One founder’s story…
I’ve often been asked why we started Vital Cycles...
There was a fateful evening in March, 2007 when Eric and I were talking about the challenges we were struggling with. I was half watching the stormy night as the wind and the rain scoured the windows of my little bungalow, cleansing grime and dust… just as we helped people to do with their lives. Yet, we wanted to do more.
I asked Eric, “How can we help people in the groups we support to see the healing power of focusing on positives more often? So many people seemed fixated on the negatives of trauma. Don’t get me wrong; I certainly can understand that. Pain grabs attention!” I stuffed my hands in my pockets, frustrated. Eric replied calmly, “In our years of helping trauma sufferers we have seen some people dramatically transform, although I do know that others seem to stay stuck for years.” I responded, feeling adrift, “I don’t think we can make them see these ways of healing as helpful.” Then I brightened. “Maybe they need to be doing what they’re doing, and we should focus on people who want what we are offering.” Eric laughed, enjoying my renewed enthusiasm.
As the rain slowed down and the trees stopped swaying, our minds seemed to settle the same way. Eric finally, quietly asked the big question, “Bob, how about if we start a new nonprofit?” My eyes lit up and I felt my pulse quicken. Speaking eagerly, I found myself saying, “I was thinking about that too. We could build it from the ground up based on the principles that we’ve found to be most effective!” I jumped out of my chair and began to pace. Eric’s deep voice came from the depths of his experience as a health care architect. “People who want this approach can join us. Oh yeah, let’s create an organization that we’d find helpful for those of us who need more than just support.” Ideas flowed fast and furious as our excitement grew. Eric chuckled as I paced back and forth with the high-energy bursts I get when I’m brainstorming. His deep, quiet voice kept tossing out nugget after nugget.
I was practically jumping up and down as I exclaimed, “Let’s gather input from some people who have transformed their lives, folks who have left behind many of the vicious cycles so common in trauma survivors. Yeah! People like us who have come from harsh backgrounds to become high-functioning professionals with deep relationships. Let’s find out what these people have in common. Plus, we need people still figuring out their path, so they can make sure our literature is accessible to those new to healing. That’s the way to build something like this!"
On July 5, 2007, we gathered in my place, “Bob’s Bungalow” as it’s called, near beautiful Sandy Pond. It was a warm and sunny day, full of hope and calm. I excitedly greeted Karen and Annette, both movers and shakers in the community of self-healing support groups. Both had also experienced a wide variety of support groups and therapeutic approaches. Both had created beautiful and fulfilling lives for themselves. Karen’s loving and saucy personality had us laughing uproariously in no time. Annette’s dependable presence brought a warmth and can-do attitude. I was relying on her ability to help ground our visions in order to create clear action steps. Next, Rick appeared. Rick is rugged, the kind of man you want on your side in a bad situation. He is also blessed with a deep sensitivity to the feelings and needs of new members. This was to be a huge help as we designed Vital Cycles.
After a picnic lunch, we talked about the ways people successfully healed themselves. We excitedly brainstormed ideas on flipcharts. We discovered a number of factors that most of us had in common. For starters, we were all committed to healing, to doing whatever it takes to have more joy and less pain. We also used many different ways to get the trauma out of our systems. We were quick to experiment with various modalities and expert help. Every healing principle that we discovered seemed to make us that much more confident and enthusiastic about this ambitious venture.
It was the morning of our second day and the dawn over Sandy Pond was beautiful and peaceful, signaling a new dawn for us. Eric turned back from the window and added to our conversation, “Another fundamental design idea is to include the cutting-edge research and practices in treating trauma.” I chimed in excitedly, “I can bring great ideas from Positive Psychology and Solutions Focused therapy.” Annette added, “We can make sure that we are keeping up with new developments and new ideas.” Karen jumped in with, “I know some therapists who would give us good feedback on this! Also we can base this on positively stated principles, not rules and a predetermined path.” Rick, grinning in anticipation, built on the creativity by adding, “Yes! Every person uses their own inner wisdom to chart their own course. Wow, I can already see how to design the website!”
By the end of that day we all agreed to a number of things. We all wanted to create something that really focused on healing, rather than just surviving, coping or managing the trauma. We wanted guides and readings that educated, inspired and helped people discover the best of themselves and their dreams. We wanted support groups that helped “everyone heal more quickly”, and with far less re-traumatization than we’d often seen in so many support groups.
Over the next several months we developed the first draft of the “Healing Toolkit”. We brought it to a number of highly-regarded trauma specialists for consultation and feedback. Momentum began to really take off when we started our first two Vital Cycles weekly support groups.
Now, four and a half years later, we have peer-led groups in four states. We’ve had professionally led groups for university students, and for those who’ve suffered through domestic violence. We have several more board members spanning the east coast.
We are starting up the Stepping Stones program. It is like a fledgling sparrow, just learning to fly. We’ve done numerous trainings for staff at Bridges, a domestic violence support center, and for the NH Division of Children, Youth and Families. I’m the main trainer at this point, and it is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.
We’re hoping to eventually empower healing around the world. I hope that you, my dear reader, become a part of this story over time. I invite you to transform yourself through healing and helping others heal.
Yours in healing and thriving,