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Narrative Therapy & The Message of My Pain

On a recent visit to California I had the pleasure of meeting one of my heroes, Dr. Steve Grinstead. In my mind I had imagined him larger than life. He had been a treasure-of-a-find five years ago when I began blogging. As a psychotherapist, he understood that pain was more than just a physical phenomena. He was one of the first healers I found in all my Internet searching who was treating the “whole” person when it came to pain management. He “got it” like no other professional I had encountered. He understood that pain worked its way into your psyche and spirit and needed to be treated on those levels. Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.39.17 AM

I should have guessed that the reason he had so much compassion was because he experienced his own physical pain. He had to step away from careers as both a master electrician and martial artist because of a game- changing injury. But the message he received drove him to become  a seasoned psychotherapist and the Director of Grinstead Treatment, Training & Coaching Services,

My chronic pain gave me a reason to consider what I could do besides teach art, which required standing for long hours. It allowed me to open my own art studio and flourish as an artist.

With the release of Silent Courage, I now find myself traveling in another new direction. When Steve read my book, he told me that what I had done was “narrative therapy.” I did not even know what the term meant, but I did know that internal debris I had been carrying all my life was gone. Mental self-defeating chatter that had burdened my thoughts for years was now silent.

I am loving the fact that through my workshops I can connect with others who are interested in mining what their souls know. It is the new message my pain has delivered. A new journey has begun, and I have my pain to thank for this.

Communicating vs. Complaining

I was asked to speak at a local retirement complex last week regarding Pain Management and issues related to my new book, Silent Courage. One of the topics that encouraged our group discussion was the need to express our needs. One of the participants asked, “But isn’t that complaining?”


I said no. “It’s a good thing to communicate.”

Then she asked, “Why do we feel it is a bad thing?”

What a great question.

It seems that we confuse complaining with communicating. And the only difference between the two may be our attitude. Communicating is relaying information. Complaining implies that we moan or groan as we speak.

When we communicate that we have particular needs we are asking the world to stop, look, and listen. Then simply say, “What may work for you does not work for me. I need [state what you need].”

By sharing that we require something like a handicapped parking spot because walking long distances is difficult we are raising awareness that distance matters. If we travel through this world only thinking of ourselves, it is easy to remain selfish. If folks who were in wheelchairs, who could not climb stairs, never expressed their challenges, we may not have elevators that benefit us all in buildings today.

It is our attitude when we express our feelings that categorizes what we say.

My husband’s roommate in college was blind. When you would enter his space I remember asking him if it was okay if I turned a light on. His reply was, “Sure, I forgot you have that problem.”

Never be afraid to claim the space you  need for your journey. Others may benefit, too.

Silent Courage is Here!

Pardon my blog hiatus, but what has seemed like hundreds of rounds of edits, proofing, and tweaking has finally paid off–my book (my baby, my 3rd child) has made it into the world! Silent Courage is now available as an e-book on Kindle and SmashWords. It is also available in paperback on Amazon.


I can’t begin to describe the gratitude I feel for completing this publishing process and all the people who have supported me and contributed a variety of expertise along the way. This is just the beginning for many of us–for those who want to advance the conversation and understanding of chronic pain, alternative therapies, and mind/body/spirit healing. For those of us who want to share our stories through narrative therapy. And for those of us who want to keep the arts involved in pain management and healing modalities. I look forward to continuing to connect these dots and connect to like-minded people. But for now, let’s celebrate! 

This Week: April 24-May 4, 2014

Come see me and a multitude of 100+ talented artists from all over as we “live paint” during the Plein Air Art Festival. We’re taking over the beautiful rolling hills of wine country in Augusta, Missouri. (I feel like I’m in Napa Valley out here. Just breathtaking.) Every day we’ll go to a different location to paint a new painting by 5 p.m., which will be auctioned off. There are also a few nocturnal painting events scheduled for after 5 p.m.

Here’s what I’ve been working on today:

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Next Saturday: May 3, 2014

More Plein Air Art Festival fun–From 2 p.m. and on, I’ll be doing my 1st book signing at the gorgeous and rustically relaxing Halcyon Spa in the heart of Augusta, MO. The owner, the multi-faceted healer, Kathy Kessler, is mentioned in my book as a key physical therapist in my recovery who introduced me to myofascial and craniosacral healing. So come get a chair massage, grab a delicious fish taco from the Yo Salsa food truck, and relax on the porch with your signed copy of Silent Courage.



That’s all for now. I hope to see you at the Plein Air Art Festival or at an upcoming book talk event.


P.S. If you buy the book–whether hard copy or for your e-reader–send me a picture of you and the book. I’ll feature you on my blog and enter you into my monthly raffle for a fine art print of my book cover. And if you do buy the book, you have my eternal gratitude and good karma points coming your way.

Silent Courage hanging out with Chihuly.