Posttraumatic Growth

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Dr. Richard Tedeschi, Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina, Charlotte discusses how positive transformation can follow a traumatic event.

When bad things happen, people often feel like it will break them — a serious illness, death of a loved one or an unfortunate event. However, scientific studies show most people recover from major life crises transformed AND even stronger than before.

This phenomenon is called Posttraumatic Growth (PTG). In this Soaringwords video, Lisa chats with Dr. Tedeschi, a leading expert in the field, who discusses how PTG is a process people go through and a place they get to when they come to recognize that they have been transformed.

PTG refers to a positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event. Posttraumatic Growth is not simply a return to baseline, the way your life was before the traumatic event. Instead it is an experience of IMPROVEMENT after the traumatic event that may be extremely profound, even life changing.

 

Soaring Stories®

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SoaringStories are a way to convey strong feelings or ideas to others in a creative way.

When you write a story it is an opportunity to try on other personalities or to explore different ideas and situations using the power of your imagination. Here are some stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, the power of community, or just a funny experience that people appreciate reading about.

Your SoaringStory can inspire a hospitalized child to think about something in a new way, to laugh or smile, or to be inspired to write about his or her feelings for the first time. We look forward to sharing your SoaringStories with people all around the world.

 

 

 

Soaring Poets®

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Words have power and poetry can transform us.

Poems can elevate us, capture our imagination, and connect us to strong feelings. Sometimes when you read a poem you have the feeling — “that’s exactly how I feel!” Other times reading a poem is such a powerful experience that you can feel as if you have made a new friend or connected with the poet in an intimate way.

Poems are a simple way for you to express and appreciate simple things for which you are grateful. And when a hospitalized child reads your SoaringPoem, he or she will feel more hopeful and grateful as they experience something through your poet’s eyes.

Writing a poem is a wonderful way to express your signature strengths, the parts of you that really make you unique. Great poetry stands the test of time, connecting us to nature, to emotions and to feelings that make us feel alive and hopeful.

In 1803, William Blake wrote the following words which are timeless, simple and powerful.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.

Soaring Photographers®

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Welcome to Soaring Photographers!

Its been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words” because a powerful photograph can capture our thoughts and emotions. Over the years, photography has become an integral part of our everyday life. Did you know the average American encounters over 1000 camera images a day?

Photography was “born” in the 1820’s. A French scientist Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was experimenting in printmaking and discovered a way to copy engagements onto glass. In 1827, he improved his photo making process and placed his lens facing the window and, after eight hours, the earliest camera photograph in existence came about, View from the Window at Le Gras and shows parts of the buildings and surrounding countryside of  his estate.

Most of the early photographs were portraits. Now cameras are a part of our daily life, recording birthday parties, vacations, and family get-togethers. They allow us to see outer space, cells in our bodies and even our favorite movie stars. What will you decide to take pictures of? Take a journey and learn more about our favorite Soaring Photographers!

 

Soaring Authors®

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We are the authors of our story.

Since it is impossible for anyone to know exactly what it feels like to be you, you are actually the only person who can really tell your story.  There are so many different kinds of authors out there- fiction writers – where the stories they create are not based on actual facts.  These include action-adventure books, mysteries, and fantasies.  Nonfiction writers write about factual things such as history, art, biographies, or school textbooks.

One of life’s simple pleasures is escaping into a good book.  At Soaring Authors, we have many famous authors who share a behind-the-scenes look at how they write.  You’ll learn what inspires them and how to transform a “story idea” into a story or book.  There are many writing activities organized around different subjects, different holidays, and different emotions to express how you are feeling.

 

Guess Who Zoo

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The Guess Who book series is the first children’s book series to be designated as part of the Soaringwords Book Club where children read the books and then are invited to make SoaringRiddles to donate to hospitalized children.

The author and Mascot Publishers are proud to cooperate in a program to Buy One, Give One to motivate consumers to purchase an extra set of books to donate to a hospitalized child (Press Release). To purchase your book click here.

Create a SoaringRiddle

Scanned from a Xerox multifunction device001 (1)Riddles are questions or statements phrased to tell its answer and they are usually presented as a game. Riddles are like puzzles and they ask the question: What am I? Many people enjoy riddles because they are fun to tell and even more fun to figure out! The riddle you make will be shared with a child in a hospital to bring laughter and joy to them!

Examples:

1) What is black and white and red all over?
A panda bear with a sunburn.

2) Why do hummingbirds hum?
Because they forgot the words!

3) How do bees get to school?
By school buzz!

4) Why did the turkey cross the road twice?
To prove he wasn’t chicken!

5) Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
“Cowsgo.”
Cowsgo who?
No they don’t, cows go “moo!”

 Click here to see more riddle examples. To see what students from P.S.75 in New York City have created, click here.

Here’s How to Get Started:

  1. Pick an animal that you want to be your answer (like a dog or dinosaur).
  2. What does your animal do? What does your animal look like? Write these ideas down.
  3. Draft your riddle. Try reading it to a friend to see if it makes sense. You can re-word it and try again!
  4. Share your riddle with friends and family!
  5. Use the SoaringBorder to write and decorate your riddle.

Pointers:

  • Fold your border to make a book. (When printing the border press “two-sided copy”.)
  • Do make sure your words are legible and neat, so that the Riddle can be easily read. Your riddle may end up on our website!
  • Do use darker colors for the words and bright colors for your picture.
  • Don’t write “Get Well Soon” or “Feel Better” because these messages can make an ill kid feel sad.
  • You can give your riddle to someone who is ill. Or, you can mail it to Soaringwords and we will share it with a hospitalized child.

 

 

January Newsletter

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This holiday season I had a “staycation” since we enjoyed a family wedding the week before in Toronto. One of the blessings of being in New York City over the holidays was the opportunity to catch up on life’s simple pleasures like leisurely reading the paper in my bathrobe instead of being in the gym at 7:30 each morning before dashing to the office. I also got to spend lots of time with friends. This week, Alex Shear, a dear friend and loyal Soaringwords volunteer died suddenly. He represented the best of everything that Soaringwords stands for: he had a great love of life, especially sharing high quality connections with other people. This newsletter is dedicated to his legacy and all of the joy that he brought to his family and friends.
(Photo of my son Josh, Alex Shear and me)

In a couple of weeks we’ll celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday when we will be sharing SoaringDreamCatchers activities with hospitalized children and school children to inspire them to dream big.

Wishing you and your family a new year filled with abundant health, joy, gratitude and well-being, Lisa

Soaringwords News

Recent cool Soaringwords events.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson Consumer IT team came together at a Town Hall meeting to decorate SoaringQuilts and SoaringPillows with inspirational messages and artwork to donate to hospitalized children at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. Throughout 2014, J&J employees in this group will participate in hands-on Soaringwords initiatives at quarterly Divisional meetings and monthly initiatives to mentor opportunity youth at Franklin Park Elementary School. MORE PHOTOS

New Soaringwords Curricula Based on Positive Psychology

Soaringwords shared a fun and creative activity: My Best Future Self with patients at Cohen Children’s Hospital and Montefiore Medical Center. This activity motivated patients to envision themselves in powerful, expansive and positive ways.

Richard Tedeschi Video

When bad things happen, people often feel like it will break them — a serious illness, death of a loved one, loss of a job or an unfortunate event. However, scientific studies show most people recover from major life crises transformed AND even stronger than before. This phenomenon is called Posttraumatic Growth. In this new Soaringwords video, Lisa chats with Dr. Tedeschi, a leading expert in the field, who discusses how PTG is a process people go through and a place they get to when they come to recognize that they have been transformed. PTG refers to a positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event. Posttraumatic Growth is not simply a return to baseline, the way your life was before the traumatic event. Instead it is an experience of IMPROVEMENT after the traumatic event that may be extremely profound, even life changing. This video will be shared with patients, their families, and healthcare professionals in hospitals to help them experience more Posttraumatic Growth in their lives. WATCH VIDEO

Educational Outreach

Each week, JCC volunteers and Soaringwords team leaders have the joy of working with second graders to create fun and meaningful projects to donate to patients and families at Harlem Hospital.  All of these projects are infused with Character Strengths and Virtues to allow students to strengthen their self-perceptions, bolster core skills to deepen knowledge and experience the process of meta-cognition. Photo on the left: SoaringOrigami for hospitalized kids. Photo on the right: Soaringwords Character Strengths spotting exercise where students identify strengths in each other and then make unique messages and artwork based on their very own signature strengths.

SoaringSpotlight

It is with great sadness that we said goodbye to Alex Shear, our dear friend and loyal volunteer. Alex was tragically killed by a bus earlier this week. A quintessential New Yorker, he brought his effervescent creativity and love of life to all of the Soaringwords programs. His first event was volunteering for three days at Kennedy Airport, where he invited hundred of travelers to decorate SoaringQuilts and SoaringPillows for hospitalized children for the holidays. We fell in love with each other and he’s been part of Soaringwords’ family ever since. Alex had amassed a large collection of Americana and we plan on launching SoaringInventors in his memory, in order to inspire hospitalized children and school children to make wacky inventions inspired by pieces in his collection in order to cheer ill kids.
SoaringHealth & Wellness Soaringwords is proud to introduce a 9 part Soaringwords Book Club video series based on DIGGING DEEP A Journal for Young People Facing Health Challenges written by Rose Offner & Sheri Brisson. Journaling is proven to enhance a patient’s sense of well-being as writing about the narratives of our lives is one of the most powerful means available for moving toward greater happiness (Tomasulo and Pawelski, 2012).  Three author interview videos share personal stories and pointers to using the journal. We created a special video for patients, a separate video for parents, and a third video for healthcare providers.  The authors combined their talents and experience — Rose is a successful author and Sheri is a brain-tumor survivor and successful businesswoman. Soaringwords filmed six Digging Deep activity videos with patients and families at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in California and Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx.  These creative hands-on activity videos include Life Awards You where patients give themselves an award for being courageous, kind, or resilient; 100 Dreams and Desires; Good Fortunes where patients write their own fortune cookie messages; and Taking Out the Trash. When patients engage in these projects it enhances their well-being. WATCH VIDEOS

Touch Points

Winter and Summer internship applications are open. Soaringwords has mentored more than 110 interns and we are looking for people who are intelligent, full of zest and curiosity, creative and want to make meaningful contributions. For internship information and applicationhere. Please contact us if you are interested in launching a team-building employee volunteer program, off-site, inspirational speaker or community event. Share Soaringwords for Take Your Child to Work Day on Thursday, April 24. Kindly contact lisa@soaringwords.org or call Greta at 646-674-7105 to set up a time to speak with us.

 

Digging Deep Journal

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Soaringwords is proud to introduce a 9 part Soaringwords Book Club video series based on DIGGING DEEP A Journal for Young People Facing Health Challenges written by Rose Offner & Sheri Brisson.

Journaling is proven to enhance a patient’s sense of well-being as writing about the narratives of our lives is one of the most powerful means available for moving toward greater happiness (Tomasulo and Pawelski, 2012).

Three author interview videos share personal stories and pointers to using the journal. We created a special video for patients, a separate video for parents, and a third video for healthcare providers.

The authors combined their talents and experience — Rose is a successful author and Sheri is a brain-tumor survivor and successful businesswoman.

Soaringwords filmed six Digging Deep activity videos with patients and families at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in California and Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. These creative hands-on activity videos include Life Awards You where patients give themselves an award for being courageous, kind, or resilient; 100 Dreams and Desires; Good Fortunes where patients write their own fortune cookie messages; and Taking Out the Trash.

When patients engage in these projects it enhances their well-being. Interested in Digging Deep? Contact sheri@resonancehouse.org

Authors Interview for Young Adults:

Authors Interview for Parents:

Authors Interview for Healthcare Providers:

Digging Deep Journal: Once Upon a Time

Digging Deep Journal: Good Fortunes

Digging Deep Journal: 100 Dreams and Desires

Digging Deep Journal: Tricks Up My Sleeves

Digging Deep Journal: Throwing Out the Trash

Give Yourself an Award

How to Talk to Children About Death

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It is always difficult to talk about death. We feel even more uncomfortable and nervous talking with children about death since we want to protect their innocence and shield them from sadness. Despite feeling apprehensive when talking to children about this subject, we need to support children through difficult times in order to facilitate healing and growth.

  • Let your children be your guide. If you don’t know what they know or understand about the death, ask open ended questions to see what they know and what questions they may have. Let your child’s questions and responses guide you as to how much information to provide. Give children ample opportunity over time to ask questions.
  • Let your children know you are there for them and ready to listen
  • Never try to “fix it” or justify the death.
  • Be honest with your children. Give them clear and honest answers to their questions. Children want, need and deserve the truth and need to know they can trust you to tell them the truth. You may worry that you won’t know what to say or have all the answers. It is okay to say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand that either.”
  • Listen to your children when they are not talking. Know that your children are listening to you when you are talking. Children will not always talk about their feelings directly, but you can learn a lot by paying attention to their play, what they are saying while playing, what they are drawing or writing. Children see, hear, feel and absorb what goes on around them. You may think your children are not listening, but they hear you when you are in conversation with others, or on the phone. Children have built in radar.
  • Acknowledge your children’s feelings. Let children know that any feelings they may be having are okay and normal. Help your child label their feelings (such as “sad”, “angry”, “frustrated” or “overwhelmed”).
  • Assure your child. Be sure to clarify any misconceptions or misinformation. Remind your child that people care about them and will help keep them safe.
  • Model for your children. Show children how you appropriately express your emotions and take care of yourself during the grief process. It is okay to let your child see how you feel, but do not use your child as your support system. Rely on other adults or professionals for your emotional support.
  • Look for changes in your child’s behavior. Changes may be a sign that they are feeling upset or unsettled. Be aware of changes in eating, sleeping, playing or the ability to concentrate. If your child’s usual behavior continues to be disrupted, contact a professional for support.
  • There is comfort in keeping to normal routines and schedules. Stick to normal routines as much as possible. Continue with regular schedules of sleeping, eating, school, extracurricular activities and play time with friends. These routines give your child a sense of security.
  • Not all children will understand death the same way

Young children – do not understand that death is permanent. Young children may ask the same questions again and again. This repetition helps them process and understand what has happened. Keep explanations short and simple and reassure them that they are cared for and safe. Young children will absorb and mimic your stress and feelings.

School-Age Children – are better able to understand what has happened and that death is permanent. They may have unrealistic reactions to death, may blame themselves for what has happened or worry that others will die. Provide honest facts and information about the death. Help them express themselves through art or writing and help them label their feelings such as “sad”, “stress”, “overwhelmed”.

Adolescents – may have the same understanding of death as adults have though perhaps not the experience with death and grief. Give adolescents time and space to work out their feelings. Allow them their privacy, but don’t let them withdraw too much. Involve them in decisions and conversations about the death. Let them know you are available if they need to talk. Help them figure out what they can do that is meaningful to them. They may want to channel them into a community project or some act of charity so they feel like they are taking a positive action. It is be helpful to invite children of all ages to write or draw their positive feelings and memories about the person who has died. Open-ended questions such as, “What are some of your favorite memories with this person?” or “What is the thing you are most grateful to have shared with this person?” are ways in which children can express themselves and build memories about the person who died.

Lisa Buksbaum is the CEO & Founder of Soaringwords, a non-profit charity devoted to helping millions of ill children and their families to heal. She started the organization after three experiences with death and illness in her family. To date it has helped 250,000 children and families to “Never give up!”  Visit soaringwords.org



Rachel Gorman is the Director of Hospital Outreach and Wellness Education at Soaringwords. She is a certified Child Life Specialist with over 20 years experience working with children and families at leading hospitals. Rachel has taught at Bank Street Graduate School of Education.