When Michelangelo was asked how he was able to create such transcendent sculpture out of what are essentially lifeless slabs of stone, he is said to have replied, “The living art already exists inside the stone. My job, as I see it, is simply to remove the excess marble.”

There have been various interpretations and incarnations of this quote throughout the centuries. It has become one of my favorites. I first heard it in a lecture by author Marianne Williamson. I use it in my life, and in my psychotherapy practice, because it speaks to my hopeful belief that at the core of our humanity lays our inherent individual potential. This potential, and the striving for it, are our birthright. You can see it in infants and children. They are built to maximize their individual gifts.

And then life happens.

And we react to it.

We react to being hurt, to being judged, to being rejected, to being afraid. We react to broken families, to toxic relationships, to the feeling that perhaps we are not quite good enough.

Our reactions take the form of defenses, of emotional armor, of masks. We apply them, in the moment, for self-preservation – or so we think.

But over time, all of these layers, all of this excess, begin to obscure the truth about that essential you. The very things that you put in place as protection become the roadblocks to the happiness and fulfillment you say you want.

For me, in my long and continuing quest for personal authenticity, the excess marble was shame regarding my sexuality. My excess marble was mistrust and fear of others (well earned I might add, but destructive nonetheless). It was fear of failure, and ironically, fear of not living up to my potential. It was holding onto anger, at myself, and others. It was a refusal to forgive.

Through my own work with a wonderful therapist, I began the frightening but humanizing work of examining my “emotional wardrobe” – all the things I put on in order to survive, or thought I did. I began to ask myself, which pieces were serving me in being the person I said I wanted to be – and having the life I said I deserved – and which things did not. And once I had that information, what was I willing to remove?

With each new year, new month, new day, I continually ask myself the same questions.

And I ask them of you.

What is your mask? What is your “excess marble”? What layers obscure the truth about you? What armor have you acquired over the years that could be reconsidered? Which pieces still serve you – and which pieces are you willing to remove?

Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt Therapy, said, “every living thing has only one inborn goal – to actualize itself as is.”

As you move through your days, I hope that you hold on to the image of your pure potential. Remember that the essential you is not the mistakes you made. You are not the armor, nor the excess marble. You remain what you have always been – but sometimes forget.

Each morning, as I prepare for the day, I take comfort in knowing that I have a choice.  I take comfort in knowing that in any given moment, I can lift the veil. I can remember who I am and what I want. I can acknowledge the barriers to my happiness and, should I decide, I can choose to do it differently.

Or not.

And so can you.

You are…. “YOU”… not “you”

And so it’s here… this thing you feared…
this thing you had hoped would never come…
this darkness…
this visitation.

this diagnosis
this career issue
this change
this end of the relationship.

this death
this separation
this humiliation
this loneliness.

this thing you said you couldn’t handle
this thing you thought might break you.

this situation you hoped to never face.

Has come.

Seated at your table.

Looking you in the eye.


You are still here.

You are still breathing.

You are still YOU.

You are still you, unadorned.

You are still you, stripped of what you thought you needed.
You are still you, stripped of your view of yourself
You are still you, stripped of what you thought you deserved
You are still you, stripped of your plan

You are still you, perhaps even more so.

You are the essential you.

The quiet you.

The you that exists beyond who THEY say you are.

The you that exists beyond who YOU say you are.

The you that exists beyond the label.

You are the you that sits with the Universe.

You are the you that sits with Nature.
Sits with Allah
Sits with Krishna
Sits with Buddha
Sits with Christ

You are the you that sits with God.



You are the blank slate you.

The authentic you.

The listening you.

The courageous you.

The faith-filled you.

The you that is ready… for the next step.


When dark times come… as dark times do… and it seems that darkness is all there is… Remember who you are.

Joe Bolduc, Speak To Understand


It’s this rain
It’s this rain
It’s this storm

It’s this emptiness
It’s this regret
It’s this shadow

It’s this ache

It’s this secret
It’s this shame
It’s this sorrow

It’s this loneliness

It’s this hurt
It’s this rejection
It’s this isolation

It’s this heartbreak

It’s this death
It’s this disease
It’s this end

It’s this “please don’t go”

It’s this fear
It’s this hatred
It’s this cruelty

It’s this “I can’t breathe”

It’s this addiction
It’s this depression
It’s this noise

It’s this behavior

It’s this sickness
It’s this darkness
It’s this broken

It’s this scream


It’s this “gentle”

It’s this “wait”

It’s this “stop”

It’s this stillness

It’s this quiet

It’s this listen

It’s this whisper

It’s this longing
It’s this hope
It’s this “maybe”

It’s this light

It’s this gloaming
It’s this glow
It’s this ember
It’s this spark

It’s this reading
It’s this looking
It’s this seeing
It’s this miracle

It’s this inhale
It’s this exhale
It’s this pulse
It’s this heart

It’s this life

It’s this moment
It’s this connection
It’s this grace
It’s this. Here

It’s this. RIGHT NOW.

It’s this Air
It’s this Nature
It’s this Spirit
It’s this Divinity


It’s this joy
It’s this pain
It’s this resurrection

It’s this “us”
It’s this bond
It’s this “yes.”

It’s this mighty…
It’s this mighty…
It’s this mighty…


It’s this… mighty I AM

It’s this… mighty YOU ARE

It’s this… mighty WE ARE