A Village of War Widows

In southwest Kosovo there is a village known as Village of War Widows. In 1999 this village was populated with both Albanian and Serbian, but in March 1999 the Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s military forces had descended on this rural village and separated the men from their families.What happened not only decimated the village’s male population but was one of the most violent incidents of the  Kosovo War. All the man of this village were and none of the men from the village returned. Over 100 men, including boys as young as 12 – all ethnic Albanians – were rounded up and killed in a raid by Serbian police, just one  day after the first NATO air strikes began. Eighty-two women were widowed and many children became fatherless.

The women first were forced to flee to the nearby mountains and then to neighboring Albania. They didn’t know nothing for the fate of their husbands and sons until the war was  over.

When they returned they found the entire village in ruins,  homes burned down, everything was destroyed.  Many of their husbands were found  dead  bur many still remain missing. Almost 70 per cent of Krusha’s male population is still missing, so  the life of women in this village changed radically.  Everything that was burned had to be rebuild. Woman had to  figure out a way to survive on their own by taking on the role of provider for the family.  They took all the farm jobs usually regarded as man’s work – driving tractors, ploughing, crop picking. without their loved ones, they had to become farmers in order to earn a living and support their families.

Many of them began to grow peppers and prepare ajvar (red pepper spread, which can be quite spicy as well). They tried to sold jars of homemade ajvar in Kosovo’s newly liberated capital, Pristina, and in open air markets.

Latter in 2005 woman joined together to make the Ajvar and other Kosovar staple such as Turshi (pickled vegetables) in mass production. They could help each other to rebuild their lives.

Today they runs a pepper cooperative, Kooperativa Krusha, with the help of UNSAID and the World Bank. They fill around 700 jars every day at the pepper factory and prepare up to 8,000 bottles of Ajvar for just one order to Germany or Switzerland, where most of the Albanian diaspora live. People other than Albanians are discovering Ajvar.

Women of murdered male villagers (husbands, brothers, fathers,

sons )overcame many hurdles, particularly Kosovo society’s expectation that widowed women should stay home and not go out alone without a male protector. They broke the taboo to change the mentality. These woman, the  Ajvar makers have found their own ways to deal with tragedy.

The war widows are an inspiration to all women They mourn their loss and will always remember the men and boys they can never bring back. But the women have also partly overcome their tragedy by finding the strength to pick up the pieces, support one another, survive and succeed.

Wake From Death and Return To Life

   起死回生   –   “Wake from death and return to life.”

A 74 year old Japanese man spends his life making Sense of the Senseless world he inhabited as a child during WWII.   He researches, talks with family, with his older cousins and builds a narrative for himself, a Japanese American narrative, a minority perspective, different than the dominant culture’s story and much needed for all.   

On February 19, 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the deportation and incarceration of Japanese Americans (62% were citizens) with Executive Order 9066 impacting nearly 120,000 people. The majority of mainland Japanese Americans were forcibly taken and relocated from their West Coast homes during the spring of 1942.

Carl Watanabe 74 years old was born in Chino, California and was an infant of a year old when he, his mother, father and four year old sister along with approximately 120,000 others were interned. 

The family had been gathered up by the police or sheriff or members of the National Guard — as an infant, Carl obviously has no memory of this but was later told stories by relatives or learned through his studies: his family was forced out of their home. 

You can take what you can carry, his family and the neighbors were told — and Carl’s 23 year old mother carried him and some diapers.  His father held the hand of Carl’s four year old sister and managed to bring a bassinette and some treasured family keepsakes which actually held no monetary value.  

Fear. Confusion. Anger. Humiliation.  Embarrassment.  


Everything they could not carry was laid out in the front yard and sold off.  They were ushered away watching as white people poked through the family’s keep sakes,  their clothes, toys, dishes, glasses, rugs, all those things, intimate and public that it takes to create a life – out on the front lawn. People poked for something they could use or liked.  Carl’s father and mother could do nothing – there was not even time to find a home for their pets. 

The barracks weren’t yet built so where would they put these people in the mean time?  Assembly camps.  That’s where.  That’s what they were called. Assembly camps. The government used racetracks, the horse stalls, temporary residences for these Japanese American Citizens. 

 Carl and his family were held at Santa Anita Race track where they lived in an 8 by 12 stall, white washed for the occasion of being occupied by people, instead of just one horse.   The walls in the stall they occupied was 7 or 8 feet tall and sound traveled freely through the gaps between the stall and the ceiling – the sounds of family’s whispered desperation  carried throughout the stable. The end of privacy really for the duration of the war. They were there for three weeks.

Some people, horrified by what was happening to their Japanese neighbors took over their farms and held them until the end of the war… most however were taken over and never returned and the reparations when they came, too little too late was minor. Remember, says Carl, these were American citizens. 

After three months in the horse stall at Santa Anita, his family along with thousands of others carrying what they could were lined up, examined and loaded into the train headed for Gila, Arizona. The train windows were covered as it went through towns so nobody in the outside world would see the awkwardness of this event which needed to be hidden from the non-Japanese American citizens.  

There were two camps in the dessert — Butte camp and the Canal camp — both of which were created out Pima Indian land. The Pima protested but to no avail.   Carl and his family lived in the dessert photo op camp where people like Eleanor Roosevelt come to inspect the happy Japanese families held in a place with no barbed wire, no armed guards, the  gun tower was not allowed to be photographed to make it seem like a family’s summer retreat to those looking into life in camp.  Everyone had a number: Carl was number 14901 and his father was 14923.

Desert: Carl’s cousin tells him about Do Not Get Caught outside in one of the relentless and the all too often dust storms, unless you have a mask, or goggles, something to protect your eyes and nose, even a handkerchief would do in a pinch but definitely not recommended.

The heat was unbearable – summer temperatures ran between 104 degrees and up to 125 degrees.

In the camp where Carl’s older cousin lived there was a pit near one of the barracks.  It was large and dark, dug for whatever reason who knows but it held kids in a temperature of around 90 degrees, a real break from the heat. The pit filled with kids quickly on unbearably hot days.  

The barracks were tar papered without plumbing or cooking facilities along the design of military barracks built for soldiers not families. There were one or two windows for each space – the walls between “apartments “did not go all the way up – again a whispered privacy.  

Whispers are the shared modulation of voice among the displaced, refugee and incarcerated groups around the world. 

Reclamation of voice is literal as well as historical. To learn again, to talk — loudly, to speak, to cheer, to complain, to greet and to hold forth in a voice that isn’t a whisper, often has to be relearned and evokes fear in the process of learning.  What can often remain is an anxiety about speaking up, telling your own truth.  And do not stand out.  It was dangerous once and the body still remembers.

It is difficult for a child, any child,  trying to understand history to comprehend the reasons for the incarceration in the first place – it seemed random with Hawaii much closer to Japan and when  40 percent of Hawaiian people were Japanese  or of Japanese descent – amounting to about 158,000 people and yet only a few were incarcerated — 1,500. In Hawaii, the spirit of aloha – acceptance and invitation — prevailed, and white supremacy never gained legal recognition or organization. 

It was quite different in west coast.  Racism against Japanese citizens was institutionalized and organized with groups lobbying against the normal rights granted white Americans, much as we see today toward the Mexican and Central American people in the US who are held in camps that look a great deal like camps used in the incarceration of the Japanese during WWII and in fact some are the old camps left from that period where Japanese were held.  Chrystal City, Texas, being one of them.  

There were some Italian and German citizens incarcerated some with the Japanese but very few in terms of the percentages compared to the Japanese. 

It seems to come down to two major things: 

Greed/jealousy – the white population had an opportunity to pick the literal fruits of the labor of the Japanese – farms were taken, crops were harvested, money went into pockets that were not Japanese. Fishing boats were taken from moorings all along the west coast. Through the eyes of our Japanese families, we see the social and cultural context of racism and greed in which Japanese people lived during WWII. And.  After!  

A tiny number of the farms were held by neighbors and returned but the boats, never.  There were eventual small reparations to some families. 

The second and probably the bigger reason was racism.  The early arrival of Japanese in the mid 1800’s looking for work to better their lives – so many of our families came to the US looking for the same thing.   The arrival of the Japanese awakened a new version of racism and like other Asians; they could not own land, could not vote or run for public office. And yet they stayed.  Their circumstances in terms of earning for the family were better in the US.  

The younger children liked the camp.  The mess hall meals were served at tables divided according to age. The noise. The clatter of plates. Probably great fun for the younger kids but Carl says, it destroyed the Japanese tradition of meal time – quiet in the family unit. The teenager’s had another story.  Their lives were gone once they were taken from their homes and in the place of them there were barracks, schools set up with damaged texts and huge numbers of students per classroom. There were sports and both men and women played.  Some of the teams – baseball – played in towns outside camp.  

On December 26, 1943 Carl’s 23 year old mother dies – an inappropriately applied anesthetic seemed to be the cause. She stopped breathing — and a year later his five year old sister dies of a tonsillectomy. That left Carl, a two year old child and his father who must have been beyond grief and depression.  Carl wonders what his life would have been like if he had had a mother and a sister. He watches intact families for cues.  

Carl’s father, had nothing left in his world but his young son.  When it was over he rarely talked about camp experiences.

Japanese people today wrestle over the word that would precisely describe what happened to them in 1942.  The word that comes closest and even so is not quite right is incarceration, wrongful incarceration. Families.  Carl tells me this. 

Some people were allowed to leave the camp to work if the work was in the middle of the country but not on the coasts.  His father had gotten a job in the countryside in Illinois.  And they left the barracks, the dust, the lack of privacy, the barracks, the two of them.  

First stop for Carl was a walkup apartment in Chicago where he age 2 ½ who remained alone after his father left for work. He was barely supervised by a woman living on the floor below.  He entertained himself throwing things out the window (what things?) – Someone, whoever it was, expressed concern that Carl would eventually and accidently throw himself out the window.

Foster care: This is where he learned that not all people were kind.  The foster parents, probably in need of the money, were as unkind to their own child as they were to Carl. Both boys had bathroom problems.  Carl wet his bed as one would expect of a child with his life story and the real family boy was constipated.  His parents sat their child on a toilet and squeezed his stomach until he yelled in pain.  Why would people torture their own child? Carl’s wonderment.

But, it was here that Carl fell in love for the first time.  A woman connected somehow to the foster family though quite a bit younger and kinder came to the apartment — Carl had wet his bed. The woman was very good to him, telling him in a sweet voice that he was not a bad boy.  She helped change him, the bed and spent some time with him, just him.  He has never forgotten her and loves her still, to this day wherever she is or isn’t any longer.      

When the war was over Carl and his father went back to Chino. His father worked for a Japanese family who had figured out how to own their farm. 

A new chapter: overt racism. Some things were better after the war but not all.  White people were still steeped in the war culture and the war-time and pre-war racism.  This made it very difficult for the Japanese people to reenter society, including Carl, a five year old boy.  

In 1946 Carl attended kindergarten and was taunted, teased and pulled at, constantly threatened with beatings by his peers or the older children. He was scared. A lot. This went on all through grade school and into Junior high but then when people began forgetting the war, the intensity let up.  By then Carl was nearly invisible.  

He was able to keep some of the family things which would be very important to him and others with the same experiences.

Then in 19– Carl’s house caught fire. Everything went up in flames. Everything.  All the family mementos that were left – photos special documents, letters —   were in the fire.  He lost his family… again. 

Carl reads, Victor Frankel’s….Man’s Search for Meaning which was published in 1946.  Victor Frankel was a holocaust survivor and a psychiatrist who was held in three different concentration camps during WWII, ending up in Auschwitz. He found that those who had a reason to survive, something meaningful, something to go back to, to live for, some responsibility, something, outlived those who surrendered to the hopelessness of having no meaning, no future. 

We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our question must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.  Viktor Frankel

Carl sensed that his father knew it was very important to survive – that down the road you could be helpful, down the road you could tell the real story and down the road, your son would be mature enough to hear it and in fact, needed to hear it, to know it, to know he, Carl, ad done nothing to deserve this. But finding the real and right road was another thing.   

After the war and their release, Japanese people rarely spoke about experiences during WWII or told their stories until they were quite old and because many of those incarcerated were dying, those who remained would talk for archival purposes, for the people in general, providing the other necessary narrative  and specifically the Japanese narrative for the younger generations.  Then they spoke in quiet worn voices, the stories came pouring out.        

What drew Carl to read and reread Frankel’s book:  Man’s Search for Meaning.  How did it help him?   What were his conclusions or is he still reading the book? 

 Carl answers these questions.  “. .. very few of us know what hunger is really like…

The Various Stages of Hunger.  

1. hunger is thought of not being sated, satisfied, stuffed, not focused on food, full.  We think of it as, I am no longer totally full… This stage starts as your body’s nutritional needs transition from specific nutrients to just needing calories, immediate energy. 

2. …not totally full, faster on my feet but know there is something empty in me.  

3) Moderately hungry: Your stomach may be growling and demanding and you want to put an end to that nagging feeling.

4) False hunger: Though this stage may look like hunger, it is connected with other biological and psychological questions that some people answer by eating. Everything.  There are many other conditions that can make you feel hungry — problems like sadness, stomach ulcers, worry, loneliness, and acid stomach.

5) Satisfied: This is the stage when you are satisfied, neither hungry nor full. You are relaxed and feel comfortable. No more nagging sensation in your stomach that felt a lot like anxiety.

6) Full: You may be tempted to eat more than your need. You feel fullness in your belly making it bloated and your food may not be as tasty as it was when you began to eat.

Carl’s father, as a cook,  emerged from the concentration camp with a pancake recipe created to feed 500 people.

In 1980 with pressure from the Japanese American Citizens League, Jimmy Carter opened an investigation to determine whether there was reason to intern the Japanese Americans as a threat to the safety of the US.  It was determined that there was absolutely no viable military reason.  

As I spent time with Carl Watanabe and he talked about his experience, he brought up the concept of Shame. Most people who have been tortured, been on the victim end of violence, often feel shame.  So, when Carl Watanabe and I talked about his experience as the inheritor of the internment experience – he was a year old infant when it started – on the phenomenon of feeling shame.  Wait, I said, this holds true across cultures.  Carl asked me to be a bit nuanced in my talking about shame. I asked Carl for help and we exchanged emails on the subject.  These are excerpts:

Shame:  The whole Japanese American community (1st generation immigrants from Japan [Issei] who were still citizens of Japan, U.S. born American citizens [Nisei], and the children of Nisei, [Sansei] such as me) was ashamed that the country, from which we emanated and were emotionally connected to, had attacked the country in which we now lived and loved.  People like   my father understood why the vast majority of America reacted the way they did to the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Any attempts to view the event from a rational point of view (e.g., that we personally had no connection to the fighting; and that we were American citizens (ironically all treated as aliens), imbued with constitutionally defined inalienable rights; and that Italian Americans and German Americans were, for the most part, spared the racism, anger and hatred), were doomed to failure.  Thus, the adults felt helpless in protesting how we were being treated.  We were ashamed that this happened, and even though we were not at fault, we had to shoulder the blame. That was inevitable.  

There is also shame connected to being locked up and incarcerated even though you know you’re innocent. Similarly, the shame of being evicted from your home, having to sell your belongings at bargain prices, at having your belongings being displayed on the street, etc.  The shame and helplessness connected with not being able to protect the lives of your pets and other animals.

Shikata ga nai: it cannot be helped.  

Ultimately, for my father and his generation, the shame was also connected with having allowed this (the incarceration) to happen. 

I wrote Carl again and asked if I could publish this.  

Andrea, I’d forgotten that I’d written this.  I’d been carrying these thoughts around for most of my life.  The impact of being part of a group that had attacked our country had been pushed down within me and kept under the surface.  Otherwise, I’d have become too bitter and self-absorbed with collective guilt that I’d be impossible to live with.  It’s as if I had a box of forbidden memorabilia kept in an attic hideaway, rarely looked at, but always retained as I moved from house to house. 

Women March in Nairobi

Our partner, Grace Ngotho in Nairobi, Kenya recorded her participation in the Women’s March. Their path took the women through the area reforested by Kenyan professor Wangari Maathi, Ph.D. a Nobel Prize winning woman environmental activist. Grace supported mothers marching with small children and tells us these marches are so important because women in Kenya hold less value than donkeys.

Grace is an activist who has been working for years with women both in and out of prison, desperately poor and with abandoned children, even when she herself needed support. She is quite a woman – she holds an advanced degree even though her tribe that does not allow girls an education. NGOs, like Save the Children, did save Grace because of her keen intelligence, she stood out from others as a candidate to receive an education. Grace is a leader who goes out of her way on all levels to help and empower women. She is selfless and kind with a keen sense of humor which makes our connection meaningful and fun.

Thank you, Grace!  

It’s Never Over– three generations out

By poet novelist and professor, David Mura.

“We raised you to be individuals first and Americans second.  We didn’t really think about being Japanese.”

I think my mother was telling her conscious truth, but I think the whole truth was more complicated.  If you are arrested and imprisoned in an internment camp (WWII) for your race & ethnicity, then after you’re released how do you show you’ve reformed?  The implicit answer is to lose or hide your race and ethnicity and that is the way I was raised.  When a white friend said, “I think of you David as a white person,” I thought, “That’s great, that’s what I want to be.”  I was pretty much in denial about being a Japanese American, Asian American or person of color until my late twenties when I read Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks.  It’s taken me two memoirs, a novel, four books of poetry to explain and explore my own identity and family history and I’m still doing that in my writing.  For me fighting for racial equality involves both outside struggles and continued struggles with my own internalized racism.  And that involves trying to free myself from unconscious constraints by making those constraints conscious through writing about them.

David Mura

A Camp in Ukraine

Interview by Ukrainian Olya Zhugan:

I’m looking at the woman, standing in front of me. Her name is the same as mine, Olia, and sharing this makes me feel closer to her. She is probably just a bit younger than I am, in her early thirties but she definitely looks more exhausted, sad or is it frightened. I can’t quite describe what it is I see in her eyes. She is not wearing any make-up, her hair is not done and her dress is a bit wrinkled.

UkHouseWe are standing on a little verandah outside a tiny wooden house. There are about thirty of them, absolutely identical. The houses are set on the edge of the wood. They are quite old and shabby, but surrounded by ancient tall oaks, which makes me think of a fairy-tale. It is the best she do now; an abandoned children’s camp that was provided to the Displaced by the authorities.

It is only two weeks since Olia together with many other people arrived at this camp. It lacks most of the things they were used to when living in a modern European city. Now they do not have hot water or heating, and only a few crude stoves for a hundred people. Most of them only took absolutely essential things when they were fleeing — money, documents and some clothes. There was no time or possibility to get a van or a truck and bring what they needed. It was too expensive anyway. Transporting people away from the war has become a business for some people.

“So, how are you getting on? – I ask her.

“It is not that bad,” she replies. “Of course, we had to forget about lots of things, which seemed to be just ordinary things in our everyday life. We do not have an iron, a hairdryer or a microwave. But when you start worrying about what to give your children for lunch or how to keep yourself clean, you stop thinking about such trivial things.

People from the community outside bring a lot of things for us here, from tissues to duvets. I do not know what we’d do without their help.”

“Are you here with your family?”

“Yes, I came here with my husband and a 10 year- old son. But my parents decided to stay behind the line. The line — it’s how they call it — an unofficial border in an unofficial state. As soon as you cross it, you can’t be sure of anything. This war is not like a real war. There are no planes, bombs or thousands of troops. But it does look different. But, it is a war.

There are many people wearing camouflage, many military vehicles, too many windowless buildings.”

And what does your husband do?
“Oh, actually he is a mechanic. He is looking for a job now.”

She pauses and smiles sadly. And I know why.

It is nearly impossible for a person who comes from behind “the line” to get a job. People are too suspicious of them.  People are afraid of employing or just dealing with people from Donbass, people who came from behind “the line.”  Many of our locals  consider them traitors and blame them for welcoming the war to the country. And I know that it is true for some but not all. There are still a lot of wonderful people who became prisoners of the situation. I ask Olia.

“What exactly made you leave your home?

“Fear. I couldn’t stand that feeling any more. I was afraid of going outside, of letting my child go to school. Sometimes we spent the night in the bathroom as it was the safest place. It was the only place which could save us from the others. But we left not because we felt fear, because we began to feel the lack of it.

One moment I realized that we were getting used to all of that, staying low and quiet. We became shadows. I do not want my child to live like that. It is hard for us here, but I enjoy lots of things that I never appreciated before.  Oh, it’s not a hair dryer, or the microwave or the stove,” she adds quickly, laughing. “No, it’s about the long walks, relaxed people, quiet mornings.”

Olia is smiling and looks almost happy. I decide that this a good end for our conversation. I wish her good luck and promise to come again.

A Small Tree In Gaza

In Gaza, in my catholic school, the little warmth I had on those cold mornings came only from the powerful loving words of An Arabic Christmas Song, a prayer for peace and normal lives. We used to sing at school during Christmas season. The nuns, always fascinating to me, handed out the song lyrics. This was such an exciting moment, the most favorite of all – receiving the  lyrics and then that magic moment when we were asked to sing. Many of the children thought this was just a boring exercise and didn’t mean much but some did it with big hearts, others had no interest in singing beyond getting through to the next break. I loved it.

najla2These were the few things I looked forward to every morning: the national anthem, Christian hymns and me, bringing flowers from our backyard to decorate the church.

A tape recorder is playing in the background of the classroom, so that we don’t get the tune wrong. And the headmaster is  singing on the microphone. We sing along. These words have a special place in my heart. I am 10 years old.

Laylat Al Milad  Yonmaha Al Boghd   (On Christmas Eve, hatred is erased)

Laylat Al Milad  Tozhir Al Ardu           (On Christmas Eve, earth blossoms)

Laylat Al Milat  Todfan Al Harb          (On Christmas Eve, war is buried)

Laylat Al Milad Yanbotu Al Hobu       (On Christmas Eve, love sprouts)

Twenty years after, I decided to check and see if modern technology held a surprise for me. It did. I found the song in a Lebanese collection of Christmas songs. I didn’t know until then that  it  existed  beyond our old school walls in downtown Gaza.

I don’t put a Christmas tree in my house and neither did my parents. But the loving joyful images and sounds of Christmas have always been present even though in Gaza they mean little to the mostly Muslims. But in my memory, there is always a small tree somewhere in the corner of the classroom.

Note:  Najla is a Muslim women and how, we wondered, did Najla end up in a Catholic school.

Najla: I  went to Catholic school because it was one of 2 or 3 private schools then. Now there are many and this private school was especially important for two reasons;  my parents wanted me to benefit from a good education and learn English. It was the best then and because the school’s students didn’t participate in the almost weekly demonstrations against the Israeli occupation, so it was a protected for me.  And what parent does not want her child safe in her school?

Native Alaska: Trans-generational Toxic Stress

They didn’t talk about it and didn’t want to.  They changed the subject when it was brought up by the young people  — what happened?

Wrangell (7)Silence — a non-response common throughout the world by those who have experienced brutal defeat, genocidal actions, sending Native children to schools, decimating families, preparing the way for segregation and racism.  The shame is nearly unbearable.  So Silence.

Nancy didn’t know the specifics of her people’s pain —  depression, alcoholism, early “accidental” deaths, prison fora  small demeanor, the school dropout rate.  But in high school, Nancy learns that her  people, the Haida of southeast Alaska, had been colonized by Russians, British and even the Spanish starting in the 1700’s and then ultimately the land we know as Alaska is sold to America by Russians — Seward’s Folly. 1867. Continue reading

Calming and Settling Children in Stress

Janet Courtney, Ph.D. is a leader in developmental play therapy and wants to help stressed mothers who may need some new ideas of ways to calm and settle their children.  She is especially interested in adding to the existing cultural traditions of women living in war, war-like conditions and in the aftermath.  We have posted some of her calming activities for children on our ACTIVITIES  page.

She talks about what motivated her to do this work:

When  I was a child, I wouButterflyld hold back and “stuff” down those hard feelings—sadness, anger, fear, guilt, shame. I would not share them but kept my hurts to myself.  I was not encouraged to talk about my feelings nor did anyone teach me how to safely express them. This led to severe migraines and a lot of emotional shutting down. What I learned as I grew older and eventually went into the field of Social Work is that we train ourselves to hold in those painful feelings mostly through breath control – we hold our breath in order to not feel.  For example, when sad, I felt I had to be “strong” and not allow myself to cry often tightening my chest and clenching my stomach to hold back tears. As I later discovered, this is done mostly through the restricting of my breath.  As I learned how to consciously use my breath to rid my body of the stuck energy (which is all that emotions are anyway—energy), I found myself feeling lighter.

When I had children of my own, I would teach them how to express their angry feelings by punching a pillow and at the same time breathing out a long huff of powerful breath—please know, that to hit a pillow while holding in your breath is not helpful.  So it’s important to watch for that and to encourage youngsters (or adults) punching a pillow to include a strong blowing out of the breath as they punch. Ask your child to make a powerful/empowering sound that ensures the release of a big breath —like the roar of a lion.  Also when I taught these activities to my kids, I would sit with them to hold the space of safety and being totally present with them.  As they grew, they had skills and knowledge to take care of their hard feelings in positive ways.

So I hope that this will help expand what you know and be easy to use — through imagination and breath- work to help your children feel better.  Try these activities yourself, they help adults also.

Warm Hugs, Janet

*****      We suggest you also try the free app: Breathe2relax

If any of you, our reader has simple ways to calm children and yourself, please write us: Andrea@ashlar.org