Finding Henry

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"What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal."

(Albert Pine)

The Power of a Name

I talk and write about “Life Mission” a lot. Enough to annoy people. I’m not going to apologize. It really is that important. At the same time, a Life Mission does not have to be some huge, ominous, Joan of Arc-like mission of sacrifice and suffering.

When I first mention Life Mission to people I often feel the heavy thud of those assumptions. I thinks its the title: >Insert God Voice here< “LLLIIIFFFEEEE MMMIIISSSIIIIOOONNN….” To avoid all of that, I’ve decided to just call it Henry. “Henry” seems a bit less daunting.

Finding Henry

Having a Henry can be grounding. When we know why are doing something, when we see the purposefulness in our choices, it can help us through the less glamorous times. It’s not really that different from when I invite people in relationships to share “Appreciations” with one another, especially when someone is driving them crazy. When we remember what we are fighting for, it can give us the temerity to keep working through a conflict together.

Let me be clear - Our Henry is not tied to any one vocation or project or even role in our lives. It is who we are in the middle of every role, every project, every job and volunteer commitment. To find Henry, it helps to ask ourselves what things in the world matter to us, why, and what difference we want to make in those things.

My Henry

I was first introduced to the idea of Henry many years ago, in a transformative Professional Resiliency course taught by traumatologist supreme, J. Eric Gentry. He invited us to do an exercise where we wrote our own eulogy. What did we want to have accomplished by the time we were done with this life? He ran us through our values, passions and concerns and then had us distill them into what was supposed to be a brief statement that we could use as our “guiding light” for all decisions.

Mine started off as this insane, long winded thing that twisted around several bends and flourishes. There was no way I was ever going to memorize that thing! After massaging it for a few years, I finally realized that it came down to six words: “Soften Sorrow, Hold Hope, Encourage Empowerment.” (It even makes a nice acronym: SSHHEE.)

This is what I strive to do as a therapist, as a coach, as a wife, as a mother and stepmother, as a daughter, a friend, a sister, a neighbor. It’s the Big Umbrella that all of my choices live under.

Why Henry Matters

People sheepishly tell me sometimes that they fall into their “squirrel boxes” (phones,) and scroll for way longer than they want to. They just don’t want to do anything on some days. I do it sometimes too. I give myself grace, remembering that the algorithms are literally set up in sophisticated ways to ensure that we stay hungry for the next thing and keep on scrolling. But you know what pulls me out most of the time? Henry.

A lot of people hate their jobs. I designed my practice specifically to wrap around my Henry, so I love it! (Wow that sounds inappropriate, but I’m sure you understand.) Even with the deep passion I have to be an effective helping professional, I still have days where I just don’t wanna. I haven’t had very many jobs in my life that had paid time off, but in moments like that, it sounds like such a lovely option! Then Henry prompts me to look at my schedule for the day. Looking through the people that I get to work with that day is an amazing dopamine hit. I get to Soften Sorrow, Hold Hope and Encourage Empowerment for —- ! And —- ! Bring it on!

Henry, in the Long Run

Prior to the Pandemic, I had a vague awareness of how privileged we are living in a first world country. The Pandemic put it right in my face: Other people live their entire lives in countries that lack resources all around. They live in famine, war, perpetual natural disasters, under dictators and despots who hoard all of the material goods and leave their people in perpetual lack.

I was already a bit attuned to the illusion of our financial stability thanks to the economic collapse that collapsed right on my head in 2007-2008. The Pandemic made it even clearer to me that the entire bottom can drop out here as well. We are not magically protected. We do not deserve stability any more than those people around the world who don’t have even systemic stability.

While I do not want to see any of that happen, for anyone, I have confidence that whatever comes or doesn’t come, Henry will pull me through. Guess what I would be doing if I lived in a war-torn country? If I live through famine? Pestilence, plague or whatever else life might dish out? Softening Sorrow, Holding Hope and Encouraging Empowerment. It would be worth it.

So what’s your Henry?


If you’d like help figuring out what your Henry is, contact Tiffany today. He might just become your best friend.