Friday, September 10, 2010

The Therapist Within...

Thank you for visiting this blog.

Please come over to The Therapist Within to read Gabrielle's latest posts.

And unlock your own inner therapist...

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Suspended silently as it was, over a bustling city street, I almost didn’t see this ‘dream’.

Yes, it was written in big yellow letters.
And it occupied the largest window in the building.
So, clearly, someone wanted it to be seen.

But there were still so many other windows and sounds and signs diverting attention all around it, that it was hardly visible… A dream that went almost unnoticed.

So what about your dreams?
Where do you store them? (Behind glass, like this one?)

Are they visible in some way, so others who may want to be a part of them (and maybe even help them to become a reality) can see them and be inspired?

Or perhaps they’re surrounded by the clutter of other more mundane demands – crowded out by your other to do lists

What could help your dreams to stand out more clearly? (Both to you and maybe even to others, too)

Or is it easier to hide them away, so there’s next to no risk of them coming to life?

Sometimes it can seem easier to keep these things secret; to hold them close to our chests or close to our hearts. To indulge in a little private escape when we ‘visit’ them. And to keep them alive in our imaginations for that purpose only.

But what might it mean to dare to bring your dreams a little closer to your life, so they can walk alongside you, instead of being suspended off the ground alone, like the one in the photo?

What might you and your dream achieve together if you were allowed to acknowledge each other more? To support each other more?

And how might it change the quality of your everyday if your dream was more than just an escape-hatch for you, but if it could open up into a whole new way of living (from which you might want less escape anyway).

It seems like something worth dreaming about…

Photo & text (c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Take a seat #2...

Ever since I wrote this earlier blog post inspired by an abandoned chair or two on the street, I keep seeing them around everywhere. And each one seems to have its own message to share, inviting me to ‘take a seat’ for a moment in the perspective it offers.

Take this one, for instance.
A giant, soft spongy recliner, just made for sitting into and never getting out of – perfectly set in front of the ‘IN USE 24 Hrs’ sign behind it.

It reminds me of those big, easy habits or mindsets it might be tempting to get into. Lean right back and kick the footrest bit out in front, if you have one, for maximum comfort (and minimum ability to get out of them in a hurry).

They can seem so permanent, that they almost need their own post-box (which the chair in the photo also conveniently has).

So what about in your life?

Are there any habits or mindsets or opinions that have seduced you into adopting them 24/7? Anything you’ve not re-evaluated for a while because it’s just a bit too comfy?

Sometimes, of course, comfort can be a very worthwhile goal.
But where is that tipping point, when comfort kips over into constraint?

When something’s ‘in use 24 hrs’ it can become difficult to really see.
It starts slipping under the radar, becoming part of the furniture of our everyday.

So I wonder how you know when it’s time to sit up and take notice of that stuff.
To reassess whether this particular place/habit/thought you’re occupying is still the right one for the person you are today.

And perhaps to find out ‘where you sit’ on the things that matter for you.

© Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

PS. I’ve recently found another place to ‘sit’ as well – over at my new blog, The Therapist Within, at Psych Central.
You’re welcome to pull-up a chair and join me if you like:

(And, consequently, I’ll also be reducing the posts here to once a fortnight).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Guest post at Two Chairs Counselling

Where might your 'self' be located?
Feel free to checkout my guest post at Two Chairs Counselling, which explores some ideas about identity and place...
And, while you're there, you might like to read some of UK counsellor & psychotherapist Tamarisk Saunders-Davies' work, too.... she shares some wonderful insights.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Warning: Do not force doors...

This photo is blurry because it was taken on a moving train.

It was standing room only in the carriage, and I had a notebook out, scribbling some ideas down for a potential blog post. But the more I wrote, the less it seemed to make sense. I kept trying to fix things, forge things, join bits together, scrub parts out – trying to make it work.

And then, exasperated, I happened to look up and see this sticker:
Warning: Do not force doors
A serendipitous reminder that sometimes things just happen in their own time. (Or not).

So, what about you?
How do you often respond when things aren’t ‘working’?
Do you ever find yourself forcing the issue? (Maybe forcing a conversation or a relationship, pushing an agenda, insisting on a certain result… perhaps even trying to control the uncontrollable).

What’s your theory on why that might happen?
What might it protect you from? (Anxiety? Loss? Change?)
And what do you imagine could happen if you just left those ‘doors’ to their own timing?

How might it be to just let them open for you? (Or not). To see if and when that might occur. Maybe to save your energy for walking through them and into whatever awaits.

Or perhaps to cast your eyes around and see if any other doors – any other opportunities – are already opening for you instead…

Perhaps 'forcing' is not the only way.

(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rattling the cage...

There’s a metaphor in here somewhere, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Something about seeing this elderly woman, back turned to the windows, alone in a room full of cages, chilled me as I walked past. I had to stop and capture the moment.

(I’m sure the actual woman, herself, is probably enjoying the winter sun through the panes and possibly even sipping a cup of tea in this little cafĂ©. But from the outside, this moment first seemed to speak of something darker).

For one day, we will all be old like this – and that’s if we’re lucky…

There will come a time when we must all turn our back on the day. On all our days.
A time when there will be no more such days for us.

And when that happens, we can only hope that we’ve released all the parts of us that needed to fly free – that we haven’t kept too much under lock and key, preferring to stay caged because flight seemed a scary thing at the time.

So what about you, where you’re currently at in your life?
Is there any part of you that longs to escape any cages of convention?
To be let out into the light.
To be given the chance to stretch its wings.

What unfinished business – or perhaps even unstarted business – is calling for your attention?
Any secret talents, dreams, overdue conversations, or experiments in living?
What would you really like to do?
What matters to you?

What might it take to open the door for these things and give them a way out of the cage?
What’s the smallest way you could set this stuff in motion?
How might it feel to embark on that (to ‘rattle the cage’ a bit)?

(And, perhaps more importantly, how might it feel if you never took the chance and tried?)

(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

PS. The photo is part of Point & Shoot

Monday, June 21, 2010

Good morning beautifl...

This spray painted greeting is sprawled across a driveway out the front of a local block of apartments.

Walking past, I couldn’t help but wonder what it might be like to be the recipient.
(Yes, technically, the paint is also vandalism - but bear with me for a moment).

Imagine waking up and then driving or walking out of your home, into the wider world, and being ‘spoken to’ like this before your day out there begins.
Imagine being wished well every morning.
Being supported.
Imagine seeing – knowing – that you’re not alone in this world. That someone was thinking of you. That you matter. Perhaps even that you belong.

Amazing that such a small message can impart so much. Only two words, yet they’re potentially whispering many more.

So what about the beginnings of your own days?
What might you be whispering to yourself in the mornings, consciously or not, before you head out into the world?
When you first awake.
When you catch yourself in the mirror, cleaning your teeth.
When you pass the threshold of your front gate.
I wonder what just noticing these moments might reveal…

For instance, what tone do these words, these self-spoken messages, speak to you in?
Are they supportive, demanding, depressed?
How might that be impacting other parts of your day?

If you woke up tomorrow morning and found your ‘notes to self’ were sprayed across the street outside your home, would you find them uplifting (‘Good morning beautifl’) or offensive?
Would you be tempted to leave them there or scrub them out?
(And if they’re not fit for public consumption, how have they managed to make it onto your inner canvas?)

There’s an unwritten code amongst graffiti artists, apparently. If you can create something better than the existing stuff, you have the right (and possibly even an obligation) to paint over it and claim that bit of wall or whatever for something new.

So what about your inner spaces?

Is the stuff written inside a little dated? Are you sick of seeing it?
Do you want to add something / change something / paint over something / reclaim something?

And if you could paint your own morning greeting anew, what might it be?

(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

NO / YES / IF ...

This collection of things is mounted to the side of a work truck that parked in my local area recently. The clock really ticks.
(And further up towards the front of the truck a “Works Zone” sign indicates that work happens between 7am and 5pm, with an arrow pointing towards the driver’s seat).

It’s a kind of mini travelling art installation, and I get the feeling it’s probably meant to be commenting about how keenly the driver/worker/artist is looking forward to knock-off time.

But there’s another message in here for me.
One about decisions.
It’s the “NO / YES / IF” factor that really got me thinking…

So how do you generally make your decisions? The big ones, that is.
Is it a case of listing all the pros and cons? Mapping out all the possibilities.
Or do you consult your gut on the big things?
Or talk them over with friends or family?
Do you follow some parts of what it seems society might expect?
Or maybe you follow your intuition, or something altogether different (like this discarded pizza box suggests).

And what about the ticking clock?
Do you find you often tend to have to make your decisions under pressure?
Does that help sharpen your focus?
Or would you rather a little more time on your side to weigh everything up?

How about the “quitting time” part? How might you know when it’s quitting time for something that’s not working in your life? What are the signs that might help your decision making process about that?
And, on another level, how do you know when it’s time to quit making your decision, and time to just get on with implementing it?
(Do you find yourself often lingering around your decisions, questioning them over and over, or looking back over your shoulder at them, perhaps regretting or wishing they were different?)

Finally, back to the “NO / YES / IF”.
Are there conditions that might help you make your decisions?
(‘If this happens, then I’ll do that’).

It can be helpful to notice all of this stuff. To really bring it out into the light and get to know it. To see the processes you often go through, and to become clearer on which ones you feel might support you most.

So that you know what’s working for you (and when it tends to work best).
And so you can perhaps apply all of this more consciously, more mindfully, the next time you’re facing another important fork in your road.

(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

PS These photos are part of Point and Shoot

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Colour outside the lines...

Again, local graffiti has got me thinking, and offered something to ponder in this sea of beige.
I especially like the way the railing underneath seem to add to the statement, bringing three-dimensional lines into the picture. Bars.

Did you colour-in much as a child?
Remember how hard it was, initially, to learn to colour inside the lines? How frustrating? Yet most of us eventually got it.

Learned to trace the shapes someone else had drawn.
Learned to put colour only where we were told to and not where we ‘shouldn’t’.
Even learned what colour certain things were ‘supposed’ to be.

And not just in a colouring-in kind of way…

For there are many lines drawn for us: in society, in our families, in our habits, in our minds.
Things we ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ do.
(Things we ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be...)

Some of this stuff can be useful, and even protective, at times.

But sometimes the lines feel like they’re mounting up, banding together, until all around us we find a cage of ‘shoulds’. And seemingly no way out.

What might it be like to question some of these lines sometimes?
To query their place in your life right now?
To possibly break the bounds and spread some colour into untouched areas?
Perhaps even to draw some lines anew?

What kind of lines might you draw?
Where would you like more colour in your life? (inside or outside these lines?)
And which colours? Would you introduce a whole new shade into your palette?

Simple questions, and kind of strange ones.
But important.
For where you draw the line, and where you choose to colour, can impact the evolving artwork of your life
(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010
PS The photo is part of Point and Shoot

Monday, May 31, 2010

Black hat thinking...

This black hat in the photo was on a pile of dirt at a local train station recently (on the other side of the tracks).
Has it been lost? Dumped? Tossed out the window?
Who knows? But it’s not on the head of its owner.

Dr Edward de Bono (who I recently saw speaking at the Happiness and its Causes conference) has a theory about black hats. In fact, he came up with a whole system of six ‘thinking hats’, each one a different colour for different aspects of our thought processes.

For de Bono, the black one is about critical thinking. When we don this hat, we’re coming up with the reasons not to do something. We’re seeing the potential problems and pitfalls in a situation. We’re raining on the parade.

Yet de Bono sees this hat as being just as valid as any other. It has its own gifts to give.

So when I saw this black hat abandoned by the railway, I started wondering…

What might it mean to throw out the so-called ‘negative’ part of our thinking? To lose our black hat, relentlessly ‘look on the bright side’, try never to experience the darker thoughts in life (and have no room left for the hard stuff)?
Sometimes it seems tempting to try, but is it even possible? Would we really want to?

And what about all the other kinds of ‘blackness’ that seep into our lives – the heartbreak, the sadness, depression, grief? Might it be possible that these things hold their own unique learnings along with their darkness, too? Might they also have something important to share with us?

If so, then what might the darkness in your life be saying to you?

Could it be hinting that something is missing, or not quite right for you yet?
Could it be pointing to a value that’s important for you to live by?
Could it be whispering about change or adaptation?
Might it help you identify what you need to do to look after yourself or your loved ones right now?
Or maybe it's showing you who, and how, you love?

If your pain or darkness could talk about the things that matter for you, what might they speak about?

What might you say in return?

And how might it be to embrace some of these learnings?
To really build them into your life?

(and not just keep them under your hat…)
(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

PS if the thoughts ever get really dark, and they feel just too much to handle, you can call Lifeline any time of the day or night to talk them over and get some help... just call 13 11 14

Sunday, May 23, 2010


You don’t have to travel far to start hearing spin. Between politics and advertising, we’re pretty much surrounded by it.

In fact, often, you don’t even have to leave your own headspace to find it. For many of us have our very own favourite ‘broken records’ spinning on high rotation in our minds. Soundtracks to our very lives.

Sometimes these can be so commonplace that it’s hard to actually hear them. They just meld into the background, camouflaged, a bit like the ‘muzak’ in shopping centres that starts out sounding kitschy and ends up unnoticed. But they can subtly affect your whole shopping – and living – experience.

So which ‘records’ have you often got on inside your mind? (And what spin have they spun?)
Are there any tracks that just keep repeating and repeating? What do their lyrics say?
Are they making you question your worth?
Or telling you that you don’t matter?
Or that you should know better than this?
Or that you’ll never amount to much?
See if you can catch what they’re actually on about.

When did that stuff first get on the turntable? Was there an event that might have caused you to originally pick up these thoughts? Or are they family favourites that got handed down to you?

Have you ever had the chance to question whether this particular spin is still relevant to your life today – does it still hold true for you? (And was it ever completely true?)

If you could update your repertoire and maybe add something a little more uplifting to your play list, how might you expand your collection? What other tracks might your life benefit from? What kind of soundtrack might you more consciously create?

(And what lyrics might actually be truer than the automatic spin?)
(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010
PS. The vinyl record in the photo relates to a local art exhibition, ‘Medium: Vinyl’

Monday, May 17, 2010

Get well soon...

This ad stands on a busy intersection, silently sending its well-wishes into peak hour traffic and the hundreds of people that scurry past on foot. It almost seems to be commenting on the kind of mad rush we’ve built into our society. Wishing us well collectively.

Usually, though, ‘get well soon’ applies to one person at a time.
And usually when they’re obviously sick.
(And usually to someone else).

Which got me wondering…

What exactly does wellness look like to you?
Is it just an absence of obvious illness or pain? Or is there something more to it?
(Something about flourishing or thriving perhaps?)

What might the markers and measures of wellness be for you?
How could you tell if you were feeling it? What would the signs be?
(And where might that put you on your scale of wellness at the moment?)

What about the ‘get’ part of ‘get well soon’? How might you ‘get’ this sense of wellness or invite more of it into your life?

If you’re feeling a long way from well, what might you write on your own ‘prescription’?
Maybe you’d prescribe more of the things that enliven you.
Or less of something that drains you.
Maybe just ‘take one quiet cup of tea, twice daily.’
Perhaps you’d let more spontaneity in (‘take a course of anti-robotics’).
Maybe it’d be about healing your relationships.
Or asking for support.

Whatever it is for you, I wonder what it might feel like to take some steps towards it?
To get closer to your wellness soon.

(And how often might you want to do an internal ‘check-up’ to monitor its progress in your life?)
(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fill-in the blank...

It was just after attending a workshop with Naomi Wolf at the ‘Happiness & its Causes’ conference, that this blank ad-space caught my eye, as it lit up the evening.

The day had been spent investigating the big, often secret dreams we might hold within us and perhaps hide from the world (and even from our selves) under piles of doubt and anxiety. Dreams about family, about finding fulfilling work, about ways we might vibrantly contribute to this planet and the places we call home.

The idea was to get to know our own dream a little better. To get in touch with what a passion or so-called “mission” of ours might be – something that makes the “joy levels ratchet-up,” as Naomi put it – and then to project forward five years and imagine what it could look like by then (assuming that all things are possible).
To visualise yourself engaged in that dream.
In 2015.
Living it.

Ultimately, it was about getting as clear as possible about all of the details of the dream, and then finding a way of “setting an intention” about it. Packaging the dream in a way that made it clear to ourselves, and in a way that we could share it with others if we wanted to.
(Which is all so different than the endless, futile ‘wishing’ in the previous blog post, because this stuff was connected to action. To taking your dream, and therefore yourself, seriously).

And this is where the blank ad seems to come in…

If you think about a dream of your own – whether it be about the kind of family relationships you’d like to nurture, the kind of meaningful work you’d like to be engaged in, or other creative ways of living you’d like to explore – how might you represent it?
(Both to yourself and to others?)

What would it look like?
What colours and textures and images might you use to capture it?
How could you describe it?

And what support might you need for it? (relational, educational, financial?)
How might you ask for what you need to help get your dream off the ground? (Maybe some cooperation from others; maybe permission from yourself?)

If you were to design a billboard celebrating your dream, what sorts of things would you include? Are there any aspects of your current life that you might leave out?

In fact, if this blank, glowing ad in the photo above was yours to inhabit – to project your dream into the evening light – what might you put on it?

And what would that tell you about the next step you might take towards that dream?

And which parts of you might that light-up?
(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010


Once upon a time…
Isn’t that often how stories about wishes start?

I was thinking about the nature of wishing, especially the idea of wishing things were different (and what that might mean), when I noticed this ad further along the train station platform:


The trains sped past it, but the figure on the billboard (of course) stayed stationary. She and her wish stood separate from the action, as a procession of opportunities and destinations slid by.

Perhaps if wishing is attached to a sense of intention or motivation, it can provide a kind of springboard for change or growth.
But somehow, just the wishing on its own – all that ‘if only’ stuff about wishing that circumstances were different or that people would change or that relationships were ‘better’ – seems quite a bind.

For only seeing how things might be can sometimes blind us to how things are.

And, at some level, yearning for a situation other than the one we’re in seems to mean wishing our current life away…
And where might that leave us?

So what about you? Do you find yourself longing for things to magically change somehow? Wishing that a relationship would heal? Wishing things would ‘go back to normal’?

What might it be like to consider stopping for a moment? Maybe taking a look around and finding out how things actually are in your life? (not just where you might wish they'd be).
Perhaps it might be painful. Possibly even unbearable. But maybe strangely liberating, too.

For perhaps when we see where we’re actually standing, then the next step might become clearer, too. And the one after that.

And maybe that way we could gradually move a little closer to where we’d like to be, rather than be stuck always wishing from afar…
(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ship in harbour...

Graffiti is sometimes like a spontaneous street poetry fest. I was driving past this open door and just had to get out and photograph this bit when I read it:

‘A ship is safe
in harbour,
but that’s not
what ships are for’
- William Shedd

Of course, being in harbour is partly what ships are about – unloading their cargo and being repaired and made sea-worthy again – but it’s not their full story. Not the only point to their existence.

Similarly, sometimes we might need to unload stuff and take care of ourselves in a safe, nourishing place. Perhaps even be hauled out of the water and dry-docked every now and then, to have the barnacles scrubbed away. To be mended and healed and made ready for the next part of our journey.

(Where might your own safe harbours be? How do you find your nourishment and repair? Is it about place? Solitude? Or is it more about peace within certain relationships for you?)

And, what about ‘what ships are for’? What else might your life be about?
When you leave your harbour and return to the ebb and flow of things, where do you usually set sail for?
Do you travel the same shipping route again and again?
Or do you sometimes want to set a course for new shores and maybe see where the tide takes you?

What might your ship be made for?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Welcome to wonder...

This shop window sign actually says ‘Welcome to Wonderland’ but the reflections on the glass have blocked some letters out – and an invitation just to ‘wonder’ sounds so much more evocative somehow…

A chance to:
• ponder, be curious and perhaps even to question some things
• and to marvel at the unexpected.

What might it be like to take up that invitation?

What could that kind of curiosity unearth about who you are?
Which parts of your life or relationships might you investigate or perhaps even query?
Are there any other ways of being that you might like to try out?

And what about the other bit? The wonderment part.

Is there much of that sort of surprise or joy in your life just now?
What meaning do you make of that?
Do you want to allow space for a little more of that stuff?
(If so, how might that happen? Maybe you need to heal something first. Is there one small step you could take in that direction?)

For whatever else today holds – whichever pressures or obligations or challenges or habits – it also holds your life.

And you’re welcome to wonder…

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Take a seat...

The streets are alive with metaphors sometimes. Just recently, I came upon this scene and couldn’t help but wonder about it.

It seemed to speak of having ‘an armchair view of the world’ somehow. Or perhaps about deciding ‘where you sit’ on an issue.

So where do you sit?
Where do you routinely view the world from?
Have you got a particular perspective that you automatically seem to take?
Perhaps it’s a slightly skeptical stance, where you habitually find it difficult to trust other people? Maybe a spot where you doubt your own self-worth and automatically assume that others are somehow ‘better’? Or maybe something else entirely….

Where do you drag your chair to, to get your view?
Is it isolated? In an environment you feel comfortable in, or somewhere you never quite seem to fit?

Could you imagine shifting your chair to another location?
Or are you staying put? (Sitting pretty)

And what kind of chair is it that you’re in?
Brand new?
(And what difference might that make to how you sit back into your life?)

Out here, on the street, it seems clear that if you change the chair, or where it’s placed, you change your view.

So if you could choose any kind of chair,
in any kind of place,
what would that look like?

What might you be able to see from this new vantage point? (About your life? About your self?)

And how would it feel to imagine taking a seat there, even for a moment?...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Time out...

It was just after daylight-saving ended that I happened upon this clock in the gutter, abandoned in a bag of rubbish.

It’s been ticking over in my mind ever since – something about the way time was literally thrown out; while, collectively, we decided to shift our clocks back an hour, in a joint decision to make time suit our needs.

Hours can seem like such solid, set measurements. Until you remember that they’re an invention…

What does it mean to live our lives according to these arbitrary periods? To divide each day into 24 bits and then fit our experiences in around them?

And, more broadly, do we also live our lives according to other, greater, timelines? Like the things we’re ‘supposed’ to have done by the time we’re 20, 30, 50 or 70?

Who decides this stuff? Who sets out what a ‘good’ life should look like? Who gets to say what is ‘normal’ for each of us to achieve or to become by a certain age?

(And what might it be like to stray from that timeline, and wander off on a course of your own setting?)

Come time-travelling for a moment; away from our fast-paced world, and back, back, to an era of sun-dials. On overcast days, there are no shadows… and no time to measure on the dial. No hours, no minutes. Just life to live. Now.

Returning to the present-day, if there were no hours here, and no fixed timelines of a ‘good’ or ‘normal’ life, might you change the way you live your ‘nows’?

If you clocked-off for a moment, and let the flurry of deadlines drop, what else might come into focus?

How else might you measure your days? (Your life?)

And, if you were to set your own timeline, what might be important for you to achieve or to experience or to become?

(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

For everything, a season...

Wandering along the city streets, it’s impossible to miss the seasonal shift as the trees lean into the rich tones of autumn. Everywhere, leaves are starting to fall.

It’s the season for letting go, it seems…

What does letting go mean for you?
Is it something you find easy?
Or is it a challenge fraught with questions of ‘what if...?’
(What if I need this later? What if I’ll regret giving it away? What if I never have a chance at something like this again?).

The western world often seems so focused on accumulation – of possessions, achievements, wealth, ‘happiness’, and even friends (think about social media networks) – that it can feel uncomfortable to contemplate letting some things go. It’s as though, collectively, we’re out of practice.

But where might that leave us? Can we really have everything anyway?

Some would suggest that the body already holds the answer.
Just try breathing in.
And in.
And in…
At some point, letting go of the breath is just as vital.

So what might this mean in your own life?
Are there any areas you might want to release?
Any habits or attitudes or assumptions that you might feel more alive without?
Any extra baggage you’re sick of dragging around?

What might it feel like to set these things down?
To let these ‘leaves’ fall? (Who might you be without them?)

And, much like the trees, would letting go make space for new growth?

(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Full system scan...

Like millions of others around the globe, my computer just launched its regular system scan. Riffling through all its files and folders, it’s searching for things that don’t belong there. Things that have snuck in quietly through some vulnerability, and which could be doing damage.

I imagine you know where I’m going with this.

For computers aren’t the only entities exposed to viruses and malware. Some of our own internal programs can be pretty malicious, too. And we can pick them up from all sorts of places – some may have been travelling with us for years, and have perhaps even afflicted generations of our family.

The inner critic is one such ‘program’. It’s a tyrant that usually barks orders and reprimands us until we’re overcome with shame and reluctant to take a step in any direction in case we’re WRONG somehow (again).

Like computer viruses, these programs slow us down. They can interfere with what we want to do and who we might want to become. They can fill our system with other people’s stuff. They can hijack our dreams.

So it might be important, once in a while, to take a moment and do a system scan of your own. To just find a quiet space and go within, and see what’s there:

What habits do you have about the way that you see yourself?
Are there automatic ways you behave or react – and do you want to keep them that way?
Where might some of your internal programs have come from – when did you inherit them?
What other desires or emotions or relationships might they be impacting?

Though some of these things can be challenging to ‘quarantine’ or ‘delete’ from your system, even just knowing that they’re there is a meaningful step. For by becoming mindful of destructive programs or habits, already you have changed your relationship to them.

Just by noticing them, you've already started to free yourself.

(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Interior garden...

Recently, I wandered into a nursery, hoping to find a pot plant for my therapy room – something fairly hardy that can handle low lighting, changeable weather and occasional heartache.

Having found a likely looking candidate, I wanted to know a bit more about it.

‘Excuse me, will this plant grow very tall or will it stay fairly compact?’ I asked the gardener.

She turned and paused for a moment.

‘It’s limited by the size of the pot.’

I’m not sure if it was the way she said it, but somehow this statement seemed to mean a whole lot more than just plant sizes.

It started me wondering…

So what about your own ‘pot’?
How large a pot will you need for the kind of life you'd like?
What sized pot are you in now?
How might you like to grow?
Are there any areas you might like to prune?

Have you become stuck somehow, ‘root bound’ perhaps, in a situation where you feel you can’t live healthily anymore?
What might it take to un-bind you?
What could transplanting look like?

And what sized container do you tend to plant your dreams or expectations in? How much nourishment do you give them?
(... and yourself?)

In a way, therapy is all about looking into these kinds of questions about your life.

And it can be a way of becoming your own gardener...

(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Big to do list?

It was in a crowded train station that I first saw this ad. Peak hour. People jostling for position on the platform after a day’s work, eager to head home. The to do lists were fairly humming in the air.

The very nature of these lists means they don’t really end. They rarely get done. They’re just a rolling constant in our lives.

So how do you live with yours?

How do things get on to your list in the first place? (And whose things are they?)
Do you write your list, or do others actually have more of a say about what goes on it? What routinely gets prioritised at the top?

Do you cram as much as you can onto your list? Do you have a hope of achieving all of these things in the time available, or have you set up the system so it’s near impossible and you always feel ‘behind’ somehow? If so, what might that be costing you?

What are you not doing, when you’re answering to your to do list? Are there things that never seem important enough to actually make it onto the list? Maybe lazing in the sun. Wandering with no destination in mind. Just taking a moment to breathe.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moments of the everyday, and to lose ourselves somewhere in our lists. To forget that these everyday moments are all that we have. They add up to create our very lives. So, in a way, as we’re writing our to do lists, they can actually be writing part of us, too.

And what might be on your to be list…?

(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

No stopping...

This sign is supposed to be about where not to park your car. But every time I walk past it, it seems to be pointing towards something much more important than that. For each time I pass by, the leaves behind the arrow have changed colour, or sometimes have dropped off completely, following the seasons. So the sign reminds me of time passing.

The seasons slip by, and there's 'NO STOPPING' them. And our lives pass with them, and it seems there's 'NO STOPPING' that progression either. Today, the last day of summer, the sign's message rings especially clear...

Yet how easy it can be to forget this. To recklessly pretend that somehow there will always be another summer, another season, another day to a life that often feels like it has no end. We start 'another Monday', and kid ourselves that there even is such a thing, when each day, each moment, is utterly unique (and another one gone from us).

It's confronting. Frightening, even. But there's a gift of sorts, here in the turmoil. For in facing the finiteness of our lives, and the relentlessness of time driving us on, we can also get closer to what really matters to us. We can uncover what it is that we are afraid to lose. Or anxious to experience. Or grateful to have in our lives.

In this way, our fears of dying can almost become signposts of their own, pointing out the values and experiences, people and relationships that we treasure, and that we want more of in this life. However long we have to lead it.

I wonder what your signposts might point to?

(c) Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar 2010
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