Back in 2008 when I first opened my private psychotherapy practice, I had one clear objective; to serve adolescents in acute crisis. It’s no secret I love working with kids and the adolescent years are 100% my jam. There is enormous creativity, passion, exploration, and vulnerability during these years. Everything is on the precipice and that is exciting, hard, and also tremendously inspiring. Teens are wild and weird. And that's perfect.
As I struggled with how to market the fact that I had officially hung up my shingle, I received some really great advice from my mentor. “Know the population you want to serve, but also, notice who finds you,” he said. And this has been a piece of advice that has served me well no matter the pursuit. Did I end up with a practice full of teens? Yes. But also, something else was happening that told me a lot about how I am intuitively perceived as a clinician. I had a feeling that my success with adolescent populations had something to do with a perception that I am creative, and that makes me a little weird, and also super accepting. And I still think I’m right about that, but what I didn’t know is that these same qualities were attracting women working through some pretty serious past trauma. Definitely not something I considered my specialty, but they were finding me nonetheless through referrals and even random web searches. They were choosing me, so I took notice.
I often share this story with my business mentorship clients as a reminder to notice what clients, customers, and patients reflect back to us. How we might be perceived, and intuitively what others know we are able to provide, even if we do not yet know that ourselves. Not that this noticing should encourage us to completely switch gears, I still focused on working with teens in my practice, but that there is a lot of information to be found in taking pause and considering what we put out there energetically that allows others to see us in a role that maybe we have not discovered yet for ourselves. The results can be quite beautiful and can help inform our trajectory in ways that might otherwise be inaccessible.
I was reminded of the importance of this noticing a few weeks ago in conversation with my own business coach. Pam had noticed that in the variety of my interests and paths coming closer together, one stood out as something that I had not purposely pursued. My art career, my time in private practice as a psychotherapist, a college campus therapist, even my 12 years running Zelma Rose - these were all pursuits I had made a deliberate choice to go after. Whether it was achieving a degree, a license, or a specific set of skills, I had a plan, made it happen, and kept on choosing. Which is lovely and lucky and has provided a really weird and wild life.
When it comes to Human Design, that feels somewhere in between. I feel like it landed in my lap, I looked into it, it felt right, and I’ve spent the last over two years following the breadcrumbs of where it leads. And again, it has ended up as something people intuitively trust me with.
The true outlier, the thing that I never went looking for, the love that 100% found me, is of course skateboarding. My love of skateboarding began as a request from my daughter. One that I was determined to at least try. I’m not completely certain why I decided that there was no other option I was okay with but to try, but I know I was really uncomfortable with giving her a list of bullshit reasons why I wouldn’t try. Who cares if it is hard? Who cares if it is scary? Who cares if I look like an idiot? Well, I totally did, but my daughter didn’t. None of that would have made sense to her, or mattered to her. What would have mattered is if I am the kind of person who refused to try.
So quite reluctantly, almost two summers ago, I purchased a modest complete (a skateboard that is pre-built and not custom made to specific preferences) by mail and when it arrived, I set out to at least be able to stand on the thing. But mostly to embody the mom who wasn’t scared to try. And to be honest there was a lot for me to be scared of. The first 6 months of learning to skateboard were awful. I had expected the physical aspect to be challenging of course. These were muscles that I had not really used before. I was in the process of teaching my body how to move in an entirely new way. At 45 years old no less.
What I didn’t expect was the emotional aspect. Skateboarding threw me under the bus emotionally. I was forced to really be in my body, something even despite being a yoga teacher, I had not really done. Maybe ever. It forced me to completely give away my appearance. Covered in pads, wearing a helmet, and sweating like crazy, was just part of standing on the board for me. All in front of an almost exclusively male audience (something I am embarrassed to admit, but shit if the behavior of teenage boys and the potency of the patriarchy in the 90’s didn’t have a hold on me. Still). And this was really hard and nearly crushed me. But again, not something my daughter would even understand as an excuse or even a reason at all, so I just kept going. And bit by bit, skateboarding continued to find me. Through a new relationship with my daughter, my husband, my community, and friends, this scrappy little piece of wood with wheels was in the process of changing my life and I didn’t even really see it coming.
Skateboarding happened to me.
And so I am taking notice.
The most obvious finding to date has been that the fears I had initially, the ones that were born far deeper than any doubt of my physicality, the really old emotional shit, have all been unfounded. Skateboarding by nature is all about failure and also looking totally awkward. The faces alone that one has to make in order to stay balanced when trying something new are pretty hilarious. Everyone falls. Everyone fails. Even the best of the best. Getting better doesn’t make you immune from failure. In fact it probably means you fail more often. And concrete hurts. A lot. Just being out there is admirable. I have yet to meet a skateboarder that doesn’t want someone else out in the world to try skateboarding. It's hard. It will be hard forever. You are always on the precipice. And there is something really wise about that.
And then there are the people I’ve met. I went in thinking that there were two choices. I would be invisible or openly mocked. Who really wants a mom skating at the skatepark anyway? I felt like I was showing up at the party flossing and asking the kids who this Post Malone guy is. Ooof. It turns out skateboarders do want a middle aged mom at the park. I come in handy for ice packs, quarters to try out the payphone (most of the kids there have never used one) the use of a skate tool, and just general advice about skating, school, clothes, skate shoes and water bottles. I was expecting Narc, but what I got has continued to be a warm and friendly welcome, skatepark to skatepark, skateshop to skateshop. And this welcome has had no bearing on my level of skill, or even comfort. No one cared that at first I felt like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man or could barely stand on the board when it wasn’t moving. I was the only one who saw all that. And eventually I just gave it all away.
I’m still not sure what skateboarding sees in me. What the noticing it shines my way says about who I am that I do not see. That may never fully come, as it seems much more vast than being able to review the data of what patients come my way, or what people imagine me to be able to provide them. But I’m taking notice nonetheless. With curiosity and openness to what it means when something truly finds you.
On February 25, the sun transits GATE 37, the GATE of PEACE.
GATE 37 tasks you with the opportunity to contemplate the relationship you have with PEACE in your life. This transit is really about what you allow yourself to receive and is PEACE something that you actively create boundaries to attract, or do you prefer to exist in chaos. GATE 37 encourages exploration into your sovereignty when it comes to remaining peaceful and grounded when outside circumstances or people bring chaos to you. Do you trust that you do not need to get swept up in external drama? Can you be at PEACE when it is not easily accessible? Do you value yourself deeply enough to make PEACE a priority?
Journaling Prompts for this week:
1. What practices allow me to cultivate peace?
2. Where can I create boundaries to protect my peace?
3. What environments and people make me feel peaceful?
4. Where do I feel chaos in my life? Is it a place? A person? A pursuit?
Have a great week exploring this transit! Let me know what came up for you! Comment below to share your thoughts.
Eardrum is one of my long standing desert island album picks. It seems the further away I get from this album since it was released, the more I continue to find within it. Talib Kweli is so so so good. It's hard to pick a single song or album. But Give Em Hell came on while I was skating the other day and I was reminded of just how great this album is. I'm a huge fan of 90's/early 2000's era hip hop with the catchy hooks. They get me every time. And this song really provides.
I hope you enjoy it too. Hit listen to get a taste.
GIVE EM HELL
Ready or not
That what we reap, we sow
But we forget how low
We can go (c'mon)
It's bad here on Earth, but if we don't get to heaven
It's hell (it's all going to)
Hell (it's all going to)
Hell (yup, we living in)
Hell (yup, they giving us)
Hell (it's all going to)
Hell (it's all going to)
Hell (yup, we living in)
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