Nathan M McTague, CPCC, CPDPE
I was born to be a Catalyst.
There’s a certain amount of hyperbole in any statement like that — as if anyone’s purpose and existence could truly be reduced to a single occupation — but for me, there’s a feeling that occurs during and shortly after I work with my clients that whispers “home”. Of course, there are other moments in my life when I touch on a similar sensation — say, when I’m making art or music, or when I’m snuggled up and reading with my kids, or dug into a forested hillside in the wilderness — but when I’m coaching, doing parenting consultations, or performing Shamanic healing/integration, I experience the dual perception of being where and doing what I’m supposed to be, while I’m also helping someone else. There’s something about that combination that leaves me more satisfied than anything else I do. To be fair, parenting my girls certainly regularly fills the same emotional real estate, and getting lost in creating an art piece can absorb my interest just as much; but when I’m working with my clients, I’m elbow-to-elbow with an equal, fearlessly open to letting in truth, and entered into a potent alliance built for changing lives. That’s powerful stuff, let me tell you.
It has been said, on more than a few occasions, that I’m a fairly complicated person. In as much as that as is true (which isn’t 100%), I think of it as mostly a compliment…
I’ve always been a curious soul. Even from my earliest memories, I have seen the world from the point of view of an explorer, a systems analyst, and a deconstructionist. I like to uncover deep truths, chart complex processes, and patiently pick apart constellations of factors and variables. I’m the one to whom my friends have always brought their philosophical quandaries. And I’m the parent my girls come to when they need a knot untied.
I tend to think of the world in the most diverse terms possible. Everything is always more complex than it first appears, or than we can communicate, or (at least some times) than we can even understand. Where others see black and white and maybe a single shade of grey, I see a panoply of seamless gradations, a spherical spectrum of multitudinous designations, none of which are mutually exclusive or rigidly defined. As I recently put it in a poem I wrote on Facebook (a first for me, both in composing and sharing poetry live):
As soon as we begin
to make our argument(s)
for “the way it is”
We narrow our influence
over what it possible.
Every angle is slanted.
Every way of looking
is to the exclusion of other(s).
We lie by telling
only one truth at a time.
All truths are true.
Every perspective counts.
I’ll spare you the rest at present, though feel free to find me on FB and friend me if you want to read the whole thing.
These tendencies, although pretty annoying if someone’s trying to “win” a debate with me, or trying to get me to agree to a universal bottom line, are exceptionally helpful when I’m working with clients to dig in, and discover, and non-judgementally begin to decipher some process, or system, or habit they want to change in their lives. I can hold the space for them to look at their “worst” parts, while challenging them to reach for their biggest possible selves. I can ask the questions they’ve forgotten to consider, and reveal the larger picture of how everything they’re saying fits together. And all while appealing to their own genius for all the answers!
I grew up in the buckle of the bible belt, in the heart of Dixie and the heart of the Civil Rights Movement in America. I knew from very early on that I was not like anyone around me.
I struggled all through my early life to find where the kind of “I” that I wanted to be would be welcome. I often felt that I had to hide my true self.
At a few different intervals in my youth, I was intimately involved in churches. In Montgomery, Alabama, there is a church on every corner, and being involved with at least one is something that most kids growing up there experience. I was very fortunate to belong to churches that strove to underscore the humanitarian, agape, and compassionate elements of Christian faith; and was spared almost all of the fire, and judgment, and guilt. As a result of this, and combined with the love and compassion modeled for me by my mother, I grew up very empathetic for my fellow humans.
I moved from Alabama at around 20 and settled in Montana. I consciously traded society for natural solitude in an attempt to feel more at ease. I’ve always kept a pocketful of close friends, but until recent years never felt comfortable being seen “in public”.
Over the course of my life, I’ve had a number of significant “awakenings” which have given me unusual opportunities to peer into the nature of being. I don’t generally speak of such things, and tend to find suspect those that do; however, for the purposes of giving you a better sense of me as a person and a Catalyst, there are a couple-few of them that I would share with you here.
It wasn’t the first, but perhaps one of the most poignant experiences occurred while I was a senior in high school. I’ll spare you the teenage details, but what I found was a palpable experience of the connectedness of all things, people, and systems; a unity so profound that it dismantled even the concept of oneness. The effect on me was an instantaneous disintegration of the perception of “in here” versus “out there”, of “us” versus “them”, and of the distinctions to which we all so desperately cling. Suddenly there was no longer a multitude of different voices (attitudes, faces, ways of being, etc.), but one vibrating harmony of all things, everywhere, always already humming to and through us all. I have never forgotten the essence of this glimmer into the unseen coherence of the all, though to this day, I am still challenged with living the truth of it.
Another episode, many years later, after I was already a new father, put me (quite by accident) energetically in touch with the suffering of every person with whom I came in proximity; and if I made the mistake of focussing on it, the immense suffering of the world at large. I felt as if a dense, heavy shroud had been drawn down over everything I experienced, and each moment became an excruciating plea for help. My young family and I had moved to Salem, Oregon, to prospect buying an independent bookstore there, and I couldn’t go anywhere without feeling psychically attacked by the energetic pain I encountered. Even fuming off of people who were completely unaware of it, who adamantly denied any discomfort or perception of even the slightest energetic negativity, who otherwise seemed light and happy — I found streams, cords, seeds, and enveloping auras of suffering. I became very worried, and felt trapped in my inability to affect this overwhelming tsunami of darkness. And at the same time, I was maddeningly aware of the superficial illusoriness of existence. It was all a very long, very pointless, and very painful game from my point of view. As a result, I became extremely depressed. I lost my family, my job, and my will to live. I almost lost my self.
What I had to learn then, and what saved me, was the lesson that I mattered. Even if I couldn’t “win” at life; even if I couldn’t be the father and partner I had hoped to be; even if I couldn’t help myself or anyone else get free of suffering — the universe (or God or Source or Tao) wanted me here. It needed me to be here if only to carry the light that only I carry. Just as it — the everything everywhere all — needs each and every single one of us to be here, being the part of it that only each of us can be.
I’d never before felt that level of personal significance or individual belonging. At the same instant of feeling most abandoned, most judged, and most exiled for being myself, and thinking of myself as utterly unloveable; I found my own largest possible self, standing there with open arms, reminding me that my “I” matters.
Fairly quickly after that, and as a matter of survival, I began exploring how to protect myself from and to turn down my perception of suffering. I literally had to learn to energetically “look the other way”; to key into and remain focussed on what was also already present in every person I passed — their positive energy, experience, and potential. In the first year or two, I thought I actually had to ignore the suffering part in order to keep myself safe, but as I got further from that initial episode, I found that I could choose to look into the suffering or not, and I could bolster myself for the experience when I did look. This realization gave me the opportunity to begin to face the tsunami without being drowned by the deluge.
As a result of these awakening experiences (and ones like them), I found myself called to help others — but I had no idea how. I wanted to alleviate suffering as well as empower connection, harmony, and growth, but I was just an ordinary person, not a healer or spiritual guide. I wanted to join the movement to liberate every living being, but I had no interest in becoming a monk. So, I just decided to become a better person. And I spent the better part of the next decade working on myself more than ever before.
I studied everything that I could. I’d always been voracious for information, and had devoured countless tomes of spiritual, esoteric, and alternative philosophy; but began to turn my attention more and more toward personal enlightenment and development. I also had two more children, and was avidly studying how to nurture them in the most effective and gentle ways possible.
As I tended my own garden, I started to notice a shift in my perception of the world, and began to experience a different, more empowering quality in my life.
In 2006, and as a direct result of living more and more intentionally, I was directed to the Coaches Training Institute of San Rafael, California. A friend of my new partner’s, was a CTI-certified life coach and shared with us some of her experiences helping clients with coaching. I knew right away that I’d found my calling, and was immediately engulfed in fiery resolve to become a life coach. I went through the extensive training and certification process, finding new depths and heights in my own personal growth while learning to assist others in growing themselves. I’ve been coaching clients ever since my first course and haven’t stopped learning more and more about it (or life…) yet!
Along my long and winding way, I also began to study energy healing and maintenance. I have training in emotional co-processing, yoga (kundalini, and tantra), Reiki, sympathetic magic, and core Shamanism. In recent years, I have begun offering Shamanic healing/integration, empowerment, and journeying in addition to (or even instead of) my coaching services. And in this work I have finally come fully home — to myself, to my personal experience of life, and to my mission. I have found the place where I am in contact with all of the infinite and infinitesimal parts of us, the ways in which we connect, and the energy that manifests in all of our experiences. And that life-shattering perception I had of the enormous suffering inherent in every person’s experience has been transmuted into a diagnostic tool to find and remove energetic intrusions and replace them with transfers of power. What’s more, every time I do integration work on others, I feel myself made more and more whole as well.
Much as it always does when we tune into and stay conscientiously present with our experiences, life has grown me for what it needed from me. And it wasn’t until I trusted myself and what I felt that I was able to realize my purpose; and I only remain in that realization in as much as I continue to trust myself. So, much of my mission and my message is concerned with helping others get in touch with, develop, and rely on self-trust. And whether I’m retrieving a portion of someone’s soul, removing energetic intrusions, or coaching up a storm — all of my work is centered on empowering self.
I believe that there is no better service to the world than to empower individuals to realize their own potential(s). Only by turning on each light bulb is an entire city illuminated.
Another major portion of my life path has been centered on parenting. When my first baby came along, I knew nothing about taking care of her. Although we did many things right by her, I know we also failed her time and time again, simply from our ignorance. We read so much about what to do to take care of her mother and her during pregnancy and birth, and we provided a truly ideal natal experience for the both of them. But we’d read next to nothing about what to do once she got here and had to struggle significantly finding our way(s). I won’t go into all the specifics, but suffice it to say that our early experience, combined with our untimely separation when she was just over a year old, set me on a path to learn everything that I could about how to do what she really needed.
Over the last nearly 17 years, I have made parenting one of my primary endeavors, and learning about parenting a close runner-up. I was learning so much already about myself, that my parenting study became a kind of self-sculpting. It wasn’t long before there was a younger sister traveling in my first born’s wake, and only a few years after that when we were joined by a third girl. Each of them has been a profound influence on me and my partner of the last 14 years, Natalie, who has also inspired me endlessly. And through the endeavor to better serve them, I have learned a great deal that I now put to service for other parents like me.
About 9 years ago, Natalie and I also made a different baby, Feeleez. With another parent friend, we created Feeleez to be a tool for helping our kids learn about feelings. What we discovered was a whole world of emotional processing and development. Now Feeleez includes a whole range of tools for emotional support and education, and is just one of the offerings of the Center for Emotional Education, that Natalie and I founded. In addition to the Feeleez line of tools, the Center also offers workshops, ecourses, and one-to-one coaching and consultation for parents, teachers, and other caregivers.
While juggling these very important parts of us, and growing and developing ourselves and our services, Natalie and I have also made a ton of art — both with our family and without, solo and in collaboration, visual and otherwise. Our family has shown art several times in Missoula, Montana, where we now live 3/4 of the year. Natalie and I have had several duo shows (including this fabulous installation piece), and both have shown our own work alone. I began getting into performance in 2003, and even joined the short-lived Montana Actors Theater Missoula Chapter in 2008, with whom I performed in several productions including MacBeth, Christmas Carol, Life X 3, The Rocky Horror Show, and MidSummer Night’s Dream. I went on to produce, direct, and star in my own production of Waiting for Godot, and even built the stage with Natalie… And little by little, I learned to let myself be seen through my art.
This year, I achieved a life-long dream of creating a particular art piece called the DreamCatching show. In it, I installed myself in a local Missoula gallery called the Brink. I exhibited myself (as myself) in the gallery for 28 days, eating, sleeping, living, and working in the confines of the space, 24 hours a day. I ran a live feed and blog so people could keep up with the show from anywhere, and I even left the huge windows uncovered at night while I slept in my sleeping bag on a bunk I built (with a carpenter friend) for the show. I worked on a huge installation piece during the day, I brought in other artists of differing genres in order to collaborate on performances, musical exhibitions, and community events in the space. In combination with my teacher, I even held a Spirit Canoe group journey Shamanic ritual on the new moon and invited people from the community to join in. I also welcomed people who visited the gallery to sign up for a private (camera muted, doors locked) life coaching session with me to work on living into a personal dream of their own. I coached one or two people a day, in a specially crafted space just for that purpose. One of the resounding themes of the show, both as I discovered the experience for myself, and as I heard from people about how they were affected, was Authenticity — being brave enough to be my “most-me” as we began to call it; and encouraging others to be brave enough to be their own “most-me”s. The tagline — though I made it up before I realized how much it would mean — was: “Be brave. Be who you dream.”. And that really summed up the whole endeavor.
I’ve finally come out of my chrysalis. I’ve finally realized that the universe doesn’t need me to just be me here, it needs me to do my “me-ing” here. Each of us is here to be and do that which only each of us can. It’s a simple mission, but complex in it’s ramifications. If we learn to trust ourselves enough to be our own most-potent-selves, and learn to get out of our own way(s), we get to bring forth something unique and powerful to the world, and to our collective infinite-ness. Only when we let our authentic selves out of hiding, may we offer our personal gifts — gifts so desperately needed — to existence, to each other, and to ourselves. And that (at least!) is why we’re here!
I’m finally out as my most-me. And it’s my mission to help others do the same. I’m your Catalyst.
Here are some other things you might want to know about me: I have a razor-sharp intellect — I’m a gestalt thinker, and I have a wealth of experience and broad spectrum of knowledge to draw upon (though, fortunately for both of us, I don’t have to be a genius to help you find your genius). In addition, I have “extra-sensory pattern perception” — I’m a systems detective, able to discern habitual rhythms and recognize the subtle ways in which people get trapped in self-perpetuating paradigms. I also have ocean-sized empathy — I’m a patient, nonjudgmental listener, capable of sensing the intricate relationships within, understanding, and identifying with even the most complicated emotional manifestations. When I’m not working elbow-to-elbow with my clients (or “ear-to-ear” on the phone, as the case often is…), I can be found wrestling, reading, and discussing the entire universe with my three incredible daughters; digging in the garden; sitting contentedly by the river; making visual and performance art; and drinking copious amounts of decaffeinated green tea.