Trust your pen

I have to share a beautiful experience that speaks to the power of the pen to tap into something deeper and older than we can explain.

This morning I was reading The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler. I won’t go into all the emotions this book arouses in me but I cannot emphasize strongly enough that EVERY woman in the world – and every man who was born from the body of a beautiful woman – should read this book. I’m sure I will touch on this some more in the future. However, the point is, as I sat here by the fire contemplating the repercussions of Eisler’s words, I suddenly realized what I had to do.

With my life.

Yeah, kind of a big deal.

Of course, I rushed to my journal to talk this epiphany through, to make sure I had heard my heart correctly. And yes, I had. My whole life, from the family and church I was born into, to the thesis I wrote as an undergrad, to writing a journal for the past 20-odd years, to teaching, to my Goddard Master’s degree program – all have led me to this place, right now. My eyes have been opened and I now have a responsibility to do something with the knowledge I have been given.

But here is the actual point of this post: As I put the period at the end of the final sentence of my journal entry, I wrote in big letters, SHALOM. That’s strange, I thought, why would I write a Hebrew word when the Hebrew Bible was what caused most of this trouble [i.e. the suppression of women] in the first place? So, I looked it up. Here’s what I read:

Shalom also means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. (via http://www.therefinersfire.org/meaning_of_shalom.htm)

By speaking out about how and why we as a species became so unbalanced psychologically and spiritually, it is the point of my thesis work and my teaching to help others on their own quest for wholeness to feel “complete, perfect and full.”

Shalom, indeed.

So, trust your pen. Write what it wants to write. You know more than you know you know.

Natural Wisdom – in verse

These poems were written by a participant in one of my recent workshops, Natural Wisdom: Writing as Spiritual Voice. They are Alphapoems written in response to prompts while listening to sounds from nature. As you will read, not all are directly related to nature, but this is an example of the wonder and power of expressive writing: If you open yourself to the writing process, what wants/needs to be expressed will be. The author remarked that she was not expecting these words to come out, “they just kinda did!”

Thank you for your generosity for sharing them with us!

Poems by Gwendoline James

THE STORM

Dark skies releasing themselves of pent-up heat,

Inspired by Thor;  continual rumblings then stomach-churning crashes.

Straight rain falling to earth with relentless power,

Threatening all beneath its touch without regard,

Analogy for washing clean, washing away,

Never heeding any demands to stop.

Clean, so clean, until it hits earth, rivers, fields, then mud and torrents and flood and devastation.

Eternal rain……… or so it seems at this moment.

MOTHER LOST

Gone before I knew you, like the

Wind, blowing through and leaving

Emptiness, which I

Never recognized until the need to know you became

Dominant  in my later life.

Open my heart to the memories I do not have.  I want to hear you

Laugh, cry, talk ……why did

Illness take you away so that I

Never knew you, felt your warmth, heard your voice, fed off your

Energy, which was all spent by the time you gave me life.

SIDMOUTH

Soothing my fears, calming my thoughts, in this

Idyllic place.

Damp seaweed gently sweeping between my toes, the

Mouth of the river opening itself into the

Ocean.  What powerful secrets lie

Under your white crests;  your dark teal depths reflecting the

Turmoil of my mind before I came to stand in awe at your edge

Happy for the seagulls overhead and for your cleansing, incessant water to wash over my feet and

recede again into itself.

— Gwendoline James

Resume the Stability of Tension

This is a post from a couple of years ago. I am re-posting it because this phrase – Resume the Stability of Tension – keeps popping back into my mind lately. Although I am in a completely different life situation now (I left my job very soon after this post and started grad school a year later), I am paying attention to it. The “naggings” of our unconscious are important to listen to, they hold messages.

~~~

[June 18, 2009] A couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar by my journal-writing/therapy mentor, Kathleen Adams. At the time I was at the height of my distress over my job. The idea of a whole day writing and learning more about journal techniques from ‘the master’ had momentarily calmed and uplifted me. Then Kay asked us to finish the following statement, “Right now in my life..”

I wrote frantically for five minutes. It poured out of me. After the writing sprint we were asked to write a sentence or two of feedback to ourselves: “As I read this I notice…” This personal feedback was what we shared with the group (if we chose). I told them that although I was calm before the write I was now a nervous wreck! I had traded a relaxed attitude for hunched shoulders and a stomach of jumping beans. Kay told me I might want to explore this in an exercise we would be doing in the afternoon.

At lunch Kay and I shared a table, and the conversation – which was intended to be about my upcoming journal workshops – became a mini therapy session. I was still shaky and Kay, being the experienced therapist that she is, asked me all the right questions. The word “loyalty” came up.

That afternoon, Kay told the group about Alpha Poems. I was already familiar with them as they were a fun portion of my workshop training. I chose to do a poem based on the word Loyalty. Here’s what came out:

Limits myself, always
Open, always
Yes, never no
Attitude
Limits the way I go
Take the road to
YOU

Wanting to play some more I chose to do a poem using the entire alphabet.

Always
Bending to others
Cutting out the
Day to
Everyone but me
Favoring
Goodness
Hating
Irresponsibility
Judging myself
Knowing how
Loyalty is my
Mantra
No one is happy
Open the door
Pursue the
Quest
Resume the
Stability of
Tension
Undo the
Values
(e)Xplore
Yourself

I didn’t think about what word or phrase would come next, it just happened. I didn’t even know what word I was going to write until I began writing it. It is a magical thing!

Anyway, the phrase that immediately jumped out at me was the strange, “Resume the Stability of Tension.” Now, I am a tense person and in my experience, that is not a good thing. I have even taken drugs for it. Hubby frequently asks me in utter frustration as he runs out of door 15 minutes before he needs to, why it has to be “so tense around here in the mornings?” I couldn’t put my finger on what it meant, exactly, but I loved the sound of that phrase and had a feeling it had something important to tell me. I played with the idea in my journal, even wrote more alpha poems around it. Still not knowing how to decipher its meaning, I decided it would be my new mantra.

Then a couple of days ago, I read this in Christina Baldwin’s Life’s Companion:

… you need to envision a lifeline between [where you are and where you want to go]. It needs to be tense, like a tightrope, something you can walk along. The necessity for tension requires we develop a different attitude about tension: this is creative tension. Creative tension is what creates the path. When we lose tension, we wander without focus (my bolding). We have to decide over and over again to stay close to the tension, to walk the wire.

I was wandering without focus. I was trying to split myself between a job that was sucking the life out of me and the longing to pursue a writing/teacher career that was “dragging me about” (again, I quote Christina Baldwin; she *is* me). I needed to Resume the Tension (Focus) to gain Stability.

I put loyalty to my boss and my job aside and I chose to put my longing back in charge. Together we will walk the high wire of creativity – up where Potential and the Higher Self lives.

Trust the Process, pt. 8: I Am Matter

“Are those really concepts? Aren’t they aspects of a woman’s life?” (Referring to the Triple Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Crone)

“What it means to be a woman? Don’t you mean what it IS to be a woman?”

“Don’t YOU matter?” … “Yes, I do matter. I matter. I AM matter.”

And so go conversations at Goddard College where I am studying for an Individualized Masters degree in Transformative Language Arts. We do not sit, inert and unthinking, attempting to sift through the rocks, pebbles and sand of a professor’s lecture searching for any valuable nuggets. And valuable to whom? The professor or you? At Goddard we are asked to be involved in a conversation, to really think (concept vs. aspect? When was the last time you analyzed the difference between those two concepts?), to think critically, and to find our own earth through which to sift.

You cannot think critically if you have no opinion, stance, or angle from which to critique. When you are just regurgitating established knowledge of the “experts” (in academics, politics, religion, etc.) without the added insight of personal experience or intuition, you are producing nothing but dust. So, you must first dig and sift through your own layers. At first this is uncomfortable, looking into aspects of yourself you have ignored or maybe didn’t even know were there. In fact, acknowledging your ignorances, your arrogances, your prejudices, your anger, your pain never feels fabulous, but it does get easier. Once you’ve accepted this is what must be done in order to become a better, wiser, more enlightened, inspired, authentic, loving, compassionate, empowered, comfortable-in-your-own-skin person, just like taking your medicine, it will help you heal and head towards your potential.

And the deeper you go into the personal the more you can understand and feel empathy for the universal. That is how we hippie-tree-hugging-meditating-yoga-types with our loving, bleeding-hearts go into the world better equipped with information that can heal others.

Yes, I matter. My own thoughts, ideas and feelings DO matter. They are important to me and as Kim Chernin writes in Reinventing Eve: Modern Women in Search of Herself:

I have seen the process of descent into the self lead back out into the world, to a concern with the suffering of others [and]…. far from being a lengthy wallow in self-absorption, turns out to be the passage through which one goes back, with a new vision or bolder service...

And Sue Monk Kidd in an interview said:

… seeking wholeness in oneself can serve the wholeness of others.

Yes, I matter. And I am matter: Earth. I am of this Earth, I am part of this Earth, as are you. All connected and we all matter. So a-sifting I will go, concepts and aspects, constructs and trans-disciplines and all, searching for the golden nuggets which will hopefully bring a little more understanding into the world.

P.S. I am also Mater: Mother. Mother Matter. Mother Earth…. don’t you just love playing with words?!

 

Prompt: Do YOU matter? Are you willing to dig to un-earth the potential of your authentic self.

 

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Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization and almost everything in between.
Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.


It is connections that heal

Since I began grad school last August I have been particularly awe-struck by the twins, Synchronicity and Serendipity. Connections everywhere! Seemingly unrelated events, conversations, books, memories, people have suddenly fallen together like perfectly synchronized cogs. My life paths and how they have led to where I am and what I am doing today is the most amazing and surprising of all.

This past week I have been thinking about some pretty deep things regarding God, Godde (thanks to Margaret Starbird), Goddess, Spirit. I was trying to wrap my head around my what I am learning from my independent study and pinning it down to nice clean thesis statement. Not an easy task when I have so many more questions than statements (other than “wow! I never thought of that!”). I won’t attempt to explain some of my thought processes (have to leave something for the book) but while mind-mapping I stumbled upon this idea:

It is CONNECTIONS that heal.

Think about it: Connection with those you love, the touch of a mother connecting to a newborn, the new connections made in the brain each time we learn something new (and that researchers tell us help keep us mentally alert as we age), that intangible inner glow we feel when connecting with nature, a relationship with a higher power, connecting with ourselves during some precious alone time, or the resonance we feel when we read/hear/write something that we connect with on a deeper level.

And then there’s the research of emotions and language. It has been shown by scientists and psychologists such as Eugene Gendlin and Dr. James Pennebaker, that it is (only?) when we connect language, either written or spoken, to our feelings (emotions and sensations) that we get a feeling of resolution and so can begin to heal from traumas or emotional upheavals.

It is said we are not islands. No, we are more like the icebergs or delicate coral reefs: connected and part of a far-reaching eco-system, most of it hidden but supporting much life. And it is only when we acknowledge our connections that we can become personally Whole and part of the universal Whole. Maybe this is what it means to be Holy?

Prompt: What connections in your life have healed/helped you?

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Trust the process, pt 7 (Everything is connected, 2)

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credit: Robin Russell

In my Yoga ‘n’ Write class this week I talked of the need for balance between our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies. We wrote about where we were at this moment in each of these areas and where we want to be.* Our yoga teacher told us about the Sheaths: Physical Body, Mental Body, Energy Body, Intelligence Body, and Soul. She said that Yogacharya Iyengar teaches that it is the Breath (prana) that integrates (balances) them all. We talked about paying attention to the breath and especially that moment just in between inhalation and  exhalation.

A month ago I co-presented a De-Stress workshop where my partner emphasized the importance of breathing as a way to calm. She talked about the “sweet spot” just before you exhale. Acknowledging this moment helps us stop and pay attention to the moment – to the vitality and wisdom of NOW.

In my studies of the Goddess, I came across Lilith whose name derives from the word Breath/Air, and who is associated with Wisdom(1). In the Bible, God breathes the breath of life and the Holy Spirit was received through Jesus’ breath. Breath and Spirit have the same Hebrew meaning (ruah) and it is a feminine noun(2). According to Isaiah, God’s Breath or Spirit means Wisdom and Understanding. Breath is life. Breath is spirit. Spirit is Wisdom. Wisdom is Female (Sophia). Female (=Eve) is Life. Life is Breath (is God(dess)?)

In our womb room at Goddard College we sang together… “Breathe In, Breathe Out…Breathe In, Breathe Out…” A circle room, a circle of Wise Women (self-named The Goddesses or Goddardesses), singing a circular song, and the breath circulated our bodies and connected us all.

Breath connecting it all. Everything connecting.

Prompt: Breath is…

 

* Also visit here for another post on writing and making goals with the Four Bodies.

Sources: (1) http://www.suite101.com/content/lilith-the-original-woman-created-a79725 (2) Chevalier, Jean & Alain Gheerbrant. Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin, 1994.

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Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization and almost everything in between.

Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.

The power of voice

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I have long known the power of song. Whether sitting in the audience or on the risers myself, it is a rare time that the tears don’t immediately spring to my eyes at the first note. I am usually blubbering by beat three, tissues whipped out and sniffling muffled. OK, I exaggerate (slightly). What I don’t exaggerate is the effect of the human voice; alone, harmonizing with other voices or unified with the resonance of the instruments.

This past Saturday I sang in a concert that spoke to the larger power of voice and song. It was the third Concert for Peace held at the Unitarian Univeralist Church in Burlington, VT. Six choirs from around the state filled (every last seat) of the balcony: An all-woman’s barbershop group whose voices blended like coffee and cream, a self-conducted choir who sang a funky but fantastic work song from the country of Georgia, a chorus whose director asks for no audition just a love of singing (and you could tell they did), a heavenly-voiced children’s choir, a six-person group (members of Counterpoint, Vermont only professional choir conducted by the incomparable Robert DeCormier) who did not sing as much as ring. Each choir sang their individual pieces (and can I just say that my choir ROCKED THE HOUSE!?) but the time I felt the true power was when every singer and audience member stood and in perfect unison sang John Lennon’s Imagine.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Earlier we had been introduced to the founder of The Good Earth Singers, who is “healing the planet, one voice at a time” and we also heard the story of how the troops of World War I stopped fighting one Christmas Day and sang together a top their foxholes.

The power of voice, the power of song, the power of people coming together. If all the world could sing together there could be no war. When we sing together we hear how every voice is as important and special as the next. And together each of us have the power to affect another person’s heart. I know because I cried. The audience cried. The conductor cried. God(dess) is crying too because when we sing it all seems so clear and easy. Singing together gives a glimpse of the way the world should and could be.

Yes, I can imagine – and it looks and sounds like a choir forming their individual voices into one enveloping blanket of beautiful sound.

P.S. I just heard that the Public Radio International show “To the Best of Our Knowledge” is broadcasting a show on this exact topic… I love synchronicity! Here’s the link: http://www.wpr.org/book/101003a.cfm

Prompt: You may say I’m a dreamer but….

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Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.

Trust the process, pt 5 (Everything is connected, 1)

credit: Yoly Mancilla

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Back in May I wrote in this post, Steppingstones to a new life, about how different paths of my life had suddenly come together at juncture, namely, grad school. I was shocked and gob-smacked how the Universe, Serendipity and Synchronicity got together presented me with this and amazing and timely opportunity.

But these three tricksters had more up their sleeves, much more! When I was least expecting it, they walloped me with my past, present and future in connections I could never have imagined. (I say “walloped” because the impact of all these connections left me reeling for a few days.)

Here are just a few of the “coincidences” that have occurred over the last couple of months:

Wow! #1. When I was first questioning my next step after getting my certification through The Center for Journal Therapy I wrote to my fellow instructors asking for advice. I was in a quandary about how I might combine my two distinct writing lives: therapeutic writing for others and my own creative pursuits. One woman in particular went out of her way to write back with her own situation and told me she had attended Goddard College in Vermont. Vermont! I don’t know if she knew I was here in these Green Mountains but that was strange surprise number one. Knock-me-over-with-a-feather-surprise number two was that the program they offered there was EXACTLY what I wanted: a self-designed degree, low-residency and offered a concentration in… ta-da! Transformative Language Arts – a combination of writing for health and change and creative writing.

So, a few months later I find myself sitting across from a faculty member at Goddard discussing my focus. He suggests to me that I browse some of the final projects in my line of study done by former students, one in particular. He proceeds to tell me, out of the hundreds of former students, the name of the very woman who had referred me to Goddard in the first place! She and I had never discussed what I was hoping to research and now here I was photocopying her bibliography and checking out some of the same books as she had done four years earlier.

Wow! #2: In high school I wrote a paper called “All Dressed Up and No Where to Go” about Victorian women’s whalebone “cages” and other restrictive vestments of the era. As an undergrad I wrote a thesis on the fashions of 14th century Europe and now they were symbolic of female oppression. I was just interested in historic costume, the women’s issues were just an interesting side-note to me at the time.

A few months ago I had what the experts call a “big” dream. An Intuitive and Jungian dream analysis-expert friend of mine interpreted it as my own battle with feelings of Female Oppression. I had never associated any of my own domestic frustrations with such a concept, but when she said it, it resonated. It rang through me like the Liberty Bell. I had grown up in a patriarchal world, in general, and a religious community, specifically, where women are undermined and ruled over, with first their father and then the husband as their “head” and salvation. Our bodies, minds, even prayers, were not our own. As Sue Monk Kidd says in Dance of the Dissident Daughter, I had “touched the wound of my feminine life.”

As I began delving into the writings that began my journey towards my own religious recovery I quickly realized that the Feminine would play a major role. My own Feminine Source had been denied me (and all other women of the last 5,000 years) when she was disowned by patriarchal society and religion. I long to set her free from her cage – as I had at age 16 without realizing it. And now one of my references for my studies is the very one I read back in a women’s history course almost 16 years ago. Even a chance conversation and a book recommendation while at Goddard, which I had dismissed as not really relating to my studies, suddenly became very relevant.

Wow! #3: I live in a blue-collar town. As a self-employed workshop facilitator and coach it is very difficult to make a living here. It is not an artistic town (although there are artists and writers burrowed away by the lakes and mountain-sides surrounding the town) and it is poor and, by Vermont’s extremely high standards, can be dangerous. I have lived and visited vibrant cities where there is a sense of community and respect for the town and the people in it. City-wide events are well-attended and fun. I desperately want this for my town but I’ve never really articulated what it is that makes a town different.

While noodling along in my journal at the Goddard residency I wrote, “Live-able communities are spiritually-based communities. Lots of nature, healthy options, community events, caring for self and each other.”  Without exactly knowing what I meant by the definition, I realized the difference is spiritual. Connection. A One-ness. There is personal empowerment within a Whole.

A few days after returning home from Goddard, one of my advising group sent me a link to a Public Radio International show, “To the Best of Our Knowledge” called, “Losing Religion.” One guest spoke of his discovery that the least religious societies have the lowest crime rates and vice versa. His visits to Denmark and Sweden, where the people wouldn’t even consider voting in a religious leader, presented him with beautiful, clean, safe, back-to-nature cities.

Again, the connections: I had been questioning What Makes a Community and thinking about it in my own tiny life when the subject suddenly presents itself to me on a much larger, societal scale. This is obviously just a tiny peek at a much larger question with many, many variables (which I could go into more here but you’ll have to wait for the book! These topics will be making up the bulk of my research while at grad school). But I questioned and the answers started to come. Given to me…

It’s those rascally rascals, Serendipity and Synchronicity!

Prompt: I experienced Serendipity and Synchronicity in my life when…

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Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.

Trust the process, part 4 (The Crash)

credit: Yoly Mancilla

Tweet This Blog Post!In the middle of the week of my MA residency at Goddard College I attended a workshop named “Wild Research” with Ellie Epp. The description sounded fascinating:

“Move only along the line of your love.” Stan Brakhage

Transdisciplinary work is thrilling, like travel without a map. Working across disciplinary lines also is nerve-wracking: we parachute into specialized areas sometimes without knowing the basics in those fields. This workshop describes the art of bold, creative, personal transdisciplinary research.

Ms. Epp told us how to allow our intuition to find resources for us and to trust that we know without knowing what we need to answer our questions. I could barely contain myself! If I was 7 and not 37 I probably would have been literally bouncing in my seat. She was saying the exact same thing about researching as Ira Progoff and Kay Adams and all other journaling-gurus have said about expressive writing: if you get out of your own way you will write things you didn’t know you knew.

(Wo)Man does indeed know more than (s)he rationally understands… (journaling) is a way to connect with the KNOWLEDGE BEYOND UNDERSTANDING…
Dr. Ira Progoff, founder, Intensive Journal method (At a Journal Workshop)

The idea of researching INTUITIVELY made me want to run to the library immediately and start dowsing.

But then, this Goddess of Embodiment (not going to even go into that subject right now) told us how our bodies can react under the stress of graduate school (or life). She explained how to sit with our emotions, feel where they are in the body (stomach? chest? throat?) and acknowledge them. Not to try to push them away but rather to put your hand on the site of the feeling (my fear and anxiety often manifests in my chest and stomach as physical pain) and to talk to it: “I feel you. It’s OK. You’re going to be fine.” It will pass after a while.

Wow! Acknowledge our emotions? Actually touch them and talk to them?! Aren’t we Western Academic Types supposed to be all Head, no Heart?

And then Ellie told us we were going to crash. It was not a matter of if, but when. The balloon high of residency and intellectual stimulation would pop and we would burst into a shredded mess leaving us gasping and limp on the ground. Yes, we would cry out, “I can’t do this!” “What was I thinking?!” “I’m too stupid…” She told us those messages were old; stuck on our internal recording from previous times. They were irrelevant to the here and now. And most importantly, this crash was a natural process through we must go in order to move to the other side towards success.

There is so much more I could discuss just on that piece of information. The Psychology of Positive DisIntegration (Dabrowski) alone could be a Doctoral Thesis. But the important thing to remember is, most people stop at The Crash – the “I can’t go on!” part. I have written about this before on this blog (links coming later) in terms of writing through the anxiety and my personal crashes just before something amazing happened. I now look forward to my own crashes – melt downs, I’ve always called them – because I now know that it is the storm before the calm of clarity.

And yes, I crashed about a week after returning from Goddard. I cried for two days. I was so overwhelmed by everything I was trying to take in and the realization that I had to analyze it all and make it into something cohesive and of use to others. I was afraid of the personal emotional turmoil my studies and memoir-writing would put me through.

But I held my fears, I rocked them while they cried and eventually they fell asleep. I know they will wake again at some point but I will be here to hold them and tell them everything’s going to be OK.

Prompt: I am afraid… The reality is…

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Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.

Trust the Process, pt 3 (The Question)

credit: Yoly Mancilla

Tweet This Blog Post!The mantra at Goddard College is “Trust the process.” Every day one or more faculty advisors included in their discussion, “… and, well, trust the process. It works.” With no syllabus or course curriculum most of us newbies, those who had been educated in a strictly outlined, non-critically-thinking fashion (oh, that would be all of us who went through the American education system), were beginning to feel like we’d been thrown in a whirlpool. Nothing to grab onto, just whirling round and round, trying not to drown in our own possibilities. We were overwhelmed by the very freedom of intellect for which we had come to Goddard in the first place.

Over and over again I heard my fellow students express the fear or concern that they were doing “it” wrong. What is the right way to do…? How are we supposed to be do…? How do they want us to do…? But there was no right way. Our way was the the right way and we would find it if we just let go of all the perfectionism and societal expectations, and to tell those critics in our head telling us we were obviously doing something wrong to shut the hell up! And the faculty kept telling us, Trust the process! But what did that mean?

Some of my cohorts became obsessed very concerned with their study plan. They stayed up until all hours of the morning early in the week just to get it “right.” I was so caught up in the fact that I didn’t yet have My Question (a point on the map towards which I could point my nose and begin my journey, but would not necessarily be the final destination) that constructing a plan seemed as impossible as plotting a travel itinerary before knowing to which continent I was headed.  The pages of my journal began to look like the brain-storming session of a mission-less board of directors: mind-maps here, lists there, circles, arrows, question marks – lots of question marks… and plenty of self-doubt.

Monday, the fourth day, marked the height of my anxiety. All around me I heard fellow students ask, Have you found your Question yet? The reality that I did in fact need to have a succinct question in mind and a study plan submitted in less than three days, one with a full bibliography and a schedule of what I would read and critique over the course of the next six months when I could no longer even tell you what I initially planned to study, had me seeing stars.

But at the same time I was in heaven. Surrounded by intellectual, insightful, free-thinking, accepting, gentle, fun and talented writers, musicians and artists I felt at home. Completely and utterly HOME. And, inspired by them, I wrote:

I’m so anxious to begin. But terrified to begin at the same time. This little bubble of intellectual energy, it’s enticing, bewildering, intoxicating.

I did finally find My Question and I was able to put my plan together – what a relief! I got out of my own way and just let the thoughts and ideas come. My journal let me thrash around, never judging what I came up with, never laughing or doubting my ideas. The one thing I wanted to know came to me because I let it come. I trusted myself.

And that’s what trusting the process meant: trusting yourself to find the answers. To find your own way.

Although the water was still deep and the whirlpool circling faster with all the new questions that sprang from The Question, I felt like I had found a foot-hold. Something to hang onto as I made my way through to An Answer. It had happened. I had trusted myself and the process, I had found my question and I was on my way.

Prompt: Worry can be debilitating. What do I need to let go of – to trust the process – so I can move forward to something positive and exciting?

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