Monday, December 29, 2008

Being Bold in 2009

Right now I am sitting in my friend Kristen's living room as we swim in the creative waters of our weekly writing group. She's clicking away on her laptop and I've moved from some fantastic messy journaling in my notebook to writing this blog post.

My fantastic messy journaling brought forth the feeling that I want to be more bold in 2009. What about you? Could you use a little spotlight shining on some aspect of your life?

It can feel risky to put yourself out there, to take a chance on an opportunity, to be, well, visible. I don't know about you, but I have always struggled with the idea of being seen, noticed, salient. There's a significant part of me that would prefer to live behind the scenes, to move through the universe unnoticed. But then there's this desire--perhaps it's more like a calling--to force open the red curtains and be center stage. I figure that there's a reason for my desire to be noticed and influential. I figure I might as well play with this energy and see where it takes me.

For 2009, I intend to play with BOLDNESS. Over the past few years I have experimented with boldness by hosting art shows, submitting my writing for publication, and generally putting myself out there to promote my business. I intend to continue these endeavors as well as to find specific ways to take risks like writing articles for massage and healing magazines, showing my work in galleries and cafes (not just in my home), and (gulp!) facilitating many more workshops and seminars.

How might you be more bold in 2009? Maybe tap dancing or dyeing your hair blue or auditioning for a play will help you embrace the shining star that you are. Or maybe you want to be more assertive with others, expressing to others how you truly feel more often. As you contemplate what bold acts might be positive forces in your life, remember to be as specific as you can with those things you intend on pursuing. And feel free to be wild and crazy with your bold dreaming. You need not actually do everything you come up with. Sometimes just freeing yourself up to imagining yourself doing some bold thing will spark a positive and life-affirming energy inside you.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Your Body Speaks: An Inner Wisdom Workshop

I have several spots still available for my January workshop! If you register by January 1, I will offer a $20 discount!

If you feel others might be interested in this day of intuitive play, feel free to pass this announcement on.


Your Body Speaks: An Inner Wisdom Workshop

Date: Sunday, January 11, 2009

Time: 1:00-5:00pm

Location: Rising Bird Healing Arts
6316 9th Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98115

Cost: $80 if you register by January 1, 2009 ($100 thereafter)
Cash, checks, and credit cards accepted.

To Register: Email Courtney at

"There exists a universal, intelligent life force that exists within everything. It resides within each one of us as a deep wisdom, an inner knowing. We can access this wonderful source of knowledge and wisdom through our intuition, an inner sense that tells us what feels right and true for us at any given moment. " - Shakti Gawain, Developing Intuition

What does it feel like in your body when you resonate with an idea, thought, or feeling? How do you know when your body is giving you important information? In this inner wisdom workshop, we will explore the power of our sixth chakra, the chakra of intuition and inner knowing. Using writing, guided visualization, sensing exercises, muscle testing, and pendulum work, we will tap into the body's hidden wisdom. Come join me for an afternoon of intuitive play! Pendulums and refreshments provided.

This workshop series is facilitated by Courtney Putnam, MFA, LMP and will be held at Rising Bird Healing Arts in the Roosevelt District of Seattle.

Courtney E. Putnam is a Licensed Massage Practitioner and Certified Reiki Practitioner, who offers a holistic approach to wellness. With a strong belief in the mind-body connection, Courtney holds a safe space for her clients to experience emotional as well as physical healing. By integrating massage, energy work, and holistic wellness approaches, she invites you to experience a unique blend of healing modalities to support your body, mind, and spirit. In addition to her bodywork endeavors, Courtney is a poet and visual artist.

Rising Bird Healing Arts
Courtney E. Putnam, MFA, LMP, CRP, RC
6316 9th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA 98115 • (206) 228-9124 •

Friday, December 26, 2008

Clarity and 2009

Clarity, mixed media collage, 4" x 6" by Courtney Putnam

Oh my, has it been almost two weeks since my last post? Good thing I'm sitting here thinking about what I'd like to experience, accomplish, and feel in 2009. I'll add "blogging more frequently" to the list!

I don't know about you, but each December I end up sort of slip-sliding through the new year without doing a big, fat reflection. And then in January, I intend on spending some quiet time reflecting and dreaming -- and that usually slips by, too. I have good intentions, but rarely do I get some clear meditation and dream time in.

I am hoping to change that this year. I am hoping to get a firm, grounded grip on the earth (even though it is a bit slippery--literally--in Seattle right now) and grow some lovely dreamy roots. I thought I would start with this very post. Dream and reflection time begins now.

First intention for 2009: Self Care.

Those of you in helping professions know how crucial it is to take care of yourself as you are caring for others. In 2008 I found it immensely rejuvenating to visit Olympus Spa in Lynnwood, WA for hours of warmth and healing. Olympus Spa is a woman-only spa and it costs $35 to spend the whole day in the lovely facility. You can soak in whirlpools, sit in the sauna or steam room, and feel the healing effects of the heated earth rooms. There's even a Korean cafe and juice bar, a beautiful lounge and reading room, and some refreshing "cool down" rooms. My goal for 2009 is to visit Olympus Spa on a more regular basis, perhaps once a month.

Is "self care" one of your intentions for 2009? If so, what might you do for yourself? Try to be as specific as you can with your intention because vagueness can easily turn into slushy mush and then get lost. What part of you needs some attention? And how can you respond to your mind/body/spirit in a way that will inspire, relax, and recharge you?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Snow Inside

"Let it Snow," mixed media collage by Courtney Putnam

In celebration of the lovely snow that arrived in Seattle last night, I offer this writing prompt:

Think about the nature of snow. Think about the texture, the shiny crystaline quality, the color, the sound it makes (or the way it makes everything so quiet), and how it feels as it melts on your face or tongue. Now, take this a step further: when does it snow in your very own body? This is, of course, a metaphorical snow. When do you become soft and quiet? Or cold and luminescent? Or puffy or crunchy or translucent? What does it feel like when you are having a day of internal snow? Can you think of a time when you might have told somebody, when asked how you were doing, that you were snowing inside? Let your inner critic go, and instead listen to your body. Let yourself be silly or odd or perplexed by this notion of internal snow. Write for at least 10 minutes. Go for 20 minutes if you can. Do you contain steep snow drifts inside or is the snow melting already?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Creativity, Part I

Do you consider yourself creative? Do you find yourself able to tap into your creative self on a daily basis?

I ask these questions because lately I'm encountering folks who feel a yearning for creative expression, yet don't seem to know how to start (or where to start). I hear statements like, "I wish I were more creative" and "I feel inside like I am a creative person, but I don't know what to do with that energy stirring inside me."

A few weeks ago, I was giving Reiki to a friend who was curious about her second (sacral) chakra. This chakra was drawing in a lot of energy. I asked my friend about her creative life, knowing that, on the symbolic level, the second chakra is about creation in the broadest sense of the word (it could have to do with procreation, creativity, or some aspect of manifesting or "giving birth" to something in the world). My friend noticed a desire to manifest creativity, but felt stifled by her feeling that she "isn't an artist." She expressed an interest in the arts, in creativity, but felt a block with the idea of personal manifestation. "Nothing comes out the way I envision it," she said.

Her words made me curious about how we each view creativity. I suggested that it might be interesting to feel art creation in terms of its process, not its product. What if no one saw your writing/art/music/dance/sculpture, and instead you focused on the feeling of creation? What if, for now, there is no other witness besides yourself and no critic? What if you allowed your creative self to move through the world with the intention of feeling the essence of your artfulness? What if you made a mess? What if you made something really ugly? Do it. I dare you. No one is watching.

I also wondered what would happen if daily creative acts didn't need to be art with a capital A, but rather something called artful living. Living artfully could mean that you take some time to see the world in terms of its shapes and colors and textures. It could mean that when you walk past that rusty fire hydrant on your way to the bus stop each morning, you re-name it or imagine that it is an entirely different object. Perhaps you decide to purchase flowers every week for a month to see how you feel with these bursts of color in your environment. What if you finger-painted with the condensation on the glass door during your morning shower? What if you wore mismatched socks or dyed your hair bright purple to match your shoes? How can you make your breakfast a creative endeavor?

And what do you already do that embraces artful living? Please, oh please, share what it is that you do!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shape of Your Heart

"Heartful," portion of painting by Courtney Putnam

Do you ever think about the shape of your heart? The human heart does have a specific shape, what with its lovely cavernous ventricles and orbed atria, but what I'm talking about is the metaphorical shape of your heart.

Over the last few days I have been reading Dorianne Laux's poems in her book Smoke, and I stumbled upon her poem "Heart." While reading Laux's poem, I started to focus on my own heart. At first I noticed that it was a flower bulb in the deep, dark depths of me. Then, a little green sprout appeared at the top, like part of me was opening up, seeking a bit of light.

In "Heart," Laux writes:

"The heart shifts shape of its own accord--
from bird to ax, from pinwheel
to budded branch."

And then, later:

"Harmonica heart, heart of tinsel,
heart of cement, broken teeth, redwood fence.
Heart of bricks and boards, books stacked
in devoted rows, their dusty spines
unreadable. Heart
with its hands full.
Hieroglyph heart, etched deep with history's lists,
things to do. Near-sighted heart. Club-footed heart."

What does your heart look like today? What did it look like and feel like this morning? What does your heart look like as you lie in bed, waiting for sleep to envelop you? Or, when you pet your cat? Or, weed in your garden? Or watch an old movie? Or listen to your favorite song?

Notice how the shape of your heart changes with everything you do. What form do you most like it to take?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Gathering Time

"Gathering Time," mixed media collage by Courtney Putnam

The squirrels are at it again -- scurrying about the wet leaves under the dwindling tree canopies, gathering and chomping through chestnuts, digging up bulbs in our gardens, climbing thorny rose bushes to eat the succulent rose hips. And they're especially fast little creatures this time of year. It's like the Squirrel Olympics in my neighborhood. I saw one squirrel carry an extra large bagel in his mouth while skittering across the top of the neighbor's fence. That, most certainly, should win him some kind of medal.

Besides the spectacle of squirrel-hood this time of year, what message can we glean from these ever-active, super-gathering creatures?

Jamie Sams' & David Carson's Medicine Cards, a divination deck and book, squirrel medicine offers wisdom about the power of gathering what is necessary and true and letting go of what is not. Carson writes, "The gathering power of Squirrel medicine is a great gift. It teaches you to gather and store your energy for times of need. It teaches you to reserve something for future use, whether it be a judgment, an opinion, a savings account, candles, or extra food. To put it in a nutshell, Squirrel is the Boy Scout of the animal kingdom--always prepared."

I think about the "nesting" feeling that often reveals itself to me in autumn. I've been stock-piling tea so much that it won't all fit in the kitchen cabinet. I've also been carrying my comforter around the house with me so I can curl up with it wherever I am.
I suppose there is a part of me that wants comfort all around me: warmth, softness, and calmness.

This idea of "storing up energy" for the future is certainly at play with me now, too. What about you? One gift of the darkness of autumn is that it often slows many of us down. It's as if we're storing up our energies for when the spring returns. This time might also be teaching us a lesson in slowing down, especially if we've been overextending ourselves.

Another gift of squirrel medicine has to do with preparing for change and embracing what is to come. Carson writes,"If Squirrel has scurried into your cards today, it may be that you are being told to honor your future by readying yourself for change. The message could be to lighten your load if you have gathered too many 'things' that do
not serve you. These 'things' can include thoughts, worries, pressures, stresses, or gadgets that have been broken for years."

In your life, what is accumulating to the point of stress? Too much clutter in your environment? Too much worry? Too many obligations? Too much of saying "yes" to others and not to yourself? What can you do to honor what's important to you as well as what serves you? When you see yourself in the future, do you feel heaviness or lightness?

The final gift of squirrel medicine, according to Carson, is about creating an "untroubled heart and mind" in which to place your gatherings. In other words, remember that anything you gather needs a safe place to rest until you need it. Squirrels are experts at finding safe places to store their goodies for the winter. Be conscious of not only what you gather (i.e. positive thoughts vs. self-destructive thoughts, etc.), but also the environment in which you store these things/thoughts (this environment is you!). Squirrel wisdom asks you to be open and loving toward what you gather, for the more you nurture what you're storing inside you, the more powerful and meaningful these things will become in the future when you need them.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Falling into Fall

A portion of "Fall Goddess," mixed media collage by Courtney Putnam

Fall has now transformed into full-blast autumn. Is this happening where you are? The weather has shifted to a combination of wet and windy here in Seattle, and the hours of daylight have dwindled. I'm noticing that these external changes are causing me to turn inward and to investigate what transformations are happening for me on the inside. How do these falling leaves make me feel? What do I desire or need now that there are fewer hours of light? Do I feel I am able to stay strong during the strong winds of my life or do I feel I'll topple over?

When I look inward, at first I am aware of the the way fall creates a feeling of
detritus resting inside me. In a way, I feel that part of me is returning to the earth for a long nap. I feel just a tad more dread when I greet the morning in darkness, feel sticky and uncertain with any stagnation in my business, and feel disappointed with my body whenever aches and pains reveal themselves to me on a given day.

But I've also noticed that fall is fruitful; the decay is full of nutrients and someday the flowers will return. Fall is bringing out a strong emotional contemplative side that is compelling me to create art, and I've felt my body craving warm, healthy foods like soups that not only seem to nourish my body but also my spirit. And giving bodywork sessions during this season always seems to be powerful for me as I witness clients relaxing and healing on such deep levels.

Sometimes, though, life can be changing all around me, but I am stuck in the sludge of my world. Do you ever feel this? I forget that fall is fruitful and that I am in control of so many of the positive changes in my life. I can choose to dig deep and uncover the beauty in the detritus; I can move through this season with mindfulness and happiness and grace--even when I wake up in the morning, and for a moment, start dreading the darkness.

One thing I've started doing is playing upbeat music in the morning and I move my way into the day through dancing and jumping around. The soundtrack to the film Kinky Boots has been my favorite for dancing as of late. I always feel better once I move. Once I physically move.

I encountered a quote by Milton Trager that speaks to this idea of moving in order to make change:

"First comes sensation, then comes movement. If you want to be different you have to feel something different."

Sometimes desired change occurs when we actively take steps--when we identify how we feel (and consequently how we want to feel), and then step into the world with this new vision. Put in another way, Trager is also saying, "when you're stuck, move." I love Trager's wisdom here: if we want to feel differently, we have to move. We have to make the change--or at least help it along with a pinch of our good intentions.

Sometimes that means physically moving--taking a walk, dancing, or stretching. Sometimes it means cursing or stomping, too, for these emotions need a way out as well. Maybe a good walk stomping around in the fall leaves is just the ticket to transforming your day. Or try turning on some tunes during the slump time of your day and letting your body move you into a new state of being. Whatever it is you choose to do, make it active; make your external movements represent the internal movements you are intending to make. Shake your way from lethargy to playfulness and see how you feel inside.

How do you feel about the falling leaves now?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Change Art

In the fall issue of The Healing Nest Newsletter, I include an art prompt related to the theme of change. This art piece above is my response to the exercise. I call my piece, "Breathing and Blooming in the Face of Loss."

What are you called to create when you reflect on the theme of change in your life? If you feel inspired to share--either in art or writing--what change you are experiencing, I would love to hear from you! Either post on this blog, or feel free to send me an email at Perhaps I can even convince you to share your piece in my next newsletter (hint-hint).

Here is the art exercise description:

Art Prompt: “Change”
As much as we might try to fight the statement “The only constant is change,” it seems rather true, doesn’t it? For this exercise, think of a change that you have endured, a transition you are currently going through, or a transformation you would like to take place. This change could be an internal one, like a change from uncertainty to self-confidence. It could also be more external, like a change from living in Los Angeles to living in Seattle. Whatever change rises to the surface, it’s time to explore its characteristics. Does this change make you feel light and buoyant or heavy with dread? What colors and textures come to mind? What images bubble to the surface? Explore this change with whatever artistic medium you are called to use.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Summer/Fall Newsletter is here!

Click on this link to view/download the newsletter:

At long last the newsletter is here! I am pleased (and relieved!) to be presenting you with the Summer/Fall 2008 issue of The Healing Nest Newsletter.

Highlights of this issue:

* Therapist Elizabeth Rightor offers tips for dealing with life transitions.

* The Autumn Special ("Pumpkin Spice") is sure to entice you.

* Oxytocin might just be your ticket to feeling good this fall.

* The December 11 Art Show at Rising Bird Healing Arts is for a good cause.

I hope that you all are feeling healthy, centered and inspired these days. I wish you a cozy and warm autumnal season.

All the best,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Appreciation Walk

Today I took a lovely walk around my neighborhood with my camera. It was such a beautiful day here in Seattle, and I decided to embrace the autumnal changes and walk with appreciation. I set the intention of adoring the change of season instead of lamenting over the darkness and coolness that comes with autumn.

Today I embraced the crisp air, the turning leaves, and the groovy neighborhood in which I live. And by bringing along my camera, I noticed more shapes, colors, and textures than I would have on a normal walk. I sought interesting color juxtapositions and unique shapes that I wanted to document. I tell you, this Appreciation Walk was a big mood boost. I highly recommend it!

Here is a video slide show of my lovely little walk:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Feeling Good

"Healing Touch," mixed media collage by Courtney Putnam

I've been reading up on
oxytocin lately. This "hormone of love" as it is often deemed, is known to reduce stress hormones, promote relaxation, and increase feelings of love, bonding, and connection.

I've been thinking about oxytocin lately because I have been feeling -- and I have heard others express -- that right now "things aren't feeling so good." Perhaps the weather and light change has affected some of us, or maybe we're feeling down from the economic turn. I've also seen many people starting to get those nasty and lingering fall colds. So, if you're in a space of feeling not quite optimal, not quite 100%, I want to give you a little inspiration.

This inspiration comes in the form of something that you already have. You don't need to buy it or concoct it. All you need to do is access it and let it do it's job. The amazing hormone oxytocin, most known for its effect in producing labor in women, may show positive effects on both your body and mind. Now, how do you activate this great, feel-good hormone?

What researchers are finding is that receiving positive touch increases oxytocin in the body, and receiving massage in particular may be an effective and powerful way to get that "feel good" feeling. The Touch Research Institute in Miami has conducted hundreds of touch studies, all which have produced interesting findings related to the power of touch to help us heal, grow, and prevent stress and disease. Check out the TRI website here. Many of its most profound studies involve underweight infants who, when touched on a regular basis, grow faster and gain weight more quickly than infants who were not given touch. Several other studies reveal a decrease in depression among people who receive touch, particularly massage, on a regular basis.

So I say, hug your partner, your family members, your pets, your friends. Make a conscious effort to not only connect with others with your eye contact and voice, but also with a small gesture of touch.

And consider getting massage on a regular basis. More and more I see how receiving massage is important and integral to our well being and health. What was once considered just "pampering" and "extra" is now shown to play a huge role in our overall health and well being. Several massage studies have shown that massage not only reduces stress and promotes relaxation, but actually restores the body and may in fact be preventative medicine.

For more on the effects of this hormone on our body, read this lovely article from The Independent.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm Now RSS Feed-able!

Welcome to the new home of The Healing Nest!

You can now add The Healing Nest to your RSS feeds (see "Subscribe to the Healing Nest" buttons on sidebar).

Also, if you are a regular viewer of this blog, consider becoming a "Follower" via the "Follow this blog" link (also on the side bar).

All of my previous posts can be found at the old site, which has become The Healing Nest Blog Archive.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Free Career Workshops with Laila

(Click on image for larger viewing.)

I thought I'd take this opportunity to promote my dear friend Laila, the career counselor and life coach goddess, who is having another series of free workshops related to career issues this very October. Laila is inspirational, dynamic, funny, smart as all get out, and she knows her stuff! If you are in the process of changing your job or career, consider attending one of these great events!

Now, back to your scheduled programing.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Your Six Senses

"The problem is that thoughts without sensation are only two-dimensional and, for that reason, often inaccurate. We can think ourselves into a permanent state of stress when everything around us is actually fine."

"Experience won't register on the bones and muscles, let alone the heart, unless the body is hooked up. In fact, when we lose conscious perception of body input, we are likely to suffer from an amnesia of actual experience."

- Johanna Putnoi, Senses Wide Open: The Art and Practice of Living in Your Body

I've been delving back into Putnoi's most excellent book these past few days while working on finishing my flyer for my upcoming "Six Senses" workshop on October 19 (for more details on this workshop, see the end of this post!). I've been meditating on how I've either embraced or rejected sensory information over the last several months, particularly during my dad's illness.

Last February, when my dad was in the hospital, I realize how much I tried to stifle sensory information. After all, most of the smells, sights, and sounds at the hospital were unpleasant. I can see how Putnoi's description of having "amnesia of experience" applied to me during this time. It was a survival technique to hold my chest in tight and to allow as few senses in as possible. Is it just me, or do most people (including doctors and nurses) look like they are holding in their breath at hospitals?

Now, many months later, I am finally feeling all of these senses. The memories and the senses are flowing to the surface. It's as if my body stored up my experiences (in my bones, cells, nervous system) and now it is safe for me to feel these things fully. In February I felt like I might have died from feeling too much, as anxiety arrived and replaced true, safe, actual, in-depth feeling. Now, for the most part, my mind, heart, and body all know I will not die from anxiety. Nor will I die from unpleasant sensory stimulation. In fact, accepting (and beckoning) sensory input is making me feel more alive. More safe. More integrated and connected.

The thing is, I find it's hard to live fully, openly, and truthfully when I rely solely on my mind or my heart for feedback. I need to include my body, too, for without bodily input, I don't have the complete picture. How do I know how I really feel about something without the smell that repels me, the sound that lulls me to sleep, or the cool temperature on my skin that gives me goosebumps? How can I learn to trust my instincts if I turn off my animal ability to feel the world through my senses?

My Six Senses Workshop is all about exploring the ways in which we use (or don't use) our senses. I've included a bit of information about the workshop here:

In this workshop, we will…
  • Engage in all six of our senses and learn how to become “awake” in our bodies.
  • Interpret the wisdom of our sensory experiences as a powerful form of feedback.
  • Uncover which of our senses are keenly awake and which seem to be hibernating.
  • Explore how being a highly sensitive person can influence how we react to sensory input.
  • Learn how tapping into our senses on a daily basis leads to more joyful, fulfilling experiences.
Think of this workshop as a full-body immersion and an experiential play day. You will eat and drink, pamper your body, smell divergent and interesting scents, listen to and create sounds, relax deeply for guided visualization and meditation, experience giving and receiving touch, play with color, and tap into your body’s natural system of intuition and inner knowing.

For more information about this sensory play day, click here to download a PDF flyer.

And in the meantime, Try This:

Go to your spice cupboard. Randomly pull out 5-10 spice bottles, turn the label away from you, and open the lids. Now, smell each spice. Really take in each scent one at a time. Before you describe the smell (i.e. "woody," "floral," or "musty," etc.), just feel the smell in your body. What does the scent do in your body? Does it make your throat feel more open, your nose feel congested? Do you feel free and relaxed or tight and rigid? Is it easy to identify the smell without looking at the label first?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sneak Peek...

I have been moving a little slowly lately, so my apologies for not writing here more frequently. These gray skies are making me feel sluggish and I seem to want to sleep a lot these days. My grief process has sure added more nap time to my schedule. Sheesh.

But I do have one mini accomplishment to share with you. I have just devised my 2-hour fall special (after long, long brainstorming sessions) and my postcard order is at the printers as I write this!

I want to give you a sneak peek at what goodies are in store for you this fall. So, here you go...

Autumn Special: Pumpkin Spice

This autumn, surround yourself with light and warmth while taking in the nurturing scents of pumpkin, cinnamon, and clove.

This two-hour experience includes:

• A citrus spice foot spa, warm herbal chai, and a light fall-inspired snack to awaken your senses.

• A full-spectrum light therapy session to boost your mood.

• A pumpkin spice body polish treatment to revitalize your skin.

• A hot stone massage using heated basalt river stones for deep relaxation and warmth.

Cost: $120. Gift Certificates Available.

What a way to embrace the coming of fall! This is going to be a fun special and I am lucky to benefit from all of those wonderful autumnal smells as well.

Alright, I'm off to receive a massage, so I'll say goodbye for now. But my goal is to write here much more often and to offer exercises, prompts, and other bits of healing wisdom for you. Thank you for your patience as I work my way through the fog.

pumpkinly yours,


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Catalytic Musings

"Catalyst for Beauty," collage, 4" x 5"

1. Chemistry. a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.
2. something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.
3. a person or thing that precipitates an event or change.
4. a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic. Source:

Have you seen the movie Amelie? This film is on my top-ten list of favorite movies in large part because of the catalytic actions of the main character Amelie. Through her deliberate actions she ignites an artist's creativity, teaches a grumpy man a lesson, sparks a reunion of once-estranged family members, and helps repair a widow's broken heart. And she does all of these things with curiosity, compassion, and hint of mischievousness.

In what ways have you been Amelie-esque in your life? In what ways have you been a catalyst for change of some kind?

Try this:
Freewrite about your feelings about being a catalyst. Is this a comfortable place for you to be? Or do you feel awkward or uncomfortable in the role? Perhaps you've been the recipient of some catalytic intervention. What was this like? Write for 15 minutes without stopping and see if you can write fast--like you're sprinting on a track. Keep the pen moving as much as possible and allow yourself to be messy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Spine Metaphor

"Spine Hawk," mixed media, 4" x 6"

Alright, creative wonderfuls,

I know that you think about your spine. I just do. It's rare that someone comes to me for massage and doesn't ask for their back to be addressed. I don't often hear comments like, "You know, today my back feels so loose and free, you can just avoid even touching that area." So that is how I know you think about your spine. Or at least you spend a portion of each day feeling and interpreting sensations in your back and spine.

So I invite you to tinker with this writing exercise (below). If your spine were another "thing" in the world, what would it be? And please, please, oh please consider emailing me your metaphor writing for inclusion in my next issue of The Healing Nest Newsletter. Oh, pretty please. Email:

Writing Prompt: Spine Metaphor
What is the life of your spine like? On a typical day, do you feel expansive in this area or cramped and compressed? Write about the purpose and function of your spine, as well as how you experience your spine in your body. Now imagine your spine is not your spine at all, but something else. Is it a ladder for your headaches to climb to reach your head? Is it a river flowing from your cranium to your sacrum? Is it a snake? A rain stick? If you get stuck in your writing, I recommend that you connect with your spine by doing some small movements and stretching in your torso. What does it feel like when you bend forward, back, or to the side? How does your spine respond when you engage with it? Perhaps this movement will help you to reveal the metaphor.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


"My Island," mixed media collage, 6" x 7"

My, has it been over two weeks since I last posted here? I thought about writing last week and then this last weekend -- and both times I got cold feet. I had that feeling I used to get as a high school student when the longer I was quiet in class, the harder it was to speak. I used to get red blotches on my neck just thinking about raising my hand to answer a question. But I digress a bit. I don't have red blotches this time; I just feel a little shy.

I created the above piece today when reflecting on where I've been these past two weeks. I do feel like I've been on an island -- a little island of grief. And just when I think I'm ready to leave my island, I slip off the edge and fall. I am still so curious how grief can come like a sudden landslide. I can feel fairly steady and then I'm flat on my face and sludging through mud. The little things seem to cause my fall. Last week when playing cards with my partner, I felt the loss of my dad so keenly I couldn't breathe. With cards fanned out in my hands, my body suddenly remembered the marathon games of "manipulation" I played with my dad. I didn't expect this memory to surface, and there I was falling again.

This Jane Kenyon poem reminds me of the the little things that can create mountains--or landslides--of emotion.

What Came to Me

I took the last
dusty piece of china
out of the barrel.
It was your gravy boat,
with a hard, brown
drop of gravy still
on the porcelain lip.
I grieved for you then
as I never had before.

Try this:
Think of the physical details of your life--household objects, jewelry, trinkets, stones, clothing, dishes, etc. Choose one you are energetically drawn to and write for 15 minutes about this object. What feelings does this object conjure for you? What big idea, feeling, or event does this small object carry for you? Allow yourself to feel whatever emerges as fully and deeply as you wish. And remember to breathe. Breath will calm you and reconnect you to your heart center.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Deep Loss

I'd like to officially introduce you to someone. The picture above is my dad, Ed Putnam, who died this past Tuesday morning, August 12. He died at home (in the house he built) with his family around him. Some of you know about my dad's struggle with kidney cancer--a struggle which began in January of this year. It's been a tumultuous ride these past 7 months, and I find it hard to contain or even encapsulate the events of this year.

I will say, though, that my relationship with my father deepened during this time, and that my healing work kept me afloat in ways I am just starting to grasp. One dear client who knew of my struggles asked me during a session, "How do you care for other people and hear other people's problems when you have such big stuff going on in your own life?" It was such a good question. I surprised myself when I heard myself replying, "I find it very grounding and centering to give bodywork. I can tune into the relaxed breath of my clients and the sacred space I have created for healing." I also heard myself say something about the universal nature of suffering--that I can connect to the suffering of others (even small moments of suffering or discontent) while holding my own sadness about my father because it all comes from the same source. Suffering is suffering. Grief is grief. Loss is loss. The specific circumstances and degrees of intensity may differ, but I have a hard time ranking or categorizing these things. Until my client asked me her question, I hadn't realized that I truly felt this way.

So while I may be taking some time off right now to attend to my sadness and that of my family (I'll be back giving sessions again during the week of August 25), please know that when you come to see me it's okay to mention my loss (I know, it's hard to know what to say when someone has lost a loved one) and it's okay to focus on YOU during your session. Prior to each session I give, I create a safe space for you to relax, find relief, and heal. Rest assured that I will find my own time for my own healing (Olympus Spa here I come!). This time is for you and I am honored to witness whatever it is that you bring to your sessions.

I also want to mention that my posts here may be few and far between or very frequent with many philosophical musings about the nature of life and death, of healing and illness, and of finding inner peace. Right now I am reading Thich Nhat Hanh's No Death, No Fear, and I imagine many of his words will make their way to this blog as well.

peace and healing,