Phyllis Mathis

Licensed Counselor, Spiritual Mentor, Life Coach

Sometimes it takes more than education, experience, and expertise. Sometimes it takes a certain kind of soul.


Filtering by Tag: soul work

Nature Nurture

Sunday morning, in the middle of our Memorial Day getaway in Glenwood Springs, CO, I was having trouble waking.

Groggy, foggy-headed, and heavy limbed, I climbed into the car to go to one of the most beautiful spots in the Rocky Mountains, Maroon Bells. Once parked, I lumbered out of the car, stumbled around the lake, and stared blinking at the iconic mountain, wishing I had access to a decent cup of coffee. Not even this view could move me.

maroon bells.JPG

We headed back to the car, and I chose to walk next to the stream. As I stood on the bank I spotted an island in the middle of the creek, with a path of step-able stones across the water.

An invitation.

As my foot found land on my tiny mountain island, everything changed.

Fatigue: done. Foggy brain: clear. Heaviness: lifted. Instead, an infusion of awe, the nourishment of beauty, and a grounded, profound energy seeping into my cells. 

There's no place like home.

My Life in My Hands

"Go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."

--Kurt Vonnegut

3 bowls.JPG

At the age of 55 I took up an art. I enrolled in a ceramics class. My secret dream was to throw pots on the wheel, but it was one of those things I barely let into my consciousness. Part of me just dismissed it as something I wish I would have learned.

Two years later, I'm completely hooked. Completely. I would do it every day if I could. 8 hours a day if I could. If only someone would pay me by the hour, I would quit my job and just sit in front of the wheel and spin it.

3-legged box.JPG

The great thing is, I can't really tell you why. Perhaps that's the point. I make my living with my brain. I love that too, but after 25+ years of trying to figure out the human condition, my poor brain needs a break.

The rhythm, the feel, the spin, the bringing something beautiful out of the mud, brings me a satisfaction that reaches my bones. There are so many things I love about it, but the best one is this:

I have to pay attention every minute.

Every mishap I've had at the wheel, or at the glazing table, was due to the fact that I wasn't entirely present to my task:.

Kind of like life, right?

clay bottle.JPG

I'm Still Here

rainy window.JPG

I've had a bit of a rough week, here in the world of me. First, I made a rookie mistake with a firing at the pottery studio, and one of my pieces exploded in the kiln. That explosion not only ruined my own stuff, it also messed up the work of several others, and left a mess in the kiln that someone had to clean up. 

Next I made a scheduling mistake that left an important person stranded.

Then I got stood up for an important event.

Then I received a couple of very personal blows to the ego that left me feeling sick to my stomach.

None of these is earth shattering. All are first world problems to be sure.

Nevertheless, the bunch of these events mentally formed themselves into an invitation to enter into a very old and familiar story line in my head. A story that's all about me. And the moral of the story is this:

I Suck.

I think you know this story, and how easily you become the recipient of such an invitation. You have your own story line, your own plot twists, and your own peripheral characters, but the moral of the story is still the same:

You Suck.

I used to get lost in my story for days at a time, whole seasons at a time. And I believed that my soul's work was to get myself back into a different story, one in which I was OK, or even great. A story in which I definitely did not suck.

But then I learned that the mind makes up stories, dozens of them, all starring me as the central character. Stories in which I'm either a hero or a schmuck. And depending on which story is running, I either feel rotten or relieved. Rotten, because, well, to suck feels rotten. Relieved because honestly, I don't really believe the stories in which I'm the hero, I just feel relieved that I don't suck.

And then I learned that, after the stories play themselves out in my mind, they're just that - stories. Mental constructs. Shame-fueled core beliefs. And that underneath them all, I'm still here.

That's a strong and peaceful feeling.

The essential Me stands apart from all the dramas playing out in my head. There's a me that can't be threatened by a judgment of suck-i-tude; nor can it be flattered by the illusion of greatness. I'm just me. I am who I am, and I will be here when the story's over, here after the credits roll.