Carol Cirabisi, MS, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
• Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. Graduated 1986 with Bachelor of Arts Degree in English.
• San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA. Graduated 1992 with Master of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling.
• Relationship Counseling
• Individual Psychotherapy
Originally from New York, I began my professional career over 30 years ago in the corporate world, in various positions within the health and life insurance field. On the weekends, I nurtured my creative side by singing professionally with a seven-piece band. I was making very good money, and having so much fun; I thought my life was perfect.
Any outsider looking in would have certainly perceived it to be that way.
Looking back, however, I remember how empty I felt on the inside, despite how “full” my life seemed. I see now that I was truly off-balance in those earlier years. I was searching “outwardly,” and, as a result, I experienced the emptiness that often accompanies an unbalanced life, despite how externally “full” it looked. I found myself being drawn to the Pacific coast.
At first, I did not know exactly why, but soon, I understood that I was indeed being “called” to pursue a career in the healing arts. I settled down in the San Francisco Bay area where I earned my graduate degree in Marriage and Family Counseling at San Francisco State University. From there, I obtained my license in California as a Marriage and Family Therapist.
Despite all this new success and different geography, I felt the same emotional and spiritual struggles of work, money, relationships, and personal identity as I had in New York. Challenging as that was, I believed I was “paying the price” now for the “reward” later: an ultimately fulfilling and lucrative career. I know now that this was part of my journey and the beginning of a new process of deep personal healing.
For almost 10 years, I saw clients in a private practice with offices located in San Francisco and Berkeley. Living and working in such a place of diversity, non-conformity, and embracement of all things non-traditional was at once exhilarating, agonizingly hard and absolutely invaluable.
I was fortunate enough to work with a few amazing teachers and be supervised by a few wonderfully seasoned therapists who had done their own “inner work.”
Then, as many did after the tragedy of 9/11, I was moved to re-assess my life, again. Having had a daughter by then (who was only a year old), I realized that being so far away from the place I grew up, was not where I wanted to raise my child. I longed for a locale where the sun, the water, and the beauty of nature were easily and readily accessible all year long. San Francisco, with its perpetual fog and wind, was chilling my bones.
But this would mean a huge change. Could I once again shift geographically, this time with a partner and a kid in tow? It seemed the Universe was going to make the decision for me.
The attack on 9/11 was having a profound effect on so many jobs and careers – including mine – and consequently, what my partner and I imagined our security was all about: money.
This was the beginning of a new lesson for me. I had family connections in SW Florida, so we stepped into our discomfort and moved to Naples. The transition was challenging for all of us – so much was unknown, and at the time, I did not have the experience and the tools I now have to keep all the fear and anxiety that comes with ambiguity from taking over.
Often, I vacillated between the euphoria that arose from the “potential” for a new life (my Soul speaking Truth to me), and dread that came with the fear that our future was doomed (my Ego’s attempt to limit me and keep me small).
Things have changed dramatically since 2002, both in the world in general and in Southwest Florida in particular. Who would have thought the beauty of the Gulf would be so tarnished by red tide, made even worse by the poisons of toxic dumping and pesticide runoff? And now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, who knows how life will ever “be the same?”
Are any of us not feeling stressed out right now? When we are so stressed, how can we possibly maintain our connection with the part of us that knows that “all is well?”
Since moving to Naples, I have experienced many big and unexpected changes, too – both personally and professionally – divorce, illness, death, material loss, to name a few. Although I did not always understand why I was given these challenges, I ultimately came to realize that the pain I was going through could be used as a way to heal and grow.
There is no denying the feelings of sadness, the regret, the pain, the anger that have been directly related to all that has occurred, but, in accepting all these emotions, embracing them as part of the process, I also have come to know that these feelings, as big as they have felt, do not define me. I have felt them,
I have acknowledged and accepted their impact, I have allowed them to flow through me, and miraculously, when I have allowed them their course, they lost their power over me. Rather, I have come to realize that all of these seemingly “negative” events have helped me to remember who I truly am and given me many opportunities to put the truth of that into practice by BEING the person I have come here to be.
It has been an amazing process, and the more I come to trust the path I am on and the less attached I am to the outcome, the more peaceful I feel. I know that inner peace exists because I am able to experience it. Not all the time, and not always without some internal effort, but I now know that it is an ongoing process, and I have a more direct route back to the stillness that exists within me.
Of course, my outer world still presents challenges – and it always will – this is a given. This is the nature of being human in this physical world. All of these challenges give us the material which provides us the opportunity to dig deep and really come to know our selves and grow. Once we can do this, it becomes easier to find the peace within, despite the turmoil of the outer world.
And isn’t this really the purpose of having a life? To express our truest nature as often as we can? What is the meaning of our lives? To reach our highest potential? To become the fullest selves we can be? To be awake in the process of living? To connect with others and expand our consciousness? To choose how we will experience every moment, every interaction, every challenge? To literally have the choice to be living in joy, with peace, through love…?
These questions are the foundation of my life; and the foundation of the work I do at Conscious Choices.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~ Socrates “All you need is Love.” ~ John Lennon
(Carol lives in Naples, FL with Pearl, her little long-haired mini-dachshund. She is blessed to have a young adult daughter who is discovering for herself who she was born to be. In her free time, she loves singing, dancing, and performing with her 80’s dance/party band!)