I’d often stand at the old wooden fence looking out longingly at the creek that ran along the back side of my house. My older brother and sister, already in their teens, would leave me behind as they went down into the creek to wander. I found myself so jealous of their chance at privacy and escape.
When my brother finally relented and agreed to teach me how to navigate this mysterious and beautiful landscape, I was overjoyed. The brush to reach the creek itself scratched up my skin, but I wouldn’t dare complain. Once there, I saw it was just the magical place I’d imagined it to be, full of moss and salamanders and a million little crevices to explore.
I loved that the water was constantly changing the landscape, so each visit was something new. I loved even more that I could search along the creek bed for small rocks that caught my attention. Over the years, I found myself intrigued by stones that had these naturally occurring holes in them. They were called hag stones, and I learned that it wasn’t just me who was enamored with them; they had a special place in Celtic lore.
According to the legends, these hag stones could ward off witches and other evil, and if you looked through the hole in the stone, you could see the mystical realm of faeries. Only good things could pass through the hole, I was told, and so carrying them could keep all the bad things away.
I wasn’t sure that I believed these special stones had actual powers, but it didn’t matter. I found myself collecting them when I needed my own escape, when my house or the world felt a little too much for me to manage.
As I got older and life got more complicated, having this place that I loved became even more important. It allowed me to quiet the noise as I grew into myself and started to deconstruct some of what I’d been taught to believe. I started to question things like how I’d come to feel about myself, what relationships could and should feel like, and the cultural and religious messages that fueled shame and guilt.
That process of quieting, examining, and rebuilding my beliefs eventually became a core part of my approach to therapy with others. As a therapist today, I work with people who need space to do the same, whether they are wanting better relationships with their family, are navigating a relationship loss, or are figuring out what it means to value themselves. I love to help my clients notice when their perspective might be too narrow or when they are getting caught in old relationship patterns.
The creek remains one of my favorite places to retreat to. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed or just need to process, I’ll spend time wandering the closest creek bed I can find, looking for hag stones. It’s nice to believe, if just for a moment, that there is a place for the good to come through.
Colleen Lehman, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Ohio. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Master of Arts degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Cincinnati. Colleen is currently training to become AASECT Sex Therapy Certified through Modern Sex Therapy Institutes.
Colleen specializes in working with couples of all sexualities and genders seeking to improve communication, conflict management, emotional intimacy, and sexual intimacy. She also enjoys working with intercultural couples and neurodiverse couples. Colleen also works with individuals seeking support with general mental health, coping with relationship concerns, healing from shame-based messaging about sexuality, embracing one’s sexual self and identity, and managing sexual functioning concerns (painful sex, low desire, erectile dysfunction, etc.). Colleen provides counseling that is LGBTQIA+ affirming, Kink/BSDM friendly, and sex positive.
- That we are wired for intimate connection with others.
- That love is not confined to patriarchal or heteronormative standards.
- That a healthy relationship is one that manages conflict and grows from it, not one that avoids or ignores it.
- That having needs in a relationship is not being “needy,” it is being human.
- That gender is not a binary.
- That relationships are built on equality, respect, and compassion.
- That the relationships we had with our caregivers growing up influence how we show up in relationships as an adult.
- That we can have difficult, honest, conversations with loved ones in a kind and compassionate way.
- That being authentically you is the best way to intimately connect with your loved ones.
- That everyone wants to feel heard and understood by the people they care for.
- That you deserve sexual pleasure free from shame or judgment.
- That sex is not a performance or obligation, but an experience of connection and pleasure.
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