*From the Archives* Moon Over Christine Laplante
I first met Christine many years ago at Starwood Festival. It was one of those moments when you realize instantly you have met a true ally. We bonded with much common ground and she not only inspired me but manifested at a time I needed forward movement in my path. She walked up and easily offered the opportunity.
Christine Laplante is a lover, dreamer, mother, healer and one of the best listeners I have ever met. Her powers of observation, spiritual devotion and non-judgmental approach to life, makes her a star among the wise women I often seek counseling and support from in my professional and personal life. Her very essence, to me is often an antidote to the Dirty Mother angst that can build in any warrior womyn’s frustrations with the world. Christine is a well-respected educator and leader in many of the communities I call home. She has devoted much of her path to sacred sexuality and spirituality while maintaining a professional career as a well-respected therapist. And if that is not enough, she naturally flourishes as a creative soul in her artistic aspirations.
When I wanted to start the blog, “Moon Over” it was with the intention of shining the spotlight on some of the amazing women I know that are out there doing inspirational work, healing, educating, empower or creating art. I had not thought to do the post in an interview format, because this would seem as a cop out to actually write something deserving, with much gratitude for the existence of each of these women, and how they have influenced me. So when I decided to dedicate my first “Moon Over” to Christine, I realized that one of the most brilliant qualities she possesses is her intellect and her ability to express herself so eloquently with her own words. So with that in mind here is Christine, in her own words.
What is the work you do? What education and schooling did you obtain?
Let me start with my education and schooling. I have a few academic degrees including an associate of arts in performing arts with a concentration in music and a minor in fine art. At one point I aspired to be a photographer, and then a musician, and then a photographer, and then a musician etc. I also have a bachelor’s of science in music therapy and a bachelor of arts in psychology as well as a master’s in psychology with a concentration in counseling. I am a licensed mental health counselor.
What school I went to is way easier to answer then what I do. To answer what I do would have to include who I am, where I've come from, and where I'm going. Somewhere in the senior year of my high school career which also was concurrently my first year of college, I began to realize that I had a knack for speaking to people about sex. I joined up with a peer group that worked both with the lesbian gay and bisexual, at the time, alliance. I was very active in peer counseling as well as HIV/AIDS education both on campus and in the campus magazine. I was a condom fairy long before the condom fairies existed, I guess.
After pursuing both music and psychology based educational components I realized I was missing the sexuality piece. So while I was attending school for my various degrees I began to work with people around sexuality. I joined various groups and provided a voice there. I also started selling sex toys as well as worked as a trainer and educator for a major sex toy company, training their distributors. Somewhere along the line I realized I needed to put the therapeutic aspect as well as the passion for creating a sex positive culture together
When did you discover you wanted to help others as a counselor/therapist?
I don't know that I discovered this, more that it came as a result of who I am. I would find myself in moments of counseling others almost "coming to" and realizing I was already doing the work. I feel, in all aspects of my life, that I am guided by the signs around me and the flow of what I am drawn to.
What are your thoughts on sexual healing, do you believe it is an essential part of healing the whole person? What are your practices as a sexual healer or sex therapist? How do you differ from or parallel the standard practices and therapies?
I could write a whole book I guess on what my thoughts are on sexual healing as PART of the healing process. In essence I believe it may be THE part of the healing process. This is not to say that there are not other things to work on, I just think that we are so disconnected from our sexuality on so many levels that it is a major piece of healing for almost everyone. Whether you are talking about traditional Western medicine, or eastern philosophies, sexuality is a huge part of who we are as a whole. It's where we come from, it's what we move towards, and it's eventually what we dance away from. If you take the theory of the energy centers in our body, the chakras, the root and the sacral are our base. Fear, safety, and sexuality are intimately linked. Many transcendental theories would have people believe it is our mission in life to rise above. Essentially, living in the upper energy centers. I believe, we truly need a balance in both the lower and upper, the earthy and the heavenly bodies, so to speak, in order to live a fully integrated existence.
As far as my practices as a sexual healer, I have my own personal practices, educational pieces that I can provide to others, and essentially a safe space to speak openly of either fantasies and/or acts. My practice is to work on releasing shame, piling things from the dark into the light, and helping people to dance with their shadows. I also parallel personal maturity with sexual maturity when looking at the whole person. I tend to look at how people are functioning in their whole life. For example, I would look at how someone deals with work, friends, social, spiritual, etc...and put an overlay of their sexual practices on that. By doing so, I am able to see if their sexual maturity matches the maturity of the rest of their lives. Most often, when people come to me, it is because there is a significant discrepancy in the levels. I also highly enjoy working as a space holder, or provider, for others in the industry. It is difficult for professionals to find others who can provide the space for them to go through their sexual process and integration. The essential question, "who heals the healers?" The answer is, "we do."
I do not know if my practice differs from others in the field. I know that we each have our flavor and something we have to offer to those seeking to fully embrace, and empower themselves, in their sexuality. As much as sexuality is individual so are those, and what they have to offer, in the world of sexual healing.
I know that your spirituality is the center of much of the work you do, how to you describe your spiritual beliefs, practices? How do you feel this makes you a better healer?
I don't know that my spirituality is the center of the work that I do, but I definitely consider myself to be fairly spiritual if there needs to be a label. And that being said, I might even change the word spiritual to seasonal. I recognize, just as the seasons turn the wheel of the year, so do we as humans. We have our times where we plant our seeds, nurture them, watch them grow, harvest them, mourn their passing, give thanks for their sustenance, and repeat the process again. Each time we come back around the cycle we come with history that makes us individual. I keep that in mind when I work with others, and remind them, especially when they are hard on themselves, that life is not stagnant it is fluid. That we cannot have the light without the dark.
Do you consider yourself a feminist? If so, how does that integrate into your work?
I don't even know what that word means. I know my history. I know our history, The stories told in books and the stories told around fires from elders and my own story. I know that the word means something different today than it potentially meant decades ago. I assume in a few more decades, it will mean something different then. I believe in humanity and in equality. I believe in choice. I feel sometimes, when I call myself something, I am fighting for the right of choice. I am fighting for the right to live without fear. I am fighting for freedom. If I use the word feminist, then that means that I am fighting for those things for women. Sometimes, I use that word to describe myself.
Can you tell me about your Guardians and the Hearthstone Temple?
For almost 2 decades, I have known my partner. We have chosen to create a life together, to have a child, and to open our home and our space for people to bring creation. That creation has manifested over the years as groups of people coming together to raise energy for a common goal. It has also resulted in the creation of art, space, fire, family, community and I could go on. For 12 of those years, we lived in a small bungalow community with friends. We gathered, we ate, we performed weddings, we drummed, we danced, we fought, we cried, we hoped,etc...together. A couple of years ago, the situation on the land changed as sometimes happens as the wheel turns. It was time for all of us to leave that space and make our way differently. We all continue to share our lives, differently.
Hearthstone is where my partner, our child and I have begun the next piece of our existence. Because we are community oriented, we wanted a space that was welcoming to others to continue to create and grow in. Just over a year ago, we purchased a home that is just big enough for the three of us and has an outdoor space dedicated to art, healing, and growth. As we created the space, our funds became limited. I questioned how we were going to continue to create a space that was warm, dry and comfortable particularly for the winter months. We reached out to the community and asked for donations to which we did receive some. We received materials, labor, and some monetary donations. I meditated on how we could sustain this. Even if there was no one else to help. Thus came the Guardians.
I was playing with clay one day as I was thinking about how grateful I was looking around me. As they began to form, I realized that their purpose was to provide not only the funds to continue our work here at Hearthstone, but also as a vehicle and token to help others to manifest what they needed and wanted. It has become a beautifully symbiotic experience. Though I do make pieces, and tell portions of their stories, and people are drawn to them I have also been able to make custom pieces. As they are created they are imbued with the energy of the existence here at Hearthstone with the intent of the receiver and an exchange of money that flows back into the work.
As one of the calmest and introspective people I know, what advice, tips and practices would you suggest to women to be better listeners, more supportive companions or more introspective with their own lives?
Your view of me is one that I have heard numerous times as people describe me. It is not necessarily the one that I have of myself. In this way, I have been able to let others mirror for me. I have learned how to receive and expand my View of myself. This is an integral part of interacting with the world. What I think of me is not necessarily who I am, just as what others think of me is not who I am. Our interaction with the world needs to contain both pieces of that equation. I don't know about advice for being a better listener. We all find our own skills. I think my listening skills come truly from my curiosity about others. If I am a mirror, so are they.
As far as being a better companion, it really is about balancing, for me, my curiosity of another person as well as maintaining my own personal truth. All of that, however, is abstract. I don't know that there is a particular formula for creating that. I can truly only speak about myself. If I am not being a good companion I need to know what not being a good companion looks like. Knowing what not being a good companion looks like will also help me to know what being a good companion means. Often, for me, it comes down to whether or not I am truly seeing a person or if I am seeing my idea of a person. For me this tends to come in body alerts. My breathing changes. My heart beat changes tempo. My leg might start to bounce as my body is trying to alert me to stay aware. In regards to the staying true to self piece, I don't feel threatened when someone else's view contradicts mine, if I am confident in a truth. There is no waiver of personal truth, though compromise can still happen. The difference is compromise is not coerced in that situation and doesn't necessarily involve the feeling of sacrifice. It is a solid decision to explore something that is new.
Can you elaborate on some of the workshops you currently teach? Why are they important to you?
The workshops I teach are constantly in flux. They are a way for me to engage people in a conversation about relationship. They are way for me to have a finger on the pulse of what the current general beliefs about relationship interaction may be, as well as to be a part of the dialogue. I do not mean to change peoples believes based on my own. I encourage people to explore where their ideas come from and to find their own personal truths. I provide my own experience and tools should they choose to use them. I also encourage people to question the tools. Most often, everyone goes home with something they can implement.
The ones that I teach that are particularly about sexuality allow for a conscious discussion and experience for those participating to explore their shame, they're positive messages about sexuality, and most importantly to challenge where their beliefs come from. I am particularly enamored with workshops where people begin to truly embrace their sexuality, rather than their prescribed sexuality. Some of those workshops I go back all the way to childhood messages from the first time a small child even finds their genitals; The reactions, the responses, and even the differences in the reaction depending on gender. We explore their own conversations with their own children as well.
Out of everything that I do, my biggest desire is to see a sexually safe society. Where sexuality is sacred, not secret. The two are not mutually exclusive and, actually, secrecy is one of the largest culprits in sexual abuse. Talking about sex does not make it any less Sacred, it does make it less secret and also less confusing, and less susceptible to manipulation and domination, and less shameful, and less able to fall prey to.
Would you like to offer any thoughts on open relationships & polyamory?
I feel that some people are more inclined to love and be with multiple people. I believe that just like the Myriad of manifestations of a relationship between two people there is a myriad of manifestation of relationship between multiple people. I often work with people in open or polyamorous relationships and I hear things like, "this is not your typical poly relationship." And I often retort with, "I would hope not." I have also had couples in monogamous relationships say to me similar things. For instance, I have heard, "we are not like other couples we don't get jealous when our partner looks at someone else." Of course they are not like other couples, because they are not the other couples.
We are highly influenced by the things around us. This includes community, family, media, etc. My suggestion for people newly exploring the possibility of being in a more open relationship is to take a look around and find people in a similar, not the same, situation. And ask them questions. Their answers may or may not work for you.
I would also say that, not unlike monogamous relationships, polyamorous relationships are fluid. Which means that the dynamics constantly change. Often people enter any relationship thinking it's going to stay the same as it was the day before. That is an impossibility, as we are not the same individuals as we were the day before. If you get into needing things to be the same in any relationship, that is more about possession than being in relationship with. Humans are not stagnant beings.
I see the question posed on the boards for Poly people or those curious about becoming Poly. One of my particular favorites is, "could you be monogamous?" It is my opinion that just like our sexuality is a spectrum of orientation, albeit sometimes that orientation is fluid, so is our relationship orientation. Some people fall far on the spectrum towards monogamy others fall far on the spectrum towards polyamory and there are a whole lot in the middle and some who are fluid.
I like the question particularly because nobody asks that of a single person. Being single doesn't make you any more or less oriented towards the relationship style that suits you, generally it just means that you haven't found a person, or persons, yet that you can be with. Yet somehow it is perceived that if a person is only with one other person that they are monogamous rather then currently with one person because they have not found someone else that suits them.
My thoughts are really just that every relationship, no matter it's manifestation, is as unique an energy as those who make up the relationship. All that happens when you add more people is that you add more manifestations of energy and dynamics and sometimes that can get slightly more complicated, or more honestly, differently complicated, than someone only in relationship with one other person.
Who are the heroines in your life and why?
My daughter and my mother are probably my biggest heroines. My mother was a teenager when she had me, busted her ass, got through school and now lives the life she wants to. I grew up in poverty and that gave me an incredible skill and value set, including the instilled value of community. Sure where there things that sucked, yup, like listening to her on the phone hustling to keep the electric on, yup. But I also learned in those moments what it meant to fight for what I needed.
My daughter has taught me more lessons that I can express. Her fire, her refusal to have her spirit crushed, her heart! She amazes me every day and I am grateful. She challenges the authority figures in her life in a way that does not cause dismissal, but rather curiosity.
Sure I could list a bunch of influential people, people who fight hard, people who make a difference and I admire them and some I aspire to be like. There are artists that rocked my world, and saved my life, as a kid. There are women and men who challenged me both in alliance and in opposition with their thoughts and beliefs. It comes down to family and community, though for me. It comes down to those that I see show up, pull together an event, provide space, honor others, walk their talk. Those are my heroines and heroes.
What are your plans for this upcoming year? What is brewing in the pot?
I would really like to sit down and get a book or two finished. I guess, though, it is not time because when it is time, it will happen. I do know this. So I think that this year, I am going to let go of the voice in my head that tells me I haven't done enough in that arena.
I officially started a local private practice as a licensed mental health counselor, branching out of the occasional counseling as well as my career job and working with more clients ready to integrate and maybe try another approach to becoming whole. I have begun working more and more in the world of Skype as well. I am interested to see where that will go, but I am not forcing any of it. I am enjoying it.
This year will also be a lot about focusing on my physical health. I beat the crap out of myself as a kid, and as an adult, and I am feeling some of the results of that. In addition, I am getting a little older and I want this year to be about embracing grace in my body.
Instead of creating new workshops this year, my focus is actually to re-evaluate the ones I have been presenting for a couple of years. This does not mean there won't be anything new, but I am interested to analyze the growth. I want to sit in the successes (and failures) of my presentations both from my growth as well as those who have participated in the classes. I am looking to deepen their concepts and refresh them.
www.becomeintegrated.com (though this is in major need of revamping!)
For the Guardians