My journey was interrupted. But only for a quarter of a century. It turns out, however, that the detour I took was a blessing in disguise. I thank my lucky stars that our paths crossed when they did and that I got to be your practicum student when I decided to resurrect my childhood dream of becoming a counsellor myself. It is a blessing that I never take for granted.
Were it not for that lengthy delay, I would never have had the privilege of learning from you Lisa. I would have missed out on marinating in your quiet strength, your gentle determination, and your impeccable integrity. I would not have seen, first hand, how it’s possible to be tough enough to invite the transformation necessary for a client’s healing, and yet, tender enough not to scare off or harm the wounded souls seated before you. Yes, I learned so very much from you. And, fortunately, I still get to … since we are both employed at the same agency.
You were my very first experience of witnessing how one applies all that academic therapeutic theory into a genuine and sincere practice. Thank you for helping me traverse the distance between ‘knowing’ what I was taught to do when you have real aching human hearts seated before you … and … actually ‘doing’ it. It can be tricky … it reminds me a little of making bread. Having a good recipe is no guarantee that you’ll get a good loaf. The best of bread makers will tell you that you have to have a feel for it. I believe that is true … with bread dough and human hearts. A little more of this … a little less of that … tweaking the therapeutic ‘recipe’ to suit each unique context and tailoring it specifically for the palate of each individual … intuitively sensing your way to a desirable outcome. And THAT you do.
I would also venture to say that ‘safety’ is the greatest gift a counsellor can offer to another … whether you are working with a client or one of your practicum students. It is so rare (and yet so critical) to feel emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually safe with someone. I marveled as I witnessed you create a sense of safety for your clients. I admired the way you honored their perspectives and saw the light in their souls despite the darkness they were experiencing … and often … despite their own debilitating self-recriminations. With you, it was/is safe to be real – to spill the good, the bad and the ugly … with no fear of dismissal, rejection or condemnation.
And, Lisa, I owe you a heart full of gratitude for being that kind of safe someone for me too … both personally AND professionally. I have always felt safe enough to ask when I didn’t know … safe enough to admit my errors and my vulnerabilities … and … safe enough to bare my worst fears. But perhaps, even more importantly, I have felt safe enough to let you into my own fragile and tender heart space (and THAT doesn’t happen very often.)
It seems to me you are exquisitely skilled in things that simply can’t be taught. I trust you implicitly to be a great steward of the bruised souls who arrive before you with rumpled hearts and discouraged spirits … wrestling with the darkest parts of their most painful perceptions. And, I know you will carefully cast a little light … inspire a gentle glow … illuminating their hope for brighter tomorrows. I know you will find a way to help them reclaim their belief in themselves and/or find faith in the potential for possibilities that are currently eluding them. From where I am looking, your compassionate perceptiveness, your expansive wisdom and your sensitive intuitive heart are a remarkable combination when it comes to helping people find their way.
And … despite your wealth of experience in the field, you remain so incredibly humble. It’s beautiful to watch you in a staff meeting. I notice how you make room for everyone to speak their mind … and then, should you decide to speak, we are all EARS, because we trust you will say something worth hearing. There is a compelling question that persistently gnaws and niggles its way around my consciousness … curiously beseeching me to check before I speak … about whether or not what I have to say would improve upon silence. And I have noticed that when you speak, Lisa, you invariably improve upon the silence. Yes you do. And we are all the better for it.
I marvel at how you so graciously wrap your perceptive insights with such kind and compassionate energy. I deeply respect how you lead your life and live your days with such genuine compassion … an authentic reflection of the kind and caring heart within you. I have always been inspired by the way you practice what you preach. It is not always easy to do that, especially in our field … but you definitely walk the talk. And … I admire how you invite people to be the best version of who they can be in the world … and yet simultaneously … you loving accept each and every one of us for where-ever we we may be along that long and winding path. What a gift it is to be gently stretched but compassionately supported and encouraged, every step of the way …
I could say so much more, but I hope you are getting a sense of who you are and have been to me. Thank you for being such a critical and significant part of my journey … both personal and professional. You have been an exceptional mentor and I remain grateful that I get to continue to share space with you and to learn from you. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, I would not be the same without you … I really wouldn’t. I am so much better at what I do … and … at who I am becoming because of you. Thank you … from the deepest place in my heart.
With deepest reverence for the treasure of your being, Karen
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