The year I turned 38 I made a big jump into the unknown. Leaving family, a marriage that hadn’t worked out, and a secure UN job in The Netherlands, I moved to Canada’s West Coast.
The first item I acquired within days of landing was a Focusing chair. (Here it sits, freshly re-upholstered but otherwise the same, supporting me as I write this story.) Wholebody Focusing had inspired many changes in the years leading up to the decision to move, and was a faithful companion through the inner and outer work of The Big Move.
One of the first Wholebody Focusing sessions with Kevin in my new place (by phone) I had a powerful experience of Grounded Presence. After the session I drew an image of how I felt my body from the inside as I sat in the Focusing chair, allowing my pelvis and back to feel fully supported. In the picture, my belly and chest and throat were a swirl of soft yellow and rosy-pink, with faint shades of green. I named the picture “Core”. “Core” was a visual representation of the warmth and goodness that I felt was at the centre of myself and every other living being. From the outside, I was a circumscribed form; from the inside, I was a space of feeling and swirling colour, seamlessly connected with the floor, the chair, the air and the rest of the room.
From a young age, I have always sensed and “known” that there was a basic goodness to life. Now I was able to consciously experience this!
Twelve years later, my life process has put down deep roots in the new land – Vancouver Island, where I live, and the arid grasslands of interior British Columbia where my husband Tom and I spend weeks camping every year. Wholebody Focusing remains my foundational practice, enriched by other approaches such as the Alexander Technique, Process Work (process-oriented psychology) and Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects. Equally important for me is connecting with Nature daily through hiking, paddling, birding and gardening. In fact, the Earth is a “third partner” in Tom’s and my relationship!
After making the “big jump across the pond” it feels very satisfying to stay put and travel mostly within the bioregion. Other than a couple of family visits back in the Old World, I no longer fly. I’ve finally got my feet on the ground and there they shall stay!
My work has also shifted. I work as a campaigner for an environmental group and I also have a private practice as a mediator. Wholebody Focusing for me is a key ingredient in sensing atmospheres and energies between people in conflict, and what the next step might be. It is equally important for environmental advocacy – especially for knowing when to be strong and vocal, or quiet and receptive.
I recently discovered an unexpected passion for experiencing architecture “from the inside”, the felt senses of mass and space, and different spatial arrangements. I have no training whatsoever in architecture or city planning, and discovered this by a synchronicity. Tom and I were house-hunting and a friend happened to mention a book by Christopher Alexander, The Pattern Language. I now enjoy attending to felt senses not only of buildings and streets (and yes, we did find a great place!) but also the “architecture” of Nature – how it feels to be in, walk toward or away from, groupings of trees, hillocks, rocky outcrops, dark and light places.
I have a Focusing partner for “regular” Focusing but would love to have a Wholebody Focusing partner. I find Kevin’s new work on “heartfelt conversation” immensely exciting and would love to have a partner to work and play with!