On the Importance of Storytelling in a STEM-Centric World

This blog is the public place where I explore relationships between my feelings and my thoughts and between others and myself/Self.  My last blog was about the relationship between my husband, and, by extension, many other enthusiasts, and the game of American football.  Why I feel the need to discover the relationships between my feelings and thoughts is directly related to one of this website’s purposes: Inviting visitors to learn about how including the body in our storytelling supports our healing desires and intentions.

Because I learned the importance of storytelling as a child and solidified the conviction of storytelling’s value as an impressionable teen, I have been “in relationship” with story’s gifts and challenges for seven decades.  Not a day goes by that I do not seek the vital healing power of stories told by people I know as well as people I will never meet.  I have this story-seeking impulse because of a seven-month caged quarantine when I was two, an isolating experience that left me without the sense of belonging everyone needs in order to thrive as confident and joyful creatures. I tell the story of my quest to heal from this experience in Once Upon a Body: Creating Meaning, Peace, and Joy after Early Trauma.

Ending the isolation that is the legacy of traumas early and late, common and uncommon, is the main purpose of this website and my work in the world.  Learning through story that we are more like other people than different is the key to healing.  Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are a storytelling means of body inclusion to dispel feelings of isolation by first compassionately reuniting an individual’s body/mind/heart/spirit and then connecting the individual with others’ experiences of isolation and suffering through empathy.  The process of gentle and gradual individual healing supported by consistent use of EFT leads to important family and social reconnections and, ultimately, to a growing sense of belonging within the vast human and greater-than-human family.

Storytelling’s power is rare and growing rarer because we have created a culture that values scientific evidence – isolated pieces of information rather than complete stories – as the most important validator of knowledge.  Our current funding of STEM courses – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – at the expense of what we call the Liberal Arts is happening at every level of formal education.  Libraries are replaced by video arcades, human creativity by Artificial Intelligence bots, and the Arts by “practical” courses leading to technologically dependent jobs.

And yet we need both science and the arts as sources of knowledge if we are to navigate the world wisely and compassionately.  Actual bridges constructed by engineers and mathematicians are vital, but so are the metaphoric bridges we learn from prose, dramas, poetry, and the “softer” sciences of sociology and anthropology.  Without these metaphoric bridges, traumatic isolation becomes the norm, something we experience with horror as we read of yet another war crime, mass shooting, insult-driven political power-play, and environmental loss directly related to human, technologically-driven activity. Oil spills from ruptured pipelines and tankers are just one piece of grisly evidence proving our shrinking ability to imagine the harm we are doing to our Earth Home.

What’s the remedy?  Read a story like this essay, one that emphasizes our connection to one another and our shared planet.  Tell a story that makes you smile, makes you weep, makes you take courage.  Find a story you want to share, or summon the courage to tell your own story, not as an accusation, proof of rightness, or statement of victimization, but as quest for meaning, for peace, for connection.  When we are isolated by our physical challenges and emotional traumas, darkness falls; when we tell the story of our isolation in order to explore and share our suffering, the very act of telling illuminates our connections to others.

May we value the physical bridges as well as the storytelling bridges connecting us one to another.   We need more and more light in these dark times.  Our stories – when told with the intention to repair and to connect – hold light and spread light. When we hear and tell these stories, we hold and spread their light, making it our own.

If you can, take action to form or join a storytelling community.  Visit a library to find a storytelling group formed to explore the experiences that have separated you from others.  Join a Twelve-Step Group to connect with others who understand your personal experiences of isolation and suffering. Write a letter to the editor of a local paper to express your desire to find local communities of healing thought and action. And when words fail, dance to express your feelings and your thoughts.  The body, the ultimate story authority on what connects and what isolates, will faithfully guide us into greater connection when we attend to our physical sensations of loss and yearnings for that sense of belonging lost to trauma. On the journey to connections with others, sing your woes and triumphs in the shower.  Your expressions of sorrow and joy will renew your energies and support your growing feelings of well being.

Whatever we choose as our main source of storytelling and story-listening, we become involved in creating a different story, the story of belonging.  And when we rediscover our sense of belonging, we participate in creating the shared story of maturing into a loving and responsible version of humankind.  In this revised story, we care for our embodied selves, all our fellow creatures, and our planet.

Which ever part of this inclusive story we make our own, it will enliven our days and nights with the deep sense of belonging that makes our time on Earth the profoundest of gifts.  May you discover this gift.  May it bless you daily.

Until next time


Sacred Time, Sacred Space, and Football

Recently, I’ve been researching what makes folks happy in the midst of life’s challenges.  Because my husband, Lynn, is in his eighties and still working as a maker of beautiful objects, he became my perfect case study.  His creative work makes him happy, but some days are tough because he must invent new ways of accomplishing what seems to be the impossible.  During football season, he finds a restorative source of happiness sitting on the sofa watching the skill, teamwork, and fan frenzy that is American football. This past season was no exception, and because of his interest in the games and final 2023 Super Bowl contest, I had an in-depth experience of the value of this sport to a person who never played the game but still appreciates its artfulness.

Coming from an all female household in which games of all kinds were associated with vacations, I have been fascinated by my husband’s interest in and affection for this physically demanding sport. A visual artist and spatial genius, magnificent forms appear, seemingly effortlessly, when he works.  He cooks, too, artfully and inventively, and makes clothes and hats, rattles and drums and labyrinths, all without patterns.  When he built a non-linear house for folks with whom we’ve become lifelong friends, he did so through creative problem solving in the moment of hearing what this family wanted.  He creates and teaches dances, as well, and for more than twenty years we’ve had the deep and wide pleasure of teaching dance together.  If all of these interests create a picture of a man more like a jazz musician than a football player, then I’ve described him well.

Even though I do my best to avoid stereotyping people, I confess I’d be surprised to discover Travis Kelce taking ballet lessons, or teaching them.  It’s not that big men can’t dance; his magnificent choreography with Patrick Mahomes this season enthralled football’s millions of fans, regardless of first loyalties.  Of course big men can dance.  It’s just that watching Patrick and Travis during the season and the 2023 Super Bowl made clear that both men use their strength and grace for creating stunning football plays.  Surprise is what I used to feel when I witnessed my artistic husband’s interest in watching what at first appeared to me to be more like gladiatorial combat than the artful beauty of a game well played.

What I came to understand over the course of our two decades together is that the solitary artist in Lynn – whose name means deep waters – craves the community that football provides its spectators and its players.  Research on team sports, on military units, on firefighters, and on ensemble artistic troupes explores the sense of belonging and comfort such memberships provide.  The recent box office success of The Woman King, a story about finding strength and meaning through inclusion in a group, suggests how collectively hungry we are for examples of connection, support, and the vision that makes justice and freedom possible. Whatever our race or gender identifications, Viola Davis in her role as Nanisca inspires the courage and dedication we need to build humane and loving communities of support in spite of the larger unjust and predatory cultures we all share.

As a solitary artist, both by choice and by sensibility, Lynn spends his work days alone, in silence, cultivating his creative responses to the various tasks that come to hand.  His Sunday adventures experiencing football through the magic of mirror neurons provide the deep peace that comes with sitting in a crowd focused on One Thing. Such focused attention is a source of peace in and of itself, because it calms the nervous system and engages both hemispheres of the brain. Perhaps because focusing on football plays provides a sense of common humanity, of human endurance and skill, and of life threatening dangers even during the best of times, just as The Woman King does, watching a game becomes a holistic, even holy, experience for many fans.

When Lynn and I facilitate dances together, we are aware of the sacred space we create with dance’s wordless prayers.  This sacred space is experienced as a timeless moment that leaves participants feeling connected to the joys of community and deep, somatic peace. Whether people gather to watch a film together, quilt together, dance together, or play football together, we are relieving the isolation that can descend whether we live and work alone or not. This relief is no small thing, since feelings of isolation when ignored or denied lead to the despair that triggers violence against self and others.

I am very grateful for the perspective shifts I’ve experienced because Lynn watches football.  I’ve come to admire the relationships of coaches to teams, of players to players, of games to fields and fans.  Of course I understand that the game has been taken over by corporations and that corporate commercialism is fueling the over consumption that leads social inequities and environmental degradation.  Still, most of the human beings enjoying the sport remain appreciative of the game’s required individual and team endurance, strategy, grace, and skill.  Players often express their gratitude to the community of enthusiasts who brave the rain and the snow and the heat, to say nothing of the deafening bellows of joy and agony, to watch a favoured team work its magic.

During this 2023 season, after catching snippets or entire games, I deepened my appreciation of football.  As I reflected on the outpouring of grief and hope inspired by Damar Hamlin’s shocking collapse on the field, I began to see the game in a new light. For many players, coaches, and their fans, football has become a deeply important, even blissful ritual.  For these committed participants, the game becomes a doorway into sacred time and sacred space, that ephemeral place of deep joy and reverence, infinitely more precious because the moments, the games, and the seasons do not last.

I’m thankful to have witnessed football’s ability to inspire feelings of connection and joy, those bliss-filled experiences Abraham Maslow described as “Peak.” Feeling connected to self and others despite life’s inevitable tragedies provides hope and healing for body and spirit.  In the end, it isn’t so much the winning or losing.  It’s about being present, with others, and feeling the connection Presence inspires.

Until next time


Water, Walking, and Writing: Self Care for Life’s Active Participants

Recently, while meeting the requirements for my continued accreditation and certification with EFT International, I was struck by the stress levels I shared with the other participants.  Although we are committed to serving others through the best practices that have been evolving over decades in EFT communities, one crucial habit is less well established:  using these amazing techniques on our own challenges, including the stress overload that can result in poor boundaries, over booking clients and classes, and discounting our own needs for regular self-care.

Continue reading Water, Walking, and Writing: Self Care for Life’s Active Participants

NO MORE! The Religiously Motivated Decisions of Patriarchy & the Infantilization of Girls & Women

In my seventies now, I remember the joy of celebrating the Roe v Wade decision that US girls and women had the legal right to choose what happened to their bodies.  It was no small thing then, to Canadian girls and women, because we all share the traumatizing fact of our past as chattel, that is, the possessions of white men and boys in charge.  Corporations had already determined to treat girls and women as bubble heads who wanted nothing more than to look good and be more popular than others.  It was very much a case of the water temperature being turned up over time – suddenly, we found ourselves boiling in the murky idea that our body image and looks, our hair and our rumps, were more important than our minds and our spirits, our hearts and our self-determination. That 1973 court decision lessened the impact of profit motivated businesses selling insecurity and self-hatred to girls and women. At least the courts found us intelligent, responsible, and wise enough to decide a fundamental life choice for ourselves.

Now,  even corporations are reacting to the court’s decision to reverse R v W; that’s how bad this current court’s decision is.  The white supremist view that the ever-creative power of the Universe is white, male, and murderous toward those who haven’t swallowed this vile white supremacy lie has revealed itself in the highest court in the land.  And we’re not having it.

Continue reading NO MORE! The Religiously Motivated Decisions of Patriarchy & the Infantilization of Girls & Women

Inspiration for when Father’s Day Triggers Fear, Rage, and Grief

Stephanie Foo’s What My Bones Know is the third memoir I’ve read in the last couple of years that has prompted meditations on my own father losses.  Foo’s father was present during some of her childhood, but neglectful of her need for protection from her violent and unpredictable mother during her earliest years.  When she was a young teen, her father left her alone in the family home to complete high school and navigate the college application gauntlet, with money – evidence of the reductionist belief that fathers are providers of cash but little else – but without any parental support.  Because her mother had abandoned her earlier, throughout her pivotal teen years Foo was without emotional comfort, intellectual guidance, and consistent, loving parenting.

In the weeks before immersing myself in Foo’s important discoveries about her Complex-PTSD diagnosis, I read Viola Davis’s Finding Me, her narrative describing the triumph of a creative spirit and the importance of sibling support in the face of vicious racism, crushing poverty, and a father’s mood swings from attentive and loving to life threatening. Like Foo, Davis discovers how inner resourcefulness leads traumatized children and teens to seek something that brings joy, even while struggling with the challenges created by the worst of these family and cultural experiences.  Davis’s seeking leads her to acting, the place where she expresses all the emotions she couldn’t express as a terrified child and teen. Early on, Foo’s inner resources lead her into research, writing, and, ultimately, journalism, a career that supports her compassionate understanding of her own traumatizing experiences and others’ traumas as well.

A couple of months before reading these insightful memoirs, I revisited Tara Westover’s Educated.  Westover, an interviewee during Vermont’s Howard Center 2022 spring mental-health conference, reminded participants of her survivalist father’s beliefs and attitudes as a fear-saturated individual at war because of his perception of governmental intention to curtail his freedoms. Two years before her participation in the conference, I discovered Westover’s descriptions of how one form of education, the formal kind the privileged tend to take for granted, helped to create the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual safe spaces she needed to escape her earliest informal education as a terror-indoctrinated child.

All three women demonstrate the value of “telling” when answering the call to heal early trauma, their words providing a first-layer somatic release for the storied energies of trauma trapped in their bodies. Their telling also increases reader awareness of the necessity of total somatic involvement in our healing. These storytellers don’t simply tell.  Each in her way describes the physically arduous work of befriending and integrating the toxic contrails of the myriad abuses she experienced, abuses that continue to demand compassionate, healing attention.

Foo’s personal relationships and journalism work require physical as well as emotional and intellectual processing in which she remains present to her need to understand her reactivity – the physical phenomena which are the many voices of unhealed trauma. Her courageous “showing up” guides her into new situations where her reflective bent allows her first to name her normalized violent experiences as traumatic.  Once named, she can then seek help to understand and experience peace in the midst of her trauma generated, ongoing maelstrom.

Davis, similarly, experiences peace despite her childhood trauma’s aftershocks.  In her teens, she discovers her path to equilibrium comes through the physical, emotional, intellectual, and soulful demands of character creation and expression.  Driven by the terrors generated by family crises and racist experiences in the greater world,  she doggedly pursues the whole-body exhilaration that comes with developing the skill, empathy, and courage required to bring a character to life before a live audience or a camera. Through her public expression of the transformed traumatic energies trapped in her flesh, she releases the trauma load she carries. Through this release process, she provides cathartic experiences for all who witness her work.  Learning and teaching is Foo’s process; Davis’s process is dramatizing what she learns.

Westover, too, must constantly create and recreate her personal pathways to peace.  After making a physical escape from her high-risk childhood environment, she learns to question the validity of the beliefs that exposed her to life-threatening situations.  With her entire being – body, mind, heart, and spirit – she discovers more benign histories, more benign world views, more benign filters through which to view life’s order and chaos. In comparatively non-threatening learning environments to those in which she was first immersed, she can perceive the world in new ways.  These fresh, expansive perspectives free the energy she needs to experience and name her early traumas as they express through constant hypervigilance and spirit-killing isolation. Slowly, she begins the work of reinvention, finding more hospitable and supportive environments in which to become increasingly aware of the wounded child who will, consciously or unconsciously, inform the work of lessening her traumas’ impacts on daily life.

All three of these creative, courageous women teach readers about father-lack and father-love, about father misguidedness, and, at least in possibility, about father transformation.  Their fathers are not intentionally abusive although the damage they do to their daughters – to their attachment bonds, to their ability to trust, and to their sense of self and worth – is undeniable.  Victims of the same toxic masculinity fueling mass shootings, domestic murders, fear-driven racist policies, and power-hungry global aggressions, these fathers demonstrate the truism that ‘hurt people hurt people.’

And yet, acknowledging this dynamic cannot change the status quo. Only the actions fostered by self efficacy – the deeply held belief in our individual value, resourcefulness, and problem solving capabilities – can support our transition from patriarchy to partnership, from isolation to community. Only our full participation in the world as it is creates this change.

For 2000 years, boys and men have been blinded by the power imbalances that are the inevitable consequences of systemic sexism.  Simply being born into a male body representing each culture’s dominant class has ensured that many males are idealized as messiahs, gurus, moguls, priests, and government officials, with the right to exclusive sources of power.  Throughout patriarchal cultures, the majority of girls and women have been subtly and openly coerced to surrender their power, creativity, resourcefulness, desires, and individual rights to  fathers, brothers, husbands, and institutional authorities as fallible as the best and the worst members of our species. Here in the US, we see evidence of this power-over energy in current political moves to criminalize women’s rights to choose the best path forward for them when pregnant.

Without doubt, we are living through the transition from the dominating patriarchal energies of the past millennia to the formation of partnering cultures that require we work with one another, no matter our gender identities, to prevent yet more trauma – in our homes, on our streets, in our legislative bodies – and to end the war we’ve waged against our Earth Home. Naming our individual and collective experiences is vitally important, but this naming is only a first step toward the transformation we are creating together.  There is no denying that we are, individually and collectively, living through a bloody transition in which innocents are sacrificed to moldering patriarchal beliefs.  The memoirs of these courageous women illustrate just how bloody.

As we grieve the fathers who abused and abandoned us, as we rage at their cruelty and our culture’s complicity in this cruelty, as we fear the toxic masculine energy animating the traumatized boy-men who wield power legitimately and illegitimately, let us summon our own resourcefulness as Davis, Westover, and Foo continue to summon theirs.  We too have voices.  We too have the ability to make change by recognizing our own need for healing and acting upon this need.  We, the offspring of violent and absent fathers, have the power to face our fears, express our rage in safe and productive ways, and grieve our losses in circles of safety and support of our choosing. The willingness to acknowledge our traumas and commit to our healing – not once, but over and over and over again –  is the magic elixir supporting individual and cultural transformation.

Once we tell ourselves our stories, honestly, unflinchingly, we can share them with others, as Westover, Davis, and Foo have shared theirs.  As these women have discovered, when we tell, with the intention of healing, of seeking support, we summon the courage to move out of isolation and victimization, the toxic residue of patriarchal beliefs that suggest we deserve our suffering, that it is somehow due to our personal flaws and not evidence of the toxic familial and cultural views that sanction the exploitation of human beings the world over. Freed from this poisoned yoke, we move into relationship-supporting communities offering mutual support, inspiration, and innovative ways to address our individual traumas and our shared transitional challenges.

Coming out of isolation and into community, we heal our father wounds.

Coming out of isolation and into community, we experience our wholeness.

Coming out of isolation, we live, not from fear, rage, and grief, but from love.

Until next time


Inner Work, Outer Chaos, and Deeper Meaning and Peace

Sometimes it is easy to believe the skills of reflection and discernment required when we work on our personal issues cannot influence the world we share with almost 8 billion other Souls.  In this vast mix of religious beliefs, governing procedures,  racial differences, environmental issues, gender discoveries, economic divides, and cultural mandates, the individual desire to evolve beyond reactivity into responsiveness may seem like a luxury none of us can afford.  We have created a world in which we experience relentless  pressure from every external source of information to abandon our inner lights, our discernment, our powers of reflection, so we might find meaning by merging into groups that assure us we are incomplete and inadequate unless we join them.

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International Women’s Day 2022

Celebrating the girls and woman who evolve, who begin as quietly obedient and become warriors of change.

Celebrating the boys and men who evolve, who begin in positions of power and privilege and become advocates for social justice and gender equity.

Celebrating all in transition from one gender to another or to many.

Celebrating patriarchy’s end and its simplified binary of man-woman.

Celebrating the new ways of governance replacing this archaic dominator model.

Celebrating full access to full services.

Celebrating our voices raised in support of healing.

Celebrating Post Traumatic Growth the world over.

Celebrating our shared experiences as Earthlings.

Bending the Arc Towards Justice and Peace: Our Common Purpose

As headlines insist on the inevitability of a war that may pull the entire world into a pattern of destruction we – Earth and all Her Inhabitants – may not be able to survive, we know there are people who have faced the worst and found solutions by working together toward a common goal.  Rather than watch videos of interviews with individuals who thrive on conflict and want to humiliate one another, we can learn from people who support the health and well-being of all.  After hearing the rhetoric that suggests war is not only inevitable but the only way to solve conflict, in my search for the antidote to this belief I discovered an obituary of Dr. Paul Farmer.  Through his obituary, I found Bending the Arc, a documentary that explores the birth of Partnerships in Health, a global outreach NGO improving healthcare and lives everywhere. Continue reading Bending the Arc Towards Justice and Peace: Our Common Purpose

Story Me Whole: Britt Collins, Mata/Tabor, Michael, and Me

Recently, like many people alive during these tumultuous times on our beautiful, fragile, resilient planet, I have felt the tug of despair.  So many of Earth’s family members are suffering because of extreme weather events and extreme human reactivity.  In this atmosphere of frightening instability, I’ve found it tempting to slump into the false belief of my impotence in the face of so many overwhelming challenges.  In these moments of fear and discouragement, I forget that I can reach out to others, offer prayers for those whose needs I recognize, or simply read or listen to something that reminds me we are as capable of offering kindness as we are of doing harm. In performing these small but restorative acts, I contribute to the Love, Joy, and Peace that are the antidotes to despair.

Continue reading Story Me Whole: Britt Collins, Mata/Tabor, Michael, and Me