Welcome to Fausta’s Place to Ponder

Welcome to Fausta’s Place to Ponder


 This video post is an introduction to the work I’m doing with Compassionate Professionals and the concept behind the work at Fausta’s Place to Ponder.  

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Hi!  Welcome to Fausta’s Place to Ponder.  I’m Fausta Luchini, a holistic life coach, and I work with therapists, healers, first responders – any compassionate professionals.   I work with people wha are trying to make the world a better place.  Sometimes, that’s overwhelming.

Maybe you’ve heard the Mr Rodgers quote: 

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me,

“Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.” 

But what if you are the helper?

If people come to you because they are in pain, emotional or physical pain, or trying to overcome barriers in their life,  it affects you.  Whether you’re a nurse in the ER,  a social worker for children who’ve been abused, a surgeon, or an immigration attorney, when you’re bombarded with problems, surrounded by people needing attention- it can be overwhelming.   It’s easy to lose your balance, to feel like you can’t keep up.  We hardly ever have all the resources our clients need.

Because you’re the professional, you hold it together at work, but what happens when you leave work?  Are you doing paperwork and worrying at home on the week-ends?  Do you wake up at 3 a.m. thinking about the client who’s about to get evicted, the child who’s not going home to her mom, or the patient that was not doing so well?   Having trouble staying focused?  Maybe you’re feeling more pessimistic – like you’re just waiting for  the next bad thing to happen?   You can  start to wonder if you’re even making a difference.

But you don’t want to give up – you love your job.  You care about your patients, your clients. You don’t want to leave  – you just want to do the work you love without feeling like you’re drowning in other people’s pain.  Without losing your self.

That’s where I come in.   At Fausta’s Place to Ponder, I help you take a step back, reconnect with yourself, and figure out what needs to happen for you so you can keep making the world a better place.  Feeling overwhelmed doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job, it just means you’re being called to re-connect with yourself and your own wisdom, to explore other resources, and to let your new energy and wisdom shine, at work and in your life.

I want to be clear – I’m not talking about helping you work harder, or more efficiently. It’s not about being more productive or accomplishing more.  It’s about supporting you to bring your unique gifts to the work you do, to your clients and patients.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, feeling numb, or struggling to give your clients the quality of care you want them to have, message me.  Let’s talk about how we can work together so you have a life that lets you shine.

Your Own Place to Ponder

Your Own Place to Ponder

When stress is unrelenting, you can’t think.

You probably know what stress feels like. Your breathing gets shallow.  Your heart rate speeds up. You may feel hot. These are some of the signs that your body is ready to respond to danger. It’s the classic fight/flight/freeze response and it’s a basic biological fact. 

We don’t often talk about the next part of this. When your body is poised to deal with danger, your frontal cortex – the part of your brain that thinks things through, that uses logic to weigh the pros and cons and make decisions – that part pretty much shuts down. And that makes sense. Of course it does – it doesn’t want to distract you from reacting to the danger.

When you say, “I was in such a panic, I couldn’t think straight,” that is literally true. When you’re sensing danger, it’s not the time to get philosophical, and your brain knows it.  

Calming Your Brain

Fortunately, there’s a very simple way to change that. By focusing on your breathing, you can re-engage the frontal cortex so you can think clearly again.  It doesn’t have to be deep breaths, although they can help, but just noticing your breath, as you breathe in and breathe out, can make a big difference. You can add a smile – or even just a half-smile. Both of those steps let your brain know that you’re safe, you’re not going to die right now, and it’s ok to start thinking again.

When the stress you’re experiencing comes in waves, when it is unrelenting, you may find yourself feeling constantly tense and on high alert. That can cause a new level of problems, from high blood pressure to burn-out.  You need a lot more than a few breaths. You need time and space to look at your thoughts and feelings, to be able to share them, to challenge them, and to reconnect with your most resourceful self. In fact, you need a place to ponder.

Ponder –  to spend time thinking carefully and seriously about a problem, a difficult question, or something that has happened; to contemplate

Defining Your Place to Ponder

When your work involves trauma, finding your very own place to ponder is essential. Maybe there’s an actual place where you feel relaxed. Maybe you need to be around a particular person, or people. Maybe you just need the time to breathe for a little while. What you need may not be exactly the same as anyone else, but it’s important to find that time and space. When your work involves trauma, it’s essential.

Using R.E.A.L., with me as your coach, we begin there. The Discovery process guides you to really look at who you are and where you stand right now. In Reconnect, we help you bring your life into alignment with your inner self. Next, we Explore the range of tools available to use to maintain your balance and alignment. We determine if you need to Add skills to your toolbox.  Finally, we help you bring your new-found sense of who you are to Let your life shine.

Second Hand Trauma

Second Hand Trauma

I first became aware of the impact of secondhand trauma back in the mid-90s. I was working as a therapist in a Community Mental Health Center and a lot of my clients were survivors of sexual abuse. So I was already learning about the effects of trauma when there was a dramatic increase in the crime rate. Suddenly, people in the neighborhood were getting shot – and killed.

I began to see first-hand how one person’s death impacted their family and the people around them – their church family, the people they went to school with or worked with, everyone who knew them. Each shooting was a trauma that rippled out and affected the whole community. The ripples touched the staff at our center too – often, when someone got killed, we knew them. Sometimes they were our client, or maybe we knew their mama or their brother and sister or even the person who sat next to them back in third grade. We were connected to them.

One of my former clients was killed, a woman I’d worked with for a long time. After that, I started getting the newspaper at home – first thing in the morning, I’d check the neighborhood section and the obits to see if anyone I knew had been killed.

Stories from those days stuck with me. I remember a teenager in one my groups – we were talking about feeling safe, and she said, “Well, I feel safe in my neighborhood, I mean, you hear gunshots at night, but that’s everywhere.” And I thought, no. No, I don’t hear gunshots in my neighborhood at night, and I felt this deep sadness and a tinge of guilt. I remember a little boy, maybe eight years old, telling me, “Oh, no, my mama won’t let me play outside – it’s not safe.” And I thought about how it would feel to not be able to let your child play in the yard.

But I didn’t even realize it was affecting me til I was at the park one day. It was a beautiful day, and I was walking on a path near a creek and there were some other people around, but not too many. There were these three teenagers – two boys and a girl, and they had a big goofy looking dog with them. Just ordinary looking white kids in jeans, hanging out. And I was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling that something bad was going to happen. I didn’t know if it was going to happen to them, or if they were going to do something terrible – was that girl going to be ok? Did she really know those guys? Or maybe it was the dog – maybe they were going to do something to the dog? My heart was pounding, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I wanted to go warn the kids to go home where it was safe – and I held it together just enough to know that was crazy and to NOT go say something to them.

I left instead. Went and sat in my car til I could breathe again, and drove straight home. But that was when I knew that the things that were happening to people at work – people I cared about – were touching me on some deep level. It took that panic attack to make me realize that other people’s trauma was becoming my trauma too.

That was the beginning of my own journey – my own efforts to figure out how to manage my feelings – how to hold my own space – so I could be there for the people who were actually going through the trauma. I’ve wandered down all kinds of roads, taken wrong turns, lost my maps, and started over. I’ve collected tool kits and self-care techniques, used mindfulness strategies and listened to TED talks. That’s not to say that I’ve got all the answers, but I know the questions really well. Kind of like in The Wizard of Oz, I’ve met amazing people along the way, and sometimes I’ve been scared and felt overwhelmed. But these days, I usually remember that my ruby slippers will always take me home.

So I know what it’s like to be a compassionate professional and in the middle of it – when it feels like there’s trauma all around you and you can’t think straight. You can feel like you’re losing your self. And you wonder if you can even keep doing the work you love. That’s when I can help. I can help you take a step back and find space to breathe. Help you reconnect with yourself and figure out what you need to be ok, how to keep your own balance and find your own strength. You’ll learn how to manage your own feelings and hold the space you need for yourself. You’ll be able to bring your gifts and talents to the people who need you, able to have a life that lets you shine.

A Life that Lets You Shine

A Life that Lets You Shine


At the core of the work I do here are my beliefs about people.  Our beliefs – or our rules – about how the world works are how we make sense of our lives, right?  If I believe that people are innately trustworthy and kind, my life will probably look different than if I believe that people are inherently untrustworthy and mean.

Of course, neither of those extremes are accurate – people are not all one way or another.  So most of us develop some more nuanced beliefs that try to explain how people are.  Which brings me back to what I believe, and why I talk about having a life that lets us shine.

I believe that we all have a deep, unshakeable part of ourselves that is quintessentially who we are.  We talk about a “true self.”  We can call it “wise mind,” the combination of rational and emotional aspects of ourselves, plus intuition and instinct and a bit of something else.  It is the part of us that really knows what we need or what the right thing to do is (for ourselves.)   It is the part of us that is most truly who we are.

When we’re babies, that part of us is unclouded.  We shine.  When we’re unhappy, every one knows it, and when we feel better, our smile lights up the room.  There’s no hiding what we’re feeling, and nothing between our inner self and the outer expression of it.

That can’t last, of course.  We have to learn to moderate our expression of feelings, resist our impulses and act in ways that will effectively get our needs met.   That’s a long, hard process and none of us master it completely.

As we learn those skills, we learn what parts of ourselves aren’t acceptable.  We learn what parts of ourselves need to be blocked or shut down.  And the more of our Self that we start to consider unacceptable, the more we shut down, the less our inner light can shine.

And this process doesn’t stop when we’re grown.  Every relationship we have, every job, everything we read or watch on the Internet is teaching us what parts of ourselves are deemed acceptable and which ones need to be hidden.  Over time, we can even hide those parts from ourselves.

Think about the complex relationship we have with food and weight and our bodies.   The standards that leave many men believing that anger is the only “manly” emotion.  Or women who are taught they’re “too much” – too loud, too big, too demanding.

All of those things can block our light and keep us from shining.

When you work with people who experience trauma, there are lots of opportunities to shine, and there are lots of reasons to shut down.  When you feel like you’re losing your self, sinking in other people’s suffering, you aren’t able to let your light shine.  You need some solid ground to stand on for yourself.

Does that make sense?

I remember a time, many years ago, which I was just beginning to recognize how my clients’ trauma was impacting me.  I was at the park on a beautiful, sunshine-y day,  smiling at other people – couples holding hands, a woman with a baby stroller, small children feeding the ducks.  As I walked deeper into the park, I saw three teenagers with a dog.   And I felt an overwhelming anxiety.

For absolutely no reason, I had a sense that something terrible was going to happen to them.  Or maybe they were going to do something terrible.  I didn’t know what, maybe something was going to happen to the dog.  I had an urge to go yell at them to go home, quickly!

Fortunately, I knew that wasn’t really the thing to do, but I felt so anxious and helpless.  All my pleasure in my walk drained away and I ended up leaving quickly.

Once I was able to calm myself, I could see that my experiences at work were changing how I saw the world.  I realized that I needed to do something to manage what I was thinking and feeling if I wanted to enjoy my own life.  That started me on a fascinating journey that has taken me in all kinds of different directions – but that’s a story for a different day.

One thing I’ve learned is the importance of figuring out what keeps us from being able to show up in the world as our own beautiful, shining selves.

The picture at the top of the page is a painting by my dear friend, Jeanne Tessier, who was a Ky artist.  For me, the picture has always represented what it might look like if we were able to unblock our light, take down the barriers to letting our light shine.  I invite you to join me in figuring out what that would look like for you.


Why Coaching?

Why Coaching?

After all the years of being a therapist, why would I switch to coaching?   And is it really different?   

Yes!  It really is!   The 5 principles of coaching capture the difference.  

#1 The Client Is Whole, Completely Resourceful and Self-Innovative:  

In therapy, part of the goal actually is figuring out what’s wrong with the client and trying to fix it.  How that works can vary.  Often, therapists are more likely to have a specific plan they follow with the expectation that it will work for most patients.  Other therapists are more flexible and allow the client to determine some of the direction of the treatment.  But in general, these days, therapy follows a medical model – there’s a diagnosis and a treatment for the diagnosis.

There’s nothing wrong with that.  As a therapist, I had my favorite treatment approaches because I believed they worked.  And often, they were helpful.  Sometimes, therapy is exactly what someone needs.  But it’s different from coaching.

Coaching assumes that there’s nothing wrong with you that needs to be fixed.  That you have your own answers.  And that you can find your way to your own path with someone who helps guide your process.  I don’t know where you’re going – or exactly what you need to get there.  But I can help you figure it out.

#2  The Client Determines the Coaching Agenda:

As a coach, I’m not trying to figure out what needs to be different in your life.  Where you want to go is up to you.  You have a destination, I have a map.  There are lots of different ways to get to where you’re going.  Together, we look at the map and decide which direction to take and where we need to stop along the way.

adventure background backpack backpacker

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

#3 The Client’s Life Is Viewed and Addressed as a Whole:

Because this is holistic – Whole Person – coaching, “The Map” may start with the Web of Life.  This leads us to look at all the areas of your life before you decide which direction to take.

WPC-Web-of-Life-2014 Page 1In any case, we are working with your agenda, helping you figure out how to move in the direction you want to go.  You may discover that many areas of your life are working well for you.   There may be just a couple of areas that you want to address.  Or you may need to bring more balance to all the areas in your life.

#4 The Coaching Relationship Is Co-Creative and Synergistic:

I have  emphasized that you, the client, are in the driver’s seat in the coaching process.  So why have a coach?  What do I bring to the relationship?

Of course, I answer that question here, in my bio, I talk about my experience and some of the things I’ve learned in a lifetime of listening to people and walking their journey with them.  I bring my authentic self to our relationship, mirroring what I see in you as you deepen your awareness of your authentic self.

landscape photo of tree on riverbed

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

The relationship between us is co-creative and synergistic.  Co-creative because we both bring our creative energy to the process.  We are working together to create the space for you to choose your own destination and find your own path.

The relationship is synergistic.  “Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.”   In the combination of our creative selves, there is a bit of alchemy that allows us to develop a new energy, one that is more than just the two of us.  That is the power of coaching.

#5 The Coaching Process Is Dynamic and Honors the Client’s Journey:

Coaching is a dynamic process.  We talk about progressive sessions because there is movement, one flows from the last one into the next.  It doesn’t have to be a roller coaster – it might be more like a budding flower or opening a door.

On your journey, you may cross bridges and break down barriers.  You can change your mind about where you’re going and how to get there.  You can choose a new direction.  Whatever you feel called to do, in the process of creating a life that supports the work you do, we can plan the steps to take and walk the path together.

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“What’s Wrong with Me”

This is one of the last blog posts I wrote for my website as a psychotherapist.  I think of this post as a transition to the work I do now, as a life coach.  

Several times lately, in mid therapy session, I’ve suddenly realized that my client’s biggest problem may be that there’s nothing wrong with them.

No, I don’t mean the problems are “just in their head.” And I don’t mean they don’t have problems. But they’re struggling to figure out “what’s wrong with me” – what diagnosis, what deep-seated flaw, what horrible defect needs to be cured – because if they could just figure that out, then they’d know what medication, what therapy, what correct course of action would fix them.

But – what if they don’t actually need to be fixed? What if there’s not actually anything dreadfully wrong with them? What if the real problem is that they believe there’s something dreadfully wrong with them, and they’re putting their energy into trying to figure out what it is? What if that’s the wrong question?

There are a dozen ways I can talk about this from a clinical perspective. I can talk about schemas and core beliefs. I can talk about negative self-talk. I can talk about mindfulness and moving toward radical acceptance. I can talk about the just world theory and the existential challenge of answering the question “Why do bad things happen to me? And all those things apply. But what if we can make it simpler. Consider this.

If I believe that the problems I’m having and the anxiety and depression I feel are because there’s something inherently wrong with me, then of course I want to know what it is. But in looking for the answer, every uncomfortable feeling and every painful event become just more evidence of my failings.

Like this:

My husband said something mean to me. It’s my fault because I should set limits with him. My first husband was like that too – I just attract the wrong people. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My 14 year old daughter feels like she doesn’t fit in. I never felt like I fit in, it’s probably my fault she doesn’t either. If I knew how to fit in, I could help her. My boss said something the other day and I think it means she thinks this new guy is doing a better job than I am. I’ve been there 10 years, why doesn’t she respect me more? I must be awful. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

And then the person tortures themselves, trying to figure out “what’s wrong with me.” What if that’s the wrong question? What if the husband is having an existential life crisis and just feeling irritable? And what if the daughter doesn’t “fit in” because she’s super creative and bright? What if “fitting in” isn’t actually the goal? What if it’s ok for the boss to praise someone else and it doesn’t mean anything about her other employees?

What if “What’s Wrong With Me?” is just the wrong question?


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