Monday, November 23, 2020

From Bud to Bloom: A Metaphor

This is my Amaryllis flower. I have been studying her for weeks now, watching her move both gracefully and awkwardly through her growth cycle. I have seen myself in her in many ways.

 My Dad, an avid gardener and soft-hearted teddy bear of a man, sent me this bulb several weeks ago. He and my Mom often send packages to my house with goodies for my kids, and sometimes there's a special something for me as well. This time I was excited to see the bulb that was included for me, and I immediately started thinking about all that was potentially slumbering inside, waiting to be born. 

Hang with me as I walk you through the stages of growth and transformation of my bulb, and notice whether you recognize these stages and their application in your own life. For me, each step in the growth process of this Amaryllis reflected stages of development and transformation I have known intimately throughout my own life, and had the honor of witnessing in my clients and loved ones as well. See if you can stay with the metaphor as you read through the progression that follows. 

First, I planted my bulb in rich soil, carefully reading the instructions, trying to be a good plant mama. (Admittedly, I am not a great gardener. Though I do try.) It surprised me how quickly I started to see the sprouts of leaves and a stem. Growth was right there beneath the surface, eager and ready to get started! The green shoots I quickly noticed were at first indecipherable, as much is in the early stages of creation, but the stem quickly became distinguished from the leaves as it reached upward. Every day it seemed an inch or more would grow. This was fast, meaningful, and important ground work the bulb initiated. Similarly to us humans, some of the most crucial growth is that which lifts us from our dark cocoon of slumber into an awakening that the time has come for work to be done. 

One day the stem stopped its skyward growth and the beginnings of a tight bud started to form. I thought frequently of the magic that must have been happening inside as chemistries unseen brewed within the closed walls of the new bud, brewing future petals. I believe I know how this feels: cocooning inward, quietly integrating and nurturing plans for my future Self. It is indeed work that must be done in the quiet and solace of a safe, private space within. 

After observing the bud I noticed that a slight cracking-open had happened. She started to part her walls like this, slowly and intentionally, getting ready to show her very early willingness to bring the inward out. It's takes immense courage to start to open; to release the tension of imagination and creation, and to bring the fruits of hard work toward expression. In the beginning it looked like this:

I observed further as she forged courageously forward in her expression of Self. The tightness unfurled to reveal many inner layers, each with their own secrets to share. I had a sense of the colors and forms that were yet to come, but did not yet understand how they would fully come alive. 
She looked like this as she opened further:

Days later this happened: A furthering of movement toward expression, slowly and with deliberate care. She seemed to became more comfortable, more trusting in her process, and the layers within were allowed more space for the expansion ahead. 

In the days to follow, the beginnings of softness started to show. 
The Amaryllis began to reveal her more tender, vulnerable aspects of Self. Her guards and walls, so necessary for earlier protection, lowered to allow expansion. Her colors started to reveal themselves, and the layers released their tight grip to create space for breath and flow. She started transitioning from what she once was to what she would soon become.

The work seemed less arduous now; more a process of allowing, stretching, and becoming than chemistry or creation. She became a living manifestation. Layers found their rightful place in the system, individuating from one another while also remaining part of the unified whole. She came into her full expression of color, shape, and form, revealing the work she had so diligently nurtured and cultivated in prior stages. She was soft and open, strong and stable. 
Finally, she bloomed:

She is now vulnerable, exposed, and open. She shows the world her beauty; letting herself be seen, opening toward the light, and inviting pollinators to include her in their process of creating new life. Will she bloom forever? Surely not; that was never the point. She knows now that even with this fruition of blooming, there are still many stages ahead. If she listens to the stirrings inside, the natural encoding within her passed down from generations before, she will continue to navigate the stages ahead the same way she followed the path behind: with trust and intention. She knows it's not about anything lasting forever, but being fully present throughout her process of life.  She now knows how it feels to sprout and bud and bloom. She will bask in the sun, receive nourishment from her water and soil, and live in a bloomed state until it is time to cross over into the next stage.  

We are alive. We are constantly breathing, moving, learning, and transitioning from one stage of life toward the next. Being alive is a process. It is a continually unfolding journey of experience and discovery. There is no "there" to get to. Everything along the way is important and meaningful.
From where I sit today, it seems that the grand package of life can be exhibited in the quiet study of a Amaryllis. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Freeze and the Thaw

It was a chilly one, this October morning. Cold and cozy days are my most favorite kind, and I loved walking amidst the still-frozen beauties of Nature, noticing the grace and poise with which they crystallized themselves in the morning frost. As I walked and snapped photos with my phone I was listening to a podcast called "Unlocking Us" by Brene Brown. In this particular episode Brene interviewed twins, Emily and Amelia Nagoski, about their important psychological studies of emotions and burnout. (Their book, Burnout, is amazing by the way, and I highly recommend it). 

So I was walking and listening, observing and considering their words, and I was just so struck by the frozen natural world around me. I noticed the most delicate branches, stems, leaves, and flowers glistening in their frozen coverings of ice. They were quiet, seemingly peaceful in their frozen forms, and yet I realized that this patience I was witnessing in nature arose from a sense of non-attachment to this particular state of being. 

Underneath the hard glittering shell of ice these plants were still very much alive. They were pliable and soft; even warm beneath the freezing ice blanket. They just allowed the ice to be there on top of them, weighing them down in some cases, holding them rigid in others. They just allowed. They seemed to realize that there was nothing to be done here but to simply be in this experience. This too, like all else, is transient. Freezes freeze; that's what they are supposed to do. The attachment to whether the freeze is good or bad, seasonal or untimely...this is what causes suffering. All things hold the inevitability of change. Our human bodies, our cities, the Earth--change is happening, and it is supposed to happen. 

I felt comforted and awed by these delicate forms of nature today, for they reflected such an important truth to me. We are all, of course, made of the same magical goodies--just represented in different forms.

May you freeze and thaw, bend and break, be challenged and supported, and remember the nature that you are.


Monday, August 24, 2020

The Magic of Imperfection, A Poem

 We are imperfect.

That is the magic of us. 

We line our cracks

with soot and stardust. Ink. 

We plug our holes

with dreams and sweat. Cumulus. 

Drown the sound of breaking

with laughter and loud talk. Moans. 

There are wands in our tongues. 

We speak cha cha from chaos

and two step to the crescendo 

of our own alchemy. 

We are imperfect. 

That is the magic of us. 

--Journey Johnson

(Image by Kate King)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Kate's Interview with the Art Therapy Association of Colorado

I was honored to be featured with the Colorado Art Therapy Association as their art therapist spotlight for the Summer 2020.

Please click here to read the interview.

Monday, June 29, 2020

I Will Come the Rest of the Way

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Brene Brown's "Unlocking Us" today. The episode was the second in a two-part interview with Dr Harriet Learner, a well-known psychologist who studies relationships. These two episodes are focused on the topic of apologizing, and it was a profound and insightful listening experience for me. At the end of the second episode Dr Learner and Brene Brown share a Hebrew parable that brought shivers down my spine. I wanted to share my paraphrasing of this parable with you as an example of an authentic, heartfelt, and deeply meaningful apology between a father and his son:

A King became angry with his son and banished him from the kingdom. After years of estrangement the King’s heart softened and he sent his soldiers to find his son and ask him to return home. After their journey the soldiers returned to the king and said the son refused to return, as he was still so hurt and bitter about what happened. The King sent his soldiers back to his son with a new message: “Return as far as you can, and I will come the rest of the way to meet you."

Now that, folks, is the way repair happens. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Resources from blogger Mark Manson to cope with pain

I love Mark Manson's perspective on the world. A client of mine once described him as "dark zen" which was such a great description of him. During this insane Covid Crisis our world is immersed in right now this particular article written by Mr. Manson seemed like it might be helpful.  It shares six books that Mark thinks will help you grow from your pain. Enjoy! Click here to read Mark Manson's article

Friday, March 20, 2020

Kate's Playlists!

These are strange, scary, uncertain times, my friends. The world is spinning and whirling in a collective panic, and it takes great intention to not get pulled into the collective anxiety right now.

One way I am keeping myself in my own body, in my own experience is music. I am aware that I expose some vulnerability by sharing my playlist with you, but at the risk of your judging my taste in music here it is:

Well wishes to each and every one of you. We will get through this difficult time. We are all in this together. With love from Kate

This is the play list I ski to, dance to, cook to...whenever I need some energy I listen to this:
-The Best - Tina Turner
-Come Together - The Beatles
-Sweet Emotion - Aerosmith
-Higher Ground - Stevie Wonder
-American Woman - The Guess Who
-Brave- Sara Bareilles
-Get Lucky - Daft Punk
-Wish I Knew You - The Revivalists
-Dreamgirl - Dave Matthews
-Feel it Still - Portugal the Man
-Beast of Burden - Rolling Stones
-Free Fallin' - Tom Petty
-My House - Flo Rida
-Uptown Funk - Bruno Mars
-Walk this Way - Aerosmith
-Life is a Highway - Rascal Flats
-You Get What You Give - New Radicals
-Pumped up Kicks - Foster the People
-Dancing in the Dark - Bruce Springsteen
-Old Time Rock & Roll - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
-Dancing with Myself - Billy Idol
-Good as Hell - Lizzo
-Pompeii - Bastille
-Rebel Rebel - David Bowie
-Kiss - Prince
-No Diggity - Blackstreet
-Ain't no Mountain High Enough - Luke Wade & Mia Z
-Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
-New Light - John Mayer
-Broken - Lovely the Band
-Titanium - David Guetta
-Uptown Girl - Billy Joel
-Night Moves - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
-I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - U2
-Tidal Wave - Portugal. The Man
-You Can't Always Get What You Want - Rolling Stones
-Whatever it Takes - Imagine Dragons
-Footloose - Kenny Loggins
-You Still Touch Me - Sting
-Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield
-Empire State of Mind - Jay Z & Alicia Keys
-Gold on the Ceiling- The Black Keys
-Burn the House Down - AJR
-We Didn't Start the Fire - Billy Joel
-Complainer - Cold War Kids
-BOOM - X Ambassadors
-Brick House - Commodores
-Go Easy - Matt Maeson
-Love Shack - The B-52's
-Gangnam Style - Psy
-Stay Human - Michael Franti
-The Joker - Steve Miller Band
-Highway to Hell - AC/DC
-Gimme All Your Lovin' - ZZ Top
-Lo/Hi - The Black Keys
-100 Bad Days - AJR
-Girl on Fire - Alicia Keys
-Wild Night - Van Morrison
-Walking on Sunshine - Katrina & The Waves

This is a softer playlist that I like to relax to, wind down to...when I need solace or peace:
-Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay - Sara Bareilles
-Days Like This - Van Morrison
-Harvest Moon - Neil Young
-Titanium - Jasmine Thompson
-Willow - Helen Jane Long
-Beast of Burden - Rolling Stones
-Dear Winter - AJR
-Honeybee - The Head and the Heart
-Keep Breathing - Ingrid Michaelson
-Forever Young - Rod Stewart
-Setting Sail - Gary Clark
-Gravity - John Mayer
-Free - Donnavon Frankenreiter
-Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's
-She Used to be Mine - Sara Bareilles
-Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles
-Love Letters - Aaron Zigman
-A Thousand Years - Christina Perri
-It Will Rain - Bruno Mars
-Like I'm Gonna Lose You - Jasmine Thompson
-River of Tears - Alessia Cara
-Lost Stars - Keira Knightely
-All of Me - Jasmine Thompson
-Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton
-Stand By Me - Ben E. King
-Many the Miles - Sara Bareilles
-You Still Touch Me - Sting
-3x5 - John Mayer
-Passes - Helen Jane Long
-Better Together - Jack Johnson
-Have I told you Lately - Van Morrison
-Half of my Heart - John Mayer
-Let's Stay Together - Al Green
-Have I Told you Lately - Rod Stewart