Thursday, May 24, 2012
Someday, and I promise this, I am going to write a book called Life is an Adverbial Problem. I am going to write this treatise because if there is one thing I have learned by listening to patient stories, it is that usually people choose an unhelpful adverb to focus on in life.
Think about stories of Before and After. These are stories of crisis, change and transition. There was a Before ....Now there is an After. And people ask Why? All of these words are adverbs. Adverbs tell about other words--verbs, other adverbs, and adjectives. An adverb changes meaning. An adverb answers the questions of How? When? What? To what extent? Where? In what way?
People are looking for meaning in the changes that come into their lives. Life changes like birth, illness, disappointment, love, betrayal, and death...they challenge us to a new level of meaning making.
I know that I am going to focus more now on After the After. This is a different type of story altogether. It is the daily story of living. Few cultural stories tend to it. It is so "daily." It is generally not as exciting as crisis stories, requiring as it does, to be in what has become.
It is not falling in love; it is staying connected.
It is not holding a newborn; it is witnessing the visibility of a person.
It is not celebrating; it is observance.
It is not grieving; it is acceptance.
And by the way, daily is an adverb--as in, daily routine, constantly, often, everyday.
After the After is where we live everyday. Now. Here.
Monday, May 21, 2012
For most people yoga is a discipline; for me it is a punishment. I am not bendy AND I have monkey mind.
It is very uncomfortable.
The word yoga means relationship. I think in more spiritual circles it has to do with the integrity of your body and mind becoming one. For me the relationship is about minding flying monkeys. They are wicked, these monkeys.
First, the comparison with my non-bendy body with other more bendy bodies begins. Then the self-loathing for not being bendy starts. Before I know it I am not only failing and hating myself, but I become aware that this is occurring. All of this happens within the first two minutes of the breathing during the beginning of yoga class.
The traditional word yoga means "to yoke together." I find that yoga teaches me that I really don't like being yoked to myself and the monkeys that come with me. No wonder I keep myself so busy. When I am searching for home on the yellow brick road of life, I just avoid the monkeys of my mind. On the mat, I have to face them. To notice, I am not them. That my nonbendy self can just relax and breath.
So, I am sure more yoga-minded people would have more sage and kind ways with managing this.
For me, it is more about noticing that I do not have to be trapped by the monkeys in my mind. Then I can relax into their chatter...and breathe.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Instead of wonder about this personal journey I am on, I create lists. Instead of the excitement of discovery, I feel anxious. Instead of enjoying the finite sweetness of the day, I plan tomorrow.
I think it is my Innerlogue that creates this.
When I was a child in the 1970s, my uncle was the Kiwanis guy who hosted the travelogues in our small Indiana community. I was sometimes trapped into going to these dry, quiet evenings of slides and comments of traveling neighbors-- my dad belonged to Kiwanis too.
So I heard about places like London, Paris, Florence, Pisa and Venice.
Having had the opportunity to have traveled to these cities, I think I have stumbled on to something. The travelogues were commentary about what tourists enjoy. The pictures were of the familiar landmarks. Beautiful, but not alive.
The difference, I now think, I learned in Pisa. It was 2004. I was traveling with my mom. My heart was broken. My life had been irrevocably changed by loss and I had told no one in my family. I was overwhelmed by my grief. My mom knew I was a hot mess.
I know we saw the the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but what I remember about that day is mom looking in my eyes in the Pisa hotel room and saying to me that it didn't matter what "it" was, this unspoken Innerlogue I was holding. She said quietly, "No matter what it is, you will be ok and I will love you."
And I have a picture of this travel moment. Later that evening she took a picture of me silhouetted in the window of our room, drinking wine and looking out into the midnight Italian sky. My Innerlogue had changed.
I was choosing to be alive in a life I could not yet imagine.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
David Whyte writes, "There is no path that goes all the way...." And over and over in life I choose to learn this lesson. I am now aware that last year as I moved the practice I was inviting myself to reimagine what a psychotherapy practice could look like. I was challenging myself to reinterpret how to define who I am as a therapist, an artist and a writer. I was looking to create a new conversation with life. A new conversation with the world.
How is it that I always forget how difficult this lesson is?
It is like childbirth--I forget what is required. In the moment of living up to the consequences and actually accepting what I have invited into life--the world pauses and again I must choose to live and make visible what I have chosen.
And it never looks like what I thought it would. The shock of that reality takes my breath away every time.
There is where the movement of your soul resides.
Your soul is where your dance is
And your dance is the freedom and joy you seek.
All is contained in the Stilling.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know it for the first time.
I have moved my practice to the same office where I began my practice in 1988. Then, I was 27 and just beginning. I was anxious and felt alone. Today, walking through the same halls and offices that I walked so many years ago...it feels familiar and and yet all new.
What I know for the first time:
1. I know that what Iexpect (or fear) will go wrong, is not what goes wrong.
2. I know nothing goes "wrong." It is all a part of my life.
3. I know that it is the people, not the place, that makes the difference.
4. I know that no matter what I do, life unfolds. It is my commitment to honor what unfolds...not trying to control the unfolding, that makes a difference.
5. I know that everything changes and stays the same...in each moment.
6. I know that even though I know these things, I have more to learn.
At that time my practice was called Greenwood Counseling Associates. That time passed. Then I called my practice Elizabeth M Johnson Corporation. That time is now over. Today my practice is renamed Stillpoint Counseling Group.
A new step in my journey
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I find it is so much easier to begin things than continue and finish them.
But I want to continue and finish this. I believe in it.
What would be possible if I said "Yes!" to life as it is now--under these present circumstances?
Now is the continuing. The showing up and doing. How can we say Yes! to the future when we do not step up to saying Yes! to our today? So yes to slugging through. And yes to feeling like I am writing to myself--which I do anyway!! And yes to believing that life is improved by living each day. Not just thinking about living, but actually living it.
Monday, September 6, 2010
And I am excited to do so!
So many exciting things have been happening with The Journey Before Us:
- We completed the group for the high school women.
- A group of the Journey Women went on retreat in May.
- I had a conversation with a friend in NYC in April about the Journey's growth and vision.
- We have been having ongoing meetings about how to continue to let The Journey come alive and to get it into a published format.
- There is a new Journey Group scheduled for September 17 and 18.
I am going to use my own quote to encourage my "Beginning Again."
"What would be possible if I said "Yes!" to life as it is now--under these present circumstances?"
And as I Begin Again, in order to actually continue this process of developing a The Journey and the women it represents, I will be living the journey myself.
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