A Therapist’s 100th Blog Post and A Poem

door in red brick wall, words - A therapist’s 100th blog post and a poem by Santa Rosa therapist Patty Bechtold at wiselifetherapy.com

Here I am today writing (and celebrating) my 100th blog post. It’s exactly five years since this website went live and I published my first blog post. I like the symmetry of that, even though it’s unexpected.

Actually, I thought I’d reach my 100th blog post sooner.

In the beginning I was aiming for 25 blog posts a year, give or take. I did fairly well the first three years. Even though my business grew quickly after I re-rooted it in Sonoma County, I was mostly able to keep up with the writing here. And I’ve always enjoyed it!

But then, as we all know, things changed pretty radically in the world two years ago. Not surprisingly, my writing rhythms faltered a bit.

Still, I kept writing through all the things.

Looking back from today’s 100th blog post to the very first one, it’s pretty clear there was a foreshadowing of darkness that worried me.

In the first post I mentioned that the online world had changed since my earlier years of blogging at Living Deep Studio. And I was concerned about clickbait and propaganda, as well as “hotbeds of hate and anger on Twitter and FaceBook.”

But at the time, I had no idea how that would actually play out.

In my initial post at the end of 2016 I made some promises.

Five years ago I had a vision for this website and blog, and there were things that were important to me.

I wanted to…

  • Create a welcoming environment that’s inclusive and diverse
  • Be genuine, honest and real
  • Steer clear of questionable marketing tactics
  • Find a balance between too much sharing and not enough
  • Focus more on stories than advice
  • Write meaningful and thoughtful content
  • Design an online space for women that reflects my deeply held values: belonging, creativity, love and wisdom.

I think I did okay with those promises, and I’ll continue to do more as I continue writing here.

One thing is clear: I’ve been on the trail of wisdom all this time.

That makes sense since I purposefully named my business WiseLife Therapy and Coaching. But from the first to the 100th blog post, I’ve been peeling away the layers and seeking wisdom wherever I can find it.

In some ways I’ve been surprised at where and how I unearthed wisdom, and in the beginning I didn’t realize there was a bit of a rebel rising within me. As I started writing more I started questioning standard wisdom about women’s needs and issues and how they’re defined or viewed.

Some of my favorite wisdom-seeking posts have been fairly popular.

Much to my delight, several have made their way to page one (or near to it) on Google:

How to Cope When You Just Want to Run Away From Everything

Here’s Why It’s Okay Not to Forgive

Thoughts from a Modern Therapist

Women’s Support Groups: What Type is Right For You?

The Mindful Way Through Compare and Despair

As I coast to the end of my 100th blog post, here’s the best big happy takeaway.

When I started this blog I had no idea that writing and journaling would become such an integral part of my work with women.

I knew I wanted to deepen my own journaling practice and learn more about therapeutic/reflective writing. I also knew I wanted to return to facilitating women’s circles.

But I couldn’t foresee that I’d spend so much of the last four-plus years bringing women together to sit and journal and deeply connect with each other. These circles have become a space for women to belong to themselves and belong with other women, which is sorely needed healing work and often feels unattainable.

As one writing sister recently said: “We’ve all witnessed how much we’ve all struggled.” And that’s the thing, isn’t it? In the midst of two very hard years the witnessing and being with each other somehow transforms things.

And the journaling together: always significant and meaningful. Through it we come to know each other in deeper ways than we could ever imagine. There is such a sense of belonging in that. In fact, during this time my appreciation and love for the healing capacity of journaling and writing has grown exponentially.

So you may be wondering: What comes after 100?

Well, obviously 101! But seriously, my 100th blog post is certainly not the end.

In some ways I feel like the posts leading to the 100th blog post were sort of warmups. In the coming year I hope to write more about how we actually tend our wisdom in the world we live in today.

Also, I’m finally bringing back Wisdom Tending, a monthly group for women in midlife and beyond that had to go on the back burner during 2020 and 2021. I’m writing a companion journey guide for the group that has so far been a slow work-in-progress. Now, it seems to have more momentum to progress further and go a little faster.

The other thing I’ll be doing is going back and updating the previous 99 posts. Okay, not all of them, but I’ve recently learned that it’s important to do this. I’m actually kind of looking forward to it.

To wrap up, here are all the ways you can join me and write with me.

These are all virtual offerings on Zoom, and I expect they will stay that way, perhaps indefinitely.

Wise Women Writing: Free Seasonal Journaling for Self-Care Gatherings

Soulful Journaling Writing Circle

Wisdom Tending Women’s Group

One more thing…about my own writing

This is about more than blogging, or getting to my 100th blog post.

In my groups and circles I’m not the expert, nor am I in my therapist role. I’m a facilitator, lightly guiding, deeply listening and taking care to create a safe and sacred space.

That means I also share my own stories and dive into writing process with you.

So that’s a lot of writing in the past five years, in a lot of different roles. As…

  • facilitator of my own circles
  • participant in other women’s circles
  • a woman with a personal journaling practice
  • a therapist/coach who writes a blog

My writing has certainly changed because of it. I’ve changed because of it. How could I not, right? And that has shown up on my blog now and then.

Sometimes entries from my journals want to leap onto the blog. At first I resisted but now I know I don’t always need to keep them separate. Small stories and poems seek their place here and you’ll likely see more of them as I move beyond this, my 100th blog post.

So I’ll leave you with this poem: My Inner Geography

It was born in my journal in 2018, during a writing session with a friend. Later, I shared it with some of the women in the Wise Women Writing group. I still remember how encouraging and kind they were.

Then it showed up as a work-in-progress in the Soulful Journaling Circle. Finally, I finished it this year during one of Carolyn Scarborough’s Women’s Circles.

I love that it has travelled with me these last three years. I love the memory of all the women who witnessed it at different stages of its life.

And my 100th blog post seems like the perfect space and time for it to take its place here. Scroll down to read it, and let me know what you think!

I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories… water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.
–Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My Inner Geography

I am ocean, glassy surface just past the edge of my waves

calm and collected, stretching as far as the eye can see.

I am vast, mysterious, unknowable

except to those who take the time

to be with me, entering into the depths

swimming in the darkness

together changing colors: blue, green, red

gray, white. Sun and cloud and fog

reflecting our multitudes.

* * * * *

I am ocean, yes, but I have been mountain too

standing stoic, my trees swaying against the

ravages of loss grief fire ice.

The relentless march of time.

Still, at the top of me a pristine snow fed

lake, sheltered, beckoning: Come sit with me.

Stop. Rest. Drink.

* * * * *

Of course I am desert too, you know that right?

Sunlight coursing through my sandy veins

languid limbs flopping all about me, loose.

Going whichever way the wind blows

buffeted by a community of tumbleweeds.

Some think I’m just a shapeshifting mirage

but they only know the daytime me.

At night I come alive, wild eyes tempered

by moon and stars. And I am reborn each

spring, a peach fuzz of wildflowers sprouting

with abandon on my ruddy cheeks.

* * * * *

And the vast prairie, I am here always, a sea of grass

dusty roads taken and not taken rolling into infinity.

I am a community braided together like sweet grass

knowing what thrives in the soil of me.

Still and quiet, prairie dog palms raised, open, stretching

reaching for the sun’s healing warmth as it rises and sets

burrowing down into home and hearth.

A paradox of time and rhythms

always returning to the right rhythm.

Pay attention, disregard me at your peril

as I lift my head up each day.

* * * * *

Finally, I am forest. I have sat amongst my

tallest trees astounded by their reach

stretching to keep up with myself.

I have walked my own paths

sometimes fearful of going so far in

and getting lost. But I’m learning how to

leave a trail of breadcrumbs and trusting

that a little bird will sing me back

or more likely encourage me to slow

down, settle in, stay awhile.

I have located my tools; they’re at the ready

if I need to make a new path to the

other side of the forest.

The other side of the forest of me.

—Patty Bechtold

Patty Bechtold

Patty Bechtold

I help women find their way back to their deepest wisdom when they feel like something’s missing in their lives or themselves. On my blog I write about the stories, insights, ideas, and wise words I’ve picked up along the way. Thank you for being here.