Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Upcoming Events

Under Upcoming Events, this fall we will be devoting much of our attention to the development and expansion of the Maine Resilience Program. Specifically, we will be developing a chapter on resilience for the University of Massachusetts-Boston’s Center for Sustaining Communities after Disaster. We will also be looking for opportunities to develop the program in other communities in Massachusetts and the Northeast. Unfortunately, this means that we will be offering few trainings this fall or early winter. Since the materials lend themselves well to self-study, we will be offering a 40% discount on the materials, a discount that we have offered in the past only to workshop participations.

40% Off All Training Materials

Be a Survivor, not a Victim.

When tragedy strikes your life, be a survivor, not a victim.

Don’t be a victim, build your resilience.

Reaching Home Reading and Discussion Group
Maine Department of Corrections
Probation and Parole
Fall 2010

Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.
Author, Duct Tape Isn’t Enough

Telling Family Stories: Get Low

Maine Resilience has made effective use of storytelling as a tool in teaching the skills and the attitudes that build and maintain resilience. These are often family stories. Reaching Home contains a number of mine. One of my family stories that I have heard throughout my life but did not include in Reaching Home was the story of Felix “Bush” Breazeale. The story has recently been made into a film that stars Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek. The story is set in the late 1930s in east Tennessee. The main character, “Bush,” as a young man was arrested for a murder that he says he did not commit. He was released by the Court but was ostracized by the community. He lived with his parents until their deaths and continued to live by himself into his mid-seventies when he decided that it would soon be time to “get low.” He decided he would plan his own funeral, but he wanted to have it before his death so that he could hear what people would say about him and indeed had been saying about him for the last 40 years. With the help of a funeral director who saw an opportunity to make some money, he organized a “Funeral Party.”
The film lacks some accuracy. The funeral took place in the early summer, not the winter and, according to my parents who attended, was indeed more of a party than a solemn wake which is how it is portrayed in the movie. The funeral was attended by thousands of people from the surrounding counties and states and apparently resulted in my distant relative, “Bush,” being accepted again by his community. In fact, he became a bit of a celebrity being asked to throw out the first baseball at one of the local games. “Bush” died 4 years later and was buried in the wooden coffin that he had made for his first funeral. One might say that his “Funeral Party” was an example of resilience, but certainly an odd one.


Reading this book may make you angry. We chose the novel, Reaching Home, and the other 17 stories that are a part of the Maine Resilience Program because they stir peoples’ emotions. Anger, joy, fear, compassion, sadness. Recognizing and managing these strong feelings is one of the key skills in resilience. Reaching Home is the longest tale and involves a number of characters who tell their individual stories. Some of the characters you may like and identify with, and some you may feel represent attitudes and ways of looking at the world that are a direct contradiction to yourselves and your point of view. For example, Lee and his grandson* who tell the Reaching Home story have a political point of view which some may agree with and with which some may strongly disagree. Resilience involves being able to recognize and manage the strong feelings that you have so that you can think clearly and communicate your point of view in a direct, assertive and respectful manner, especially to those with whom you may strongly disagree.

*The book’s author, who interned with the Veterans Administration during the Vietnam war, and all those involved with the Maine Resilience Project love and support our great country and the men and women who have fought and given their lives for our freedom.