Monday, 19 January 2009

Mary Ellen Copeland - THE LONELINESS WORKBOOK: A Guide to Developing and Maintaining Lasting Connections

The ABCs of Loneliness

A = All of us have been lonely at different times in our lives, even the prom Queen, Hollywood stars, and famous sports figures.

B = Beating loneliness is achievable whether you are lonely part of the time or as a way of life.

C = Copeland – Mary Ellen, that is, who has written a comprehensive book called THE LONELINESS WORKBOOK: A Guide to Developing and Maintaining Lasting Connections, which will take you step-by-step through the maze of loneliness and out the other side to a more friendly and supportive lifestyle.

In the prelude to THE LONELINESS WORKBOOK, Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, says, "I have wanted to explore how other people resolve the issue of loneliness in their lives for a very long time, for as long as I have been aware of how good it feels to be closely connected with others – and how terrible it feels to be alone and unsupported."

To gather information for this book, Mary Ellen conducted a "Loneliness Study" with volunteers from her workshops, friends, colleagues, and her website – She says, "the key thing she learned from all of them is that there is hope. You can change your life and shape it the way you want it to be."

Because it is a workbook, you can write in it and get the benefit of exercises and activities that will help you understand the dynamics of loneliness and how you can move toward developing the kind of life you want.

THE LONELINESS WORKBOOK explores loneliness and how it relates to you in your life. It helps you determine what kinds of friends and supporters you would like to have and how to build these kinds of relationships. Often loneliness is associated with negative thinking, so positive thinking is addressed. There are many ideas about how to relieve loneliness.

Sometimes when a person feels lonely, it is difficult to appreciate spending time alone. In THE LONELINESS WORKBOOK, there is a chapter on "Enjoying Time Alone". Self-esteem is often another factor in loneliness and that connection is considered. One way to build new relationships is to build communication skills and there are exercises and activities in that area. There is a comprehensive chapter on reaching out -- suggestions on the best ways to do it, ideas about where to reach out, and even how to find the courage to reach out.

When loneliness is the issue, relationships are a big consideration. THE LONELINESS WORKBOOK addresses boundary issues, difficult affiliations, friendship cultivation, intimate relationships (not necessarily sexual), and family relationships. There is even a section called – "Setting Up a New Family". I wanted to shout "Hooray!" when I saw that because, even though I have a wonderful and loving family, I also have an amazing family of friends. I know people who were not so lucky in their family of origin and have found friends who fill the gaps that some toxic family members have left. I read an article long ago that made the point that most of us feel, when we get to a certain age, that our parents were not exactly everything we had hoped they might have been. Therefore, most people seek the qualities in their friends and other family members that were lacking in their parents. I really connected with the idea that no one person can be everything you ever hoped for in a parent, or other family member, or friend. We can learn to be content with the good qualities we find in each person in our lives without expecting them to live up to unrealistic expectations.

THE LONELINESS WORKBOOK addresses many more challenges of loneliness – your living space, holidays, grief, disability or illness, and getting older. With this friendly workbook, you will have a chance to recreate your life in ways you may not have thought possible before.

I recently had a conversation with Bev Barney, whose specialty is outreach. She talked about how she has made it a mission to create and make new friends. She spends half the year in New Hampshire and half the year in Arizona. When she is in Arizona, she keeps in touch with her friends in New Hampshire and when she is in New Hampshire, she keeps in touch with her friends in Arizona. She keeps trying even when they don't respond so they don't slip away.

When Bev contacts her friends, she seldom talks about herself. She has become a very skilled listener. When she knows that new people are moving into her area, she gets them connected by introducing them around and letting them know about services in the neighborhood. She really likes to get people together.

Bev's tips on avoiding loneliness:

-- reach out

-- invite people over to eat (no one turns down dinner)

-- keep a record of people you talk to

-- no one is going to ask to be your friend – be proactive

-- do an activity

-- start a conversation

-- be perceptive and listen

-- ask people to show off their talents

As you can tell from Bev's many approaches to outreach, it has become a natural way of living for her. I bet there are many grateful people in Bev's very wide circle of friends. Because of the friendly and consistent ways she has reached out to others, I am sure she has caused her friends to reach out in other directions themselves. I have also noticed that people who do a lot of outreach are very seldom lonely themselves and seem to have a high degree of wellness happening in their own lives.

When Mickey Rourke recently accepted a Golden Globe award, he said, "I'd like to thank all my dogs – the ones that are here and the ones that are gone. Sometimes when a man's alone, all he's got are his dogs, and they've meant the world to me". The audience laughed, but it was not a joke. His dogs were there for him when many people weren't. Mickey Rourke had become a Hollywood outsider, almost a recluse, and winning this award was an enormous achievement. I'm glad he thanked his dogs!

No one is exempt from loneliness – rich, poor, young, or old. One of our best defenses is to build a network of people, and yes pets, so we can help each other through the daily times, the tough experiences, and to celebrate the best occasions with. Loneliness does not have to be forever for anyone.

For information about how to order THE LONELINESS WORKBOOK: A Guide to Developing and Maintaining Lasting Connections by Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD and other books, DVDs, CDroms and CDs:

And I can't resist saying, if you want to learn to be more comfortable with yourself and learn how to develop a support system to help you when times are difficult, check the website for information on the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). It is a friendly, simple, empowering plan that can help you achieve more balance and well-being in your life.

Take good care,


Carol Bailey Floyd

Director of Programs

Mental Health Recovery and WRAP

Main Office

P.O. Box 301

West Dummerston, VT 05357-0301

Phone: 330-836-4456 or 802-254-2092

Fax: 802-257-7499



Book Orders

Phone: 802-425-3660

Fax: 802-425-5580


Order online:

Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery

Stephen Pocklington, Executive Director

PO Box 6464

Chandler, AZ 85246

Toll Free: 866 I DO WRAP (866-436-9727)

Phone: 480-855-3282

Fax: 480-855-5118


Book News Vol. 4 No. 8


The Vancouver International Writers Festival and the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad present

Spoken World
Spoken word stars from three continents. Featuring Regie Cabico (US), Morganics (AUS), Lemn Sissay (UK) and Kinnie Starr (CAN) and the improvised grooves of Sal Ferreras and his band, Poetic License. Regie Cabico won the 1993 Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam and top prize in three National Poetry Slams. Morganics is an award-winning Sydney based hip hop artist, performer and director. Lemn Sissay is a performer and playwright and the author of four poetry collections. Kinnie Starr has produced four critically acclaimed records and was nominated for a Juno Award for New Artist of the Year.

7:30 pm February 18 & 20
Performance Works
1218 Cartwright Street, Vancouver

Tickets: $20/$18 students & seniors (Vancouver Tix surcharges will apply). Tickets available through Vancouver Tix: 604.629.8849 or online at More information:

Spoken World workshop
A one day spoken word workshop for students in grades 9 - 12 with Regie Cabico, Morganics, Lemn Sissay and Kinnie Starr.
9 - 4:30 pm, Saturday February 21
$35 (lunch included)
Register today!
Registration: 604 681 6330

About the Cultural Olympiad
The Cultural Olympiad is a series of multi-disciplinary festivals and digital programs showcasing the best in Canadian and international arts and popular culture.

Linda Rogers has been named Victoria's new poet laureate. In this interview with Monday Magazine, Rogers discusses her lengthy list of goals.

A new book fair has popped up in Toronto and its organizers claim it will be "much more interactive and entertaining" than the others. James Adams questions if the city needs two book fairs.

Over the holidays the results of a Harris/Decima Research poll conducted on behalf of Heritage Canada were released and the disturbing results showed that only 53% of Canadians can name a Canadian author. In this article, Philip Marchand looks at the reasons why.

According to a survey conducted by the US Census Bureau, Americans are reading more these days.

The NY Times looks at the life and career of American poet W.D. Snodgrass who died this past Tuesday.

Inger Christiensen, widely regarded as Denmark's most eminent poet, has died after a short illness.


Vancouver Island poet Don McKay has been appointed a member of the Order of Canada.

Vancouver author Steven Galloway has been awarded the 13th annual Borders Original Voice Award in the fiction category. Read the press release here:

Jen Hadfield, a guest at the 2008 Festival, has won Britain's prestigious TS Eliot Prize for her collection of poetry Nigh-No-Place. She is the youngest winner in the history of the prize.

Jumpa Lahiri is among the contenders for this year's $20,000 Story Prize.

Canadian Susanna Kearsley is one of six authors on the shortlist for this year's Romantic Novel of the Year Award.


North Shore journalist Carolyn Skelton interviews Iranian author Azar Nafisi in this week's edition of the Vancouver Courier.

Of the stories in Festival favourite Ivan E. Coyote's latest collection, The Slow Fix, this reviewer writes that the author is at her best when she "steps back from the comedic in favour of the earnest."

In Shani Mootoo's new novel, Valmiki's Daughter, everyone is hiding something. Read the Georgia Straight's review here:

The Georgia Straight writes that A. B. McKillop's Pierre Berton: A Biography is "the book that Berton deserves. It honours his achievements without fawning. It details his shortcomings without meanness. It's readable and thoughtful."

Diana Athill undertook the writing of her latest memoir Somewhere Towards the End because, as she says, "book after book has been written about being young, and even more of them about the elaborate and testing experiences that cluster round procreation, but there is not much on record about falling away."

The NY Times on two collections of Allen Ginsberg's letters.

Slate looks at the treatment of women in Richard Yates' writing.


Author of Hollyburn: The Mountain and the City reads as part of Brock House Restaurant's literary talks series. Thursday, January 15 at 10:00am. Brock House Restaurant, 3875 Point Grey Road, Vancouver.

Win tickets to be in the audience of the CBC Radio Studio One Book Club on Friday, January 16th with Rob Kapilow from What Makes It Great on NPR. With his new book All You Have to Do is Listen, Rob gives the reader and listener a set of tools to use when listening to any piece of music in order to hear its "plot" - its story told in notes. To win tickets to the dynamically entertaining Rob Kapilow go to

Award-winning author reads from his novel The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel, a teen story about an Ojibway vampire. Monday, January 19 at 7:30pm, free. Alice MacKay Room (Vancouver Public Library, 350 W. Georgia).

Featuring Ivan E. Coyote. Monday, January 19 at 9:00pm. Tickets: $5. Café Deux Soleils (2096 Commercial Drive).

On Edge Reading Series presents the author of What We All Long For. Thursday, January 22 at 7:00pm, free. South Building, room 406, Emily Carr University, 1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island. More information at:

Author will read from her latest collection of poetry, Treble. Thursday, January 22 at 7:00pm. Tickets: $35. Wine, non-alcoholic beverages & snacks will be provided and the author will autograph your copy of her book. Christianne's Lyceum of Literature and Art (3696 8th Ave. W.). For more information phone 604-733-1356 or visit

Vancouver-based author will read from her books The Sleep of Four Cities and Hagiography. Friday, January 23 at 7:30pm, free. Pelican Rouge Coffee House (15142 North Bluff Rd., White Rock).

Author of Breaker reads from her work. Wednesday, January 28 at 5:30pm. Buchanan E476, 1866 Main Mall, UBC, Vancover. More information at

Writer and DaVinci's Inquest actor Stephen Miller is writer in residence at the Wickaninnish Inn from January 30 to February 1. Stephen is the author of historical thrillers including Field of Mars and its sequel, The Last Train to Kazan. Morning and afternoon workshops on Saturday, January 31, reading and discussion 5:30 - 7:00pm. Fireside chat with Stephen on Sunday, February 1 from noon - 3pm. Tickets available for sale at Tofino's Wildside Booksellers (1-800-863-4664 or Events are free of charge for guests of the Inn.

Writing contest open to all writers living in British Columbia. Complete information at

Produced by the Book News Collective: Hal Wake, Brenda Berck, Clea Young, Ann McDonell and Sandra Millard.

To unsubscribe, please visit

Hal Wake
Artistic Director
* * * * * * * * * * *
2009 Festival - 20-25 October inclusive
Vancouver International Writers Festival
Suite 202, 1398 Cartwright Street
Vancouver, BC V6H 3R8
p: 604 681 6330 x102
f: 604 681 8400