Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Running when you don't feel like it

This isn't actually a post about running. Running is a metaphor for anything that is inconvenient, painful, at the wrong time, irritating in some way, but actually good for you. Which could also include running of course, and sometimes does in my life. In this case, I was lying in bed wanting in my small self to just go to sleep, and in my bigger self, I was writing a preface to a book. What book, I can't say yet. But in it, I was being more honest than I really am in real life, and then I thought, I should write that down. It would be irritating to have to get up and write right now, but writing doesn't just come at convenient times, and the point is, doing anything good, or that might be good one day, takes some amount of being bigger than what just feels nice at the time. So, I got up, and started the internet, and it took so long maybe that honest voice is gone again. I don't know. I can say that it sounds better in my head. In my mind, I write poignantly and powerfully. I'm sure you do too. But I got up, and maybe in some tiny way, it will help me with the next inconvenient step and the next in doing all the great things I want to do. Maybe it will help you too, in doing the great things you want to do. Go do them.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

why I want to run

Tonight is the first night of the half-marathon clinic I signed up for at the Running Room. The 10-miler I wanted was cancelled and now, all of a sudden, I'm training to run 21K. Yikes. I still don't quite believe I can do it, but I'm starting out anyhow. This post isn't about whether I can do it though. It's about the feeling underneath that's compelling me to do it. I tried explaining why I wanted to run longer distances to a friend recently, and realized that it wasn't easily explainable. I'm not sure I know all the reasons why. I can feel why though. Underneath the very physical experience of putting one foot in front of the other is a calling towards something more subtle. The image I have of it is of open space and light, and a runner in that space, expanding it. I want to enlarge the space within which I live. Out of my physical comfort zone. I want to feel more competent outside of the very comfortable space of city life. I want to feel free, strong, and more connected to nature and my soul. That's a lot to ask of running. It doesn't feel that way most times when I'm slogging along on a run (especially uphill). But that's what's underneath. And I get hints of it sometimes during running. Whether longer-distance running ends up taking me to a greater feeling of freedom and expansion, the feeling is what I'm aiming towards, and this is an arrow I'm shooting.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

inner critics and your comfort zone

Whether it's as big as Alaska, or as small as a teaspoon, we all have comfort zones. Places, people, activities, habits, feelings that we are comfortable with. And we all seem to have a safety mechanism that goes off when we stretch outside of that zone. When we play at our edge. Inner critics get stirred up then and may scream, cajole, shame, coddle or soothe you into staying right where you are. No jumping off into the unknown please. Of course some people go anyway. Thank god, or we would have no works of art, scientific discoveries, adventure in the world. And some people are more naturally primed to be able to do it. But everyone has an inner critic they have to navigate at some point. One that wants to limit in the name of safety. Being able to recognize that voice can help you not fall into the pit it wants to drag you down into. Instead you can take it a little less seriously, and at least, sometimes, step right around that thing. Taking my writing into class, like I'm doing this morning, or putting my writing out into the world in any way, can set my inner critics off. Some experience I've put into writing I was formerly looking favourably on can turn into something my inner critics will call pathetic or boring. Of course writing something out can help you see it in a new light. Maybe it's not so good out on the page. There's a different feel to discernment compared to critical attack fuelled by fear. It can be hard to tell them apart since one may quickly morph into the other. Taking some time away from the writing can help. Come back to it later. Look again with fresh eyes. Read it out loud. To yourself or others. Get some honest feedback. It's all a learning process anyway. Here's another place you can learn more about your inner critics: https://dannygregorysblog.com/category/books/shut-your-monkey/

Monday, June 6, 2016

life dreams

Amazon delivered two new books to my house today - two on psychodrama, and I have another new one called "Being a Brain-Wise Therapist" (Bonnie Badenoch). These books excite me. They inspire, validate, add to my knowledge, and remind me about the direction I want to take my life in. I spent the morning reading through different parts of each, and started daydreaming again about going to graduate school. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I haven't had the financial resources or time to make it happen while raising children, but I'm going to go. The expressive arts therapy degree I want to do is in Massachusetts, and I will have to be away for a month for three summers. Now that my kids are teens, the possibility of this is getting closer. I also don't have to wait to go to graduate school to act on my dreams. School is just a way to gain some more skills, and meet people with the same interests. What I actually dream about is publishing my writing, making lots of art, and leading expressive arts groups and workshops focused on love, sex, intimacy, relationship, and spirituality. That allow people to share and support each other through the light and the dark in their lives in community, in an action oriented and expressive way. I have half of a personal essay written, and I've started making more art in the past few months. I facilitated my first sexuality workshop, and I plan on doing more this fall. These dreams have been brewing and developing for decades, and now I see new growth. They seem to come from somewhere bigger than my conscious mind, and my job is just to follow them best I can, feeling my way along as I go. What are your life dreams?

Friday, June 3, 2016

why make art?

Art has been knocking on my door for about 6 or 7 years. Usually, not always, but often, when I opened the door, I said, "what are you doing here?" and slammed it shut. I was confused about why it was showing up. I was confused about why I kept seeing beautiful images everywhere. On the fridge, on the wall, in my mind's eye. Stunning images that made me feel dreamy and came with a strong longing to make them. But I'm not an artist. It seemed like so much trouble. Unlike writing, you need lots of materials, expensive ones, and you have to throw paint down the drain, which I hate doing. It's also messy, and I don't think I liked the way it made me feel less in control. I also believed that writing was my art form. I have been writing since I was a child. Maybe dance, too. I love to move. Maybe even singing, which brings me such joy sometimes. But art? It is the form that I feel most clumsy with, the one that comes the least naturally (except playing an instrument - that I thankfully have no calling towards). I tried to talk myself out of it many times. How about photography? I'd say to it - much more practical - you can take photos of your kids and have a lovely history of their childhoods. And no toxic paint. Stick with writing, you're already doing that, and you can keep getting better at it. Anything seemed less trouble than art. But gradually, especially lately, I have succumbed to its insistence. I became more open to doing so when I noticed how certain images have been attracting me for years - mostly circles and flowers. Once I opened my eyes to this, I saw that they were all over my house - on my pillows, blankets, purses, clothes, everywhere. And in my paintings. These images, along with the longing to make them, were coming from a very deep place in me I couldn't see. Something from the soul. Spontaneous and ephemeral. The images and longing don't come with instructions, or a known meaning. I can only guess at it. My best guess so far is that they are trying to teach me openness. I feel drawn to open-faced flowers particularly, and the endless depth in the centre of the circle. There is also play and the no-purposelessness of making art. A part of me wants everything I do to have purpose, if only that I am at least good at the thing I'm doing. Another more soulful part seems to have a very different agenda. I'm feeling more aware of these two aspects of my being - ego and soul. I'd like to write about that more soon. I read a lovely interview with women's leadership coach Tara Mohr yesterday on the purpose of creation, and how to be with the feedback we get - critical or praising. Tara believes that feedback has nothing to do with the creator, but all to do with the one giving the feedback. She also believes that nobody will care about the work we do more than us, even when it is helpful to others. She believes that we create, most essentially, because we are growing ourselves. She says, "We write the books we write [or make any of our creations] because of our soul’s questions, our dilemmas, the topics we are drawn to in our hearts." Check out her interview here: http://honestmum.com/interview-with-tara-mohr-author-playing-big/. Happy playful soulful day to you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

exciting goals and faith in the unseen

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once declared, "To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily; to not dare is to lose one’s self." I read the quote above this morning on a weekly newsletter I get from Barbara Stanny, who is an inspiring wealth coach for women (http://barbarastanny.com), so I thought I'd share it with you. I'd like to make this blog not only a recording of my own brave steps, but a collection of inspiration, bravery, and aliveness being lived by others. Because we can use all the help we can get! It's a big hot world out there. But our hearts are even bigger, especially together. I ran 50 minutes today, no walking breaks, the longest run all year. I was able to do it partly because I knew I'd be posting here about it! This has become a way to keep accountable. I was thinking on the run about faith in the self you can't see yet. How do we keep running, or writing, or whatever we're doing towards the self and the life we want when we can't see it yet? One part of the answer for me is for the goal to be exciting. For it to be new. Something I haven't done before, something I think I may not even be able to do. It also has to be in a realm that I feel inspired by. Being active has always been inspiring to me. Running, aerobics, yoga, dance, martial arts, biking, long walks, have all played an essential role in my life and well-being. I don't know how I'd be without them. I want to take it up a notch or two though now. A 10-miler is a fairly modest goal, but enough outside what I've done to be exciting. The excitement of that vision, and what it means to me, is what helps me plod through all the steps it takes to get there. Up that hill, through the boring parts, as well as the moments that shine. Other people help a lot, too. People to run with, people to tell. Check out Danielle LaPorte's words on keeping your vision while walking your steps: http://www.daniellelaporte.com.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

crappy days and telling the truth

Today felt, after a certain point in the morning, kind of crappy. Anxious crappy. Triggered crappy. One thing after another - something I read, a social situation, then another social situation, awakened feelings of unworthiness. I texted with my BF about it, I went for a run. I felt better for a while, then back to feeling bad again. My 16 year old son offered me a hug, which helped, then back to feeling it. One of those days. It will be better tomorrow probably. But it brought up the question of how to talk about it here. Telling the truth is a form of bravery. A big one. In public and in writing is a certain kind of bravery, and skill. I'm not sure I have the right skill of it yet, but I thought I'd start practicing it here today. So, here's my tiny start. Tomorrow I'd like to start talking about making exciting goals. Goals which feel new and big, and maybe even redefining. Stay tuned. :)

Monday, May 30, 2016


I had a new idea for something brave I could do. Improv theatre. It would be ideal for challenging my fear of unstructured interactions with people I don't know. Perfect. I could feel all that awkwardness, and maybe have fun instead of what I often do, which is to slink away and avoid it. Then I thought, god, I think I'm doing enough. Writing, running, art classes, exercise classes, trips, kids, work, house, and all the other stuff I can't even remember. I'm trying to find the sweet spot of stretching but not exhausting myself. I'll save improv for my back pocket.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

small choices

Today nothing dramatic happened. I kept running when we went this morning and it felt hard after a point and then afterwards, sitting on the porch with a coffee, my body felt relaxed and my mood light for having gone. I wouldn't have guessed while we were running. It just felt like work then. Keep going. Later, tired from too many chores, I cancelled with someone I had plans with for the evening. Kindof last minute (last hour anyhow). I don't like doing that but I knew I had nothing left. Instead we lay and read on the wicker couch we pulled into the backyard earlier in the day, and maple keys fell on us and other bits of nature from the tree overhead, and the birds sang, and it was delightful. That was the right choice too. Small ones, leaning into the right place even when discomfort at first blocks the way.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

asking for what you want

Asking for what you want from another person can be a vulnerable thing. I don't think it was that hard for me today, but it was certainly satisfying, so I wanted to write about it. We practiced it in the core erotic theme workshop. We got into pairs, and practiced asking for something that we wanted the other person to do or say to us. Not something they were going to do necessarily, but as a practice. And of course, the other person can say yes or they can say no. Today I practiced asking my boyfriend to rub my belly. Then I asked him to say some things I wanted him to say. They were important things. I ended up crying. I knew I could trust him enough to ask him for those things, and that he would probably respond well, because I've asked him for smaller things before. We ask and build trust, and ask again. Is there anything you would like to ask for from someone in your life?

Friday, May 27, 2016

delights you have not felt before

There is a line in 'Harley and Me: Embracing Risk on the Road to a More Authentic Life' that captured my attention. There are many lines that capture my attention in this book, but this one in particular stayed with me. It's a compelling part of why I want to practice facing my fears. Author Bernadette Murphy says, "Until this point in my life, I never felt a great affinity for motorcycles, never harbored the desire to learn. In fact, when my middle son Neil bought a motorcycle as a college freshman, I was apoplectic, utterly opposed. I railed about the dangers of accidents. But when I signed up for that five-day class and found myself sitting on an asphalt training range atop a 492-cc motorcycle, I experienced a kind of giddy delight I had never previously known. Ever." Did you catch that "ever"? That's what I want to feel, too. New things I never felt before. In the possibility of experiencing new feelings or new heights of them, there is not only the joy of heretofore unknown delights, but also the breaking of what I thought was possible, and the felt sense of the mystery of life. My small self likes to feel certainty and as much protection from the possibility of death as I can, and the bigger soul of me loves to feel the vast uncertain mystery. Breaking through into new possibilities feels something like practicing death. I know this is saying a lot, but I think all of this underlies our fear of and embrace of risk and aliveness. As I grow more fully into mid-life, I feel the call to greater authenticity more loudly and insistently, and I also feel a greater call to be of service. I still haven't pinpointed exactly what I wish to offer next as best I can, but it may have something to do with this - to help others experience heightened moments of aliveness, and also of love.

first run towards the 10 miler

I feel a little like an imposter - ha ha ha - I'm going to run the Toronto 10 miler in the fall. But I'm going to keep acting like I'm doing it until I actually do it. Starting the 10 mile race clinic at the High Park Running Room June 23rd, but I haven't been running much this winter, so setting out for a short run to start it off right now. Anyone else have some brave fitness goals?

Thursday, May 26, 2016


So, we did the workshop tonight and it actually worked! There was a moment early on during the first exercise when I thought, this isn't going to work. What if noone feels free to talk? Sex is a hard topic, maybe I needed more experience before I tried this. And then people talked! It helps that we all know each other. It helps that I have lots of experience as a therapist talking to people about their emotional dynamics. This was just the first time I tried it on this topic. It's also fairly new for me to facilitate groups. But I went into it with a try it and see attitude. It was a lot of fun. We talked about the possibility of turning it into an 8 week learning group. I'm going to work on that idea. Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

talking about sex!

Today I am planning a workshop that I'm giving tomorrow night at my house for a few friends on the topic of sex as a healing force. We will be talking about core erotic theme, fantasies, attractions, and how our early relationships help shape our core needs. If you want to read more about core erotic theme, check this out: https://bettersexed.org/2014/03/29/whats-your-core-erotic-theme/. I'm trying this workshop out with some friends to get some feedback on it so I can offer it at a sexuality retreat later this fall. Facilitating is new to me! And this is a tender topic! Please send me some love on this, I'll be diving in tomorrow night at 7. If you want to read some more on this juicy topic, check out 'Your brain on sex, how smarter sex can change your life', by Stanley Siegel. Can you think of anything more worth putting some time into? ;)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

running and writing

Today my brave thing was going to my memoir writing class, week 6 of 8, and reading a piece of writing. We are a group of 6 women who meet in the apartment of the writing teacher. If it's exposing enough, my heart starts to pound when I read. That happened today. Writing is one of the most exposing things you can do. Just you and your mind out there for all to see. It's exciting that way, too. I also phoned the Running Room to sign up for the summer 10-miler clinic. I have to wait to see if I can still use a credit from a clinic I signed up for two years ago but couldn't attend because I developed frozen shoulder. So, I'm not signed up yet, but I intend to. I haven't run that far in 10 years, and I don't know how my joints will take it, but I'm in for trying.

Monday, May 23, 2016

risk and authenticity

I've been inspired to start this blog while reading 'Harley and Me: Embracing Risk on the Road to a More Authentic Life', by Bernadette Murphy. It's about a 48 year old woman who takes up motorcycle riding while she's going through both the death of her father and the dissolution of her long-term marriage. She does it to show herself her own strength and to face her fear in the service of expanding her life. So many people fall into ruts in mid-life, and she doesn't want to be one of them. Neither do I. Like Bernadette, I have often been a cautious person (with notable exceptions). It's easy to keep doing the predictable and comfortable. I want a big life. So I decided to start this blog to commit to and chronicle my brave acts toward living as big a life as I am capable of. I am committing to (at least) one brave act a day. A brave act being something that takes me out of my comfort zone in the direction of what I want. Something that makes me feel more alive, more exposed, more in flow with life. I'd also like to inspire others to do the same. To live their big lives. It's not going to be easy. I have a strong tendency to want to stay safe and hidden to some extent, but also a strong desire for authenticity and aliveness, too. I've tasted what happens when I go outside my comfort zone. It often comes with some amount of discomfort and sometimes outright anxiety or even terror. It also often brings exhilaration and joy. I want more of that. It's a choice that you have to keep making over and over. Yesterday, I took a tiny taste of this feeling when I decided to go swimming in a pretty cold pond at a yoga retreat I was at. I am especially cautious about physical discomfort and risk. My boyfriend dove in and I slid in slowly down the ladder. It was really really cold. I got out quickly and dried off. He asked if I wanted to go in again and so I did. This time we swam around for a while and it was beautiful with the sun on our faces and the water bracing but better the second time around. When I wasn't able to close my hands properly because they were so cold, we got out. I felt happy and empowered all the way home, and decided to start this blog. Today my brave act is publishing this post.