Child Mental Health Day


Remember twirling around on the swing set out back? Tummy on the swing, arms and legs hanging down,  you’d walk in circles to wind the suspended chains around one another, like a rubber band wound up to fly a toy plane, and then lift your feet up, and zoom! Off you’d spin, around and around again, until the swing came to a brief suspension and then spun the other way.

How about the smell of grandma’s cookies? Mom tucking you in and staying a while when you were scared of the dark? Camping out in the back yard with your best friends?

Most of us can vividly recall some of our best childhood memories.

deposit photos

Can you also recall some of the worst?

Maybe there was a bully in your neighborhood. Blocking the sidewalk, he stood, seemingly twice your size and full of unruly pleasure at making you cringe.

Maybe the bully was in your own home. An aggressive, violent parent, or a sibling with a vengeance.

Perhaps the worst memory was a tragedy out of your control, like a car accident, a tornado ravaging your neighborhood, or losing a parent in war.

Childhood has its treasures, but it’s also a tough time. Kids are not well equipped to handle life yet. Kids are not in control of much, and don’t get to choose who to live with, or how they’re treated. Kids need adults to help with challenges, from the simplest to the most complex.

Somehow we survived childhood, and mostly intact. Each of us now has our own ideas about what kids need, and what kids protection from. Most of us now realize that our mental health (or lack thereof) today has its roots in childhood.

May 7, 2015 is National Child Mental Health Day. Today is a day we honor the issue of children’s mental health.

It takes every day to support, develop and maintain child mental health.

It takes every day to attend to a growing child’s physical needs; shelter, clothing, food, drinks, hygiene and sleep.

It takes every day to model mature, loving lifestyles, problem-solving strategies, balanced relationships.

It takes every day to process what happened at school today, how he’s feeling about things, what she’s hoping she’ll be when she grows up.

It takes every day to do what’s right for a child.

Let’s get started, today.

©Joan T. Warren


What can occupational therapy do to help? Check this site out for links to the answer (hint: lots!!)

Interested in what occupational therapy can do in your local school to help end bullying and promote mental health? Go to this site and listen to the Podcast.

Interested in learning more about supporting mental health in children? Go here and here and here.


April is National OT Month and Poetry Month


Note: some posts deserve a second life. Here’s a repost from last April; what do you think, worthy?

April: Not a month for fools! Pull a prank on the first, but the rest of the month is National Poetry Month and National OT Month.

Most of us know what poetry is, but what is OT? An occupational therapist myself, I can say a little something about that!

Let’s start with some spring cleaning and air out the room with what occupational therapy is NOT:

  • OT is not helping a person find a job and get back to work (though it could include that)
  • OT is not physical therapy (though it includes physical rehabilitation and exercise)
  • OT is not weaving baskets (though we started that way, helping injured Civil War soldiers find their usefulness again)
  • OT is not playing with children (though, if we are doing our job well, it feels like play to the child!)
  • OT is not making crafts in the psych ward (there is a method to their madness!)
  • OT is not a therapist prescribing activities you must do to get better (if it feels that way, we missed the mark)

Misconceptions aside, let’s focus on celebrating the awesomeness!

Occupational therapy IS a health profession that skillfully employs meaningful activities to create and support functional participation for people with challenging conditions. We work in hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers, homes, schools, daycare and mental health centers. We facilitate all facets of health with persons, families, companies, communities. . . even societies. As an occupational therapist, I freely, openly and unabashedly admit that I love occupational therapy!

To celebrate National Poetry and Occupational Therapy Month, I offer this, my poem about occupational therapy! As you will soon see, I am more OT than poet.


Occupational Therapy


An artful blend

of science

and simplicity,




Buoyed by heritage,

research, and college:

Intense preparation,

foundational knowledge~


There’s anatomy,


neurology, too.



technology, woo!

development and human ecology,

and a little pharmacology, who knew?


A touch of gerontology,

anthropology, yes.

Micro- to macro- sociology,

a bit of theology,  God bless.


There’s structure

and function,

identity, process,

abilities, unction.


There are roles and habits

to assess,

routines and interests

to address.


There’s history, framework

and principled theories,

Models and practice,

and, lest you grow weary:


Consider relationships,

values, beliefs,

cognition, attention,

caregiver relief.


Assessing environment,

ergonomics and means,

selecting equipment,

for elders or teens.


We modify, formulate

and make adaptations.

We codify, delegate

and give adulations.


All of this knowledge concealed from your view,

we come alongside and spend time with you.

We share in your struggle,

engage your connection;

we want to do more than facilitate function.

For joy, and purpose,

and efficacy too,

are the pillars supporting what humans can do.


We’re primed for the NICU,

the preemie-pound baby;

to nestle him, swaddle her,

give hope for what may be.

Teach parents and nurses

to grade stimulation:

his stress signs, her turning. . .

reduce light, sound and touch,

like a womb, for the learning.

Chin tuck, cheek support,

respect gaze aversion;

promoting connection,

’til infant can burgeon.


Then, later on,

tummy time,

feeding and play,

motor skills,


into something all day.


Sensory processing,

modulation and then,

integration for ease

of all systems to blend.

Bringing the just-right challenge,

we grow–

producing responses

in beautiful flow.


Developing handwriting,

visual perception,

peer interactions

and social connection.


Teens needing special consideration,

peer groups and identity,

with little oration.

Any splint that we form,

or device that we craft

better suit the teen norm

so they won’t feel outcast.


On to adulthood,

where the great inclination–

to establish and master,

with keen inspiration,

independence and skill

in the face of impairment.

We come alongside,

being tough, with endearment.

Empowering patience,

setting goals for today,

equipping the wounded

with a will and a way.


You’ll find us with elders

wherever the need;

healing with basics

from bathing and dressing, to pulling a weed.

It may seem we’re playing when we bring you your putter,

but we’re really ensuring your balance is better.

“I can cook this at home,”

you may say with assurance.

“Teach me how,” we implore,

(for your safety, endurance).

Whether cooking or eating,

standing or seating,

playing piano, or maybe just listening,

balancing checkbooks

or just reminiscing;

we’re facilitating

what matters to you,

showing your value

whether just be, or do.


And then, in the workplace,

the healthcare machine–

equipped here to manage,

so much to convene:

Keeping ethics, best practice

and excellence as key,

we do billing and coding,

document properly.

For without reimbursement,

we could not continue

to make such a difference

For someone–like you.


So, in all walks of life

there is some occupation;

we therapists share

this one aspiration:

To be about

the work of imbuing

The beauty of

human beings, doing.


Did I mention that I love occupational therapy? ;-)

Everyone knows someone who needs to hear about OT. Link up, pingback, spread the word! Please, all of you OT’s out there, add a stanza or two and tell us what you do.


©Joan T. Warren


Take Care of Your Heart


All this talk about compassion and heart! Now it’s time for a quick word about your physical heart.


Click to learn more

Click to learn more


February is American Heart Month! How can we reach out to the world with compassionate hearts if our tickers aren’t working well?

Here are a few tips from Healthiest Weight Florida Initiative, to achieve and maintain a healthy heart:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Be active at least 30–60 minutes a day
  • Make an appointment for an annual check up
  • Monitor existing health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Practice effective stress management
  • Reduce salt intake (sodium)
  • Eat at least five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables every day

I hope you’ll join me, keep tickin’ and spread the good thoughts!

Beating Heart


©Joan T Warren



Doctor’s Recommendation


Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Dr. Seuss

(The Lorax)

Compassion: Left and Right


Marge lay exhausted at the end of a long day, her eyes puffy from too many tears. It has been an emotional day for her. As she lay on the sofa catching a quick break, an ear out for when her son’s trach needs suctioning, she becomes acutely aware that her back hurts more than usual tonight. Maybe it has something to do with lifting her “Champ” in and out of his wheelchair ten times today. “He’s getting so big, my big boy.” She works to let go of another wave of anger over the situation surrounding his birth. All these years later, she continues to struggle to accept what is, when she wishes her boy could be healthy. Getting to acceptance and gratitude is a minute-by-minute challenge. She meets it, every time. Turning instead to the present, she longs for a warm bath with Epsom salts, maybe followed by a back rub from her sweetheart. “Yeah, right,” she corrects herself, and chuckles. The nurse called out tonight, so it’s another all-nighter in her son’s room. It’s time to get online and process all the requests that came in today. Marge sponsors an online community support group that links local events and resources with families who have children with special health care needs. No one pays her for any of her hard work. She does it because she cares to act from her heart upon needs that she knows, firsthand.


John throws his briefcase in the backseat and buckles up for the commute. He barely turns the corner when his phone rings–the answering service. No time to relax his mind, the call lasts through his drive to the evening meeting. A volunteer for fifteen years now, he serves on several boards and committees of community organizations that work to improve services for people in the community. He finds time in the week to care for his own health, and goes out of his way for his family and community, all while working full-time in a caregiving profession. He is tired at the end of each day, but grateful. “It could be so much worse,” he often says when he’s mentally and emotionally processing the week’s challenges with his wife on Saturday mornings. “Really. We are blessed.” He believes it.


Craig throws his cigarette on the ground and turns the ball of his shoe over it twice. “Damn. That was my last one,” he mumbles. He pulls his coat collar up around his neck to brace against the cold wind and heads toward the subway. From behind the next corner a homeless man steps out—suddenly square in front of him.

“Buddy, can you spare a dollar?,” he asks, his hand outstretched. His clothes are crumpled and filthy. His eyes look crazed. His face is wrinkled and roughened by weather and age. . . and alcohol. He reeks of it, Craig notes.

“Hell, no, man, get outta my face.” Craig moves on. “Not ’til hell freezes over,” he mumbles to himself.

(borrowed from Dr. Laura)

(borrowed from Dr. Laura)




 What is it? What good is it? Is it worth it? Why are some more compassionate than others? Can we become more compassionate, and if so, how? Many questions surround the issue of compassion. Today, February 20, 2015, I join the ranks of over a thousand bloggers bringing compassion to the forefront. We’ve banded together under the hashtag 1000Speak to impact the world with compassion awareness. All around the globe, you’ll find bloggers exploring the subject. We hope this is the start of new explosion of compassion in this thirsty world. The power of collective consciousness: thousands, millions, perhaps billions of people, all thinking and pursuing compassion at once! What an amazing wave of energy for good in the world. Here is my offering, may it be a good little drop in the sea!



What is compassion?

More than just a feeling of empathy, compassion takes heart to action. Compassion feels along with a person who is suffering, considers a rational plan and then goes out of its way to alleviate suffering. Where heart is an emotion of concern, compassion carries heart’s mission to the brain, hands and feet.

What good is it?

Many intuitively believe that being compassionate is worthwhile. All they need to do is imagine a world where no one ever modeled compassion. Life would be marked by self-seeking behavior, combative relationships and despair. The thought alone is enough to stir the intuitives to action!

For those who need more than intuition and imagination, science supports the benefits of compassion. Studies show that compassion reduces stress levels. Compassion yields healthier physical conditions and healthier relationships. Communities prosper and thrive where compassionate organizations intervene.

That’s not to suggest, though, that there are not shortcomings for the compassionate. Physicians (closely followed by other health care workers) are more likely to suffer burnout than any other profession. All around us, compassionate people quietly give their own lives to save others.

The powerful lessons of compassionate role models throughout history are immeasurable. Though far from being an historian, I can name a few. First, there’s my personal favorite, Jesus, who stood up for the oppressed, the weak, the ill and the hungry, and inspired countless others to do the same, though it cost him his life at a very young age (one example, here: Multiple and nameless laypersons generated significant and lasting changes in compassionate living during the middle ages ( More recent role models include Mahatma Gandhi , who dedicated his life to liberating his countrymen (and women) through nonviolent protest (, Mother Teresa carving the way for countless orphans, poor and sick worldwide ( and the 14th Dalai Lama with his emphasis on liberating his people and increasing happiness through compassion (

Who has been a model of compassion for you? Maybe it is someone as close as your father, mother, a grandparent, aunt or uncle. Perhaps it was an elementary school teacher, neighbor, pastor or community leader. Most anyone we meet can name someone, whether current, historical or even a fictional, whose example of compassion serves to inspire them, to believe the world can be a better place, and to try to make a difference.

Compassion has the power to reduce suffering in this world, resulting in happier and healthier living. In short, people with compassion are happier– and the world around them is, too.

Why are some more compassionate than others?

Be it nature or nurture, or the combination, some folks just don’t seem to care. Why? Are some personality types more compassionate than others? Can stress or failure push a person over the edge to burnout and hardness? Did male conditioning (hunter/warrior) fail to support compassion as opposed to female conditioning (gatherer/nurturer)? Did societal conditioning (religion, ethnic barriers, ancient rivalries) play a part? Is there a difference in their brain structures or chemistry?

Experts continue to examine underlying causes and contributing factors to the human psyche, behavior and culture. Using functional MRI of the brain, scientists are able to specify regions of the brain involved in compassion, and demonstrate higher levels of activation of these areas in pre- and post-trials working on compassion (

There is a place for self-examination, soul-searching and meditation, but (and science supports this, too) focusing too much on self is no way to improve it. An essential part of growth is insight, receiving comfort and practicing self-compassion ( We can inquire, examine, and consider factors that contribute to our insensitivity and inaction, but placing blame and feeling sorry for ourselves does not a compassionate life make. Are we stuck in being the way we were/are? Is there a way to become more compassionate? This leads us to our next, and probably more important questions:

Can compassion be cultivated?

Research coming from some of the finest universities says yes. Several studies support the notion that people can improve their ability to sense, attend to, and take practical action to meet other people’s needs. In one study, participants were tested on altruistic behaviors and their brain’s neural responses to suffering, both before and after receiving a short course of compassion training. Significant changes were noted in both. ( In another, participants in a mindfulness meditation exercise showed a much greater tendency to respond with compassion upon seeing a person in pain than those who did not participate in the guided meditation ( Another recent random-controlled trial examined the cultivation of three forms of compassion: having compassion for others, receiving compassion from others and having self-compassion. Their findings show strong support for the efficacy of Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) (

Old science thought that brain tissue did not regenerate. Then an amazing discovery was made: Neuroplasticity. We now know that injured brain does work to recover, to reroute pathways that are injured. For an interesting read on the subject, check out “The Brain that Changes Itself,” by Norman Doidge, M.D.

How can we cultivate compassion?

For the scientific, business-oriented and organized minded, there are professional compassion trainers! Using various methods such as meditation, guided discussions among dyads, or compassion-focused therapy, these professionals can design personal or company-wide programs to facilitate growth in compassion.

For the intuitive, spiritually-minded and faith-based folks, processes such as meditation, reflection and self-improvement are second nature. For you, it may be important to balance all of that touchy-feely stuff with practical, rational strategies to make a positive difference in the world. Let’s begin to think about what we can do that will make the most sense and be the most useful.

Is it giving the dollar, a meal or a blanket to the homeless guy on the corner? Is it calling the local food bank to donate the extra oranges from your back yard tree? Some will even come pick them for you. Is it supporting the local homeless outreach that not only feeds but also provides housing, mental health supports, clothing, job training and placement services and gradual transition support into independent living?

Maybe you’re already dedicating your life to a cause such as helping the homeless, prison outreach, community improvement projects, or some other worthy cause, yet there are some people you work with that frustrate you to no end. Are there home or work relationships that always seem to challenge your sense of compassion? Is there a way you can increase your way of relating to those people, envisioning yourself in their shoes, asking them questions, listening to their perspectives, perhaps even hosting a compassion training team to your business? Sometimes the hardest place to be compassionate is with the people closest to us, yet these are the people who need this kind of authentic love for daily sustenance.


For me, growing in compassion has been a process throughout life. My deepest renewal times have been spiritual, in relationship with God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I’ve found compassion in this relationship; the sort that is much more than an intellectual assent to the concept. This relationship feeds and nourishes my intellect but also my heart. I’ve received comfort and mercy from God for my deepest wounds and most heinous mistakes. I’ve enjoyed the bliss and the pain of cooperating with Him as He urges me to slow down, listen, feel and reach out with compassion for myself as well as for those around me. There was a time I did not know I could become anything good, and people around me would not have thought so, either. I was blessed to have a chance to look to God and He gracefully replied:

I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

-Ezekiel 36:26, New Living Translation

Renewal. Transformation. Becoming compassionate, love in action. It can happen for any, no matter your personality type, your station in life, your religion or lack thereof. Both business-types and intuitive-types can work in complementary harmony, like the right and left sides of our brains. Together, we can make a difference in this world. We can nurture and develop into more compassionate people, and become role models for others in passing the torch.

Thanks for reading, and if you like it, share it!

©Joan T. Warren

Here are a few links to further nourish these compassion thoughts:

Weird Things We Hear Ourselves Say When Living With Little Ones


A little collection from the past year or so:

“Don’t eat your tiara, honey.”

“It’s probably not a good idea to put a straw in the cup with the lizard.”

“Stop worrying about whether you’ll get in trouble or not, and tell me the truth: Where is your fish?”

“Your poop is huge and bright green because you’ve been eating too much candy and not enough green vegetables.”

“Yeah, I’m sure the birds are gonna love the way you put the red berries on sticks all along the driveway there.”

“Really, it’s okay. We would never ask you to go upstairs if there was an elephant up there.”

“You can’t “unpromise!” You already got your part of the deal!”


Catch some of your words to kids and share them with us (hit comments button).

Joan T. Warren

Compassion and Collective Consciousness


Hi friends–so many wonderful friends I’ve met here on WordPress, blogging. I ran across a sweet opportunity to join a group of 1,000 (+) bloggers who are writing about compassion. The plan is to “flood the internet” (though I doubt 1,000 blogs will constitute anything near a flood) with perspectives on compassion.

The floodgates open February 20, 2015.

It’s an idea that’s growing rapidly, with bloggers from all over the world joiniimageng in. I wish I could personally invite you all, so instead I’m mass-inviting you!

If you’re interested in participating, look for #1000Speak on Twitter and 1000 Voices for Compassion on Facebook.

Stay tuned here, too. I’ll be posting for compassion on 2/20.


Joan  T. Warren

for fellow survivors


Joan T Warren:

Wow. An amazing manifesto for survivors of abuse found tonight on WordPress. I am reblogging for her to save it, and to pass it on! Please feel free to do the same.

Originally posted on The long Voyage Out:


The Epic Challenge of Recovery from Organized Abuse

– for my impossibly wondrous children

Alone is the lie perpetrators of organized abuse use to ensnare and imprison their victims. No one can hear you, no one can help you, no one will believe you. Others can’t be trusted. In this comply-or-die underworld, the myth of isolation is indispensable.

Compounding this stratum of alone enslavement is the double-edged sword of psychological dissociation. Victims of sadistic atrocities typically instinctively and unconsciously sequester life and sanity-threatening experience from normal conscious awareness in order to survive, creating yet another layer of secrecy and isolation – from one’s self. Perpetrators of organized abuse pervert this natural survival mechanism to control even the sacred inner worlds of their victims.

For those of us who were fortunate enough to survive being tortured and exploited, alone is once again the enemy of emancipation…

View original 7,284 more words

No Need for Eyes to See This


This morning my granddaughter put on How to Train Your Dragon.  Again.

I sat nearby, reading and thinking, writing a bit, occasionally paying slight attention to the movie.

“In centuries of Vikings, I’m the first one who wouldn’t kill a dragon,” Hiccup sulked to Astrid. Feeling the failure of not living up to his culture’s expectations, feeling the sting of disappointing his father, Hiccup doubted himself. Astrid saw beyond this temporary setback:

“Yeah, the first one who was right.”


Hiccup had decided to spare the dragon when he looked into its eyes and realized, “He was just as afraid as I was.” Hiccup saw with the eyes of his heart.

His compassion, as it turned out, changed everything. It changed his father. It changed his village. It changed dragons. It changed him.

We like to think we are far more advanced than the world of Vikings and dragons. But are we?

Do we see with the eyes of our hearts?

Do we find the good?


©Joan T. Warren

Hang on. Or, Let go.



Walking out from yoga class tonight, I stopped. A beautiful clutch of autumn leaves held on, unashamed to be the last among all that was gray and dismal.

It is January, in North Florida.


I thought of all the times that I’ve heard people say, “Hang on. . . just hang on.”
I thought of all the times I’ve heard people say, “Let go. . . just let go and let God.”
I thought about how many times it’s been good to hold on, and how many times it’s been good to let go.
I thought about the years I struggled, trying so hard to hold on, or trying so hard to let go. Because they said so.
Now, at peace. . . with letting go. . . with holding on. At peace with wherever a person is in that process.
When it is time to let go, you will know it, and you will be able to let go. When is time for you to hold on, you will know it, and you will be able to hold on.

So hold on, or let go.

Namaste,  salmon leaves of January.

Namaste, Tree Maker.

Namaste, friends.

©Joan T. Warren

In a Blink


IMG_3751She came into this world

and they wrapped her in pink:

A present from God,

with a smile and a wink–


IMG_3753“So you think you’re unloved,

not important, unnoticed?

Take a look in her eyes–

Here you see what you’ve missed.”


IMG_3757She looked to me, open,

trusting and calm.

I held her with wonder;

to my soul she was balm.


“Hi,” I said, smiling,

“I’m so glad you’re here.

I am your mama. . .

You’re precious and dear.”


“I may be quite young,

inexperienced and poor–

but I promise to give

all I can, and then more. . .”


. . .to love you, protect you

to be sure you’re okay.

We’ll take life on together~

I’ll show you the way.”


IMG_3760Gentle and tender,

her manner so sweet

compassionate and curious–

being with her, a treat.


She grew up too quickly!

IMG_3761She grew up with grace.

We grew up together,

through each challenge we’d face.















Deni18for40Bday 001Then, one day, all too soon,

she announced it was time:

She’d be moving on into

her rhythm and rhyme.


Though I knew it was coming,

my heart cried as I called,

“God, now, You keep her,

and don’t let her fall.”









1916027_165277763330_4325366_nBefore too many years,

she gave birth to a son.

She held him, and gazed

at the gift she had won.


And she wondered aloud,

“Could anyone, anywhere feel this much love?

It is powerful, mighty,

and sent from above.”


Deeply moved and touched,

at this feeling we share,

my heart broke a little~

that she wasn’t aware. . .


. . .that I’d loved her this much,

all her life, every day!

Had she not known it then?

Had I failed in this way?


Again on my knees,

asking God, for my blossom . .

to know that I love her,

to know she is awesome.


As I looked in His eyes,

saw His gleam shining back,

I recalled what He told me–

that I’d found what I’d lacked.


Any sense that we’ve had

that we lack rhyme or reason,

that we’re not loved or special,

that we’re born out of season. . .


. . . is a sense we each share,

though He speaks to us all–

through our neighbors, our parents,

through children, a call.


Though He sent His own son;

proved His love beyond question,

we each need to find Him

in our own time and fashion.


Now my little pink package

is forty-two, in a wink–

and her son, and her daughter,

also grew in a blink!


And she grieves, as she must

let them go on their choosing,

and she helps them

and tries not to think she is losing.


And before too much longer

one of them will be gazing

in their own baby’s eyes,

with a love that’s amazing.


And I smile as I witness

what too many missed. . .

well aware now,

I’m loved, important, and noticed.


Well aware that the task now

is to pass the baton

to comfort, encourage

as the race journeys on–


Generations have lived,

generations will come.

May we each gather love;

may we each grow it some.


May God’s passion flare steadily,

our hearts to incline;

in forbearance, in faith,

and in mercy divine.


May my dear little baby,

with life now mid-swing,

feel the joy that the second

half of life’s sure to bring.


Happy Birthday, Denesia Christine!

Gracefully Determined, Christ-Light-Bearer


Loving you more each day,

©Joan T Warren


Four-Dimensional Thinking: 2014 Review, and More!


Image thanks to:


You may have heard of three dimensional thinking; considering past, present and future. As we close out 2014, and welcome the new year, I’d like to propose we consider not just 3-D thinking, but four dimensional thinking as well.

Three dimensional thinking has been around a long time. Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul penned his 3-D approach to life:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:13-14 King James Version

It sounds like three things, yet he says “this one thing I do.” The one thing is 3-D thinking: forgetting the past, reaching for the future, pressing on toward the goal.

Personally, I get stuck on the first part of the three. Forget the past? I like to cherish memories, learn from them, and pass those precious lessons on to future generations. Perhaps the original language of this scripture didn’t literally mean “forgetting,” as in loss of memory, for we know those with constant memory loss struggle to function in daily life. Perhaps the connotation of “forgetting” is letting the past be the past. Instead of living in the past, ruminating over things we wish we’d done better, shaming ourselves, or resenting others for things they did, perhaps it means viewing the past with open hands, letting it be what it was, and finding a way of being at peace with the past.

That, in itself, is no easy accomplishment.

The next dimension to consider is the future–reaching for what lies before us. Again, a tricky one for me. How can we see the future, so that we may reach for it? The future isn’t tangible. We haven’t seen it, touched it, felt its sensations, relished its joys or grieved its sorrows. The future is envisioned. The future is malleable; we create it as we go, at least those things that are within our power and choice. The future holds hope, for those who find its invisible tethers and use them to anchor and reign ourselves toward its best fulfillment. We reach for it. It is elusive and inspirational at once.

The next dimension we know. It is the gift of now. Letting our firm grip on the past go, reaching forward to our envisioned goal, the present is active. Not dashed to and fro or laid low by trials and challenges, the present decides, rather, to press on. The present offers an opportunity to make a difference; to lean into, to give sufficient force toward that which we aim to achieve. A runner in a race, the present senses what is behind, is not distracted by it, but commits herself entirely to reaching the finish line.

So, we have 3-D thinking, and it is a powerful way to live. What, then, of this fourth dimension? Is it not enough to give our strength and effort toward pressing on to our mark?

The fourth dimension is inside of us, and all around us. The fourth dimension is spiritual. It is openness. . . openness to see barriers within ourselves that hinder, and to cooperate with Love in letting them be transformed. It is openness to see Love at work in others, whether friend or foe, and cooperate with Love’s work toward building all things together, creating beauty from ashes. It is openness to see the world around us and the ways our planet–even our universe–needs tending if it is to flourish and sustain us until it is time for the new heaven and earth. It is our spirit, not yet having achieved, but flowing with Love’s Holy Spirit. Having tasted each day of this glory that is, we embrace Love as we press forward into what glory is to come.

As we count down the seconds closing the year 2014, and formulate our new year’s resolutions, let’s add another dimension to hone our approach to the new year. Let’s commit to learning from, but letting go of, the past, so it does not distract us. Let our goals be Love’s goals, and let us cooperate with–no, more than cooperate–press on toward this high calling of Love. Let’s do so with spirit, from the inside, out.

I want to also take a moment to thank you, my WordPress Blog readers and followers, for spending time with me this year. I treasure the thought that my words are important enough to you that you choose to take some of your precious time to read them, consider them, and engage in comments and feedback.

I also want to thank WordPress for facilitating this new mode of exchange! WordPress put together a summary of this blog from 2014. Its amazing to me that people from all over the world have “met” me here, and that I have briefly met you, too.

Here's a snapshot of global readers from this year. The list on the left was too long to fit in the snapshot!

Here’s a snapshot of global readers from this year: 80 countries in all. The list on the left was too long to fit in the snapshot!

As I let go of 2014, I will be thinking of all of you, and pressing on toward making 2015 a year of better writing, better engagement, and better 4-D thinking.

Here’s what WordPress summarized for me, have a look:

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Happy New Year Everyone!

©Joan T. Warren




Untimely for we who stay,

Torn in sore lament–

Time and distance

Ne’er to be breached again;

Not from our doing.

Resigned unto eternity

Or waiting to be joined again

When breath doth cease.


Then, to know

What now we hope~

In faith, our spirits to retain,

Enjoined in blissful freedom

From all that tortures here–

Or utter loss,

Will cease to be

‘Twas all for naught–

To know, then.


What now you know,

Oh, dear one.

I feel you free,

Calling back,

Take heart,

Live on,


Together we will be.


In purity,

Resolved of all that held us back

‘Tis going now,


As I pass,

You see a bit, of me.


Let go of what impairs

Even now.



Grieving, you feel me.

All that I lived for,


All that you feel,

All that you think, wonder and eschew,



Cry, dear, cry.

For it is in this full admission

That we

Receive comfort,

One to another


To enter my joy.



And waiting,

In patience,


And fidelity.


Watching over those

I would have tended

Carry them now, for me.




In camaraderie.


©Joan T. Warren

In honor and memory of a wonderful woman, mother, grandmother:

~Paula Huttula~

Passing and raised to eternal life, 12-12-14

With love and prayers for all who mourn her passing, and for all who mourn, everywhere.


Are you akin to kindness?


It’s not news; as far as history traces our interactions, we humans have had troubles with one another. We get ourselves tied in knots worrying about the latest news: a new terrorist group here, a gang murder there, racist violence and religious discord– just about everywhere. So-called civilized or savage, we are humans, and we have too often let our worst sides get the best of us.

I heard once that for every negative statement we give to another, that person needs at least ten positives to recover! I don’t know how much scientific research went into that number, but I do know this:

We flourish in an atmosphere of kindness.

Kindness is more than holding your breath while you give the homeless man a quarter. It is more than holding your tongue when you want to correct your coworker’s frequent mistakes. It’s even more than a side-hug and a cheek-kiss greeting when you’d rather not be there at all.


Kindness comes from recognizing what is alike, or kin, between us.


Kindness happens when we feel the sort of kinship with another that we do with our children as they stumble through toddler-hood, spilling juice on the carpet, creating a masterpiece with crayons on the wall, or toilet paper installations across the bathroom floor.

Kindness happens when we realize our errancy.

Kindness begins when we realize we were treated with kindness when a harsher sentence would have been just.

Kindness flows when we come to the place of accepting that we cannot change everyone else; that it’s all we can manage to change ourselves.

Kindness swells when we realize those we formerly eschewed actually had something to offer us.

Kindness flourishes when we find time in our days to care for ourselves, for others and even for the piece of the planet where we dwell.

An old friend once told me that he always tries to leave each place he goes a little better than when he enters. Sometimes that’s as simple as picking up a piece of toilet paper that someone else left on the public bathroom floor. That’s kindness. It doesn’t need to be noticed, commended or lauded. It is kind because it is kin; kin with creation, kin with all.

Are you akin to kindness?


KINDNESS song, written by Brian McLaren

Christ has no body here but ours
No hands no feet here, on earth but ours
Ours the eyes through which he looks
On this world with kindness
Ours are the hands through which he works
Ours are the feet on which he moves
Ours the voices through which he speaks
To this world with kindness
Through our touch, our smile, our listening ear
Embodied in us, Jesus is living here
Let us go now—enspirited
Into this world with kindness.


Today’s inspiration thanks to:


Thanks for your kindness,

©Joan T. Warren

Dark Chocolate to my Soul



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First smile from my baby~

Fingertips at my back~

Purple hued sunsets o’er mountain or sea.

A word fitly spoken~

Laughing toddlers at play~

Secret gifts sent before there’s a plea.


Birds chirp at breakfast~

A room with a view~

Grown-up baby, saying, “I love you.”

A mother’s dedication~

A father’s heart, pure~

A book with great character, hearts so true.


An unsung hero~

A selfless deed~

Rows of fresh radishes, lettuce and beans.

Bike ride in evening~

Canoes on a lake~

Heart-felt apologies from reckless teens.


Skipping stones on the water~

Swinging ABC’s~

Old photos revealing the man was a boy.

Wrought iron furniture~

Ferns in the rain~

A song that effuses my tears, into joy.


Flowers on the table~

Landscapes with depth~

Vines climbing over an old stone wall.

An old soldier honored~

A chore turned with dance~

An old hymn, hummed by stranger, in mall.


Really good neighbors~

A clean house to enjoy~

Climbing a tree to see from above.

Old friends and family~

Lessons from kids~

Crossing a line in the name of love.


Beauty for ashes~

The cross on a hill~

An old woman displaying love’s attitude.

Waves gently lapping~

Sand soft as silk~

A sofa, soft pillows, and candlelight mood.


A poem that soars~

A chapter writ~

Curving branches of an old oak tree.

Eyes, hearts, locked~

Hands entwined~

My man and I, moving in harmony.


A heart-to-heart~

A good night’s sleep~

Fresh fruit arranged in a blue porcelain bowl.

Eyes that twinkle~

Sun-kiss on my cheek~

All: dark chocolate to my soul.

* * * ********************* * * *
Behind the scenes:
It may be a bit absurd, but I was thinking today about how to incorporate more healthy choices into my days. I’ve been widening in the middle, partly due to my love of chocolate! While dark chocolate is now on the list of superfoods (albeit the tiniest spec on the pyramid), it too often comes with not-so-super fats, sugars and calories! Equating dark chocolate with indulgence, divinity and even sinful pleasures, I began thinking about how to replace this sense of indulgence with things that AREN’T eaten! This loosely formed poem is the rather absurd result! If I indulge in the things that mean the most (the things that endure), perhaps their richness will take the place of that extra sweet treat.

©Joan T. Warren
Heart to Heart in a Shielded World

Yep, you said it:
That’s Absurd | The Daily Post

For the things that endure mean the most:
Endurance | The Daily Post

But I Don’t Wanna Go On a ‘Bencher!

But I Don’t Wanna Go On a ‘Bencher!


There’s so much in a word. What’s your take on the word adventure?

Some say it’s about taking a risk, trying something new, or exploring new territory.

Some say life’s an adventure.

Here’s a little story, based on a real episode, involving adventure:

They passed the turn toward home, and Missy, though only three, knew they had missed it. “Wher’re we goin’?”

“We’re going on an adventure!,” Nana proffered, in her most excited tone.

“But I don’t wanna go on a ‘bencher! I want my mommy!”

Nana drew in a breath and considered her response. She knew the meltdown would only last a few minutes, but it broke her heart every time. She knew, by now–by the tone of Missy’s voice, the rate of her breathing, the look on her face–whether she was ready for an explanation, or comfort, or distraction, or whether words would only make it worse. This time she chose a brief explanation, followed by a time of respite for Missy to regain her composure. When the time was right, Nana brought in the highlights of the upcoming trip.

“We’re going to Tampa, to see Cousin Stevie, play in the pool, and visit a place with lots of pretty fish to see!”

“Stevie? Yay, Stevie! I miss him so much!”

Missy cheered up. The rest of the trip she counted cows and horses on the hillside, “loved” her new bedroom, devoured popsicles at the pool and hung on Cousin Stevie all through the exciting trip through the aquarium. It ended too soon.

Along the way

Along the way

One Cool Chick

One Cool Chick

Checking out the Giant Mr. Grouper with "Cousin Stevie"

Checking out Giant Mr. Grouper with “Cousin Stevie”

On the ride back home, Missy’s love for adventure blossomed.

“I like Tampa. When can we go on another ‘bencher, Nana?”

Lookin' for Adventure!

Lookin’ for Adventure!

No matter the level of risk involved, all adventures are a little scary. We can’t always have our mommies with us. Sometimes we get stuck and afraid of stepping out. Sometimes outside forces launch us on adventures we’re not so sure we want to go on. When this happens, we can take time to process it, like Missy did, and end up embracing the experience. If we look for the good, there’s always something to gain. . . eventually.

With risks weighed against benefits, we can usually make good choices about our adventures in life.

That’s my take on adventures for today. What’s yours? Have you a little story of adventure you can share? It’s your turn now!

Joan T. Warren

With appreciation for this week’s WordPress Prompt.


Has Anybody?



“Has anybody told you today?”

“Well, just in case, I’m telling you again: I love you.”

It was his trademark; his brand, calling card. If you saw Mickey, you could count on hearing these words. You could count on a hug and a smile. If not from him directly, from many around you, as he facilitated groups and classes to “get up, tell someone you love them, hug a neck.”

He was the Cowboy Preacher. The Drunk Preacher, some called him. He’d chuckle. I doubt he’d ever had a drop of alcohol in his life.

He sought out drunks, with a purpose, to share God’s amazing love.

(That was back in the day, before political correctness and biochemical studies taught us to call drunks “people with alcoholism,” which, yes, is a gentler, kinder term, no harm ever intended by using the old word.)

In 1962, Mickey ventured into the snake- and alligator-infested backwoods, near the deep south’s Lake Okeechobee, cleared some land about ten miles down a bumpy dirt road, hauled in some used rustic cabins and created a place for drunks to sober up. His idea, to provide not just a bed to sleep it off, but a place where hard work meets prayer, and confrontational truth-speaking-in-love results in changed men. A City of Refuge. His hard work had just begun.

His idea grew. Today, Dunklin Memorial is an internationally-renowned center for people overcoming drug and alcohol addiction. It can boast recidivism rates far better than those of centers catering to the rich and famous. It is also a place where families of people with addiction can recover and transform. It is a ministry training and retreat center. It is a church, where the body of Christ is people using their gifts and abilities to help one another, rather than a building sitting empty all week. It is the center hub of a circle of half-way houses, home and community support groups. Cottage industries, like cattle farming, orange groves, and pallet recycling, give residents hard work to do and help the program be self-supportive. It is a model center that is willing to share its success secrets freely to any who want to replicate it in their part of the world. Its curriculum is translated into several languages.

Mickey on Prayer Island, at DMC. . .  a contemplative moment

Mickey on Prayer Island, at DMC. . . a contemplative moment Photo courtesy of Larry McKenna

That says a little something about this man, the Drunk Preacher, Mickey Evans. There is so much more to say. Words are inadequate, but in an attempt to describe him, I would choose words like















and, most importantly,

loving, honest, and relational.



He continued to grow and adapt throughout his life, deepening his understanding of the recovery process and the need for transformation for leaders, helpers and addicts alike. He was the guru of the Daily Moral Inventory, a mirror to check and accept responsibility for your attitudes each day. He taught us to take the finger that so easily points at others (“but it’s all your fault”) and turn it (though it fights all the way) to point at ourselves (the only one we can change, after all). He taught us to use all of our capacities, including our senses, inner vision, imagination and even open eyes and ears when we pray, for God is in us, around us, and in our loved ones as well. God may speak to us from any of these sources. He worked toward responsibility in all areas, including sustainable agriculture, clean water, ecologically sound waste management and understanding cultural diversity.

“How old is that little boy?” –another trademark question. “Now take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.” Only Mickey could get away with speaking this way to a defensive, angry man who needed to hear it. He could say it, with authority–a shocking blend of firmness and gentleness–and the hardest head would break down and listen.

When I met him, back in the eighties, I was a twenty-something transplant from Washington, D. C., all fired up for ministry training. I remember being amazed at Mickey’s servant-leadership style, but I was also a bit afraid of him! When his lip quivered and his grin bared his teeth, I held onto my seat, for someone was about to get a dose of truth. I had never witnessed a christian leader being confrontational before. It impressed me and scared me at the same time! Yet he was kind. And wise. Under his honest leadership, I learned to face my fears, and I grew up. By the time I graduated, I faced life with a new awareness, in large part due to Mickey Evans. I was aware of my ongoing need to heal and grow, aware of the value of relationships as a measure of recovery, aware of the complexities of life transformation. I was willing to be a facilitator of change for those who wanted to change. I learned to accept each person’s decisions as their own.

“I cannot change another person by direct action. I can only change myself, and that by the grace of God.”

This was Mickey’s mantra, which he lovingly entitled “The Bombshell Theory,” because “it’ll blow your mind.” It really does.

Mickey modeled health in family relationships. “This is my beloved wife, in whom I am well-pleased,” he would say, introducing his wife, Laura Maye. When families joined the men in the program each weekend, Mickey facilitated positivity, respect and appreciation for loved ones. Men responded to his example and held themselves accountable to making amends, to loving and respecting, where once they used, lied, stole and projected blame. Marriages rekindled.

As he aged, Mickey seemed at peace with gradually raising up leaders to take over his job. He used to quote Jesus, “greater works shall ye do. . .” His long-range planning to prepare others to carry on his work was nothing short of genius. It must have been challenging for him to let go of his baby, but he rested easy, trusting the One who had begun a good work to carry it through to completion. Mickey’s style of trust was practical, though: he planned, prepared, reeled in, and let loose, over and over again, until he knew he’d done all he could do.

Picture created by Dean Evans

Picture created by Dean Evans, his son

Brother Mickey Evans passed this week, after a long life, shining brightly. His light stems from, and moves into, eternity. As one candle bows to light another, light spreads exponentially, filling the earth.


courtesy wikipedia

courtesy Wikipedia

Brother Mickey, we will miss you here. We thank you for your amazing gifts and dedication. We are grateful to carry on this light; to be torch-bearers, humbly and quietly sharing life, transformed by love. Enjoy your new place; we’ll see you again soon.

Dear reader, has anybody told you today?

Well, just in case, I’m telling you again, I love you!

Pass it on ~


©Joan T. Warren

Heart to Heart in a Shielded World

Feel with your Eyes


There is beauty all around us, if we look beyond the guise we can see it with our fingers we can feel it with our eyes we can smell it in a memory and appreciate the ties There are textures, scents and glories Whether near or far, the prize we can listen to its calling […]