On July 25th my interview was featured on Ky’s blog kygrabowski Spotlight series. This was a very exciting time for me because it was my very first published interview. I am posting it here so that it can be seen by new readers or those who were on hiatus over the summer. Preparation for this interview was an incredibly personal and sometimes grueling process for me, so I hope that you find my occasionally verbose – translation – long-winded 🙂 answers interesting and informative. I welcome all questions and comments as I continue to become more authentic and transparent, moment by moment.
Here’s what Spotlight is about; it’s an interview that promotes you! It will feature questions that are formatted to your needs. Questions will be focused on your work, upcoming work and some personal [but not intrusive] questions for your fans to get to know you more!
1. Tell us about yourself
My blog persona is litebeing, creator of litebeing chronicles. I grew up along the East coast and have lived in the Philadelphia area since college. I am a licensed Social Worker and have worked in Child Welfare and Mental Health for most of my career. Currently I work as a psychotherapist in private practice. I have been fascinated by astrology since age 7 or 8 and was already giving astrological advice to my friends in sixth grade! Astrology and helping others has been a constant thread throughout my life. I started blogging about 6 months ago and absolutely love it! My trusty cat (and sidekick) Dexter is usually by my side. If not joined at my hip, he’s scrunched up in his fleecy bed.
2. How did you get into blogging?
I had seen the film “Julie and Julia” and identified with the lead character who was a writer that wasn’t writing. I was her; I knew it in my bones. I loved the passion she put into her blog and the film’s message really stayed with me. The seed was planted while watching that film.
Late last year while I was enjoying some of my friends’ blogs, I thought to myself “I could do this!” I was also experiencing some exciting changes in my spiritual journey that I wanted to share with others.
3. What are the pros and cons to blogging?
Blogs are a great medium because you can get incredible exposure and potentially instantaneous feedback. That was a mouthful; I can be quite verbose when no one’s looking! I don’t really see any cons to blogging, once you figure out how to format your posts and master the technical aspects. If you run out of ideas, the daily post from WordPress can be a great tool. I wrote a couple of daily posts myself and it was really a lot of fun!
4. What kind of things that you haven’t blogged about do you want to blog about in the future?
I want to include more astrology, poetry, and transpersonal psychology in my blog. I will also expand on some of my mystical experiences in greater detail when the time is right. I don’t blog in a planned way, so I cannot usually say what will come next. I prefer to let the writing flow organically. I have recently added some of my nature photography and plan to take more pictures. As an extremely visual person, it is important to me to create a pretty blog. While I am quite an amateur photographer, I do have a knack for framing a shot. Adding my own images can enhance my stories in a way that is unique and personal.
5. What do you hope readers understand about your blog?
That is it ever-changing and that I like to revise formatting and content to reflect my current state of mind or mood. That this project is a true manifestation of one of my life purposes, to simply write. Also that what I write IS true. If I am writing about something that happened to me, it really did happen. I look for authenticity in other artists and strive to live to that standard for myself.
6. How did you come up with the theme of your blog and or what you will blog about?
I go by the name litebeing and created the blog litebeing chronicles on 1-11-13. I picked that date because it was the first new moon of the calendar year. However that is only part of the story. I have been seeing numerical sequences of 111 and 1111 for several months. I got the idea that these numbers come to me as symbols of hope and loving guidance. So it seemed appropriate to use 1-11-13 as the time to launch this new project. The name litebeing came from my underutilized twitter account. I wanted to use lightbeing and it was taken, so I chose litebeing instead. This name fits in with my spiritual journey. After a long dark night of the soul episode I realized that I wasn’t quite as enlightened or awake as I thought I was. So litebeing is a more accurate snapshot of my current state of consciousness.
The theme of litebeing chronicles is a glimpse into my everyday life, showing how the light shines through on a moment- to- moment basis. The light may vary from a tiny flicker to a strong ray to a magnificent rainbow to a blinding shaft of white light. The blog also chronicles my reactions to the cosmic weather. The reactions may be in the form of poetry, storytelling, art, photography, or simply musings. I occasionally veer off in other directions, but have remained true to the theme.
7. Favorite blog post? Of yours and or someone else’s?
I am partial to my two ongoing series, Collisions and Returning Home. Collisions is a series on my personal tales of synchronicity and other mystical adventures. Returning Home showcases different mechanisms that can accelerate a higher vibration and inner awakening. I also really like how my Calling All Angels post came together. It was fun to weave different elements of my life into one overarching theme such as Angels. I also love reading posts about travel, art, dreams, film, altered states of being, astrology, mysticism, etc. Authenticity in storytelling is very important to me. So reading about someone’s struggles and triumphs will touch me deeply if told from an authentic place.
8. How do you figure out what you’re going to write about?
I see myself as a planner in general. With the blog, however, I have become much more relaxed. Ideas come to me as my everyday life unfolds. Now, I may see a film and decide I’ll blog about that or I may become inspired by another blogger’s post, but most of the time, stuff just happens and the wheels begin to turn.
9. What advice can you offer to people who may want to start blogging?
Have fun! Enjoy the process and don’t stress out about it! Get to know other bloggers. I like to check out the blogs of those who like and comment on my posts. Often they become part of my beloved community. Do not obsess over statistics if you can resist the temptation. Use them as tools, but don’t get distracted. Focus on your content instead!
10. In your post Subtle Beginnings you mention you grew up without Christmas – did you celebrate something else?
When we were little, we would get Christmas presents under our beds. This was due to the Santa Claus factor. We always celebrated Hanukah, although my mother grew up with Christmas. I remember she enjoyed playing Christmas carols on the piano during the holidays.
11. In the same post you talk about noticing things around you – what are some of your favorite things you notice in your life?
I am acutely aware of nature, especially while walking in my neighborhood. I also enjoy the randomness of songs on my car radio. Lately I have been looking at the license plates and stickers on cars in front of me while driving. I enjoy noticing signs and symbols of all kinds. Often signs and symbols hide in plain sight, just waiting to be discovered.
12. In your post Silver Linings you speak a lot about your interest and past dealings with mental illness – have you always been interested in this topic?
My curiosity about life and people in general stems from early childhood. A class on Human Behavior in high school started me wondering about a career as a therapist. I learned about Abraham Maslow and self-actualization, and was very curious about human development. I also wanted to learn more about what Maslow described as peak experiences. I recall doing a research project with a classmate on left-handedness. We both were interested because we were left-handed. This project made a huge impact on me. I think that being different predisposed me to wanting to understand individual difference. My love of astrology and personality types led to a fervent interest in theories of personality. I am just as fascinated about our collective gifts that coexist with the maladaptations.
13. Following the above question, what advice and or tips if you have any can you suggest to people dealing with these issues, things that can help them adjust their lives better?
If someone is feeling powerless or out of control regarding their emotions, thoughts, and/or coping skills, I would strongly suggest they reach out to someone they trust such as a doctor or alternative health practitioner, mentor, spiritual / religious elder or mental health professional. Sometimes it is easier to seek out a mentor or a pastor before a therapist or psychiatrist. What matters is that you know yourself well enough to sense when your own inner resources are insufficient. Asking for help is a strength, despite the multitude of opposing messages from society at large. I like Brene Brown’s ideas about vulnerability and am encouraged by this concept catching on in popularity.
14. Your post, a poem titled “The Wind.” is a very well put together post. What inspired it, and what inspires you to write poetry like this one?
Thank you. I was inspired by a loved one whom I was missing. He was traveling and I knew that it was likely we won’t see each other for a very long time. The film The New World reminded me of the differences and similarities between us. It also reminded me of the beautiful place in which we met. However this poem was not about a typical love story. It was about how a greater divine force can pull together two souls, and that the collision of the two can create a mystery and awakening that transcends romantic love.
15. When did you discover writing?
I came into this world with a vibrant imagination. This gift has often been my saving grace. Writing early on became a vehicle for fashioning my imagination into a tangible form. In grade school my teacher noticed that I was good at building stories around our spelling words. I also was a strong reader and excelled at spelling. So you could say it was a perfect storm of good language skills and an active inner life.
16. How has writing changed you as a person?
My diaries in high school helped me survive some difficult years. I found a strategy for processing emotions and working out conflicts that I could depend upon. My journals are like old friends; reliable, comfortable, always there for you. I know my love of writing influenced my work with clients. I will often integrate writing into the therapeutic process, via journaling, affirmations, poetry, etc. I am fortunate to have had many clients come to therapy as lifelong writers.
17. What is your favorite part about writing?
After the ideas are set and the words being to flow….. I really love the creative process, especially when my intuition is informing my choices rather than my rational mind. I find it very exciting to integrate the flow of ideas together cohesively and with emotional intelligence. Writing is such a source of joy and can often have a cathartic effect for me.
18. What plans do you have for the future in your writing?
I am very interested in the intersection of mystical experiences and perceptual changes evident in psychotic episodes. Both states of being feature an altered sense of reality. I want to do more research into where the two overlap and where the two diverge. I am not even sure that discrete differences exist. My sense is that other factors strongly influence one’s judgment of and reactions to altered states of consciousness. Other factors would include one’s upbringing, socioeconomic status, ethnicity/culture, educational level, geographic location, and spiritual/religious orientation. I delved into some of this material in graduate school but there is so much more I want to explore. This could be my book!
19. What kind of books do you like?
I really adore non-fiction and biography or semiautobiographical works. When I was much younger I read mostly romance, classics, and science fiction. I truly enjoyed reading Dickens because his style evoked rich visual imagery. I am very visual in nature, so I prefer authors who cater to this preference. Lately I look for stories that offer inspiration and broaden my understanding of complex material. But please make them entertaining and unique so that I will keep reading! I tend to read many books at once.
20. What advice can you offer other writers?
I don’t have much advice to share except to believe in your creative spark, set a structured routine for yourself, and write for the joy of writing. Balancing writing with all of life’s demands requires more than good intentions. Please write for yourself first. I will never forget this high school teacher who harshly criticized my Three Act play assignment. She said that no one would be interested in my story but me! I took this criticism to heart and worried that my writing was not relatable. I think that I overcompensated by paying less attention to my gut instincts while writing. Eventually I realized that I write because I am a writer, not to please other people. Writers clearly want readers, I know this one does, but most readers are attracted to artists who can follow through with their vision. “Know thyself” and “to thine own self be true” are classic quotes because they convey wisdom and truth over the course of time. So striving to embody these ideals makes sense to me.
21. Share with us some of your interests
I love reading, travel, music, drawing, being in nature, exotic food, walking and movies. I have recently rediscovered photography and am enjoying this amateur pursuit. I am also revisiting dream work by participating in two dream groups.
22. What do you find is the hardest part of writing?
Staying focused. I tend to be pretty organized but can get quite distracted if I am writing while online. I also lean towards perfectionism so it is crucial that I know when to leave a finished piece alone. Blogging regularly is helping me become more disciplined in this area.
23. What got you into supporting mental illness?
The philosophy of deinstitutionalization came into vogue when I first started out in the field. This is the notion that people with psychological or developmental challenges tend to thrive living within their communities, rather than being whisked away to hospitals and residential facilities. My work as a social worker and therapist evolved over the years and my attitudes are shaped by my work. I had some excellent supervisors and mentors along the way that influenced my understanding of mental illness. Yet I learned the most directly from those on my caseload. I discovered that the systems in place to protect people: child welfare system, criminal justice system, mental health system, often created more harm than good. The traumas people experience as a result of being incarcerated, committed to a psychiatric hospital, or living in unsafe, unpredictable, circumstances are often worse that those they may have ensured prior to being diagnosed. This idea of community integration operates best when people are encouraged to focus on their entire self instead of an illness or disability. The alternative to the medical or pathology-focused model led to the creation of the Mental Health Recovery movement. Recovery focuses on holistic, empowering strategies and approaches to living based on the unique individual. The values include hope, meaning, and personal choice. This movement is alluded to, but not directly mentioned in my Silver Linings post. I wrote about the movement in my Guest post on Resilience for Amber Skye Forbes’s blog.
24. You offer counseling and astrology services; can you explain what that is all about?
I like to incorporate my astrology knowledge and my intuitive skills into my counseling practice. My objective is to help people develop and grow more into their true selves. We do this by working together in identifying and cultivating the innate capacities found in the natal astrology chart. I have worked with clients separately using traditional counseling techniques or astrological consultations. Yet I find that combining the two modalities is truly the best of both worlds. Astrology is holistic, non-judgmental, spirituality-based and person-centered. It is an outstanding approach for helping others with self-discovery, relationship issues, vocational counseling, addiction, low self-esteem, unresolved grief, etc.
25. What can people expect from you if they receive this experience?
I provide an astrological chart based on time and place of birth and an initial chart interpretation. The client decides the focus and scope of the service. I can provide a one time session, regularly scheduled sessions or anything in between. I see the work as healing and transformational in nature, operating from strengths as opposed to deficits. People report the service as empowering, powerful, healing, often intense, and enlightening.
26. What advice can you offer people if they want to do what you do?
I think that with both astrology and counseling, one must be born with raw potential. Education and training are important and will refine and expand one’s expertise and confidence, but astrologers and therapists cannot be manufactured. You have to really enjoy people and be incredibly self-aware. I like to use my counseling skills when I practice astrology. Not all astrologers are counselors or therapists, but they can benefit from learning reflective listening skills. One must have the innate abilities like empathy, intuition, strong analytical skills, comfort with the symbolic world, and people skills to succeed in both professions. Evidence – based practices are very popular in the mental health profession currently, and will probably continue to grow in popularity. While I agree that practicing techniques that deliver positive treatment outcomes has advanced the field and improved quality of life for so many, psychotherapy is not purely technique-driven. Artistry is a large part of the profession and I certainly hope that creative people will continue to be valued within the helping/ healing professions.
27. How do you market yourself?
Blog litebeing chronicles
28. Promote your services in one sentence!
Let’s partner together to help you recognize, explore and manifest your possibilities.
29. What kind of observations do you make in your work? If you do.
Trust is essential to cultivating a therapeutic relationship. I see that many people hide who they are, especially from themselves. When trust has been developed, the road to healing becomes visible. True healing can begin as people find less need to hide.
Another common thread is the universal need for unconditional love. Most people want to give and receive love. At the end of the day, people want to be seen, heard, understood, and accepted. This desire to be truly known is universal and part of unconditional love. Astrological counseling is an effective way to help people integrate all aspects of themselves; to embrace the shadows and bring them into the light. With a strong inner foundation it is then possible to recognize and attract unconditional love into one’s life.
30. What are you working on now?
I am focusing on my blog and expanding my astrology/counseling practice.