Posted by: Amy Hanson | April 18, 2011

Welcome to Amy Hanson Bodywork

My name is Amy Hanson and I am a Certified ARC Bodywork Therapist.  ARC is a very rich form of healing, and after reading the description below, I invite you to explore the above tabs to help you further understand what I offer.

Bodywork is a general term that is found in many forms of healing work.  ARC Bodywork is very unique and a leading edge form of Self-Discovery.  First of all lets talk about what it isn’t.  I do not do massage or any form of muscular or skeletal manipulation.  The reference to Bodywork is because our bodies hold an incredible amount of information that we often have difficulty listening to.  The technique I use called BodySpeak ™   is an amazing dialogue that helps you understand and clarify whatever it is you are seeking by accessing your body wisdom.

During a session my clients lay, fully clothed, on a massage table.  I enhance the work by doing hands-on techniques.  This may include gently placing my hands on energy centers or pressure points.

The real magic in a session is the BodySpeak ™ dialogue.  It is a very organic process where I primarily ask questions to help you navigate through your unique internal emotional organization.  The results are very different for each person; although profound clarity is often what people come away with.

Now….if that is something you would like to explore I encourage you to read on.

I have also written many articles on my own personal journey.  I hope by sharing the challenges I face in my life, and the work I do to understand my choices, I can help other people move forward as well.

I will keep you posted on presentations, workshops and other events.  Sign up for my free newsletter and enjoy Your Discovery!

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Posted by: Amy Hanson | December 10, 2012

The Rainbow – Hope Within Chaos

The Rainbow

When I was a teenager my older brother, Ken, and I used to hang out. He had a brand new sports car; dark green and fast, it became our symbol for freedom. He would come to town and the two of us would climb into the car with escape on our minds. It took us hiking, to the movies and sometimes, on an extended road trip.

One day while driving down a country road, a rainbow appeared ahead of us. Magic sparkled in Ken’s eyes…”You think we can find the pot of gold?”  For a few moments, leprechauns, fairies and all the fantasy characters of childhood became real. My brother shifted gears, the engine roared and we sped off toward our pot of gold. Like a mirage in a desert, the end of the rainbow shifted before our eyes. The closer we got, the further away the rainbow became. After a time we rounded a corner and the end of the rainbow spilled into a marsh, unreachable by car or even by foot. My brother pulled over. We sat in silence, bathed by the rainbow’s luminescence. Time passed. He looked at me and said, “This is our pot of gold.”

Those moments of youth, unimbued by responsibility, worry or strife opened us to a plethora of possibility.

Speed forward many years….I was living in Vancouver working a very secure job—great money, benefits and living a fast-paced city life style when I made the decision to leave it all. As much as I loved what I was doing, a new opportunity was opening up in the country. The leap of faith required of me was immense and I swung from shear ecstasy to gut-wrenching fear. Trying to find centre and trust in this shaky foundation, I closed my eyes (only briefly, because I was driving) and prayed for a sign that my decision was right. As I reached the Lion’s Gate Bridgemy heart opened to possibility. I looked up and there, arching from one end of Burrard Inlet to the other, directly before me, was a rainbow. Not only did I see both ends of the rainbow, as I climbed onto the bridge, the rainbow doubled! Dazzling light shone down upon me. The ecstasy and the fear that had coiled deep within my soul were replaced by a deep knowing. I knew I had made the right decision to move.

Many years went by. I became very ill and was admitted to hospital. As well intentioned as each caregiver was to me, it seemed everyone kept making mistakes. After eight days of living a nightmare, I was sent home in worse shape than when I went in. I felt betrayed by the medical system. Emotionally, spiritually and physically I hit one of the lowest points in my life. I reached out to friends for support. I had little energy to actually talk and my concentration was fuzzy. Many incredible people helped me during this time. There was one person whose support was very special. Elle called.

I said, “Elle, I am really a mess right now and I don’t have enough energy to talk but I would love to be with you. Can you just talk to me and know that I am listening?”   And so Elle began…she wove her way through philosophy and metaphysics, religion and alchemy as she spoke of the mysteries of life, and hard earned insights. Although my presence wavered at times, her words were a balm to my soul. My body was swept away in an almost rhythmic trance until a couple words brought me back, “rainbow…a double rainbow”.

Elle lives in North Vancouver, you see, and the coincidence seemed too much to ignore. I stopped her and asked: “A double rainbow over the Lion’s Gate Bridge?”

“Yes”, she said, and continued telling me about how this sighting had impacted her life. I asked her when she had seen it, and, because it was an important event in her life, she remembered the day. It was the samerainbow I had seen on that fateful decision making day. A feeling of complete surrender washed over me. I knew with certainty that everything was going to be all right.

That conversation happened four years ago. Last week my daughter, suffering from an allergenic reaction, was admitted to hospital. For several days life was held in a teetering balance…what we knew to be our reality and the almost surreal unknown that threatened our existence. Depth of despair spun circles around us as we held on to whatever hope and faith we could find. Eventually my daughter pulled through, the seizures she experienced diminished and we brought her home.

A few days later, as clouds hung heavy with winter rains I drove to her school to get some homework she had missed. As I rounded a corner, the sun broke through the dense clouds a brilliant rainbow appeared.

I have chased rainbows before and have learned that it is not easy to catch one. Driving along the road I noticed how the rainbow began on my right; how it arched over the car and then disappeared again, far to my left.  It hovered above me, almost vibrating in intensity, and then, just for an instant, the arch moved and I felt the energy go right through my body. A deep-rooted sense of safety penetrated me.  I pulled over to the side of the road and sobbed tears of relief. I leaned forward and, looking out the windshield, asked to see the double rainbow. The landscape shifted and on the horizon a second rainbow appeared above the first.

Posted by: Amy Hanson | April 16, 2012

Understanding Anger

Anger has been given a bad rap. Women have been traditionally misled to
believe that if they are angry they are bad people, out of control, not
co-operative, too emotional or, quite frankly, bitches. For men, anger
has been equated with being strong, firm, a leader. Although times are
changing and gender roles are not so absolute, the fact is that most of
us have never had functional anger mentored for us.

What is healthy anger? The first thing we need to do is to define the
difference between healthy anger and unhealthy anger; the difference
being key to understanding this complex emotion.

Unhealthy anger can be explosive, misdirected, stuck, blaming, out of
control, suppressed for a long time, a child-like tantrum, reactive,
disproportionate or completely inappropriate to the situation and often
things are said that we later regret.

Healthy anger, on the other hand, is ignited by having boundaries
crossed in the present moment. It serves us to move forward
purposefully from whatever entanglement we are in. When we are in
functional anger we are in control, it is appropriate for the
situation, we take 100% responsibility for the emotional angst we are
feeling and express what needs to change to make things better for
ourselves. Anger does not have the power to transform the other person.
Functional anger is expressing our truth in a way to create change
without emotionally damaging another person. They may not like the
change we are advocating, they may even resist the change but they
cannot deny what is our truth.

A while ago, I was working with a team of people on a project. We were
new to each other and were meeting by telephone conference. After
introductions, a couple of ideas were suggested. One of the team
members stopped the entire process. He had specific ideas and made it
very clear that we were not to waste his time and that everything would
be done the way he said or he would withdraw from the team. His voice
was sharp and underlying currents of anger hung in the air. As he was
the most experienced member of the team he had tremendous credibility.
A part of me collapsed in the face of his criticism: my throat
contracted, my stomach knotted and my knees shook. I stayed mostly
silent through to the end of the call and hung up.

My first reaction was suppressed anger. My thoughts (…well many of them
cannot be shared here), began raging. “He is so rude! How could he
treat me this way? I am feeling so insignificant and unheard, I never
want to see or speak to this person again. I am withdrawing from this
project.”

However, it was really important for me to be a part of this team and I
was motivated to find a way to continue. Why was I reacting so
strongly? What could possibly be going on that would make my body feel
as distressed as it was? Why could I not say anything the moment this
man stated his boundaries?

And then I realized… when I was a child, my father was a very angry
man. (Our relationship today is much different). When he became angry
there was no opportunity to speak. Even if I had something important to
say, if I tried to speak, his anger would escalate. I learned to be
very afraid of anger and that keeping quiet was the safest thing to do.

Working with this man in the present had triggered my little frightened
girl from the past. My body was reacting the way I did when I was a
child. There was a direct connection to my past.

For me, suppressed anger such as this does not just go away with a
logical explanation. It took a week of self-care to dissipate what had
been locked inside me. A tremendous amount of movement and directed
release brought me back to presence.

How could I now respond to this situation with healthy anger? In this
case I was very blessed. The man I was working with realized there was
something wrong and came to me. “Is there something I have done to
offend you?” he asked. “Yes,” I responded. “The other day on the phone,
I felt my ideas for the project were really stopped short by how you
approached the situation. I know I have a lot to contribute here and
need the opportunity to speak more fully.” The conversation continued
and we moved into healthy debate, brain storming and sharing. He
acknowledged his impatience and became more open to hearing what I had
to say.

Anger has enormous potential as a resource for change when understood,
and a forceful weapon of destruction when misused. Building
relationship with our own anger is a powerful form of healing.

Posted by: Amy Hanson | January 30, 2012

In Search of Authenticity

As the New Year descends in to my life, I contemplate renewal.  What wonderful things will I be able to experience in the auspicious year of 2012? For most, the New Year gives a sense of beginning – new goals, new ways, new directions, and motivation to start fresh – a clean slate.

I was at a gathering of friends and newborn babies became the topic of conversation.  Several of the women voiced the age-old opinion of how beautiful infants are.  The ahhhh’s and ooooow’s abound as I sat back and reflected how that was a feeling I had only experienced with my child and not with infants as a whole.  The group I was in was very safe and I decided to voice what I had always felt and never expressed.  “I think that newborns are kinda ugly.  Really, if you consider the bald heads, beady eyes, flaking skin, crinkled up hands and feet, what is so attractive about the appearance of a baby?”

Taken back by my honesty, and willingness to offer a different perspective, one of the women spoke up, “It is not in the looks that the beauty is found but the innocence that the baby represents.”

My personal journey has led me to many places of feeling naked in my vulnerability but I had never considered the mirror newborns had offered me.  Of course….the essence of a newborn is vulnerability, tenderness, unconditional love, innocence, openness, human existence in its most whole state, a new beginning.  In the past, to move to a state of vulnerability, I had to admit that all was not “perfect”.  I had parts of me that were shameful and I resisted disclosing these parts for fear of not being accepted.  And, I have now experienced, that the opposite is true; sharing my vulnerability to those who are most important to me has led to greater connection.  The added benefit was that by sharing I was also aided in the release of old patterns.

The question arose for me: What further about vulnerability had I abandoned in my life?  I realized was that the part of me that could not connect to the essence of an infant, was the part not willing to connect to that vulnerable part in me.  As the realization struck, a new perspective formed; the “ahhhhh” welled up in me.  I embraced my vulnerability to an even deeper level and saw the beauty of who I am, imperfections and all.  The tenderness of a newborn child took new meaning.  I began to see the beauty of all infants,  and indeed, all humankind.

Hiding behind a façade takes huge resources.  It takes courage, trust and safety to examine and then reveal what is our truth.  Although vulnerability is not always comfortable, it results in greater clarity and frees up resources to the pursue what is more authentic.

Posted by: Amy Hanson | January 5, 2012

Stress and How Change Affects Us

Happy New Year to you all and may 2012 be a year that inspiration sings in your heart and life’s challenges are few! I hope the Christmas Season was filled with fond memories and you are ready to embrace a new year.There are many events in life that have the potential to create a great deal of stress in our bodies. The first area I would like to address is life’s changes. This could be loss of job, loss of relationship, a change in family dynamic such as a child leaving home or an elder moving in, illness or injury that requires large amounts of energy to overcome and almost any change that disrupts our set way of living.

These are all major life events and as such rate high on the scale for stress. Different people have different capacities for tolerating stress and need different strategies for dealing with the situations. Here are a few suggestions that can be incorporated into your own personal self-care package:
• Acknowledge that the new situation is stressful. The acknowledgement names what is happening and gives us permission to prioritize time for ourselves.
• Take time to tune into our bodies by breathing, and feeling the signals our bodies give. For example, tightness in our shoulders, back, chest or stomach, constant headaches, lack of focus, digestive problems, inability to sleep or requiring excessive amounts of sleep are all signs of strain.
• If this is the case, find ways to relieve the tension in your body. Take time to find ways to laugh and play, exercise, meditate, spend time on a hobby, book an appointment for a massage, energy balancing or other “feel good” session.
• Find a safe place to talk about what is happening for you. This could be a friend, relative, support group, church or spiritual group. Being heard by someone who has been there too is incredibly healing.
• Pay special attention to your diet. Sugar, processed foods, caffeine and junk food can reduce your immune system thereby setting you up for illness. Also, avoid recreational drugs, alcohol, it may relieve the stress temporarily but it will come back the next day.
• Understand that a loss in our lives, even if it is a job, divorce, child leaving home, or of health, may have a grieving process associated with it. As humans, this can trigger all the symptoms above without our conscious thought of it. Taking time to listen to our bodies, and recognizing what is going on, gives us the power to do something about it.
• Trust that what you need to do intuitively or the time it takes, is right for you, no matter what other people may advise.
• Remember that, all things heal with time. The sooner we listen to our bodies and get what we need, the more likely we will move through the challenge in a shorter period.

All that said, if you are still having difficulties you may want to seek professional help. Having someone who you feel comfortable with, and can be objective, will often help you to find a path through the difficult time.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to replace consulting a licensed physician. Please consider a team of professionals who complement each other in helping you.

Posted by: Amy Hanson | January 5, 2012

Expectations

One of the key triggers for stress in our lives is the difference between our internal expectations and what is happening for us externally. There is a myriad of expectations we have that can determine how comfortable or uncomfortable our experience is. Expectations of how we present ourselves to the world (the car we drive, the house we live in, the clothes we wear), how our children behave or do at school, how well we do at work, and if we are keeping up with the “Jones” next door, are all examples of thoughts that serve to put unwarranted pressure on us. If our expectations are so high as to be unrealistic, or the difference between our expectation and what is happening in the moment is unachievable, it can create a feeling of failure or a need for constant strife to try to keep up to the expectation.
Awhile ago I became a single mom and my expectations for many things in my life had to be adjusted. I realized the standards I had held in the past could no longer be attained the way I was used to. If I tried to maintain those standards the stress I created for myself was not healthy. So I began prioritizing what needed to be done and to what level. Some projects had to be put off indefinitely because they were too big for me to handle on my own. Large projects, which seemed overwhelming, needed to be broken down into smaller chunks. After each “chunk” was accomplished I made sure I celebrated in some small way to acknowledge my progress. Some on-going projects such as yard work, housework etc. I had less time for, so I did the same things, but gave myself permission to not do them as often. Some things that were essential, I asked for help. The process made me really reflect on what was truly important to me, ease up the pressure I put on myself, and become grateful for what I currently had in my life.
As I began to manage my expectations to more closely match the reality of my situation, the less stress I began to feel. The parts of me that were critical of how I was progressing lessened and I was able to find balance in my new situation.
It’s not to say we have to go through a major life transition to get to where we are reprioritizing things. Life is ever-changing and taking time to listen to our bodies, understand our individual stress level and make adjustments as different situations flow through our lives is vital in managing our well-being. During those challenging times, there may be opportunity to reflect on life and make changes that reveal what really is important to you.
A friend of mine once said that the level of happiness of her children was in direct relationship to the messiness in her home.

Posted by: Amy Hanson | November 1, 2011

Positive Thinking – A Part of Who We Are

Hi! How are you? Fine. And you?
How often do we begin our conversations in this traditional way? And, how often do we answer “fine”, when perhaps we don’t feel so fine. It’s not to say when every person asks how we are, that we blurt out all our life’s challenges, but how many of us find a community of friends where it is safe to speak regularly about not only our successes, but also what is difficult for us?
I find there has been so much focus on positive thinking that there often is an assumption that being authentic is sharing only the upside of our lives. When I first began my journey of self-development, I felt that to disclose my “less than positive feelings” in my life was to show inadequacy or a failing on my part. It felt guilty, shameful and embarrassing. But I also found that if I remained exclusively within the parts of myself that focused on the positive side, I felt something was missing – I didn’t feel whole.
Over time, I realized that if I acknowledged and worked through the not so pleasant parts of myself, that the feeling of not being whole subsided. I saw the positive thinking part had become a block to healing from the very real issues that were restricting me. It contributed to the notion that I was alone with my pain. As I began to share I found the opposite to be true-that others face the same challenges that I do. Sharing openly freed up a flow of compassion, love, understanding and deeper relationship with those around me.
I met a friend for coffee a short time ago. I asked how he was. His Mom has cancer and he began to talk about all his feelings to me. Encapsulated in his dialogue were many parts. There was a part of him who was feeling the shock of the potentially premature death of his Mom, and a very sad part who was in grief. There was a part that showed strength and pride in the person she is. Then, a shift to a charged part who was upset his Mom was never valued for her life’s contributions. As the conversation shifted again, he talked about connection to family and how Mom was the centre that brought together the community of family. Silence prevailed as we reflected. When he looked at me there was a glow in his eyes…he talked about a part of him who had a sense of her spirit within and around him, regardless of the distance between them.

I felt honored to be present for my friend. To be witness to the depth of whom he is in his totality as a human being. To see the waves of many emotions pass through, allowing his whole Self to be seen by me.
How healed could the world become if we all had the strength of character as this man showed? Sharing the depths of his emotions, instead of suffering silently, and finding sanctuary in authentic communication where he could release the burden that too many of us carry.
I have learned that it is within the wholeness of who we are that the positive part may be fully realized.

Posted by: Amy Hanson | November 1, 2011

Self-Care While Caring for Others

The spring of 2010 presented many challenges for me, and I have to say, the gifts were equal in the taking.

As fall descends so gracefully on us I reflect back on life over the last year and am very grateful for all that has happened. For those who may not know, my Mom had problems with her heart the spring of 2010 and ended up in The Jubilee Hospital in Victoria for major open heart surgery. She has come through the surgery and is on her way to a complete recovery. At 83 years old it really has been a miraculous process to witness.

I often focus on self-care and that is where I would like to continue. Most of us are caring for others, whether it is children in our home or a relative or friend that needs on-going or part-time care. How do we prioritize the needs of others and take care of ourselves at the same time? I have to admit, with all the talking I do to others about this, when faced with the potential death of my Mom, priority seemed to grab hold of my life and turn it upside down. All that I was working on for my business, all personal commitments that I had made took second stage to doctors appointments, emergency room visits and communication to my family. What I considered was….. this could be the last days I spend with my Mom and that made all else feel less important.

Where does my own personal self-care fit in with the care of others when in crisis? What I recognized very early on is that if I didn’t pace myself I would be the one needing help and that just wouldn’t do!!! So my routine was changed but not to eliminate those things I felt necessary for me to get through the crisis. Walking continued to be a daily event. My meditation routine morphed into shorter times, in places that were quite unexpected. The sanctuary of the chapel in the hospital was magic for those times when I needed to breathe and take time for inner reflection. Food choices, at restaurants were not as healthy as at home and so I began making as many meals as I could from my cooler. Living out of my suitcase became familiar. Each day I tried to spend time filling myself in whatever way that helped. Having time with my dog, reading, watching TV, writing in my journal; me time that didn’t draw down my energy.

There were many days where I sacrificed self-care with the idea that my Mom’s needs in the hospital or at home were much more important than taking care of myself. It wasn’t very long before my body would speak to me and let me know that I needed to be present for my own needs. Sleep would be difficult, I would lose my appetite and internal conflict would bring angst into my being. It was at this point I needed to really figure out what was best for me in the long term. What I found was there were several parts of me that would get in my way of listening. The part of me that thought I was the only one that could do the job, the part of me that was strong and didn’t need help, the part that looked for validation from family members, the part of me that found purpose for myself in “doing it all”. When these extreme parts surfaced I took a step back and re-evaluated what I thought to be truths. What I found is that these old messages no longer served me. I didn’t have to do it alone, others were just as capable, what I was doing was for me and my Mom and that what was important and my purpose wasn’t necessarily in the “doing”. As recognition of these parts became clear, I was able to shift back to a pace that was right for me.

A big part of the gift I received was to be with my Mom. She has spent a life time of service to her family and friends. It was her time to accept, although quite reluctantly, my help. Being present for what was happening to her, around her and within her. Holding her hand, listening deeply, laughing, crying and at times holding her in my arms for comfort, brought us closer than we have ever been. Surrendering can be difficult for many, especially those who have been independent their whole life. Both my Mom and I found ways to surrender to a very difficult situation and came away with insights that deepened the love and respect in our relationship with ourselves and each other.

Posted by: Amy Hanson | November 1, 2011

Winter’s Reflections

I have been spending the last week trying to think of what to write in this newsletter. All the regular seasonal topics, (gratitude, giving, love) that come to mind have not brought new inspiration to me. A little frustrated with the clog in creativity, I head out to the woods for a replenishing walk.

In Shawnigan we have had more snow than most places so the residual of the last couple of weeks still covers most of the ground. I was wondering if my regular trail would be passable? I duck off the road and peer into the first leg of the journey. Very quickly the grayness of the day turn in to an almost dusk-like ambiance. I am taken aback by how dark it is at noon. A little waft of fear permeates my being; I shrug it off, remembering the familiarity of my haven. The stand of fir trees, lower branches broken, seem black against the desolate forest ground. The darkness tricks me into thinking there is little life here until I look up to see the vastness of green in the covering branches. A fog wraps around the presence of each being in the forest. The stillness hangs damply in the air.

I climb a rise and the sky opens to a clearing. As I walk forward the trail begins to go downward and circle around a bend. I watch my steps, rocks carved out by the recent torrential rains, sit vulnerable in their new found positions. Down again and then up, down again then up, the trail sculpts out a path that likens to my life over the last year.

As I descend once again to where a stream pours through in the winter, I wonder if this will be the end of my walk for today? Will I have to turn around, not able to pass the swift and deepened waters of what was once a dry summer’s bed? Ah ha! a means to cross, the log, precariously laid down years ago is still above the water line, slimy with moss and lichen. Carefully, oh so carefully, I try my footing…and then leap to the other side; an obstacle overcome.

The trail ascends from the creek bed and as I walk up the steepest hill I see many young trees fallen over since the last time I came this way. As with toothpicks, they crisscross, crafting an abstract structure preparing for more plants to grow on. Nature has found new use for the weakened growth. Another old tree, fallen many years before, crosses the path. I step on it and the rotten flesh breaks under my foot. New earth forms from old growth, waiting to supply sustenance to the next generation of flora that grows here.

The next grove of trees is deciduous; branches barren, intertwining with their partners to form a network of veins in the sky. At my foot, the leaves, fallen by the October and November winds, are mulching, finding new purpose; death bringing life to the soil.

I scan a new terrain. The undergrowth battered by the wind, rain, then snow and ice. Grasses and ferns, bent over with the weight of the season, seemingly too heavy to survive. A flower, spent of its’ seeds, leaves traces of itself in a brown husk that bows down over the trail. It reaches out lamely to get my attention, its beauty exhausted by the process.

Winter, a time for stillness; growth halts with internal renewal. Re-crafting and dispensing of the old, suspended from the anticipation of the new.

If I had one winter wish for you all, it would be to take a moment…if only one…to step back from life. To breathe…to find the stillness inside for your own internal renewal.

Posted by: Amy Hanson | October 21, 2011

From Out Of The Ashes…

I have never written an article about a session I have had with a client. I have written many articles that been inspired by the parallel journeys my clients and I take, but this one particular session was outside my experience.  I was so moved by Ellen’s story, that, with her permission, I share this amazing tale.  We both hope, that in some way, anyone reading this that has lost hope, may be inspired.

Ellen had been trying to have a child for 8 years.  Her and her partner had tried many allopathic and holistic approaches.  The hopes, then disappointments, the expectation, then the let down, the grief and sadness had been interwoven into their lives monthly. Ellen came to me because she was beginning peri-menopause and the sadness she felt over her broken dream was affecting her sense of well-being.

During the session I ask key questions in order for the Ellen to self-discover what is right for her.

“What does the loss feel like for you?” I ask.

Ellen breathes into her body and replies, “It is like a large crater-like hole, in my stomach area…you know like when you have had surgery and it is hollow and filled with scar tissue. I couldn’t create a baby.” Silence fills the room as Ellen feels deeper into her loss.  “I am getting…out of the ashes..I see growth out of the ashes,” she continues.

“How is it to have a crater-like hole in this area?” I inquire.

“It’s like re-growth after lava flow, out of the ashes. I see a garden of flowers beginning to grow and a tree, green,” Ellen offers.

“ Ah,” I say and leave space for the development of whatever is to come.

As Ellen continues her visual journey of healing she reveals another insight. “pauseI am the Creator! I am not sure where that is coming from.”

The strength of the statement and how it is delivered tells me Ellen has touched on something significant for herself. “How are you the Creator, Ellen?” I ask.

She contemplates, “You know how when someone has a loss in their life they often become very busy trying to fill the hole? This is different.  It is me who is the creator of the child and that is not happening. I am shifting the creativity.  Taking the creative energy and changing it to a different form. I am the Creator , I just need to find a different expression for Creativity.”

The session continued as Ellen discovered and explored what creative expression meant for her.  Afterwards, I reflected on our time together and realized that I could relate to her experience.  I too have tried filling a hole. The inner void that gnaws at us while we try to fill it with external stuff: food, alcohol, work, TV. Often the hole is depthless and has the ability to deceive us into believing the more we do the greater the chance of filling the hole; a deception that is hard to move through. I am grateful to Ellen for showing me, with strength of character and grace, that when one’s hope or dream is shattered by uncontrollable circumstances, out of the ashes can arise life’s creative forces.

Posted by: Amy Hanson | August 31, 2011

The Grass is Always Greener…

When I moved into my house four years ago the lawn was impeccable. Each blade of grass tended: golf green rich and lush. There was not one intertwined weed, front nor back, it was “home and garden” perfect. Some would have envied the outcome of the hours of labor to attain such a masterpiece. I was tired of the relentless work it took to maintain and had little satisfaction with the result.
Where on Earth did this tradition of killing all the natural plants to be replaced by one form of greenery become an expectation for those of us who live in suburbia? A quick look in Wikipedia reveals that the “…lawn was a symbol of status of the aristocracy and gentry” in seventeenth century Britain. These lush green acreages were so labor intensive that no one but the rich could afford to maintain the luxury; everyone else was too busy growing fruits and vegetables for survival. So the drive to have the perfect lawn today is based on the idea, consciously or unconsciously, that if one has the time, money and ability to groom a lawn, it will display status of the upper class.
The second year in my house, I held fast to the tradition: I limed to get rid of the moss; I aerated and over seeded; I even spent considerable time manually removing the dandy lions. The outcome was not as ideal as when I moved in but, I had to admit, the lawn retained most of the aristocratic look of the year before. Was the work really worth my time?
I came to question the value of the manicured look. When the moss began to creep into the front yard, a little voice arose inside me. You see, I love moss. I love the looks, the feel and the smell of every kind of moss. Perhaps it comes from years of romping through the forest as a young child — rolling down moss covered hills; being silly as the soft, forgiving blanket of natural lichen broke the sporadic but eventual falls; and then getting up again, laughing as I morphed into a witch or sea hag with long strands of moss knitted into my hair.
I decided to refute the idea of a perfect lawn and let nature take its course. I felt at home with the diversity of moss that began to grow in my yard. I even transplanted a couple varieties from local forests. I invite other plants to grow and soon daisies covered parts of the back, interspersed with beautiful, tiny purple flowers I have yet to name. Buttercups now take a front row amongst the natural flora many people call weeds. I don’t water my lawn any longer. The natural species fair well through the summer heat and even if the dryness overcomes my verdant display I am content in knowing that, with the fall and winter rains, all will come back as nature intended.
So the idea, which started centuries ago and handed down through the generations, that a perfect lawn is a way to declare status ends in my yard. As my daughter and I roll and play with our dog on the moss and wild flower covered property, she learns to favor what naturally occurs. Sometimes I do mow the cacophony of plants that grow here because the left over grass needs a little trim but not nearly as often as I used to. More often I look forward to the day when moss and flowers completely take over and I am left with a luxurious bed to frolic in.

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