Lauri Maynard – MA, LMHC, CPC
The Story Behind the Tree
The seed for Growing The Whole Way came about ten years ago when I was struggling to organize myself around building my career. Back then I was facing divorce with two small children and realizing that I was not going to get much support. I was soon to be on my own and did not have the income to pay the bills I had in front of me. I had just finished my Master’s degree in Holistic Counseling and was in a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study program to earn credits toward state licensure as a Mental Health Counselor. I was also supervising a program for a mental health agency full time and doing additional clinical internship hours.
Having worked in a variety of agency settings for many years, my goal was to have my own practice as a counselor. I knew I couldn’t do clinical work because I was still gathering my credentials but I could through my Holistic Counseling degree do Spiritual Counseling and coach people toward meeting their goals. With my management experience, I also knew enough to assess a situation and make a referral if someone needed more intense services.
As I was putting together my ideas for my own practice I noticed a rental space ad above our local book store. I immediately felt charged about the idea of having a space and went to look at it. As soon as I walked in I knew I was meant to be there. The room had an old fireplace, a beautiful view of the town park and plenty of room to do both individual and group sessions. I don’t know how, but I knew my gut was clear that I was supposed to have my own space to do my own work. That day I drained my savings of the last $450 I had to put down for a deposit. I then sat down on the floor in my new empty room to meditate and felt compelled to write my mission. I wanted to focus my energy on what I was meant to do there. I wasn’t clear of the details but I felt very strongly that this was a solid beginning to a solid career.
What I wrote that day was the poem at the bottom of this page. Usually poems take me some time to write and evolve over many changes. This one did not. It took about twenty minutes and came in mostly one shot. Afterward, I changed only a few words to help the flow. Looking it over, I knew it felt right. Not understanding it fully I couldn’t nail down a title so I ended up leaving it unnamed and framing it as it was.
With this mission I began to think in terms of what I was going to offer my clients. I thought about what people might need and came up with an idea of combining the Holistic Model I learned in school with goal setting and making things happen in life. At that time I was looking at it from a business standpoint. I invited two partners in and we set up a plan with a board of advisors. We hired a business consultant and I took a class on writing a business plan. My goal then was to have a place for people to come and build on their potential.
They would receive an assessment with an action plan and then we would help make referrals and have groups to support whatever they might need in their process. It was a big endeavor and I quickly realized too big for one person. I didn’t have any start-up capital or steady income to support this non-profit organization. With my divorce around the corner I also did not have three to five years to allow it to grow. We then started looking at grants and from there things started to go badly. One of my partners had to leave because of family commitments and the other, along with myself, started to doubt our plan. In the end, I was left on my own and had to decide what to do. I fell back on my original gut feeling and forged ahead. Over the next few months things continued to lead nowhere. There was no money coming in and I was losing my momentum. The last straw was my computer hard drive crashing which took most of my notes with it. It had been a year, I had hit the end as far as I was concerned and I was devastated. How could something that felt so right go so very wrong?
The beauty of hindsight has since helped me answer that question and in doing so has laid the foundation for the workbook you have in front of you. Back then I understood the concept of holism but hadn’t had enough life experience to really put it into practice. I didn’t understand that I was not operating as a whole person when I was trying to develop my business. I knew what my gut was trying to tell me but it wasn’t lining up with my feelings. I was operating out of fear. My feelings were about survival. Remember, I was trying to make a go of it as an income to provide for my children. My agenda was as much about helping myself as it was about helping others. When I was operating out of fear my logic seemed to make sense but didn’t grasp the whole picture because it was limited by those fears. I couldn’t know that at the time because my fear had narrowed my thinking. Now I can see that fear kept me focused on the money instead of on the purpose my gut was originally pointing to.
I also didn’t consider how my reality was supposed to hold up such an idea. How could I, as one person, really provide such a vast well rounded service? My timing was way off. I had a vision which my spirit accurately identified but I didn’t have the resources yet to pull it off. My body was not capable of taking on such a project living the reality I was living in at that time. My mind was too distracted by the stress of managing my family’s basic needs so I couldn’t be effective as a leader in the work. How could I walk with someone through their journey if I hadn’t walked enough of my own?
Since then I’ve done a lot of personal growth work on myself. I have also completed the requirements and now have been practicing as a licensed Mental Health Counselor for over 10 years. I still use the principles of my original idea and have now written them down in a system. Instead of going for the big business way of providing this service I am doing it one person at a time. Instead of providing a plan of action I am empowering people to write their own. I am helping people to see and grow into their own potential. My mind is now less fearful, which gives me space to think more about what I have to offer, instead of focusing on what I need to get by. My body is equipped with more experience and awareness which has helped me to understand and write down the system I am offering. My spirit, throughout, has remained fairly consistent. There were times when I doubted myself and gave up, but each time I started again my gut had the same message that always comes back to my mission in the poem. At this moment I have a better sense of where I have been and what I want now. I still have to work out the details of moving forward but I feel confident that I have the wisdom to know what is best for me, and can access it when I look at my whole self, instead of just my fear.
My poem has traveled with me through two agencies and three office spaces before it has landed where I am now, in a successful full time practice. At this point I understand that I couldn’t name the poem back then because it wasn’t something tangible. It didn’t make sense to be named as a thing, an idea or a destination because it was a process with no real end. What I thought were failures in my past were really lessons in finding confidence, perseverance and trust in my gut feelings. Now I realize that whether I met my goals or tripped over them doesn’t matter because in my experiences I am learning and growing the whole way anyhow.