Monthly Archive: February 2014

Walkabouts and Coming of Age

I turned 65 Feb 12. During that day I celebrated by taking stock. Do you do that? Take stock on your birthday or on New Year’s?

2,500 years old, hands cover the walls of Argentina's Cueva de las Manos in Patagonia

2,500 years old, hands cover the walls of Argentina’s Cueva de las Manos in Patagonia

The ancients believed that on our birth day we could receive wisdom and knowledge from the gods.  I chose to make myself open to that wisdom.

In fact, I’ve spent the past few weeks on a something akin to a short walkabout. In case you’re wondering, a walkabout is (according to Wikkipedia) “a rite of passage during which male Australian Aborigines would undergo a journey during adolescence and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months”, walking with and connecting to their ancestors.  Turning 65 for me is a kind of rite of passage.

During my walkabout, I thought a lot about the challenges my friends and I are finding as we grow older. I want to take some time discussing them with you, but today I want to talk about my own self-doubt.

A few of the people who attended my workshop “The Unbroken Spirit” were therapists who work with people suffering from trauma. At least one of them loved the workshop and thought it would be great for treating emotional trauma, and asked me if I would be interested in putting together a session to train them.

I was both excited and daunted. I had put a lot of work into developing this workshop, including research and interviews with many experts in both psychotherapy and dance.  I knew this workshop had never been done before.  I was excited about bringing this to people suffering from trauma through their therapists.  And yet, my first response was “I don’t know enough!”. Even though I knew it was a new idea and therefore nobody knew much, still I found myself doubting.  Even 5 years ago, doubting wouldn’t have been a big factor, and now I’m even doubting my own memory of how I was 5 years ago!

Hence my walk-about. Is this humility?  Is it increased sensitivity? Or is it old unresolved stuff that is circling around once more seeking resolution? I used to think – long ago – that as long as I kept striving for perfection, I would some day achieve it.  What I’m discovering instead is that there is always something more to learn, and that means I will always not know enough!

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

 

Honouring Teachers – JoAnne Greenham

JoAnne GreenhamI first met JoAnne Greenham in 2001 when I applied to enter the 4-year therapist training program offered by the Gestalt Institute of Toronto.  I had reached a turning point in my life and decided that I wanted to be a psychotherapist, believing I was ready to meet anything and had all the answers.  I would give dearly to see what she saw that day – not likely what I thought I saw!  I do remember being struck not only by what she said but also by the way she said it.  She had a way of normalizing things, so that anything – even the unspeakable – could be spoken.
She was my teacher for the next 4 years and one of my supervisors afterwards, even long after I had completed my practicum.  I valued her humor and seemingly light-hearted way of approaching life, and her ability to spot what was hidden in plain sight.  I believe she cared deeply for her students and her Institute.  She challenged, sometimes painfully.  She was human and she did not give up on people.
Almost a year ago JoAnne discovered she had a rare and terminal cancer.  With her usual good humor and balanced perspective, she addressed it, keeping in touch with her friends and family.  We were all invited to send in some anecdote or rememberance.  And so, we were given a very rare opportunity – to say what we wanted and needed to say to her while we still had the chance.
On February 11th, she died. Before she passed, she and the other senior faculty members ensured her legacy and work would continue, enriched by the contributions of the now heads of faculty and administration.  The Gestalt Institute of Toronto is in excellent hands as a result.
JoAnne Greenham changed my life.  I will miss her.
Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.

On the road

snowy whiteness on the road On the road to stay with a friend who is soon to undergo an operation.  It’s about 7 hours away.  It’s snowing.  And foggy. And quiet.  The roads are pretty clear.  A perfect day to travel.

For the first time in two weeks I have time to be still and watch the whiteness surrounding me.

It’s also the first time I’ve ever been last publishing my weekly blog.  Forgive me and drive with me for a while in peace.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Toronto based, certified Psychotherapist offering a balanced approach to mental health. Please visit http://www.thejoyofliving.co for information on her services, or contact her directly to find out how she can help you reclaim the joy of living.