Karen is living and working in Monmouth County. She enjoys partnering with her husband Rich, and parenting with her children Jonah and Chloe. She loves counseling adult clients through the process of psychotherapy; and is studying transformational leadership and adult learning. She can be reached at www.redbankcounseling.com


Karen shares a personal reflection following a conversation she had with her neighbor after Hurricane Sandy:


I’m having a conversation with my neighbor Brian, a few days after power was restored to the neighborhood and it happens that the weather is bright, sunny and warm.  Distinctly different from the tumultuous cycle we just passed through. Brian and I are sharing stories recently heard and events of the day.  Our intimacy has grown in the past few weeks, and there’s a deeper understanding we share and appreciate in one another and our small community.  Like many neighbors, today, he reflects on ‘going back to normal’ now that the kids are back in school and the debris is moving out of eyesight.


I’m curious about the lives of our citizens and communities going forward, after the ‘out of towners’ helping with storm cleanup have returned to Maine, Alabama, Florida, Michigan.  Similar to when the bennies leave on Labor Day, we locals have a tendency, a habit of mind, according to adult educator Jack Mezirow, to hibernate until the next summer.  We withdraw into ourselves and store our heat, wisdom, knowledge and joy; introverted by the dark of night, or the cold of winter.


But this year, we were tested in the deepest, darkest nights and the cold of first snows.  We were tempered, praxis, it’s called, into transformational growth and learning far beyond anything we could have imagined.  We were forged at the fire, a wizard’s chalice, for something greater than all of us, pulling us through and out the other side, greater in our coherence and collective awareness.  More awake to the dark side of ourselves, and unconscious habits, and more awake to the indwelling possibility, the deeper meaning, the shared experience with one another, nature, and our myriad interdependencies.


Most of us are now left with a deeper, more fulfilling sense of the whole of all of US. What are we going to make of this?  What are we going to take with us going forward?  How are we going to use these human experiences of unity, service, warmth, mercy, compassion, sharing, loving, generosity, kindness?  How are we going to converse with one another now that we have such a deep frame of reference for humanity and its reflections and responses to chaos and nature’s attempt at rebalancing herself?  How are we going to include nature, ecological and environmental systems and interdependencies in the conversations?


One of the stories I heard last night, was from a friend in response to her 7 year old.  The child was sitting outside with his guitar, singing a song to the tree and thanking it for being there…for standing tall.  I wonder what the tree was singing to the little boy?


Imagine – you are that tree, you are here now.  Stand tall.  Look around. Breathe in through that deep heart we share, and be here, now.  What do you see, hear, feel?  What direction do you want to grow, now?