What lifted my spirit?

Colors always seem to lift my spirit– especially when they’re bright, bold and beautiful! This is what caught my eye on my latest shopping adventure:

.these painted eggs.

.this peaceful statue.

.this jumble of hooks.

.these painted baskets.

.these blue petals.

.this smile.

.these sunset hues.


Today is the Day: Denim Day!

For months now, The Healing Center and Aurora Health Care have sold stickers that display the popular slogan “Ask me why I’m wearing jeans,” and we’ve worked hard to spread the word about the importance of wearing denim on April 25th.

We celebrate Denim Day in honor of a woman who was forcibly raped by her driving instructor. The woman pressed charges, but the case was dismissed because the chief judge decided that, “…because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans, it was no longer rape, but consensual sex.”

Aurora Health Care has 1000’s of employees and many of them have agreed to participate in this truly special day. Imagine what could happen if everyone in the City of Milwaukee was allowed to wear jeans to work on just this 1 Wednesday of the year. The message could then spread to other cities and across the country. What kind of empowerment would this generate if we ALL wore jeans on Denim Day?

Education and awareness are very powerful tools in the fight against sexual violence. Everyone who purchases a sticker, wears jeans proudly and speaks out on Denim Day plays an integral role in helping to keep themselves and others safe.

Every 2 minutes in the United States, someone is sexually assaulted.* Statistics show that this vicious epidemic affects everyone’s life, regardless of one’s demographic. Together we can broaden our understanding, support survivors and inspire change.

Please join me in the fight to end sexual violence.


Spirited Souls: Spend some time today with Jungian psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, Dr. Bedi

1. What led you to choose a career as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst?

As a medical student in India, I noticed that the majority of medical problems, relationship tangles had a significant emotional component. While the medical treatment took care of the symptoms, it did not attend to the underlying emotional factors. This inspired me to become a psychiatrist to deal with this BLIND SPOT in Medicine.

Growing up, I saw my mother suffering from what I now know to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and secondary depression. I was determined to understand it and minister to it. Her suffering motivated me to attend to the wounded souls.

Once, I became a psychiatrist, I was in the same dilemma. Modern Psychiatry band-aids the symptoms, but does not address the wounds of the soul. This inspired me to become a psychoanalyst.

2. How do you incorporate spirituality into your life?

Spirituality means honoring the deeper mystery of our being and the whispers of our soul guiding our purpose and path in this lifetime.  I stay attentive to this inner spiritual guidance via my dreams, synchronistic events, messages from my body and relationships as guiding whispers of my soul, which derives its energy from the Spirit in the Collective.

3. How did you become interested in the work of Carl Jung?

Traditional Freudian analysis focuses on untangling the wounds of the past. This seemed to be a limited view of the potential of the human spirit. Finally, I found my calling in Jungian analysis combined with my Eastern healing tradition. Both focus not just on the past, but claiming our full potential and are a relevant and meaningful participant in the optimal functioning of our society and community. The Eastern approach of recognizing and balancing our authentic nature, combined with the Jungian emphasis of finding and living our personal myth seems to best honor our potential and use it in service of our family, welfare of the community & harmony of our society.

4. Do you think you are a different person today (mentally and emotionally) because of your work with trauma survivors?

Work with trauma survivors has made me humble at the courage, dignity and resilience of the human spirit to heal against all odds.  I am in awe of the mystery of human nature, that can rebound against all odds and soul crushing experiences. It has also deepened my trust in nature of spiritual forces that nurture and repair the wounds of the mind, body and soul that we inflict upon each other.

5. What daily activities do you participate in that foster healing and peace in your life?

I have a daily practice of Centering Prayer, dream recording and analysis and journaling to untangle my feelings.

6. If you could describe your outlook on life in just one word, what would it be?


7. You have studied and worked in India, Great Britain and the United States. How has working with different beliefs and cultures abroad impacted your work in the U.S.?

Every culture is like a blind person trying to define the elephant. When many blind individuals pool their consciousness and observations, they have a clearer definition of the elephant. My three incarnations in my native spiritual India, my admired Britain with respect for tradition and American lens of experimental spirit offers a rich paradigm to understand the complexity of human nature and creative ways of treating it and engaging its deepest potentials.

8. Whom do you most admire?

Mahatma Gandhi

9. What led you to consult with the Sexual Assault Treatment Center of Aurora and how has it enhanced your career path?

Before consulting with the Sexual Assault Treatment Center, I was in denial of the level of suffering of trauma survivors in our community. Now, I am much more sensitized to the issue. This has enhanced and deepened my analytic work with ALL my patients. My daughter Ami works with survivors at The Healing Center. Her work has further amplified my consciousness about this crucial issue and need to prevent it and attend to it.

10. If you could meet anyone, who would it be?

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.


Meet Caine Monroy, lifting spirits, one game at a time

Last night I came home from work and flipped open my laptop, only to be (pleasantly) bombarded by Facebook posts, Tweets and articles all about sweet little Caine Monroy, a 9-year old from East L.A. with a bright smile and a knack for…cardboard engineering.

Last summer Caine accompanied his father to work in his used auto parts store and to keep busy, decided to build a game arcade out of cardboard. Now, although most kid projects are cute, this arcade wasn’t your run-of-the-mill, fruity markers scented, cardboard cut-out creation. This arcade featured mini basketball, soccer with plastic battle guy defendants, tickets that come out of each game as you earn points, a toy grabber machine and much more!

As neat as this arcade was, Caine didn’t receive much business from his father’s clients and the students in his class refused to believe him when he talked about his latest project at school. He persevered though, held his head high and continued to construct his masterpiece.

Finally, his hard work paid off when filmmaker, Nirvan Mullick came into the shop. He immediately took notice of Caine’s arcade and when he asked about how much it cost to play, Nirvan opted for the $2 “Fun Pass” which gave him 500 turns instead of the 2 turns he’d get by paying $1. Thoroughly impressed by the arcade, Nirvan decided to make a video about Caine and it didn’t take long for his story to go viral. The filmmaker also organized a Flashmob to show up at the used auto parts store one day which created a huge amount of publicity and energy around Caine and his arcade. According to an interview with the Huffington Post, Caine was ecstatic about his boom in business and told his father, “Dad, this is the best day of my whole life.”

I hope you can take a little time out of your day to watch this video. It brought me to tears! Life is crazy and we all have a million things to do, but this story just goes to show how taking a couple minutes to pay attention, maybe shooting a few hoops at the nearest kid-approved cardboard arcade, could change the course of someone’s life.

Learn more about Caine and his arcade at: http://www.cainesarcade.com

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

What lifted my spirit today?

It’s all in the details! The big picture of our new building is a sight to see, but what about all its hidden gems? Take a look at what I found as I walked from floor to floor:

.these light bulbs.

.this sliding door.

.this magnificent painting.

.this chair fabric.

.this piece of survivor art.

.these windows, made from reclaimed wood.

Spirited Souls: 10 questions for the Executive Director of The Healing Center, Maryann Clesceri

Maryann Clesceri is the Executive Director of the Healing Center of Aurora Sinai.

1. Tell me a little about your background. How have the situations you’ve dealt with and the choices you’ve made impacted your current position at The Healing Center?
In 1997, I was moving, (more like running!), along in my life as a mom, wife and as a program director, administering a program for sexually abused children and for youth who sexually act out, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 37. This changed my life. I always knew my work was important but it taught me to really appreciate the magnitude of my family, my work, and my life. After my surgery and treatment, I decided to work to make my life more meaningful and impactful. When the position became available at The Healing Center, I had to give it a try. I do not regret it at all. 95% of the time, I love my job!

2. How do you incorporate spirituality into your life?
Every night I read from a daily spiritual book. This is a non-denominational book that offers daily spiritual insight. It is interesting how often the passages relate to my day. I also say the prayer the “Our Father” especially when I can’t sleep. It is very comforting to me and gives me peace. Lastly, I often just thank God often for keeping me here to watch my daughters grow.

3. What do you feel The Healing Center does for the community as a whole?
When people come to us with long term un-healed trauma, we often see that they are struggling with anxiety, sleeping, relationships and drugs and alcohol. When I see survivors who have used our services and the complete shift it has made on their lives, it is immensely rewarding. This change often allows people to become better parents, employees, spouses, and caregivers. All of these make our community stronger.

4. Do you think you are a different person today (mentally and emotionally) because of your work with trauma survivors?
I have to admit that this work does change you. You cannot hear so many stories of pain and suffering and not have it change you.  Unfortunately, this work has made me more fearful of my surroundings and I have a need to feel safe. Because of this, I know I need to have a good balance between work and family. I cannot do sexual assault work on the evenings or weekends. I need to separate that intensity with things that I love to do like gardening, reading, exercise, and spending time with friends and family.

5. What daily activities do you participate in that foster healing and peace in your life?
I love to breathe deeply everyday. It feels so good.

6. If you could describe your outlook on life in just one word, what would it be?

7. What do you wish the public knew about The Healing Center that you feel they might not?
I don’t think people know how exceptional we are and how doing this work in non-traditional ways makes an important impact on the lives of survivors.

8. Whom do you most admire?
I admire my brothers and sisters. I have three of each! All of my siblings are hard working people very committed to family and faith. I feel so lucky to be a part of my family.

9. What is one long term goal you have for The Healing Center?
I really would like to see multiple locations of The Healing Center. This model works so well that I think it should be everywhere. The difficult part will be getting our healing collective partners, Core El/Centro and Aurora Walker’s Point Community Clinic to be with us.

10. If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
I’ve always wanted to answer this question. I would like to meet our president, Barack Obama. I think he is an amazing man who has accomplished something that has never been done before.  It is not often that you get to meet people like that.

The Healing Center provides counseling, group therapy and other support services to adult survivors of sexual violence. All of our services are free, as we believe that everyone, regardless of inability to pay, has a right to heal from abuse. To learn more about our services, please visit our website