Monthly Archives: August 2011

Restoration and Reflection

For my vacation week I have chosen to stay close to home. Errands and day trips have happily punctuated my week thus far. I had been considering going away for a couple of days for a retreat of sorts but knew that it would be a challenge for me to relax and not “do.” I also live in a beautiful area and believed this would give me an opportunity to re-visit some favorite places and maybe discover some new ones. Yesterday I chose to take out my new kayak and venture out to Choate Island. It’ a paddle and hike that I have done before and it didn’t disappoint. It was an hour paddling through the salt water at low tide until I reached the dock on the island. I saw 2 caretakers, one pruning and the other on his tractor. Our conversation consisted of quick friendly waves. The 135 acre island was essentially all mine for the 2 hours I spent walking to the top of the hill, having lunch, conversing with God, taking photographs, and attempting to drink in the beauty. The paddle back was a bit more taxing but still good and I continued to feel overwhelmed by the restoration the day had brought. It gave me time for reflection of what I have been learning and challenged me to think about how I desire to reflect light.

The following are a few pictures from my day. 

 The house is over 250 years old and has some old lead windows.   

There is a glimpse of the  the salt marsh from one of the windows.  Another trip is in order to catch the perfect shot. 


10 Lessons Learned in 11 years working at DMH


  1. Whether policies reflect it or not relationships are key. The relationships we have with co-workers both in DMH and outside help us to support our clients. The relationships we have with our clients are paramount not only to their growth but ours as well.
  2. Change is inevitable. None of us want to be the same person we were 5, 10, 15 years ago. We can reminisce about the days gone by but with change is the opportunity for growth, if we choose.
  3. Saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. You cannot embrace everything but not embracing anything leaves you stagnant.
  4. Having friends who understand your work is invaluable. To be able to grumble, complain, rejoice, and laugh about the challenging, demanding and rewarding work in the mental health system is a gift.
  5. To walk alongside someone, hear their story, and offer some bit of help is a gift and a responsibility that should not be underestimated.
  6. Lynn is one of the most unique places on earth. A city on the ocean with a beautiful (smelly) beach, rich history, and vast diversity. People care deeply one person and program at a time. There are hidden gems throughout the city –some services, people, and lots of great diverse food.
  7. The DMH Lynn staff are good good people. They have listened to my rants, cared for me when I had knee surgery, given me grace when I was griping, supported my adventures and the kids I have met around the world.  I have been proud to work with such a generous team.
  8. Kids, adolescents and young adults bring me joy. I love that they still dream and dare to share those dreams. They keep me young at heart despite adding grey to my hairs.
  9. Not everyone understands the challenges of those struggling with severe mental health issues. We are responsible for educating, informing, and giving voice to our clients lives –their hopes, dreams, and challenges to a larger society when our clients can’t yet speak for themselves.
  10. I could never have learned the same lessons about myself, the world, others, in any other place than Lynn DMH and for that I am profoundly grateful.


This is only a glimpse of the lessons I have learned at the Department of Mental Health.


It has been a great joy in my life to build relationships with, advocate for, and walk alongside the clients I have been privileged to serve.



“margin: a spare amount or measure or degree allowed or given for contingencies or special situations” Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I’m not good at always keeping margin in my life. I fill my life with so much and when the summer comes and I think of relaxing yet I seem to add more. Softball is on Tuesdays, Tennis on Wednesdays and sometimes Thursdays. Weekend beach time includes relaxing and tackling the summer reading list. Summer also includes a couple of trips to Vermont for family time, the pool, hiking and biking. All the activities New Englanders dream of in winter must be fit in each summer – kayaking, biking, lake swimming, outdoor concerts, ice cream runs, and on and on. I have most often written this blog during the time I leave in the margin. Yet this season the margin has shrunk. I am leaving my position of 11 years and the transition has been more time consuming then I expected. Every morning is early and my to-do list is nearly all I dream of.

All these reasons are why blogging has taken a back seat. Yet the fall is coming and with the new season it will bring a new schedule, team, students to work with, commute time, and a decision about the margin in my life. Will I, this autumn season, insist on more margin in my life? When I mean insisting on margin, this is a conversation with myself and God. What does God want me to do this season? Where does he want me to serve and learn this season? More importantly where and how does he want me to rest and leave my schedule open and unplanned? Where is He directing and leading me to have margin?

I have thought often about my time and what would happen if I didn’t have any margin. Though the margin seems slim in my life what if I didn’t have any? What if to put food on my table and keep a roof over my head I needed to have 2 or even 3 jobs? What if my commute time in my air conditioned and dry car was not commuting for work but walking and hauling water home before I head to “work”? I am blessed beyond measure.

In the Margin is where so much good happens. On the paper it is where I doodle and dream. It’s where the inspiring movie is watched. The life altering conversation that is had over an impromptu dinner, it happens in the margin. It is where the stop to smell the sea air or walk in newly fallen snow is taken. Margin….do you have enough of it?