Creating Life Through Inner Wisdom by Robin Will
hink back: how often in school did our teachers tell us that we’re using only tiny portions of our minds—that we’re capable of so much more? Jamie “Cedar” Rogers took that childhood message to heart—not as a child, but as a successful computer systems analyst. Dissatisfied with life and dealing with neurological dysfunction, she went looking for greater meaning and healthier resolutions from within different parts of herself. Her fresh new Master’s Degree in Art Therapy Counseling testifies to the distance she’s traveled, and it’s clear that art therapy provided an opening for further journeys that she is inclined to share. It looks like an enormous leap, but Rogers says it’s more like a continuum. As a systems analyst, she was analytical, logical and she collaborated well with others. That’s still the case. She’s simply more interested in the meaning and perceptions behind different arrangements of information. Art Therapy doesn’t depend on talk or medication. Initially focused on children considered too young for conventional counseling, or adults who could not speak, the activities we call “art” are becoming recognized for their potential at all levels of age and ability. Many of us know about inner stuff that we can’t access or control. Habits or symptoms that don’t go away, patterns of self-sabotage, stress that manifests as pain or illness—we’re aware that talking about them doesn’t fix them. We also know it’s not always a matter of pain or dysfunction. Sometimes, we simply want to expand our
awareness, cultivate wellness, develop talents or look in new directions for meaning or validation—and can’t find a way to start. Rogers helps people get started. She has a comfortable and informative website at CedarPathways.com where she addresses philosophy and technique. It’s interesting reading, and there’s no point in recapping it here. What’s worth mentioning is that although Rogers’ strategies may seem foreign to us, none of them are particularly new. Healing through drawing, motion, sound, storytelling, touch, music and contact with nature have been documented back to the beginnings of writing, and in lore and legend long before that. When the old becomes new again, it’s usually because current best practices aren’t living up to their own hype, and that’s the condition Rogers feels that she’s addressing with Cedar Pathways. “We’re trained to seek authority,” she says, obviously searching for words as if she’s translating from another language. “We’ve been taught to ask somebody else what’s valuable, or meaningful, or healthy.” In Rogers’ case, that training led to a successful and rewarding career and way of life that was making her sick. “What I do now is in the nature of retraining,” she reflects. “I’m helping people connect with the wisdom that’s within their nature and the values inside themselves.” It’s a natural pathway, no more difficult than any other, but definitely
foreign to the culture we live in now. Rogers frequently finds herself searching for words, because our language can barely do justice to what she’s talking about. Her closest expression comes from a shaman’s body rather than mind. But, “Shaman” is a word Rogers is uncomfortable calling herself. It’s an appropriated term from another culture that doesn’t seem to apply to a white woman from Astoria. Often, however, others do see the shaman within her and her work does include some of the things a shaman might do, while the name of “Cedar” comes to offer guidance through the heart. The notion of art in therapy, life guidance and personal growth is also foreign to clients. “I can’t draw,” they say, comparing themselves to paid artists. “I can’t dance,” others say, as if dancing is something we see only in performance. Bottom line: “I’m not good enough, I’m stuck here, and I can’t trust myself.” Those are the standard lessons of a consumer culture. Rogers believes in the most serious way that those lessons aren’t true. Our culture tends to shut us down. She has the tools in hand to teach us to open up and get some use from parts of our hearts, bodies, spirits and minds that are dusty from neglect. Sometimes the process may start with drawing via mark making or a walk in the woods. Visit Jamie “Cedar” Rogers’ website at CedarPathways.com or phone her at 503-621-6178 for more information.