My Current Life Courses

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

―  Henry Ford

This week, I found myself enrolled in 3 courses, facilitating 1, and have paused 1.  No, I’m not a graduate student.  I am a 44 year old female who is transitioning out of my field of being a clinical psychologist and stepping into the unknown world of creating my own path. Although I received my doctorate nearly 20 years ago, I am continuously learning.  I realize in the past my learning was about the attainment of a degree.  I took various classes that would afford me a spot in college, then graduate school, then the right internship.   After getting my license in clinical psychology and having full time employment, it was all about getting certificates in everything from hypnosis, reiki, sound healing, EMDR, executive coaching, labyrinth facilitation, Internal Family Systems, Gottman trained marital therapy, Diversity and Inclusion, 500 hour yoga certificates.  The list goes on, and although I admit initially I did it because my jobs had so much funding in ongoing education and continuing credits, I maxed it out annually.  Today I have no job, and find myself seeking more knowledge. 

But now I have the freedom to choose, without a job paying for it, what am I enrolled in? 

A course about the Black Madonna by Dr. Christena Cleveland.  It’s described as a virtual pilgrimage to explore how the Dark Divine Mother can heal and help us, and how we can view ourselves as sacred.  It’s taught by a female social psychologist and theologian. 

Another course I am getting psychology credit for is Self-Compassion, a class created by Dr. Kristen Neff, a clinical psychologist.  This includes Buddhist and mindfulness principles as a way to make friends and care for ourselves.

In the midst of this, I signed up for a pilgrimage course e-course by Phil Cousineau who is a filmmaker, mythologist, and retreat facilitator.  He previously was mentored by my favorite mythologist Joseph Campbell and therefore this class is focused on how to be intentional with each trip we take and facilitate these types of reflective spiritual inquires when leading others.  

The course I am facilitating, which I seem to do annually, is The Artist Way by Julia Cameron.  This is all about reclaiming our creativity, and although I facilitate it, I also participate in it and the majority of the exercises.   My only class on pause, due to scheduling, is Flamenco , taught by a local Malguena in complete Spanish. 

Black Madonna, Pilgrimage, Compassion, Art, and a tad of Flamenco.  

If I were to capture who I am right now in five classes this would be it.  But the thing is, I am not doing these classes right now to check  them off a list.  I want to embed the lessons in my body.  It’s the integration that takes time.  

What classes in life are you currently enrolled in?  How would you sum up who you are in five classes? 

Oh La La

While taking a stroll in a local Parisian park, a recent expat said to me, “The French really like saying Oh La La.”  Prior to living in Paris, when I heard the phrase “Oh La La”, I thought it simply would be the phrase that would come out of Miss Piggy’s mouth from The Muppets when she saw Kermit.  For me, it meant “Wow”, “Sexy”, or “I love this.”  But it’s multidimensional.  I heard the phrase three times this week, used in different contexts.


I was in the line of a marche (market).  I had several items, the woman behind me had one item, and the old man in front of me pulled out his entire rollie of products to be scanned.  The woman behind me sighed “Oh La La,” as he emptied the entire contents of 20 plus products to the cash register.  She did not want to wait and was frustrated there was only one cashier that day.  


Earlier in French class this week, we each had to read our answers to various homework questions.  When one person was asked to read the number 85, she could not recall how to say this.  The teacher breathed out, “Oh La La”, disappointed that we were already at the end of 8 weeks of French and a simple number could not be read.  For those, counting it’s pronounced “quatre-vingt-cinq.”  


My nearly 15 year old English Bulldog loves going to the park, but does not seem to have the energy or motivation to walk two long blocks to our destination.  Therefore, I transport him in a stroller.  Upon our return from Champs de Mars, a man looked at the tired but content Puzo, and smiled saying “Oh La La”.  I could sense in the hint of “how precious.”

I am sure there are many other ways to use this phrase.  It’s a catch all like, “Oh my gosh”, “Ay ya ya”, “Geez Louise.”  This is one phrase that seems stereotypical, but I am going to try to embed into my vocabulary.  Perhaps you will catch me next time saying “Oh la la,” but hopefully in a complimentary way. 

Positif ou Négatif

The other day in French class we were learning various adjectives for emotions or character traits: triste, agreable, serieux, desagreable.  We had to quantify if these words were positive or negative.  We got to a word “orgueilleux,” which according to google means “proud.”  A classmate noted, “c’est positif.”  The teacher disagreed, and the student looked at the class, shrugged his shoulders and said “depends.”  The teacher then shared that it means more than proud, it means “arrogant.”  This is pride discussed in the way Jane Austen would back in the day.  So the class agreed, “c’est negatif.”  

It’s interesting as a psychologist, to sit in a classroom and label emotions as “bad or good.”  This is what we are trying to get away from in society, as all emotions should be welcome.  There’s a time and place for sadness, anger, joy, and seriousness.  But I understand, we are doing this exercise, solely as a learning experiment.  The images shown to describe the emotions were the universal language of emojis. 


When you are in a beginners language class, generally there is no room for debate or philosophical discussion.  It’s basically a time for memorization, particularly if the words are positif or negatif, or feminin ou masculin.