Finding the Wild Inside, with Marilyn Kay Hagar
Marilyn Kay Hagar is an expressive arts therapist and dream worker. She is also, most recently, an author. Her book, Finding the Wild Inside, encourages us to discover that wildly creative, place inside that knows there is more to life than we are currently living. Our society begs us to look outward for life’s meaning and purpose, but our inner lives are the true source of that deeper knowing.
Marilyn Kay Hagar – website
Finding the Wild Inside – purchase link
Susan: Well, Marilyn, I am just so excited for you to join us today on the podcast. And I have read your book, and I have so many questions and so much of it, oddly enough, has resonated with where I am in life right now. When I read the first half of Life and then into the middle part of Life, I was blown away. And then finishing it, I said, “Wow, there’s just so much that I have to look forward to, both good and hard, I think.” But before I just go all over the place and jump in. I want you to share with my audience a little bit about yourself and who you are.
Marilyn: Yes, well, thank you. Thank you so much for having me. It’s just a pleasure to have this opportunity to talk and get my message out a little further than my little country home here up in Northern California. Most important things I want to say about myself, which may sound odd, is that I’m 74 years old so I have lived a lot of my life already. I was born in…Actually, my family roots are in rural Nevada. And I feel like those roots have kept me very close to the earth and very close to nature all my life. So I grew up in Southern California, went to school in Santa Barbara and college, kept moving north to the Bay Area, then moved way up here in Northern California to the little town of Mendocino about 40 years ago, and I’ve been up here ever since.
I raised my family here. I have three beautiful sons, and now I have four wonderful little grandsons. And so I am still working. I operate a creative retreat at my property in Mendocino at this point in time and do creative sessions with people. I still see a few clients and groups and workshops.
Susan: Yes, and I for sure wanted to dive in and talk a little bit more about that in a minute, but first, Marilyn, correct me if I’m wrong, but this is your first book.
Marilyn: It is my first book. And I’m very proud that at 74, I actually… I started writing my book seriously when I was 66. And it took five years of very intense writing and that’s something I surprised myself with. It was something I always wanted to do, but just didn’t find what it was I was writing about. I’ve done a lot of different writing. But yes, my first book at 74
Susan: Well, it is fantastic. And I am so glad that you put it out into the universe to share. There’s just so much that I identify with in this book with some of my own things that I’ve gone through in the past couple of years in creating this podcast, and why this podcast was created came from a time in life that was hard, and it was born out of something that was difficult. And this was the fruit of what came out. This was what was born out of that, I guess for lack of a better word pain. That sounds…It wasn’t as painful. But that’s the only other way I know to describe it and share with us. What is it that you most want readers to take away from this book because I have so many pages underlined. You talk a lot about flow and light and darkness within ourselves and not necessarily that light equals good and darkness equals bad. It just kind of is. I have been studying myself before I found your book, which I thought was quite fascinating, I found an old – he is older—an old Franciscan monk by the name of Richard Rohr, who lives in New Mexico. And so when I was reading some of your stuff from your book, I saw a lot of what I had discovered from him also coming from your perspective, and I thought your language choices were quite interesting. And when you said flow, I went, “Yes, yes, we are all connected in this way.” But I’m talking all about your book., I want you to share what you want us to know about your book.
Marilyn: Well, I’m actually really pleased to hear number one, that you read my book. Thank you so much for doing that. It’s really been a pleasure to me hearing how people are responding to my book. It came kind of wanting to gather the harvest of my own life after living all these years. I wanted to trace this thread of my inner life and cement for myself where it had taken me and of course, I mean, none of us enters the arts without some judge in there saying, “Why are you doing this?” or, you know, even, “who cares about your life, Marilyn?” And I just had to keep writing through that voice, knowing that we have so much in common. And in this day and age, that, to me is one of the most important messages that I hope people take from my book, that when we read about another person’s life, it triggers inside us similar processes, because we are not that different. In many ways, our differences are more on the surface, though we think that’s the whole story. So my book is about stepping beneath the level of the surface, and looking at that underground river that’s going on in each and every one of our lives and honoring that in a way that our culture doesn’t necessarily hold, as precious as I have found it.
I think, you know, in this culture, we are totally enamored with the light of the mind, our rational self. We want to look at everything and we want to examine it in detail. And we’ve gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from doing that. But there is this whole other part of ourselves that exists in the shadows, in the twilight, and in the darkness. And rather than seeing things in all their tiny pieces, this other part of us wants to see them as a whole. And our rational mind would just soon say that other part of us doesn’t exist. But you know, like the stars that still shine in the daytime, even though we can’t see them, that part of us is there and it’s affecting us in every way. And when we don’t pay attention, we are living on the half of our human potential.
So that’s what I hope people take from my book. I hope that it brings a conversation inside themselves that the stories that I tell about my life and the suggestions that I make at the end of the chapters, to my expressive arts therapy suggestions to explore these ideas from this chapter in your own life, I hope that’s what people take, and that it’s an offering and a gift that we all understand how much we actually have in common.
Susan: I agree with that. And finding those at the end of every chapter was very helpful for me. I don’t think that naturally I would have gone to expressive art in order to see some things that I think I needed to see in my life. I’m very good about reading and rushing on to the next book, and not even always contemplating what I have just read. It’s more…It goes back to that intellectual, just the more information, the more information and then just the taking and the taking and taking, and not always contemplating what I’m taking in, if that makes sense.
Marilyn: That makes total sense. I think we all do that in this culture.
Susan: And I really appreciate that your way, or one of the ways that you help us walk through in your book is, this expressive art therapy to me, reminded me of a practice of some kind in order to get into that depth within yourself. I know that is your main practice. And I hope that’s an okay word to use. I hope that that makes sense. Do you have other practices out there? I felt like there were a few that you kind of talked about in the book. One, besides the expressive art therapy was also the time that you spent with Keith.
Susan: Would you share a little bit about that? Was Keith a specific therapist? Was he also an expressive art therapist? Was he like a spiritual director, or kind of all of the above?
Marilyn: I would say in some regards, it was all of the above but by certification, he was a psychotherapist. However, his therapy had a great deal to do with body energy. So it was a somatic body focus therapy. It wasn’t so concentrated on the mind and the stories we tell ourselves with our minds, but rather what is our body trying to say to us. And you know, to me this the same thing, the arts come from the body, we do them from the body. And I would like to talk— I won’t say that now. But I would like to talk about the accessibility of expressive arts therapy, like when you say, “I wouldn’t necessarily go there.” So let’s talk about that at some point.
Susan: Well, let’s talk about it now. Let’s go ahead and get into that. I would love to.
Marilyn: Okay, but I don’t want to forget to say the rest about Keith. So, I feel like we all get alienated from the arts in this culture because we think of them as product and performance. And very early in our lives, I mean, by the age of five, six, seven, it can happen that early, that we discover that through our natural expression, you know, little kids just scribble on the paper, they don’t care what it looks like, and their imagination is flowing with what it is, whether it looks like it or not. And then there’s a point early, early, where an adult looks at it, or a teacher looks at it and says, “Hmm, what’s that? You know, it doesn’t look like that,” or “do it this way.” And it all gets focused on this accurate expression, rather than of what you know, like if it’s a boat, how does a boat actually look rather than this purple, flowing thing out there somewhere in the blue?
We lose our ability and we also become shameful about our attempts to express ourselves with the arts. You know, we get in school, there’s a kid who has a natural ability to the draw, and the teacher gives that child a lot of attention, their thing goes up on the board. And we very early learn that maybe ours doesn’t match the teachers expectations or isn’t as good as someone else. And because it’s such an essential expression that comes from us as human beings, when we get pressed down about that, like we’re not good enough, this whole realm of shame around it evolves, and we just decide that we will give the art making ability or the music making ability or the dance ability to the gifted few. And when we cut ourselves off from that basic human expression, we cut ourselves off from so very much.
So that’s been what I’ve dedicated my life to is, we are all creative because it comes with being human. And much of what I’m trying to teach Is that it’s, it’s liberating for an adult who thinks they can’t draw to start doing it. And I was one myself. I didn’t come to this because I was always an artist or a musician or a writer. I came to it because there was something deep inside me that drew me to express in those ways, whether I felt I could do with it or not. And it has been a major gateway to my inner self. So I just would recommend even that very first exercise in my book to open a, you know, have an art journal, open the page and scribble on the first page, and just start. It doesn’t take talent.
Once I learned that the art I was making was more about what the art was saying to me than about what it looked like, it became this open door to my inner self. So that’s really, really important to me. And I just feel like when we cut off our artistic self, we cut off a playful part of ourselves, we cut off a spontaneous part of ourselves. We cut off looking at our lives as a blank piece of paper and what wants to go on it. There are just so many things that we don’t know we’re cutting off when we think we’re not creative. So that’s my little speech about that.
But I do want to go back to your question about Keith, because that was so important to me as a woman. I feel like in our culture, I don’t know how many of you women feel really comfortable in our own bodies and own our energy, our sexual energy as our own, that somehow it’s so connected to relationship and the masculine. And the whole images of what of our society of what femininity is, what we should look like, what we should act like, what it means to be “sexy.” All those things are so repressive to women. I don’t know how many of us really own that that energy is ours, and it grounds us in the world.
And that was the great gift of that therapy I did for many years with Keith. It helped me to use my body to understand first of all, you know, through body sensation. It’s not intellectual. It was like, you know, say a sentence, what does your body feel like? Is it hot, cold, tingling? I mean, physical feelings? And then beginning to understand, you know, when I was angry, where is that anger in my body? A gut level kind of thing, you know? So that eventually, through that work, I came to accept my own body, the energy and, you know, feel like my body actually communicates things to me that my mind doesn’t really know. And it’s back to that rational mind being the most important thing in our culture. Our body is rich with messages for us, but we don’t know how to listen to it.
So that was the main thing for me. And I think I say in that chapter about how we women live with this split in our sexuality, we either have this virginal aspect where we’re not supposed to be sexual, or we have the slut aspect where we’re too, too involved in that energy. And we’ve lived with that split for centuries and centuries and centuries. So it was so important to me to finally understand my own energy inside my own body and that it’s mine, that doesn’t belong to anyone else, but me. And I can use it however I want to use it and it can communicate with me and I can communicate with it. And it is what grounded means. So that was really an important time in my life.
Susan: That is beautiful the way you just said. If I’m understanding this correctly, it really brought your mind and your body back together as one, instead of separating them like I think we often do.
Marilyn: Yes. And what I didn’t say there is that—thank you for saying that—It brought my mind and my body, and once my mind and body were together, my spiritual self became a physical thing rather than an eerie thing.
Susan: Oh, wow.
Marilyn: It is like heaven and earth coming together. And this is the feminine spirituality that was also split many years ago in our very early origins. You know, when a woman named Anne Bearing wrote a book, The Dream of the Cosmos. And in that book, she talks about how when we humans move from a consciousness where the Great Mother was everything. She was the earth, the sky, everything to humans at that period of time back probably in the matriarchal times. We moved from that consciousness where the Great Mother was everything to a consciousness where a transcendent God became the maker of everything rather than being everything. Nature and spirit were torn asunder. And we’ve been living with that. And as women how that came out, because women, because of our bodies, because we give birth, because we are the creative force that comes through, we women got attached with the nature part. And as the spirit part, the mind part rose, there was a denigration of women and of nature and all that is unfolding.
And so when my body and my physical self and mind made this healing, the heaven and earth coming together, my spirituality just became whole and material. It wasn’t split anymore. And that was such an incredible gift to me, and many years in coming. I mean it, you know, it takes a lot of living life and being able to move enough out of the cultural message for we women to really experience that and I am so grateful for that work that I did at that time that helped me come to that.
Susan: Yes. And I think, correct me if I’m wrong, but it was the thing—and I don’t want to spoil the book. But you had something happened in life that almost force…And I don’t know if this happens to everybody, I have found that this is how I have found myself there as well. And it wasn’t the same thing. It was just the way 2016 just kind of rocked my world and in so many different ways, not just the most obvious but so many different ways that I think I was forced to rethink some things in life and spirituality—not spirituality, I will say church was one of those things that I had already come to some conclusions. And then because of that, I was almost forced to make more conclusions, if that makes sense. Was that what moved you to the second half of life ,was that one rocking moment, or did you feel like it was a combination of other things?
Marilyn: Okay, so I am not worried about spoiling my book.
Susan: Oh, okay.
Marilyn: I just want my message out.
Marilyn: So I would like to hear what part you’re seeing as that.
Susan: Was it your divorce?
Marilyn: Yeah, yeah.
Susan: Okay. And that was the breaking moment you felt that kind of pushed you into the second half, or the second part of life. Is that…?
Marilyn: Absolutely. You know, what was confusing me was the earlier story in my book of when I began to question my own spiritual roots and training. And so by the time I was divorced, near the end of my marriage, I had gone back to school and gotten my master’s degree in psychology, and was working as an expressive arts there. So at that point in time, I had already taken the arts back as a way to communicate with myself. I had taken you know, my body expression back, so I had a better relationship with this non- rational part of myself than earlier in my life, the first part of my life was all about how those non rational parts were taken away from me through different ways. And then the second part of my life how I took them back.
So by the time I divorced, and it was a completely devastating thing to me. While I was very into my work, and my mission life, I had really dedicated myself to family. I just could not imagine that even though there were divorces happening all around me in that period of time, I think that’s lessening now. But I never believed that mine was going to end in divorce, even though it was a challenging relationship. Sure, when that happened, it was like a death. It was an ego death. But it was like dying. It was like having to reform myself completely. And be very honest and true to myself. The art in that section of my book, I think expresses the complete fury at the time.
Marilyn: Yeah. And that there’s one drawing of this Medusa haired, snake hair in the background and this little policeman in the front with his baton trying to control this Medusa woman. And she was just so full of feelings, you know, that’s where I saw myself; so full of these huge feelings of betrayal and just absolute rage, not just anger, absolute rage. And the other part of me this little policeman person saying “You can’t have all those feelings. You have to not have that,” and he was pretty ineffectual. He looked kind of small there with his little baton trying to…Yeah. And so as much as I could use my art and my body and my connection to nature to help me through that time, all those things don’t make the pain not happen. They just placed them in a larger perspective so it’s easier to hold the suffering.
We all suffer in one way or another as humans. And to me, spirituality is finding a big enough picture of who we are and why we’re here and what we’re doing here on earth, and the natural world around us to hold us as we have these experiences. And my divorce definitely set me looking more in an inner way of who am I and why am I here and what am I doing? And I took that energy out into nature because nature had always been a magical mystical place for me and it was the only place I could see that could hold the really primitive feelings that were coursing through me at the time. You know nature has earthquakes, nature has fires, nature has storms and wind and nature is always giving birth to itself, but it’s also always destroying itself. And it just was an intuitive thing to me that that was where I needed to take this wild energy inside myself at the time, and going out in nature, hiking by myself, even though I hadn’t done so much of that as a younger woman, was just vital to my healing.
I had to come to understand that in the circle of life, things are born and things die. And you know, not only people, which we know, but it takes a lifetime for that to really sink in. And this feeling that something even as precious as my family life could end. It was kind of a removal of the innocence of my earlier life where I guess I was invested in only beginnings and birth. And I needed to come to terms with the whole circle. And unless we put ourselves in that circle of life and accept the comings and goings and the birth and the death and the beginnings and the endings, we don’t really find our belonging on this planet because that is an important piece. And again, it doesn’t stop the grief when something ends, it’s important to go through the grief. But when it’s held in this bigger picture, that’s what I hope people will take from— is finding whatever it is for them that holds the big picture of what we humans are held in.
Susan: Oh, that’s so good. That’s so good, because I don’t feel like it’s the same for everyone. And I think that’s a good thing too. We don’t all see it the same way. Something that I’m realizing as you’re as you’re speaking, and correct me if I’m wrong, but you were already very well connected with your feminine side. And it seems like the times that you grew up in, your younger years of the 60s and the 70s and the women’s movement and your work through that. It seems to me that once you went through your divorce that you really stepped back. And I love how you did it, you really went and found your masculine energy that was already there inside you. And you’ve reconnected with that.
Susan: I feel like I’ve done that as a woman as well, where I feel like we’re in a time…And sometimes it’s easier as like this pro feminine woman to like, take on all of that energy and put the masculine energy aside and say, “Oh, I don’t need that,” or “I’ll deal with that later.”
Susan: Talk to me about that. And what is your experience been? Because I feel like you could offer so much wisdom in that area because you’ve kind of been there and done it already.
Marilyn: Well, you know, you have to put my day back to growing up in the 40s, 50s, 60s. In terms of my younger life, the 50s you know, I was born in 1945. So women, you know,
Marilyn: So traditional in the…Well, I don’t remember that much about the 40s since I was only five but it was so traditional.
Susan: I’m thinking the old life magazines are popping up in my head.
Marilyn: You know, and my mom did not work until I was in college. And then she did some substitute teaching and home teaching, part time teaching to help get me through school, but she had no relationship to money even. I mean, my dad made all the money. And of course, the Women’s Movement came and the 60s happened. And that was an incredibly challenging time and I was there in the feminist movement. Early on, I read the feminine mystique late in college, and I considered myself a feminist. And once were little when I was having babies and my kids were little, I was part of the National Organization for Women and I was organizing consciousness raising groups in Palo Alto.
And what I laugh at, and I think I have that in my book, at the same time, I was still ironing my husband’s shirt and doing all the cooking, but I was a feminist and I was going to change things. And it’s a necessary phase that I had to go through. But it’s been a lifetime of trying to find a balance between the masculine and the feminine energy inside of myself. And my divorce, you know, I had not at the time of my divorce. I had not supported myself with my own money. I married right out of college; within weeks of graduating from college. And I guess I did support…One of my saying, I did support my husband as he was going through medical school in those early years, but I then started having babies one year before he graduated from medical school.
So I hadn’t really, you know, established a firm career for myself until I was in my 40s. And then it was supplemental income compared to what my husband was earning. And so when we divorced, it was like a crash course in now I have to support myself, now I have to take care of this seven acre property of forest land that I live on. You know, now I have to be completely in charge of my life. And I still had a son at home for three years at the time of my divorce so that was also single parenting, although he was in high school, but you know, it was a crash course and all those things I had turned over to my husband to at least help with or do the whole thing of. And it’s an ongoing work in progress to keep that part of myself going.
And certainly writing my book is a big piece of the outcome of that because it takes really a lot of discipline and focus to write a book and I did stay with myself. The earlier me, I don’t think I would have been able to do that. But what’s so very important to me, is balancing the two because this feminine part of me, this woman who gave birth…One of the most precious experiences of my entire life, was being pregnant and giving birth to my children. And this deep understanding that our bodies have as women. And also knowing that I can be in the world and do the things in the world. I sometimes think that part of the women’s movement that I was most involved in, sort of turned on that precious part of being a woman, which I don’t think is where we want to be in the end. I think we want to be in a more balanced place where we have both of these parts inside ourselves and we’re honoring both of them. Because every human being I think, has a feminine part and the masculine part, including men. And men, you know, are often having to pull forth their feminine energy and we women are pulling forth our masculine energy. But I just so want us to be in balance with that rather than one or the other being what is taking charge.
Susan: I appreciate how you said that “honoring both.” I think it’s hard. And I think our culture doesn’t help with that, either for women or for men, at all.
Marilyn: Right. Indeed.
Susan: We’re constantly fighting it. If we’re men, we’re constantly fighting the feminine and if we’re women, we’re constantly…Or it seems to be. I could be totally wrong. But it seems to be that we’re constantly fighting whichever one we’re not. Or giving it…Or maybe even…. I mean, I grew up… I don’t live in the south anymore. But I grew up in in the in the south, I grew up in South Carolina. So even just giving over to the masculine and forgetting our feminine or taking the feminine back to the 1950s feminine, which maybe that’s not always a good thing either. Balance is a hard thing to find. Do you have any recommendations on finding that balance?
Marilyn: Well, I just think being conscious…You know, I don’t want to act like I’m someone who’s figured it out completely because I’m clearly not. In fact, in my women’s group last night, I was talking about this aspect. I am a work in progress in this regard. And in some ways I my life, I don’t think it’s a problem I’m going to solve in our culture.
Marilyn: I think it’s ongoing work, but to be conscious about where my masculine energy is and how its functioning and to be conscious of where my feminine energy is and how its functioning. And for me, that consciousness particularly often comes in my dreams. We haven’t spoken about that part of my involvement. You know, our dreaming self, we go to sleep each night, we all dream. If we turn our attention to our dreams, they have fabulous messages for us. But they’re all in metaphor and symbol, and story, and they need to be decoded. And for me, I often use the arts because I think they all come from the same place. But I worked for many years with a dream mentor, Jeremy Taylor, who helped me a lot in the writing of my book. And unfortunately, he died a little over a year ago so he didn’t ever get to see the end product.
Susan: Oh, I’m sorry.
Marilyn: He was such a dear man and really helped me use my dreams. I’ve been in a dream group with friends for about 30 years, which is a really long time. We meet every other week, and each person shares a dream and the people in the group respond to that sharing of the dream as if they dreamed that dream themselves. So they’re not telling the dreamer what their dream is about. But saying “if that were my dream, or in my event, imagine version of that dream, this symbol would mean this to me.” And we can offer each other a great deal of information in that way because we all meet on this simple metaphor level as human beings. We all share that same pool, and can bring important messages to each other.
So I watch my dreams about what are the women in my dreams doing? What are the masculine figures in my dreams doing? And that gives me the closest watch. I’m hoping I’m explaining that. Like, one time, in my dream group I was having a dream that I was on a basketball court. And I was dribbling all over the court and I was so skillful. And I just was so impressed with my dribbling and I was going around people and it was just masterful, and I was so proud of myself. And I finished reading the dream and a man in my group said, “My God, take a shot.”
So here’s a dream. Where the feminine part of me, you know, was being very skillful in all her maneuvering around the court. But she wasn’t taking the shot. She wasn’t scoring, she wasn’t making that mark in the world. So you know, I might not have come up with that myself but having people to share your dreams with… Jeremy used to always say we’re uniquely blind to a lot of our own processes. And that’s how we can help one another and come together with one another to understand these things about ourselves. But that dream has just stayed with me forever because my creative, feminine self dreams up and imagines all these things and is involved in all these relationships with women and men and friends and all of this. But there’s also this point where you make your mark in the world, and the masculine energy inside me can take this feminine energy and make it happen in the world. So I dreamed up my book, I went deeply into my creative self to write that book, but it was my masculine energy that made it happen in the world, but it’s out there as a book now, is my masculine energy.
And, you know, there is a… I don’t know, I think that book is still available. Clarissa Pinkola, the SDS book, Women Who Run with the Wolves, her chapter on creativity, it’s one of those books that I have underlined. I have read that chapter so many times in my life that, and each time that… I read it, I’m at a different place in my life so I underline different things. And literally almost every line in that chapter is underlined.
Susan: That’s beautiful.
Marilyn: Because she talks completely about this feminine dreaming up and envisioning and creating and all of this, you know, in the darkness, and then the masculine energy brings it out into the world. So I would recommend that book, in particular, because there’s other stories. You know, she uses fairy tales, and then talks about the underneath message of the fairy tale. And she has another chapter in there that I think is vital for every woman to read about the blue beard story, you know, where we all have this predator inside of us, and we as women need to learn to deal with that.
Susan: Well, I will look into that for sure. And I will link that in our show notes on my website as well. And I want to be respectful of your time, but I don’t want to forget to talk about your creative retreat that you hold called, I believe it’s called “For the Joy of it.” Is that correct?
Marilyn: Yes, in the last 10 years, thank you for asking, in the last 10 years, in working less and carrying less of a weekly client load, I decided to open my property here in the forest in Mendocino as a creative retreat, and host people in rooms in the upstairs of my house. And for me, this is an individual retreat, though I on occasion, do a group thing. But for a person to come by themselves, step out of their busy life and take some time to look into their inner world. I have an art studio on my property. And while people are here, they can have sessions with me. There’s a labyrinth on the property. We do dream work. If people are into their dreams. I create each retreat uniquely to the person who’s coming. But that’s been a great joy to me at this point in my life. I’m enjoying it immensely.
Yeah, I get a connection with younger people who are really busy in their career life. And I get a lot of people from the Bay Area, so a lot of the tech people, and they just come up in the forest here and everything moves at a different pace. And it’s an opportunity to drop in and discover a deeper part of ourselves, which to me is our authentic self and what we really want directing our lives rather than some outward thing that we’re striving for. How are we being directed from the inside, to move forward in our lives. So that’s what I’m doing in creative retreats, and nobody has to be skilled in the arts to come try that. That’s my main message.
Susan: Well, I think anytime that you can disconnect… I can’t even imagine being in the tech world and disconnecting. But anytime any of us now, in today’s world can disconnect and get into nature of any kind is a phenomenal experience. And I cannot even imagine just how much more fulfilling it would be to be with you and with the wisdom and everything that you bring to this, because you’ve already done so much work within yourself. It’s in your book. I mean, what you have done just it just flies off the page and it just hits you in the face of this is important stuff. You have to take care of your true inner self and you have to know who your who your true self is…As well as I think Richard Rohr calls it your false self. I don’t remember I get so many I read I’m reading so much, I can’t remember who says what. And you may have actually refer to it that way as well. I can’t remember. But just the importance of getting to know your true inner self and who you are, and how to connect with that. And you put it so eloquently, and you share it so beautifully in your book.
Marilyn: Thank you so much. It means a lot to me that that’s how it came across to you. And you know, the other person I would recommend a book called Belonging by Toko-pa Turner, is really on the same wavelength as I am. It’s an excellent, excellent book, so I would strongly recommend that book. And I love Richard Rohr. I read his daily medications, actually. So…
Susan: Oh, wow.
Marilyn: Yes. The language, as you say, is different for each one of us, but the important thing is for each of us to find our own language and talk about it. And by the other people and the way they see it. I just see it as a diamond with all these facets, you know, and this person sees it this way, but the diamond is still the diamond.
Susan: Yes. That was a beautiful way to say that. Oh, my gosh, yes.
Susan: That is so… Oh, wow. Yes, that is, yes. Wow, that just blew my mind. But yes, the diamond is still the diamond. Wow. I’m gonna have to sit with that one a little while.
Marilyn: Well, to me, there’s the power of image right there.
Marilyn: Well, that image struck in a particular way. And that is beyond…When you say “I have to sit with it for a while,” that’s beyond the rational mind. That’s where it struck in some way. That is beyond the rational, that some something in there goes, “Oh, yeah,” you know, that’s a gut level response. And so much of my work is based on that. And when I’m working with people with art, the images that come out on the paper, whether they can draw it or not, in an accurate way, those images come out. You know, a woman who doesn’t have any art, for instance, you know, can just get the image out, communicate something deeper, then “I don’t know what to do with myself.” Our arms are the part that do things in the world. And so, how to get underneath is what the images are really about to me. So that was a great example. I’m so glad when it struck.
Susan: Yes. Well, I really appreciate your time today. And I really appreciate your work and explaining to us what you do as an expressive art therapist. And it sounds like you are still just very much involved in your own practice, in your own figuring out things in life. So it sounds like even at the age of 74, the work just never ends as long as you’re still living life, and it sounds like you are, you are in it. And I love that
Marilyn: I do not want to work to end, actually. To me, the world is a mysterious magical place, and I want to just keep discovering as much as I possibly can about the world and myself until I am on my deathbed.
Susan: I love that. Oh, this has been my audience is going to love this this conversation but this has just been so meaningful to me. I have been looking forward to this since the first chapter I read in your book, and I thought, this is going to be life changing for me. And it really has been. It was really funny when I looked at the back of it’s listed as a self help/inspirational book. And you know, I think sometimes we think of the idea of self help, and we’re like, “oh, another one of those books,” like, but inspirational is definitely…It’s not the regular self help like, here’s step one, two and three years, it’s very much a memoir. And it’s a memoir, plus you tell the story of your life. And then you give people opportunities, and you invite them in to experience their own life in a different way. And I just found that so helpful, so, so helpful. And I think everybody should pick this book up. In fact, I’m going to be… I’m very lucky enough to have the advanced reader copy, but I will be buying a few more myself and giving them as Christmas gifts this year.
Marilyn: Thank you so much. You know, it’s just been a delight…You draw the best of me forward. And that’s a wonderful gift of an interviewer.
Susan: Oh, well, likewise.
Marilyn: I’ve enjoyed it. Am I did I
Susan: Before I let you go, are you active on social media at all? I know you have a website and I’m going to direct everybody to go to that website. But is there anywhere, besides your creative retreats, is there anywhere else people can find you maybe other interviews you’ve done that I can point people to?
Marilyn: I’m on Facebook at Marilyn Hager author. I’m on Instagram at Marilyn K. Hager, author.
Susan: Okay, great.
Marilyn: My website, you know, definitely has more information about everything I’m doing and that’s marilynhager.com.
Susan: Great. Well, I will encourage people to definitely go and check those out and definitely pick up a copy of your book. I think it’s one of those things it is, you didn’t write it earlier in life. You couldn’t have written it earlier in life. But at the time in history where we are in life, I feel like it is so needed now. So I think it came at just the right time.
Marilyn: Well, thank you. I’m hoping that it’s…I needed to harvest my life and I needed to offer some things I’ve learned. So I hope it’s useful. That’s my main thing. And I hope it goes out in the world in a synchronous way. Like you say, it finds people just at the point in time in their life when that’s what speaks to them.
Susan: Well, thank you very, very much for your time today. It has been an honor speaking with you.
Marilyn: Well, thank you really, I’ve just enjoyed it immensely.
Susan: Okay, thanks so much, Marilyn. Bye-bye.
Marilyn: Bye- bye