The Therapy Booth

resting, doodling and holding love signs

No Pushing Necessary

beatles

As some wise fellas once sang, Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream . . .  the perfect line for this inspired post.

I have been chatting with a fellow traveler and artist friend about how we’re called — we’re just called — to do what we do, whether our minds or conventional wisdom agree or not. And one thing that keeps us inspired is seeing others on the same path, doing their thing. A few friends immediately come to mind when I think of those who inspire me. They model for me that the life we feel inspired to live into is more than possible. In fact, it is supportive and generous.

But we don’t have to push to get on it.

Some years ago I was hanging out with a friend while he packed up and either sold or gave away everything in his house, until all he had left was his backpack, laptop and guitar. I imagined him as sort of ahead of the curve from me, but on a similar journey. And then I would compare myself to him, imagining that I was supposed, eventually, to do the same. I was living in an apartment at the time, and I knew that I wanted to get down to trailer sized belongings, should an Airstream show up in my life. And I pared way down. Still, I had a comparison running in my mind, a nagging sense that maybe I was supposed to get rid of more stuff, be like my friend. But I wasn’t feeling inspired. Or, I could say, it simply wasn’t happening.

It was helpful to realize that 1) I’m not that guy, I’m me, and 2) there is no need to push. Life is happening as it is, and there’s no rush. I haven’t given or sold all of my belongings, though I’m down to a few boxes and a few files, stored with easy access at a friend’s house. Although I haven’t touch some of the items since storing them (bed linens, dishes), I often to go the stuff, looking for and finding the specific item I wanted. I’m not looking to be a traveling minstrel with my backpack and my laptop and my guitar. I’m just being me, with a car load of hula hoops and a Therapy Booth and one suitcase of clothes, a basket of art supplies and a few stuffed animals.

All good things in all good time, I heard another wise person sing.

Inspiration comes when it does. Movement is the same. There may come a moment when I take major steps in a direction of my dreams. There may also be long stretches where nothing gets accomplished beyond resting (which IS an accomplishment!), doodling here and there, going outside, coming back in. And still the path flows.

So when I think about the conversation with my friend about having these deep pulls within us, and the images and feelings and thoughts that go with them, I see so clearly that one of the thoughts that we need not listen to is the one that says, “I’m supposed to be more like that guy,” or the one that suggests I ought to push when it’s not flowing.

I told my friend today that I realized recently I have no idea how things work. I have so much good in my life, and so much is given with such vast generosity. Sometimes I directly ask. Other times it’s spontaneously offered. What I do know is that I can trust rest. I can trust taking a pause and waiting to see which way I’m moved. For surely, this body will stand up from this couch, once this blog post is complete or maybe before, and wander to the bathroom or out the back door to visit the neighbors or off to something else that I haven’t imagined yet. And isn’t leaving room for that last possiblity one of the most interesting things?

relax pool

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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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