Good Words for Minding the Harrow

Yes, we love our work, but there are times when the well runs dry, weariness settles in the bones, or there’s an ache in the heart. In case you had an August (and July…and June…and, oh hell, year) like me, you might, also like me, rely heavily on other writers who know the score to ease your troubles and give you courage to keep working. These are teachers, authors, colleagues, friends, and maybe even a saint or two, that have helped me get by.

I’m sure you’ll benefit.

C’mon, there’s a schedule to keep and people to help. Chin up. And:

“None of us are completely present. So don’t feel guilty. This is the ideal, the enlightened moments that come now and then. But we do know that when we are manipulating, changing, controlling, and fixing, we are not there yet. The calculating mind is the opposite of the contemplative mind. The first is thought by the system, the second by the Spirit.”
Richard Rohr, from “Everything Belongs

“When I was in a craptastic, humiliating, vulnerable position I said ‘I can’t get cold cocked again. I am entirely out of resilience.’ And I meant it. I got the mercy I needed. I don’t miss my pride.”
— Allissa Haines, from Writing a Blue Streak, “Well, hello 39.”

“We have to learn that healing is not a function of the therapist or any external agent like a vitamin or an antibiotic. Healing and control are with the client and are functions of the client-therapist relationship. Knowing that, knowing I don’t control the process, I avoid efforting. And knowing the client also cannot force change at a deep level, I encourage the client to drop efforting.”
— Ron Kurtz, courtesy of D. Lauterstein’s “Deep Massage Book” FaceBook page

“If I were going to begin practicing the presence of God for the first time today, it would help to begin by admitting the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.” — Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

“We don’t take care of each other. Half of what’s wrong with us human beings, I sometimes think, could be headed off if we just still hunkered down together picking lice, imaginary or real, out of each other’s hair, of an evening, the way all the other primates do: just touching each other kindly, huddling close, and tending to each other.”
— Dale Favier, from “Body in the Parking Lot

“A wry sense of humor helps a lot when things get hard. So does a great affection for oneself…Throughout all this worry, I reassured myself with Simon Gray’s words: “Worry is just love in its worst form. But it’s still love.”
— Tracy Walton, Teaching and the Worst Form of Love

“I got used to saying ‘I have depression.’  Although I did catch myself averting my eyes a bit when I told someone new recently. Probably gotta work on that a bit still.”
— again, Allissa, again, “Well, hello 39.”

“I used to walk around thinking I knew how other people could be happy: now I know that I don’t. I don’t know that. Oh, I can see it clearly enough: ‘you are locked into your suffering’ — as Leonard Cohen crooned it — ‘and your pleasures are the seal.’ But diagnosing is one thing: curing quite another. It’s probably good that I no longer think I have anything to offer people.”
— mole (again, Dale) “Dangerously Full

“I am not a hero; I cannot fix you. I am not strong; I cannot save you. I am weak; I cannot melt the frozen, broken places in you. I am insufficient; I cannot heal your pain. But I have hope, because I can do much more than that. I can love you.’
— Kate Bartolotta from “We Are Not Here to Fix Each Other

“What do we pray for?…Finally, alchemy. It is NOT up to you. I wish it was, but it’s not…the body contains all of the healing substances it needs already. The person contains all the healing substances it needs, they just don’t notice it. We are there to just help them become aware. I want people to realize they’re miraculous.”
— paraphrased from David Lauterstein’s Deep Massage class, Oct. 2013

“Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted – i.e., keep on fulfilling all the obvious duties of your station (you really know quite well enough what they are!), asking forgiveness for each failure and then leaving it alone. You are in the right way. Walk — don’t keep on looking at it.”
— C.S. Lewis, from The Collected Letters Volume III

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
— Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:10



Cracked, But Not Completely

The sun is at a low angle nowadays. As we shuttle fast, ever faster, towards winter solstice, the sun shines its starlight with blinding force, only to suddenly drop away and leave us in darkness, once again. Even from nearly 93million miles away, its atomic power breaks your trend, stalls your gears and shuffles your deck.

A massage therapist filled with equanimity and ease will not be millimeters from flying into a rage when the sun shoves itself into her eyeballs, but I have not been filled with equanimity and so I tolerate my crazy fuming over the sun, but just.

I seem to be entering the troubled lands of peri-menopause, and managing it with progesterone cream, herbs, tinctures and moderate exercise only works up to a point. Eventually a girl realizes that vast discomfort with oneself and the tendency to be hot under the collar at any perceived slight is like being in a time warp: the 13-year-old you, all over again, and just like then, there’s not much to cure it except time.

It’s ironic, really: here I am, in the best decade of my life, at the top of my game, and experiencing some of the bottom-most moods I ever had.

On Tuesday I was out of control. Small events turned into fantastic stories, woven ever more steadily in the silence between breaths. Seeing clients was a relief, however temporary: focusing wholly on them, working at interface, helped me feel less insane, but all of my anger and fear kept resurfacing and coming at me from weird angles. I felt like I was beating back dark birds, session after session.

I prayed a lot, first with calm request, then bordering on hysteria.

A challenging email from my sister-in-law sent me over the edge. In the brief amount of time I had before my last client showed up, I flailed, collapsed, foamed, and left a gibbering and incredibly unhelpful voicemail on my husband’s phone. Gathering myself together from the pieces I’d left all over the room, I prayed she wouldn’t ask me how I was doing, because I was rather sure I would unfortunately spill my beans.

“How ARE you?” There it was. I wanted, desperately, to segue neatly from pre-session check-in right into the work, but I was battle weary. My officemate Jean had been out most of the afternoon, and so reliable moments of decompressing with her between clients hadn’t happened.

Maintaining facade with this wonderful client required more hormonal fortitude than I had. So I told her.

“Hmmm,” she said after a brief silence, after I explained as succinctly and powerfully as I could what I had been feeling all day. “You know, I hadn’t thought about that. I mean here you are, in a profession where you kind of have to emanate all this love and caring. It’s your job. And you do it so well, I mean everyone is like ‘Oh I can’t wait to go see Kristen,’ you know?”

The compliment took me off guard completely, and I was suddenly aware that this was the other vital piece to why I’d felt so wretched: on top of everything else, I’d put a heaping pile of guilt, for not feeling nicer. I was afraid of feeling so bad, because I took it as a sign that I wasn’t being a good practitioner.

Massage therapists are trained to work with personal emotion and move past it, continuously, using meditation, visualization, breathing techniques, but because I’ve been tortured by perfectionism my whole life, I threw “does not freak out or get overwhelmed” into my list of things to accomplish. Not realistic, even for a good day, but especially on a day when I could barely cope.

“If I’m having a bad day, I just take it out on my students,” she said, with a touch of a wink and smile. “You can’t really do that here, can you.”

“You weren’t here when I was kicking the table!” I said, as we both started to laugh. “I did have an eye on the parking lot the whole time so I could see if you were coming in. I threw a few things too: a towel, I think. I might have said some bad words.”

“The phrase ‘raging hyena’ comes to mind,” she said, and conversation lapsed because we were laughing ourselves purple. (This is something we’ve done before.)

Like a couple thirteen-year-olds, I thought to myself, and while I didn’t find anything attractive about the huge mood swings I’d been experiencing, there was redemption in knowing the cracking sound I was hearing wasn’t the sound of me losing my mind, but my heart melting: towards my day, and my awful awful self. “That’s how the light gets in,” Leonard Cohen sang, and the bells rang that still could ring.

In this line of work, you meet, sole to soul. Doubtless it’s good to try and bring your best self to every client, but sometimes the best self you have to offer is the one that’s honest, and willing, albeit messy. Our presence with one another is the greatest help, especially as it’s unclear who or what else will save us in the growing dark.

Don’t Touch Me: Part 2

(…cont. from “Don’t Touch Me: Part 1“)

“Yes,” I continued, with growing confidence. “It’s true. I mean I don’t like random touch. You know? ‘Hiiii, how arrre you,'” I said, and I pawed at the air, mimicking someone coming at me with gropey hands.

She laughed. I felt a little better. Maybe I was getting at something here.

“Like if you’re at Rollies and there’s always this person who finds you who’s just had one too many, and there they are: in your face, falling on your shoulder, grabbing your elbow…helllOOOOOO…”

I used Rollies – Belfast, Maine’s famous watering hole – on purpose, because everyone goes there: from laborers to city council members. We all watch the Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins here; families gather at the big tables for meals; there’s a pool table and a modern jukebox and free peanuts. It’s a microcosm of Waldo County community life. We all drink there, and all of us have either had too many at one point, or been with people who have. As I hoped, she laughed at this too.

“So, just to let you know, I think I understand – in my own way – what you mean about not wanting to be touched. I get it. This is not unwanted hugs or weird pats, this is professional body work. I do this for a living and I take it seriously. Which means I take your needs and sensitivities seriously too.

“There’s nothing happening here that is not under your control. I will tell you everything I am doing, before I do it, and you can say whether or not that works for you. I don’t have to know the reason, just say “huh-uh.”

“This is your session. Your time. And, from moment to moment we’ll see how it goes. I know you’ve signed up for an hour session but personally I will be thrilled if we can get in 25 minutes. That will be a major accomplishment!”

“Yeah, I know!” she replied. Her face was starting to relax and she was getting a little color in her cheeks. I could tell what I was saying was helping her trust me more. I was feeling better, myself.

Hand.fingerdeskpull“So, this is how it goes. I’m gonna leave the room. Let’s just start with you face up, today, okay? This way you can talk to me easily and we can end things more smoothly if we need to.” She agreed to lying supine, supported by pillows, even mostly disrobing so she could be more comfortable under the linens. “I’ll knock before I come in and then we’ll get started, okay?”

“Right!” she said, and she closed the door behind me while I went to wash up and she bravely attempted the impossible: lying down on my table, waiting to be massaged.

I went into the bathroom and felt a slight tremor inside. I did as I always did: pray, for myself and my client, that it would be for our mutual benefit and the greatest and highest good for all. I noticed, however, that my internal voice had an edge and squeak to it that bordered on hysteria.

“What if, Lord,” I prayed, “I get in there and all I do is touch the top of her head and she says, “Nope, I can’t do this,” and we have to end the session right there? I want to help her! I think I can! What if she really can’t let me? Agghkk, what-what-what?”

I felt access to peace, suddenly, as if a giant angel hand came to rest on top of my head and pressed gently but firmly: the equivalent to a verbal “Shoosh.”

Don’t go in there acting like she’s going to quit on you any minute. Do everything as if the next minute will certainly come. And for heaven’s sake, stay calm! If you’re at ease, she’ll be at ease.

So I knocked and went in, and began.

I have to say, there is an immediacy to your work if you know that it could end at any moment. And, while I began simply and calmly, and checked in with Tracy every 15 minutes that went by, like clockwork, like I promised her I would — and, while I also told her what I was going to do in a soft but distinct voice, before I did it, like I had promised (“I’m now going to drape your upper chest a little more and work both arms, starting with your right.”) —  I also was waiting, on some level, for her eyes to open and for her to say, “Stop.”

But that never happened. Instead, fifteen minutes went by, and then another, and then another. Her response to my inquiry, “How you doing,” went from “Fine” to “Mumph,” the happily unintelligible response of someone in deep relaxation. I used medium pressure and if i dipped into certain areas more deeply, I was hawklike in monitoring her response.

There were no adverse ones, so far as I could tell: her eyes were closed and stayed closed. Her face, while still retaining traces of tension (and her brow still knit), was placid. Her breathing deepened and softened. She even let me take her whole arm without even attempting to help me (something I haven’t accomplished even with certain long-term clients, see “Up in Arms“)

Finally I nudged her. “Guess what,” I said. “You did it. A whole hour.” And left.

“How are you feeling?” I asked, as I came back in the room and she was sipping water.

“Well,” she said. “A lot better. Maybe because it’s over.” We laughed at this one. Boy, if nothing else, I realized Tracy had a great sense of humor, just like her cousin.

I reviewed the session: headache was still there, but she felt a lot looser, right where she needed it the most: all around C5-T2. Would she feel like coming back for more? Certainly she did. I got her rescheduled and tried not to show how much I felt like dancing in my chair with joy. Perhaps this was a turning point for her body: a chance to start feeling better more often. This is the kind of thing that makes massage therapists want to cry with happiness. I also refrained from doing that.

“I did do a tiny bit of leg compressions, like we had discussed, but it was the one time in the session I noticed your visibly tense. You didn’t like that, did you? I will totally not even touch your legs next time. I apologize.”

“Yeah, thanks,” she replied. “I just don’t want my legs to be touched. And I really don’t like people touching my FEET.” That tense dubious look surfaced one more time, then went away.

I made a note in her file, and in my mind: Do Not Touch Legs or Feet. With the sincere hope that someday, even that could happen, if she says she is ready. But, as with everything else with Tracy, I will take it moment to moment.

Tracy is now a regular client and, while she’s experiencing new soreness and discovering other parts of her that are tense (“I think I clench my teeth!”), she is hanging in there. Her name has been changed for this story.

With a tip of the hat to my friend, colleague, blogger and all-around awesome person Rowan Blaisdell, and his post “You Are in Charge.”

Don’t Touch Me: Part 1

It has long been my prayer, for the people who need me the most? To be sent to me. Sometimes this gets answered in amusing ways, with challenges I feel are beyond me at the time. “I don’t like to be touched” was how I met Tracy.

“Everyone keeps telling me to get a massage, I finally even heard it from my doctor,” she continued as we went through her first interview. “Dr. Jane (my chiropractor friend and colleague next door), my cousin, and now even him. ‘Please go get a massage.’ ”

It seemed her sour, disgruntled look was due to a number of things: the pressure she’d been feeling to have a treatment she didn’t want, the actual pain she was in, and how conflicted she felt about sitting there. While we discussed her symptoms, what seemed to me to be tears briefly came into her eyes, then left.

Hand Out duskI’d seen this happen before with clients, so I knew not to flinch or feel it my duty to inquire – sometimes the stress and pain of a person’s life is so great that another person showing empathy makes tears spontaneously pop out – but at one point they became profuse enough to spill onto her cheeks. I slid her a tissue across the desk.

“Thanks,” she said, dabbing ruefully at her eyes. “I don’t know why this is happening.”

If I’d been her, I would have had a lot to cry about. Two bulging discs in her cervicals had winched her whole neck – posterior, lateral and anterior muscles – into a nearly permanent state of spasm. The pain, and thereby, stiffness went up into her head, and down between shoulder blades, even cutting off the nerve and blood supply to her arms. I could see it when she walked into the room: her arms were held tightly into her body and she barely moved her head.

She had been like this since May, and tried a lot of things, including seeing Jane for chiropractic. The missing piece of the puzzle was relaxing, something that is difficult to do (let alone without professional help) when a person has bulging discs that are pressing night and day on chunky vibrating nerve roots. Even slight impingement on these cords of electricity and light create waves of unrelenting pain and discomfort that sometimes no remedy abates.

And, since she had been in pain for months, her body, out of self-preservation perhaps, splinted and splinted and splinted the painful areas until she was barely moving at all. Relaxation? Forget it.

I wasn’t even thinking this far, though. The whys and wherefores of her tension/pain/tension patterns were nowhere near my mind during the intake. I was just thinking of how I was going to get her to let me touch her. I was the missing piece. And she wanted me at beyond arm’s length.

I had been thinking of it for a while, actually: her cousin is a regular of mine. “Tracy doesn’t like to be touched,” said my client. “I told her you would take it moment to moment.”

I leaned into this suggestion as Tracy and I discussed her symptoms. Finally I cleared my throat and framed the question as delicately as I could, knowing that depending on her answer I would be wandering blind, without skill.

“Can I just ask…to your knowledge, is there anything in your past that led you to feeling this way? Not wanting to be touched? Negative experiences from people touching you in a way you didn’t like, or…”

“Nope, no, I just, I dunno.” She shrugged (slightly) and looked at me.

I considered this response. I’ve been living in Maine for nearly 15 years and have many natives as friends. They are, to a person, not the most tactile bunch. Perhaps her distaste for physical contact was just classic Mainer?

Maybe she had been abused or hurt in some way, and either chose to ignore it or forgot about it over time. Her body language, her tone of voice, and what she said (and did not say) did not, to me, belie a deeper problem with touch. And, even if it was there? What could I do about it that wasn’t outside my scope of practice?

She looked at me some more with the tense, dubious expression of someone clearly suffering; wholly desperate, and not liking it one bit. Almost like a cornered animal who knows the jig is up, and they have to go inside the pet carrier. My heart opened to her like the sun.

“Actually,” I said — and as my mouth opened I a) realized I didn’t know what I was going to say and b) breathed a quick inner prayer: “HELP!” — “I don’t like to be touched either.”

Really? My mind snorted. Do elaborate, please. I’m all ears.

continued here: “Don’t Touch Me: Part 2

“I Explained To Him I Loved Him”

On Tuesday August 20th in Decatur, Georgia, Antoinette Tuff talked a gunman out of coming into the elementary school where she’s employed as a bookkeeper, and wreaking mayhem.

This is how she did it:

“I just explained to him that I loved him,” she said. “I didn’t know his name, I didn’t know much about him, but I did love him.” — from Washington Post

Don’t feel bad, baby. My husband just left me after 33 years. … I’ve got a son that’s multiple disabled. — from Huffington Post

That’s a good thing that you’re just giving up and don’t worry about it. We all go through something in life. No, you don’t want that. You going to be OK. I thought the same thing, you know, I tried to commit suicide last year after my husband left me. But look at me now. I’m still working and everything is OK. — from CNN

The 20-year-old gunman, Michael Brandon Hill, put down his weapons and let the police come in and take custody of him. He suffers from bipolar disorder: that day he was off his medicine and knew he wasn’t mentally stable.

Take the 13-14 minutes you’ll need to listen to the 911 call (nearly all the news outlet sites have a link to it)  and have a hanky handy. Personally I’ve never been so moved: not only the honesty Tuff displayed (using total self-disclosure to reassure Hill she knows how he feels) but the tone she uses. She is matter-of-fact — professional, even! — but speaks utterly from her heart.

“I just started praying for him,” she said later.

Part of why this story moves me so tremendously is the huge risk Tuff took. At any point in the exchange, Hill could have decided she was fooling him and shot her. Tuff risked everything – her dignity, her personal details, her very life – to help this young man. She didn’t care what it took: she tried. And as she prayed, she was given insight and courage that she didn’t feel.

Another part of why this story moves me so is it clearly shows what active compassion can do. Yes, there are no guarantees that being forthright, loving, understanding and composed leads to a peaceful stand-off: at any point in the interchange, things can go horribly wrong.

But she chose comfort over confrontation; compassion over condemnation; love over fear. And, in the end, no one was hurt: not even the gunman.

So: tell me again, what’s the role of massage therapy in today’s confrontational, condemning, hateful world?

Isn’t it one of our noblest gifts: to be the ones who comfort, reassure, restore?

We are one ensemble of many — nurses, pastors, social workers, doctors, crisis counselors, mental health advocates, chaplains, teachers, many others — who provide what Kate Braestrup refers to as the “spiritual equivalent of triage.”

I know we, as an industry, are moving forward: science-based evidence for practice, medical spas, stronger research, provable outcomes. We are rapidly ascending into mainstream healthcare’s playing fields; we’re proving our right to exist, stand toe-to-toe, with The Big Guys.

I dunno, though.

The bottom line, for me? Of why what we do, works? Is that we provide safe human connection: physical, emotional, spiritual solidarity on a hard, harsh, punitive planet. We can be real with our clients, and take the time we need to do it: not too many professions allow that. We can love our clients, deeply, while holding professional boundaries. We can pray for them if we choose.

In all these ways we help bring them back to themselves, and they, in turn, can make other people’s lives better too. It’s not secondary or tertiary, it’s the primary gift we have to offer.

That’s not something that shows up in research: it’s the pesky “anecdotal evidence” that has always dogged our reputation as practitioners. I’m not downplaying the importance of progress in a field. But I really, really want all of us to understand the huge gift we really do give the world, simply by giving individuals quality, heart-felt, educated, intuitive massage therapy sessions, over and over again.

We never know whose life will be saved by the strength of our love, compassion and understanding.

Every Time We Say Good-bye

I have been considering endings, lately. What about you? August is filled with preparation for fall. Light lowers and hems. We start saying Farewell to heat, here in Maine, as well. There is great harvest and celebration, but it’s the beginning of the end.

As we say good-bye to someone, something, we can feel bad. Maybe we thought this happy thing was never going to end, but here it is, ending anyway. Maybe we couldn’t wait for this miserable event to be over, and now that it is, we have a lot more mixed feelings than we thought we would have, including sourness over having wasted so much time on something that ended up being a huge disappointment.

While saying good-bye, we can cling, or we can push it away.

But here it comes: close to going…

going away now…


The temptation is to fill an ending with the instant in-rush of next steps, next move, next next next. “WHAT’S NEXT?!?!” The grave’s not even cold. We get what we’ve been craving, and like toddlers we hold it for 2 seconds, let it roll out of our hands, and wriggle on, grabbing and tasting and exulting…but not absorbing. Or cleaning up the mess in our wake.

Sometimes there just isn’t a “next.” Something ends. And, in that completion, there is a borderless quiet that comes in and soaks us to our soul roots. We haven’t got “it,’ whatever it is, to catapult us into knowing, doing, saying or planning what’s to come. We aren’t inspired. We feel blank, fallow, still as glass, or snow falling in a field.

A massage therapy or Reiki, or other bodywork, session is hugely instrumental in teaching us how to say good-bye. As recipients, we present ourselves to a practitioner for healing, hope for the best, receive what we get, and then must arise and go forth. That lovely time is over before we know it. “Can’t I just stay here?” No, we can’t stay.

Courtesy Kevin Kratka Photography

Courtesy Kevin Kratka Photography

As practitioners, we see the session as a whole, but we also see each part of the person as a whole, and as such, we say hello/goodbye, hello/goodbye, constantly during the massage. Hello to your scalp! Goodbye scalp. Hello neck! Goodbye neck. Hello to your whole shoulder, whole arm and down to each finger! Goodbye to all that.

Hello wonderful beautiful incredible awesome gorgeous human being person thing!

Goodbye wonderful beautiful incredible awesome gorgeous human being person thing.

I like to end my massage therapy sessions by holding a limb or a pate, for a prayerful length. It reminds me of that long quiet, that vast unknowing, that comes at the end of all things: when you know it’s the end, and you don’t know what’s next. You know just enough to stay where you are, breathing, falling.

“To change what we are doing, we must stop what we are doing.” – David Lauterstein

“We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it. ” – Rainer Maria Rilke

“As you uncover God’s loving truth, you uncover your own, and as you uncover your own truth, you fall deeper into God’s mercy and love.” – Richard Rohr

What you just read is not my fault. It’s because my friend, colleague, co-conspirator and pants kicker Rowan Blaisdell talked me into it, and also, because I cannot resist a write-off: 31 Posts in 31 Days August Blog Challenge, Business Blogging School. Caution snuffed, perfectionism cast off like a smelly cloak: this is blog #14.

What I am is What I am

…oh dear, have I made you sing the Edie Brickell song?

I have been seeing a lot of clients this summer. Some days have been better than others. You know how it can go: super-duper massage therapy powers cascading all through the day! like an AWESOME summer movie! even when it ends, you’re still pumped!

Or, an interminable awkward comedy improv show that just can’t end soon enough.

I was having a “can I get through this” day, with two long-term clients coming in for back-to-back 90-min. therapeutic massage sessions. I was doing everything right: started my day with prayer and meditation, yoga, my perfect breakfast (two scrambled eggs, two pieces of Ezekiel bread toast with butter and raw honey on them), and I’d taken my supplements, drank water and downed a teaspoon of Restorative Root Powder. Salad and green tea for lunch. I was keeping on top of my side work.

I felt like I was going to scream or cry, one of the two, maybe both, and kind of for a long time.

There was a lot going on at home, and I knew that was contributing, but I was unable to let it go. Something else was nibbling so hard at the edges of my psyche I could hear its little teeth rasping. Finally I sat down (in the few minutes I had to spare) in the middle of my massage table, cross-legged and, keeping an eye on the parking lot for the incoming, had a little talk with myself.

What I noticed, immediately, was the fraught and trembly voice that came up inside me. Like a terrified child, who sees a big stream and cannot, will not, go across, even though there are stones to walk upon.

In the end (I will spare you all the dialogue) I realized that the very fact that these were long-term clients, with long term issues, coming in to see me for long sessions, and I wanted to fix them, once and for all. I mean I hadn’t gotten it “right” after all these years? why were they still bothering with me?

“Just be who you are.”

This came to me, above the panic. I considered it. What am I?

a strong individual
trained and educated, with a curious mind
wounded and scarred, with an open heart
with a solid protocol for practice
who brings full attention to bear in every session
the best she can.

I would say that, after realizing my essentials — bare-bones, no credentials, no aspiration, no agenda — I knew that was what I could do for my incoming. Be that which I am: slightly less than the angels, slightly more than the dead.

And you: who are you?

Be that. It is the answer you seek.

It’s the only answer your client will understand.

Many thanks to Kelli Wise for her blog “It’s OK if your clients don’t get better” as part inspiration, part peer counseling, for this post.

What you just read is not my fault. It’s because my friend, colleague, co-conspirator and pants kicker Rowan Blaisdell talked me into it, and also, because I cannot resist a write-off: 31 Posts in 31 Days August Blog Challenge, Business Blogging School. Caution snuffed, perfectionism cast off like a smelly cloak: this is blog #12.