Kia ora e te whānau
Its been week of extremes in Taranaki.  Ranging from beautiful, unseasonably warm days with our majestic maunga in full view, to torrential, unstoppable rain and flooding.  The streams we have on stie are mostly gentle trickles around the site.  Yet last week they turned into raging rivers, levels rising alarmingly and flooding the delighted ducks in their area.  We can see still the marks in the banks of how high the streams rose, the acculmulation of debris brought in by the extra water and grass flattened around the edges.  The water only stayed very high for a few hours and then settled down but the effects can still be seen.  Sometimes life is like that for us.  Something happens that overwhelms us with its intensity, the intiail event can be relatively short-lived but often the consequences linger and stay with us for a long time afterwards.  How do we cope with the crisis and then the after effects?
At our daily reflection-time on that downpour day, we ventured where angels sometimes fear to tread. We talked about our tears. Bloke-tears; pent-up tears; tears we brush aside; the tears that won’t seem to surface when needed; where tears have been ‘disallowed’ or ‘against the rules’, or ‘a sign of weakness’ in childhood, or in a particular relationship. Where tears are a ‘trigger’ from our past. The spectacular rainfall of that day was powerfully symbolic of what was being carried, not just by those present for the refleciton, but much more widely, by our community’s grief and loss. I wonder where all that tear-related negativity comes from, in our social or cultural wiring; I see that it was something I trotted out when I was younger, because that was what I had been taught and modelled (the cry-baby stuff). I guess it’s something to do with the stiff upper lip or to do with a mistaken view that expressing emotion is somehow embarrassing or awkward – like we would do better to pretend to be androids or something. Yet it’s generally ok to laugh – and that’s just another physical expression of a feeling deep within. Crying can activate the body in a healthy way. Studies of the various kinds of tears have found that emotional tears contain higher levels of stress hormones than do reflex tears (the ones that form when you get something in your eye). 
Emotional tears also contain more mood-regulating manganese than the other types. Crying allows a physical stress relief that can do some soul healing. Bottling up those tears is like inflating a balloon to the point of it bursting; there’s nothing wrong with letting them leak or even pour out. Never ever be ashamed of your tears; they are beautiful.
We often talk, at the Retreat, of keeping your tanks topped up.  That means remembering to do some of that stuff that energises you, whether it is spending time with loved ones, friends, going for a walk, doing gardening, watching a good movie, enjoying a good coffee outdoors – whatever it is.  It is important to keep on top of the good stuff, so that we have reserves to deal with life’s curved balls. Our Life Coaching encourages this especially and Coach-Liz works with people to help them identify the good stuff as well as offering techniques to deal with the negative (or ‘red zone’) stuff.  A new way of seeing our own situation can make all the difference. Our Outreach Support Workers also offer support, with a compassionate, caring, one-on-one peer-support approach.  Haivng someone who is on your team and there to offer a listening ear can make all the difference.  We also offer a buddied up, secure, online journaling system, where many write regularly as an outlet. This journaling or blogging is done alongside your buddy who is there to encourage you as well as reflect when, just maybe, you are being too harsh on yourself!  Regular journaling can be truly healing – especially when we find it difficult to speak the words. It offers an outlet for thoughts that may be churning or racing; getting them down on ‘paper’ can be a true relief and a release. Over time, we begin to spot our own patterns and notice tricky defaults before they become a problem once again!  It takes that bit of discipline to journal regularly (how many of us have started a new diary… done those first couple of entries, then happened upon the book a few months later….!). Interested in giving it a go? Drop us a reply to this email to learn more.

Our pets, too, play an important role at the Retreat; we can benefit from spending time with or watching animals.  We lucky here with our brid life, spending a little time watching the piwaiwakas or kereru is never time wasted.   Tui, our poodle, has a lot to offer.  He is gentle and completely without judgement; always ready for a stroke or a cuddle.  He doesn’t have an agenda; he’s not offended if you don’t like dogs, he doesn’t hold grudges or 
sulk.  He doesn’t worry about what might happen, he never has a problem sleeping! 

A cellphone provider ran an advertising campaign a few years ago called Be More Dog, which seems to sum it up qiute well.  Sometimes our worries stop us enjoying a good moment, refocussing our attention on the good things we have, giving them more attention, can help balance out all that we are going through.  The Retreat’s ethos is summed up in ‘Space to Breathe’.  But that’s a way of life, rather than a specific place. This newsletter comes with encouragement to make that space, snatch moments of it if necessary in our busy lives; to counter all the busyness.

Thank you for being part of the conversation, and for taking the time to read our newsletter – we always, always value your responses, and simply being ‘all in this together’ 🙂

Arohanui, Jamie
EO, Taranaki Retreat

Poetry Book
Liz, our Life Coach often finds that when people start the journey of reconnecting back to themselves and finding the things that really bring them joy, it is people’s creative side that has long been surpressed/pushed down/pushed under the bed/stuffed in a cupboard or forgotten about altogether…
Often, Liz finds that this can be poetry, how people used to love to write and let the words flow, how it used to be healing/inspiring or bring hope.
So now Liz is on a mission to get a poetry book published with a collection of people’s works, be it poetry or prose, as a fundraiser for the Retreat.
Are you keen to be part of this project? Would you like to see your work in print? Have you been looking for a way to support the Retreat, but not sure how? Maybe this is it!
Keen to know more? Please email Liz at [email protected]