I write this first post of 2017 with a heavy heart. Trisha McCauley, one of my grad school nutrition mentors, was senselessly and violently assaulted and murdered on Christmas day in Washington DC. As the horrible details of her disappearance and death come to light, it awakens in me a deep sense of vulnerability and fear to the pain and sorrow that life inevitably delivers.
Part of my process is to be present to these feelings, which I have done since I first heard the terrible news of her abduction and murder. Another part of my process is to be present to the light and joy that came from knowing Tricia during her brief time on the planet. This post is dedicated to the qualities of Tricia’s bright spirit, the positive impact they had on my life and how they can benefit us all.
SMILING: Tricia most often greeted me with a smile when she saw me, which could be challenging in the chaos of a working student clinic. When I picture her in my mind she has a large, warm smile on her face. By smiling at others, we create an environment for kind connection and set the stage for further positive communication. Smiling is a cooperative action that benefits both the giver and the receiver. In the words on the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of joy.”
KINDNESS: Tricia’s role as clinic mentor in my life required her to give me constant feedback. Her words were often delivered in a way that I could really hear them, wrapped in kindness. Her approach was to observe and ask thoughtful questions, instead of making assumptions in regards to why I did things. I learned a lot from our interchanges. This inquisitive, open minded and kind approach is a lovely foundation on which to lay the pillars of communication.
PASSION: Tricia was passionate about plants and herbal medicine, it was one of her great delights. In her mentoring, she encouraged me to find my passion within the field of nutrition and to communicate that passion to my clients. This is a practice I find of great value and continue to engage in both professionally and personally.
May 2017 be a year in which I am passionate, kind and smile in a lot in honor of Tricia’s bright memory.