Lately it seems every time I go to the shaman ceremony, I figure out another piece of the puzzle that is me. This time was no different.
The shaman labeled her ceremony “Peace—the bridge between what has been and what is yet to come.” The topic intrigued me, and we hadn’t had ceremony in several months. I lined up a sitter and told her I’d be there.
We settled in and the shaman shared a story about finding her truth regarding her work as a healer, which brought her peace. It wasn’t the generic reason she’d been telling herself for years, but one which resonated within her. She asked the group where in our lives we were stuck. Without hesitation I responded, “my career.”
She asked us to meditate on the root, or the basis, of this issue. Surprisingly what popped into my mind was my mother telling me, at age 17, not to major in English, but to “pick something practical.” I don’t regret my degree in environmental science, and as an adult, I understand why she said what she said, but at the time I felt vaguely unaccepted. And the concept of practicality took on a life of its own in my psyche.
My decision to launch a special needs law firm was based on practicality. I could work part time and make more than enough to support my daughter and myself. There were many things I liked about this plan, but I just couldn’t seem to start. I worked on all the preliminary tasks, fiddled with the details, but couldn’t launch the business. No amount of self-talk or reframing changed this fact. After four years, it was embarrassing and humiliating. For whatever reason, I was dragging my feet. By 2017, I’d accepted it was never going to happen whether I knew the reason or not.
And then, sitting in the shaman’s living room, it occurred to me that helping special needs families one by one wasn’t solving the underlying problem. It was like putting a bandaid on a gaping wound. I wanted to do something bigger. I wanted to help more people and change the underlying policies. Did I know how to do this? No. But this shift just felt right.
Over the course of the night, it also became clear that I wanted to continue to write memoir and poetry. That I wanted to teach writing workshops. More importantly, that I needed to consolidate.
Why had I ever thought I could write, run a nonprofit, and start a law firm all at once? Maybe when I was younger I had that kind of energy, but not now. I needed to streamline my life.
I had recently interviewed to become the Executive Director of California Poets in the Schools. If I was willing to raise my own salary in that organization, why not do the same with Autism A to Z?
By the end of the ceremony, I didn’t have all the answers, but I did finally understand why couldn’t bring myself to launch the law firm. The shaman was correct. The truth brought me a sense of acceptance and peace. It also showed me the path forward. A glimpse of what was yet to come.
Until next time,