Welcome to the CATALYST, a Courage & Renewal newsletter for you, our supporters, with true stories of how your gifts make a difference. Read this newsletter in PDF format. Also read the previous issue.
“One of the major causes of burnout is that we don’t have the joy in medicine anymore. We need to bring back joy to prevent burnout,” said Dr. Mukta Panda.
Medicine is demanding and can often feel like an emotionally draining profession. Long hours, years of training, intense competition, high stakes and tremendous levels of stress—it’s no wonder that physician was named the second most suicidal occupation in the U.S., or that burnout is happening at alarming rates.
Thanks to your gifts, physicians have rediscovered the joy in medicine, helping them be more resilient and humane in their practice.
You did this by reaching into the life of one amazing leader, who in turn has helped the next generation of doctors serve their patients with heart.
Thanks to you, Dr. Mukta Panda was introduced to Courage & Renewal practices that inspired her to use reflective skills to help the medical students she teaches at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine.
“We knew some of our residents were having personal problems. So we decided to bring reflective practice to the wider group. We held sessions where the goal was to create an encouraging environment to discuss personal care and humanistic growth.”
Mukta and a clinical psychologist ran an 18-month research project and found that the residents who attended at least three of her sessions per quarter had positive coping skills.
“Courage & Renewal practices reconnect us to the deepest core of why we went into medicine,” Mukta said. “It reminds us to be deeply present — and we feel joy with that. When we connect who we are as physicians, why we’re doing it, we are able to do our work with intentionality.”
Not only did Mukta’s medical students and resident trainees learn to be more resilient under stress, they also learned the value of compassion in medicine.
“Sometimes you tend to see a patient as an entity, not a person. We’re taught to follow protocol, do A then B,” said Dr. Rehan Kahloon, one of the resident trainees. “Mukta taught us that to be a good physician you have to have an element of humanism.”
Your support is serving patients—today and tomorrow—by equipping future doctors with the skills to stay present and compassionate. Thank you for helping Mukta and her medical students!
“I came here because I was losing hope. My hope has been restored with fire.” Those are the words of gratitude one participant shared after she attended a racial healing retreat based on the Courage & Renewal approach.
Your support has changed the way race conversations happen in Kalamazoo, Michigan, helping people practice empathy and forgiveness across racial lines.
How did it happen? Your support helped equip facilitators Bev Coleman and Caren Dybek with Circle of Trust practices. And with that powerful gift you gave their community—and others like it—a transformative experience of what it’s like to have dialogues based on mutual trust.
One participant attested, “I am taking away a feeling of peace and healing. I think it is so important to have these conversations as a way of caring for ourselves and others.”
Bev and Caren’s racial healing retreats began when the two facilitators were invited by a local organization called SHARE: Society for History And Racial Equity, to offer retreats as part of a Racial Healing Initiative. The idea was that through storytelling, people could come to a deeper understanding of how racism affects their lives and the lives of others.
Caren explained, “There’s other antiracism work in Kalamazoo that offers an institutional analysis of racism. As wonderful as that work is, a lot of people feel there’s something more they want,” Caren explained.
“There’s a human need to connect, and that’s what Circles of Trust give people.”
“The heart of the work we do is setting up the opportunity and the safety for people to share their stories,” said Bev.
“Courage & Renewal practices create the container for trust. They are the bedrock. I can’t imagine having that kind of depth, honesty, trust and safety, without the Touchstones,” said Caren.
“The real takeaway,” Bev added, “is that it’s possible to have these conversations without hostility, anger or judgment — things people usually experience when they start to talk about race.”
In these difficult times, it’s vital to address racism not just at the institutional level, but also at the human level too. To understand each other as humans is how we build trust, paving the way for larger changes.
So thank you for giving people a courageous way to engage around race, one based not on hostility or judgment, but founded on trust, understanding and healing!
A few years ago Kate Carter was on the verge of a breakdown. She was grieving her brother’s recent death and the stress of nonprofit leadership was taking its toll.
Thanks to you, Kate was able to attend a Courage to Lead series that renewed her inner strength and resilience. Because of that gift, she was able to keep serving others with a courageous heart.
Kate is the founder of LifeChronicles, a nonprofit that for no charge helps families heal by videotaping the life stories of a dying or seriously ill loved one.
“It’s hard enough to be an executive director, but to be a founder is even harder,” said Kate. “I had given my life to this for 18 years. And when things aren’t going well, you begin doubting yourself all the time.”
Feeling the stress, Kate decided to attend a Courage to Lead series in Santa Barbara led by facilitators Ken Saxon and Kim Stokely.
“When I got to go to Courage to Lead I realized I was not an island unto myself. Other leaders were going through very similar challenges,” said Kate.
“Courage to Lead also taught me to look after myself. It was about personal renewal and support. I credit Courage to Lead for teaching me to make better choices for myself.”
Now Kate can continue being fully present with the people she serves, like Raven.
Raven had ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Kate was filming Raven so that her two-year old daughter would have a video to help her remember her mother’s face and voice.
“Raven could only move her eyes and her lips, and she was crying,” said Kate. “All I could see was the energy of a 28-year-old trapped in a body that would do nothing. It was terribly sad.
“Then it came to me to say, ‘Raven, you and I both know there’s nothing good about ALS and I would never ask you to say there’s anything good about ALS. But at this time in your life, what is it that brings you joy?’”
Raven said, “My daughter brings me joy.” And she proceeded to talk about her daughter.
“Wow, I don’t know where that came from,” Kate recalls thinking. “But now I know where it came from. Part of it was being present and the other part was surrendering to the process. I’ve gotten so much from Courage to Lead personally, but to have it apply to my work like that was just amazing.”
By pausing to get present, Kate could ask an honest open question that shifted the conversation from sadness to joy.
It happened because you gave Kate the courage to lead! Now she has the resilience and presence to keep helping families connect and heal. Thank you!
This newsletter shows some of the amazing ways your support facilitated healing and peace for those who need it most—doctors facing burnout, communities wrestling with racism and nonprofit leaders seeking greater resilience.
We all need opportunities to connect to our inner truth and courage. Sadly, not everyone has that.
So thank you!
You have given a precious gift to leaders like Mukta, Bev, Caren and Kate, whose stories fill this issue.
But what you don’t see here are all the people who still need your help.
Will you provide more life-changing experiences to people who need it?
I hope you’ll make a gift today to give more people the power of Courage & Renewal to create trust, healing and resilience.
When the heart is brittle and shatters, it can scatter the seeds of violence and multiply our suffering among others. And yet . . . there is an alternative image for a broken heart.
When the heart is supple, it can be “broken open” into a greater capacity to hold our own and the world’s pain: it happens every day.
When we hold our suffering in a way that opens us to greater compassion, heartbreak becomes a source of healing, deepening our empathy for others who suffer and extending our ability to reach out to them.
— from Healing the Heart of Democracy