About Harriet CabellyA predominant theme in my life has been how people cope and grow through and beyond their adversities. I’ve always been greatly inspired by people who, against all odds, go on and live engaged, productive and meaningful lives.

Bitter or better?

Some people grow and become better; others succumb and become bitter, remaining stuck in their pain.

Therein lies the challenge: how to create and live a rich life despite loss, trauma, adversity. The key isn’t how to get through life without the painful situations, for as we know, inherent in the human condition is pain and suffering. Nobody is immune. It’s rather how to live on and rise above the pain and suffering.

Facing my own personal challenges forced me to see that coping and living well does not lie in getting answers to the ‘why’ questions. I thrashed around in grief and angst looking for answers, thinking that if I actually got any, that somehow my pain and suffering would be alleviated. Who knows if we had an insight into G-d’s plan and did get any answers, if that would provide comfort. But I finally came to grasp and internalize that the existential ‘why’ questions are an exercise in futility.

The real work lies in answering the ‘how’ questions of life – how do we cope and adjust, how do we rebuild our lives and re-create new dreams, discover renewed purpose and bring more joy into the lives we have.

I often felt I could be a member of many support groups as my own personal challenges have been:

  • Being a child of divorced parents in the early ’60s when few parents were divorcing.
  • Having a child born with disabilities and dealing with the intense grief of not having that ‘normal’ child. (which we all hope for and yes, expect)
  • Dealing with my own divorce and rebuilding my life, coping with disappointment, anger and shame of a failed marriage.
  • Going through a life-threatening medical crisis with my daughter (who already had her share of issues) which lasted over a year.

Upon the discovery that my middle daughter, Nava, had neurological issues, I was helped tremendously by a gifted therapist and by a wonderful leader of a support group for parents of babies born with disabilities. I eventually came through the other side of grief feeling and sensing renewed hope and uplift.

I reconnected to my inherent love of psychology and was inspired to want to help other parents going through similar pain and suffering. Having been a special education teacher many moons ago, I went back to school for a masters in social work.

Listening to my mom got me into the school system when I was just separated/divorced. As a single parent raising my three young children, having summers off and being home for them when they got home from school, was clearly a big plus. It certainly was not the job I envisioned after going to school for five years (part time), but it was practical and served my purpose of ‘mommyhood’ first and foremost. I used to say my real work began after four when I shuttled Nava to all her therapies.

Over the years of dealing with challenges, my life’s work of helping people live their best lives through and despite their difficulties and losses, has become crystal clear. After 20 years, I retired from my school job; I prefer the term ‘moved on’ as I am passionately engaged in private practice as a therapist, group facilitator and speaker. I am very happy to have come full circle, back to what I originally set out to do.

What is my current personal status? I have been remarried for the past 27 years. There actually can be good do-overs. We are empty-nesters. Travel and hiking, nature and beauty are up there, as are of course grandkiddies and doing all kinds of fun activities. I take pride in Nava’s independence – living in a supportive apartment and working at the amazing Trader Joe’s for oh so many years- and in my other two daughters’ full lives of large families and work. So as you can see I am no spring chicken but I do feel like I am. When we stay engaged in what we love (people and life work), and maintain a curious, open, interested and growth mindset, aging becomes a gift.

As a life-learner, I am always studying from some of the great psychology masters, specifically those of existential leaning. Meaning and purpose drive our lives. Therefore connecting to purpose and creating meaning throughout our ever-changing life circumstances, is crucial for a rich and well-lived life, and helps us greatly in dealing with the hardships and losses. Dr. Viktor Frankl’s work in logotherapy (therapy of meaning and purpose) and his classic life-changing book, Man’s Search For Meaning, and Dr. Irwin Yalom who has written so many wonderful books and continues to be a brilliantly skillful therapist, are my guiding teachers in this sacred work of connecting to people on the deepest and most profound level.

My advanced studies in the field of positive psychology brought even more growth and inspiration to my professional and personal life. Resiliency and post-traumatic growth are cornerstones of living with challenges. Gratitude keeps us attuned to the good that we have in our lives, through it all.


how to find me

Long Island, New York
Call me: 516-214-4778