November 9, 2018

Sanctuary and the Fountain of Youth

So I may or may not have told you that I gave myself a rather unconventional birthday present this year. On this special year I considered buying a beautiful piece of jewelry. I considered taking a luxury cruise. I even considered an antique book I’ve had my eye on. But when I really sat and considered the one thing I could do to mark this year in a truly unforgettable way, the perfect gift finally came to me.

You see my year started with a specific word. As 2018 dawned, one of my favorite friends asked me to name a word that I would carry with me through the year, I told her, without hesitation, that it was EXPAND. It felt just right when it came out of my mouth. A time for growth and movement. A time to amplify.

And because of that word, I realized a truly perfect gift would facilitate my personal expansion. What kind of gift can do that you might wonder? Well, I decided to go back to school and pursue a master’s degree.


I shared this with another friend who looked at me like I had lost my mind. “Because you need more to do?” she asked dubiously. I just smiled and assured her that I knew what I was doing. I didn’t really, but that’s a story for another day. Later, as I scanned the options available to me, Transformational Psychology winked beguilingly from the list on my computer screen and I resolved in that moment that this was the degree I would pursue.

I began the grad school application process which seemed innocuous at first. Filling out forms, sending in the application fee, asking some colleagues for letters of recommendation.

Then I had to put together a resume of my career. That was interesting. I’ve owned my own business for almost 20 years so my resume was a little dusty.

After shining that up, I had to write an essay. Make it “scholarly,” they said. I had to read about citations, references and worthy resources. I had to leave my own casual writing style parked on the side of the table and dig deep to find the kind of writing I did so many years ago when I was in college. It was harder than I remembered. But eventually I finished a paper I was moderately happy with and sent it off.

My letter came, the champagne cork popped (thank you to the wise and fabulous Philip Allen for having champagne in one hand and a hanky in the other in case I didn’t get in) and we toasted to the curious mind, which I am just sure is key ingredient to that magic elixir of youth everyone is searching for.

So I’m into my fifth week of classes, half-way through my first ten-week semester and I am almost ready to take my first deep breath. I’ve been up and down on this insane roller coaster of exhilaration (learning new things can be so heady) and utter desolation that I will never be up to the task of learning such complicated concepts and writing about them in a way that is clear, scholarly and honestly, a bit foreign to me.

But I will tell you that thankfully, my sanctuary space is holding me (and my school work) together. We’ve had some late nights, some weepy moments and we’ve burned a whole crop of candles down to the bottom of their wicks. But my sanctuary is holding strong and true. I’m sure in some ways I’ve never needed it more.

My first class is about Carl Jung and his writings on the psyche and consciousness. It’s a fascinating topic and the weekly readings go between confounding and riveting. I am getting better at the weekly writing deadlines and fitting it into my normal schedule.

I could not have realized that when they said the class would take about 12 hours of work per week, including lectures, reading, writing and class discussion forums, it would be so difficult to carve that time out of my already hectic schedule. But I’ve made it this far. I have a good grade and my brain is on fire with interesting ideas and big concepts.

My thought at the moment goes a bit like this: I’ve never had more lines under my eyes and I have never cared less about them. So while this may not be the fountain of youth that Ponce de Leon was looking for, I am so alive — body, mind, and spirit — with what I am taking in.

I’m so absorbed in thinking about what I’m learning, keeping the bus of my life on the road and figuring out how I can take what I’m learning and incorporate it into my understanding of sanctuary that I have not a moment to do more than slather a bit of lavender cream on those wrinkly badges of honor before I tumble into bed to dream about symbols, archetypes and the collective unconscious.

So guess what? I’m expanding, just in case you were wondering. I’m so glad you’re on this journey with me. I’d love to hear what is tickling your fancy and tempting your curious mind these days. And what do you think about my take on this crazy fountain of youth?

With love and gratitude,


Logo flourish

3 responses to “Sanctuary and the Fountain of Youth”

  1. Jill Seale says:

    BRAVA!!!! Love big leaps and new mountains to climb! Congratulations for following your instinct!

  2. Jill Davis says:

    I’m so impressed with your leap into grad school and your whole personal expansion. My leap into academia was a career move that was beneficial for financial stability (the one way to feel wealthy as an academic is to have first worked for 15 years in non-profit theater!), but the amount I have grown as a designer through teaching is simply astonishing. I had this bizarre worry that teaching would involve giving away my knowledge in a way that would diminish my own expertise in my field, but I found that the opposite is really true. The more I look for ways to inspire my students and explain what I do as a designer the more I inspire myself and grow as a designer.

    Your self-described casual writing style is incredibly coherent and appealing without being gimmicky. I think the only difficulty you would have with so-called “scholarly” writing is ramping up the opacity and tedium. Keep inspiring us with this amazing blog!

    I think I just might adopt “expand” as my personal theme for this year.

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