To introduce myself to you as I enter into the cultivating and growing of this model, I want to tell you my story.
In human terms, I am going to be 40 years old in June. I’m married to a 47 year old man, Zane. We have two children, a 15 year old son, Aiden, and an 11 year old daughter, Elise. I am Hispanic, and my husband is Caucasian. More precisely, my heritage comes from a combination of Spanish Conquistadors and Mayan natives. My husband’s heritage hails from Czechoslovakia and Germany. My children are simply a marvelous combination of such rich heritage and stories. I am currently in school, my last few years, finishing a doctorate degree in clinical psychology. My dream is to eventually have my own practice, and it doesn’t matter how old I am when it finally happens. I suffer from severe depression. My husband takes care of our children. He’s a stay at home dad, an amazing mechanic, bicycle repairer, and overall handyman. The man’s a genius. He also struggles with bipolar disorder. When he was younger, in his manic phases, he was brutally violent, and generally heinous. He’s had a fascinating and colorful life. My son is a freshman in high school. He attends a school that is partially online, with a center for support. He is a genius that has been diagnosed with Autism. He has learned how to code and create games using programs on his own. He says he dreams about programming, literally, when he goes to sleep, his dreams look like code. My daughter is a 6th grader in middle school. She skipped kindergarten because at age 4 she was reading and writing at a 2nd grade level. She’s a genius with anxiety. If she wanted to she could attend a talented and gifted program. She’s more interested in art, and stories, than she is in academics. I’ve never had to punish her for acting out. She’s self-correcting to a fault.
I’ve been a practicing pagan for 11 years. My direction in life has always been to seek out the answers in nature. As I learn the science of psychology, I often spend my days and nights connecting it to how these theories work in the pattern of nature and the universe. The longer I practiced paganism, the more I started to recognize the patterns of balance in my family. For instance, when I was younger, we had a vacation where we drove from New Mexico, to California, to Seattle, to Wyoming, then back home. It was a 2 week, 10 state drive. The one thing I remember from this amazing journey, is every time we stopped and I was able to swim. Every hotel had a pool, or a nearby river. Every time there was a lake, I had to swim in it. I remember every swimming moment – every body of water I met. I’ve been connected to water my whole life. I finally realized that my entire personality could be explained by how water behaves. I am water.
As I embraced this realization, I became curious about Zane, Aiden and Elise. Zane was easy – almost instantly, I recognized the fire in him. The most connecting moments I had with him were when we would sit in silence, in our living room lit up with several candles. We would sit and watch the flames dance. He was more alive in those moments of fire. We began having candle nights, and eventually obtained a fire bowl to sit by the fire. Zane’s personality has always been flammable. He can go from being warm and supportive. People are drawn to him like moths to a flame. Yet he also recognizes that his flames can get out of control if he’s not paying attention – and he can burn. Zane is fire.
Although my children often behave very similar to me, they have such amazing individual personalities. I started to notice that Elise was very drawn to birds, flying, and the sky in general. Her personality is often compared to a whirlwind or a tornado. When she dances, she feels like a breeze passing by. When she was younger she would dress up like a butterfly, a fairy, or a bird. She spent her own money just to buy a specially colored towel so that she could cut it up to make it look like wings. If she could fly – she would. When she’s around me I feel like I can breathe. Elise is Air.
Which leaves Aiden. Aiden is my mountain – he’s my rock. His body is actually a mountain. At 15 he’s already 6’ 1”. He moves slow and steady, but is very deliberate. He often gets stuck in literal concrete thinking. It takes me flowing across him several times before the though erodes into his being. He’s connected to the ground, and is in love with the trees. He gets excited when we talk about planting our garden. Aiden is Earth.
As I embraced this understanding in myself and my family, suddenly, all of our personalities, all of our struggles, made sense. They were simply a part of being the elements that we are. It suddenly became our responsibility to recognize how we can be destructive, or how we can facilitate growth. The four of us are in constant flux – and at our finest moments of balance – can move our whole world. When we are out of balance, we cause each other, and those around us, great suffering.
Then we met Ruth. This amazingly brilliant and beautiful light bringer. She is the moon in our darkness, creating tides in me, and dancing in and through our family of balance. She was able to see us in a way that no human had ever recognized. When she went off to internship she carried us with her. In her darkest moments, in curiosity, she was able to pull out of us, what helped us survive in scarcity, helped us stay intact. She recognized that not only were we balancing with each other, we were balancing within ourselves. Ruth brilliantly put these perfect pieces of a puzzle that belongs to all of humanity, combining it with her own understanding, wisdom and growth, and put it into an organic model that is meant to help us flow and connect, open up, and grow.
Ruth is the gardener planting the seeds of human connection into the ground. As water, my goal is to help those seeds grow by supporting, encouraging, challenging, and holding. As I take this into the world of psychology and science, I am holding the beauty of our fragile and resilient humanity.