I just started my Winter Quarter teaching at Cascadia Community College and one of the themes we explored in my “College Strategies” class during our first week was core values.  I asked the students, “Why would I have us explore our values as a first step in learning about how to be a college student?”  Darren, an eager, but soft-spoken man in the front, raised his hand half-mast and said, “Because our values are the foundation for everything. If we don’t know what we value first, we can’t make good decisions. Knowing what we believe is about being authentic.”

I love these moments in teaching. I wanted to shine a dreamy “from-the-heavens” light on Darren. Ah yes, authenticity!  Without authenticity at our core (or as our foundation), we may forget who we are, where we are, and most importantly, why we are.

I left my class feeling that an authentic part of myself involves being a teacher.  And then I realized that teacher isn’t quite the right word for me.  Mentor feels closer. Facilitator fits.  Guide: ah, that’s it.  I’m a guide.  As I walked back to my office after class, I felt a bit more clear in the core of me, a tad more solid in the foundation underneath my feet.

When I work with my clients as a massage practitioner and energy healer, I feel I also play this role as a guide. I certainly don’t have all the answers (I believe my clients do), nor do I want to know them all. I simply guide others to find their way in this world through my touch, my words, my rituals, and my heart.  Thank you, Darren, for reminding me how authenticity is key to understanding the breadth and depth of my sense of purpose in this life.

Authentic Self, mixed media art journal


About Courtney Putnam

I first came to healing work through art and writing. Creating collage art and poetry in particular allowed me to deeply understand the benefit of self-expression in the healing process. But, I also began to see the benefit of bodywork (manual work in the form of massage and energywork in the form of Reiki) as keys to unlocking the emotional stresses we hold in our bodies. I became a Reiki practitioner in 2002, received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2003, received my massage license in the spring of 2006, and became a Reiki Master in 2010. In my practice I bring together these three areas -- the body, the mind, and the spirit (or energy body) -- so others may experience profound and positive change in their lives.
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4 Responses to Authenticity

  1. Kathy says:

    Moments like these are nothing short of sublime. It was amazing to hear, in your words, te joy that I am lucky enought to experience from time to time. For me, these moments are not limited to the classroom. Recently, it happened when I read a FB message from one of my students. You are indeed blessed!

  2. Shira Richman says:

    What beautiful, inspiring words to help me this morning as I prepare to lead a class. Thanks, Courtney.

  3. Jane says:

    Beautiful post! As a teacher-who-is-more-of-a-guide and an energy healer too, your words here inspire me with their simple honest truth.

  4. Ann Teplick says:

    Courtney, beautiful post! Authenticity is hopefully what we are all about, and what we strive to be.
    A guide, yes.

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