Fishbowl

03 October 2022

Fishbowl

The university classroom was too warm, it smelled of books, bodies, and old heat registers. My professor of counselor education, Peggy, and I, sat across from each other in wood and metal chairs. I had volunteered to work with her in a “fishbowl” – to be a pretend “client” while she demonstrated how counseling works.

“Why am I’m so unmotivated at work?” I said.
I had driven 40 miles to my night class in Adrian, Michigan, from where I worked in Ann Arbor as a public relations manager. I wore my work clothes – a black business suit, ivory silk blouse and black heels. Waist length red hair draped over my shoulders. I was hunched in the chair, leaned forward, focused on Peggy’s warm expression and curious eyes. She was petite and slim, blond. She wore an Indian-motif royal blue tunic, with a bright, multi-colored embroidered Nehru collar.

This was the second session of my first counseling class: Interpersonal Skills and Pre-Practicum. The class textbook, “The Skilled Helper” by Gerard Egan, an orange-colored hardback with a circular drawing on the cover of intertwined human figures, rested on my lap. I and the twelve students whose chairs were pulled into a circle around us were learning about the bedrock of counseling: the art of listening. I hadn’t taken the class to become a counselor. I’d taken it to become a better interviewer, a better communications expert.

Anxious to hear Peggy’s reply to my question, I’d stopped breathing. The room was mausoleum still. “Linda, it’s sounds like you’re bored,” Peggy said.

My face was poker straight, a complete mismatch to the bomb that had just gone off in my chest. My thoughts raced. Bored? How could I be bored? I loved my job. I was lucky to have it. I made a fantastic salary for a 24-year-old woman and worked with wonderful people. I had said nothing that I was aware of that would have clued Peggy that I was bored. Or had I? I felt a trickle of sweat between my breasts.

“I heard that you love your job and that you’re a conscientious worker,” Peggy said, “but I sensed that the work is no longer aligned with your heart. Is that accurate?”

Inside, a kaleidoscope of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and awareness shifted into a new pattern. With perfect clarity, I knew that I’d just experienced a life-altering pivot, a change in direction that would unfold over the next year. My hands clenched The Skilled Helper. “Yes, that’s so right on,” I said to Peggy. “I’m not lazy or unmotivated. Something inside is calling me in new directions, but I haven’t paid attention.”

In that moment, though I wouldn’t recognize it for a while, wisdom wrote the path of the professional helper on my heart. If Peggy could help me clarify a life-altering insight, perhaps I could help others do the same! Professional helping, as a counselor, and later as a counseling psychologist, unfolded into a passionate, dedicated 35-year career.

The author of the Skilled Helper called what Peggy demonstrated, “advanced accurate empathy.” I now know it as “spiritual resonance” – an ability, via the matrix of energy that connects us to a single source, to hear, to grasp and to articulate the spiritual intelligence that flows through every single one of us, every single nanosecond, to guide every single step through life.

Peggy had listened to the wisdom, the spiritual knowing that stirred within me. She had cut past the chatter of my narrative, my story, my attempts to explain my experience to myself. She had heard and brought forward, given a voice to, a message from stillness that whispered within.

I left the fishbowl and watched as others were counseled by Peggy. With each demonstration, the whisper to be helper coalesced into a force. That night, as I drove my baby blue Camaro through rural farm fields and forests back to my home in Ann Arbor, I breathed a prayer into the dark night, into the stillness.

“Show me the way,” I said. The rest is history.

Copyright 2022: Linda Sandel Pettit, Ed.D.
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Linda Sandel Pettit, Ed.D. inspires intuitive-creative women healers to use their healing modalities, speaking voices, and written words to unfold and share the wisdom of the Sacred Feminine. The Sacred Feminine embraces intuition, curiosity, connection, authenticity, humility, vulnerability, oneness, and the natural beauty of the body and the earth. Linda’s understanding of the Sacred Feminine is formed from a nonreligious spiritual understanding known worldwide as the 3 Principles. [for more information, see www.sydbanks.com.]

Linda offers sanctuaries, intimate small-group programs, to women healers who want to bring the 3 Principles into their work, and to women writers who are ready to share, get feedback, revise, and publish.

Through her Apprentice’s Way individual all-in-one mentorship program, Linda encourages her clients’ spiritual evolution, psychological health, effective writing, messaging, marketing, and content creation.

Visit www.lindasandelpettit.com to learn more about these programs and her array of masterclasses and courses.

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