self care

Mapping the Inner Landscape – some creative prompts

I have always loved thresholds, and those liminal moments that precede the opening of a new chapter, or the beginning of a new year. One of life’s planners, in recent years I have embraced the time betwixt the midwinter festivities and the new year as a time for reflecting on what has been, dreaming what might be, and setting intentions for what is coming. My closest friend and I are developing a tradition of getting together (virtually for the last two years) to use workbooks and prompts like the Year Compass for this purpose, and to share our findings and dreams with each other.

So as spring begins to unfold for another year in the tenacious scrap of woodland opposite my front door, I thought I would share with you some of the more creative invitations I have extended to clients, or used myself, for mapping personal experiences and inner landscapes – for the purpose of reflection, integration, or setting intention, and sometimes all three. Like the tools my friend and I spend the last days of December grumbling and giggling over, these could be done solo, or shared with a close person or in a therapeutic setting if you so wish. All that is required are the writing/drawing implements of your choosing, a blank surface (give yourself plenty of space), and the permission to play. …

Self-Acceptance is not a Solo Activity

‘Self-Acceptance is not a Solo Activity’ is a sentence that first found its way into my notes for a virtual workshop entitled Kink and Spirituality. The session was one I had the pleasure and privilege of running with Caritia for Karada House. I was making a point about BDSM and self-actualisation – about the way that being witnessed, celebrated, and loved in response to the aspects of ourselves that kink allows us to inhabit can contribute to a sense of our intrinsic OK-ness in our own skin. I wanted to speak to the role that being seen and welcomed in different aspects of ourselves has to play in our journey towards being able to accept and include our whole selves. …

Diversity Practices for Deepening Intimacy

A couple of weeks ago, I did something which, at the time, felt enormously risky. I lead an experiential session on diversity for the Interfaith Foundation that ordained me.

The reason doing so felt as acutely vulnerable as it did goes something like this: Diversity is an arena where, especially as a white person raised in western culture, failure is guaranteed. There are no two ways about it; fuck ups are inevitable from my particular privileged vantage point. Besides which, inclusion looks different to different people, so there’s no “getting it right” for everyone. And yet diversity is also an arena I believe we have to be willing to step up and into, in order to really have a shot at creating welcoming, inclusive, and safer spaces.

As if this wasn’t enough, the subject is one that feels profoundly personal. Certainly, diversity is something I care deeply about as a practitioner; I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating on a diversity guide for professionals in my field over the last few months, and the topic of how to create more inclusive spaces within the limits of my resources is one I wrestle with on a regular basis. But more than that, having grown up outside the UK, and received my fair share of “go back to where you came from” messages; and having more recent experience of being a gender non-conforming person navigating heteronormative culture; diversity matters to me in a way that runs deep.

So there I was, sharing something I cared passionately about, but could not possibly claim to be an expert in, and which has the potential to cut me to the quick, raise old scars, and leave me feeling exposed and vulnerable.

Not entirely unlike opening up to intimacy, in other words. …

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