JENNIFER BALLERINI

Therapist Blog

It Is Okay

It is okay (a poem of validation for the year 2020) 
by Cleo Wade


It is okay to leave this year behind
It is okay if you haven’t found a silver lining since February
It is okay if all of that spiritual or emotional work you were planning to do on yourself never ended up happening
It is okay if you didn’t read a single book all the way through or you read a book every day because fiction felt safer than real life
It is okay if you didn’t become an expert chef and your banana bread never came out quite right
It is okay if you gained the weight you promised yourself you’d lose
It is okay if you watched too much tv and your kids watched too much tv too
It is okay if you cried more than you laughed, but I hope you got a few laughs in at some point along the way
It is okay if you felt overwhelmed by grief, loss, sadness, confusion, and fatigue – we all felt some version of these and if you are reading this right now,
you made it through.
It is okay to close your eyes and say to yourself,
I am a strong, resilient, badass.
It is okay if, after you said that, you opened your eyes and still felt worried
I worry too.
It is okay to stop everything for five minutes, put on your favorite song, and dance with your family or by your damn self.
It is okay to find joy in the midst of darkness
It is okay, to sit down and just
breathe.
It’s okay if you didn’t realize how much you actually liked spending the holidays in your hometown until you couldn’t do it
It is okay if the added roles, responsibilities, and jobs have felt crushing
It is okay if you couldn’t do it all.
None of us can.

It is okay if you had to cut back on spending and teach your kids that life is not about what you have but who you are with.
It is okay if on the surface everything seems fine but deep down, your heart is broken and the pain is bone deep.
It is okay to ask for help even if you don’t think you deserve it.
It is okay to rest.
It is okay to admit that this was the worst year of your life or miraculously ended up being the best
And it is okay if
you are not okay at all
and what you really need to hear is…

It will be okay.
somehow, someway, someday.
It will be okay.

Pandemic

Pandemic
by Lynn Ungar


What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath —
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love —
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

Lockdown

LOCKDOWN
by Fr. Richard Hendrick


Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.

The Greatest Love of All?

As an attachment-oriented psychologist, I've always understood and valued the importance of having safe and close relationships with cherished other people. Over the past few years, I've also come to understand the importance of the relationship we have with our selves. Every day I watch in awe as my clients find a voice inside them that is courageous, compassionate, and centered — clear about who they are and what they need, and capable of providing comfort to young parts of them that never got the care they needed. It moves me so much. Perhaps it's because I've experienced what a difference finding that voice has made in my own personal growth and relationships.

In any case, I'm not sure if Whitney Houston was totally right that loving yourself is the greatest love of all, but, you know, she's definitely on to something! And in a less power-ballad-y, more eloquent way, that's what this beautiful poem is about. I hope you enjoy it and that it helps you experience the joy of connecting with yourself in a loving way.


Love After Love
by Derek Walcott


The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each with a smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

How Easy I Am to Crush



One of my clients shared this amazing spoken word performance by Jae Nichelle. I so hope you'll take just 3 minutes to listen to it. She talks so beautifully and powerfully about her struggles with her anxious, critical inner voice.

This really demonstrates how strategies we initially use to protect ourselves end up creating challenges for us, becoming oppressive and dangerous themselves. Her anxiety is trying to protect her from embarrassment or rejection, and yet the poet shares with us the terrible cost of all that anxiety.

And because parts of us feel we still need that protection — "how easy I am to crush" she tells herself — we often can't let go of the old strategies, no matter how hard we try. "I have been fighting her for control of our house for years…[but] she's the longest relationship I've ever had…the only relationship I can count on."

Meeting problematic parts with empathy and understanding (and often the help of a caring therapist) is, in my experience, the only way to get those parts of us to consider new strategies and to move from a "boxing match" to a caring relationship with all the parts of you.

For All You Valentines Out There

Pasted Graphic

Touched by an Angel
by Maya Angelou


We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave

And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free