The Therapy Booth

resting, doodling and holding love signs

Don’t Hesitate! Create!

I’ve been thinking about what messages I want to share, like what would I want my people to hear if this was my last day on earth or I’ve already passed on? I imagine some of this will shift and change, but my top three so far are:

1. Have creative outlets. If you need help and I’m not around anymore, buy my books, learn from Doodle Masters I’ve trained, do The Artist’s Way, do a 30 Day Doodle Challenge with Melissa McClain if she’s still doing them, or just get with some friends or do it on your own. Just learn not to hesitate and instead create.

i'm doodlng carin

2. It’s not for everyone, but I suggest giving Living Inquiries a try. Learn to rest fully in the moment and explore your present experience with some compassionate assistance. Get to know it, and if it clicks, you’ll have an awesome tool that is like nothing else, and its well worth it. It helps both allow thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and also relax them. I don’t suggest attempting to inquire everything away. Just get to know it & use it when things are feeling particularly clogged, stuck, scary or solid.

3. Discover and honor your heart’s unique calling and learn to recognize and listen to your inner guidance system. Writing and doodling and meditation and Artist Dates are just a few ways. Learn the benefits of – yes – being selfish. Trust yourself and know yourself well.

Photo Credit: http://s2.favim.com/orig/30/alone-girl-gras-green-silenc-Favim.com-246245.jpg

Photo Credit: http://s2.favim.com/orig/30/alone-girl-gras-green-silenc-Favim.com-246245.jpg

And as long as I’m around, I can point you in these directions if you need/want assistance. This is your one and only life in this particular form. No one else can express like you or has your unique visions and dreams. Liberate them for the benefit of all!

Contact me at thetherapybooth@gmail.com.

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April 19 (Teleclass) – Self-Loving through Creativity

rest and create

Click here to listen to an interview on New Paradigm Radio where we talk about
all aspects of Creativity & Self Love!

Find this post easily in the sidebar of this page. Look up and to the right!

~ ~ ~

BACKGROUND

For years I’ve heard that I should love myself. I heard that I couldn’t love others until I did. I heard that all my problems stemmed from a lack of self-love. But the concept felt foreign and intangible, and the love connection failed. And guess what else? I felt worse for not being able to connect. “I don’t love myself? I must be even less worthy of love than I already thought!”

I’m laughing with empathy now as I’m typing this.

Self-love is a precious and all-inclusive experience.

At the heart of this love is the acceptance of all of our states, thoughts, dreams, fears, worries, cravings, loves . . .

and one of the most immediate doorways to this acceptance is creativity.

In this special workshop, we will use a variety of *simple* (no prior experience or skill necessary!) creative exercises to connect with ourselves, exactly as we are, and tap into the natural love of this moment. It is effortless, fun, and unifying, as we recognize our humanity in others as well as in ourselves.

DETAILS

Sunday, April 19, 2015
12 pm – 2 pm Central
On-line (camera and mic required)
Cost: $45
(or gift a friend and save $15 for two/$25 discount for three)

SALE!!!!!
Cost: $20!!!




NOTE: This class is open to therapists, healers, store clerks, dreamers, partners, singles, parents, siblings, artists, executives, plumbers, postal carriers, and humans of all kinds. NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE OR SKILL REQUIRED.

This is a hands-on, fun, easy, rich therapeutic experience for all involved.

we love ourselves

TAKEAWAYS

– practical and simple tools to use in everyday life
– activities that translate well to art therapy, journaling, and other mental, emotional and overall health support
– art you make in class
– an increased openness, acceptance and affection for yourself (and others), without having to change a thing

You may also experience a surge in your creative expression.

bluebonnets

That’s me!

A bit about me ~
I’m Carin Channing, LCSW,
Rest and Creativity Encourager at The Therapy Booth,
author of the Trust Rest blog,
facilitator of biweekly REST Room calls,
host of the weekly Doodle Booth,
mother to two homemade sock puppets, director of A Carina Original Puppet Factory and
adorer of myself —
and I can’t wait to create with you!

Contact me at thetherapybooth@gmail.com with questions.

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The Audacity of Rest

letter to carlotta

I’m staying in one of my favorite spots: a beautiful second story garage apartment that’s been as much a home to me as any place in years. It’s not always available (other renters — it’s an Air BnB), but I’m here now, and it’s wonderful. This afternoon I sat on the porch in the trees and wrote a letter to a friend that had long been knocking on my door to come out. In the letter, I wrote about what we did yesterday in Doodle Booth, including the prompt: “What would you like to get away with?” We doodled that with our non-dominant hand.

My picture was of me lying on my back on the beach in the shade on Maui, and I was surrounded by love, wealth, creative expression, and a few other tasty treats. As I sat on the porch writing, leisurely and creatively, this grey and mild Texas winter day, I realized I was doing something that I’d like to get away with, too. Chilling out during the day. Chilling out at all.

I realized the “wanting to get away with it” feeling (soooo subtle, I hadn’t really been present to it!) was like a command not to rest (or relax or enjoy or whatever). It was super sweet and enlightening to see this. It opened up and relaxed upon noticing it, and I began to use the words, “How Dare I” again. It’s no coincidence that earlier today, I found a copy of How Dare You Make a Book that I’d made for a friend but hadn’t had a chance to give him. (Chance now has been had, which is great, too.) I loved feeling into that sense of audacity and how liberating of a lens it is for me.

How dare I make a book? How dare I relax in the middle of the day? How dare I not worry? How dare I give myself over to the loving arms of the Universe and write poems and eat nice clean food and put pajama bottoms back on after sitting on the porch because my legs got cold in my skirt? How dare I do any of these things?

I told a friend about this today and he asked what kind of tone comes through when I hear “How dare you?” He asked if it was funny or confrontational or what? I said it is funny, and it’s also liberating. Because I DID make the book. And I DID make an art show for my birthday. And I DID float out to the porch to write that dreamy letter this afternoon and float back in and write a beautiful poem (that wonders, “How dare I enjoy this simple Heaven? How dare I let this Lover take care of everything, while I write and cook rice and swoon?”).

How dare I lead weekly Doodle Booth calls where I get paid to fall in love?

How dare I write songs and sing about what I feel?

How dare I lean in even more closely to the subtleties of intuition and the MASSIVE endless good love of the Universe? How dare I be so loved???

I don’t know how. And yet I do. And I’m thankful for that. Deeply, deeply thankful.

all right

* * * * *

Follow me on my Trust Rest blog for (mostly) daily musings from the world of rest, intuition, creativity, life, love, authenticity and exploration.

* * * * *

I also host weekly on-line Doodle Booth classes (amazing! Ask me about ’em) and REST Room calls (every other week). Contact me for more info at thetherapybooth@gmail.com.

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The Road of My Dreams aka How Dare You Make a Raffle?

road 2 doodle

Keep reading to find a sample from my next book!

Scroll down to Road of My Dreams aka How Dare You Make a Raffle? to find out how you can play along!

* * * * *

There are these special moments in life when we get to step into our dreams. When we get to look around and say, “Hey! I’ve been dreaming of this, and here it is!” The day I took that flight from Singapore, stopping over in Bangkok for some cashews and a quick internet check, to make my way to India. And again in India, the day I arrived in Varanasi. I’d been dreaming of going to India for about ten years. It was really clear to me that I didn’t want to take on anything else major until I got there. I didn’t know the how of it, but I just knew that was the thing. Then, more recently, the day I completed (including binding by hand) my new book, How Dare You Make a Book? I’d been wanting to make a book or a magazine for so long, I’d been carrying around brown paper bags (to use as the pages) for months. Such a joy. And now the moment has come to step into another many-yeared vision: the meandering road trip.

Some years ago when I was beginning to get really restless at my office social work job, I was feeling into this journey. I even started a blog, Meandering to a Ramble, with the focus on making my way to upstate New York to one of Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles. Then a few things happened: I lost my job and the income I’d been counting on saving for the trip, and that spring, Levon up and died. I noticed at the time of the job loss that, not only did I not have that income I’d been counting on to get my vehicle in shape and take the journey, I also didn’t feel as much of an urge to get moving, now that I wasn’t giving my time and energy over to the job. I was content to rest and keep quiet locally.

Moving through the next several years, another longtime dream, having a Therapy Booth at outdoor music shows, came alive in another one of those good fortune moments. Meanwhile, I’ve been paring down my material goods such that, at first I’d be down to trailer size (my love for the Airstream always alive), and now, I’m down to car size. It occurred to me that I don’t need the trailer to take to the road. The car will do it, and, after going through many major changes and moves: moving out of my apartment after eventually not being able to rent any more following the job loss, gratefully living with friends for a year, and now a year of house sitting (that has been awesome and even better than I could have imagined), I’m feeling more than anything the call to step into this dream. The road – and visions of The Therapy Booth by rivers and country stores – is showing up in doodles and drawings and songs and poems, is inviting me to step on it.

As a writer since birth, and a visual artist emerging in these past few years (much gratitude!), I’m excited about where I am in life. I have always been a creative person, though there have been times in my life where I’ve innocently bought into someone else’s idea of what I should be and what art and writing are all about (they said “competition” and the inspiration shrunk right up). Today I give credit to The Artist’s Way course, Scott Kiloby’s Living Inquiries and an ever-growing supportive community of creative thinkers and live-ers for helping this expression emerge.

binding book

One of the happiest days I’ve experienced lately is the day I finished my new book. In fact, the day I started it was just as wonderful. And as the title showed itself (How Dare You Make a Book) I felt into that which had seemed to hold me back. Who did I think I was to claim my title as an artist, as a creative person, as a writer of books? And you know what? It turns out it doesn’t matter who I think I am or who I think you are – we can all make books. In fact, the working title of my next book is Now You Make Something, and it goes hand in hand with my passion of encouraging creative expression everywhere.

I’ve been teaching creativity classes since shortly after the aforementioned job loss. This turned into one of those thank-you-for-firing-me moments. My first class was Disco and Doodles and I haven’t stopped (another dream was to host creativity classes on-line: check). I imagine being the Pied Piper of Doodling, roaming around encouraging a non-dominant hand doodle here, a poem there, an improvised song here, a sidewalk chalk love note there . . .

And here I am now, answering the call of the culmination of all that’s important to me: the road, expression, sharing and listening to the passions of the heart. As all of these rolled into one, I was inspired to create a raffle, both to share my new publications with you and to encourage and support this dream of mine.

road 1 doodle

And sometimes you just know certain things: I somehow knew when Paul McCartney was coming to town that I was going to see him play. And as the date of the sold-out shows approached, I still had the feeling that I was going to see him and that I was going to be given a ticket. I even had a friend offer to treat me if I could find one to buy, and I was thankful for her generosity, but I told her to wait. I had the feeling I was going to be given a ticket. And that’s what happened. And now, I have this inspiration around my trip to fund it — at least to get it started, including getting the car to pass a road-worthy physical — by sharing my books and creative tools with you by means of a raffle.

There is only one week left to go on it – Drawing is May 5 (note new date)! – and here’s how it works:

Road of My Dreams aka How Dare You Make a Raffle?

Prizes are varied and awesome:

– 5 limited edition copies of my new book, How Dare You Make a Book
– the ORIGINAL copy of my new book, now with two working titles: Now You Make Something or Narcissist’s Handbook
– a Doodle Booth gathering (a two-hour, no holds barred creative expression class) for you and three friends (on-line or in-person)
– a massage from Quiet Austin’s own Signe Wendt (thank you Signe!) for Austin winners (if you win this and you’re from out of town, we’ll swap out your prize)

Still with me and excited to play?

You can drop $10 per ticket (no limit to number of tickets you can purchase, one prize per winner) into my PayPal using the button below or through the PayPal site (send to carin_channing@yahoo.com. Please use friends and family option to avoid fees) or hand me cash or send a check or use a carrier pigeon or a hot air balloon or hide it in a breakfast taco.

 





THANK YOU! I hope you win something awesome!

Big love and THANKS to the friends who have played so far. I’m happy to be sharing my heart’s work and love with you all. Thank you for supporting this becoming!

Meanwhile, if you’re out there in the world and would like to have a visit with me (The Therapy Booth is always with me!), or if you’re going to be traveling and can use a house sitter (sorry, no cats these days), please let me know! I’m thrilled and curious and happy and can’t wait to make more stuff and see wide open spaces and get off-line and in-person and find out what has been calling me all this time. Deep thanks and hopes that you, too, are moving in the direction of your dreams. Doodling them is a great place to start.

Love,

Carin

* * * * *

I am listening to the yeses
Leaving behind my second guesses
All you friends, send your addresses —
I’ll meet you on the road.

* * * * *

The Day that Yes Was the Only Answer

When I’m 83 years old and very white haired,
getting out of my car to cross a parking lot,
to walk through a building to play my banjo
on the back porch,
will I remember today and how
the runny-nosed dog walk was long enough to
save me from the edge of depression
and how I felt ashamed in that moment for asking for what I want
and for what is more than what I want but that is
what I am
and then also found the gumption to
keep with it and follow the sparkling rocks
and purple flowers and those
marigold-colored daisies?
I clarified my position for myself while I was out there.
About the time I hit the marina and paused before turning around,
I realized that my mood had shifted and
out of sadness and defense and dejected
verging-depression,
I was now thinking of doodling.
When I’m 83 will I remember how I thought about that
and was eager to get home and
announce it on-line?
What will on-line be
when I’m 83?
And will I recall how I kept on walking,
relieved, and thankful for the doggie,
and smelled the pines and flirted coyly with the sun-loved lake,
and came up around the bend with yet another idea?
No, tonight instead of doodling, I’ll do that other thing,
that thing that will loosen my fears and maybe work magic
and keep moving me ever in that yes direction.
Will I remember even having that thought,
smelling those pines,
and thinking how I should sit on the balcony tonight
and watch the lake?
At 83 will I remember today as the day it turned around,
and the day I gave an unyielding yes to myself
and to life’s inner kisses and outer kisses and support and
celebration?
Or will I simply remember sitting here –
like now –
and hearing three different bird sounds and
cars on the road
and the rattle of the open window,
knocking into its frame while the sun
starts to go down and kisses me now,
and also those trees,
just like it does the lake?

* * * * *

Look for this and other new poems in my forthcoming book, titled some combination of Now You Make Something and Narcissist’s Handbook.

today might be the day

 

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In-Between

You’re such a free spirit!

I really admire what you do!

You’re so inspiring! I could never do what you’re doing . . .

I heard these words a lot these days and I smile and sometimes shake my head. It’s interesting to see myself through the eyes of others. When I’m over here seeing the free-fall and the month-long hunt for a place to land where I can get a little rest, make a few Skype calls, do a few doodles, write a few lines . . .

I had the amazing fortune to spend five weeks on Maui this winter. I had the sense, when I first arrived there, that something major was happening. Seeds were getting planted. Old pathways were getting interrupted. New paths were yet to appear. Uprooted from Austin by Love and Mystery, I found myself in a profound paradise.

Just before leaving for Hawaii (by way of New York City — lucky me some more!) I was inspired to pick up The Artist’s Way again. This 12 week, self-guided course in creativity has been a go-to for me over the past several years when I was ready to unleash more creativity or when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to play in, but I knew that what I had been playing in wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. I love Julia Cameron’s methods of helping us slough off what’s no longer current and bring to light what feels fresh and accurate in the moment. She acknowledges, at about the point I am in the course, that the old may not be working anymore, but the new isn’t clear yet.

It’s this in-between that I want to honor in this writing. This unknown, empty, neither here nor there-ness. We often hear stories of folks who have come through one trial or another and they’re reporting, looking back on what they’ve been through and survived. But we don’t often hear about what it’s like right here.

Somewhere In Between by Richard Barrett

Somewhere In Between by Richard Barrett

We live in a culture of claims. I’m Carin. I’m a social worker. I’m a Living Inquiries facilitator. I’m a daughter/sister/friend. I’m a nomad. I’m a writer. I’m an artist. I’m a musician. I’m a Cancer. I’m a woman. I’m in transition.

And I can tell, I’m wanting to claim this transition, this in-between, this exploring. I feel impassioned to nurture the neither here nor there, to bump up (always) my self care, to look into what I need and want right now, when I’m not this but not that.

One of the new and unexpected things in my life is a severe cat allergy. I’ve never had this before, but since I’ve been back on the mainland, I’ve had to leave three different house sits (I’ve been house sitting — including with lots of cats — for the better part of the last year) due to respiratory stress. Bummer! So I’ve been looking for a place I can land and root and rest for a while — and breathe fresh air and give my lungs a chance to recover and let my mind and imagination spread out, where I can keep working my Artist’s Way exploration, make my doodles, write a few verses. I’ve had an idea since before Maui (though I began collecting the tools while there) to make a magazine of my writing and pictures, and I’ve been aching for a space to rest and call my own and spread out my materials and see that magazine come to life.

And I may have found such a space — at least for the next month — a place to patch my bones before I get back truckin’ on again. I’ll find out later today. And even when that truckin’ comes back around, I’m feeling to wander, to explore, to follow my nose. To take a several month version of an enchanted walk (okay, my car’s tires will do most of the walking, but I’m game to use my legs too!) and find out: what is waiting for me?

I have this sense that my people are somewhere but maybe we haven’t met yet.  My creative companions are just waiting for me to come through town with The Therapy Booth so they can sit by me and we can relax together. In a doodle the other day, I got this message:

Rest in your booth by the road,
by the river.
By the hills and in the trees
and
they will love you.

And thoughts come:

Can I really do this? Don’t I need to have a job? Can I really take that step, that leap, into even more unknown but into the true honoring of my heart?

And, meanwhile, can I snuggle up to the unknown, to the in-between, and give it all of my love and affection?

I write this to bring a voice to what I know a lot of people go through but doesn’t seem to be talked about all that much, and to say, I’m with you! And because I can’t write from a future where I know everything or from a past when I once knew. I can write — and draw and make up songs and color on the sidewalk — from right here, somewhere between meandering and nesting. Immediately in-between.

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This is Great News

billboard water

This billboard in Lima, Peru is providing drinking water — enough to serve 100s of families a month. The area experiences almost no rainfall and clean water is scarce. But the air is very humid. Watch this little video to see what these creative engineers have come up with. Good news is refreshing! Enjoy!

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Have you met my friend?

broken record

I feel like a broken record sometimes, posting again and again about experiencing and expressing all sorts of emotions. Here I am today, carrying on the conversation.

I have two parents who have been very focused in their work life. They’ve had careers straight out of graduate school that they’ve been thriving in ever since. They’re both innovators and experts and I admire them both for what they bring to their respective fields. And I’ve also envied them their focus. They’ve known what they wanted to engage in and have been doing it for 40+ years.

In some of our classic father/daughter head butting moments, my dad has told me that I don’t stick with anything. That besides my graduate degree, I don’t finish anything. Okay, Dad, to be fair, it’s been about a year since you’ve said that out loud to me (but I remember). And I’ve wondered about how true it is and also whether or not it’s a problem. I could say that I have a short attention span. I dabble in this and dabble in that. I have an English degree, a few semesters of an Anthropology maters, a social work masters, a certification in nutritional counseling and private chef-ing, and about a billion blogs all over the internet, most of them forgotten by now.

But one thing that’s been consistent over the years is this: freedom in feeling and expressing.

Let me introduce you to an old friend who can help me tell this story.

This is my beloved Sleepy Zombie Monster. He came to me on my birthday, 2007 (funny, it’s the same day another long-term love showed up in my life, but that’s another book in and of itself . . . ). I had been feeling sad that the fella I was into at the time wasn’t contacting me in the way I wanted him to on that day. This was years before the Unfindable and Boomerang Inquiries showed up, so I didn’t really know how to look into what that meant for me without taking on more self-shaming. All I knew was that he wasn’t calling me and I felt bad about that. But what made it so much worse was that I also believed something was wrong with me for having that response. I spent the whole day in this fog, unable to accept the warmth and generosity that my friends were giving and feeling really really fucked up for not being able to.

That afternoon I went home and took a nap and when I woke up, I saw that the fog was clearing. And I thought, “Wow, what a zombie mood I’ve been in.” And then, the image of this big purple furry creature with long eyelashes showed up and the words Sleepy Zombie Monster came, too. I saw, in that moment, that there was something benevolent about this creature. He was not harmful, but he was more a representation of the first line of thoughts and feelings that were naturally coming through but that were being (failingly and awkwardly) repressed by the second line of thoughts and feelings of shame, embarrassment, “what’s wrong with me, even after all these years of therapy?”, etc. Have you been there?

So I developed this relationship (and, following that, a workshop) with this imaginary friend. I learned that there were cues that I could notice that indicated that he was hanging around. The clearest one for me was the sense that there was a veil between me and everything I was looking at. It was almost as if I couldn’t see, even though my eyes were open, because there was so much heaviness hanging over me. I learned to look for the Sleepy Zombie Monster when I recognized the cues, and I’d just turn and ask him what he wanted or needed in that moment. Sometimes he wanted to dance. Sometimes he wanted to leave where we were and wanted to go do something else. Other times he just wanted me to sit down with him and rest, breathe, relax.

He popped up on a 10-day meditation course I was on where there was no talking and nothing particularly fun to do. When I interacted with him there (and, let me tell you, it was a good place to have a friend!), I told him that we were doing this so we could be nicer to each other. He said, “I definitely want you to be nicer to me!” and so I told him we were staying for a few more day, and we held hands and took a walk together. The next time I did a 10-day course, he really wanted to comfort a gal who was in the woods crying, but we aren’t allowed to interact with other people, so we just hoped she had her own Sleepy Zombie Monster and we went on about our way. (The gal ended up leaving the course the next day.)

I’m pretty sure he put in an appearance around here these past few days. I’ve been experiencing some deep feelings, both “good” and “bad” (that distinction, perhaps, lies at the heart of the issue, but that, too, is another post), and realized I was holding off some of both sides. The greatest freedom that came to me in this stretch was in seeing that I thought there was something wrong with feeling and thinking whatever was coming through.

In Living Inquiries, we look to see if we can actually find a separate self who is the generator and experiencer of these comings and goings. It’s a beautiful process. It’s especially great in this context, for one who has thought again and again that hiding out so as not to expose this natural weather of emotion was how life should be. Ugh. How miserable is that! I don’t know if this is true, but it seems like I picked up some ideas in my childhood about how anger and sadness were not okay and that being cheerful and pleasant and kind and successful and smart were the only roads to love and safety and security. But I’ve found that to be bullshit, if you don’t mind my saying so.

Actually, I don’t care if you do mind. I’m saying so anyway. That’s bullshit.

We are creatures with a full range of emotions and innocent thoughts. It’s funny, too, how I don’t analyze a thought like “I love this song,” but I will analyze the heck out of “I love this man.” And if my foot itches, I don’t analyze or blame myself for that, but if I’m experiencing energies in the body that I might label anxiety, I am more likely to follow all sorts of thoughts about what it means about me. It’s pretty classic.

In my experience so far, looking deeply into all of this begins with the allowing of it all. Including the allowing and meeting of the repression or holding-back feelings. I usually find that, once those holding-back feelings and thoughts are met, the underlying thoughts and feelings have more space to come through.

In the end, nothing sticks. I’m a fan of knowing that, too. Which is where this all ties in with expression and creativity, for me. I read something in a Natalie Goldberg book about a poem she’d written that was really sad. She reads it at public readings and she said that people often come up to her with such gloom and doom responses, asking her, “Isn’t it awful to go through this again?” while she reads it. But she said no. She said that once it was written and fully expressed, it lost its charge, its own doom and gloom, and she feels quite good now, thank you very much.

So to use a word from a chat with a friend today, the ephemeral nature of everything is its own paradox. When we express fully, no holds barred, nothing but nothing can stick. It seems like it’s the holding back of expressing that, in some way, keeps stuff around and makes it seem personal.

As always, I could say so much on this topic, I’ll go ahead and wrap up for now. Perhaps one day this will all turn into a book. But what would it be like if I completed a book? Dad and I would have to have a new conversation.

I love you soooo much, and wish you all freedom in feeling, down to the dirtiest, up to the highest, and everything in between. Stay in touch. Love, Carina

xx

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Messy Morning Bed Hair

It’s important to me to write honestly. As you know, one of my greatest passions is creative freedom and freedom of expression. Starting with the Morning Pages, coloring through the doodles, and all of the areas I haven’t yet touched on in the Free Expression series . . . for me, life is all-inclusive. And that really means all. Nothing can be left out in this sort of freedom.

After I posted a few days ago from my fever bed, my mind churning with upheaval and concern, I worried that I shouldn’t have shared that openly, that I shouldn’t have left my post to be read. What would people think of me? How would my words be interpreted? Would I be seen as a poor representative of the Living Inquiries?

I saw, though, that these fearful thoughts were also just part of life and they didn’t need to be followed or believed, any more than anything else. And, what is The Therapy Booth, if not a place for everyone to have all freedom of expression? What kind of Therapy Booth host would I be if I pretended that I’m only feeling well, happy and inspired? And, what if bearing my heart – however it looks – is inspired?

As a creative person – and I assert we all are – this is something I’ve watched and admired in other artists. It’s what gives me such awe for Joni Mitchell and her song writing. Her utter honesty and clarity of description is what has others relate so deeply with her, and it’s what has me wonder, how can she be knowing my experience so directly that she’s singing about it? It is in the details that we find the universals. We are not as alone as we may think we are with our tender hearts, moving minds and oceanic passions.

I find with all of these courses of expression that unencumbered articulation and declaration leaves me feeling more alert, clear and relaxed. To be able to pour it out on the page or on a phone call with a trusted friend or in my doodle notebook or during an inquiry session is to take the chains off of life and let it run free. And then, the direct experience of anicca (a Pali word meaning impermanence) is known. I’m as awe struck by this as I am by Joni Mitchell’s honest lyrics: that something that feels heavy, true and deep – once expressed – goes on about its way as each wave goes back into the ocean and disappears without a trace.

In the Living Inquiries, we look closely and gently at this movement and find out if any of these comings and goings actually equal “us”. Are any of those words I typed during my flu “me”? Are any of the words your friend says to you on the phone “her”? This is done from a restful position, as opposed to a mental one, and it leaves us in a space where all of the comings and goings are totally free to come and go. Life is going to happen. Happiness, delight, fear, anger, sadness, frustration, love, lust, apathy . . . all of them are so welcome to come and go here in The Therapy Booth. Express yourself! I’m gonna.

Recovering! Writing with messy morning bed hair.

Recovering! Writing with messy morning bed hair.

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Free Expression, Part 1: Morning Pages

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

― Franz Kafka

I facilitated an inquiry session today with a friend who was looking for what she named the misogynistic control paradigm. It was unfindable, as it turned out, but the topic remains of interest to me. My friend was talking about this subtle self-defeating language that we use, culturally, to make excuses or apologies for our present state, our loves, our longings, our snackings . . . She said, “[It’s like] we’re obliged to deny ourselves certain things.”

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about my passion for telling things exactly as they are – or exactly as they occur, right now, fully, one hundred percent, and completely unapologetically.

Then I realized I have so much to say on this topic and so many different ways that I celebrate as paths to full expression, that this would have to come as a series. Here’s the first entry.

I read the Kafka quote above on Facebook today and swooned. I have already loved his quotes for this reason and that, and, as a writer and a budding artist, these words are like sweet, sweet balm. They are the opposite of that self-defeating language my friend was pointing to today.

In the following posts, I’ll be sharing about the different venues I have – THANK GOD – for pouring out my natural, unapologetic unedited expression.

Let’s start now with the beloved Morning Pages.

Made famous by Julia Cameron in her creativity guide, The Artist’s Way, Morning Pages are simple: three handwritten pages of anything. They are uncensored, and, in fact, are a training against self-censorship. Julia writes that we usually start telling the truth around the page-and-a-half mark. I’ve been writing MPs for several years, and I’d say I’ve learned to jump right into that unleashed honesty, at least there on the sacred page. These pages are not shown to anyone ever, and, Julia recommends that we don’t read the Morning Pages, at least for two months after they’re written.

This writing is not meant to be good. It’s not meant to be something that you’ll publish. But, if you are a writer, you can enjoy the practice of flexing the muscle. Natalie Goldberg, in recommending at least twenty minutes of timed writing daily, suggests that this practice keeps us warm and healthy, so that when some official writing (whatever that is) is ready to come through, we’ve stretched and limbered up.

But Morning Pages and other timed writing exercises are NOT just for writers. In fact, Julia Cameron says that sometimes they’re harder for writers since we try to write well. Lucky for me, I don’t have that problem with my MPs. And you should see the madness that hits those pages!

Which brings me back home to the Kafka quote (“don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical”). Is it, in fact, madness, when it’s simply pouring through my heart, out my fingers, onto the page?

The first time I wrote Morning Pages, I started them with the hopes that they would affect my writing in a positive way. I got a huge surprise: I found my singing and music-playing transformed. As if through hypnosis or sneaking in through the back door, somehow I was singing in a voice I didn’t recognize. It was clearer, more honest, more warmly toned. I was like a sponge learning new songs and couldn’t wait to play them for friends who came to visit. I gave full credit to the MPs. This shift started about three months of writing them every day.

I don’t always do them first thing in the morning. Before bed is a nice time to do the clearing as well. Either way, or sometime in the middle of the day, I almost always experience a sense of relief and gratitude for the movement of the pen on the page. I’ve found the perfect kind of notebook and perfect style of pen for me, and I invite you to do the same. And, on those days when there isn’t relief, I’m still grateful to the pages for receiving my longing, my fears, my delight, my swooning love, my begging for mercy and relief, my dreamy contemplations and prayers for comfort, support and help.

Morning Pages have given me a jumping off point for this whole world of Telling It, and we’ll get to more venues soon.

Meanwhile, I invite you into your own private space where nothing but nothing is rejected. Be angry, be lustful, be dreamy, bored, desirous, delirious. Just get it out on the page.

And then see what happens.

Love,

Carin

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