Regina Jardim: October 31, 2010

Regina Jardim

Regina Jardim

Dear  friends

I met Michael White in a conference in Brazil, in the city of Porto Alegre in 2006. I was already quite familiar with the literature on Narrative Therapy but even thought I was entirely moved by his personal presence. I approached him and I said that I was so interested in his approach That I would like to do a PH.D. under his orientation. He open a large gentle smile and told me he was a clinician and he had nothing to do with academic Ph Ds.

Two weeks ago I went to another conference. In fact, a workshop with Cheryl White and David Dendbrough. I heard many histories about Michael White and I could understand a little more where all such ideas came from.  The workshop was about collective practices informed by narrative principles. I can sure say it was the most  emotional workshop I  ever attended. David and Cheryl were very natural and they manage to connect us people with our strengths, abilities and traditions. They created among us the very climate they were teaching us about. It was all very clever and touching.

The principles of the work became very clear and we were all much close to the core business of narrative practice which is a way of being connected to others more than a technique to be followed. We generated a document from the encounter and I like to share it with you in the group. Of course you all know that it is a document private to that group so it cannot be mentioned else where without the permission of all involved. As David was reading the document one could feel the emotions filling the room. Very very beautifull!! I reproduce it here.
<h2>Chasing Brazilian dreams: How we get through hard times</h2>
In October 2010, we met in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We shared stories and song, laughter and at times tears. And we spoke about what gets us through times of hardship. We hope this document may be relevant to you. We hope you may add your stories to it.

For some us, here in Brazil, touch is important. As a family we moved a lot when I was a child. We travelled to many different countries. Touch and holding hands is very important to me. I was in boarding school for many years and touching there was difficult. Whenever my family would come to pick me up it was so different. When I think of this, when I remember their touch, it evokes the sound of relief, a sense of safety, and the vision of smiling faces. There is a proverb too … ‘kiss it better’. For some of us in Brazil, when times are difficult, touch is important.

To Pray
Some of us turn to prayer. I may be alone or with others when I pray for comfort, for protection, for blessing, for confidence. I have a strong image of my parents. They have ritual of prayer. They kneel down and pray in the morning and in the evening. While for me, I may pray even when I am driving to the bus station. I am the fifth generation of my family that goes to the same church. This is our community. When I am having difficult times somebody comes and tells me ‘I am praying for you’. Once a member of our community was kidnapped and we prayed together. This made us stronger. When you are with the community you belong to something.

Another member of our group also spoke about prayer. When my mother had a neurological problem she stopped moving. All we could do was to try to make her life as comfortable as possible. At this time, I was strengthened by the idea that God does not give us more than we can stand.  The serenity prayer also helped: ‘God give me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the one’s I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’.

When those we love are struggling, when times are hard, some of us turn to prayer.

Commitment to family
For others of us, it is a commitment to family that carries us through. A long time ago, during the war, my family was abroad. The times were so hard and my mother at one stage wanted to kill herself. It was her commitment to family that kept her alive and that helped us all to survive. Earlier, my grandfather had had to sell the family’s property. He felt as if he had betrayed the family and he ended up taking his own life. Family was very important to him too. Generation through generation, Jewish family has been so important to us. It has been this commitment to family that has carried some of us through.

To sing
Here in Brazil, some of us love to sing. This is true for me. I was at the hospital last week and I started singing out loud. It was the music that asked me to sing! This has a long history. I was a very happy child, always singing, dancing, clapping. My dad used to sing a lot too. When I was 5 years old I had an accident, a car ran over me. And when I went to the hospital, I went singing. At that hard moment I asked my dad to sing to me. In hard times I always felt better whenever I sang.

This is still true. When I see people sad I call everybody together and say ‘let’s sing’. I have a karaoke set with a microphone and I use this whenever I am upset. I love the Beatles – revolution, the music letters. They set a mark in my youth. There is a kind of line before and after the Beatles. The Beatles allowed people to open up and talk about things we didn’t use to say. When I turned 50 my husband set a surprise party and hired a Beatles cover band. I didn’t care about the people who came to the party. I just sang and danced all night long! Here in Brazil, some of us love to sing.

Logical, rational thinking
Sometimes, when things are tough, we start searching for solutions. My family uses logic and rational thinking. I remember when inflation was really high. We had just built our house and my parents had to repay their mortgage. Each week, on the day my father got paid, all our family members would go to three supermarkets. We would organise ourselves in a very rational way in order to deal with re-pricing that was happening constantly. If I think about these times, I can still hear the ticking sound of the remarking of the prices. I can feel the cold of the supermarket. The supermarket trolley was really heavy and I recall that getting it home was hard work. My family is descended from Italy. Food is very important to us. During the times of inflation, I learnt to face problems and not to run from them. I learnt the value of logical and rational thinking. This was in 1986, 24 years go. Sometimes, logic and rational thinking is a strength we need to search for solutions.

An optimism – these hard times will pass
Some of us, when things are hard, hold onto a belief that things will get better, that hard times will pass. I learnt a lot about this sort of optimism from my grandma. She went through a lot with her husband who built another family without her knowing. When my grandma found out she maintained an open heart to listen to his story. Today they are divorced (and the other woman went away) but my grandma still has lunch with my grandpa. She was able to forgive him and today she is stronger than him. This is linked to a family value of looking to a spiritual level in every situation. My mother inherited this open heartedness and now I am trying to live it too in my work and in my relationships.
Another member of our group also spoke about optimism and a positive way of looking at facts. After my dad passed away, my mum was a widow and had to care for the six of us. She was always hoping for something better and she would always look for positives. My mum is still alive at 84 years old. She attends university, and does aikido. When I lost a daughter, as I tried to cope with the situation I always had my mum in my mind. And now, I notice that my kids speak in the same ways that my mother used to. This positive way of looking at the world is being carried on.

Another one of us, told a related story. When I was 1 year old, my father suffered a very serious accident. He survived and the whole family took something from situation. My whole story and my family’s story is about overcoming hardship, and trusting our resources. My parents were always pushing me and my brothers saying ‘you can do it, you can pass through, do not give up’. I always remember this history. Besides, Brazilian culture is optimistic.

When hardship comes, some of us rely on an optimism, a belief that these times will pass.

The power of work, study and creativity.

Sometimes it’s work, study and creativity that can make the difference. The moment I learnt about overcoming was when my husband became bankrupt. We went to different places and talked with many people. Speaking about our problems was good. And many creative ideas about projects started to come alive. This creativity is linked to my mother. She painted, writes poems, played the piano, and always created opportunities to open a bottle of wine and to celebrate. She showed me versatility. If there was no food she would create some. If there was no light she would make fun with the candlelight. This creative heritage of my mother is ever present in my life as a mother, in my marriage, and as a therapist.

Another one of us told a related story. For me, in difficult times, what matters most is to study, to read about the new, and to discover what I don’t yet know. When my father died I was most sad. I got by through my work. When I am with a client I can ‘take a holiday from myself’. I stick with the client. And when I am giving classes I am connected with the subject which is always bigger than my troubles. I am from a time with no TV and no computer. From my childhood days I would entertain myself with reading and making my own toys. Later, I was an adolescent as women started to burn their bras. The idea of women’s freedom became part of my culture at that time.
When hard times come, some of us turn to work, to study and to create something new.

To face adversity and never give up
In times of adversity, some of us turn to face it and never give up. When I became pregnant at a very young age, I swore to my baby that she would never be an obstacle to my life. I would not give up my dream of becoming the woman I wanted to be. There was a strong power with me. This determination came from my family history. Both grandparents and great grandparents had histories of being winners and warriors. This history gave me courage. And I was much influenced by my mother who was a very active person, politically and as a feminist. Some of us, when adversity comes, we face it and we never give up.

Another one of us said something similarly. In 2003, I was planning to travel abroad to do an exchange in Switzerland. I was excited but something happened to me before I left. I felt something was wrong in my body. One side of my body, from head to foot, had become weaker than the other. I went to a number of doctors and the diagnosis was multiple sclerosis. I had many questions. Will I be able to travel? For how long? It was said that I would not live a long life. I was told people with this disease die before they are 40. And so I started to think about death and my family started to cry. But this was not the time to give up. Religion brought belief and my family supported me.  And through these times I learned that even when in fear you can find a solution. I start to believe that I could reach some goals. I completed the exchange program and in fact stayed in Switzerland even longer than the six months. Then I came back and went to the university. No matter how bad it is, some of us have learnt to face both life and death and to keep chasing our dreams.

These are some of the ways in which we move through hard times. Some of us turn to touch, or to prayer. Some of us sing, or rely on logical thinking. For others of us it is a commitment to family or an optimism that carries us through. Or the power of work, study and creating something new makes all the difference. There are other ways too. Some of us move our bodies. We do exercises to make us feel alive in mind and in body. These are some of the ways in which we face adversity and never give up.

In October 2010, we met in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We shared stories and song, laughter and at times tears. We spoke about these things that get us through times of hardship. We hope this document may be relevant to you. We hope you may add your stories to it.
And that was not the whole history. Before David read this document many groups had prepared a presentation of their own way of sharing what we learned about our ways of facing adversity. My group was: me (Regina), Lucia Helena and Ana Novis (we are together on the site plus Luiza, Monica e Roberta (from the Narrative´sGarden and the project The tree of strength) We produced a RAP. I will share the lyrics of the RAP, translated into English.

The Making Dance – Moving on Each one in your square

Each one in your square
Strength in action
Strength in action

When I was a little girl
My mother always said
Work, work for your release
And no subjugation
Live Action!

Each one in your square
Each one in your square
Strength on Education
Strength on Education

When I was a little girl
I Found in the books
The possibility
of Dreaming and of freedom

Each one in your square
Each one in your square
Strength in perseverance
Strength in perseverance

My grandmother taught me
That everything in life
Pass, pass,
pass, pass.
and God gives the cold
According to the blanket!

Each one in your square
Each one in your square
Strength in movement
Strength in movement

When I get weird
Not to paralyze
I like to move my body
I like to move my body
Walking, cycling, climbing

Each one in your square
Each one in your square
Strength in Wisdom
Strength in Wisdom

My mother taught me
To  differentiate
What is to accept
And what to modify
Serenity serenity
Serenity is the key!

Each one in your square
Each one in your square
Strength in the creation
Strength in the creation

My mother taught me
that Fairies can transform
When things get complicated
To create is to recycle
Recycle, Recycle,
To create is to recycle!

Each one in your square
Each one in your square
With Cheryl and David D
We learned to tell stories
But if nothing better works
Chocolate, chocolate
Chocolate to energize!

Each one in your square
Each one in your square
SO… let’s change?
SO… let´s share?
Get out of the square
Get out of the square …

Ciranda, Cirandinha,
Let´s all dance/ play/  (CIRANDAR)
Let´s turn around, and  around again let´s turn
The history you gave to me, it gives me strength
Transformed our lives. Made a connection

I know I am sharing all that with you out of emotion and curiosity but also as a live example of giving value and space for local knowledge rather than imposing a general  theory over diverse people.
You may wonder why I am posting this under tribute to Michael White. As far as I can see and David and Cheryl always present everything they do, as developments and continuations of Michael´s  ideas and work.
I hope you enjoy that as much as I did.
Best wishes
Regina Jardim


Sarah Hughes: November 1, 2010

Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes

Good morning from the mountains of Canada – where your words and energy touched me and made me smile deeply this morning as I sit here with my cup of tea and get ready to start my day. I have been away from the study group for a while as I have been busy with job interviews, Halloween and mountain climbing.  All fun, scary and exciting adventures….

Reading your post was such a nice way to start my day and get ready to position myself for the stories I will hear and help develop this week – I love your reminder that
he core business of narrative practice which is a way of being connected to others more than a technique to be followed.

I could feel that connection in the words of the letter.  I was thinking last night as I was driving home from my trip about a woman I work with whose son died a year ago this week.  Your post made her come back to my mind and decide that i want to write her a letter today – she has had some very hard, dark times this past year and she has got through in very powerful ways by remaining so positively connected to her son.  So thank you for sparking that idea and the reminder to write in the spirit of connection, emotion, care, specifics and curiosity.

I am so thankful for this story and the other powerful stories, ideas, questions, wondering – people post here in this study group that all started as a way to keep Michael’s ideas and spirit of thinking and working alive and growing.
thank you Regina,

Olya Kozlova: November 1, 2010

OlyaWhat a beautiful document! Olya


Peggy Sax: November 2, 2010

Peggy Sax

Peggy Sax

Regina, I want to add my heartfelt “thank-you” to Sarah & Olya. I have read and reread your words. Among other things, I am so enjoying getting to know you, your culture and your family.  Is it your experience as well to see how your generosity in sharing out of emotion and curiosity within this study group gives us a live example “of giving value and space for local knowledge rather than imposing a general  theory over diverse people”? Rest assured, we will honor your request that you shared from a document private to the group that gathered with David & Cheryl, the details of which we will not speak about elsewhere without the permission of all involved.

Regina, right now, I am imagining Michael’s delight in experiencing the vibrancy of your spirit and culture, as well as your personal blend of optimism combined with logical, rational thinking. Can you picture some of those delightful questions Michael might want to ask you in linking the present, past and future? I would want to be an audience to the stories that this interview would bring forward  – to learn more how these “knowledges and skills of making it through hard times”  might keep you connected to what you hold precious as you embark on making future dreams come true. If these skills of living you can make it through hard times,  what do you imagine they might make possible for you and your colleagues/friends in the future? Do you have dreams that you would like to make come true? Does anything in particular come to mind?

I want to leap over the many miles to hang out with and learn from you, Lucia and Ana about the power of work, study and creativity –  in how you get through hard times as well as sharing the joyful times. We will share words, song, touch, laughter, tears and quiet moments of prayer- and sing Beatles’ songs together.  Some day this will happen.

What a wonderful way to begin my day. Thanks again, Regina!

Mary Brevda: November 2, 2010

Mary Brevda

Mary Brevda

Hi Regina, I would like to ditto Olya’s response and say also say, what a beautiful document. I so appreciate your willingness to be so open and transparent with us. I was quite moved and inspired to see how you used touch, prayer, commitment to family, singing, logical, rational thinking, optimism, and power of work to get through hard times and to face the challenges in your life. thank you for sharing this document with us. Mary

Sonja Bar-Am: November 3, 2010



Hi all – also this so resonated with me: “The core business of narrative practice which is a way of being connected to others more than a technique to be followed.”

Is it part of a postmodern ethical being or a narrative identity that we learn and are inviting our clients to step into? Thank you to michael for scaffolding for us a new deeper way of being.

I have just been watching a series about the Slums of India – in Mumbai – by Kevin McCloud who did the series Grand Designs. I am not sure if you will ever see this in America. I can send the link from Australia – but I am not sure if there is foreign permission to see this : but try if you can :

The sense of community and connection between the one million slum dwellers in a one square mile space in the city of Mumbi with 85% employment and no crime but living conditions intolerable and deadly! Amazing!


Regina: November 10, 2010

Regina Jardim

Regina Jardim

Thank you very much Peggy, Sonja, Mary, Olya and Sarah. I am so glad you enjoyed this document. It sure was a very important event on my life to be a part on generating such powerful letter. A “memorable moment”.  Sonja, you are right. It´s not permitted to people outside Australia to see the video you send us. I have been involved with a lot of work and some family things as well this few days but soon I will be writing more.

Let me just share with you the latest book I am reading. You may think I am quite naïve or simple minded but I am reading Elizabeth Gilbert second book called  “ Committed: a Skeptic Makes Peace with marriage”. She makes a research about what is marriage (and divorce) thought different times and cultures.
I´ve been wondering what makes her writing so enchanting to me. I think it is that she writes as someone who does not know and is curious to find out. Curious to find the histories that remain out of the main stream.

The way she moves through the book, for some reason, resembles to me, our ( We, Narrative therapists´s) way to go around discovering the rarely told histories of our clients, in a  humble but truly interested way. Almost as if (actually sure that) what we are about to encounter can for sure be a value to our own life…to our own discoveries.

Reading the book one gets the idea (sometimes difficult to be putted in an interview)  that the way we see our lives is very much constructed by the culture we are in and that there are many many other ways to deal with the same facts and circumstances.

I am finding it quite useful in my clinical practice.

Love you all…thank you very much. Regina