Nature’s Way

Photo by Sophy Chen


This one stopped me dead in my tracks.  I had been hurriedly walking from one point in town to the other, rushing from one appointment to the next.  And then there she was.  Completely out of place, this praying mantis sat (or maybe she was standing) on the driveway of a Main Street business.  What was she doing here in the middle of all this hustle and bustle?  She should have been hidden away on a green leaf somewhere.  But instead here she was shining brightly in all her green glory against the dingy white of Culpeper’s concrete jungle.  Even if our hustle has less bustle than many others, this was no place for her.  Why would this creature be so far removed from her natural habitat, so vulnerable to the dangers of cars and humans? There was only one logical explanation.  Me. Okay, maybe there were other reasons, but being raised as an only child, “me” is what first came to mind.  Sorry.  I’m working on that.

Anyway, worried she had been hit by a car, I looked for her after my appointment.  I didn’t see her, and saw no evidence of foul play, so I assumed that she was safely back where she belonged.  But her willingness to take such risks for me meant that I had to take some chances of my own.  To my mind, it was necessary for me to consider the purpose of this “gift” in my life, to appreciate it, and to share it.

A quick internet search revealed that in part, the power of a praying mantis is in her isolated stillness, her antennae, keen hearing, vision, and her quick legs.  Altogether, she seemed to be a reminder for me to take time for myself and cherish peace and quiet so that I can see and hear and notice the opportunities in my life.  That is an easy one to forget.  Life moves fast.  There is so much chatter and action, so much to do. So often we feel the need to keep up with it all if we’re going to win or even survive.  This beautiful gift offered the suggestion that perhaps there is another way.

As soon as she caught my eye, I found myself looking at her closely.  I was able to see her from all sides, moving in still closer.  One thing was for sure, as I was noticing her, she was noticing me.  She did what they are known to do. She swayed, as if in the wind and she watched me…closely.  Frankly, it was a bit unsettling while also enthralling.  Now mind you, I had places to be, things to do.  But somehow, I could not resist this time with her.  Apparently, there’s more to the story.  Looking at her from another perspective, there seems to be a more dangerous, “preying” side to the praying mantis.  She is focused.  And when she attacks, she is remarkably strong and consistently effective.  While she is considered quiet and patient, she is also quite intentional and precise.  Maybe that’s the point.

Sitting (or standing) on my turf, this praying mantis taught me a thing or two.  I’m not sure what her plans were for me, after all praying mantises have been known to bite off the head of another (typically males).  But she showed me how protective and valuable discernment and stillness can be, especially in the midst of all this hustle and bustle.

In natural balance, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem, these little moments are like guideposts.  We must only be still to notice.

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Psychological coaching is grounded in the art and science of psychology and is in many ways very similar to traditional psychotherapy.  They both utilize knowledge of human behavior, motivation, behavioral change, and interactive techniques in order to help a client move from where they are to an improved state of being. The differences between psychological coaching and traditional psychotherapy are related to their goals, focus, and perspective. Traditional psychotherapy seeks to diagnose and treat emotional and behavioral conditions, with the therapist serving as "expert" in support of the client. Unfortunately, many have considered the pursuit of traditional psychotherapy to be stigmatizing, in part because of this perspective of the client being "broken" and in need of repair.  Psychological  coaching offers a different point of view.  The coaching psychologist is more likely focused on developing a collaborative relationship, with the client in the "driver seat", with the perspective that the client is creative, whole, and resourceful.  The clients' capacity for wellness and healing is assumed, encouraging them to move more quickly and directly through obstacles to their happiness, success, and life satisfaction.  

As a Coaching Psychologist, my goal is to support you in creating awareness so that you can access your own skills and inner resources in order to manage the challenges you face now and into the future.  While our work together may touch on past traumas and psychiatric concerns, they will be addressed from the perspective of your strengths, rather than with a focus on ill-ness or disability.  In our larger community, it is not unusual for individuals to experience mild to moderate mental health issues, making psychological coaching an accessible and viable option.  If, in the course of our work together, either you or I have reason to believe that your mental or emotional health concerns are better addressed by another service provider, a referral will be made.  

As a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, I have 20 years of ongoing training and experience providing, consulting and supervising others in the provision of psychological services.  However,  as of now, the life coaching field is unregulated, allowing anyone to be a life coach - even those without training in the behavioral sciences.  As well, the coaching field is considered to lack a solid base in research, creating disagreement on educational and training standards. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is working to change this.  In order to ensure that your coach is not counseling others beyond their expertise, it is suggested that when considering a life coach, individuals  should seek coaches who are trained or ICF certified.  Along with my license as a Clinical Psychologist, I am currently enrolled in MentorCoach® L.L.C., one of the oldest ICF accredited coach training programs, and one that will enable me to be an ICF certified coach.