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Beth Boardman, PhD Myth 2012

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Alumni Spotlight: Beth Boardman, PhD Myth 2012

Perhaps
in our striving
we forget the unforgettable –

how life contains all opposites
marries dark to light
dances and grieves

the only constant
is loss
and return….

we are the stone
and the light within the stone….
breaking and reforming
on the way to
ourselves….


 

Who is ­­­­­­­­­­­­Beth Anne Boardman?

I am a mother, a registered nurse, a writer, a dancer, a lover of arts, music, and stories. I’ve studied dance since I was 8, and have studied traditional dances from around the world. This love of world-wide dance, and a love of the audio-tapes of Joseph Campbell, led me to discover the World Arts and Cultures Department at UCLA. A few classes there, and a rejection by their PhD program, led me to Pacifica, on the recommendation of their Department Head, Judy Mitoma. Bless her!

 

Tell us about Your Work –

Currently, I am retiring from all other work than my own writing. I have waited my whole life for this chance, and a few months ago I realized, LO! IT IS HERE! I felt the pressure of my ancestors at my back, giving me the courage to take the step….

 

How/Why did you get into this line of work?

I have loved stories and writing ever since I could read and write. But the sciences were also revered in my childhood home, and I loved the amazingness of the natural world, and the human body, too. Raised by a practical aeronautical engineer father and a “depression-era baby” mother, I chose to start my career in the field of Nursing, which I did love. But my truest loves were languages and the arts.

 

What is most rewarding about it; what makes it all worthwhile?

Although not practicing in the hospital, I am still always taking care of the health of loved ones and friends. I truly do love the miracles of the human body, and how the body (including the mind) relates with the spirit. I always say, “You can take the nurse out of the hospital, but you cannot take the hospital out of the nurse.” I can still respond with some skill in an emergency – but I always end up crying a few hours after the crisis has passed! J   My writing is a dream coming true – just to have the opportunity to write and create and express is a chance I feel my ancestors suffered and saved for, for me! So now it is an honor and a duty to do what the Soul calls me to do. If somehow my writing helps another, that is also a dream come true….

 

What are the most critical problems faced?

The critical problems I faced in my nursing career continue to this day: the silent suffering of those who cannot get health care, the hidden sufferings of those who experience abuse, the seeming obliviousness of so much of our society to these sufferings. The basic needs of humanity seem to me not to be luxuries – so I feel a passion for their needs in my heart. I feel like my writing is not direct-enough help, but it is what Soul has called me to do my whole life, so I am trying not to argue! I also participate with aid organizations as much as I can.

 

Has there been a defining moment your life that made you decide to take the direction that you did?

Yes. I was walking up the stairs, just last fall, thinking about my children, and what I so wished to tell them about their lives and chances and abilities and dreams…. And it suddenly came to me – this time in my life is bringing me the chance I’ve always held secret dreams of – to stop trying to prove myself in the outer world (at this time in middle life!) – and to give myself the time to honor the expression of the messages that want to come through me – through poetry or prose essays – whatever! It’s time to stop editing myself before I’ve even started…! It’s a chance, a miracle, a blessing. And it’s OK for me to embrace it…!

 

If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you, what would be your “dream” achievement?

My dream achievement would be to have been able to give free reign to my inner writer, to experience working in productive concert with my inner critic, and to have transformed my dissertation into a piece that is understandable by a popular audience – whether I produce this chapter by chapter on my blog – or in an article – or whatever. I just want to set myself free to write and live. And to stop apologizing for doing so!

 

How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?

At 55, and having experienced a significant amount of trauma in childhood and young adulthood, I find I need a lot of rest – more than I used to. I need to make sure I eat healthily and get sleep each night. And I’ve also had to practice setting boundaries in order to keep a semblance of balance in my life! I still need to practice getting in more Play!

 

About Pacifica and You –

What brought you to Pacifica?

A good friend of mine was studying DreamTending with Dr. Aizenstat. One day when my daughter was about nine, she told me about this “conference” at a place called Pacifica. The conference was called “The World Behind the World,” and for some reason she insisted I try to attend with her. I rarely left my kids at that point, and I had NO IDEA what that title meant, or what Pacifica was, but I decided to go – it’s a mystery! The first day, a Thursday, was an all day workshop with Michael Meade. I was full of suspicion. I’ve met charlatans in every walk of my life. About ninety percent of what he was saying went flying over my head, but I had an instinct, every now and then, that there was something in there I was trying to comprehend. During the rest of the weekend, I heard Dennis Patrick Slattery, Hendrika DeVries, Lionel Corbett, Sobonfu Somé, and others talk. Their presentations lit me up! By the end of the weekend, I felt I had found my tribe – found people who spoke my language! But I never thought I’d be able to go to school here!

 

How has your Pacifica degree served you professionally in your occupation or your vocation?

Getting a degree in Mythological studies later in life has set me free in my ability and willingness to speak out about the subtleties and nuances of story that weave throughout our culture and Western collective consciousness. It’s given me the freedom and support to dialog with the collective unconscious and stop being afraid of my own unconscious. Everywhere I go, when I speak the language Pacifica has taught me, I find people that greet me with a relief and an eagerness to dialog that continues to validate this path, and amaze me as a human. The magic of the Otherworld runs everywhere, and people are so eager to talk about it!

 

How has your degree served you personally?

My degree is a dream come true. I always wanted to be Dr. Boardman, but I never dreamed it would be through a degree in Mythological Studies! However, in completing my dissertation, and achieving this degree, in spite of illnesses, family crises, and deaths, I was able to complete a thing I thought I could not do. And I was able to show my children that sometimes you can do a thing you think you cannot do. I feel that completing my dissertation (Diving into Darkness: Adolescence in the United States, © 2012) I gave myself an experience and an education, albeit in one tiny area, with which I can stand easy and embrace my contributions to the field.

 

Any last thoughts/a favorite quote?

I have a million favorite quotes! I think my favorite of favorites is this one: “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship,” by Louisa May Alcott.

Pacifica’s Luminous and Amazing Director of Alumni Relations, Dianne Travis-Teague, asked me to contribute a poem…. Here is the one I placed as a kind of epilogue to my dissertation:

 

queen of the dark

 i am the queen
of darkness….

persephone’s thought
that first night in hades?

it must have been strange,
those first seasons….

i live forever
between the worlds….

married to the dark
honored and revered
as powerful and queenly
in the kingdom of the dead –

then months later
becoming the
daughter of earth again….

hermes
my trusted soulmate….
reunites me with those
i love

was midnight her favorite time
as it has become mine?
always en pointe
poised
between yesterday
and today?

oh this mercurial spirit
knows all of me
my light
and my shadow 

of all the gods
they knew both worlds
each married to the cycle….
saw loss and becoming,
the enlivened
the entombed….

herald of change
clever trickster
how i jump upon glimpsing
your wingéd feet…!

we ride this planet
as it whirls through space
spinning day to night
to day again….

our tenderly searching hearts
broken open
and closed
time and
again….

oh dear ones!
though you live in the between,
you are in divine territory!

perhaps
in our striving
we forget the unforgettable –

how life contains all opposites
marries dark to light
dances and grieves

the only constant
is loss
and return….

we are the stone
and the light within the stone….
breaking and reforming
on the way to
ourselves….

 

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