When Long Litt Woon’s husband suddenly dies at age 54, she signs up for a class that her and her husband had intended to take together but never got around to. She takes a beginner’s class on mushrooming. She eventually becomes a certified mushroom expert.
In this book, Long Litt Woon tells the story of, “…two parallel journeys: an outer one, into the realm of mushrooms, and an inner one, through the landscape of mourning” (p. 282).
There is a lot about mushrooms in this book. We also get a glimpse into the culture of mushroom experts. Throughout the book, Long Litt Woon weaves in her thoughts and observations about her grief: “One thing I’m sure of: the grieving process does not follow a linear step-by-step pattern. It is complex and full of moveable parts. There is no straight, predictable arrow pointing upward from a grief-stricken existence to a grief-free state, the road twists and turns, and so-called progress occurs when it suits the grief, not you” (p. 87).
The main theme that I was left with after reading this book was how after such a significant loss, the question of identity comes up. Who am I now? Who do I want to be? Long Litt Woon shows that there is still room to grow, to learn, to live even after loss and while grieving.
Recommended Reading- Navigating the Land of IF: Understanding Infertility and Exploring Your Options by Melissa Ford
This book is written as a guidebook through the land of infertility. Ford spells out what you need to know, including descriptions of common fertility tests, procedures, and medications. She also discusses ways for you (and your partner) to talk about what your priorities and values are in this process. Later chapters touch on adoption, the decision to live child-free, and parenting after infertility.
This memoir is a very intimate look at Scully’s experience with infertility. She writes honestly about her jealousy, disappointment, and anger throughout the process. She also writes about how the process of trying to conceive affected her relationship with her husband. Scully includes things that helped along the way, like adopting a dog and working with a mental health professional in order to sort out her feelings.
Just a heads up: this memoir does not have a happy ending. Scully and her husband go through two rounds of IVF with no success. (Trigger warning: early pregnancy loss.)
This book provides normalization of the infertility journey, and the mental and physical toll that it can take on both partners. This book is very short and concise, and I would recommend it for friends and family of folks going through infertility treatments so that they can understand the struggle and know how they might offer appropriate support and care.
The Dead Moms Club: A Memoir About Death, Grief, & Surviving the Mother of All Losses by Kate Spencer
Kate Spencer was 27 years old when her mother died from cancer. Spencer writes about her grief in a straight-forward and candid way. She doesn't try to sugar coat any of her experiences.
Her engaging and chatty style of writing makes her seem like a good friend who is really telling you the truth so you don't feel so alone in your sadness, despair, and anger.
Hello, how was your July? Are you doing the things you wanted to do this summer?
Below are a couple of items that caught my attention this month:
TED Talk: Why we all need to practice emotional first aid by Guy Winch: “Why is it that our physical health is so much more important to us than our psychological health?” A talk about how emotional injuries stay with us unless we treat them as seriously as physical injuries.
Article: Why reading books should be your priority, according to science. Reading is good for your health: “...the practice of reading books creates cognitive engagement that improves lots of things including vocabulary, thinking skills, and concentration. It also can affect empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence…” A great excuse to pick up a (fiction) book! (See the article for an argument to read more fiction.)
It’s the end of May, the sun is shining here in California, and summer is not so far off.
In this Monthly Round-Up, I’ve listed a few items that have caught my attention this month:
In Terrible, Thanks for Asking Episode #11, end-of-life care and decisions are discussed. It’s not a light conversation for sure, but it gives us lots to think about. (Warning: this episode contains discussion about death, brain cancer, hospice, and the right-to-die law.)
This short and sweet article on gratitude is a great reminder to take stock of what we are thankful for today, in this moment.
In Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say, Kelly Corrigan writes essays about the words that nurture relationships. This is a memoir that is bittersweet, tender, funny, and warm.
Training to become a licensed therapist is a unique experience. Sometimes it’s challenging to explain to others what it all entails (clinical hours, supervision, paperwork, and trainings), but it can be even more difficult to describe the emotional energy that being a therapist requires.
For those of you who are Associate MFTs completing your hours or students in a MFT program, here are two books that you might find helpful. They both dig deep into what it takes to become a therapist, the experience of working with clients, the toll that it can take, and how to manage it all. I hope that they will help you on this journey that you’re on.
PS: I'm recommending these books for beginning therapists, but I think that all therapists, however many years of experience you have, might find some wisdom and encouragement in them.
(By the way, this is the second post in a series specifically for Associate MFTs and MFT students. The first post was on test preparation tips.)
Letters to a Young Therapist by Mary Pipher: In a series of letters to a former supervisee, Pipher reflects on what she's learned throughout several decades of working as a therapist. The letters are full of compassion, wisdom, and insight.
“I encourage clients to understand and accept the past with all its complexity. Then I urge them to move on to create something beautiful for themselves and others. We all have our sorrows, but they don’t exempt us from our duties” (p. xxii).
On Being a Therapist by Jeffrey A. Kottler: This book provides an in-depth exploration of the challenges of being a therapist ranging from self-care to running a practice to sitting with clients day in and day out.
“Can the therapist be immune to the influence of prolonged exposure to human despair, conflict, and suffering? Can the professional helper resist the inevitable growth and self-awareness that come from studying another life? Can he or she remain the same after being in the presence of so many who are changing? Whether we like it or not, the decision to be a therapist is also a commitment to our own growth” (p. x from the Preface).
Welcome to spring! Here are some resources that caught my eye this month. All are related to knowing yourself better.
In this post:
Ever think about journaling as a way to be in touch with what you're learning, how you're growing, and what you're struggling with? In this article by Michael Hyatt, he provides a simple journal template with eight questions that can make the journaling process easier.
In podcast episode #45, the Lazy Genius talks all about setting goals based on the person that you want to become. It's a short episode (13 minutes) but it's packed with stuff to think about.
In her book, Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, Anne Bogel gives us an overview of eight different personality frameworks. In a conversational, memoir-ish way, she explains how each of the frameworks help us know ourselves better. If you'd like to dip your toe into personality types, this is an easy way to figure out where you might want to start.
If you'd like to learn more about grief and the grieving process, here's a book to check out.
Grief Demystified by Carolyn Lloyd
“…grief is the cost of loving someone: the greater the love, the greater the loss, the greater the impact” (p. 26).
What It’s About:
This is a short (111 pages) and concise handbook of sorts on what grief is and how it works. The title is really accurate – Lloyd takes the subject of grief, one that we tend to avoid talking about in our culture, and distills it down to the basics in a very readable and accessible format. A great grief primer, one that could be read in one sitting.
Lloyd gives a brief history of academic grief theories, offers suggestions about how to talk with people who are bereaved, describes various grieving styles, and talks about how to offer support.
Grief will be different for each person. That said, having a general understanding of how grief works would benefit anyone who will ever experience grief or meet anyone who is grieving.
Happy New Year! Welcome to 2018!
I guess self-care has been on my mind lately as all of the resources I’m sharing this month fall under that theme. I hope you’ll find them helpful:
The term “self-care” is thrown around these days in reference to getting a pedicure or doing some Netflix binge-watching. In this blog post, Brianna Wiest argues that true self care is “making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.”
Especially here in the Silicon Valley, it’s not unusual to hear of people working 60-80+ hours/week. What is the cost to doing this? And how do we stop? The podcast episode Lead to Win: How to Beat the Burnout Culture, invites us to take some time to think about this and make some changes.
The title says it all- Take Time for Your Life: A Personal Coach’s 7-Step Program for Creating the Life You Want by Cheryl Richardson. She drills down into various aspects of life to help readers figure out practical ways to start living a life they love.
I’m Elaine Gee-Wong and I'm a therapist with a private practice in Santa Clara, CA.
Any information or advice on this website is for informational purposes only, and should not take the place of information or care provided to you by your physicians, medical, or mental health care professionals.