There have been many thresholds in my life, when I sensed that something new was emerging, or I longed for something old to disappear. In many of those in between spaces, I have chosen to write my way forward, creating a vision statement or mantra for what I want to manifest in my life.
One of those changes was thrust upon me, when my husband of more than 20 years came out as gay. We had a built a good life together, so it took some time to chart a new path and for the next stage of our lives to emerge. I am grateful for the grace of time, forgiveness and understanding that have allowed us to redefine and evolve our family with our two adult daughters and partners.
Writing Myself Forward
In the fall of 2011, as I was beginning life as a single woman, I wrote my tree mantra.
My writing was inspired by a trip to Victoria, British Columbia for a conference. It was the first time I traveled by myself after the separation, to share some of my research at a conference. I was feeling quite vulnerable, both personally and professionally. I gave myself permission to ask, “What do I want to do?” and a trip to Butchart Gardens immediately called to me.
On past family trips I had loved the gardens. This time I could wander freely, stopping to enjoy particular vistas for as long as I wanted, without children saying, “I’m bored. When are we leaving?”
I found a glorious tree: tall, thick, old, and strong.
I asked a stranger to take a picture of me doing the tree pose—my favourite— in front of this magnificent tree.
Soon after I composed my mantra, seeking to claim the strength and vibrancy of that tree.
It was my way of declaring who I wanted to be, and how I wanted to show up in the world using the metaphor of a tree. I memorized it and have recited it daily since then as a reminder of my intention, and as an act of becoming.
I am a tree
Rooted and grounded in love
At one with creation and the sacred feminine.
Planted by streams of living water,
I bear fruit in my season.
I spread my branches to nurture and be nurtured
By those who are striving and wondering.
Those on the path are welcome within my canopy
To experience grace, and rest and communion.
I drew on my values, and on powerful words and images that had spoken to me in the past.
New ideas and concepts came to me. I gave voice to my desire to be rooted deeply in love, not bitterness or regret. I articulated my love for nature, and a growing curiosity with the sacred feminine, recognizing there is a time and season for everything; a time to rest, and a time to bear fruit.
I was on a path, though I knew not where. I wanted to be in community, around others who are growing and moving forward in their lives, pursuing goals, thoughtfully. In that place of tenderness and vulnerability, I wanted to welcome others in, so that together we could experience grace, and nurture each other. I created a visual reminder of this mantra, in the form of a photo collage with that picture of me in front of the chosen tree, as well as several other beautiful trees with unique shapes, colours and canopies. I loved the concept of canopy as a circle of influence underneath the branches of a tree.
After I wrote my tree mantra, I was even more awake to seeing and admiring different trees and inquiring into what they might teach me. The concept of the sacred feminine came alive for me in unexpected ways. When I went to yoga classes, I willed the teacher to include the tree pose, and delighted when it was included. As I recited it daily, I would find new meaning and new strength in it, and I would notice that I was becoming more of who I wanted to be-not perfectly, but growing, intentionally.
Another New Threshold, Spring 2020
This past spring, as I was approaching a new threshold—retiring from 9 – 5 work so that I could teach, write, and start my own consulting business, I was trying to find a company name. What metaphor has been important to me, I wondered. . . I started reciting my mantra. . .those on the path are welcome within my canopy. . . my canopy, my circle of influence.
That’s it! And I decided it had to start with K, because I am Kathy with a K.
I am so grateful to Bob Robertson, who, through his skillful design work brought those sentiments to life in my Kanopy logo. The logo also reminds me of the beauty of diversity, believing that together we can co-create a beautiful tapestry of wisdom, that enriches all of us.
I welcome you into my Kanopy, into my circle of shelter and influence, to experience grace, community, learning. I am drawing from the many rings in my tree trunk, many years of lived experience as a woman, teacher, leader, researcher, ally, and advocate for students, to facilitate and host learning experiences, to conduct research, and to share the stories and wisdom I have gathered in my research.
I offer up this blog as an invitation to other women who are striving to live in wholeness, authenticity, and power; and wondering what that might look like for them. Join me on the path by signing up to receive my newsletter and by following this blog.