Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I am very good at my work as a therapist. I am a master artist in the medium of imagination. An intrepid explorer of the realms of the psyche. A wizened dragon slayer for hire.

I am not very good at describing this in market accessible ways. I can be concise, but then It feels flat, or opaque - so I get descriptive, and then I go on for pages and pages - ultimately loosing my own point. The difficulty i'm having in describing what I do doesn't match the ease and flare with which I actually do it.

So, i'm soaking up soul-filled guidance and then trying it out. and for me, this kind of learning involves trying on an outfit, prancing around for a while to see how I like it and then tossing the discarded garments all over the place with my sense of what I'm trying to accomplish coming clearer. In short, I'm making a damn mess.

The mess I'm making is this lovely website and my constant revisions. Sometimes I edit a few words here and there, other times I re write *everything*. Sometimes it's because i'm so on fire with inspiration I *have* to capture it. And Oh, I feel deliciously clear. Until I don't anymore and something starts to feel uncomfortable or incomplete or unintentionally inaccurate. And, I hope you'll forgive me, because I'm not trying to be confusing or to unsettle you (although I have a natural tendency to disrupt the status quo - it's part of my magic) it's just that usually, my unsettling affect is much more elegant. But all my creating and then tearing it up and starting over again is one of the ways I move right up to the growing edge of a limitation, pressing my nose against it and letting my breath fog up the shiny surface of it until I shatter it or shove through it or melt it with love.

The great thing about the internet is that nothing is written in stone. I can edit and revise and try on new hats all day long. I might not generate much of a reader base with my antics, but aside from alienating you lovely people whom I eventually hope to attract back to this space, I am free to muck about as much as I need to in order to figure this thing called 'marketing' out.

This is a great thing about life, too. You get to make a glorious mess of it. Revel in the unfinished, inelegance of it. There's room to try out things you aren't good at, room to risk looking foolish over a bold choice that lands all wonky, straining itself in the attempt. I encourage my clients to take this exact kind of risk. Because doing anything your own way, inspired by what is unique in you is always a risk. You can learn from people who have been risky before you, find inspiration in their boldness and courage. Ultimately, though, you'll be the first example of your way of doing things being a success.

I don't want to help make things tidy and straight forward, I want to help ruffle them up. I actively hope you're making a mess of things and will gleefully provoke the courage in you to break some rules and color outside the lines a bit. I love to see boldness bursting out of you with an unexpected YES! for something you're willing to try out and have no idea how it will go.

Taylor at Too Good to Fail writes beautifully about why taking the risk of not looking good and not getting it right really isn't the end of the world like it seems to be. I recommend printing her post and reading it to yourself as a bedtime story for the next month until your bones remember that the stories of your life never end, there is always another story inside all the other stories ready to unfurl itself the moment you're ready to experience it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


What is needed is a renewed humility. We are not the masters of the sources of happiness; they ever elude the appointments we make with them, springing up when we least expect them and fleeing when we would hold them close. The excessive ambition to expunge all that is weak or broken in body or mind, to control moods and states of soul, sadness, chagrin, moments of emptiness—all this runs up against our finitude, against the inertia of the human species, which we cannot manipulate like some raw material. We have the power to avoid or to heal certain evils, yes, but we cannot order happiness as if it were a meal in a restaurant.

The Western cult of happiness is indeed a strange adventure, something like a collective intoxication. In the guise of emancipation, it transforms a high ideal into its opposite. Condemned to joy, we must be happy or lose all standing in society. It is not a question of knowing whether we are more or less happy than our ancestors; our conception of the thing itself has changed, and we are probably the first society in history to make people unhappy for not being happy.

The thought I had reading this was: no wonder self-esteem is so elusive, all wrapped up as it is in images of perpetual good moods and positive outlooks. but our low moods and involuntary, out-of control parts swirl and swim under the surface and confuse the source of the pervasive sense of insecurity that hang limp in the air, charging the air between us when we meet, crawling under our skin.

But the low moods aren't the cause of that heart-shivering unsteadiness. Having turned myself around over and over to face what I am conditioned to avoid and ignore, I've learned in my bones that my strength and confidence comes from having learned to turn toward all the undesireables. What knocks me off my balance is the moment I believe in the unacceptability of anything other than the status quo.

It's like trying to keep waves still so you can stand on a surf board. To have any chance at sturdiness as a wave swells under you you have to *move* with it, learn to turn your entire body into an instinct for the ocean.

I would rather be free than happy. Free to dance with the morning rainbows, swirling and giddy. Free to feel despair later, when what I expected of myself turned out to be just out of reach for this one day. And then free to dance again. I can't reduce my sense of myself to one side of the equation or the other. I am whole and at peace with who I am *and* I crave what is more in me. I am intensely serious about everything that happens around me - but I am also completely taken over by the tint of ecstasy in the bright edges of a perfect stranger's eye when they glimpse at me and see my own ecstasy and we both know for a stolen moment that all is well right now whether we ever figure out the crazy mess or not.

The sadness or anger or limpness that inhabits you is not a failure. You're not broken for being confused or overwhelmed or getting sick or feeling pain. Freedom can't be compelled or controlled by making lifestyle choices - it doesn't come to you in stuff you can buy or in the exact right 7-step workshop or in only using positive words and never complaining. All that does is cut you off from what makes you vivid and true.

I hope for the liberation of both for you. I am the queen of both - Whatever paradox you straddle and feel compelled to pick a side and declare your un-yielding loyalty to on the fumes of insubstantial promises of perpetual happiness. It's a trick, you'll end up brittle or tossed around by everything unwanted that comes anywhere near you, bewildered and wondering where your flow went without you. Don't do it. Be sovereign and do both, have both. Don't choose between your two extremes, your multiple options. Don't strangle the sweet rhythm of the vast ocean that is you. Float on it and dive into it, find yourself stranded in the empty middle of it waiting for a breeze to fill in your soul-sail, ride it to shore.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I hate the word therapy. I was trained as a 'spiritual psychotherapist' and the terms is more accurate than other terms to convey what I do in the literal, mundane sense. But I don't feel mundane or literal when I'm actually doing it and I don't for a moment feel it captures the spirit of what I love to do.

But I don't know a word that will do it better. I know a thousand words I like better and any one will be the right one today, for you. tomorrow, for me. But I've never been able to choose one without feeling like it, eventually, turns me and the work into a caricature.

The word therapy is both meaningless and loaded. It means so many different things that using it means I still have to qualify what I do anyway. And to some people it has pleasant associations. But despite fiercely loving every aspect of my work on behalf of others and being profoundly devoted to my own inner work - I have definitely struggled with some of it's unpleasant connotations all the while I worked to earn the label.

I'm uncomfortable with the way it has come to mean you're broken and I know how to fix it. Or that you can't handle your own life and without my help (or someone's help) you wont be able to pick up your pieces. Or that I know secret methods of psychological re training that will unlock things that are only mysterious to you because you're weak and probably stupid and definitely broken.

And when I'm not feeling turned -off by the word, I'm feeling disappointed in it's failure to put it's finger on the pulse of what I do.

It doesn't tell you there is a great mystery involved to be in awe of and reverential toward that welcomes you into it and teaches you everything you need to know to be who you are in wise-time and in wise-ways.

It doesn't tell you about the profound intimacy involved between you and me. How exploring your inner realms is not about static insights that you bounce off of me as a clean and unresponding slate - because who's life actually works like that? sure the insights will come - but what will you *do* with them? Learning to use them means needing someone to use them on and someone to use them with. It takes a stunning kind of openness - brazenly willing to be human and to be affected.

It doesn't tell you what it will feel like to have me invite you to connect that deeply with yourself and then to me to feel your way into understanding the complex dynamics of relationship and decision making.

It doesn't tell you that you will find in yourself a ravenous hunger to take that invitation on.

It doesn't tell you that you bring with you the courage, strength and clarity that eventually turns into stamina, wisdom and power that makes you *feel* like a different person in a different life - even though there is surprisingly little distance between them when you start out.

It doesn't tell you that sometimes you stumble into your revelations in a sudden flash that also continues to permeate your entire being over the rest of your life, surprising, delighting and confusing you.

It doesn't tell you that being confused is actually a profound accomplishment- because it means you've somehow come to the edge of all that you are sure that you know (we all know what it looks like when someone avoids the idea that they might not know or be sure or have the answer to something - they don't strike us as particularly strong) and had the wherewithal to wonder what else might be true and useful about you.

It doesn't capture the quirky and ridiculous parts of delving into your writhing and gorgeous mess.

It doesn't tell you that there is something mythical and magical about the way the process changes when you are joined by someone who can see the undercurrents of where you are and who has your back as you wander around in new places and brings a light and a humour to your unthinkable.

But what do you call them? They're not always professionals - they're not always human. But we know it when they are with us. we can feel the way they infuse what is happening, what we are noticing and wondering with an ineffable quality - meaning? tolerability? a way of drawing our attention back from the nonsensical fragments to the pattern each one makes as a whole? Or just the feeling of company while we do it ourselves - that the sense of a strong presence somehow makes the space feel bigger, time feel like less of a persecution and the nitty gritty take on new shades and nuances that almost remind you of fun?

What word would you use to describe all that?

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