Earlier this week, I was contacted by someone who had seen a listing for my Singing Bowl & Gong Meditations, in the Parc Leisure Guide. He had visited my website, and approached me saying something along the lines of ‘I’m curious about your Gong Meditations, and I also want to learn more about the other stuff you do’.
Something about what he said reminded me of an earlier time in my life…
Many years ago in Victoria, I had occasion to find myself smack in the middle of a Small & Home-Based Business Trade Show. Not a particularly remarkable happening, I know, but just wait until I put it in context for you…
I was invited by a friend to fill her husband’s spot when he couldn’t make it out for the weekend. In typical Teron fashion, I jumped right in with both feet – wasting no time wondering what it was exactly, that I was jumping in to. I mean – the universe had just invited me out to play and I was EXCITED! Here was an opportunity to showcase my work! My practice! My passion! Man – was I stoked!
The morning of the show arrived. I was up and out of bed before the crack of dawn, making sure that everything was ready to go.
Singing Bowls… check.
Signs offering Energy Work… Loving Guidance… Transformative Healing… check.
My Magpie and I packed ourselves into our overstuffed hatchback and hit the road! Pulling in to the parking lot at the Rec. Centre, we were buzzing with anticipation. We hopped out of our car, skipped up to the building, and opened the door…
Enter – a scene so far outside our realm, it was like walking on to another planet. Here was the Accountant. Here was Web Design & Marketing. Here was The Business Examiner. Here was Revenue flipping Canada, for crying out loud! Every single booth was perfectly arranged in formal black-skirted-table-fancy-bannered-business fashion, and I’m pretty sure that most of the vendors were actually wearing suits.
Melissa and I slipped quietly back out to our car to assess our situation. Gaping shamefacedly at our $500 rusted-out beater with the upside-down easy chair, and the poorly rolled-up area rug protruding awkwardly from the rear (we’ve all been there!), we decided we had two choices: We could go back inside and humiliate ourselves, or we could run.
We opted for humiliation.
So there we were… set up in our ‘living room’, in one of the most heavily trafficked and highly visible areas of the show. No banner. No power point presentation. No tangible product. Just a bunch of seemingly random instruments, a couple of shiny rocks, and two hearts full of dreams.
The first guy to approach us kept trying to figure out what kind of band we were. The second wanted to buy my gong. A couple of vendors wandered over to offer us free samples of their products – only to leave bewildered and confused about what they had just wandered into. Most people just kind of did that thing where you try really hard to look like you’re not noticing the one thing you can’t help staring at… and kept on walking.
We were a freak show.
We were an anomaly.
We were aliens from another planet.
And then it happened. The woman from the Revenue Canada booth next to ours mustered up the courage to ask the question that was on everyone’s tongue:
“What exactly is it that you do?”
Now, for anyone else at the Expo, this would have been a simple question to answer, but for me… nuh-uh… I had struggled for years to answer this query satisfactorily and never, ever had I done so. So what did I do? I launched into my then standard response which sounded something like this:
“What do I do? Well, what do you need? I do Counselling… spiritual development… alternative & complimentary healing… I do bodywork… energy work… sound therapy… I work with homeopathy… Bach flower remedies… crystal healing… I do oracle readings… teach mindfulness techniqes… run chanting circles… I work with Mayan cosmology… animals… Buddha… I do shamanic healing… relaxation massage… blah… blah… blah… blah… blah…”
I mean, I must have sounded like some crazy Snake-oil salesman trying to sell the cure-all for baldness right out of the back of a chuck-wagon. And do you know what she said? That Revenue Canada lady looked me right in the eye and said:
“Oh. So you’re a generalist then.”
It was at that moment that everything changed.
It was something about the way she said “generalist”, like it was some kind of disease… some kind of flaw in my character… some indicator of my complete and utter failure as a human being… Like my work couldn’t possibly be of any value if it couldn’t be summed up in a single word… a sterile little package with perfect corners and a marketing scheme to die for…
All the steam went out of me then. I think I actually felt my shoulders fall and my chest collapse as my heart lost all sense of hope for the future. My mind started racing in circles around my life… around the experience of having been constantly pressured by people to specialize – to choose one specific area of study or work, and to focus all of my energy there… around all the reasons I’ve never been able, or had the desire to do it: I’m a voracious learner… I’m unquenchably curious… I thrive on evolution… I wasn’t satisfied that the results I was seeing coming out of conventional approaches were the best we could do… I have never believed in the idea that one size fits all…
And then, something clicked. Something locked into place so solidly, so irrevocably that I was almost knocked physically over by the force of it. And that something was this:
I was NOT a generalist.
I WAS (and still am) a specialist.
I specialize(d) in Integrated Healing for Mind, Body and Spirit.
I had chosen a specific area of study and work. I had lived and breathed my focus in this area for well over 20 years. It was, and still is, the depth and breadth of my study that informs my choices, and affords me the luxury of being able to engage a diverse and organic approach to my practice.
“Yes!”, I thought… I do have a long list of practices, philosophies and approaches that I draw from.
“Yes!”, I thought… I have studied, and learned, and practiced all of these things.
“Yes!”, I thought… I excel at all of them.
“Yes!”, I thought… I am an expert in my field.
“Yes!”, I thought… It is precisely because I have so many tools at my disposal that I am able to adapt to my clients’ changing needs, and to serve each one as they are – unique, dynamic, diverse individuals.
I lifted my chin. I looked that Revenue Canada lady straight back in the eyes, and said:
“Actually, I’m a specialist. I specialize in Integrated Healing. It is the approach that I find to be the most effective, because it allows me to meet my clients exactly where they are, at any given moment in their lives. It affords me the freedom to connect with people across age, race, religion, ethnicity, creed, ability, gender, sexuality, and all kinds of other perceived barriers. It means that whatever it is that you need, I probably have something to offer. It means that even if you’ve already tried a bunch of approaches, I can still inspire you with something you haven’t tried before. It means that if what I have to offer you isn’t what you’re looking for, I probably know someone who can offer you something that is.”
Well… the Revenue Canada lady had a lot more questions for me that day. And I think I may have even inspired her to start a course of treatment she had been considering for a long time. More importantly though – that one question was the catalyst for a major change in my life, and the letting go of a false perception of myself that I hadn’t even realized I’d been carrying…
You see, everyone we meet is a mirror. By lending me her eyes, the Revenue Canada lady showed me an image of myself that I simply couldn’t live with any longer. In a round about kind of way, she came right out and asked me just how it was that I expected people to understand what I was doing, if I didn’t even really understand it myself. And I was forced to answer.
I can’t honestly say that I left the show that day and never struggled to answer that question again. But that ‘chance’ interaction inspired a critical shift in my thinking – launching me on a trajectory that with dedication, perseverance, and hard work, landed me where I am today. And these years later, when that call came in the other day, I described what I do with clarity, confidence, and pride. I even posed for a picture or two, but that’s another story!