“Don’t stop arriving. You’re almost there. You know the clearing is just ahead. I know because we are happening at the same time.” –Buddy Wakefield
One of the things that I’m famous for saying to clients repeatedly is, “The process is the solution.” If you’re anything like me and the majority of people I work with, you too, likely fall prey to the occasional delusion that there is that magic moment of deliverance.
Maybe sometimes there is. But it’s fleeting.
If I had a nickel for every time a client said to me, “But I thought I was done with that,” I’d never have to work another day in my life.
We tend to think of “arrival” as a fixed concept. But what if it’s also fluid? What if it’s something that “happens” and also something we do again and again?
Here’s a slightly uncomfortable secret: We’re never “done.”
The good news is that, because those pesky Usual Suspects will undoubtedly rear their heads every so often, we can take the pressure off of our Inner Exterminators.
At the end of the day, it’s not about eradicating core wounds and chronic issues. It’s about changing our relationship to them. Remember that energy is neither created nor destroyed. There is no addition or subtraction; there is only transmutation.
This is the concept behind Psychoalchemy.
So here we are at the Big Launch. There’s a brand new website and a blog and shiny social media pages. My uber-brilliant team at Neon Butterfly did a bang-up job. I couldn’t be more thrilled.
One might say I’ve “arrived.” And, in a sense, I have. But, at the very same time, I am still arriving.
I will always be still arriving.
Inherent in Buddy Wakefield’s quote is a fundamental paradox; there is this notion of getting “there,” while at the same time there is a plea for concurrent and ongoing arrival. The two live side-by-side.
It’s easy to see the creation, the product, the “there” in the case of Psychoalchemy.com. What’s less apparent, perhaps, is the “still arriving” aspect; the ongoing inner alchemy.
I live and work the process that I teach. And while it’s tempting to just display the shine and call it a day, it’s not the most honest portrayal. So I am going to take you behind the scenes. Or behind the “seens,” as it were.
This project, which included everything from creating a “Brand Story” to building the beautiful site you see before you today (and lots in between) was a nearly 8-month journey.
But I was arriving even before we ever began.
If you follow my writing at all, you might have read “The Things That Make Me.” In short, it’s a reckoning with personal power; with feminine leadership; with “showing up.” I wrote it after co-leading a Transformational Yoga & Coaching Retreat in Italy last year.
I have always had a paradoxical relationship with being seen. I both crave it and dread it simultaneously. The great psychologist D.W. Winnicott said, “Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.” This is precisely the ambivalence I’m talking about.
A couple of years ago, during the time I was doing a transformative yoga training called Conquering Lion, I had a conversation with my teacher, Kelly Morris. A fellow writer, she had recently penned some brilliance and sent it to an old college writing professor. We were on the phone when she announced that she wanted to read me his response because I needed to hear it too.
This line still rings in my ears: What strikes me is just how uncomfortable you are with your own remarkableness.
It was a significant moment. Something deep and true and fundamental got touched.
There is no gift more precious than being truly seen, even when what’s witnessed is the “unflattering” struggle. Reflecting someone accurately, in her own true image, is an exquisite offering of love. Yet we often resist it with a vengeance.
Those individuals who not only have the gift of penetrating sight, but also the generosity of skillful rendering are rare. Considering that my Conquering Lion training was a portal to connection with some phenomenally powerful people this way, it is fitting that I found Abby Allen of Neon Butterfly through the CLY network.
A big part of me absolutely dreaded the prospect of re-branding; I associated it with gimmicks and shticks. The visions of terror were relentless: aesthetic abominations in the form of hokey, cartoonish headshots super-imposed on busy, larger-than-life stock banners with violent pop-ups holding innocent perusers hostage for an email address. If this was "marketing," I was out.
I value authenticity far too much to abandon essence for formula. And so I was terrified of being “watered down” or made to look like a caricature. But the project was inevitable. My old website threatened to crash every time I updated it. It wasn’t mobile friendly. And I’d certainly evolved alongside the technology in six years' time.
And then there was that “being seen” thing. If I was going to create a brand and a website and get photos taken and write, well then, the point was visibility. Not in an attention-seeking, self-aggrandizing way, but in a way that sought to pay homage to the (uncomfortable) magnificence.
I don’t even know how to begin to talk about Abby and her work. At face value, I hired her and her team to build a platform, create a brand, and launch the media that would get the story out into the world. She certainly did that. But, in a way, that was the tiniest part.
Well, it was and it wasn’t.
See here’s the thing: I struggle greatly with the material world. I am a visionary; when it comes to the practicalities of translation to form, I can get paralyzed.
One of my favorite books is called On Becoming an Alchemist. In it there is a chapter called “Dissolution” in which the author talks about creative energy in its “volatile” (unmanifest) form and in its “fixed” (matter-like) form. The first time I read about the journey from “volatile” to “fixed,” all I could do was sob. To bring the energy of pure potential down into the world of form is to contend with a sort of death. The third dimensional world is imperfect. A vision can never be rendered in its inherent perfection once it becomes fixed.
This is precisely why I prefer to allow my dreams, visions, and ideas to exist in their volatile form…which is to say, in the imaginal realm, where I can enjoy them devoid of a “warts-and-all” status. The problem, of course, is that books don’t get written. And pictures don’t get taken. And websites don’t get built.
Not to mention the invisibility issue.
At every turn of this project, when Abby would come back to me with something concrete-- a logo, a site layout, a revised version of some copy-- I would feel my body tighten and clench. I almost didn’t want to look. After all, I was wired for disappointment; form was an inevitable letdown.
Here’s the thing that still astounds me: every single time she showed me something I was blown away. I expected to be relieved at best-- because what else could one hope for when there was simply no way to translate the impeccability of vision to the concrete realm?
It seemed that Abby had managed the impossible.
Only it wasn’t impossible. Because she had done it.
I've been very tempted to give her all the credit (and she sure deserves a heap!).
But then something hit me: the alchemical agent was, in part, my budding ability to recognize the remarkableness that Kelly and her professor were talking about. Sure, Abby had to render it. But I also had to see it.
It was a co-created effort.
Abby honored the depth of my vision; she "got" my essence so profoundly that she was able to mirror back to me a version of myself that, at some level, was clearer and perhaps even more accurate than the murkier ideations floating around in volatile space.
How insidious the ways of resisting our own light can be.
A couple of nights before we finished a draft of the site, I was soaking in my bathtub listening to a dharma talk by Tara Brach. At one point Tara turned to a somatic exercise and the point of inquiry had to do with what we, in that living moment, were unwilling to feel in our bodies. Much to my own astonishment, the answer that came back wasn’t sadness, anger, fear, or disappointment. It was love. Pure, radiant, unfettered, painstaking love. Let’s face it: that kind of love is annihilating. Despite the platitudes that pervade social media textgrams and all of the “spiritual correctness,” love of the sort I’m talking about is far more exacting. There’s nothing breezy or romantic about it; it wreaks havoc on will and ego and all of the other inner upholders of status quo comfort.
Suffice it to say that this project has had me up against my own edge. Self love, especially, is both a harsh and tender mistress.
I almost never say that I'm proud of myself. (I'm not proud of that.) Pride is one of the seven deadly sins, after all. It most certainly gets a bad rap. But feeling good about who we are, what we've created, and the gifts that we have to share with the world is integral. I'm not talking about hubris. I'm talking about being in right relationship with our own radiance.
A couple times during our process, Abby mentioned how proud she was of herself; she'd held and rendered some aspect of the vision in such a true and honest way that she was almost giddy. She wasn't afraid to share with me that, after the first draft of the site went up, she awoke in the middle of the night, excited, marveling at how incredible it was.
I'm going to steal a page from her book: it's not only okay-- it's vital-- to celebrate ourselves and our efforts. All of this-- the seeing, the being seen, the delicateness of vision, the clumsy unwieldiness of form, the rendering of remarkableness, the resistance, the ambivalence, the fear, the love, the truth of heart-- this is the work of the sacred journey.
I’m wildly proud of our co-creation.
Here we are, hovering in the sweet spot where the finishing and the embarking overlap. This moment is a finite pause in an infinite process.
We stand here together. There is always a collectivity to these things. It starts with showing up.
And we’ve shown up.
So, welcome. Thank you for arriving.
We're almost there.
We're just getting started.