Friday, November 30, 2007

What’s Not Wrong

It seems I am in need of a lesson in “what’s not wrong.” You see, I’ve been struggling with a bad cold since Thanksgiving. I’m much, much better this week, with just a bit of laryngitis lingering in my voice. But boy has it been rough. During the unpleasant depths of my cold I recall telling myself something like this: “I will be so thankful when I am better.”

Then, last night, while having a hard time falling asleep, I picked up my tried and true copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step. I opened to his section called “What’s Not Wrong.” I knew this chapter would have something important to tell me. And it did. Hanh writes, “I enjoy breathing every day. But many people appreciate the joy of breathing only when they have asthma or a stuffed-up nose. We don’t need to wait until we have asthma to enjoy our breathing….Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, the wonder of our breathing. We don’t have to travel anywhere else to do so. We can be in touch with these things right now.”

Sometimes I find it so challenging to be thankful when I am struggling. I tend to be future-oriented, hoping for the passing of whatever it is that is ailing me. What if, instead of berating my sore throat, congested sinuses, and croaky voice, I had said, “Thank you, dear body, for fighting this cold for me. You are powerful indeed”? What if I had felt thankful for my body’s ability to know when to rest (and boy did I rest over the past week!)? Or what if I had said (and this feels quite radical and strange to me), “I am thankful for my health”? How can I tell my sick body that I am thankful for its health? I guess in the same way I can tell myself I am beautiful, smart, or successful during moments when I don’t feel quite so.

So, I ask myself now: what’s not wrong? And I can honestly answer: a lot. There is much I enjoy and am thankful for, including my hands typing this blog entry, my warm cup of tea, and the soothing blaze of the fireplace at this cafĂ© where I am writing to you now. And yes, I am even thankful for this croaky voice. There is depth to it and I feel a bit mysterious with the accent of huskiness on my breath. I didn’t think I’d find a reason to be thankful for this, but here I am doing it. What do you have to be thankful for right this moment?

Try this:

It's list time. Write down everything that is not wrong in your life. What is right, good, positive, or enjoyable? That’s the easy part. Now, focus on some struggles you are having. See if you can find a way to be thankful for these things, too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ends and Odds

This December seems to be shaping up to be quite an event-filled month for me. Not only is it my birth month, but it's turning out to be a month for creativity and abundance!

My Abundance Box Workshop is on December 22 (see previous post), and there are just two spots left! If you have an interest in focusing on your hopes and dreams for the new year, consider signing up!

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I'm also hosting a Holiday Art Show at Rising Bird Healing Arts on Thursday, December 13, from 6-9pm. This season, I will be joined by the talented Kristin Stubbs, whose art takes the form of unique and exquisite jewelry pieces.
  • Jewelry and original art for sale!
  • Art cards and prints for sale!
  • Enter to win a free massage!
  • Enjoy some delectable refreshments!
For more information about the show and the artists, click here.

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Speaking of creative endeavors, I am accepting submissions for my upcoming Winter 2008 "Healing Nest" Newsletter. The writing/art prompts are as follows:

Art Prompt:
When was the last time you fingerpainted? I will guess that for many of you, it has been many years—too many years! This art exercise is all about expression and tapping into your kinesthetic self. Color, gesture, motion. Try fingerpainting any pain you are experiencing in your body. What color is your pain? Feel free to be messy and express whatever it is you need to express. Now, paint your good health. What shapes and colors represent your optimal health? And how are these paintings different from one another? Are there any similarities? Non-toxic children’s paints are the best to use, for they are better for your skin and easier to clean up.

Writing Prompt:
Did you know that the strongest muscle in the human body (for its size) is the masseter? The masseter is located in the jaw and it is our major chewing muscle. When I massage this area on my clients, very often I find the masseter to be quite tight and tense. I consider the jaw a Fifth (Throat) Chakra element, which has to do with communication, creativity, and expression. For this writing exercise, write in the voice of your jaw. Is your jaw cranky or bubbly? Does it complain of aches and pains or is it pleased with the way you treat it? See what emerges when you let the strongest muscle in your body speak. What does it have to tell you?

Submit your creations via email ( by December 15, 2007.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Abundance Box Workshop!

Intentional Desires: An Abundance Box Workshop
Facilitated by Courtney Putnam, MFA, LMP, CRP

Date: Winter Solstice 2007 (Saturday, December 22)
Time: 3:00-6:00pm
Location: Rising Bird Healing Arts
To Register: Email Courtney Putnam at
Cost: $30 (checks and cash accepted); space is limited to eight people

Abundance [n]: great amount or supply; bounty, fortune, plentitude, prosperity, thriving

What do you want in your life? Better health? A terrific job? Creative energy? Strong relationships? Financial security?

Join me for an afternoon of envisioning your own abundance. In this hands-on workshop, you will explore your dreams and goals and create an abundance box as a visual representation of what you wish to manifest in your life. This is a time for thinking big, pulling your ingenious ideas out of the cobwebs of your mind, and giving life to your desires!

The purpose of an abundance box is to channel your intentions, goals, and visions into a symbolic artifact. Inside this box you will place small objects that characterize the things you wish to actualize. Think about what aspect of your life you would like to give a little positive intention. Are there goals and dreams you are ready to make real?

In this workshop you will create your very own abundance box and fill it with objects that represent what you hope to bring to life. We will also explore some principles of Feng Shui, which may enhance or inform the intention and placement of your box. Using a Feng Shui bagua (map) as your guide, you will determine where your box is best placed in your own home.

You bring (if you wish): Any significant images, symbols, or objects with which to 1) decorate your box, and to 2) place inside your box. I provide: Boxes of varying shapes and sizes, art supplies, collage supplies and decorative papers. Tea and light snacks will be provided.

About Courtney:
Courtney Putnam is a licensed massage practitioner and certified Reiki practitioner who offers a holistic approach to wellness. She is a poet and visual artist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. With a strong belief in the mind-body connection, Courtney encourages creative expression as a vehicle for healing on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. To learn more about her practice, visit

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Crazy, Sexy Life!

In 2003, Kris Carr, a young woman from New York, was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer. Have you heard of her? She is the subject of the TLC documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer (which I have yet to see, but want to see), and is the author of Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips.

What I find so compelling about Kris' story is that even with cancer, she feels she is living the most amazing, juicy, healthy life.
And she poses such an important question: "Why, when we are challenged to survive, do we give ourselves permission to truly live?" When I visited her website and read that question, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Why, when we are confronted with illness (or our own mortality), do we then start thinking about making healthy and positive changes in our lives?

Kris truly believes that cancer has given her a gift of a new life. She feels like she is more healthy
with cancer than she was before cancer due to many changes she has made in her diet and lifestyle. And she feels more passionate about life and more emotionally well than she has ever been.

What can you do now, with or without illness, to make your experience of your life more meaningful, pleasurable, and, well, sexy? Do you have dreams that have been dormant that could now see the light of day? Are there changes you want to make related to your physical health that you've been putting off for another day, or month, or year?
We hear the phrase, "live each moment like it were your last" and yet how many of us actually do this? Kris is an example of a woman who embodies that phrase with balance, courage, and gusto.

To visit Kris' lively and informative blog, click here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Music for the Body and Soul

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting the talented composer Mike Wall, who had just released his first CD called "Passage."

Mike "tested" this CD on me prior to its release, for he hoped that massage therapists and other wellness practitioners would find his tracks a therapeutic complement to their work. I was taken with his music right away and I found the "Passage" tracks to be soothing and full of healing intention.

In the most recent issue of the Massage Therapy Journal, music reviewer Clare Laplante described Wall's CD as "a skillful mix of acoustic and electronic instruments" combined with "ocean, wind, and bird songs recorded in a state park near Monterey, California." The seamless combination of human-made and nature-made sounds lulls my clients to a deeply relaxed state and allows me to be slow, methodical, and intuitive in my work.

This one-hour musical experience is included in the standard CD rotation of my business. I also listen to this CD on my own when I want to drop to a deep state of calm in my body while at the same time rise to a more mindful, self-aware place in my mind and heart.

To learn more about "Passage" and to listen to samples of the CD, feel free to visit CD

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Simple Kindness

Several years ago I received a surprise phone call from my past. It was late in the evening when the phone rang. The young man on the other end of the line seemed excited that he had found me-- that indeed I was the "right" Courtney who shared seventh grade English with him at Kellogg Middle School.

To my embarrassment, I had no idea at the time who this eager young man was. As he updated me on his life, I scanned my mind furiously, searching for a clue. A flash of his face suddenly came to me, and then I remembered his voice--now deeper, of course, but his speech patterns were the same.

After catching up with one another (and my catching up with my own memory), there was a long pause. But this person from my past soon filled it with a surprising message. "I called to say thank you, " he said, "for being nice to me in English class." As he took a deep breath, my body remembered how he was taunted in school, how he so clearly struggled to find acceptance from others. My stomach and chest began to feel tight, constricted. He continued, "It meant a lot to me that you were so kind."

Again, I scoured my mind for details. Did I stop a bully from hitting him? Did I stand up for him when people called him names? I don't remember doing any of these things. The only thing I remember doing was treating him like a human being.

I am reminded of this story today because I've been reflecting quite a lot about the significance of the work that I do. I find myself wondering if, massage not withstanding, my listening and my holding a safe place for others makes an impact. After all, I am not "curing" someone's ailments or "fixing" their problems. I am just being with them. How powerful, it suddenly occurs to me, that we are human beings. We have the potential to make a great impact on another's life with our mere presence and attention.

Our kindness can come from our ability to slow down our own lives enough to listen to one another. It's now becoming clearer to me that simple, authentic listening may well be one of the most powerful tools
that we have for healing.