Learning How To See The Light

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Dr. Shelley Reciniello, Learning to see the light, The Three Tomatoes

When we give our dreams life, when we follow our bliss, we live what Thoreau wrote: “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”  It is then that we are getting closer to our purpose, our destiny.  We see clearly and we feel happy. We understand our place in the world.  Everything that is the opposite of that kind of living keeps our happiness at bay.  Make no mistake –learning how to see the light takes  work and discipline.   But I believe it can also be a joyous endeavor.

There is so much emphasis in on our world on the dark side of life. The local and global news are becoming increasingly unbearable. It is difficult to believe that the human race hasn’t regressed and mutated into something unrecognizable. But it is precisely because the dark side does exist and because the shadow is so strong that we need to revel in all that is good and light in the world. We need to seek out the light and rejoice in it or we will never balance the darkness and we will lose our way and our joy.  We have become so frightened that we are in manic pursuit all the time trying to ward off our fears and our vulnerability.  Fun and laughter are becoming extinct unless we are under the influence of something.

I believe in the playful side of creation, the child in each of us.  It is only joy and goodness that can outweigh the pain and the darkness that we find everywhere. That is what we find so heart-rending and life-affirming about Anne Frank. That is what we find so compelling about Christmas and why it happens at the darkest time of the year.

When I was a young girl I loved the word “bittersweet.”  And now I think a more apt description of life could never be found.  Life can be painful, stressful; it is demanding, and most of all, unrelenting.  We need psychological and spiritual time-outs.  A taste of calm, connection, reverie, joy.  A taste of the sweet to balance the bitter and make it bearable.

When I chose psychology as my profession, tea became my foothold in a steep world of loosened emotions, where the doctor is never immune.  I have been a psychologist for over thirty years, and I have heard and witnessed many things too painful to imagine, too cruel to endure, too touching to recount, too beautiful to believe.   I have listened and empathized and offered support and advice and compassion and understanding and love, and I have done it all with the help of a cup of tea.  Tea that always sits within arm’s reach of my chair on a warming plate, so that the taste is always soothing and fortifying at those moments when I need strength and wisdom and courage. Tea that forever connects me to all that is good and light in all of us and in the world.

We are in the season of light, light that defies the darkness, coming from Christmas trees, Menorahs, and Kwanzaa candles. And light brings hope, the promise that we will find our way. All these traditions are pointing us in the same direction.  Follow the light!

This is also a season of magnificent, festive teas. Our hotels and tea shops here in New York are providing a wonderful variety of teas and scones and sandwiches and amazing treats. But most of all they provide an oasis in the middle of massive consumerism and chaos to savor life, connect with others, and contemplate the bittersweet beauty of life. At home, with family and friends, give the gift of teatime and start a new family tradition.  Lift your cup toward the light and for a few moments believe that good triumphs over evil, joy over pain, and believe just long enough to start to  hope. There is a Pakistani proverb that says “When the night is darkest, the stars shine brightest.”

From the book in progress, Dr. Shelley Reciniello’s “Ten Teas: The Power of Tea to Transform Your Life©”


  • Dr. Shelley Reciniello

    Dr. Shelley Reciniello has spent her 34 year career as a psychologist determined “to give psychology away,” by demystifying psychological and psychoanalytic principles, and providing people and organizations with thoughtful, practical information and methods to change their lives. She has provided organizational consultation, employee assistance programs, and executive coaching since 1982. Long-term clients included Morgan Stanley, First Boston, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and Avon. Today Dr. Shelley, as she is popularly known, works closely with senior management, boards of directors, human resources, and diversity departments to provide organizational consultation, executive coaching, and senior leadership programs to a wide variety of businesses. Her book The Conscious Leader: 9 Principles and Practices to Create a Wide-awake and Productive Workplace was named a Finalist by USA Best Books of 2014. For more information visit http://www.drshelley.com

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