Do call me Sowbel (rhymes with global), those who know me well do, and I expect after working together, we will indeed know each other well. If the spelling trips you up a bit, think in terms of “sowing wild oats”.
Not long ago, at a seminar run by one of my mentors, we were asked to introduce ourselves by sharing what we believed our work in the world to be—not our jobs mind you, not what our paychecks said was worthy activity, but what we believed we could and hoped to contribute to whatever we defined as the world. I loved this activity because we each pondered, then shared our deepest desires and visions for ourselves and our various communities.
My work is engaging, supporting, facilitating, motivating, challenging and sharing in the uncovering of new ideas, new capacities, new ways of perceiving, hidden fears, unexpected delights, and the fortitude for finding one’s way and one’s work in the world. The primary templates or archetypes that guide my actions are those of the artist, the thinker and the teacher but I believe the relational element of learning together also invokes the template of the traveler. And I love to travel (literally and metaphorically)—joining another’s jaunt into some unusual place of study can be as exciting as hopping a train to a new country.
Some of my “countries” of study and practice include: empathy, emotions, moral development, attachment theory, adult learning—theory and practice, learning styles, addictions, the function of fear in learning, HIV/AIDS, complementary and alternative healing practices (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, sound, herbs, shamanic traditions, visualization, metaphor, rhythm, guided imagery and music), public health (promotion, prevention, social marketing), psychology and counseling (individual and group), human services, conflict and mediation, , the psychology of dreaming, the construct of difference and the other, group facilitation, stress reduction, metaphor, tolerating paradox, women’s psychology, women’s health, humor, creativity and the senses, expressive arts, poetry, printmaking, painting, and drawing. Facilitating your work in any aspect of one of these “countries” or a combination of several would be a delight.
Some other “places” that might serve as locations for your inquiries, that I love and continue to visit but know in a bit less detail, include: social cognitive neuroscience, group relations, diversity and authority, post-partum depression and psychosis, gender, sex ed, pre and post-verbal trauma, empirical aesthetics, kundalini yoga, siddha yoga, vipassana meditation, house building (from living in a community that designed and built an octagon house and individual shelters—I favored a, kind of upside down basket woven with sweet-smelling ferns), ham radio (N2QNA), rock-hounding and lore, Esperanto (universal languages), and organic gardening. Speaking of places, I was born and spent a good portion of my life straddling the Mason-Dixon line in the diverse city of Baltimore, MD. Baltimore is the home of the world’s largest ball of string, independent film-maker John Waters, The Collegians--an all accordion band that had its own TV show, the Hubble telescope, and marvelous poets and writers such as Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich, and A. K. Joyce. So Baltimore, with its many ethnic neighborhoods--part small town, part urban center--is a place of great seriousness and great silliness. As a result, I come well practiced in the shifting of perspective and the dialectics of difference. To my relatives in Wallace, North Carolina, we were northerners, to friends in Nashua, New Hampshire, we were southerners, and to affluent uncles in Brazil, we were poor but, inexplicably, had a refrigerator.
These shifts in perceptions and identities with their various implications, prepared me to bridge, balance and translate seemingly incompatible, opposing or unrelated disciplines and abilities. For example, I’m wild for the sciences (neuroscience, botany, endocrinology) and the arts. I’ve worked in both domains and I let each inform the other. I’m comfortable with formal, traditional education yet have experience as a learner and facilitator in unconventional and informal learning situations. I have experience working at, and have thought about, “jobs” (the low-wage positions we often leave off our resumes) and “professions” (the salaried positions that are given social value). I was brought up in a very conservative household and have worked in some very radical fields (for their time). I believe all aspects of who we are and what we experience, even those that seem in conflict, are ripe for discoveries. I value any setting and any study that allows as many, and hopefully all, of our parts to contribute to inquiries and goals we set for ourselves.