CC Jean Stimmell

This column marks the end of an era in my life that began 28 years ago when I quit stone masonry to get my Master's Degree in counseling psychology. As of the first of this month, I have chosen to retire as a therapist by letting my license expire.

In another milestone, Coco, our plott hound, who had been in-home hospice care, was put to sleep on June 21st. She was laying on the rug, unable to get up when the vet arrived but was able to wag her tail at, who had become her new friend. …


Oak trees embracing in my woods

Today, we navigate through our lives, autonomous contestants in a national gameshow called free-market capitalism, where winners live in mansions and losers on the street. Community, ethics, and our non-human neighbors don’t matter much. How do we break out of this amusement park before it is too late? Let’s try by thinking outside the box. What if our thoughts and imagination don’t arise in us as individuals.

What if thoughts are socially constructed. Rather than our thoughts arising out of our brain, what if we are receiving them from outside: From the web of all our acquaintances, books we have…


Hope Lies in Our Entanglements

For most of human evolution, the cosmic forces of the universe were magical, beyond our feeble understanding. We were humble and kept our heads down, acutely aware that we were the lowest denominator in a vast galactic mystery. Unfortunately, over the last few hundred years, we humans have become smug and arrogant, thinking we are lords and masters of Planet Earth, which will be our downfall because of the climate crisis we are causing. …


CC Jean Stimmell: 2017

As Christianity’s hold on America has weakened, many pundits believed our politics would become more ecumenical and rational, less tempestuous and back-biting. But the opposite has happened: We are now more polarized: in danger of being torn apart by two diametrically opposed ideologies about what America represents. One party I will call ‘Woke;’ the other, ‘Trumpy.’

But this column is not about politics. It’s about an elementary force underlying our political food fight: Religion. And by that, I mean religion in the broadest sense: a belief in something bigger than the individual. …


“2013_11_290002 — drone warfare” by Gwydion M. Williams is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Over Memorial Day weekend, I grieved for my fellow brothers and sisters killed in Vietnam and cried over the pain surviving vets still endure — something I observed firsthand working for nine years at Vet Centers, a part of the Veterans Administration.

As a therapist working with veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), who had fought in wars from WWII up to the present, one reoccurring theme was guilt — and one significant source of that guilt came from killing another human being. …


Photo I took at Women’s March on Washington D.C.– 3/9/86

Recently I wrote in this space about how humans are born into this world unfinished, requiring a long childhood to learn the norms and practices of their particular community. For the community to thrive, what we pass on to our children must change in step with societal changes.

This unparalleled ability to change, as psychologist Alison Gopnik tells us, “is the most distinctive and unchanging thing about us., allowing us to thrive no matter what challenging circumstances we had to face over our long evolutionary history.

But societal change isn’t driven by our grizzled elders but by our children. As…


“Trump’s America” by FotoGrazio is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Conservative media and politicians whip their audiences into a frenzy, crying that the sky is falling: that we are losing our birthright as a nation because “hoards” of dark-skinned “aliens” are invading our country. They accuse liberals of being godless heathens for questioning the “natural order” of things in terms of who is should be in charge, what it means to be a man or a woman, who we can love, the list goes on and on.

In a word, these instigators are fueling moral panic, pitting us one against another, making us ever more polarized as a nation.. Tressie…


Hampton Beach, NH (Photograph by the author: CC Jean Stimmell)

Elementary Forms of Religion

I’ve written about this before in this space: We think we act rationally with the cold logic of a computer, but beneath, we remain mere animals driven by instinct, habit, geography, time, and mystery. Toward that end, there’s even a new book entitled How to Be Animal.

We are not solitary but social animals, though not always the cuddlesome creatures seen on Animal Planet. We can get swept up in the moment and do terrible things, prompted by something sociologists call “social contagion.” …


Jenness Pond: My constant companion my whole life

This essay is about learning how to be useless. As such, it dovetails nicely with a recent piece I wrote on these pages about striving for idleness. I agreed with Mark Taylor’s Buddhist notion that “idleness allows time for the mind to wander to places never before imagined and to return transformed.”⁠1

Being useless, like idleness, is often equated with being old. And, indeed, that is what I am. I spend a lot of time in reverie, which most would call idleness. I have to keep pulling myself back to the present. …


Los Gatos Mountains 2/18/21 cc Jean stimmell

I recently got back from two months in San Jose, supporting my partner Russet, whose son, Austin, succumbed to a malevolent brain tumor in January. It has been an extremely taxing, long haul for her, caring for him as he went downhill over the last year.

After returning home, I’ve been dislocated in time and space, yanked around by a profusion of emotional climates as erratic as the weather, both here and there: From the frigid winter winds blowing across the stark whiteness of Jenness Pond to the feminine softness of mournful, foggy mornings in the Los Gatos mountains.

It…

Jean Stimmell

psychotherapist, photographer, wonderer…a barnacle clinging to Earth Mother’s toe

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