Safely Held and Soothed

Not too long ago, Bill went on a mercy mission on my behalf. Life was getting busier and busier. There were more and more things to keep track of. I needed a bigger picture view than the calendar on my phone provided. I needed a paper calendar. A big one!

I was hoping for Newfies. Or quilts. Trees. Owls. I was feeling pretty open-minded. It wasn’t really calendar-buying season at the time, so Bill returned with some rather sappy artwork which wasn’t quite what I would have chosen but it had nice big squares to write in. I was in business! (We’ll leave for another day the complications of having two different calendars.)

The square for today was pretty full. My mom died seven years ago. Not sure why I write it down. I don’t seem likely to forget! Especially with all this thinking about grandmothers. Sarah, the Newfie rescue who’s been with us about 2 1/2 years, turned 4 years old today. Her orthopedic vet would not appreciate cake but she did get some extra treats during training time!

Then there was a webinar scheduled for 2 pm that I actually dreamed about last night. As it turned out, it caused the sort of trouble that learning new things often does…upcoming complexity! And a client who somehow didn’t appear on either of my calendars!

Not much time for contemplations, but one did sneak in.

We’re still settling the 4-footed kids in since Phoebe joined our family about three weeks ago. The girls are getting along really well, which is a huge blessing. Phoebe is learning fast. We’ve made it clear to door manners! She’s still a bit uncertain about what’s likely to come next. I don’t blame her. She’s had a lot of trauma, followed by a whole lot of change!

Sarah’s delighted to have a playmate. I have noticed, though, that she’s a bit clingy. A bit pushier than usual when someone is handing out attention. Perhaps even a bit anxious about her place in the family.

In the meantime, I’m probably more busy with my writing than Sarah and Phoebe think is optimal!

I’m deep into the second edition of Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope. Some things that have been stored for years, in different parts of my awareness, have suddenly begun bumping into each other.

One of them is the Jungian notion of the need to experience being “safely held and soothed.”

It occurred to me that that’s a pretty good job description for grandmothers!

We’ll return, another time, to the need to learn self-soothing. For now, though, let’s just think of all the rocking and singing and holding close we do as a powerful way to help create health and wholeness in our wee loved ones.

Now, hard as it is to hold a Newfie for singing and dancing, my rescue girls are asking for the same assurance. I’ve planned some couch cuddling time for tomorrow morning! Fortunately, it’s a big couch!

The other night, I listened to an online interview with one of my favorite authors, the amazing Anne Lamott. She spoke of many things but the one that really hit home for me just now was one of my favorites of her stories about serving as a Sunday School teacher at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City, California (Services at eleven).

Each week, for years now, she has taught the littlest of the faithful at a tiny church in a struggling neighborhood. She channels their energy, feeds their growing bodies, and offers their spirits the very personal assurance that, “You are loved. You are chosen. You are safe.”

Which sounds like something pretty certain to help create the experience of being safely held and soothed! And I’ve been reading her work long enough to know that she’d have the same message for Sarah and Phoebe!

Annie is nothing, however, if not a realistic believer. The part about, “You are safe,” she explained, may seem like a bit of a hard sell in our world. And she’s right, of course. But it’s still part of our job.

Which bumped into another thing floating around in my awareness. We don’t need to tell them everything! It’s our job to hold on to the things they’re not ready for yet. To manage our own anxiety without getting it all over them. It’s been a pretty big challenge for me lately too, but, improbable as it often seems, they are loved and chosen and even safe in this moment, close beside us.

I’ll give the last words to Annie. I can’t promise this is the exact quote but it’s what I scribbled down, as fast as I could, while listening and opening a new box of Kleenex.

Start where your butt is — right here. You don’t need to figure it out. It’s ok not to know more than you do. We find out what we’re doing by doing it! 

This Grammy says Amen!



Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach