What’s New (NOU) in My Zoo…The Year in Review

Hello all ūüôā

It’s been a very busy year and apparently I am on a June to June review of my life and practice, rather than conforming to the traditional New Year review…but that’s me, a bit of a non-conformist. I walk my own path, which varies between joining the rest of the crowd and veering off to explore interesting nooks and crannies, all while being respectful and conscious of:

1)signage that that warns about staying on the trail, and

2)levels of personal risk and safety.

If you enter my practice as a client, you will be growing and changing. Inherent in that process is risk and discomfort-along with a safe, supportive and respectful environment, because…anytime there is growth and change, there is discomfort. There can also be fear and anxiety. Awkwardness. Lots of awkwardness. ¬†And a certain amount of falling down. In order to change and grow we must become comfortable with the uncomfortable. We must learn to tolerate a certain amount of distress, begin to learn to master our mind and we must be prepare ourselves to fall, sometimes over and over, as we enter the new. We must become willing to be awkward and accept the humility that accompanies moments of embarrassment, while trusting that the outcome, whatever that may be, ¬†will have been worth the distress we will endure.

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Not being one to subject my clients to anything I’m not willing to do personally, I pushed myself hard to grow this year. In the process I became an observer of my own mind and body – witnessing both my shortcomings and limitations, my strengths and my internal resources. ¬†My mind went to war with itself as I challenged areas of faulty and unhelpful thinking. I opened up to the possibilities of ¬†failing and falling. ¬†I had to let go of security, take risks, manage fear and anxiety, push myself, encourage myself, believe in myself. I had to assess personal safety and figure out risk management, and be willing to question and challenge all the thoughts flowing through my mind. I had to become my own best friend and my own therapist- dissecting my thoughts and my mind, my beliefs, questioning my values, my motivations, my intents-while offering up reassurance and support to myself…because no one else in my life knew about this experiment I’d set for myself.

This has been my solo journey into me.


Why? As a single mother, business owner and therapist, I can get stretched pretty thin at times in terms of having to manage responsibilities and care for others, including family and friends. No one in this world will probably ever really know all of me. A very select few will know more of me, but even with them all that is contained within me will be hidden. Why?

I am the container of stories. Stories that need to be witnessed and heard in private, some of which may need re-writing, tweaking, or just a gentle place to rest because they have been held somewhere else for too long. Each of these stories contributes to who I am and who I become – they influence me, guide me, affect and impact me, but for the most part, they are not meant to be shared beyond the story teller and me. I am their silent keeper. Whether it be from clients or family or friends, I am the receptacle in which these stories can be placed and they become me. Yet no one knows or hears them, though there may be echos or ripples that influence the next story told and my response to it.


I can hold and honor stories, because I love the triumph and tribulations of humankind. But containing ¬†them, along with managing the various responsibilities of my daily life, can sometimes lead to a state of fullness that threatens to reach the overflow level. And suddenly I’m not as present with everyone in my life, or with myself, and no one gets the best of me. ¬†I have learned over the years that I need to sustain myself, which entails listening to my heart and gut, sometimes angering people who love and care for me as I bow out of certain things and go my own way. I need to be able to empty and release.

Nature has always been a go to ‘restore my tired brain and body’ ally for me. Forests, mountains, streams, and the ocean whisper to me when I enter their presence. They beckon me, asking for nothing other than an appreciation of their beauty. In return, they embrace and force me open, allowing all that is held within to empty into the infinite connection that I become a part of when I seek them out.

Five years ago I discovered stand up paddle boarding while on a solo trip to Maui. And a whole new level of connection and release was born. I had a 5 minute lesson on the beach. Paddled out without a leash or PFD, which was the stupidest thing ever – I’ve since heard endless horror stories of paddlers being caught in winds and either being blown away on their boards to never-never land when a sudden wind comes up ( and luckily being rescued), or being blown off and separated from their boards, never to be found again…or found, but not alive.

I’m sure I looked like a complete moron paddling offshore that day in Maui. I fell, and fell and fell some more. Guaranteed I was holding my paddle backwards and there was no form other than trying not to fall again while moving forward – ever so slowly – but somewhere in that full-fledged awkwardness and willingness to be vulnerable and open, something transformed within me. My shaky, rubbery legs stopped vibrating, (I’ve always struggled with a fear of waves and the open ocean because I don’t swim well) my body adapted to the rhythm beneath my feet….and I fell, deeply, madly, passionately, completely, ¬†in love. ¬†Everything within me that I’d been holding onto released. The ocean took hold of my mind and let it empty, empty, empty – and as everything I’d been holding emptied, a space opened in which I could begin to see new possibilities.

Cut to last June, after 4 years of pushing with work, creating a new home, getting my son through high school and doing the stuff all of us do to survive and get through the daily grind. I’d been paddling intermittently in those 4 years, renting a board when I could, but feeling deprived and frustrated when I needed the release paddling gave me but couldn’t get out because I had to depend on everyone else. Something within me broke. And it was then I decided to go for broke. To enter completely into awkward, goofy, I don’t know what I’m doing mode because something within me knew that doing so – scary, humbling and humiliating though it was and has been at times -something within me, knew that doing so would give me release, and ultimately, would lead me to who I really am.

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I had to be willing to risk a lot this last year to find myself – it’s been all about letting go of everything – personal beliefs, impressions others have had of me, my desire to look to look capable and in control, money, crazy mind thoughts, judgments about myself and others, and control.

In return, I’ve had a year of life that I will never regret, experiences that will be memories I will always hold close, an amazing place to release stories that need honoring, ¬†and closer connections with people who live their lives the same way.

I’m continuing to pursue my passion, and the coolest thing about it, is that I am witnessing the effects of my alter life in my practice. Joy and happiness really is contagious. I’m a better counsellor this past year. Normally that is pursued by taking more courses in the field. I’ve been in the field of the world and know that this stuff…nature, the ocean…lakes, streams, trees…they are the ultimate healing field. Which is why I’ve been pursuing SUP instruction. I’m continuing my journey. Costa Rica surfing in April lead to skill and instructor courses in June. In July I’m off to Tofino to pursue my touring skills along with more surfing. September holds a weeks of SUP surfing and paddling in Long Island New York. More awkwardness, ¬†adventuring and mad passionate love. The journey continues….


Marco Salazar of Costa Rica SUP Adventures took and provided the pictures taken in Costa Rica.


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