This column is dedicated to Lorraine Dunlop another gentle soul who had left selfadvocatenet.com hopefully for bigger and brighter things.

In 2000 I moved to yet another service provider and a hole new part of the city. My goal was to find a situation where I had a core group people in my life that would treat me with some respect. Early on, I lucked out with the new service provider, and I got several staff and a program manager who really believed in hearing their client. But more importantly to me, they were also gentle.

This gentleness was expressed in several different ways. First, there was a gentle attitude. By this I mean they really listened to me and showed sincerity towards me. They also followed through on my decisions, even if they felt that I was making a mistake.

Second, with a gentle touch they confirmed that their presence was healing. This touch could have been as subtle as a touch on the hand, the shoulder, or the back: Or it could have been as great as a hug, when I was feeling down or in real pain.

Third was a gentle look. This showed me their true interest was in me, and what I had to say without judgment. A gentle look told me a lot, and helped calm my fears. It reassured me that they were here, as my support staff, for the right reasons.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly this gentleness expressed was in their voices. A gentle voice is not necessarily a soft voice. Some of my best workers have been and still are very loud people. However, a gentle voice does contain a zeal for life, that loud or soft can not be silenced. At its core, it was this zeal that gave me the strength to heal and improve my life for myself.

All of these, the attitude, the touch, the look, and the voice, all come, in my opinion, from a gentle soul. A soul that itself is healthy and well balanced. I firmly believe that a soul that is not healthy cannot help others to heal. A gentle soul does not need to put up walls or false fronts to protect itself. Instead it is real and says to the world, “This is who I am; warts and all.” This allowed me to know what kind of person I am dealing with and in that knowledge there lay the safety that I needed to change and heal myself.

By Cathy Grant