And who are you?

And who are you?

 At the Compost Heap…

 Dear Reader

Greetings! Thank you Miranda for that introduction (Who is this White Rabbit?). Of course she forgot to introduce herself, so I guess it’s up to me to do the honours.

Who is she and how did we meet? How we met will be revealed all in good time. Meanwhile for those who have visited the website www.changematters.co.za and hit ‘About Us’ on the Home Page you will find a brief synopsis of her life and her academic qualifications but what you won’t know is how she fell down the ‘rabbit hole’, took the ‘pill’ and landed up at the proverbial ‘compost heap’.

You would think at the ripe age of 59 years that one would know what one is doing, at the very least have got their act together. In many ways she had, nevertheless ‘The Universe’ felt this wasn’t quite enough, so they threw her a ‘curve- ball’. This particular ‘curve-ball’ took the form of the world as she knew it coming to a total crash, where she finally tripped up over the addictive root of codependency, fell helter-skelter down the ‘rabbit-hole’ and landed up at the ‘compost-heap’ where the journey towards ‘self-discovery’ begins.

When someone assumes that their life is outwardly ticking along and that they have nothing left to learn, watch out! In her case her ‘curve-ball’ took the form of her business deals being suddenly retracted, her car engine blew, her computer crashed and her long-standing relationship ended, all in a period of one week. It was as if ‘The Universe’ was saying ‘Stop and be still we have something we want to ask you – Who are you?’

Who are you is the same question the caterpillar asked Alice. It is the same question Miranda got asked. This was not the first time she had heard this question but it was the first time that she had been given the opportunity to discover what that question meant for her. In the past she had been given many opportunities to hear a variety of opinions as to what this question raised. Her mother and grandmother, teachers and peers at school, Swami Venkatesananda, friends along the road of life, her lovers and husbands, her children and grandchildren, her work colleagues, books on philosophy and spiritual growth, music, poetry, the political situation in South Africa had all provided her with a sense of who she was. Nevertheless, this time round sitting on the bench with the mountain on one hand and the sea on the other she was stumped to provide the answer.

One thing you need to know about Miranda is that when the going gets tough she can be very resourceful. On this occasion she had her 60th birthday looming. She decided instead of having a huge party to celebrate this occasion she would rather ask her friends and family to contribute monies towards psychotherapy sessions.

Psychotherapy wasn’t the only ‘character’ Miranda had to meet on her journey towards self-discovery. Like Alice who met a variety of different characters such as the Caterpillar, The Cheshire Cat, The Mad Hatter, The Dormouse, The Queen of Hearts and The Jabberwocky, Miranda met The 12 Step Programme for Codependency, Inner Child Workshops, Body Stress Release and South African College of Applied Psychology.

By the time Miranda celebrated her 65th birthday as an intern at Stepping Stones Primary Care Unit for Addiction she felt that she knew the answer to that question ‘Who are You’ and was ready to share her experience, strength and hope with fellow sufferers of addiction. Nevertheless, ‘The Universe’ had other plans for her. He/She/It said ‘Sorry, but who you are needs to be shared on a broader scale, take the sum total of what you have learnt, not only during these past five years, but also from your past experiences as a Teacher of HathaYoga, as an Adult Educator and more recently as a Counsellor of Applied Psychology and go and run workshops on Personal Growth’.

Miranda initially was not happy with the thought that she would have to take a leap of faith by starting her own service as opposed to being comfortably employed and receiving a regular salary each month but by that time her connection to ‘The Universe’ and her trust that ‘All will be revealed, just take a leap’ was strong, so she began ‘Quest for Zest’, a series of workshops inspired by her own process of discovering who you are.

She laughed when ‘The Universe’ sent her the first applicant whose name was Grace and then again when her second applicant applied whose name was Jana meaning ‘Gift from G*d’.

Now this is when, as in the story of Alice in Wonderland, the tale gets curiouser and curiouser. What Miranda did not know at the time of running these workshops was that Jana had a doctorate in clinical psychology. All Miranda knew was that she had a willing student and that somehow there was something about Jana that she felt was a kindred spirit. It turned out much later after the workshops had been completed that they were given the opportunity to get to know each better. They got to know that their fathers had actually worked in the same field, but at different times, that their mothers had similar interests, that they had been struggling with similar destructive patterns regardless of their qualifications, that they both wanted to write, were dabbling painters and loved poetry. They decided it would be great if they set up practice together. The only problem was that Jana didn’t want to practice in the traditional milieu of clinical psychology but rather she wanted to include something more into the ‘mix’. She also wanted to learn more from Miranda so she wanted to be present when Miranda ‘worked’ with a client.

Two ideas arose from these needs. The first was that in group therapy in addiction counselling there are often two counsellors present, one who acts as ‘the facilitator’ and the other who acts as ‘an anchor’. The question that arose was why this can’t be done when the ‘group’ consists of three people. The other idea came from how art therapy is often used to assist clients to tap into themselves. The question arose what if a client wasn’t interested in this method but was open to their sessions being recorded. What if the recordings were not an audio but rather a visual rendition of the process that the client was undertaking over a period of 5 sessions? Instead of using a video couldn’t the client’s process be recorded on canvas?

At this point Jana said she was going on holiday. In Miranda’s opinion she was doing a ‘runner’. What is a ‘runner’ in counselling terms? I guess it is when somebody gets faced with what they have to undertake in order to obtain what they want. It is like being on the brink when the dealer in a card game asks you whether you are in or whether you are out. At this point Jana wasn’t sure, so she disappeared for a month. Her picture featured in ‘About Us’ bears testimony to that time. It sees her featured as ‘care-free’ having fun with her dog. This is true she was but she was also taking time-out on making the biggest decision of her life to date – am I in this venture (involving her own personal growth) or not? By the way this happens in counselling sessions as well. Miranda once told a client that she dared them to jump in the sea-pool opposite the practice room to illustrate their commitment to their process. The client refused and left, but now 9 months later they are back. So I guess this is part of the process. Miranda herself took a long time, about 40 years, before she took the plunge, so Jana haring off as she did for a month was no big deal.

In the meantime Miranda attended an exhibition of pottery at the Irma Stern Gallery and got offered an opportunity to start a website in exchange for a packet of chocolate-coated peanuts! This part of the tale I will share in a subsequent post. It shows how magic manifests.

Until next time, as always.

The White Rabbit

 Dr Hollywood puts on her Jungian hat (ears) and comments:

Any hero’s journey begins with a problem. Dragons (or aliens) are invading the land. There is an evil king. A spell has been cast on the people. Etc etc. In the everyday world, you may find yourself sitting with problems or discomforts of note – like Miranda did. In our view, this is not a cause for lament (though it does cause pain), but a call to adventure. Very typical, once one has sensed the challenge and seen the lay of the land, is a first refusal of the call – the way Jana did a ‘runner’.

Christopher Vogler says:

“This one is about fear. Often at this point the hero balks at the threshold of adventure, refusing the call or expressing reluctance. After all, she is facing the greatest of all fears, terror of the unknown. The hero has not yet fully committed to the journey and may still be thinking of turning back. Some other influence – a change in circumstances, a further offense against the natural order of things, or the encouragement of a Mentor – is required to get her past this turning point of fear.”

Watch this space…



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