ALIVENESS and the Art of Paying Attention


“What will you do with your one precious, wild life?” Mary Oliver

Things have been happening in my life at warp speed right now.  Anne Heffron told me recently that “this is my time.”  I agree with her.

The thing about it being “my time” is I am seeking experiences, I am paying attention, I am looking for beauty.  I am seeking to find MEANING when beauty and difficulties come into my awareness.  All experiences are given equal attention and love.  I am working at this because, I want to feel ALIVE.

I am growing.  I am changing.  I am happy. Not like “kid on Christmas morning” happy, but from my toes to hair follicles happy.  I find JOY in life like never before.  I am choosing joy.  I know to some, this may seem like crazy talk.

I still feel a full range of emotions, I still struggle with depression.  I still struggle with anxiety.  I still go to therapy.   But, I refuse to give in and let all that win. I Just won’t.  I work at it.  I accept things I can not change.

As I have written in this blog before, in 2017, I found my birth family and my beginning story.  It was, to say the least, an unbelievable tale of strife and rejection and sorrow.   I found myself saying, “How the hell is this really my life??,” all the time.  Some of the themes of my reunion story are – rejection, death, alcoholism, suicide, homelessness, foster care, forgotten children, butterflies, trees, love, hand holding, skin awakening, sisterS, brotherS, and cousinS…and also, acceptance and laughter.   Opposition in all things.  All these hard and wonderful truths have given me experience.

I decided I had 2 choices – wallow in it and die or accept it and live.

I chose Door #2 – accept it and live.

I could not change any of the story of me.  I could not make it go away.   Then I decided, I really didn’t want to make it go away or change or hide in shame.  I just wanted to talk about it with whomever asked, be honest and be secure in my truth.  If you ask me about my reunion story, I don’t sugar coat any of the facts. I will look you in the eye and tell you.  People have been surprised and startled, but I speak up and I speak out.  I tell the truth of adoption and I educate whenever I have the chance.  It is my life’s work.

I have been at a Gestalt Play Therapy Training in Solvang, CA since last Friday and will be here for several more days.  I love learning and especially how to become a better therapist with more tools in my tool belt.  I love my work with children.  Gestalt therapy is a way to look at the person as a whole, and to integrate the emotional self and the physical self together.  It is not an intervention, or a technique, but away of being, and I love being a Gestalt Therapist.  Gestalt therapy is a client-centered approach to psychotherapy that helps clients focus on the present and understand what is really happening in their lives right now, rather than what they may perceive to be happening based on past experience.  WOWZA – here and now, not the past! 

A term we were taught this week is ALIVENESS.  Say that with me, “Aliveness….Aliveness….Aliveness.”  How does that feel in your mind and in your body?  Can you feel what you might be if you were living in full Aliveness?

What makes you feel ALIVENESS?  When you pay attention to your heart’s longing and your mind’s thoughts, what is there?  Is it all misery and trauma ( adoption or other trauma), is it anger and revenge or is there a mix of all of those things, and some good stuff too, like nature and laughter, happiness and seeking?  I HOPE there is good stuff rolling around in each of you.  Carrying all the heavy stuff is like trying to climb up a sand dune….you end up buried alive.

This brings me to an experience I sought out today to share here on the ol’ blog.  I LOVE TREES.  I hug them. Yea, yea….I do.  It is my favorite.

Tree Hugging at the Baltimore in Santa Barbara, CA

There is this amazing row of trees Montecito, CA that I LOVE to drive to see.   We drove there today, just so I could share the beauty of the trees with you, dear reader.


Did you pay attention?  Did you SEE those big, beautiful trees, and did you SEE that amazingly blue sky and did you LISTEN to my voice, and SEE my face ( no make up, hair in a hat and full of ALIVENESS), I hope you and had a moment of happy and a moment of knowing what this new word means:

ALIVENESS is the art of living a full and experience seeking life. 

Will you join me? 

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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW

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