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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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

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

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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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Trusting Rest

Since May or June this year, I’ve been writing a blog called Trust Rest. I wanted to document and also commit to exploring what is the most trustworthy path: Is it following thoughts, fears, others’ opinions and advice, or is it resting, allowing the mind and body to quiet (without denying any of it either) and seeing how life unfolds? If we sit still long enough, the body, eventually, gets up and goes to the bathroom or the kitchen or the store or for a walk or writes something. At least this is true in my experience so far.

On this blog I’ve been more or less keeping a diary of my experiences, sometimes meandering away from the core question, and coming around again in my time. Sometimes I post poems. When I am most trustful of rest, I am a prolific writer and artist. It is my natural state.

I was inspired yesterday to create a book from what I am studying and what I’ve been practicing. Sharing the good news with myself and everyone else. Sharing the tools I’m using in the exploration. Giving a little good cheer and encouragement (Rest and Creativity Encouragement, as my job title suggests).

I so strongly see that this exploration, trusting rest, cannot be done half-heartedly. That is, there comes a time when the rubber really does have to meet the road. I’m not only simply trusting rest but also really tuning into where my heart is guided and what is inspiring and resonant for me. If there’s anything I can encourage others in, it’s the same thing. What is your specific joy? Are you free to declare it and ask for it and have it in your life?

I experience openness, magic, confidence and delight that I never knew I would. I also see places where I have doubts, fears, old thought patterns. What I’m suggesting is a major shift from how I was raised in this world. Some around me know that this makes total sense and that it is cutting edge. Others will not be able to make sense of me, though they’ll often still feel like there’s something benevolent here, something vital. They might even feel a longing for it, even if they can’t quite name it for themselves.

I have found out again and again too — also under the trusting rest umbrella — that I cannot fit myself into any box or action that doesn’t feel natural in the moment. This doesn’t mean that I sometimes don’t have to do things I don’t particularly want to do or that I don’t have to put some effort toward, because even in those times, there’s a rightness to it. I can’t explain it. It’s a feeling in my body, my finely tuned internal compass. And that’s what I’m here to write about. And if I can share and encourage it, then that is really great. It’s wonderful to live from the soul.

I’ve been wanting to come to The Therapy Booth page to share the other blog with you, so here it is:

Trust Rest.

The most recent blog post shares my inspiration for the book about turning to the genius within, unique and wonderful in each of us. The post also contains an opportunity to contribute to the project. “If you feel inspired to support this project, I gratefully and happily accept donations. It’s super helpful not to have to put my energies toward other things and to be able to focus deeply on this — where my focus already is. <3

I have a donation button (“Pay Now”) on the right column of this blog, if you feel something in your heart for this project.

In any case, I hope you’ll follow the Trust Rest blog as well. I have the vision at some point that someone will take my various projects and create a clearing house site that covers all the different things I’m up to (inquiry, art, writing, resting, classes, etc.). But I’m trusting my instinct that I’m not the one to do that particular project just at the moment, though I want to share with you all what I’m up to. I have also been leading guided rest calls every two weeks that are an absolute joy. Email me (thetherapybooth@gmail.com) if you would like a sample recording of a call.

I guess that’s about it for now! I’m happy to be sharing this part of my world here and am really thrilled to be diving even more deeply into my own integrity. Let me know if I can be of use and stay tuned. Love to you all. x

#trustrest

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To say ‘I love you’ right out loud . . .

help

Why do we love to read Rumi so much? Because he knew that the crying out for the lover is the lover itself. The oldest of our cats cries a lot. She is blind and mostly deaf and seems like she’s just unsure of where she is a lot of the time. She cries a certain kind of howl and very much wants to be with a person. We can’t always accommodate with a spot on a lap, and she eventually finds a place to lie down and nap, until she comes wandering again.

When I first moved to Austin I worked as a therapist in a nursing home. We had a client named Helen who would sit in the hallway in her wheel chair and call out “Help me, help me, help me, help me, help me.” I’ve been thinking about Helen and Rumi and myself and the little kitty and a friend’s post on Facebook and Patti Smith and Living Inquiries and about telling the truth for you, however that might occur.

It might occur like prostration and supplication.

It might occur like I love you.

It might occur like help me, help me, help me.

It might occur like screaming at a concert.

It might occur like drawing words with your left hand that you wouldn’t otherwise dare say out loud.

It might occur like a text message typed into a phone or a song penned on the back of a napkin or an outpouring whispered to a face, a cheek, a mouth: save me.

Can we actually be alive without a sense of longing?

Maybe not everyone feels these things. Or they have different ways of channeling them. But I think about Helen in her wheel chair in the hall at the nursing home, and I just think she was so sane. Whether it be calling out for help or anything else, I’m in love with the experience of expression. I keep thinking about different lines from Joni Mitchell songs tonight. No wonder. I deeply admire her full on lyrical expression. I’m mystified by it and mentored by it.

To say ‘I love you’ right out loud . . .

There’s something about song-writing that’s mystifying to me. I love to sing and play, thought I haven’t written much yet.  Sometimes I’ll learn a song that just resonates with me so deeply, I love to sing it. I can feel it, as if I had written those words.  I was playing a Patti Smith song tonight, not having picked up my guitar in weeks, but having seen Patti up close [singing this and many others] a few days ago, the guitar fell into my hands. I have hoped to learn from her. To open my throat and my guts and excrete it all

with heart. Complete heart.

I think I must have gathered some ideas along the way that only certain feelings and subjects are kosher, friendly, spiritual, acceptable, successful, ought to be talked about. Funny to consider this if you look at music. If you look at any art. And I think this is why I’m so in love with art, with writing, with music, with full expression.

The calling out and the one called for, one note.

Rumi writes:

Crying out loud and weeping are great resources.

A nursing mother, all she does

is wait to hear her child.

 

Just a little beginning-whimper,

and she’s there.

 

God created the child, that is , your wanting,

so that it might cry out, so that milk might come.

 

Cry out! Don’t be stolid and silent

with your pain. Lament! And let the milk

of loving flow into you.

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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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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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