Who Am I?

Welcome to this healing blog.  This site focuses on writing; the content related to my professional healing practice has its own space.  Click here to enter that space. 

I practice as a Feldenkrais teacher, TARA Approach practitioner, and counselor who is trained in EMDR.  My own healing journey has flowed through developmental psychoanalysis, somatics, Karma Kagyu Buddhism, dance, and energy medicine. Essentially, I'm an indigenous American healer, born and raised in Austin, Texas. My healing gifts developed along several pathways over the years, all of which flow together and interweave as the need arises.

I've been in the performing arts for 30 years; I dance with my friends Julie Nathanielsz and Heloise Gold, both recipients of Austin Critics' Table awards for their work.  

I hope that your visit here finds you something to laugh about, something to think about, something to dream about. 

You can subscribe to the blog through the boxes on the right. 

Peace to all, and thanks for visiting.

A Vicious Little Bite

Alright.  It's not so little.  In fact, whatever it was got me so good that the welt is the size of a  robin's egg.  I think it may have happened during rehearsal on Sunday, sitting on the floor.  The building is warehousey, old.  I didn't see any insect, but Sunday night is when I first noticed the pain, which was considerable.

The strange thing is, I've been feeling worse and worse since then.  I was in a good mood yesterday, but I wasn't feeling good physically.  I'm breaking out in hives and having vertigo and double vision.  The site of the bite or sting has turned red today.  It looks angry.  And I feel really, really weird.

Should be an interesting day.  I hope I can get this feeling better by rehearsal tonight.  Another day in the life of a dancer.  Time to visit the drugstore again, I guess...

Another Round Of Text Apologies

Rudy gave us the night off tonight (thankfully--we're all exhausted) and I spent part of my evening issuing text 'catchups,' thank yous, and apologies to those who got too far down the chain without replies, etc.  Yeah.  I am not good at this text thing.  At all.  Basically, the only way I can be effective with it is to see if I can set up vis-a-vis meetings with people, and that's how I intend to use it from now on.  I just don't have the time to keep up with more than a few exchanges here and there.  Time, time, time!  And energy!

But, you know, there you go.  I am a person with a life and people with lives do not have tons of time.  I am so glad to have so many friends and cool people in my life, old and new.  I do my best to stay on top of it.  Someone asked me about dating and I said, without hesitation, "I would rather enter the Iditarod with miniature Chihuahuas than online date again." I mean, the process, man, the process!  The flakiness! The unreliability! I gotta dance, here, and work, and do shamanic stuff...or whatever...I'm sorry...I can't hang out...who hangs out at our age?  I did meet a couple of cool people who down the road may become friends...If I ever find the time for that coffee...

You know what?  It's alright.  I feel perfectly happy.  I feel lucky.  I've met some really cool new people this year, Melissa D'Antoni, Marty Brickley, Charlie Larkey, Zane, reconnected with old friends, made a handful of new's all good.  I am not one to look for the bad in my life but instead for what is working, what there is to be grateful for, what there is to be happy about.  That's what moves me forward every day, even on the days when I'm bushwhacked like today.  The fact that I don't have a partner is quite minor in comparison to the goodness in my life on a daily basis, and I'm fully aware of it.  I'm not lonely, and most importantly, I am working both in healing and the arts and it's happening for me.  It took a long time to get here.

I think I'm going to use the time I would have spent sending online dating emails to start painting again.  Or leather working again.  I pulled out the black deerskin rave outfit I made a few years ago the other day.  For someone who didn't know jack-all about what I was doing, it looks freaking awesome, and it held up all the way through a full-on rave, too.  

Doesn't that sound like a perfect use of time?

World Change, Beautiful Women

I was tired tonight--but still had to put on a velvet skirt and head out to see a bellydance show.  Just needed a world change and to spend time around some beautiful women I know in that world.  I lasted almost two hours before I had to call it in; too bad because the live band was really time.  When Karuna saw me, she said, "Oh look, you came ready to dance," and I laughed as I realized that, in fact, I'd grabbed one of my belly dance skirts as I was trying to get out the door, 30 minutes later than I'd intended.  And who else should be there but Zane McCarthy, of course, surrounded by women, as usual.  Haha!

Man, I do love to sit and chat and watch these lovely women do their belly dance thing; I know most of them from classes and workshops and when isn't it a good thing to watch curvy beauties in their crystals and sequins?  I just needed some good, soft, super girly energy.  It's like my fantasy "other" dance life.  I'm just a bellydance dabbler really...but I've been missing it a lot lately and will plug back in in October once the play is finished.  We're also starting preliminary practices for Julie's project in January.  It's going to be a rich year of dance...

Turns out that today was the last Sunday rehearsal.  Fantastic--now I have one day a week back to rest, recalibrate and supplement my training.  I am just a hair over my "fighting form" right at the moment and glad I have a couple of weeks to train down just a bit.  When you are basically missing almost all cartilage from one knee, two or three extra pounds makes a huge difference in your comfort level, and I've been off my regular training routine since Denver.  I look better with about five pounds extra, but I feel better with that weight off for performance.  I think it no coincidence that many butoh dancers are very thin--the deep knee bends in the form mean the less weight you are putting into those joints, the better.  

I suppose one of the reasons I love watching bellydancers is that they can and should carry more weight on them--it just looks better for that dance form.  I need to stay on the lean side when training for the form I spend most of my time in, which is why I only dip into that world here and again.  There are some good Middle Eastern dancers that are thinner, but not many, and you have to work a lot harder to make the form show up on a thinner body.  At least that's what I think, having watched dozens and dozens of performances over the last handful of years.  I ALWAYS feel more satisfied when I watch a dancer who has some flesh on her that really moves.  It's beautiful.

Now home, tired, needing to take all my various powders and pills and sleep.  Tomorrow, work, another rehearsal, another day in the life of an artist.

Entropy, Crashing, Witches And Shamans

Yesterday was it.  I collapsed into fatigue during dinner at Justine's.  I absolutely had too much going on during the past week, and got exhausted.  I also didn't realize until a couple of days ago that I had completely forgotten to take my herbs and adrenal supplements for almost a week due to all the intensity and craziness, meaning it was just a matter of time till it caught up with me.  As I move into the most intense two weeks of this rehearsal process--full play run throughs every day for the next week starting today, and then 4 days in the theater followed by the opening weekend--I need to take better care of myself.  Much better care.

However, the moules frites were wonderful, as they always are, and to reconnect with Julie was even more wonderful.  Her jet lag kicked in about the same time as my collapse, so it worked out.  This morning, I see my beautiful dance women Amae and Karuna, and then my birthday stuff is over and I go to rehearsal.  I think I'm chilling out as I get older.  Maybe I don't need three days of birthday celebrations any more.  Granted, most years I'm not celebrating my birthday in the midst of such an intense time.  But still.  It was a lot, too much, actually, at least back to back like I did it.

Zane gave me a beautiful unexpected birthday gift--an antique repousse French card case in some kind of heavy silver metal.  He's that kind of guy--so thoughtful and with such good taste.  It's a lovely object, something I can use every day.  I told him I feel self conscious that every time I see him, I get a gift or he buys me a drink or meal or something.  He snorted and said, "All three times we've hung out?"  Okay, I get it, you are successful, these things perhaps are ordinary for you, but they are special to me, and I said so.  Julie gave me a wonderful batik scarf from the area of Java she just spent a month in, a gossamer silk thing in a lovely shade of pink.  I love it when I get small but extremely well chosen and thoughtful gifts that suit my personality.  I'd rather have a few of those than a ton of stuff that's not reflective of who I am.

So now I'm 46 and another year begins, the recycle, the entropy, but it's different.  I'm not in the first year of my business any more.  The office furniture is bought and the office is decorated.  The computer equipment and working cars have been purchased and are doing their job with no problems.  I think next year, 2015, may be the year where I start making real money that I can save, especially given that my office lease is guaranteed all the way through the end of next year.  The first year of this thing was a complete scramble on so many levels, but now it's done.

I've also spent some time with whether or not I want to do the Jungian sand tray training.  I'm interested in it, but the shamanic path feels more important right now, as well as the need to not fill every crevice of my life with new stuff over the next year and a half.  I told Julie that more now than ever, I feel the need to create space, spend time in nature, get quiet--that at this point I am moving even more strongly away from the things our mainstream culture tells us are desirable.  Someone once again gave me the feedback the other day that they thought my website and blog are too Gothic and that I need to "rebrand" myself in order to be more "professional." I was polite.  I didn't tell the person that pretty much every person who comes to see me does so BECAUSE of what they see on my website and this blog.  What I am doing is different, and it works.

People are afraid of witches.  People are afraid of shamans.  It's because the witch and the shaman are so closely connected to the natural world, which we don't control.  We live in the illusion of controlling our plastic lives, our relationships, our presentation to others.  The witch and the shaman, with their wildness, remind us of the flood, the tornado, the mountain, the forest at night, the bird and the animal that see us when we don't see them.  They remind us of our smallness within the great mystery.

This is a good thing.  And this is who I am.  Last night I found the very first piece of jewelry I ever bought for myself.  I'm pretty sure I was either 14 or 15 years old.  It's a sterling silver cast of a bird's foot holding a crystal ball, a large piece, very big and unusual for a young teenage girl to save her money for and purchase. For years I've occasionally looked at this piece and wondered what the cast was from.  Last night, looking at it, I suddenly realized it's a raptor, very likely a falcon or raven.

I nodded.  Of course.  
It's who I've always been.

Texting, Dating, Introvert, Extrovert...

I questioned Zane's friend, Suzanne, at some length yesterday about how she finds the time to do all this online dating stuff.  She's a fairly introverted person, but she went on something like 5 dates last week.  I asked her, "How on Earth do you do this?"

She said, "Well, I have a stable job, and I don't have a lot going on in the evenings.  I'm not in a play or doing a bunch of extra stuff like you are.  And most online dates happen during weekday evenings because you don't spend a weekend evening with someone unless you're really interested in them."

Interesting.  She and Zane are both pretty intrepid daters.  I think they're both on OKC.  Someone like Zane, of course, has the big advantage in such a medium because he is gregarious, extroverted, smart, attractive, and high energy.  He can easily meet person after person and not be worn out by it.  He said, though, that for introverted women, online helps because they (we) don't have to break the ice in person.  I can see that.

He asked me why I'm not dating more and I explained that it's a matter of energy.  I don't know about that thing of "if a person is serious about you they'll make it happen."  I could easily be seen as someone who's unwilling to "make it happen." The reality, though, is that getting to know a new person takes energy, and is a bit stressful even if it's fun.  The last thing I want to do after a 4 hour butoh rehearsal is meet someone new or have to talk for a couple of hours.  If I'm going to go on a date, I want to be at my best, and when I'm tired or tapped out, I'm just not in that place.  It's not only a matter of having X opening on the schedule or a certain number of clock hours available; it's a matter of being able to be attentive, present, and interested.  At least it is for me.  I suppose it's possible that I am overly conscientious about a certain amount of quality control.  It seems like people do better with online dating who are a bit hardened to the process and don't invest too much into any meeting.  

The other thing, too, is all the emailing and texting.  Even in a full on relationship, I would be happy with a little bit of texting every 2 or 3 days.  I never again want to be in a relationship with someone who needs to text multiple times a day every day.  While my life is certainly interesting, I surely don't want to talk about most of it via text, and you can't talk about real things via text, deeper or more expansive topics; the medium is just very limited that way.  And online dating requires a HUGE amount of navigating things like text and email to even get to a first meeting with someone.  That plus the volume plus the speed--I seriously doubt I'm ever going to do it again, tell you the truth.  It just isn't a good fit for anything about my personality.  

But, I'm glad I tried it a bit, especially with a new installment of Dating in the Modern Age coming up in a few weeks.  I can make an accurate "report from the field."

Birthday Dinner With Mom. OMG.

Well, today unfolded pretty much as planned--supervision group (Scones! Thank you Illysa!), client, my own therapy, and then I ended up having a long lunch with Zane and after a bit his friend Suzanne joined us.  Since I can no longer navigate online dating I lived a little vicariously through their experiences.  Zane was like, "Where have you been lately?" and I just looked at him and said, "Right now, anything that happened a week ago feels like a month ago...that's what it's taking out of me to do this play."  Later, I started laughing and couldn't stop myself in the middle of one of his bad date stories.  When he looked at me puzzled, I said, "I'm sorry, man, I'm just...I don't know how to say this.  Right this minute, I am just so glad I am not you."  He burst out laughing.

They wanted to know how my dating life is going and I said, "Well, technically, on paper, I think I am seeing someone I never actually see, which is a somewhat interesting situation because it's like this virtual, cyberspace thing.  Way I figure it, if November rolls around and I've not physically spotted this person, or only once or something, it'll be clear that it just won't work.  At this point in my life scheduling compatibility is 90% of the deal.  Anyway, we like each other, so even if it can't work, no hard feelings, for sure."

I also cleared the air that now I think Zane is OK because all Crazybish Drama has been laid to rest, at least for the moment.  (One piece of that Crazybish Drama involved a woman who used to date him stalking this blog and sending him links to posts where I wrote about him.  What that was about I do not know but it got handled, I handled it and he handled it so it's done.)  I told Suzanne that I'd been scared off by the Crazybish Effect when I first met Zane but now I get that this isn't the usual thing with him and I don't have to worry about some bizarre miasma of overly attached, insecure ladies hanging round and making my life difficult.  This is good.  Right?  Because, you know, I do not like to go to that I Will Break You If You Bother Me place.  I can do it, go there, and I can most certainly break you.  I do it well.  But I don't like it.

Somewhere in there, My Mother Called.  Of course she did because I was thinking about whether to call her.  She was all like, "Elaine, anything you want birthday dinner, Mom make, whatever you wann." Alright.  Cool.  So after leaving Zane and Suzanne I head to the house to change clothes.  When I get there, my housemate is standing there nicely dressed.  She had called him and told him to come too.  I started laughing uncontrollably when he told me this, especially when I saw that he was holding a nice sized doggy bag for leftovers.  I still don't know why this was so funny.  I guess it's because my mother is never, ever going to get it that a birthday is supposed to be about the Birthday Person, at least not when that Birthday Person is me.  Right.  Yea.  He was all like, "I know this is weird, do you not want me to come?" I said, "No, please, do come along.  I need a buffer anyway."

So we did that and housemate sat there and made the conversation while I sat there and fantasized about spitting and roasting my mother's little vampire chihuahua who barks incessantly and tries to bite you over and over again.  It was strangely satisfying.  I even took pictures of the dog as I imagined a chipotle marinade.  There was something so Hannibal Lecter about my state of mind at that moment.  It rather helped me pay less attention to the way my dad was going on and on about how the Nazis abducted strange orphan babies and the fact that the emotional tone of the dinner table at my parents' house resembles nothing so much as the squeaky chicken scene in Eraserhead, a movie I was somewhat obsessed with as an adolescent.

And then it was over, and housemate insisted that I listen to songs that demonstrate how awesome his truck subwoofer is all the way home.  (Since he was the late guest of honor, I made him drive.)

Man.  What a day.  I'm glad this only happens once a year.

PreBirthday Birthday/I Am Not An Actress

I am not an actress!  This was my approach tonight.  It was completely authentic.  It was 100% for real I Am Not An Actress acting.  I capered and insulted and made jokes all in service of Not Being An Actress.  Rudy loved it.  He was all like, "You know, in acting, ultimately you don't WANT to act anyway."  Perfect, because God knows I sure ain't acting.  I'm just presenting my worst somewhat-blase-but-still-engaged clinical persona, you know, oh man, that really sucks.  What shit luck.  Will you call me to say goodbye before you drink the KoolAid?  As it turns out this is *exactly* what my lines need.  Who knew that thinking of doing my job badly would prepare me so well for my 120 seconds of speaking fame?

Also, I am going to be the best girlfriend in the world someday now that I finished my Psychotherapy With Men course, both parts.  Having men as clients is so interesting.  They ask good questions.  

Client:  "Is being an asshole a mental health problem?"

Me:  "Huh.  I dunno.  It's context dependent.  I suppose it's more of an interpersonal problem.  But--only if you're around people who don't like that.  There are people who do.  

...On the other hand, I'm guessing you're not around those people much or you wouldn't be sitting here with me."

Client:  "True, that."

Best quote this week:  "I'm a terrible judge of character, unless you're looking for someone with terrible character, in which case I'm really good."

I started my pre birthday birthday, which involved eating a deep fried shrimp banh mi and three cream puffs.  Then, high on forbidden gluten and dairy, I went to rehearsal and presented the worst of my best self and it was perfect.  Personally, I think birthdays should unravel over a series of days:  handfuls of dinners with friends, a drink here and there, meaningless activities, lots of stupid joking and capers and general all around good times but ONLY with people you know because nobody wants the worst of their best self up on Facebook.



The first thing I'm doing today is receiving a massage from the lovely Sarah Farwell, with whom I'm doing a trade.  This is going to be so good for me, to receive touch and care after the intensity of this week from such gifted hands.

This truly has been the best birthday week of my life.  It has been intense and life changing and deep and mysterious.  I could never have predicted that this series of events would unfold this summer.  For tomorrow, the actual day, I am going to go to Seja's group, see a client, go to therapy, see a friend, and take the evening to do whatever I want or nothing I want.  Low key.  I wish I'd asked Mike, paramedic guy, if he had some time, but I'm sure he doesn't and I didn't plan enough in advance so not going to worry about it at this point.  Julie is back from Indonesia and we are going to go to Justine's early on Saturday evening, hang out, catch up, quietly celebrate being together again.  I want to see her face and eat moules frites and just be with her.  I also see Karuna and Amae on Sunday morning.  Such good friends; a re-coalescing after a strange and difficult summer of  journeying alone and finding the way into this deeper path that I am now on.

Today is light too; only a few clients and some time for me to look at and work with the script before going to an acting coaching session with Rudy tonight.  I don't have much in the way of lines but of course I want to deliver them well and Rudy is an amazing director--I've come to deeply appreciate his talent, focus and drive during this process.  How lucky am I to be turning 46 and working with such amazing artists, all?  Who gets to do that?

Strangely, or perhaps not, I'm also considering spending a little time with my mother tomorrow.  She asked.  I'm thinking about it.  After all, she is the one who brought me into planet Earth no matter what.  This will always be true, and I'm grateful to her for that.  In looking at how the shamanic initiation process feels like it is going to unfold to me, I realized this morning that the third part will fall in February, the same time that the curandera's grandson told me that a deeper love would emerge in my life.  This feels right.

This transition feels quiet; potent, loving, true, and connected to the great mystery and vividness of all that is.

Butoh-Ism, The Longest Day

Yes, it's just one butoh-ism after another:

Slower, lower!  If the speed of what you're doing is a 10 you should be doing a 1.  This isn't some kind of capoeira madness!

Rotate more.  Palms more out.  Lift the elbows.  Lift!  I know.  I know, it's really hard.  You have to remember all this stuff, and then you need the muscles.  I know.  You can't really do it.  It's going to be excellent.  You'll see.

Okay, okay!  Can you hold that?  Now stay there.  Just...yes, stay like that.  90 degrees, 90.  Don't look.  I know.  I know, it's hard.  Can you splay your palm more?  Don't tuck the thumb.  I know I told you to tuck the thumb for everything, but don't tuck it.  More!  More?  Can you do more?  Just a little more?  Okay, that's good.  Now can you hold that for three pages?

The understudy has said to us at least three times, "Please, please, nobody please get hurt or sick.  Please.  Okay?"

So that's all good.

What's also good is that despite the utterly mind bending intensity of this week, I am back on my game.  Like I haven't been all summer.  

CEUs?  Done.
Jurisprudence exam? Done.
License renewal? Done.
Drivers license renewal? Done.
Office rent?  Earned all of it today plus some.

7:30 AM, I was at the office, watering plants and getting ready for the longest day I have ever to date pulled as a counselor.  7:45 a tap on my door came and my first client appeared.  He said, "Wow, you're here early."

"Well, of course I'm here early, you're coming today," I smiled.  "You're a military man. Timeliness is very important.  Don't you think I'd show up early for you?"

I could tell he was surprised, and secretly pleased.  We sat and I gave him the Big Overview on what I think is going on with him.  Naturally I did not share with him that I arrived at this Big Overview using this new technology that has been getting installed in my brain over the last couple of months.  He was startled by what I had to say.  You know what?  I think he's not going to off himself after all.  The air shifted in the room.  I felt it.  That's taken a while to find.  Good stuff.

The day progressed after that, ridiculously long, ridiculously good, and finally done.  I hope I really don't have to pull another one like this again for quite a while, but it was worth it.  (For my birthday on Friday, I would like my life back, please.)

A new client left a message when he made a Square payment; it sent me a notice, and I pulled it up, puzzled.  It said, simply, 

"Healers beat the pants off therapists."

I laughed.