Therapeutic Work / Editorial Work
Having worked as a professional editor and mentor for over twenty years, I recognized that my students and editorial clients were often seeking a healing experience through language as well as ways to bring greater creativity, pleasure and clarity into their lives.
At first I began to teach students and clients to meditate. I've been a meditator for over 30 years, since I first lived in northern Thailand as an exchange student. Though I considered myself 'a lazy Buddhist' or an 'emergency meditator' for a good part of my twenties, mindfulness practice has long been an integral part of all aspects of my work and life.
But meditation isn't enough for most of us when we're really struggling in life. During the last seven years, I've developed and refined WriteLife, a flexible therapeutic modality rooted in self-investigation (including some meditative work), empathy and deep listening.
We heal as individuals and as societies not only by telling the truth, but by telling the truth in the presence of compassionate witness. Through writing and telling the true stories of our lives, we learn to be our own compassionate witnesses. We begin to understand how and where our story fits into the larger story of our families and our communities.
I don't believe in pathologizing our pain and suffering. We do whatever we do in an effort to feel better. Self-destructive behaviours are usually rooted in a wish to alleviate our suffering. It's possible to investigate these behaviours without condemnation, with compassion, curiosity, and even a sense of humour. Healthy balance is part of every natural system, including the human one.
With good medicine, our minds and spirits, like our bodies, naturally get better. I recognize the primacy of the individual’s need to remember, to tell, and to transform the stories of his or her life. Together with the clients themselves, I act as a witness to and a fellow investigator in that process.
I use established Narrative Therapy techniques, Bowen Family Systems, Internal Family Systems, and trauma-informed somatic practices. I'm currently being trained in OEI, Observed Experiential Integration, a powerful therapy based on the somatic template of EMDR. OEI is a gentler, more gradual approach to healing PTSD symptoms.
The Editorial/The Teaching
I've been editing books privately for twenty years. Many of those manuscripts are now books in libraries and stores across Canada. I work in the same three genres that I write in, literary fiction and nonfiction and poetry. Judy Rebick's beautiful new book Heroes in My Head had its first edit from me as its brilliant author went from activist to literary memoirist under my tutelage at the Humber School for Writers.I also work with clients privately. If you are looking for a tough, responsive, compassionate editor, please get in touch with me.
I teach the MFA masters seminar in Creative Nonfiction for the University of Guelph, too, though you need to be enrolled in the MFA program to take the course.
On occasion, I teach small private group classes. These classes can be designed to suit the needs of any small group, and can involve WriteLife work as well as more traditional creative writing tutorial.