Living Columns & Blogs

Community, spirituality and other ways to refuel hope

There is certainly no shortage of construction going on around State College. With each new project comes a new set of blueprints showing how to develop and build the project in a practical and structurally sound way. Blueprints help us gain a deeper understanding of the purpose and objectives of the work that is underway.

To varying degrees, each one of us is familiar with blueprints — perhaps not of buildings and structures — but of life. From the day we are born we begin crafting our own plan, figuring out who we are and what our role in the world will be.

While hope may not be tangible or easily measurable, it is the main “architect” for our personal blueprint. Hope enables us to engage in the process of designing our life for the future and helps us adapt, heal and recover from our experiences.

As with any good plan, our blueprint needs to be frequently revisited and revised. Life is always changing and taking time to revisit our life’s plan can help ensure it stays relevant and realistic.

There are ways we can fuel the hope that lives within us:

  • Maintain identity: Making time to identify and participate in activities that involve our interests and strengths can help us stay connected to ourselves. By nurturing our interests and strengths, we can flourish and build a positive flow in our lives.

  • Take charge of control: Considering what we can control in a situation and letting go of what we can’t can help us get through a stressful event. Furthermore, setting goals, becoming a self-advocate and checking in with your “blueprint” can help us take control of our lives.

  • Build community: Community connections, whether they be with the town, school, church, team, etc., help create support systems around us. Being involved with the community also provides us with opportunities to give back and can help provide meaning to our lives.

  • Embrace spirituality: Connecting to something beyond ourselves, whatever that may be, can help us find peace, harmony and a sense of purpose in life.

Inevitably, adversity will be part of life. However, when we hold onto hope we can choose how we react, respond, recover and then we can revise our blueprint.

As we mark Suicide Prevention Month in September, I encourage you to revisit your life’s blueprint and kindle hope within yourself and others. With hope comes the ability to build resilience and to thrive and even flourish in the face of adversity.

I invite you to join the Jana Marie Foundation and our sponsors, Active Minds, AFSP — Central PA Chapter, and Beck Psychotherapy, on Sept. 10 at Millbrook Marsh from 5:15-8:30 p.m. for our annual “Evening of Hope, Healing and Remembrance.” The evening will focus on “the Art of Hope” through art, music and words. We will conclude by participating in a worldwide candle lighting ceremony to honor those we have lost through suicide and to provide support for survivors. For more information, please visit

Marisa Vicere is the president and founder of the Jana Marie Foundation.