“Pain should not be wasted”— Deep Gratitude to Three Parents Who Have Not Wasted Their Pain

Dennis and Judy Shepard, parents of Matthew Shepard.

Holocaust survivor, Gerda Weissmann Klein said, “Pain should not be wasted.”

And I am deeply grateful to three parents who live that wisdom.

Karen Ball began the Sturge-Weber Foundation when her daughter, Kaelin, was born with Sturge-Weber Syndrome accompanied by a significant facial port wine stain.

Because this Foundation was there when my son, Byron, was born with the same syndrome, we were not alone.

Karen continues to blaze trail after medical trail in service to others.

The Shepards of Casper, Wyoming

And then there are the Shepards.

Their son, Matthew, was murdered 20 years ago this month.

It was a hate crime for being gay.

Judy channeled her anger and pain and created good:  The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

And for two decades, she and her gentle husband, Dennis, have traveled the country and the world erasing hate, promoting tolerance, and heralding human rights for all.

“This is not about courage or some higher calling; This is what happens when you piss off a mother.” – Judy Shepard

We spent this week-end in their presence.

On October 26, 2018 at 10 a.m., a public celebration of Matthew’s life will precede his interment at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

His remains are still not safe in Wyoming.

And that is unimaginable.

The Shepards model both public anguish and resilience as they counter the injustice of Matthew’s death.

And though their service to humanity cannot be measured, award after award attempts to quantify the shift their work is creating.

As Judy said during the Shepard Symposium for Social Justice in Laramie last spring, “This is not about courage or some higher calling; This is what happens when you piss off a mother.”

And for me, a mother still fighting for me children — sometimes out of fear, occasionally from anger, and mostly out of love — I spill tears every time I’m close to the energy that swirls like tornados around Judy and Dennis.

Because beyond the LGBTQ community, the work they do emphasizes justice for all human life on the planet.

“Pain should not be wasted.”

And for Judy and Dennis and Karen it hasn’t been.

•  •  •

An excerpt from Dennis Shepard’s trial statement:

“You left him out there by himself, but he wasn’t alone . . . First, he had the beautiful night sky with the same stars and moon that we used to look at through a telescope. Then, he had the daylight and the sun to shine on him one more time — one more cool, wonderful autumn day in Wyoming . . . And through it all he was breathing in for the last time the smell of Wyoming sagebrush and the scent of pine trees from the snowy range. He heard the wind — the ever-present Wyoming wind — for the last time. He had one more friend with him. He had God.

“I feel better knowing he wasn’t alone.”

Take Action!

•  Learn more at the Sturge-Weber Foundation

•  Help Erase Hate at the Matthew Shepard Foundation

•  Read about growing up in a moderately-tolerant town

•  •  •

Ellen Synakowski (she/her/hers) lives in Laramie, Wyoming. Her website is EllenSynakowski.com. She is a Registered Craniosacral Therapist (RCST), is on the Board of Directors of the Biodynamic Craniosacral Association of North America (BCTA/NA), and has been practicing Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy since 2013.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.  — C. West

 

Spaces Filled with Possibilities Characterize Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Sessions

Stephanie Abramson, RCST,  visiting Wyoming.

When I enter Stephanie Abramson’s treatment room time shifts as I tuck in for a restorative session of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST).

When I receive BCST I experience safe and compassionate touch as well as a sense of being seen completely and accepted entirely.

It is fundamentally about being open to the stillness within us where all possibility resides.

This junction of liminal space is where growth, renewal and a return to the innate essence of our being can unfold.

Typical Session – Is There One?

During the first session, a client often completes an intake form, and a few minutes of conversation may follow.

“How are you feeling today?

“And where in your body do you experience health?

When I receive BCST I experience safe and compassionate touch as well as a sense of being seen completely and accepted entirely.

With my son son, Byron.

Before getting on the massage table fully clothed, the client may also be asked if there is an intention for the session.

And she may respond:

“I want to feel better.”

“I’d like to be more connected to my body.”

Or, “I really need rest.”

Being On the Table

When I’m the one on the table I often experience a sense of dropping deeply to a secure place where I am aware of but not focused on the therapist I’m with.

And while there, I often see images — numbers, furniture, people I don’t know.

These visions, though curious and entertaining, are only sometimes informative.

Some people sense heat or cold, see colors or have flashes of light.

Yet others may feel sensations in their bodies — tingling or movements that seem to come from nowhere.

And it’s just as likely the experience will be described simply as “restful.”

In this aliveness, anything is possible.

Since there is absolutely no “should” in BCST, whatever reaction one has is exactly right for the moment.

Sessions Can’t Be Structured

Sessions have no agenda; We don’t say, “Let’s work on your lower back today.”

While this is typical of massage and other modalities, that’s not how BCST works.

The therapist’s role is to witness the unfolding of the session rather than trying to steer the ship.

We pause in the stillness until the client’s intelligence gives us direction.

Byron often finds relief from the pain of scoliosis with BCST.

Then intuition guides the session.

The therapist’s and client’s nervous systems come into sync as they balance and ground together.

And quite often that time of alignment is noted by a pronounced out breath – something like a sigh.

Sometimes it doesn’t happen the first or even first few times a client and practitioner are together as degrees of trust vary from person to person.

Other times quietude may present itself simply in anticipation of the session.

While there are lists of conditions for which BCST may be helpful, I don’t make promises.

My pledge is to be fully present as the client’s essence reveals what it wants me to see.

In Stephanie’s presence, I trust that the guidance she receives is just what I need, whether I share an awareness of it or not.

So I sink deeply and enjoy feeling fully alive.

And in that aliveness, anything is possible.

_  _  _

Take Action in Celebration of International Craniosacral Week October 15-21, 2018!

• Write Ellen for a free Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy appointment on Thursday, October 18, 2018:  EllenSynakowski@icloud.com This is in celebration of International Craniosacral Week.

•  Make an appointment with Stephanie Abramson when traveling to Washington, DC.  ‭(240) 418-5459

•  Read From My Hands and Heart:  Achieving Health and Balance with Craniosacral Therapy, by Kate’ MacKinnon.

•  Find a registered therapist near you through the Biodynamic Craniosacral Association of North America (BCTA/NA).

•  Read The Breath of Life: An Introduction to Craniosacral Biodynamics by Cherionna Menzam Sills.

•   Read the summary and conclusion to the research article, The use of CranioSacral therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Benefits from the viewpoints of parents, clients, and therapists, by Kratz, Kerr and Porter, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapist, vol21(1), 1/2017, pages 19-29.

•  Watch Helen Robbins’ annimated Introduction to Craniosacral.

•  Read the summary and conclusion  to the research article, A systematic review to evaluate the clinical benefits of craniosacral therapy,  by Jakel and Hauenschild, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, vol20(6), 12/12, pages 456-465.

•  Watch the the British Craniosacral Therapy Association’s video,  What is Craniosacral Therapy?

•  See how Biodynamic Craniosacral is a model of Peace as Learned and Teachable Skills.

•  Consider how nonviolence toward women impacts one’s life in Alan Turgeon, Thank You For Your Decency.

•  •  •

Ellen Synakowski (she/her/hers) lives in Laramie, Wyoming. Her website is EllenSynakowski.com. She is a Registered Craniosacral Therapist (RCST), is on the Board of Directors of the Biodynamic Craniosacral Association of North America (BCTA/NA), and has been practicing Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy since 2013.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.  — C. West

Wyoming Foundation for Cancer Care Sees Far Beyond Medical Needs

Abigail Strube, WFCC Executive Director, with her mom, Cathy.

Last year Abigail Strube’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

And that’s when they both came to know volunteers from the Angels Care Cancer Program, a Casper-based organization that’s part of the Wyoming Foundation for Cancer Care (WFCC).

In fact, it was an Angel who suggested Abigail apply for her current job.

“WFCC is all about reducing the burden of cancer,” Abigail said.

And that translates to helping patients and families with non-medical needs that accompany treatment.

Help Beyond Medical Care

“We sometimes pay utility bills.

“We’ve even made mortgage payments,” Abigail said.

“We give gas cards, and this past summer a patient who needed to travel for a much-needed surgery had unsafe tires, so we just bought new ones for her.”

A large portion of WFCC’s budget goes to paying hotel bills.

Because of vast distances between Wyoming towns, people seeking cancer treatment must often travel hours for care.

It’s is all about reducing the burden of cancer.

WFCC Board of Directors includes (front row) Abigail Strube (ad hoc), Kara Frizell; (back row): Angie VanHouten, Michele Nash, Dr. Robert Tobin, and Sam Carrick (ad hoc)

More than 12 years ago staff at Rocky Mountain Oncology in the mid-state city of Casper saw patients struggling at home with non-medical needs.

So they considered how best to help.

The result was a grass roots organization as an arm of the large Tennessee based eplus Cancer Care foundation.

Then in 2018 WFCC received its own 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

Until recently funding came 100% from community donations and grants from individuals.

And now as they extend their reach to more of Wyoming and are eligible for federal grants, efforts are underway to grow the current $50,000 budget.

It’s about supporting patients and families with the non-medical needs that accompany treatment.

In 2017 more than 206 people state wide were served, and this year 176 patients have already been helped.

And the only eligibility requirements are that applicants be Wyoming patients currently undergoing treatment.

Partnering with Hands-On Care

When WFCC merged with the Angels Cancer Care Program more ways to offer non-medical support were possible.

That’s because many of the volunteers have, themselves, gone through cancer treatment.

“They know how to help make the stress of chemo more bearable,” Abigail said.

“Volunteers may sit with patients going through treatment, assemble cancer care kits, and drive patients to appointments.

“They have even put together teams to do house cleaning,” she said.

“In Wyoming we are proud to take care of our own.

“We believe in the spirit of the west and supporting cancer patients in our communities who are in need,” she said.

As for her mom, Abigail reports, “She’s 10 months out of treatment and doing really well.”

Take Action!

•  Read more about Wyoming Foundation for Cancer Care

•  Donate to WFCC. Every small donation has a big impact.

•  Review Preventing Alzheimer’s and Slowing ALS: The Focus of Jackson Hole Medical Non Profit.

• Read Climb Wyoming where efforts to end the cycle of single-mom poverty in Wyoming are effecting change.

•  Read about a daughter who helped her mom live fully to the end of her life.

•  •  •

Ellen Synakowski (she/her/hers) lives in Laramie, Wyoming. She is a HeartMath Certified Trainer and Coach, and certified through HeartMath to administer the Stress and Well-being Assessment tool; A Connection Practice Trainer, a Trainer’s Trainer, and Coach; and a Registered Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist (RCST®). Her website is EllenSynakowski.com.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.  — C. West