When I was 19, strolling about the Kent State University campus, a question arose out of the blue: “Who would I be without all my conditioning?” I knew this was significant, but I had no clue how to engage that revelatory question. It was sequestered to the periphery of my awareness, though never entirely forgotten.
Meanwhile, in the search for lasting love and happiness, I put effort into enhancing myself. I set intentions, visioned an ideal future, did couples therapy, married, divorced, used substances, dreamwork, energy clearing, retreats, money, food, feminism, meditation, yoga…you get the gist. What an amazing, wild ride!
But no matter where I invested my energy, I still felt incomplete. The root of my struggle was untouched. Eventually, I had to reckon with the fact that no one and no thing would deliver the love and happiness I longed for. Essentially, I suffered a case of mis-taken identity.
“Who am I without my conditioning?” This question eventually became a steady light, an invitation. I got supremely curious and began to contemplate it with dedication and persistence. “Sacred cows” of self-definition or identity and long held certainties were up for examination.
I’d had moments of fulfillment or completion, when I wasn’t looking to add or subtract anything to an experience. I’d thought such moments of perfection were generated by who I was with or the environment I happened to be in. Not so!
I realized that in surrender to this moment as-is, the need to search relaxes. How odd! What I sought was veiled by the search itself! And what kept the search going? Uninvestigated narratives of lack, including the desire for enlightenment. Openness to life as-is has (mostly) supplanted the struggle to “be somebody.”
I began to see that nothing and no one has a solid, independent, permanent nature. Rather we live within an infinite web of interdependence too vast to be conceived of by the mind. I rejoice in this. Life is full of grace and gratefulness, whether there’s stillness or whirlwinds appearing in the mind.
Life is simple. I care for Lucky (the wee mini-dox I live with), wash dishes, cook, pay bills, see clients, hang out with friends, watch movies, hike. I tend to whatever calls for attention. Contemplation, reading and writing poetry, and visual art-making are mainstays. These creative musing evoke curiosity and wonder, as does encouraging others to honor their own spontaneous, creative expressions.
I’m fortunate to live with the Luckster, my guru. And a very funny one at that. He’s a paragon of wisdom. Roshi Lucky says: relax! What he says, that’s what I do. Good medicine!
For over 35 years, I’ve trained with generous, gifted and skilled practitioners in varied modalities: couples, individual and family therapies, expressive arts, therapeutic uses of poetry, spiritual direction, trauma recovery, depth psychology, dreamwork, psychodrama, transformational coaching and non-dual teachings. I’ve worked in hospitals, homeless and domestic violence shelters, community mental health, integrative medicine and private practice.
I received a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln State University, Lincoln, PA, and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Kent State University, Kent, Ohio. I’m certified in Transformational Coaching through Michael Neill’s Supercoach Academy and as a psychodramatist by the America Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama.
My personal immersion within the modalities mentioned above has been the best training ground. There are far too many people to name here who pointed me in the direction of clarity and joyous compassion. I’m eternally grateful to them. And always, I return to poetry. Some of the most profound instruction arises from that fertile ground.
There you have it! Questions? Feel free to ask. You can contact me by clicking here.
Image: William Turner, Festive Lagoon Scene