Who Am I – Unravelling Myself with Words

by Stefanie M Smith

Since I discovered the TLA Network and taken some classes I have begun to use journaling and creative writing more consistently, and one of the biggest issues that it is helping me to unpick is the jumbled knot within my mind shaped in part by the perennial question – Who Am I?

Like most people there have been many names, roles and titles that can, and have, been applied to me over the years, and like most people (I suspect) I have gotten tied up in knots over the presumptions and expectations titles can place on us or that they help us to place on ourselves. These expectations can have a big impact on our mental wellbeing.

In my professional life I have been many things: legal secretary, bank clerk, PA, project co-ordinator, nurse, hypnotherapist, reiki therapist, whilst in my personal life the various roles I experienced are sadly not all as positive and sometimes the edges between them blur a little too.

In my early life I was a great adventurer travelling with my father behind the Iron Curtain into the then Communist Czechoslovakia, and later to the Netherlands. Sadly my role of adventurer was to end when my father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, passing away when I was 10; the remainder of my childhood became unrecognisable as I became the daughter of an alcoholic mother and the victim of incestuous sexual abuse. I left home as soon as I could and rushed headlong away from this into becoming girlfriend, wife, mother, victim of psychological abuse which inevitably led to new roles: divorcee and depressive single mother.

Being the mother of two small children who needed me, I did what people do; I picked myself up and started again, trying to pretend this blip never happened, ignoring the push to look inwards and heal. I managed to keep my life on a very basic level: work, pay bills, feed the kids, repeat. I found a new partner and a new career, retraining as a nurse, and everything seemed to muddle along nicely.
Then I got ill.

Yet again I found myself grieving the loss of a career. One I truly loved and was heavily invested in. It was part of me I was part of it. I was a nurse but then suddenly I wasn’t. It was really difficult to separate the two and I found depression striking me down again, but this time my mental health issues came on top of my physical difficulties, lengthening my recovery considerably. Yet again I realise, in hindsight, that I had allowed the role of nurse to merge into my identity, if it was part of me rather than just something I did, how could I leave it behind?

So there I was aged 40 and living with fibromyalgia, a chronic health condition comprising elements of pain, fatigue and depression. At first I allowed myself to sink to new depths of despair, wondering what to do with my life, what had brought me to this point. I was initially ready to blame any external sources I could find. Then I realised I wanted out of those depths; despite several attempts at rising from the ashes with the help of my friends and partner, talking therapies and anti-depressants, I always had seemed to stumble back down at some point, never quite escaping the roles that seemed to taunt me; Victim, Failure.

I needed to find a new route, one I could walk by myself.

There are many theories behind the causes of Fibromyalgia but some recent studies seem to highlight a link to childhood trauma, which in my case could explain a lot. I hadn’t realised that by blocking out the traumatic events of my later childhood I had built a barrier in my mind that also blocked out earlier, presumably happier memories. I had cancelled out a large portion of my life; giving me very shaky foundations to build upon. It was what I had needed to do to survive at that time, but now I recognised that I needed to go back into my past root out and explore those traumas, finally laying them to rest in order that I could begin to move forwards.

When I first went in search of those memories all I found was a tangled mess of abuse, neglect and trauma. Slowly though, with the support of my partner and by working through some TLAN classes I managed to begin to unravel some of the snarled up threads, gaining glimpses of new memories, insights into my story, and the more I explore, the more I see. I had rediscovered my love of writing and I realised it was providing me with a coping mechanism, and helping me to finally reject the roles of Victim and Failure. I had unintentionally discovered the growing field looking at the therapeutic benefits of writing.

And now: I journal; when I get upset, I unravel my emotions in words; I recall some small snippet – I jot it down; I read my words back, I write poetry; if I get stuck, I journal about being stuck ……. and so it goes on, each word written, either on its own or in conjunction with many, uncovers another piece of my mystery. So for me journaling has most definitely been the way forward in discovering Who I Am.

Editor’s note: This is Stefanie’s third blog post in fulfillment of her Transformational Language Arts Certificate.

stefanieStefanie M Smith, is a 47 year old former nurse and qualified hypnotherapist who has lived in Lincolnshire, UK, since childhood. Unfortunately in 2009 her health took a nosedive, and she now deals with fibromyalgia, depression and other chronic health conditions on a daily basis. During this enforced rest period, Stefanie has been able to re-ignite her love of the written word, especially poetry and will shortly having a selection of her poems published in an anthology. Having noticed a marked benefit to her health through her own writing practice, Stefanie is now re-training in the therapeutic and transformational uses of language with the aim of sharing this phenomenal tool with others.

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Right Livelihood: In Search of Runes-Part 5

by Carol Thompson

Editor’s note: This is the final post of an ongoing, 5 part blog chronicling the author’s journey with TLA.

What if nobody shows up?

My quest for finding Right Livelihood is currently split into two directions – one part of me wants to become a Rune Master and Teacher, and another part is a propagator and designer of miniature potted succulent gardens. Tomorrow night I’m having a “Trunk Show” highlighting my plants, and I’m also selling a wide array of my artistic wares – painted rocks and wooden bowls, photo greeting cards and essential oil infusion stones. I’m hoping to recoup some of the investment I have made in soil, plants, pots and fertilizer and the many, many hours that have been consumed by my labor of love of gardening.

Between my living room and the back deck, I’ve counted 88 different potted combinations of wee desert plants, some ready to flower, some covered with sharp needles that I have trimmed with scissors. Some are short and fat and others look like trees from an ancient African forest. I’ve sent out notification on Facebook and created an event on my own FB page, the “Weekend Workshop Club”. Several hundred people have seen the invitation, the photos, the note that if they buy a wee garden, they will also receive a vial of concentrated liquid fertilizer and instructions on how to keep their new babies happy. No confirmed “I’m coming/not coming” responses yet, a couple of maybes and several verbal probablys, but I’m not worried.

I’ve gone to great efforts to make this a delightful evening. I’m providing “light refreshments”, “nibbles”, a box of red and a box of white, iced tea, and homemade ginger cookies. I’m ready, prepared and bubbling with enthusiasm. The yellow brick road leading me towards Right Livelihood will be open to the public tomorrow night.

My daughter stops by to see how I’m doing, and after checking out the scene, she asks, “but what happens if nobody comes?” The question hits me like a brick. I had never even remotely imagined that this was a possibility. What if the future held a complete surprise? What if nobody shows up and I don’t sell a single plant? What if, on Saturday morning, I still have 88 pots of succulents?

I felt the full brunt of the force as it knocked my equilibrium off of center. The Power of Words was the bull in the china closet and I found myself stammering and trying to convince my daughter (and myself) that I love what I’m doing, people are busy and don’t always RSVP, and all of that time and money was an investment in my self – my creativity, my artistic spirit, my sense of beauty and design. And even though I was now a bit of a cowering, defensive wreck, I knew, deep down inside, that these beautiful, healthy, colorful, multi-faceted plants were an extension of who I am. It didn’t really matter if nobody came. I would survive and so would my dreams.

Three people came, two plants and a beautifully painted rock went to new homes, and the next day five other folks called to say they were planning to come but couldn’t make it. So, I considered the night a success and chalked the low attendance up to “life happens whether you show up or not”. I fulfilled my goal of curating the show and felt great because I did something that expanded the “me” that loves dirt and plants and spending time outside in the fresh air. I’ll have plenty of chances in the future to carry on and fill up that cookie jar with cash and checks. This was just another chapter in the story of my life.

So, back to the Right Livelihood and my experiences of the past two years as I have made my way through the Transformative Language Arts Certificate. I’ve met and chatted with many wonderful people, added tools to my toolbox, filled multiple pages in my journal, written poetry, explored my options and looked at the possibilities that will unravel from the giant ball of yarn that is still rolling ahead of me. There is motion and potential and I can see that I’m making progress. I’m getting closer to my goal of becoming.

I wanted to leave this blog with some words of wisdom, some evidence to the lights that have been fired up because of the many classes I participated in during the past two years. I dug out all of my folders and notebooks and print-outs and there was one workshop facilitator, Doug Lipman, who seemed to stand out above the rest. I ended up enjoying two of his classes during the time I was working on my certificate. When I first met Doug at the Power of Words Conference in Saco, Maine on August 13, 2016 he was teaching a workshop called “The Values of the Future, Through Story Telling”. It was during this time that I realized that my time spent working with runes not only contained the roots of my hope that I could transform my “hobby” into a Right Livelihood, but in actuality, working with runes was a form of storytelling. This realization changed my approach to how I described my “work”. It wasn’t all about clarity, focus, memories and self-awareness, it was about finding the unique fabric that dressed one’s life, gathering up the squares and sewing them together so they could become the crazy quilt representing the multi-facets of who we are. It was all about the story.

Doug’s workshop explained how to embed values into the process of storytelling. There were eight values that fell into two groups: Group A was the Primacy of Connection, and Group B was Respect for Our Amazing Minds. I just loved boiling down all of my Runic hopes and dreams and was able to see that these two factors were like my own security blanket. I was the one who needed connection and affirmation – this was exactly what I was looking for. I felt warmed to the core.

So I venture forth, one step at a time, one plant at a time, one rune stone at a time. I am confident with knowing that no matter what does or doesn’t happen, what evolves or simply sits still, all I have to do is show up.

Carol ThompsonCarol Thompson moved from the Mad River Valley in Vermont to Benicia, California on Christmas Day, 2014, in order to be close to the marina where her first grandchild and his family live on a 41′ sailboat.  A life-long learner, Carol has a BS in General Studies and holds certificates in Counseling & Human Relations, Non-Profit Management and will soon be certified in Introductory Transformative Language Arts.    Two of her main interests are the study of Runes  and the creation of beautiful miniature succulent gardens.   She has taught Introduction to Runes classes in Vermont, California and New Zealand.  A DNA test confirmed her Scandinavian ancestry.

Upcoming Class: Values of the Future Through Transformative Language Arts with Doug Lipman

Doug Lipman will be facilitating the upcoming online class, Values of the Future Through Transformative Language Arts beginning May 16th!

Doug is an incredible storyteller and facilitator and we are so excited to have him teach this class! Watch one of his terrific performances here:

About the class:

Our current economic, political, and social systems are serving fewer and fewer people, not to mention destroying the environment.

I don’t know what a future society will look like, but if it is to meet our human needs better than our current society does, I believe it needs to be formed with certain values in mind.

Fortunately, these values can be taught, not just through stories, songs, dances, and poems about the values, but also through the very processes of telling or creating stories, singing or creating songs, and so on. In other words, our artistic processes themselves can give people experiences that open them to values that are necessary for an improved society.

In this 6-week course, I’ll briefly lay out a theory of how values can be influenced, as well as the eight values I’ve chosen as “values of a future society.” I’ll introduce the values one at a time and give examples of processes from storytelling that support each value. Then I’ll help you identify and/or create processes that can give others experiences of each value, from your particular type of transformational language work.

Key to this course is inspiring each other to notice the transformative power of the creative processes. Together, we’ll engage in building an enlarging web of activities that can help people align themselves with currents that, I believe, will help move us toward a more just, supportive, and enlightened society.

Who should take this class:

Storytellers, fiction writers, narrative poets, songwriters, improvisational singers, dramatists, etc. – all who use language to help people imagine or convey their experience – especially those interested in teaching their art or discipline with an eye toward promoting generative values.

The course will be most helpful to those with enough experience in their work to have already developed some processes for doing and/or teaching their art/discipline. I define transformative language arts broadly. If you think your work might belong here, it likely does!

Register for this class!

About Doug Lipman:

In 1970, Doug Lipman was a struggling teacher of troubled adolescents. He had given up connecting with them when one day, by accident, he found himelf telling them a story. They responded! Ever since, he has pursued the transformative power of storytelling.

Over the decades, Doug has coached hundreds of people on their storytelling, writing, and recordings. He is the author of three books on storytelling (Improving Your Storytelling, The Storytelling Coach, and Storytelling Games), scores of published articles, and over 150 issues of his own email newsletters, including “eTips from the Storytelling Coach (http://StorytellingNewsletters.com).

A professional storyteller since 1976, Doug has performed and led workshops on three continents and led many online courses and webinars. His ongoing search for effective ways to teach the transformative power of storytelling has led to projects such as a new paradigm for coaching storytellers, an exploration of the seldom-noticed Hidden Storytelling Skills, and the pursuit of ways that storytelling and related arts can allow our true humanity to blossom.

Right Livelihood: In Search of Runes-Part 4

by Carol Thompson

Editor’s note: This is part 4 of an ongoing, 5 part blog chronicling the author’s journey with TLA.

Why me?

My family of origin was a quiet one. An average dinner meal looked like this: My father sat at one end of the table with my mother at the other end. My sister, Susan (one year older than me) and I sat on one side and brother Jon (5 years younger) was across from us. The meal was usually tasteless and dull, meatloaf, instant white rice and mushy vegetables from a can (remember the mix of lima beans, corn, green beans and little pieces of red pimento that nobody ever ate?). There was no lively chatter, no “how was your day?” recap, and if anyone did speak during the meal (…finish your milk, stop kicking your sister, what’s for dessert?…), my father would get mad (blow up) and some sort of chaos ensued.

It took many years of investigating the lives of my family, my parents and my grandparents before I became fully aware of why silence was preferable to bringing up any subject that could even be remotely construed as painful. Between some of the most horrific events that could befall a human being (the death of my father’s mother in childbirth, a suicide, the family secret of incest, untreated PTSD from fighting the Japs in the South Pacific, mental illness treated with electro-shock therapy, Parkinson’s Disease and kidney failure, it seemed like there just wasn’t any uplifting conversation that could bring joy to the dinner table. So, we just ate, drank and politely asked whether we could be excused.

I eventually learned to talk on my own and through the aid of teachers, friends, associates at work and an occasional therapist. I was an avid reader and writer of journals. By the time I was “grown up”, I found education held the key to finding out about words and how best to use them. One of the most valuable lessons that I learned from my parents was “how not to be”. Thankfully, I was blessed with a great sense of humor, a limitless imagination and the courage to try just about anything.

During the summer of 2016, I was living in California, part way through my Transformative Language Arts certificate program. In order to complete my studies, I needed to attend one conference and saw that the yearly Power of Words event was being held at Ferry Beach Park in Saco, Maine. My parents lived in Saco for 20 years (moving there after I left home in 1969), and they were both buried in the big cemetery at the center of town. I hadn’t visited their graves in a long time, so this seemed to be one good incentive to make a cross-country trip and attend the conference!

By this time I had already become invested in studying runes and was hoping to find a way to transform my “hobby” into a “profession”, so the workshops I attended had a lot to do with paving the driveway toward my future goal of finding “Right Livelihood”. I learned about “Laughter, Breath and Joy: Communal Communication”, “Your Livelihood is a Road Trip, Your Life Is the Terrain”, and, “The Values of the Future Through Storytelling”, facilitated by Doug Lipman. It was during Doug’s workshop that I found a great metaphoric vision for one of the key parts of my runic education – the Rubber Duckie Race – and how it could be used as a tool for storytelling.

The Rubber Duckie Race is used as a fundraising event where people pay money and are given temporary custody of a cute little yellow rubber duck. The race is held in a flowing river where all of the ducks are held captive behind a floating barrier. There are hundreds of identical ducks, with their unique number painted on their bottoms, crowded together, bumping each other gently, some facing forward and some backwards, waiting for the starting gun to fire. The future is filled with dangers: rapids, rocks, shallows, widow-maker tree limbs, sandbars, traffic jams, and swirling eddies, and when the barrier goes up, it’s the luck of the draw and the survival of the fastest as a stampede of floating little yellow bodies surges forward from the starting gate.

The spectators on the shoreline can participate in the race in several ways: they can hoot and holler, they can jump in the water and create waves to help break up a log-jam, and they can even blow on a duck in the hope of changing its speed or direction. But, and the rules are firm on this matter, they can never pick up or ever touch a duck.

And it was those rules that helped me with looking at my Rune Mastery in a different way. Doug said that physically touching, or externally directing someone’s values (their space) was against the rules. I was glad to see a definitive rule, and saw how I needed to avoid a direct, hands-on approach. I could see how making waves could eventually influence one’s direction, perhaps imperceptibly at first. By simply being a participant, by listening to someone else’s story, I am “blowing on” their values and experiences, subtly reinforcing certain values and increasing the likelihood that those values will move in a particular direction. Over time I could change the course of a whole fleet of ducks.

After the conference was over and my mind had absorbed a richness of knowledge, after I stopped by and paid a visit to my parents, and once I had a chance to pull together all of the new information that would carry me on to my next incarnation, I was glad that the runes had chosen me, and felt my calling stronger than ever.

Carol ThompsonCarol Thompson moved from the Mad River Valley in Vermont to Benicia, California on Christmas Day, 2014, in order to be close to the marina where her first grandchild and his family live on a 41′ sailboat.  A life-long learner, Carol has a BS in General Studies and holds certificates in Counseling & Human Relations, Non-Profit Management and will soon be certified in Introductory Transformative Language Arts.    Two of her main interests are the study of Runes  and the creation of beautiful miniature succulent gardens.   She has taught Introduction to Runes classes in Vermont, California and New Zealand.  A DNA test confirmed her Scandinavian ancestry.

Transformative Storytelling For Social Change

Transformative Storytelling For Social Change is an organization that creates digital stories to help create social transformation. Their mission and process is fascinating and I highly recommend checking them out!

“Individual stories have certain strengths—they connect the audience through personal experience.  A limitation of individual stories is that they do not always explain the particular context of the story, or situate the stories in relation to wider political issues.  Collective storytelling often does not have the same emotional resonance found in individual stories, but it is a very good format for situating questions and problems in relation to a context.  Collective storytelling can include elements of individual stories, but can also directly address overarching themes and questions.

Digital stories can be used as a springboard for a participatory video process, and as a way of moving from very personal, individual work, towards a group storytelling project. Central to this shift is a process of reflection and analysis of digital stories by the storytellers themselves.”

Watch Throwing a Rock at the Moon a documentary of this integrated visual storytelling process using visual power analysis:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/81848477″>IDS THROWING A ROCK AT THE MOON</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/mdpinicijative”>MDP Inicijative Doboj</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Right Livelihood: In Search of Runes-Part 3

by Carol Thompson

Editor’s note: This is part 3 of an ongoing, 5 part blog chronicling the author’s journey with TLA.

Shall I become a Rune Master?

During the years that included marriage/children/divorce/single parenthood and my first explorations into runes I was content in my log cabin at the foot of the mountain on the far end of a long dirt road. We had limited, dial-up internet at the time, and I was not subscribed to a cable TV network, so most of my worldly news came through the Times-Argus, our local paper. One day I saw an ad for a “Power of Words” conference at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, and since I was only living an hour from the campus, I called a friend who lived near Goddard to see if she had a spare bed for the weekend. When she said “Yes”, I signed up for the three-day event. The first night’s keynote speaker brought me face-to-face with Julia Alvarez, a favorite author of mine. I just did a quick google search of Julia and read through her bio. I was not surprised to see that one of her personal realizations was: “Since ours was an oral culture, stories were not written down. It took coming to this country for reading and writing to become allied in my mind with storytelling.” These words would ring true for me many years later.

In my continuous, frequently frustrating, sometimes delightful search to answer the question of “What do I want to be when I grow up?” I noticed that so many of my interests involved nature. I was a kayaking teacher in the summer, and led snowshoe expeditions at a local ski area in the winter. I volunteered for a program called ELF (Environmental Learning for the Future) at my children’s elementary school. I had been a self-taught animal tracker for years and was an active member of a local organization called “Keeping Track”. The director’s name was Susan Morse, and oddly enough, that was also my sister’s name. Her middle name was Carol, so we bonded and I became one of her most devoted followers.

Under Sue’s tutelage I learned about trees, plants, water sources and wetlands, connectivity of habitat, behavior, seasonal differences, social and privacy needs. Her favorite critter was the bobcat, an elusive, solitary, nocturnal predator who was on the “protected” list. When we were out on a tracking expedition in search of the wily feline, we looked at scat (poop) and could tell what the hungry omnivore had been eating (birds, rodents, deer, berries, eggs). If it was a particularly lean year, domestic cats or small dogs might be on the menu as well. Since my involvement with Keeping Track, I can’t pass by a pile of poop without checking it for content (hair, feathers, bones, berries), and whenever I find some mud and see a clear foot print I check to see if it is cat (one leading toe with no toenail indentations) or dog (4 toenail marks). So, the world of nature has been a familiar one for me and when I first found out about runes, I was able to identify with much of the language that was being used to describe each individual symbol.

Wild animals have many ways of communicating – bears rub up against the rough bark of red pine trees to leave hair behind and dogs and their relatives leave their personal calling-card’s scent of pee just about everywhere. Only humans have developed meaningful symbols to pass on detailed information. Over a thousand years ago, during the time of the Vikings and the meandering Nordic tribes in Scandinavia, the first runic marks were found on sticks, bones and rocks. Because there was no written language at the time, all of the knowledge surrounding the use of runes continued on through word of mouth. Just like the whispering game where people sit in a circle and repeat a phrase received in one ear and passed to the next person, the final combination of words didn’t always end up identical to what was originally spoken. The same was true with runes – the interpretation was not “set in stone”, so to speak. There was fluidity, nuance and similarity, one locale’s version and another’s explanation. But ultimately, the bridge of connecting threads was woven together by the spoken word, the communication and connection with an other, and the personal awareness of relativity to one’s own experience.

Runes were useful tools for initiating dialogue, investigating options, delving into past experiences and narrowing down choices. They were a means, but not an end. Somehow, years ago, the elements came together in my constellation and I felt the calling to runes.

I just had to figure out a way to take my skills and my knowledge and transform them into a profession…

Carol ThompsonCarol Thompson moved from the Mad River Valley in Vermont to Benicia, California on Christmas Day, 2014, in order to be close to the marina where her first grandchild and his family live on a 41′ sailboat.  A life-long learner, Carol has a BS in General Studies and holds certificates in Counseling & Human Relations, Non-Profit Management and will soon be certified in Introductory Transformative Language Arts.    Two of her main interests are the study of Runes  and the creation of beautiful miniature succulent gardens.   She has taught Introduction to Runes classes in Vermont, California and New Zealand.  A DNA test confirmed her Scandinavian ancestry.

Right Livelihood – In Search of Runes: Part 2

by Carol Thompson

Editor’s note: This is part 2 of an ongoing, 5 part blog chronicling the author’s journey with TLA.

What shall I be when I grow up?

I am 66 years old and still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. One of the main reasons I decided to jump into the Transformative Language Arts program was because the Power of Words has always held great importance to me. I have stacks and stacks of journals safely stored in a couple of boxes in my sister-in-law’s attic in Vermont. When I decided to sell most of my worldly belongings and move to California several years ago, my journals were in the small “must keep” pile. I am hoping to re-visit them some day and write a memoir about the forty-plus years that I lived in the Mad River Valley, a small community of 2500 rugged souls, revisiting the homes I built, renovated, owned or rented, my jobs and the people who became my friends and work-mates, the close relationships I experienced with people (many of them long gone), and the wonderful (and frequently challenging) times spent raising my two daughters, primarily as a single parent.

I believe that if there is ever a “who has had the most jobs” contest, I would be high on the list. I’ve worked for architects, cross country ski centers, caterers, solar power fabricators, Habitat for Humanity and the National Wildlife Federation. I’ve been a house painter, office manager of a small construction company (24 years!), a census taker, bread baker, sign maker, greenhouse laborer and a short-order cook at a ski area. I was the head employee for a kids’ kayak camp, the executive director of a non-profit recreational trails association and the Naturalist Program’s Winter Snowshoe Outings director. I started three different businesses: Valley Community Camp (summer camp), Renewal School (classes in personal growth) and Out Back Tracks (snowshoe/animal tracking outings). I am currently in the process of starting one more new enterprise, called Sticks and Stones. This is the one that will be taking my TLA knowledge and practice and transforming it into my next, newest profession as I become Rune Master, a Teacher of Runes. My study of Runes is a perfect tool for discovering Right Livelihood, and will prove to be a creative means of making a living as well as creating a life and assisting others in their similar quests.

For those of you who do not know about runes, I invite you to google the word and you will come up with a wealth of information. The study of runes has been a continuing project of mine for over twenty years, and their key component is the Power of Words. As I worked my way through the different workshops in the past two years, the final class was actually the first one that most people start with – the Foundations Course – focusing on TLA: in Service, as a Catalyst, as a Right Livelihood, and as a way to put teachings into Action. I found myself appreciating the focus of this class more as a summary and collecting vessel than as a beginning. Each topic of this class provided me with great relevancy as I revisited notes from my other three classes and the one conference as the meat of my education and the Foundations class seemed to be the frosting that provided the skills to put my Plans and Visions into action.

All of my Foundations classes included lively discussions, written and via group chats. I found that one of the most important pieces of these discussions was the establishment of “Ground Rules”. Since my new profession does not include a guide book, I appreciated the rules and will keep them in mind when working with new clients and new groups. When I meet someone for the first time, I will be able to witness them and listen carefully with my full attention. I can assure them that whatever happens during our interaction, they can trust that I will maintain confidentiality and allow them the freedom to experiment with options and interpretations when possible. I have integrated these important words of wisdom into my introduction: “I am not a therapist and sometimes the nature of personal work can open wounds. Please let me know if you would like to contact a professional to turn to if needed.”

One of my personal introductory papers states: “At a time when the written language was used by only a few, runes represented a way to share information verbally and visually. Used as a tool for clarification and illumination, one’s personal story will be brought to light while navigating the path of the runes.” Everyone is different and no two stories are ever the same.

The study and practice of runes combines two main components: Story Telling and Listening. Human relationships depend on the connections that create society and knowing how to interpret the symbols on runic stones is one tool that provides a key that can open the door to self-discovery.

Carol ThompsonCarol Thompson moved from the Mad River Valley in Vermont to Benicia, California on Christmas Day, 2014, in order to be close to the marina where her first grandchild and his family live on a 41′ sailboat.    A life-long learner, Carol has a BS in General Studies and holds certificates in Counseling & Human Relations, Non-Profit Management and will soon be certified in Introductory Transformative Language Arts.    Two of her main interests are the study of Runes  and the creation of beautiful miniature succulent gardens.   She has taught Introduction to Runes classes in Vermont, California and New Zealand.  A DNA test confirmed her Scandinavian ancestry.

Right Livelihood – In Search of Runes: Part 1

by Carol Thompson

Editor’s note: This is part 1 of an ongoing, 5 part blog chronicling the author’s journey with TLA.

I began my voyage towards a “Transformative Language Arts Foundations Certification” two years and two months ago. I needed a new start, a new direction and a new focus, so I signed up for classes that provided me with the tools to Gather Courage, the keys to the Values of the Future, and the skills to figure out how to Change the World with Words. Today, as I look toward my next evolution and see where I am as a result of my history with TLA, I do so with a sense of sadness, liberally sprinkled with pride, as the finality of an ending begets the excitement of a new beginning. The past two years have brought about a huge change in my life, a change that continues to amaze and astound me. I have been given the opportunity to re-create myself once again.

When I first put together my TLA Network Profile I listed my profession as “Granny-nanny” and this was my short Bio:

“I just made the decision to quit my job, sell my house and all of my belongings, retire and move from Vermont to the Bay area in California to be near my new and first grandson, Dylan, and his family (they live on a 41′ sailboat!). I LOVE California, but miss Vermont and my friends and expect to return to the Mad River Valley some day.”

My profile picture showed me on the sidewalk in front of the sweet, affordable ($1000.00/month), 740 square foot, one bedroom, one bath cream-colored stucco apartment that was my first home in 42 years not situated in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Located two blocks from my beloved Dylan, I was able to walk to the marina in 8 minutes. I’m standing in front of my new-to-me bright red Prius named Ruby Begonia with my new-to-me electric yellow 16’ long Eddyline Nighthawk sea kayak proudly perched on top. Life was good. I was living the dream (California, right?) with a car that could zip me around town getting 50 miles per gallon and my fantasy boat that could provide unlimited adventures around the San Francisco Bay.

Two years later, Dylan is now the toddler with a “never take no for an answer” attitude (remember the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Toons?), the Prius is history (kept having battery problems) and I traded it in for a dependable slate blue-grey Corolla, the sea kayak is gone (found a shorter, fatter, more kid-friendly model at REI) and the one-bedroom is now a two-bedroom ($1800.00/month) on the other side of town (long story…). I rarely get to San Francisco because the traffic is horrific, and I sold the building lot in Vermont that I hoped to put a tiny home on some day, but, I’m still standing, thank you, Elton John:

“Don’t you know that I’m still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
And I’m still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind.”

To be continued!

 

Carol ThompsonCarol Thompson moved from the Mad River Valley in Vermont to Benicia, California on Christmas Day, 2014, in order to be close to the marina where her first grandchild and his family live on a 41′ sailboat.  A life-long learner, Carol has a BS in General Studies and holds certificates in Counseling & Human Relations, Non-Profit Management and will soon be certified in Introductory Transformative Language Arts.    Two of her main interests are the study of Runes  and the creation of beautiful miniature succulent gardens.   She has taught Introduction to Runes classes in Vermont, California and New Zealand.  A DNA test confirmed her Scandinavian ancestry.

Stories with Spirit: Regi Carpenter

Regi Carpenter will be teaching the upcoming online class, Stories with Spirit: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice beginning April 4th.

About the Class:

“At the heart of one’s creativity lies a desire to explore and express the exquisite power of the present experience, feeling, sensation and belief. This class will focus on strengthening and recognizing the intuitive sense of the creative process without judgment or restriction. We’ll play with writing meditations, reflections, and written and spoken word pieces that gently guide us to who we are now, in this moment.

Through writing meditations, personal reflections, readings, videos and on-line shared discussions, we will explore how our creativity brings us into the present by bearing witness to the sacred within one another, the world and ourselves.

We’ll focus on the use of images, metaphors, ritual, voice, and a variety of writing structures to create vivid pieces in and outside of class. Beginning and experienced writers in any genre are welcome!”  

Regi is a phenomenal storyteller whose captivating presence can be felt in this powerful TEDx presentation:

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to connect to the soul of your creativity with an incredible facilitator guiding the way!

Register here

About Regi:

For over twenty years Regi Carpenter has been bringing songs and stories to audiences of all ages throughout the world in school, theaters, libraries, at festivals, conferences and in people’s back yards. An award winning performer, Regi has toured her solo shows and workshops in theaters, festivals and schools, nationally and internationally.

Regi is the youngest daughter in a family that pulsates with contradictions: religious and raucous, tender but terrible, unfortunate yet irrepressible. These tales celebrate the glorious and gut – wrenching lives of four generations of Carpenter s raised on the Saint Lawrence River in Clayton, New York. Tales of underwater tea parties, drowning lessons and drives to the dump give voice to multi-generations of family life in a small river town with an undercurrent.