For the past 26 years Lexi Alma has been a consistent, behind-the-scenes agent of change here in Ashland, Oregon. You may know Lexi from her participation in community service projects, or from the trails and bike paths. You may know her as a former school teacher, mental health therapist, or more currently as a counselor, mentor, and Family Constellation Work facilitator. Over all of these years Lexi has built a reputation for fierce compassion, reliability, and groundedness. Her Constellation workshops, seasonal gatherings at PrayerFarm and ongoing support to families and couples are a staple in Ashland’s goings on.
In today’s interview I speak with Lexi about her life, work, and path here in our community. We talk about the importance of community, and explore the how and the why of her private practice and her upcoming 9-month program—MatrixWalk.
Lexi, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us today. I am excited to speak with you about your life and work here in Ashland, Oregon.
Thank you Shields. I appreciate LocalsGuide for its enduring presence in connecting the community to each other over all these years. It is an exciting time for me as after maintaining a reduced practice and teaching schedule for several years due to home and family needs, I am able to bring more time and attention to my work and service again. My goal here today is to reintroduce myself and call people towards the important work of creating a personal and shared sense of belonging to our community, to this place in time and to each other’s care.
That sounds great! Lexi, to begin with, please tell us a little bit more about your background and life that brought you to Ashland.
I am an only child born to a very young mother who faced many challenges—I was partially raised by 2 sets of grandparents and by amazing grace have had a steady stream of teachers, mentors, helpers by my side throughout my life. I know from experience and from the wide body of research that has shown us the difference one “extra” support person can make in a life. I serve many as that “extra” person. There are times when we all need support and mentorship, not because there is a problem; because we are human and need each other to thrive.
My world has always been a version of village life and I believe wholeheartedly in healthy community as the remedy for most things—my story would be very different if not for the many people throughout my childhood and young adulthood who helped me grow as well as the places of belonging that have held me and hold me to this day.
I was raised in a small town on the East Coast and I am so grateful that I have been able to raise my own children in this small town. Family has been at the center of my life for 30 years; I have been learning and growing with my husband Carlos since 1993 and have 2 children, Laney who is 29 and Lily who is 12.
I’ve been in full-on householder mode for a loooong time and this is my greatest influence along with my rich spiritual life.
My family landed in Ashland in January of 1997, the day after the flood that devastated downtown. There were porta-potties in the alleyways and neighbors from both sides of the street came out to greet us as we pulled up to our house in the Railroad District. Being welcomed in this way while the community showed up in full force to deal with the crisis was amazing in all the ways that matter to me. After 6 years of living in close knit communities in Costa Rica with regular power outages and water supply off and on as a way of life, I was relieved—not by the tragedy but by the community’s wholehearted coming together. Ashland immediately felt like home and still does.
Lexi, please talk more about your work as a community builder. Why is it essential, and what is the power of healing in community versus alone in isolation?
I am mildly uncomfortable with the term community builder as I associate this with great and influential leaders; BUT, yes, this is what I care about and do on a small scale—I’m a mother, a helper and a community member. I build community in the small ways that speak to my heart-it’s simple and kind of what I imagine most people do… give what you can, do what you care about, know your neighbors, make things better. Contrary to how it feels at times, we are wired to care about and support each other, and to protect what is precious: our children, our shared natural resources, and the traditions that make life meaningful. When we can remember this about ourselves and see that we are not alone in these instincts, it can shift our perspective and build trust in our shared humanity.
Lexi, what do you see as your calling or key purpose with the work you do?
My work, my service, my life, has always been devoted to supporting health and strength in people and places. Human beings must tell stories because we must make meaning. I help people tell more compassionate, hopeful, and honest stories about themselves, each other, and the world. Along with stories, we recognize and anchor truth through our bodies so our pain—the stories our bodies tell without words can often be accessed and moved especially effectively with others bearing witness—this is also because so much of the pain we experience as personal is really shared by us all. I help people experience and find a place for their pain where it is not running, but rather informing, their lives. As a lover of stories and an excellent editor I help people find stories that heal without bypass or avoidance. It is time to rewrite our collective story and that is why so many of us are called to deep inner work.
Gathering together to “edit” our storylines in safe and meaningful ways is essential to us all so I offer opportunities for this, usually at PrayerFarm which is our home, my workspace and a lovely sanctuary of beauty and respite just outside of town.
Lexi, in your career you have worked in both public and private sectors—how has this influenced your perspective and work?
Yes, all of my professional life I have moved back and forth between the seemingly disparate arenas of public and private service. As a teacher in small private schools and as a homeschooling mother I loved what I was able to do without the rules and regulations of standardized testing and curriculums but ended up serving a limited population. In the public school setting and later at Jackson County Mental Health, it was meaningful to work with the diverse and underserved population… I actually changed careers after a year of teaching kindergarten at Phoenix elementary where I sometimes ended up having almost as many parents in the classroom as children—it struck me that most of us need a kindergarten re-do—a profoundly safe place to learn to play with each other, resolve conflict without leaving bruises, make big messes and grow the patience to clean them up. I figured I could have a greater impact if I worked with parents, so I went to graduate school for Counseling Psychology (and while I was at it, I did a second major in Group Facilitation).
As a counselor I talk a lot about kindergarten because it is also where we begin to form our wider, more relational sense of self—how did we get attention, were we naughty or nice, what if we were sensitive or introverted…what if our classroom didn’t feel safe, what if our teacher didn’t like us, what if we struggled with things others seemed to do easily? We all have stories from this time that are deeply a part of our identities, many of which we’ve probably forgotten… but not really, as these stories about ourselves may still be guiding our actions and experiences. So, in many ways, I am still a teacher; I offer safe places to do the work of being human, the work of being hyper-relational creatures, and the work of learning to stop playing nice by learning to play kind.
What do you mean when you say that we are hyper-relational?
Isn’t that an interesting term? The last 15 years have been a truly amazing time in the field of psychology and the study of the human brain. We are hyper-relational—past infancy we cannot develop correctly without each other. And, if we have partial presence, as has become more and more frequent in our busy and fragmented lives, we see characteristics emerge that look a lot like brain damage. As I see it, in this under-connected time in human history we are all a little brain damaged.
The challenges of teenagers who were at their relational peak during the pandemic is a recent example—most of us know a young adult or teenager struggling with anxiety, depression, and or social anxiety and it’s not just teens. These symptoms are becoming chronic and “normal.” I know this sounds negative but now I want to say, to a large extent, this is repairable. While we know we need to take care of our bodies with proper nutrition and movement, we are still catching on to practices which affect the brain, the nervous system, and the heart. One of the amazingnesses about humans is that we are capable of immense growth and change throughout our entire lives. The tools I use to work with anxiety, depression, and overwhelm are practices that create flexibility in the mind which increases resiliency which leads to an increased sense of wellbeing.
Lexi, you also have a private practice. Who are you best suited to work with and what makes you good at what you do?
Whether you are wanting to reflect upon and clear up pieces from the past, learn skills to be more present in your life as it is, or set goals and dream yourself into a desired future; whether is it you alone, “we” in a relationship, or many in a family system, I provide a clear, compassionate and truth-finding space for learning, growing, and embodying wholeness.
I am a family worker and support adults in every life phase—even if you are solo and have not lived in a family for 30 years, it’s still a jump off point for one’s essential work. I have become an expert on family life because I have devoted my life to it both personally and professionally. I have sought out and learned the most efficient and potent tools I could find for over 30 years—I love science, I love research, I also love tools that are out-of-the-box AND truly effective.* Finally, I practice what I preach and collaborate with and learn from brilliant colleagues, teachers and mentors and stay connected to meaningful learning communities as a lifestyle choice.
*This is why Family Systems Constellation Work is central to the work I do. The systems we are oriented to–our original place of belonging—have lifelong impact on who and how we are and this goes beyond psychology and into physiology—what lives in our bodies and cells has profound impact on who and how we are—this is why somatic work; body centered work, is at the forefront—it’s what works.
Lexi, you write a column in the LocalsGuide and in your monthly newsletter called Tiny Habits. Please say more.
Tiny Habits are small things people can typically complete in 30 to 90 seconds. Tiny Habits encourage us towards greater presence by creating system re-sets throughout the day. They can be done while buckling a seatbelt, washing hands or drinking water—changing our minds requires changing our habits and what the research tells us is that frequent repetitive actions can be as effective as the hours of meditation most people never quite get to… Practices work—if we do them—I’m hopeful that even the busiest of people can find 30 seconds a few times a day.
Lexi, all of my questions about community building lead directly to the program you facilitate—MatrixWalk. What is the Matrix Walk, how does it work and when will it occur?
MatrixWalk is a potent synthesis of tools, practices, and modalities supporting our personal and collective unfoldment. It is purposefully set over a 9-month period—the time it takes to grow a new life. Together we will cultivate the human qualities of depth, perception and discernment that may be dormant or unrefined. Moving from being in personal exploration of our inner landscape to recognizing that all territories; inner and outer, are shared between us is essential and important work—let’s do it together.
MatrixWalk 2023/24 is comprised of 3 weekends, November 10-12, March 22-24 and August 2-4 @PrayerFarm and then monthly and weekly gatherings—some of which can be participated in online—if interested in more information, jump on my website for a full description of the program.
Another way to get a feel for MatrixWalk and your work in general is to hear from current and former participants and clients:
“MatrixWalk has been one of the most important and profound experiences of my life. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking to see themselves and others with more compassion and clarity. Group work has helped me see that vulnerability is an opening and place of wisdom, not a fragility or inadequacy.” -Katie
“Lexi weaves together spiritual, poetic, and psychological insight without ever preaching about right or wrong. She is a model of spiritual leadership. Lexi does preach the gospel, the Good News of what connects us as humans.” -Tom
“Being in Lexi’s clear and loving presence gave me the tools and courage to reclaim my own essence. Old wounds have been transformed into creative promise. Lexi’s grace, strength and fierceness of heart is a true gift. I have never felt so held.” -Ann
“I have been doing healing work for over 30 years and on four continents. I have found Family Constellation Work to be one of the most cost effective and efficient healing modalities out there and Lexi brings her wisdom, experience, and skills to this work at a very high level. I highly recommended Lexi’s work—you will be in exceptional hands.” -Ken
“Lexi’s ability to illuminate and detangle complex dynamics has provided invaluable support for our marriage. We began working with her at a time when separation was a very real possibility. Our relationship has now stabilized and is continuing to deepen. Though marriage still provides challenges, we are both much more equipped to navigate them after working with her. Lexi provides very doable practices to support our relationship as well as insight into what is outside of our consciousness that impacts our relationship. We HIGHLY recommend her work.” -Still together, S and S
Lexi, thanks so much for this great conversation. Do you have any last thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?
Yes, my call to us each and all is to regularly be with others in meaningful ways: volunteer, circle up, join a club, or book group, attend a dance or a talk… or join MatrixWalk where you can work with your greatest challenges and joys and serve others in working with theirs.
I typically have shared childcare available for events so parents can join and bring their children. I am committed to access for anyone interested in my work regardless of ability to pay and do creative exchanges when and where I can.
Check out my website alexisalma.com and Instagram @ school_of_the_new_work
I send out a monthly newsletter filled with practices, short writings and upcoming events and offerings-go to alexisalma.com to sign up.
Finally, if you are curious about MatrixWalk or working with me, send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a 15-minute chat.