About Patti Shaffner, CST,CHt,CZT

  • All The Way In Master Class, Vocal Improvisation with Rhiannon Music, 2008
  • Certified Hypnotherapist, 2011
  • Craniosacral Therapist (Upledger Trained) 2001
  • Spontaneous Invention 6 day Retreat with Bobby McFerrin. 2006
  • Craniosacral Therapist, Upledger Institute, 2000
  • A.S. Dental Hygiene, Indiana University, 1987 
  • Certified Zentangle® Teacher, Providence, R.I., 2013

Additionally Patti is an award winning:

Songwriter (1st Place in the Great American Song Contest - 2015)
Actress
Theater Director

What Inspires Me:

Improvisation (in music, art, life)
Singing (the sound of many voices blending)
Zentangling (and teaching it)
The color green
The smell of growing things
The laughter of my grandchildren
Food fresh from my garden
Creating, teaching, loving, finding Spirit in every nook and cranny of Life
Encouraging others to find their own path
   .....we're all in this together and all paths are valid.

So, who am I?  I'm a 66 year old woman who has worn many hats.  I'm a CranioSacral Therapist, Songwriter, Performer, Vocal Mentor, Actress, Director, Certified Hypnotherapist, Certified Zentangle Teacher, Registered Dental Hygienist, ...and.....mother to three sons, grandmother to 7 beautiful children, wife to a creative, talented, loving and patient man.

I have reached a point in life when I am excited to be creating the next part of my own journey. 

To get to this point however... I had to find MY OWN WAY.   Life does not come with a manual.  I grew up on a farm in, of all places, Gary, Indiana. 360 acres to run around on, get dirty and explore. As a child of the 1950's I was raised with idea, the mindset that the life that awaited me was that of my mother, aunts and the mothers of friends.  Get through high school, get married, have children.... live 'happily ever after'. 

Even as a child, I would watch my mother and my favorite aunt, BFFs, and some part of me was thinking "Is that all there is?  Kids, laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, ironing (back then women ironed EVERYTHING!) and go to bed to get up and do it again????"  Obviously I was not thinking those words. I was feeling the essence of it. My youthfulness felt the monotony and something that I can now call despair.  

But....not feeling secure about my ability to function in the world at large in any other way I did indeed get married at 19, had one son by 20 and a second by 23. I was trying desperately to fulfill the 1950's housewife role.  I made lemon merengue pie from scratch, crocheted my own outfit for the holidays, designed and created invitations to my son's first birthday party AND made the Winnie the Pooh cake. I scoured magazines for recipes and ideas for home decor and read to my sons and tried to maintain a 'healthy' marriage, whatever that was.  I was exhausted, bored, depressed and feeling meaningless.  I attempted to talk to my husband about it, about the feelings that were so uncomfortable, about my discontent.  He told me it was all in my head. (WOW! How many women have heard that one?!) Once again I was feeling "Is that all there is?"   

I saw a program on TV with a psychologist who was working with a 'new' program called Transactional Analysis, TA for short.  The byline was "I'm Ok, You're Ok"  I didn't feel OK - so I thought maybe this or some other psychotherapy might help me stop feeling so hopeless.  Instead I found a local suicide prevention hot line that was looking for volunteers.  I signed on.  Training with the group and working on the line was so satisfying!  Finally something outside the experiences that seem mind-numbingly dull.  AND I was helping others.  But, doing this work changed me.  I was no longer willing to return to the life I had settled for.  I got divorced. 

YEESH!  Now I'm a 25 year old woman with 2 and 5 year old sons in tow...no education past high school and working at a dental office as a trained on the job assistant.  I kept telling myself that I AM a survivor.  Six months later I found out that my younger son was Deaf.  All the challenges of that crashed in on me with guilt and fear and worry for him in the future.  (He's now an amazing husband, father of 3 sons and genuine person BTW)

I did end up working as full time employee at the Hot Line for a while but dentistry ultimately seemed to have a grip on my career life, this time as a lab tech.  It paid the bills.  I had a boyfriend who one day, as I was watching TV after work, ask me if this was all I was going to do with my life, go to work, raise my kids, watch TV, get up and do it again?  There it was again..... "Is that all there is?"

That had a strong impact on me. The question felt accusatory and it was.  Wasn't I the one who questioned that as a child and yet here I was living a 70's version of the same life my mother and aunt had?  I went to college.  I was seeking a career in Nursing, but it seemed that some Divine source wanted me to keep my teeth and help others to do the same. I became a Registered Dental Hygienist.   It was and still is fulfilling work because I never focus on my patients as 'teeth to be cleaned'... I see a whole person in my chair and so I talk to them about health and wellness and Life, the Universe and Everything.

 

 
Competing in The Acorn Theater Songwriter Competition - July 2014

Competing in The Acorn Theater Songwriter Competition - July 2014

IMPORTANT INFORMATION HERE:  I've sung since I can first remember and while I started playing open mic jams, I ended up with a professional career in music that helped me keep body and soul together while in college.  Singer/Songwriter, Folk Singer, stand on stage for 3 or 4 hours and sing my heart out. Later Jazz found me and now I still write, sing, perform... More on the details of that later.  Just know that I have continued to make music a priority in my life. (For more about my music visit: www.jazzdakini.com)

14 years later....ups and downs of existence. What was ever-present?  A fierce desire for love and meaning.  Also ever-present?  Fear of not being enough, knowing enough, fear that the gnawing discomforts would never be quieted.  Some part of my personality just seemed to thrive on trauma and drama.... Theater found me and I dove willingly into that soup... YIKES!  Self-expression AND all the trauma and drama a 30-something could want.

I met my husband in between kids, work, music and theater.  Nearly 8 years younger, a nursing student, musician, poet, artist and recently divorced with two young children a state away with their mother.  What was significant for me was that he was adept at self-expression....that and he wrote a poem and songs for me and brought me roses...just because.  Oh, and pretty cute by most standards....doesn't hurt to recognize that desire for an attractive mate.

Now remarried....my kids leaving the nest....my step-children were basically hostage of their mother's fears and anger and that's a long story for another time....but, they were not living in our home. It left my husband depressed and angsty over losing their childhood to that 'evil' ex.  Holidays and birthdays came and went and he suffered, visibly and so did I with him.   Seven years this went on.  His pain was my pain and for him alcohol was the 'go to' self soother.   I watched him as alcohol became more and more the master.   Eventually enough had happened that he decided to face his addiction and that meant two years of me learning the meaning of co-dependent relationships.  A LOT of counseling ensued for us both and it was not fun. It was hard work and I began to finally go deeply into my own pains and longings.  

I attended a 10 day 'Radical Aliveness' Retreat with Richard Moss.  He talked a lot about being present in your life. He teaches about facing whatever comes up in your life with openness, grace and courage. That appealed to me deeply.  I came back from that Arizona desert changed.   Something happened in me that felt as though I was finally getting to a way to live in the world that would allow me to feel a sense of comfort and confidence about who I am. 

I read, I meditated, I took up yoga and went to more counseling....especially after my father died. The counselor was another teacher of presence and challenged me regularly to take responsibility for the way I chose to handle conflicts and pains that arose in my life.  She was also a Shamanic Practitioner in the tradition of Sandra Ingerman. She convinced me that I would be skilled at shamanic journeying. I entered a 2 year program with 7 others and at the end...people would ask me if I was now a "Shaman"?  Nope...not a shaman, but better at delving into my own shadows and letting Spirit guide me. 

Was that enough?  Did I feel like 'enough' yet?  Was I conquering "Is that all there is?" 

Yes, and - No.   I had more tools in my bag.  I still felt like a fraud in some way though.  I thought if I got 'Certified' in something  that I would feel like I had something else to offer besides cleaning teeth as a career. (Music, btw, does not pay the bills for most people).  I studied Craniosacral Therapy and became a CST (craniosacral therapist).  Then on to Hypnotherapy, a Spontaneous Invention Workshop with Bobby McFerrin and All The Way In a Master Improvisation Class with respected singer Rhiannon (NO not Rhianna....!!!!)

Begins to sound like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower or actually more like a squirrel on amphetamines. I seemed to be running from one thing to another to find out who I wanted to be when I grew up.  

What actually happened was this:  I continued throughout these journeys, to seek ways in which to be 'PRESENT'.  I aquired more and more tools for my bag.  Good thing!

Several things happened in rapid succession that left me reeling.  My mother died. On a reunion trip to Hawai'i with Rhiannon, I nearly drown.  I was told that I needed both knees to be replaced.  My stepson, now married with two children, came to live with us while his wife was out of the country.  Their marriage came apart while he was with us. My husband had a heart attack on the first night of our vacation in Hawai'i.  We then faced a crisis in our relationship that had me on the verge of divorce. 

BANG! ZONK! BAM! KAPOW!!!! 

I was now forced to use all those tools that I had been collecting for so many years.  AND I added a new one.  Zentangle®!  I became certified to teach and it has become one of the most valuable tools in my collection for slowing down, being present, turning inward, being creative and certainly de-stressing.  Day after day I asked myself how I wanted to react to the challenges.  Who did 'I' want to be? How did 'I' want to live? Who was responsible for my 'pain', my discontent?  Always the answer came back: "You are responsible for your own pain.  Your thoughts and stories are just that and when you change your thoughts and stories....you change who you are in the world."   

I live in that space more and more.  I'm not going to try to tell you that I do not have aggravations, pains, frustrations, disappointments and such.  What I CAN tell you is that I have learned a LOT about how to 'BE' in the world and I want to help you hone your skills to do the same.