Welcome to AWBA

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Strength of Community

Chronic health conditions can so quickly lead to isolation - physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual.  In my first experience as a caregiver, I felt very isolated.  People did not intend to leave me hanging.  They did not understand my needs, and I did not know how to ask for support, and even what to ask for.  There was simply no energy to make the ask. It was one step forward and two steps back on some days.  I also found that once the novelty of the crisis wore off for those around me, the isolation became even deeper.  We are a quick fix society, aren’t we?  A diagnosis that will not be healed to return us to our original state of health in the foreseeable future is a chronic diagnosis. We are challenged to reframe relationships, beliefs,  assumptions, and dreams into a new vision for the future.  Friends and family may find it uncomfortable to be deeply involved in a situation that cannot be “fixed” and they pull away in subtle ways.  Others may try  to stay with you, but find it difficult having no personal frame  of reference from which to offer authentic and helpful    support.  A chronic diagnosis often leads to days with a lot of   moving parts so even if life seems “reframed” one week, the  next week is a new picture.  Friends and family can become  weary.  Heck, you become weary but there is no option for  you to pull away.  

When AWBA launched over one year ago, our first offering was an on-line retreat that spanned an 8-week period, "Beginning Again - Benedictine Wisdom for Living With Illness." This program served caregivers and those with chronic disease and brought together people from across the United States and Canada.   The feedback was so positive for this program that it is being offered again beginning in October.  Some of you may have found your way to supportive on-line communities and understand their value as a piece of your support network.  Others may wonder how community can be established without in-person    interaction.  I wondered this myself until I experienced it personally.  We are hungry for support, for community, for authentic sharing, and for a place to be honest with our questions - no judgment, no one offering quick fix answers.  This confidential environment based on the theme of beginning again sets the environment  for a safe and sacred  container for those on a similar journey.   Visit our website at  www.myawba.org for more information about this program  and consider joining us for this retreat.  If you have particular  concerns or questions, you may email me at  director@myawba.org or via the AWBA website. 

We are not created to journey in isolation.   

Discover the well ...

A few years ago someone shared with me the wisdom, “Discover the well before you are thirsty.”  This message seems especially true for those impacted by the daily challenges of living with a chronic situation.  Caregivers and those living with a chronic disease are nurtured as they consistently engage the activities, people and environments where their spirit is filled.   A caregiver cannot continue to give from a place of compassion if he/she has not taken time for self-care. One living with chronic illness cannot expect to carry hope on the dark days if the daily regiment includes very little that brings joy and life.  Life is hard, and our wells can dry out before we are even aware of it.  Once we find ourselves living life  from a place of internal emptiness, it is very difficult to fill up without totally retreating from life.  

When I teach spiritual practices and establishing a personal spiritual rhythm, I am often greeted with silence when I ask, “What fills you?”  Some know what fills them but deem it unrealistic due to time, expense, or friends and family who make it difficult for them to be motivated for their own self care.   They have been taught to believe self-care is frivolous and selfish.  Others have no idea what fills them, and have never stopped to consider that God would want to quench their thirst while they simultaneously care for others. 

I invite you to discover your well in the midst of whatever life season surrounds you, and to begin filling it with intention and joyful abandon.  Do not wait until you are exhausted and depleted, a place in which no one (including you) is served with compassion.    What activity helps you slow a racing and distracted mind?  Who brings a smile to your face?  Where are the places that help you believe life is bigger than whatever obstacle you face?   What books or music bring a sense of God’s peace and presence to your spirit?  

If you have found your way to this blog, it is likely that you are impacted by chronic disease.  If you are the one with a diagnosis, you are more than your medical condition and life is more than the immediate challenge you woke up with today.  Drink from your well.  If you are a loved one in a caregiving role, self-care is vital if you want to be in this for the long run.  Drink from your well.  If you are a chaplain, spiritual director, therapist, medical provider or other caregiving professional, those you tend to need you to care for them from a place of abundance, not exhaustion.   Drink from your well.  

Choose life this day and watch how your heart, and the people around you, are impacted as a result.  It will make a difference.  

Peace to you this day.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Hello.  My name is Judy and I am the founder and Executive Director for Always We Begin Again.  Myself and my companions on this journey (an outstanding Board of Directors) welcome you to this blog and to our new website at www.myawba.org.  It is important for me to share at the outset that I would be on the "least likely" list for those who feel equipped to lead a website development effort, set up a blog, etc.  But, in this day and age and (most importantly) considering who we serve, having a web-based presence  and a virtual connection for the development of relationships with our audience has put me in a place of needing to embark on a huge learning curve.  So, thank you for your patience as we make substantive changes to this blog each time a new lesson is learned! 

Our vision for this blog is in process but the immediate goals are to provide:

- inspiration for your spiritual journey as a caregiver or one with a chronic diagnosis,
- a behind-the-scenes peek into our programs and future hopes and dreams for serving you,
- some back story on me and my journey so that you begin to develop a relationship with AWBA to let us know needs and desires that we may be able to support, and
- a place for you to "drop in" when the road feels long and the idea of beginning yet again feels like too much.

Beyond that, we will see what develops and go from there.  When the time is right, we have a few "guest bloggers" ready to go.   They are people also walking this journey who carry an inspirational story for others.  For the present time, we will not solicit comments directly to this blog.  You can contact me at director@myawba.org.  To receive an email when new blog posts are made, enter your email

 address in the box on the right to follow this blog.  If or when it seems time to set up a group site for dialogue among participants, we will do that through another service.

Thank you for visiting and may you experience a moment of peace each time you connect with AWBA.