Finding a way to center: The labyrinth has a resting place



When your course work meets your soul work and gives meaning to your heart work.

I’m in the midst of finals… finals meaning one final paper and a final presentation left. The final paper is, for all intents and purposes, the beginning of what would be my masters thesis (if I had to take that class… I don’t, since I’ll be transitioning into the PhD, but if I were, it would be). It’s looking at how my path has led me to this program, in this moment, and what my previous hats, roles, and experiences have taught me and how will they help me become a better counselor?

The assignment is laid out as a list of questions in the syllabus. We’re to write an 8-12 page paper, working to integrate the answers, our experiences, and some of the career theory that we’ve been learning about this semester. Because, on the one hand, this seems so big, I’ve been putting it off. On the other hand, because I really am curious to see where it will go (and I’m working on that whole procrastination thing), I’ve been working on answering the questions, at least haphazardly, typing in responses to the questions and not thinking about a structure.

Labyrinth_at_Chartres_CathedralAs I was typing answers to the last few questions this evening (hitting the six page mark and knowing there is a lot to flesh out in the paper), I realized that there has been a larger purpose to some of the challenges. That there is a larger purpose to what has seemed like really strange things.

I’m reminded of a conversation I would often have with one of my best friends when I lived in Madison. I would bemoan the fact that I wasn’t doing what I had spent so much time in school training for – I felt like a failure. She reminded me that paths were not often straight, and that there was value in not taking the “normal” route to get where people thought I should go. She is living testament to that; it’s one of the many reasons I’m glad she’s a part of my life.

And I realize that the image mantra I’ve had of the labyrinth for the past ten years is pretty accurate. That it’s twisty, winding, and yet, I am finding center. That, on some level, I have had to trust a process that I’m still learning to engage with. I hate that there is no safety net in this process, just the moving forward that’s required, like on a bicycle. To keep balanced, you have to move. There is no standing still.

In the midst of wanting to stop having to dig so deep, I asked Sarah “Can’t I just be shallow?” She told me I could. For a brief second, I considered it. And realized, no, I can’t. I can’t short change myself (or my current and future clients).

I can’t change that this work is part of the process. But I do have a choice of doing it.

I can acknowledge that it is hard.
I can acknowledge that there are specific reasons I am doing it.
I can acknowledge that, if those things still make sense to me, I keep walking.

If I keep walking, then…

I can acknowledge that I have a choice – to live and work with authenticity or stop doing this digging.
I can acknowledge there is a choice to doing this work, and that I make the choice to do it to the best of my ability.
I can acknowledge the self-care and gentleness that are often required, and allow for them.

Are there parts of your life where you need to remind yourself the why? What might you need to acknowledge today on this current journey?

I would love to hear from you.


5 thoughts on “Finding a way to center: The labyrinth has a resting place

  1. Yes! I am on the home stretch of my PhD, and so many yeses to this. To the process. To the maze, to the deciding to continue (at every single turn of the maze). To the self-care (as I drink wine while writing a grant proposal at 1am… because wine + anything = self care, right?). Congratulations on finishing the semester! Every semester is a step closer to why you are doing this.

    • Oh, Anna, thank you for this affirmation of this experience and the way that process is so much a part of it. :) And yes, some times, it really is having to make the choice at every turn – or even continuing to walk, period – in the maze.

  2. I love this image of the labyrinth. I remember you telling me about it after you returned from your trip (discovery?) abroad. And I remember how inspiring that image was. It’s so important to recognize that our lives don’t follow straight lines (timelines are such a joke). A straight path seems an indicator of autopilot: lack of contemplation or awareness more than anything else. And you’re right; there is no safety net, but it’s important to trust in your journey. Being authentic with yourself seems the only way to acknowledge that trust. You’re amazing, Steph. Keep going!

    • Thank you for this reminder, that auto pilot is often about not engaging, not caring (or not wanting to experience what comes with engaging and caring).

      Thank you for your support, Cait! Here’s to winding paths and discovery.

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