Archive for Anger Posts

Map of Heartbreak – Loss as a Catalyst for Change


“What breaks your heart? The warrior knows that her heartbreak is her map. It will lead her toward her purpose, her tribe.”

– Glennon Doyle Melton, “Hurts So Good” article, O Magazine, Feb 2017

Pain as Fuel

In her article, “Hurts so Good,” author Glennon Doyle Melton wrote about a group of women in Iowa who had all lost an infant – and started an organization called “Healthy Birth Day,” with the goal of lowering the stillbirth rate in their state.

“Instead of withdrawing after their losses,” explained Melton, “or finding ways to disconnect from the magnitude of their suffering, they ran straight toward it. Their pain became their fuel. Their courage saved others from the misery they’d experienced.”

This is similar to how we chose to proceed in the aftermath of my husband, John’s, death as the result of a preventable fall at unsafe workplace. By “we,” I am referring to the police officers who started the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund and all the people who have (and/or still do) work for, volunteer with, or lend support to the Fund in some way.

In the early years, pain and anger certainly fueled our passion and guided our purpose. Nothing we did could bring John back but we all agreed that the workplace safety campaigns were better than doing nothing at all. We will never know the number of lives we have saved, or the injuries we’ve prevented…and we’re okay with that.

Would I recommend this path to others in a similar situation?


Working closely with the JPMF to help raise public awareness about why and how to ensure workplaces – and the roads – are safer for everyone, including emergency responders has been my path, yes. I knew in my heart and soul, very early on, that workplace safety was an issue that I would need to tackle.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

But being a workplace safety advocate did not come without sacrifice in other areas of my life. The time, money, effort, love, and attention I put into the JPMF meant there were other areas of my life that didn’t get that. And that’s okay. I chose the path I did…every moment of every day. I have no regrets.

However, now that I have 17 years of experience behind me, I can safely say that trying to transform a tragedy into positive change so that others don’t have to experience similar suffering comes at a cost. We cannot do it all.

“Pleasant experiences make life delightful. Painful experiences lead to growth.”

– Anthony de Mello, Awareness

Thankfully, we get to choose how to respond to whatever loss we have experienced…and forge our own way forward. So regardless of whether we allow loss to be a catalyst for growth and change for ourselves and/or for others, just remember:

“Allow heartbreak to guide you at every turn.”

– Glennon Doyle Melton

When the love in your heart is your road map, you cannot go wrong.

Related blogs by Maryanne

Chick in the Road

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life

published in Anger, Book Reviews, Boundaries, Depression, Health, Saying NO! by Maryanne | June 6, 2017 | 4 Comments

In Sickness & in Health – When The Body Says No


“When we have been prevented from learning how to say no, our bodies may end up saying it for us.”

– Gabor Maté

If you haven’t read Gabor Maté’s book, When the Body Says No; The Cost of Hidden Stress, I highly recommend it. I borrowed a copy from a friend a year ago and read it in small chunks, here and there, as there was an awful lot of content – and supporting case studies – to consider, in terms of the role we play in our own health. It is not a particularly comfortable read but it is extremely enlightening.

“It is a sensitive matter to raise the possibility that the way people have been conditioned to live their lives may contribute to their illness.” 

– Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No

Drawing on scientific research and the author’s decades of experience as a practicing physician, When the Body Says No examines the effect of the mind-body connection on illness and health and the role that stress and one’s individual emotional makeup play in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome and multiple sclerosis.

Here are a just a few highlights from the book:

“People have always understood intuitively that mind and body are not separable. Modernity has brought with it an unfortunate dissociation, a split between what we know with our whole being and what our thinking mind accepts as truth.”

“Our immune system does not exist in isolation from daily experience.”

“Many of us live, if not alone, then in emotionally inadequate relationships that do not recognize or honour our deepest needs.”

“When emotions are repressed, this inhibition disarms the body’s defences against illness.”

“Repression – dissociating emotions from awareness and relegating them to the unconscious realm – disorganizes and confuses our physiological defences so that in some people these defences go awry, becoming the destroyers of health rather than its protectors.”

“The blurring of psychological boundaries during childhood becomes a significant source of future physiological stress in the adult. There are ongoing negative effects on the body’s hormonal and immune systems, since people with indistinct personal boundaries live with stress; it is a permanent part of their daily experience to be encroached on by others. However, that is a reality they have learned to exclude from their direct awareness.”

“The research literature has identified three factors that universally lead to stress: uncertainty, the lack of information and the loss of control. All three are present in the lives of individuals with chronic illness.”

“Repression of anger increases the risk for cancer for the very practical reason that it magnifies exposure to physiological stress. If people are not able to recognize intrusion, or are unable to assert themselves, even when they do see a violation, they are likely to experience repeatedly the damage brought on by stress.”

“Physiological stress is the link between personality traits and disease. Certain traits – otherwise known as coping styles – magnify the risk for illness by increasing the likelihood of chronic stress. Common to them all is a diminished capacity for emotional communication.”

“The gut, or intestinal tract, is much more than an organ of digestion. It is a sensory apparatus with a nervous system of its own, intimately connected to the brain’s emotional centres.”

“Gut feelings, pleasant or unpleasant, are part of the body’s normal response to the world – they help us interpret what is happening around us and inform us whether we are safe or in danger.”  

“The repression of negative emotion is a chronic and significant source of damaging stress.”

“Characteristics of many persons with rheumatoid diseases is a stoicism carried to an extreme degree, a deeply ingrained reticence about seeking help.”

“Repressed anger will lead to disordered immunity. The inability to process and express feelings effectively, and the tendency to serve the needs of others before even considering one’s own, are common patterns in people who develop chronic illness.”

“The less powerful partner in any relationship will absorb a disproportionate amount of the shared anxiety – which is the reason that so many more women than men are treated for, say, anxiety or depression. (The issue here is not strength but power: that is, who is serving whose needs?)

“Healthy anger leaves the individual, not the unbridled emotion, in charge.”

“Health rests on three pillars: the body, the psyche and the spiritual connection. To ignore any one of them is to invite imbalance and dis-ease.”

For further information about the book and author, here is the link.

Related blogs by Maryanne:

Anger in the Garden – Pruning Back for Future Growth

When Our Body Says No, We’d Be Wise to Listen

Back Off Baby – You Just Crossed My Boundary

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

published in Anger, Gardening, Health, Inspiration by Maryanne | May 29, 2017 | 6 Comments

Anger in the Garden – Pruning Back for Future Growth


“Not only does the repression of anger predispose to disease but the experience of anger has been shown to promote healing or, at least, to prolong survival.”

– Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No; The Cost of Hidden Stress

Spring is here and gardening season is upon us. Hooray! And yet…  

I love puttering in the garden but I must confess to having mixed feelings when I’m working in my yard in Sidney. Unfortunately, over the seven years since I’ve lived here, more often than not there has been much in the way of neighbourhood noise to contend with while trying to achieve serenity: screaming children, parents screaming at said children, high-pitched band saws that get used for hours and hours on end, power washers, as well as the boom-boom-boom pounding of bass from music and video games.

And then there’s the traffic.

I live on some sort of thoroughfare road that is getting busier and busier in our growing town, so maintenance and construction vehicles rumble by loudly on weekdays. Gravel and cement trucks, city buses and Harley Davidson motorcycles are LOUD vehicles, especially when they are accelerating – which is, oddly enough, often the case in front of my house. I gave up years ago trying to garden in my front yard without wearing ear protection.

But over the May long weekend, I was working – without earplugs – in my back garden and it was delightfully…quiet. I could hear the birds chirping. It was lovely.

Part of the reason for this is the fact that my neighbour with the screaming children moved out six months ago and has been prepping the house for sale. I’m not sure who will be moving in next but for now, I am beyond grateful for the relative peace and quiet.

Grapevine and dead branches of adjacent tree

But here’s the thing: one of the tasks I was tackling in my garden over the long weekend was the pruning of the wisteria and grapevine. Both vines had grown out of control and were strangling their neighbouring trees, so I cut and cut and cut.

Wisteria gone wild AFTER a good pruning

However, much of the time I was on a ladder so I could see into my neighbour’s backyard – the one who has, albeit inadvertently, irritated me so much over the years.

And the more I pruned, the angrier I got at my neighbour for a) being so noisy and messy over the years and; b) only bothering to clean up his home and yard now that it was time to SELL it and make a whack of cash.

“Blaming others takes an enormous amount of mental energy…it makes you feel powerless over your own life because your happiness is contingent on the actions and behaviours of others, which you can’t control.”

– Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

At first, my anger felt rather therapeutic. But then I turned that anger towards myself when I realized that I was the one who had chosen to stay in my home for SEVEN years. Nobody had forced me to stay and tolerate noisy neighbours. I was mad at my own damn self!

And then wouldn’t you know it, I had a reflexology treatment on my feet two days later – and the next morning, I was really sick. I had this strange headache on the very top of my head, as if my body was trying to release something out the top but couldn’t. I was nauseous and had no appetite or energy. And I kept falling asleep. I drank enough water to sink a battleship because I suspected my body was ridding itself of all that anger that had come to surface.

Whatever I did worked. The next day, I woke up and felt pretty much back to my usual self – but far less angry.

As for the garden? Well, both the wisteria and grapevine are growing like crazy…they LOVED the pruning! As for the poor trees that were nearly strangled to death by the vines, their recovery is going to take some time.

Interestingly, along with gardening, I have also – at long last – been working through some of the old boxes in my basement and getting rid of STUFF…decluttering yet again. That, of course, is also bringing all sorts of memories, thoughts and emotions to the surface. But in all honesty, I am finding that a rather enjoyable process…well, except for the rats. But I’ll write about that experience in a separate blog 😊

I have also been reading Gabor Maté’s book, When the Body Says No; The Cost of Hidden Stress. WOW! If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. You might think twice the next time you say ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no’ to a demand placed on your time. But I’ll write a future blog about that book, too!

In the meantime, here is an interesting quote about the suppression of anger:

“I am greatly empowered without harming anyone if I permit myself to experience the anger and to contemplate what may have triggered it. Depending on circumstances, I may choose to manifest the anger in some way or let go of it. The key is that I have not suppressed the experience of it.” 

– Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No

Related blogs by Maryanne

Anchors Away – Letting Go of Anger

A Little Lesson from the Garden: Sometimes the Most Obvious Explanation is the Most Difficult to See

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.