Peter J. Jessen

"Goals Per Action" Success Consultant · · 9931 SW 61st Ave., Portland, OR 97219 · Tel: 503.977.3240 · Fax: 503.977.3239

Classes Based on Stephen Covey's, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Two class series — one for adults and one for teens — based on Stephen Covey and Sean Covey's books

Tools, Activities, and Ceremonies for Implementing the Healing Wisdom of Mary Pipher

Compiled by Peter J. Jessen, from his handout given at his presentation From "Reviving Ophelia" to "The Shelter of Each Other:" The Questions, Answers, and Tools Mary Pipher Offers For Use in "Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls" and in "Rebuilding Our "Families" and Communities into "Tiospayes," given at the joint meeting of the Wilson Cluster Parent Connection and the Wilson High School PTA, at Wilson High School, November 12, 1996.

Compiled by Peter J. Jessen, from his handout given at his presentation From "Reviving Ophelia" to "The Shelter of Each Other:" The Questions, Answers, and Tools Mary Pipher Offers For Use in "Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls" and in "Rebuilding Our "Families" and Communities into "Tiospayes," given at the joint meeting of the Wilson Cluster Parent Connection and the Wilson High School PTA, at Wilson High School, November 12, 1996.

Community Activities
Mary Pipher Reports What Others Are Doing To Rebuild “The Shelters Of Each Other”

Shelter's last chapter discusses a series of stories of people doing projects in their communities, in their homes, their schools, their churches, etc. (Shelter, pp. 258-261) The projects she discusses include:

  • sports teams for the kids who don't make the school teams (Shelter, p. 258)
  • a girls' club, "Fearless" in a Topeka High School, for the empowerment of teenage girls learning self-defense and assertiveness (Shelter, p. 258)
  • a recreation center organized by the teens of a small town with a facility; they set up a board, got an architect, and are raising the money (Shelter, p. 259)
  • "setting up communal spaces for people to play ball, walk, talk" (Shelter, p. 259)
  • "grandmothers moving into parks filled with drug dealers and changing the character of those parks by their benign presence" (Shelter, p. 259)
  • "a parents' forum that meets for support, education and activities" offering "parents exchanges of toys, books, video and information" (Shelter, p. 259)
  • "listening partnerships in which adults and teenagers meet regularly to talk" who publish "a newsletter and sponsor drug-free activities for teens” (Shelter, p. 259)
  • a group that sponsors "activist workshops, community letter writing campaigns and boycotts of products that hurt children" (Shelter, p. 259)
  • as "teenagers need positive ways to re respected...many communities are designing coming of age rituals for their youth" (Shelter, p. 259)
  • programs in which "youth pledge not to do drugs or alcohol and to wait for sex until they are older" (Shelter, p. 259)
  • "Many towns now have mentoring programs in which adults meet with young people and help them through their teen years" (Shelter, p. 259)
  • schools with "programs in which business people come into the school over their lunch hours and read aloud to children" (Shelter, p. 259)
  • "celebrate the coming of age of their twenty-year olds" with a "special day that includes a lecture on the rights and responsibilities of adults...both the joys and duties of adulthood are clarified" (Shelter, p. 260)
  • "Some communities are honoring teenagers for their good behavior. Teens who volunteer, do well academically or create something important are featured in local news" (Shelter, p. 260)
  • a public radio station which "asked teens to submit tapes of their own music" and then selected "the ten perform their works over the air" (Shelter, p. 260)
  • an "intergenerational program...called the Environmental Mentor Program" in which "older people in town are paired with young people" (Shelter, p. 260)
  • "random acts of kindness project” in which, “every week the local newspaper recognizes a citizen for random acts of kindness" (Shelter, p. 260)
  • Habit for Humanity building homes (Shelter, p. 260)
  • The Children's Defense Fund national efforts to aid children (Shelter, p. 260)
  • "a 'gun swap for psychotherapy' program" (Shelter, p. 260)
  • a "borrowers co-op, in which neighbors share cars, garden space and computers" (Shelter, p. 261)
  • communal gardens (Shelter, p. 261)
  • summer concerts (Shelter, p. 261)
  • go out on [your] front porches and talk to [your] neighbors [on] 'Turn Off Your TV Days';" (Shelter, p. 261)

Family exercises from OPHELIA which Mary Pipher uses with girls to help in “Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls”

  • "write down three things every day that (you) felt proud of" (Ophelia, p. 33, 109)
  • "write me a letter telling me (your) good qualities" (Ophelia, p. 33)
  • "ask: 'what do you think is fun?’" (Ophelia, p. 85)
  • "write down (your) thoughts and feelings and ... sort out which values of (your) mother's (you) want to keep or reject" (Ophelia, p. 109)
  • "write a [favorite singer]-style song about (your) feelings" (Ophelia, p. 124)
  • "make a friend" (Ophelia, p. 124)
  • "talk ten minutes each evening about how their day had gone" (Ophelia, p. 125)
  • for "anger control...punch a pillow” (Ophelia, p. 139)
  • for "anger control...jog until she had 'outrun' her anger" (Ophelia, p. 139)
  • "write everything you can think of. Get those feelings out of your chest and onto a piece of paper." (Ophelia, p. 139)
  • "Think what you would want on your epitaph and tell me next time" (Ophelia, p. 156)
  • "record and report ... victories--defined as times she handled frustration in a mature way." (Ophelia, p. 157) Victories are also defined "as times when she acted in accordance with her deepest values. (Shelter, p. 190)
  • "develop an emergency plan for those times when (you are) tempted to" hurt yourself. "pull out a notebook and write, write, write every painful, angry get those emotions out of her body and onto a piece of paper" (Ophelia, p. 164)
  • To deal with "psychic pain" that comes with eating disorders, "record how (you) feel at the time of binges" (Ophelia, p. 167)
  • "find something in the natural world that reminded her of her brother" who had died, "something that could help her feel connected to him whenever she saw it" (Ophelia, p. 173)
  • think about what kind of men (you) like. What qualities would they have? What would be their interests? How would they treat (you)?
  • When dating, pull out the list and "check and recheck: 'Is this person meeting my criteria for a good date?'"
  • for sexual decision-making: "role-play seduction scenes...learn to deliver a loud, firm no. If the guy persisted, ...learn to shout, push, punch and escape" (Ophelia, p. 209)
  • "read (them) stories about other kids who had been hurt and how they came to terms with it" (Ophelia, p. 221)
  • use a punching bag; connect the anger as you punch. "visualize the boys, the car, the rape as (you) hit"; get "all that anger out of her and in the bag" (Ophelia, p. 223)
  • "To stay on course you must follow your own North Star, your sense of who you truly are. Only by orienting north can you chart a course and maintain it, only by orienting north can you keep from being blown all over the sea. True freedom has more to do with following the North Star than with going whichever way the wind blows...Freedom is sailing toward your dreams." (Ophelia, pp. 254-255)
  • To answer your question, "How do I know who I really am or what I truly want?"  ask the following questions ( (Ophelia, p. 255)
  • How do I feel right now?
  • What do I think?
  • What are my values?
  • How would I describe myself to myself?
  • How do I see myself in the future?
  • What kind of work do I like?
  • What kind of leisure do I like?
  • When do I feel most myself?
  • How have I changed since I entered puberty?
  • What kinds of people do I respect?
  • How am I similar to and different from my mother?
  • How am I similar to and different from my father?
  • What goals do I have for myself as a person?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What would I be proud of on my deathbed?
  • "Encourage girls to keep diaries and to write poetry and autobiographies. Girls this age love to write. Their journals are places where they can be honest and whole. In their writing they can clarify, conceptualize and evaluate their experiences. Writing their thoughts and feelings strengthens their sense of self. Their journals are place where their point of view on the universe matters.


Mary Pipher, from SHELTER, on Ceremonies, rituals, healings, and personal/family victories

  • Before the Seneca tribe made changes, the elders would ask, "How will they affect the next seven generations? ... We are not even asking how our explosion in technology and media is affecting the current generations.” (Shelter, p. 89)
  •  “I use assignments to help families clarify their positions, discover new things about themselves and stay motivated to work toward long-term goals. Assignments are experiments that let a family see what happens if they do things directly. ... A family need not be in therapy to follow assignments. Families can have weekly meetings on their own and invent assignments for themselves.” (Shelter, p. 145)
  • “I ask families to record their victories. Family member keep track of successes and report on them... Victories can be defined as anything the family wants to do more of. ... Most victories in life are small ones. Small victories are significant when they involve overcoming personal weaknesses, helping others and making the self or the family stronger.” (Shelter, p. 145)
  • “Design experiments to help...sanctify time. Set aside several special days a year.” (Shelter, p. 149)
  • “I encourage people to take minivacations where the family makes a few moments special. Small rituals at dinner, such as saying grace, unplugging the phones, turning off the TV and lighting candles, can hallow family time.” (Shelter, p. 149)
  • “I recommend that parents schedule once-a-week breakfasts alone with their adolescents. It's a good time to talk about life. I encourage these breakfasts to be a free zone in which grades, chores, rule violations and money are not mentioned.” (Shelter, p. 149)
  • “I suggest writing. Here are examples--write essays on gifts you received from hour family of origin, write what you learned from your father and your mother. I like letters--letters of intent, letters of reconciliation, thank-you letters, promissory notes and love letters.” (Shelter, p. 149)
  • “Family rituals protect time.... morning...or bedtime. Having bedtalk with children every night is a way to give each day a closing ceremony.” (Shelter, p. 231)
  • “I encourage families to orchestrate "corrective emotional experiences" mitigate the pain of an earlier event. For example, a couple who fought at a restaurant return and have another which they show great tenderness toward each other.” (Shelter, p. 146)
  • “With adolescents corrective emotional experiences work better than punishments. Relationship-oriented reparations are often the most effective. ... A tantrum at dinner [results in being] asked to cook and serve a candle light dinner to the family on another night. ... rude to relatives [results in ] spending an evening putting photos in a family album. ... Reparations have the teenagers working with an adult on useful projects that teach skills [such as] helping a parent paint the house, do the taxes or learn to use the computer...helping with the gardening, the recycling or the care of an elderly relative.” (Shelter, p. 146)
  • “Design healing ceremonies for emotional pain.” (Shelter, p. 146)
  • “I recommend ceremonies of acknowledgment and forgiveness after an extramarital affair. ... After betrayals, violence and losses, ceremonies can help with healing.” (Shelter, p. 146)
  • “All families have unfinished business from the ways in which they have hurt each other and have been hurt by the outside world. In almost all cases, healing is possible with the right words and the right ceremonies.”
  • “Healing rituals [could include] telling their bad memories and then telling their dreams for the future. Talk about the bad things and then the good things.” (Shelter, p. 200)
  • “Design a ceremony of hope.”
  • “I encourage families to develop rituals. These can be for seasons, significant family events and rites of passage.”
  • “I encourage families to have time outdoors, vacations and holiday meals.” (Shelter, p. 148)
  • “I encourage families to increase their expressions of hug each other, to compliment each other, and to say how they feel about each other.” (Shelter, p. 148)
  • “I encourage people to write notes, make short phone calls, do small favors, and express affection in whatever ways it can be received.” (Shelter, p. 148)
  • “In our rapidly changing world, people who stay married for fifty years really have multiple marriages to the same mate. They have a romantic relationship, a child-rearing relationship, and later one strong in companionship and caretaking. One marriage ceremony at the beginning is not enough to hold such a marriage in place. Couples need new ceremonies and rites of passage, second honeymoons and even third and fourth ones. It's good to renew vows and write new vows every few years.” (Shelter, p. 237)
  • “Sibling relationships need much more support and celebration than they receive in our culture. ... If we are lucky, our siblings are our built-in lifelong friends. ... Sibling relationships can be strengthened in a hundred way: regular phone calls, visits and letters, reunions, shared celebrations... [siblings] who take their mutual children on trips...every summer.” (Shelter, p. 237)

The above is from Resource Book of Community Initiatives: Rebuilding Our Families and Communities Symposium, featuring Mary Pipher, Lewis and Clark College, September 12 and 13, 1997, pp. 63-66.

From the cover of the Resource Book:

Undermined by a host of influences that invade "houses without walls," families blame themselves for what is essentially a cultural problem. See hope and strength "in the shelter of each other," the wisdom of Mary Pipher, and the dedicated and innovative spirit of local community initiatives.

From a brochure for the Symposium: "…for understanding the challenges facing American families so we can take action to save and strengthen our most valuable institution -- the family," Doubletree Hotel, Portland, Oregon, sponsored by Lewis & Clark College, September 12-13, 1997