Contemplative Counselor @ The BurdsNest
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I am more than the sum of my parts, and so are you. Experience (and now a master's in psychology) has taught me that a host of mental health challenges arise in the conflicting space between our pesonal and cultural identities. (I was raised to think of myself as "black" and that Africa is my motherland and the motherland of all humanity, that all living things are my family; it took me a long time to understand that when I walk in a room, everyone sees a bald, bearded, "white" man with all the associated cultural baggage; allowing both to be true has supported authentic, healing relationships in my life. We can deal with what is real. My experiences are real and the stories I tell about them, not so much.) Toxicity tends to build up around rigid ideas, while flexibility gives strength; the willow bends in the hurricane's winds. We first encounter this rigidity in childhood and it often results in trauma - often "accumulated trauma" that is compounded by shame. I have space for you to unpack and explore your experiences, your stories, and your truths. I have space for you to remember or learn who you are while making sense of who everyone else says you are. My approach is first to hear and validate your experience, to meet you where you are; your experience is real and true. Next, we tend to look at beliefs and the stories we tell to create meaning out of that experience. At this point, we might be sussing out what is real and true and what is story...with the goal of creating more satisfying stories.
Speaking of stories - my story is that I am my father's only child and my mother's fourth and final birthed baby; I grew up in the 70's-80's (90's, 00's, & 20-teens, too!) in east Texas, raised by a household of Yankee-hippies - dad a special education vocational counselor and mom a political scientist. I am Earth/Gaia-centric. I believe in the unremitting sacredness of personal identity, and I recognize the existential importance in understanding cultural identities. I believe we are inherently "good enough" and we pick up social "mental viruses" that tell us otherwise...and we are rarely taught to identify or process what that means. I do no believe I can possibly know what you need, but I believe I can help you figure it out. My life and toolboxes are open to support your processes.
(More about me? I play guitar, bass, and percussion. I have been a fire performer. I married my best friend and we continue to work at partnership after 25 years. I have a daughter and a son who rock my world. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish from Sam Houston State University, a Master of Education in Administration from Lamar University, and a Master of Arts in Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology from Naropa University. I am ordained by the Church of Spiritual Humanism, I am not particularly buddhist, and I meditate. I am an artist and my life is my great work. oh! and I love you.)
I was leaving Texas, moving my family to Colorado, and decided to look closely at what I found fulfilling in my vocation as an educator and various other life avocations. I found that I am fulfilled in relationship, in connection with others. I learned that one of my superpowers is seeing health and brilliance when the person I'm connecting with feels anything but healthy and brilliant. Naropa University helped me put a point on this through a curriculum designed to find the Brilliant Sanity and Basic Health in each of us and in each situation. THIS inspires me to be a wellness professional: at the foundational level of existence, Brilliant Sanity and Basic Health are there.
The most common thing I hear is: a) I am "different" than other counselors / therapists my clients have seen and b) my clients feel "seen" and validated around whatever issue (often) for the first time.