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Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

Current Issue

September 2008 
  Loving the Questions
A Newsletter from Candyce Ossefort-Russell, M.A., LPC
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Hello! The newsletter is back and getting into swing for fall, and it's great to return. I'm going to start this fall with an apology--the lead article in this issue is a little longer than usual. As you'll see, I'm so impassioned about what I've learned about getting involved that I couldn't contain myself. I hope my passion will be infectious. And it's an easy read. Here's wishing you all the strength you need to get to the polls this year.

Does My Involvement Matter?
Some Thoughts On Why It Does

Leaf closeup 5 This past weekend, my husband and I stood in a crowd of thousands at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. One of our favorite bands had left the stage, and the crowd was pushing for an encore. All around us people cheered and whistled to entice the musicians to return for one more song. My husband observed, "My claps make about as much difference as my vote will make." I automatically responded, "Realistically, our claps probably make more of a difference than our votes will. How depressing."

But then I paused and suddenly thought, "What if every one of us in this crowd gave in to that belief? What if all of us gave up and stopped cheering?" There would be silence.

It's so easy to fall into resignation as election day approaches, believing that my measly little vote won't make a hill of beans of difference one way or the other in any race. And in a certain respect, that's accurate. I'm only one person with one vote, after all.

But something about the fact that the noise made by a crowd is just that--noise made by a crowd, and a crowd is made up of individuals like me--made me sit up and take notice. My vote may not make a difference on a grand scale. But my vote does join one crowd or another and add to that crowd's influence, even if that influence takes 50 years to gain momentum.

In America it's easy to take our right to vote for granted--each one of us has it handed to us automatically on our 18th birthday. But a couple of weeks ago I worked to register voters at The Pecan Street Festival, a local arts fair that attracts a huge cross-section of Austin's population. I was unprepared for how moving this seemingly mundane experience would be.

One man who registered was foreign-born, and had received his American citizenship less than a year before. Tears moistened both of our eyes as he asked me how to go about voting, telling me that this was his first time to register and would be his first time to vote. "I've never had a way to voice my desire for change before," he said with a quavering voice.

Another young couple in their early twenties with a 7-year-old child in tow stopped me to ask what I knew about one of the candidates. I told them briefly, and they responded, "I've been hearing about that, and I think I want to do this [register to vote]." They had never registered before and had difficulty understanding the registration forms. They hadn't had much schooling or many opportunities to learn about the process. They had never felt included before, but having me accessible as a regular person made them decide they wanted to take part. The pride was palpable in their posture as they solemnly signed the registration forms.

These and other experiences of registering people who viewed their right to vote as a gift humbled me. I was further humbled by an email my mother forwarded to me re-telling the story of how women in 1917 struggled and paid for the right for women to vote. I think this humility is what stopped my cavalier attitude in its tracks when I was bemoaning cheering in a crowd.

I know I can be a relentless optimist. But really, too many sacrifices have been made by people who came before us for us to lightly toss off our right to vote. It feels like a duty to the people in the world who still don't have a voice that we people who live in a free country express our opinion through our vote, even if we're discouraged, and even if we're in the minority. And I'm also reminded of a line from an old Rush song that says, "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." Whatever your leanings, I implore you--exercise your right to make your choice and make it known.

For Help With Discerning Your Passion & Opinions... 

A Few Answers
Ideas to Carry With You Along the Way

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My experience is that everyone's needs are unique, even as many needs are universal. Here's hoping that one or two of these gems will land in a useful place at the right time for you:

  • In America it's easy to take our right to vote for granted.
  • In America it's also easy to feel like our votes don't count for anything, but a crowd is made up of many individuals.
  • Many people have made many sacrifices so that we will have the freedom to express our opinions and choices by voting.
  • "How we vote, how we prepare ourselves, what leads us one way or another says a lot about the kind of people we are. It is also an indication of whether we believe a better society is possible; that working for change is worth doing, even if change is messy, slow and not easily achieved." From Irish Jesuit community's website.
  • If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

Get Help With Working Through Resignation. . . 

The Power of Ritual
How Can I Make Life More Meaningful?

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Rituals create pause within busy-ness. They are small actions that bracket routines with meaning and intention. By acknowledging meaning and intention in any activity, we live from the heart.

Make a purposeful choice to go to the polls on voting day and cast your vote. Wear your "I Voted" sticker all day long.

More on Rituals . . . 

Quote of the Month
What Do Others Say?

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If you'd like to receive a thought - provoking quote once a week, it's easy to subscribe to "Weekly Wisdom" quote of the week.
Click here.

We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.
- Thomas Jefferson

They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
- Andy Warhol

To Read More Quotes . . . 

Books and Websites
Where Can I Read More?

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For more Recommended Reading,
click here.

For more Interesting Websites,
click here.

This Month's Recommended Reading:

Rising From The Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class, by Larry Tye
"Larry Tye has written a much-deserved love song to the forgotten men of the civil rights and labor movements--the Pullman porters who defeated a major corporation, helped finance numerous civil rights battles, spread news and culture nationwide, and set a high standard for dignity." -- Julian Bond, chairman, NAACP Board of Directors
I chose this book, not because it has to do with voting specifically, but because it is a moving and inspiring story of the struggle of a group of African American men to influence change in the status of all of their people in this country. These men faced great indignities that most of us will never know, and their progress moved at a snail's pace. But they never gave up, and as a result they change millions of lives. Can be ordered at www.amazon.com.

This Month's Interesting Websites:

Why Your Vote Matters
This blog post about why your individual vote matters is one of the most articulate expressions of this opinion that I've found. I hope you find it inspiring, or at least thought-provoking.

Women's Right to Vote
I never forward mass emails. Never. But recently my mother sent me a message that made me stop and think. Because of the sacrifices made by women in my (our) past, I have always been able to take my right to vote for granted. But this brief story of what it took for me to have that right has made me feel deep gratitude for the struggles of those who have gone before me, so I posted it to a blog so it would be accessible to a lot of people.

Does Your Vote Matter?
This little section from a Dublin Jesuit community's website has a lot to say about voting as well. Note especially the last section entitled, "The Bigger Picture Behind Your Vote."

Therapy can help you learn to express your opinion, work through discouragement about expressing your opinion, or to even figure out what your opinions are. Through individual therapy, group therapy, writing groups, and study groups for therapists, I offer you a supportive and lively environment for knowing yourself better and better.

Therapists, this is the month for the Austin AEDP Immersion Course! The course will be held Wednesday through Sunday, October 22-26, 2008. There are only a few spaces left, so contact me if you're interested in registering.

Therapists also note that after the AEDP Immersion Course I will be starting a small supervision group for people interested in deeper training in AEDP. If you already know you're interested in getting on the list for the group, please let me know.

Please contact me if you're interested in anything I'm offering or if you want more information about me and about how I work.

Happy Fall!


Candyce Ossefort-Russell

phone: 512-789-6244

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