.


Most days, though, life demands more than shallow breathing under a blanket. To get me going, I rely on a question that always helps me figure out what to do next.


 The question is, “Do I want this more than I want that?” There are always different situations to fill in the “this” and “that” portion of the question. But the question itself reminds me that whatever I do is a choice, and that I am the one making it.


So. Do I want to snuggle in bed longer more than I want my children to have a great morning getting ready for school? Do I want to eat this piece of chocolate cake more than I want to not have a headache tomorrow? Do I want to buy this tchotchke more than I want to spend a week on the beach in January? Do I want to look at this person’s photos on...
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