I am pleased to announce that my newest book, Soul of My Voice, is now available at Lulu.com. Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. This text was written as a workbook/journal to accompany my first book, Soul of Voice published in 2016. However, Soul of My Voice is just as effective as a stand alone book, chuck full of essays, poems, quotes, photos, writing prompts and mandalas. Happy reading (and writing, and coloring, etc.)!!
Often it is said that people get what they least expect, but I’m not so sure that is true. It’s been my experience that when I expect a certain situation to turn out either poorly or fantastically, I get what I expect. The same is true with my clients for if they expect to not get well, they usually don’t. However, if they expect to feel better, to experience wholeness, and to find some peace of mind, they usually do.
Perhaps the real issue is how can one turn their negative expectations into a positive mindset. Rather than say “I could never do that. Who do I think I am? I’m such a loser!” Instead, “I think I’ll give this a try. I have the courage, determination and discipline to see this through. I am a winner!”
Power resides in expectancy for both good and bad. Our assignment is to expect the best life can offer, to never be satisfied with anything less than just that. Positive expectancy opens the way for success, victory and miracles. It produces an energy that can either build us up or bring us down.
I suggest we meet the challenges of life each day by declaring “I can do that! I can have that! I can be that!” And not be surprised by the changes we see in our lives for the better.
Whether it be solving a problem, meeting a challenge, or making a decision, it is important to make the most creative choice possible. In other words, one should attempt to choose a path leading to a positive win-win conclusion. This isn’t always easy, especially when we become closed-minded and want nothing more than our own way. I’ve found this particularly present in couples counseling. More often than not the two agree to come into counseling only to prove that they are right and the other person wrong.
However, it’s been my experience that the best solution, action or decision comes out of a third thing. Finding that third thing takes an optimum amount of creativity and just plain old playfulness. When we are creative, we give ourselves permission to rely on chance, serendipity and silliness. In fact, through humor many wonderful ideas burst forth from the imagination—the psyche, if you will. Possibilities abound and as a result, one has a sense of freedom to explore and find deeper meanings in the process.
For example, say I want to go on vacation where there are many historical structures and museums to discover and wander through. I want to go with my significant other, but he or she wants to go someplace warm and lie on a sandy beach. We could argue back and forth until one or the other of us gives in, but that is hardly what I would call a win-win situation. We could also opt to not go anywhere since we cannot decide. But that is what I see as a lose-lose situation, not much different from choosing to take separate vacations. I mean, both people get to do “their own thing,” but not together.
After some long talks and research (good old Google), a creative solution can manifest—one which not only satisfies both parties, but excites them as well. This very situation came up for my husband and I; I wanted to go to Europe and he wanted to go to a sunny beach. (I’m sure he was thinking of some Caribbean island although he was never specific.) Where did we end up vacationing?
Now these kinds of things take time and effort as well as creativity to produce. Yet, in the long run they are worth it, especially if both parties can approach the issue with a sense of play, good humor and creative energy. It is almost like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time for one must hold their own while at the same time giving in. The answer is to be seriously goofy and goofily serious at the same time. Tricky stuff but it can be done as long as one commits themselves to finding a third way with an attitude of joy, excitement and abandonment.
Recently a friend of my son’s passed through our town after spending four months traveling alone on the Pacific Coast Trail. He began his adventure in Mexico and still had all of the states of Oregon and Washington to travel before his mission would be accomplished. I invited him over for dinner and we had a deep and serious conversation about the hardships and values of spending time alone with oneself, particularly in wilderness. He admitted that it was not for everyone. And that even now and then at the beginning of his hike he wondered if it was even for him. But after he finally passed through the threshold of loneliness, something soulful happened to him, opening him up to the significance of his initiatory experience which could only have occurred had he not become accustomed to solitude.
Most of us will never have the opportunity to give ourselves over to a solitary nine month hike, nor perhaps should we. But to find a place of soulfulness, a sanctuary of solitude in our busy lives is more valuable than I think we can imagine. Nearly every great teacher, thinker and artist has gone through some kind of initiatory experience where like Jacob they have had to wrestle with their own angel. Or demon. (Or Daimon, as James Hillman puts it.) Whatever the dragon is that protects them from facing the ecstasy and the terror of their own soul.
A time of solitude I think is especially important to a young adult when they are looking toward discovering who they are, what their life’s purpose is all about, and what kind of person they hope to spend the rest of their life with. But the fear of loneliness is always their lurking in the shadows. So distraction becomes the name of the game—video games, TV, computer surfing, all nighters at bars—you name it.
I think as a culture we all need to take time out from our busy lives from time to time and give ourselves a sanctuary where our souls can be nourished and if needed, be made whole. Perhaps it may be taking up some creative activity, walking in nature, or even gardening. For my step-father it was tinkering in the garage. Whatever one chooses, it needs to be away from one’s phone, computer, family and neighbor. It needs to be in a treasured place where sanctuary is honored and aloneness tantamount. We need it as individuals, as a culture. We need it as inhabitants of this glorious interdependent planet.
“We all walk in shoes too small for us.” Carl Jung
I remember when I first read this quote how curious I was as to how tight my shoes fit with regard to my life’s work. Were the activities of my day to day existence pinching my toes or roomy enough to encourage self growth? And were the hopes and dreams for my future merely fragments of wishful thinking or glimpses of my personal destiny? And were those hopes and dreams big enough to hold all of my potentiality as a woman, an artist and a healer?
“Imagination is the eye of the soul.” Joseph Joubert
I have always desired to make my mark on this world. And I have had ample opportunities to do so on stage, in the classroom and in my private practice. Hopefully I have also been a positive influence on my children and my community at large. Even now my prayer is that what I have to say in my writings will find its way into the heart of those who read them.
But often what I have desired for myself has not always manifested, at least not in the way I would have wished. There have been significant struggles, failures, wrong turns and false dreams along the way, which looking back now, do not seem near as devastating as they felt in the past. What I am trying to say is that these disappointments have at times made me cautious, wary, distrustful, and slow to act. In other words, SCARED!
“God wouldn’t put the dream in your heart if He didn’t have a way.
You don’t have to figure out how it’s going to happen.
Your job is to believe.” Joel Osteen
Yet, something inside of me has always nudged me forward—to stand at the edge of the abyss of change and opportunity and stare down into its dark mystery of promise. My mother once accused me of being a dreamer, which I am in part. Yet a dreamer often does not take action, for the dream is always more beautiful than the hard work and possible disappointment that may come in its pursuit.
So, transformation takes a courageous heart as well as intelligence, discipline and perseverance. But if we do not take that initial step of faith, then how can we ever know for certain that we are living in the full potentiality of our being?
I leave this blog with a quote from my beloved teacher Aftab Omer at Meridian University on the occasion of my last day of class. It was a bittersweet moment for both of us as I was leaving the comfortable nest of graduate school and flying away toward the larger purpose of my life as I knew it to be then.
“May you find the courage you need to step into your imagination!”