Stories and Journeys

The Donald L. Hammen I know: staying strong, writing with courage


Imagine you are with me at my recent visit to the River Lake Eye Clinic. I have been a client there for many years. Even before receiving original Medicare plus supplement. You have now taken the plunge! You are a reader of Stories and Journeys, the column! We encounter a staff member. I inform this person that I am now the writer of Stories and Journeys. This person starts to recollect that Calvin deRuyter is the owner and publisher of the Messenger. I reach inside my tote bag to give this individual a current copy of the Messenger. I don't have one with me. A visit from Tesha M. Christensen, the current owner and publisher of the Messenger, Connector and Monitor to River Lake Eye Clinic might be in order. She could introduce herself and hand deliver the Messenger.
Next on our visit, we encounter another staff member. This person wants to know what is the focus of the column. Upon hearing this question I start to panic. I don't have a short answer. How should I know what is the focus? Momentarily I forgot that I am the writer. I'm supposed to know! Right? I go to my default response. Tesha M. Christensen has tasked me with writing what I am learning, thinking and experiencing. The response I receive from this potential reader is that it sounds open ended. I'm thinking freedom within 750 words and zebra company values.
I'm starting out with the words, Stay Strong, Don! They were spoken to me by Titi, an RN, in 2019. That year, twice, I was a patient on the nursing unit where I worked as a nursing assistant/registered for 21 years. For some reason those words seem important to me. It is as if it is taking me courage to write this time. Maybe it is my sense of grieving a loss that is in play. Recently I read that courage is the foundation of integrity. I hope so. What do you think?
For me, staying strong in this moment means owning up to who I know myself to be as a person and writer. The Donald L. Hammen that I know at his best can be articulate, charismatic, rooted and grounded in the power of his own story and self-awareness.The Donald I know has been told that he writes well about his experiences. He tends to be an autobiographical thinker and writer. Self care occupies his daily living activities. They are currently captured in the words eat, sleep, move, meditate/pray. Then comes experiment, explore, create. Yes, there is walking.
Due to his lumbar and cervical spine stenosis he needs to stay mindful of balance, body mechanics and posture. His focus on his body is critical. This includes lying, sitting and standing physical therapy-infused routines. Movement and balance are everything. This all comes down to something Donald knows as his version of 'everspring living.'
He is his own version of introvert.His speaking is largely grounded in his writing. He describes himself as pursuing a Ph.D. in being Donald L. Hammen in the school of everyday life. One day at a time. All this seems to go into making him unique. What goes into making you unique?
Speaking of unique. I have declared 2022 for me to be the year of the woman. The following strong words from Marianne Williamson, combined with an experience that happened as part of what I call my 'everspring health' story are part of what pushed me to take a deeper dive into women's issues and realities. Her strong words come from her introduction to a chapter called "Awakening From Patriarchal Medicine" in a book called "Reclaiming Our Health" by John Robbins. She writes:
This is a time of monumental shift, from male dominance of human consciousness back to a balanced relationship between masculine and feminine. The resistance to this is stronger than most people know. The invalidation, the crucifixion, of feminine power is one of the most violent and subversive forces at work today. The fate of every woman alive today, whether she likes it or not, is that the story of her life shall be played out against this panorama.
What life experiences might cause you to declare your own year of the woman and take your own deep dive into womens issues and realities? Tell your self, tell others or tell me at
In gratitude. Writing with courage outside of my comfort zone. Today I am Ukraine.
Donald L. Hammen is a longtime south Minneapolis resident, and serves on the All Elders United for Justice steering committee.


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