Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Do it, or Dump it!

The past three weeks I have been working through Marcia Weider's "Successful Dreamer Course." In week two she talked about clearing your clutter. Clutter is "holding on to stuff that you started, but did not complete." This is no foreign concept to me. I have been there before. (See my blog series "The Magic of Stuff.")

However, Marcia's coaching has brought me to a new crossroads. In her program she says, "if you have been forever talking about writing your best seller, but never doing it, my coaching to you is to do it, or dump it!"

Why is this a crossroads for me?

I am thinking of dumping my dream to publish my novel, and my dream to record and album of my songs: - to clear my clutter.

The thing is, these projects are already complete. I have written my novel. In fact, I have written three novels, and I have written a whole album worth of songs. I have dozens more songs in various stages of progress. The trouble is not that I am unproductive. The trouble is the next steps.

I am forever getting to the next steps. I have shared my novels with maybe three people. I have screened my songs with one producer, and a songwriting coach who thinks my music will definitely get radio play. I have taken only a handful of songs to peer songwriters groups.

This falls far short of getting these dreams come true. Just writing them was half the work. Marketing them, and enrolling the support I need to publish and record them is a whole mess of work in itself. Its work I seem to be taking forever getting around to.

Is that reason to dump them? I am currently trying to make new goals in my life, or revalue the old ones in support of the newer ones, and Marcia says "nothing kills integrity like not keeping your agreements with yourself, or with others."

Having already spent so much time and effort on these dreams, makes them more valuable to complete than ever before. To make these dreams really come true I need to go the extra steps. Otherwise, I get nothing more than the satisfaction of having created art. It is the giving up right at the final stages of dream.

The truth is, these are still works-in-progress, but sometimes life gets in the way.

My foundation is weak. Periodically, I struggle to make a living that can sustain me. Too often, I have to put my creative projects back up on the shelf just so I can focus on bringing in money enough to feed myself and put a roof over my head. My car breaks down and needs repairs. Job contracts fall through and it takes extra time to find new work, or else I get so wrapped up in working that there is no time left at the end of the day to focus on moving the creative projects.

Getting back on my feet after a fall is always tough, and I have done it a thousand times. Through all of it, doing art really helped my spirit. It was a great reason to take on these projects.

However, I am in a time when I have have to reevaluate these old projects, as I have been planning to enrol producers for my music for so long now that I am not really sure I am ever going to get around to it. I am not sure I am ever going to get to doing the interviews I need to, in order to learn how to navigate the publishing business and get my book out there.

Right now I need cash. I need food. I need to fix my car. I need new clothes. I need to be able to enjoy a taste of living beyond the bare necessities, to be able to have savings, and to start planning to buy a house. But right now I need help just staying on top of my life's basic needs, and these projects-in-progress are a reminder of how tough it is to get ahead in life. It is painful to watch them grow stale on the shelves, and painful too as a reminder that I broke my agreements with myself.

What say you, dear reader? Should I dump these projects?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The End of the Broadcast Reign over Passive Listeners: we are the makers of the new world.

The first storytellers shared stories orally. The broadcast era made us passive consumers of inadequacy messaging. Today, we are raising our voices to return to an oral tradition.

This is a great talk on TEDX!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What I Love About Writing, and What I Don't

I love to write! I love to write and share my stories with people. I love to reread my own adventures and imaginings. I love the idea of reaching a lot of people with my stories. I love to inspire people to know about the world the way I see it, and I love to hear about how my stories and thoughts have inspired people. 

When I turn my thoughts toward publishing I run out of steam. Publishing has always felt like a daunting task to me. If I could get up every morning and write something, I would be happy. However, I wish to reach a greater number of people with every new, good piece I write. For that, I will have to become comfortable with the publishing game.

My latest novel wants to be published. I have self-published one book in my life, “The Southern Flying Squirrels of Point Pelee National Park.” The other things I have published in my life were published through companies I worked for, or contracts I had taken on. So, I have relatively little understanding of where to go with my novel and how to achieve my goal of putting my story into the hands of lot of people. 

For help with this I turned to a friend of mine, a published author for support and guidance. He directed me toward some helpful online blogs.  Think Like a Publisher, by Dean Wesley Smith, and The Business Rusch, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A cursory read of these informative pages brought me a practical glance at what it means to publish today. 

Gone are the days of industry editors who receive your amazing manuscript in the mail, read it once right through the night, and call you up the next morning, because your story is bound for glory as a best seller. Few writers ever made it that way to begin with. The bottom-line is, best sellers are not written over night. They are shaped into being by persistent, business minded writers, perhaps now more than ever before. 

I think it was Jack Canfield (Write a Book and Get it Published) who coached me to set a clear goal of what I want to achieve with publishing my book. I want to sell my book. I want to make enough money from my book to feed myself good food and keep a roof over my head. I also want to improve my home and establish a reputation in the world as a writer whose stories are exciting and well worth the read.

These goals in themselves are not concrete. I need to have a specific publishing goal. How many books do I want to sell? How am I going to sell them? Who I am going to attempt to reach with them? Who is my audience? What channels lead to that audience? How much work am I willing to put in? Is this novel in the right shape to achieve such goals?

One way to get some of those questions answered is to start sharing and marketing the novel now. It is finished on so many levels, but the work really has just begun. Each person I share my story with will have insight into its readiness for publishing. Getting out to regional writers groups, having people read it and reflect its treasures and pitfalls, and getting a pulse on how it appeals to readers are all important steps to shaping the story into a deliverable package.

Few people have read this novel to date. While there is still so much editing to do, much honing and shaping to go, I am now entering the sharing phase. What are some of the many ways writers can go about getting into the sharing phase with a novel? I would love to hear from other authors about this. Please feel free to share your experiences and or leave comments below.

~Robbie Sea

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Connecting with theme of childhood trauma to Howl's Moving Castle

On a recent trip to Vermont while visiting a good friend, I was reminded of the story of Howl's Moving Castle. My friend William, a master storyteller in his right recently viewed the film for the first time. He was so inspired by the fire demon character, Calcifer, and began to refer to the spirit of the fire in his own hearth fire place by that name. "Calcifer takes care of me," William says poking at the fire and setting it up to warm the house for the night.

Calcifer, from How's Moving Castle

I had not thought of the film in a very long time, not since I attended animation school at Sheridan College, in Oakville Ontario in the early 2000's. I was such a fan of Hayao Miyazaki in those days. His films were still done in the old style 2D animation, with masterfully hand-painted backgrounds and hand-drawn, frame by frame animation techniques. I preferred the artistry of Mizazaki to the 3D style of animation that was taking off in hollywood at the time.

So, needless to say, back in animation school with my eyes fixed on Studio Gibli's technique and the visual candy, I totally overlooked the relevance of the story theme and concept of a moving castle to my own life story. It was not until my friend William pointed out the obvious theme, Calcifer the fire spirit remains central to the hearth and life of Howl, who for one reason or another is unable to settle down. It dawned on me, "Howl is a nomad at heart, like me," I said to William. "But why? What drives him to move? Thank you, William! I need to watch this film again."  

Kuddos to British novelist Diana Wynne Jones for writing the story. I knew right away that the archetypes of Howl, Calcifer, and the Moving Castle were going to relevant to my life story, I just didn't know how. 

I finally watched it again yesterday and was blown away by what I had missed the first time. In fact, most of the reviews of Howl's Moving Castle that I found Online last night had missed it too. One of the most significant and important themes of Diana Wynne Jones' story is overcoming trauma.  

Howl is totally living with the impact of deep seated childhood trauma.

Other Online reviews of the film typically discuss themes like self-esteem, self-doubt, and other more basic common story motifs such as following one's destiny, being in love, growing old, and finding courage. Moreover, the common focus of most film reviews is on Sophie, the female character who falls in love with Howl, not on Howl himself.

It is so clear to me that Howl's story is so much deeper than just about finding courage. As the story develops we learn that in his youth as a student wizard, Howl is dazzled by a falling star. The interaction led him to lose his heart, and in the bargain, a fire demon named Calcifer came into his employ. 

Howl, now a beautiful young man is desired by many young women, but it is rumoured that any young woman that falls for him is destined to have their heart stolen for his evil purposes. Even Howl's apparent arch nemesis, the Wicked Witch of the Waste, had succumbed to Howl's beauty. She had fallen in love with him many years earlier, but vowed to make him suffer for never returning her affections. Her desire to possess Howl for herself eventually lead her to her own demise.

Howl's Moving Castle as seen from Sophie's Hat Shop Window.

Who is Howl as an archetype?

It is clear to me that Howl fits the orphan Motif. Howl lives in a moving castle, going from place to place, never staying in the same place for long. His magic castle allows him to enter different cities and places depending on the setting of a knob on the castle door. It also allows for a quick escape if so needed.

For further anonymity, Howl is known under many alias' throughout the kingdom. He claims this as be a way to stay totally free and in control of his own destiny, but he clearly becomes burdened by his alias' when multiple messages come from the King for each of his alias' to contribute their magical skills and gifts in support of the war. Howl shrinks back and begins to fear that he will be discovered at last.

This is typical of orphan characters: overwhelming fear of being discovered, and a preoccupation with regaining safety. When asked by Sophie, "Why does the castle move around so much?" Howl responds, "Moving around makes it harder to be found." 

My Theory about Howl's orphan character:
It was said that a falling star took Howl's heart. Howl also clearly has no parents, nor does he ever mention them. When Howl brings Sophie to his favourite place, a place of his youth, there are no adults around, only a mention of it being given to Howl by an uncle to get his thoughts together. Given the overwhelming sequences of war throughout the film, I see the falling star as analogous to an enemy air raid that took Howl's parents lives, leaving him orphaned and with overwhelming grief and loss that is too painful to face. Hence, Howl's lost heart.

Howl's Trauma
Like many survivors of trauma, Howl goes on to fight for others in life. He takes on a magical identity that allows him to fight warships on either front, claiming that it does not matter what side anyone is fighting for, all war is pointless. Sometimes the pain of personal loss is too heavy to face head on, and so often those wounded by tragic events go onto to support others. They become the wounded healers among us: therapists, social workers, doctors, nurses, special victims officers, activists, chaplains, priestesses, crisis counsellors. Like Howl, it through helping others that they are able to slowly come to face their own suffering.

While remaining care-free and autonomous in life is Howl's favourite aim, there is a deeper reason for not wanting to be found. Howl identifies as a coward at some point in the story, unable to stand up and be himself, always hiding from the truth. If anyone were to see Howl for what is true about his life, it would also force him to face that truth himself. Howl seems like anything but a coward, but in the case of facing his own truth he would rather turn and hide.  

After a fierce battle in which Howl seeks to save Sophie and everyone in his castle under his protection, he returns heavily wounded. We learn that Calcifer and Howl are linked, and Calcifer too is smouldering and struggling to reignite. It is said that if Calcifer were to go out Howl would also die. 

Sophie follows Howl back to his room which has now transformed into a deep dark cave. It is littered with child's toys embedded in rubble, resembling the aftermath of a warzone. In one of the far reaches in the dark Sophie finds Howl in his true form, a magical demonic mocking jay. "Leave me alone," he says.. He flees from Sophie who loves him either way, because Howl cannot bare to be seen like this.

Sophie goes in search of wounded Howl

Overcompensating for his weaknesses
Howl values his beauty like nothing else. He is blonde and blue-eyed, slim and suave. At one point he accidentally dyes his hair different colours and has a complete tantrum. He exclaims "I am nothing if I am not beautiful. I would rather die." 

Many adult survivors of childhood trauma, especially in cases of childhood sexual abuse, choose to focus on things like their appearance as their source of power. Many such survivors go on to use their appearance to leverage achievements or gain the favour of people around them. It is not uncommon for survivors of childhood trauma to enter personal relationships on the basis of their sexual appeal to a potential partner and the attention it gets them, and not through a heartfelt authentic connection with someone. Howl is an extremely powerful wizard, and yet he sees his beauty as his ultimate power, and yet he has never once fallen in love, not even with Sophie.

Its all in his head
To me it is no coincidence that Howl's story takes place in a magical world full of wizards and witches and marvellous flying machines. Much like in Kurt Vonnegut's, Slaughter House House, our main character is constantly materializing in time and magical space. He is not rooted in any time or place. He is preoccupied with magical kingdoms and realms of the mind. And yet, always the fight that Howl goes out to fight lays beyond the door to his deepest darkest fear. It is the black door to his psyche that always leads him to the battle field. It is in his truest, most wounded forms that he finds the strength he needs to fight.

We see further evidence to support this idea in the use of a clever device and the character Sophie. We first meet Sophie as an 18 year old woman working in a hat shop. She falls in love with Howl. The jaded former lover of Howl, the Wicked Witch of the Waste then curses Sophie in a fit of jealousy to become an old woman. Hence we see Sophie throughout the story changing and morphing through all ages of a woman's life, growing younger and older according to Howl's personal moods or abilities to be authentic with Sophie. In this way we see the analogous story of a young woman who falls in love with and marries a man traumatized in war. She spends the rest of her life trying to reunite her love with his heart.

At the end of the story Sophie discovers that Calcifer has Howl's heart. She reunites Howl with his lost heart and saves Calcifer too. The Queen seeing through her crystal ball that Howl has regained his heart then calls off the war. It is my belief that the war was always living on over and over as PTSD in Howl's head. Once he was able to face the weight of his own pain, and regain his heart, the war was finally over.

"My chest is so heavy," he says to Sophie after she restores his heart to him. The two live happily ever after as a married couple in sequels to the Howl's Moving Castle novel.


In my personal life, I am somewhat of a nomad. Rather I struggle to settle down. I have had 45 mailing addresses in my life. I suffer from PTSD from childhood trauma. I yearn for my own home, even to know what my own home sweet home would look like. 

I am heavily engaged with helping others to find their power and regain their sense of true self. I coach people on how to listen to their hearts. I have been blessed in my adulthood with so many people who are supportive and love me, and yet I constantly struggle to know what is in my own heart. I am torn between doing for myself and doing for others.

I love my adventures. I love the places they take me, the richness of my life experience will keep me telling stories for decades. But, in some ways I am tired of Robbie's Moving Castle. I am tired of carrying boxes from one place to another, of worrying about where to park myself, what to call home, of whether or not some one close is going to find out the truth about me. 

I suffered a number of traumatic events and conditions in my childhood including sexual abuse, lack of a stability in the home, violence, divorce, threats of being kidnapped, eviction from our home, poverty, emotional abuse, bullying, the list is long. My incredible single mother, bless her, was attacked in our own home by a drunk off duty police officer when I was five years old. Our lives were threatened with a repeat of rape, and a gun held to her head. The scars from that terrible invasion run deep even today. Unable to seek the support she needed, because the attacker was an officer of the law, my mother buried that terrible day in the back of her mind, but she was unable to keep it from poisoning us all. Without any other form of support and counselling, she confided in me instead. I knew about things I should not have known at my age.

My daily spiritual practice is always with me now, like Howl's hearth fire, Calcifer. One day I wish to root that flame into a physical cornerstone of my own. I am an artist, a dancer, a storyteller, a musician, a teacher, a writer, a healer, a spiritual counsellor. I live to help others realize their dreams, and to empower us all to share a path toward a greater and sustainable future for humanity and all living things. 

This is my truth. It has affected me deeply. It has made me into the beautiful angel that I am.


No matter what terrible events have happened in our lives we always have hope. We can always choose to cultivate and share our gifts and our strengths with each other, and eventually we will come home to ourselves. 

If you or someone you know suffers from childhood trauma, violence, PTSD or painful memories of sexual abuse there is hope. Look for it in your community. Get away from the dangers around you.  Find your allies. Have the courage to face the pain you feel inside. Work with them to heal you and each other. Help others do the same. 

You will find your power in this world. You are beautiful and you have so much to offer. There is much work to do now to heal our broken world, but we are well on our way. 

Be well!

May the peace and the love of the [Divine] go ever on in our hearts.

Robbie Sea

Thursday, January 24, 2013

An Interview with Dancer, Therapist, Author Kathleen Rea: Art-making can save your life.

The Healing Dance: 
The Life and Practice of an 
Expressive Arts Therapist 
by Kathleen Rea

Buy it at

On Friday December 7, 2012, I made it out to celebrate the launch of Kathleen Rea’s book, ‘the Healing Dance’ at CafĂ© Arts and the Norman Felix Gallery in Toronto.        
The gallery was packed with Kathleen’s family, friends, mentors, peers, students and fans. During her introduction Kathleen’s sister, Lovisa commented “only Kathleen could have a book launch like opening night for one of her shows.” Indeed it was a wonderful evening of art, readings, and with original music performed by Kathleen’s long time friend, Ariel Brink.  
Her former ISIS Canada-mentor, Steven K. Levine started the evening with a lovely, heartfelt endorsement, saying “this book demonstrates to me that my student, Kathleen, might know more about being an Expressive Arts Therapist than I do.” 
Having anticipated this book for sometime I was blown away by how captivating it was. Kathleen’s tells a very personal, deeply moving, and powerfully transforming story. 
I caught up with her a couple of weeks later in her home for the following interview.   

Robbie Wychwood (RW): I was at the book launch and it was a wonderful gathering. It is wonderful to see this book come out knowing the story, and that it was a big project for you. So I would like to start there.

There are many arts to Kathleen Rea, the artist, the dancer, the choreographer, the ballet company director, the expressive arts therapist... and now Kathleen Rea, the author. Tell us about becoming an author, and the process. I gather this was not an easy book to write?

Kathleen Rea (KR): The book began as my Master’s Thesis which actually started in 2000. There was two years of writing even before I though I should make this Master’s Thesis into a book. 

My Master’s thesis supervisor, at the end of the process said, “I think you have a learning disorder.” I said, “Yes, I have known that my whole life.” 
She suggested I get tested. I never thought to get tested before. It was always something I hid from everyone. The thought of getting tested and being publicly open about it was a paradigm shift for me. I applied to the Government, and they funded me 3000 to get tested. I did three days of testing with a psychologist who does tests for learning disorders. 

It turns out that I have very little desk space. ‘Desk space’ is like ‘working memory,’ or kind of like your desktop that you use to arrange concepts on. If you are given a math problem, 2+4+6, it would be the desk space that you figure it out on. Mine is in the fifth percentile, which means 95% of the population have a bigger desk space than me in their brain. I like to call my desk space [laughs] “a sliver; -its not even a desk.” 

When I write a word, three or four letters in I loose my spot in the word, because it falls off my desk space. So, I am not actually dyslexic, but if you look at my writing it looks like I have dyslexia. Getting the words out is extremely hard for me. 

When I finished writing my Master’s Thesis I felt driven to continue and to form it into a book. I wrote pretty consistently for ten years and had different people helping me, who would look at the book and give me advice. At the start I was a really horrible writer [laughs]. It was just a process of learning how to write and just get the words spelled correctly, so that people could actually read it and I could start to get feedback. 

It was a really long process. About eight years in I could feel things get sharper. Its like my neural pathways changed, because I kept practicing writing. Its actually easier for me to write for me now because I practiced it for ten years. 

I have even started to get the same thrilling feeling I get from dancing as well. I would write something, and be like [expression of joy] “that’s so exciting.” As I started to sharpen up my skills it became easier to feel what was good writing and what wasn’t, and what was working because of the kind of adrenaline rush I would get out of it.

RW: Wonderful! Great! And also, congratulations on your book, because it is terrific and it is really the fruits of labour that has been a big project in your life. So Congratulations That’s wonderful!

KR: Often art is a struggle for artists. It was a struggle creating this book. Now its finished and out in the world.

RW: Is there another one?

KR: Yes! [Laughs] I am going to start writing in January.

RW: Yay! I was thinking at the book launch, “this is the first book, but its not the only one.”

KR: Well, a lot of people have said that to me. They finish reading it, or are part way through, and they say “you are an author.” Some people need to write something. So they write one book and they are not necessarily authors. They might not have the need to write another book. People have read it and come to me and said, “the way you write and the skill of it, you need to write another book.”

I met my grade six teacher at a party last week. She is an author too. She said, “first book, -ten years, second book -five, third book -two and a half, fourth book....” and so on. Then she said “at some point it will slow down. You never really get quicker than a year writing a book.”

RW: In your book, you talk about the arts as a powerful agent of change, that can hurt as well as heal. You know this first hand as a result of your experiences as a dancer. Can you tell us about that?

KR: Any art that is practiced in a very perfectionistic way, where there is only one right way, has the power to really hurt and actually kill people. One can see this from ballet, which has such a strict view of what is beautiful, and people will kill themselves dieting to maintain that ideal. One can also see this in art used as propaganda. During the nazi regime there was a lot of artists doing art to bring the word of the nazi regime to the world. That art is very dangerous as well, because art can move people and stir people, and if the message is very perfectionistic than it is a scary thing.

RW: Your book is born out of your own pain from having created art or interacted with your art form in a way that was potentially fatal to you. Can you tell us a bit about that young person who was wrestling with bulimia and the need to fit in?

KR: Yes! When I was little I danced for joy. I loved dance. Then I became part of this world where to continue my love of dance I had to fit into this very narrow ideal of what was beautiful. Around teenage-hood I became naturally curvaceous. So I didn’t fit anymore, and the only way to fit was to diet.

Extreme diets lead to eating disorders. If you are not nourishing yourself, first of all you are not giving your brain the proper nutrition.  It is also going to bring disordered eating behaviors into your life. 
I was borderline anorexic. and also bulimic. My weigh would really swing, from thin to really gaining weight. That lasted for ten years. I was sick for a very long time. 

The biggest problem was that I bought the message the ballet world was giving me a hundred percent. I never once considered “oh, maybe they are wrong.” These people in positions of power were telling me I was ugly and I was fat, and I believed them one-hundred percent. It took away my voice, my natural expression, because I was trying to conform to this outside ideal. 

Part of the healing process was finding a therapist who helped me realize I could have my own ideal for what is beautiful. ...Which, I think is just being healthy: -being ones natural weight.  I didn’t have to buy their message. I could say “no thanks.”

RW: You describe in your story the need to tell your story. Why did you feel the need to tell your story?

KR: There is such a view of the ballerina as this perfect ideal in our society. Every little girl I’d meet was like “Oh, you’re a ballerina? Oh, you’re with the National ballet company!” 

It upset me that people did not know the behind the scenes view. Not everyone is suffering. Some people are naturally thin and a good fit for ballet. But for those of us that weren’t, there’s a lot of pain, of self hatred of our bodies, and of eating disorders.  

Also, just personally, for ten years I kind of kept my ‘no’ quiet. If I had really listened to my intuition I would have told these people to go ‘F’ themselves. (I don’t mind if you put that in your blog) [ Laughs ]. But I had suppressed that for so long.

When I first started therapy, my therapist helped encourage my voice, “what do you want to say to these people that said these things to you?” 

When I started to let that come out, it poured out of me. I couldn’t stop telling my story. Everyone I met, I would tell it. I would go to a party and tell my story. There was no ‘stop’-button. I had kept it secret for so long. 

I am an artist. I had already started choreographing. So, It just made sense, with this craving to tell the story, I would choreograph a dance piece about having an eating disorder. In the piece I became this strong person saying the truth, bravely. 

People who came to see it were weeping in the audience. My ballet friends were, because it was their story as well as mine. 

When the piece was over that powerful, strong woman speaking the truth felt so different from me that I could not assimilate her into my life, “I did that? I really did a pice about an eating disorder and people sat in the audience and actually watched it?” It took a long to realize that person was me. It took about ten years to kind of assimilate that I had that kind of ability.

RW: Would you say this is your art laying the ground work for you to come out?

KR: Yes, I came out in ‘that’ piece, but in my every day life I hadn’t come out as the full person I could be.

RW: When did you realize there was a therapist in you that could help people?

KR: After creating the eating disorder piece and leaving the National Ballet Company, I knew I wanted something to do. I was scared of just having a year of not doing anything. 

I enrolled at ISIS Canada to study to be an expressive arts therapist, but I never actually wanted to be a therapy. I wanted to go for personal process of discovery. I wasn’t quite ready to enter the workforce; working at Starbucks. I wanted to go to school. It was like “this is this thing I am going to hang onto for a year. As a student no one will expect me to be living a real life yet. I don’t have to be a therapist. I can quit any time.” It was a noncommittal movement towards this expressive arts therapy thing. 

The first year was really hard. There were these people really expressing themselves. The ballet world is so ordered, it has its own boundaries within its structure. So as a person I didn’t need to have those boundaries. Suddenly, I was in this really free-form community where everyone was expressing themselves. Every one’s emotions were just flooding me all the time. It was really intense. 

Back then it was a full day program. At lunch time I would be so overwhelmed that I would curl up in a blanket under a table and fall asleep. I was 26. I was too young. Not ready yet.

Stay tuned for Part Two of “An Interview with Dancer, Therapist, Author, Kathleen Rea: Art-making can save your Life.” Former Ballerina with the National Ballet Company, now twenty-seven year’s old, Kathleen makes her return to the dance world as a modern dancer, before coming back around to give being an expressive arts therapist a closer look.

Kathleen's Website

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Interview with Dr. Rachel Jordana, Founder of Creative Dance Psychology

Dr. Rachel Jordana Horodezky, Psy.D25159 is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of California and the founder of Creative Dance Psychology. She holds a private psychotherapy practice in Santa Cruz, CA and teaches workshops internationally. Her mission in life to get more people dancing. For more information please visit

Exciting news: CREATIVE DANCE PSYCHOLOGY IS COMING TO TORONTO in May 2013. Dr. Rachel Jordana Horodezky, clinical psychologist and founder of Creative Dance Psychology will revisit her Toronto roots from her home in Santa Cruz, California to offer Toronto its first taste of Creative Dance Psychology. The Introduction to Creative Dance Psychology Weekend Workshop will be held Saturday, May 11 to Sunday, May 12, 2013 and is open to anyone wishing to explore traditional psychological interventions through expressive movement in the safety of the Creative Dance Psychology context. Contact (local producer),, or visit for more information.

I caught up with Dr. Horodezky on her last visit to Toronto in November. Here's what she had to say about this exciting fusion of Creative Dance and Psychology:

Robbie Wychwood (RW): What is Creative Dance Psychology (CDP)?

Dr. Rachel Jordana Horodezky (DRJH): 
"CDP is a seven layer system that spans the psyche from a microcosm of the self (who are we independently) all the way to the macrocosm of the collective unconscious. So, not only ‘who’ are we as a group; but who are we as a group ‘unconsciously.’ "

RW: What are the seven layers of CDP and how do we work with them?

DRJH: "The seven layers are: the self, relationships, families, community, ancestry, culture and the collective unconscious. 

You can do a full week long, even month long workshops in each layer, as each layer is infinitely interesting. But, even in a day long, or in a weekend long, especially in the introductions, we touch upon each layer. Because, how can you not: -all of this, although we can examine it independently, is intertwined.

In the introductory workshop, which touches very briefly on the seven layers. With each round of dancing and processing, everyone takes off another layer, let’s down the guard separating them from each other, and goes deeper. Each person shares more about what is happening in their life and is more willing to be vulnerable, more willing to be authentic, and also is more willing to create healing: -to put themselves in the position where they have the opportunity to work through really deep material.

Even in the focused workshops the layers cannot exist completely independently.  For example, the layer of ‘the self’ and the layer of ‘ancestry’ is hard to distinguish, because in a way, you ‘are’ your ancestors, and in a way your ancestors are ‘you.’  If you look at the layer of ‘relationships’ and the layer of ‘community,’ who are you ‘in relationship’ in community? We can also put the seven layers next to each other and see how each layer intersects with the others."

RW: Do I have to do an introduction to CDP workshop before doing any particular CDP layer workshop intensively? Is it a nested form? ‘Self’-layer before ‘relationship’-layer, and ‘relationship’-layer before ‘community’-layer etc? 

DRJH: "No. You can go to any workshop at any time. There is no prerequisites for each other for any of the different CDP workshops. The exceptions are with the facilitator training. You have to come to at least one workshop to attend a level one facilitator training. The level one facilitator training is a basic overall introduction of the teaching. It doesn’t give you a whole lot to actually start teaching. The level one facilitator training is a prerequisite for the level two."

RW: What would you say would be the intention as a participant? What is my goal?

DRJH: "Different people come in with different intentions. Usually the way it works is at the beginning of the workshop I will have people create an intention, say whatever it is they are working on. So, they can get some insight and healing around the topic. The larger overall intention is to feel better, to feel connected, to have some healing, to make some changes in your life, and to find some resolution in something that you have got a problem with. The specifics differ for everyone."

RW: Why CDP? Why not just Creative Dance? What is the distinction?

DRJH: "The difference is intention. The intention to use your body as a vehicle for psychological processing and healing. Ask your body specific questions and get specific responses, and to respond to them with your voice. Respond with your words. 

It is a big difference. In creative dance people can have absolutely no intention: -dance just because. Dance, because its fun. You can do that with CDP, but the intention really shifts what you get out of it. You could also just go into an ecstatic dance and do CDP:  just say I am going to psychologically process now; but there is something about creating the container of safety, setting up the intention, and some verbal instruction as a group that is co-created that allows for a different layer of depth that you wouldn’t get if you just did this on your own."

RW: Typically people think of the realm of psychology as the arena of talking about the processes of the mind. So, why the body?

DRJH: "Well, its both. Its not just the body. Its not just the mind. You can have the experience of healing deep wounds in the body, and then not bring it up to the conscious level. So, nothing really changes in the outside world. I feel an emotional release, but then go and live my life and recreate the patterns I’ve always lived. 

Same deal with my brain: I can talk about something, and I can get insight. I can talk forever, but having insight doesn’t necessarily lead to lasting change. There is a gap between what is going on with the mind and what is going on in the body. We can heal the mind and the body on these separate levels, but unless they communicate with each other healing might not lead to direct change.

Healing happens much faster when you take a body process and make it conscious by verbalizing it, or take what is conscious, verbalize it, put it in your body to resolve it, and then bring it to the conscious level again.  ‘Healing,’ is actual direct change in your life, versus the feeling of release or the feeling of insight."

RW: I think of healing processes using dance modalities or other physical modalities like yoga as ways of releasing emotional trauma or energy that might be blocked up in various parts of my body. In a sense engaging with it all physically can move the energy through me and allow that energy to flow more readily through me. But you are talking about something that involves the integration of mind and body? How does that work?

DRJH: "It is beyond release. That is part of the difference between creative dance and CDP. With dancing you can just dance your butt off... You can exercise... You can release... But until you process it, until you have witnessed it, until you actually bring it to the conscious mind, or witness and bring it back into your body, until you really work with it change won’t happen. You have to get your body and your mind working together. It is using your body and your mind to make the unconscious ‘conscious,’ and take ‘the conscious’ back to the unconscious: -a creative feedback loop.

If you look at the Feldenkrais: one of the systems of Feldenkrais is that when you make these new movement patterns you are changing the neural networks in the brain. You are actually changing the system in your brain. That is what you are doing with CDP. We are creating new movement patterns and new verbal patterns so you can actually in turn go out and create new patterns in your life."


Also, watch Daniel Mollner's beautiful Creative Dance Psychology Film, and check out his incredible 52-week dance film series (Details below):

SPONSOR THIS PROJECT AT and to see all the videos and learn more. 

Music by: A Tribe Called Red "Electric Powwow"

Dr. Rachel Jordana Horodezky met with two friends to explore relationship patterns using a process she has developed called Creative Dance Psychology. This film was entirely unscripted and results from the dancer's willingness to share their authentic, personal experience using the power of movement. This is the 30th installment of Daniel Mollner's Project 52. Daniel is producing an original, dance-based video every week for all of 2012! Help him on this marathon of art and creativity by sponsoring his project at

Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 30 of the 30 Day NaNoWriMo, Novel-Writing Challenge

I am a winner!

Yesterday I uploaded my novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Suburbia" to the NaNoWriMo Website for the word count verification, 60, 437 words.

So, here is how I feel about being a winner:

Stressed!  That's okay. You don't have to be stressed too. My closest friends know I am not big on celebrating my accomplishments. In fact, I am about as quick to file them under "G" as I am to take up new things.

So, here's the thing. I want that to change. I want to invite the glory of magnificent transformation to enter my way of being, loop me up in a spring of vibrant growing, and blossom into a blooming anthem of "We are the champions."

So here to celebrate the success of exceeding the 50,000 word target in 30-days I offer what I have learned.

1. I have a lot to say. I wrote 60,437 words about something that happened to me when I was seventeen, and did not even breach the subject on its deepest levels.

2. I can write so deeply about something emotional, and have it spill out into my current life in ways that have my partner, Gayle and I looking at each other going "what the hell was that?"... and, basically avoid hitting the deepest most significant channel of emotion stirring beneath it all.

3. There are whole veins that remain untapped: my story is incomplete. Yay! I get to write more.

4. Did I mention that I get to write more?

5. I totally need a break. While writing this story has given me some amazing passages with word tangles that make me laugh so hysterically, they are so beautiful; -I need to live some life in December. I feel like I have lost touch with my bank account, and the laundry. I don't remember where I put that important letter that needs to be signed and dated immediately. I probably have not seen my friends in a while, and somehow, I have forgotten all about Kale other special greens that make you healthy and happy and regular.

6. Sigh!

7. I want to start writing tomorrow, but I should take this opportunity to learn how to celebrate.

8. I am soliciting suggestions on how to go about patting myself on the back and making it all feel like I am celebrating being a winner.

9. "I won! I won! I won!!!"

10.  Dear friends, thank you so much for this past month, checking in with me to see how the writing is going. Thank you for asking me about my novel and for telling me how cool writing a novel sounds. Thank you for telling me that my life is going great and that it seems like wonderful things are happening for me. Thank you for being supportive and for encouraging me to stick with it.

Dearest friends, I love you so much and cannot tell you enough how your support and encouragement was needed, lest I tell you that you job is not yet over. Like mine, your job remains open. I need support more now than ever. I have half an unedited story. Now, the real work begins. Now, I call upon you to help me get this thing read and commented on, chewed up, spit out, burned, cleansed of garbage, grammar checked, story inconsistencies smashed, not mention the emotion support of both hearing the honest truth, and about pushing myself into the darkest places I avoided this whole month. Napping, apparently is a wonderful place to visit while you are trying to avoid writing about certain things that connect you with a difficult subject or painful emotional memory. For the next month I want to see you and hang out with you and just connect with you, then starting in January, the next phase of writing begins. Editing concurrent with writing. The January challenge is to get into the scenes I avoided writing this month, to get them out, and try to squeeze them into the book I wrote this month. What do you say? Did I mention I miss you and love you?  I make a mean chocolate chip oatmeal cookie too.