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Goodness one needs a degree to set up a website. Well, at least this “one” does. Please sit tight while I bumble through creating a site with coherent flow, content and functionality that may be helpful to you on your journey as I articulate my own. (Actually feel free to get up and walk around, grab a snack, have a few sleeps…who knows how long this is going to take to set up.)

Who am I?

My name is Valerie Livesay.  Not so long ago, I left my job as full-time faculty teaching in a graduate program in organizational leadership at a university. I left my job…to attempt to be.  To sink into not doing (doing being a favorite compulsion of mine).  To find myself anew.  To shed the many parts of my identity that I had spent a lifetime creating; the parts that had been created on my behalf; the parts that had certainly served me well to that point.  And, to see if I could still be loved…by myself…by others.  This was to be a year-long sabbatical.  A time during which I let go of my professional roles, let go of many of my personal affiliations, released myself (pried myself!) from the habits of my life, in order to let come. In order to surrender to myself.  In order to be able to hear what my heart desired. It took a while for me to get there, but eventually I found myself turning inward without much desire at all to turn outward. I settled into my cocoon.  I loved snuzzling into its compact, insular, warm, fuzziness.  I felt I might finally be figuring out how to be

Then, COVID-19.

I study human development; specifically, adult development; specifically, fallback in adult development.  Fallback is the complete loss of options, of capacity, of access to feel, to behave, to think at the developmental level which you are ideally capable. You may consider fallback your small self…a departure from your Big Self. 

As the world is being forced to isolate, I feel called to emerge from my self-imposed, self-created isolation…in order to share the things that I know, the things that I think that I know, and the myriad things that I am sure that I do not know.  I’ll admit that I was too much in the throes of my own fallback…and the coziness of my cocoon…to notice the calling myself.  It took me literally being called by a friend and colleague telling me that he thought my research and practice might be super-helpful to some people right about now and how about I come on out to share it.  He was right.  How could I say no?

So, “who am I?” is an active question for me.  Who is the world calling for me to be? What makes my soul sing?  I’m only beginning to experiment with it.  It may still be experimenting with me.  But, I have made a decision. I extend a wing outside of my cocoon to you.  I invite you to discover with me the stranger I am becoming*. My hope is that you will come to know yourself more truly, too.

*David Whyte, Consolations: The solace, nourishment and underlying meaning of everyday words


As anyone who knows me knows, I always have lots to say. And, when I say it through writing, I often learn more about what I truly think and feel…who I truly am. Musings forthcoming.

Toppling the Facade of Perfection

Growing up, I loved my dad madly.  I thought he was the best human around. He seemed to me to have endless knowledge about every subject. He held the bar for what it meant to live by an uncompromisable moral standard.  He was kind and compassionate. And, he was exacting in his expectations of others, …

Eleanor Rigby

Two weeks ago, I emailed a friend.  I wrote, “At this moment (and this could easily shift in the next moment), I seem to be settling in to acceptance of this…as it is.  It feels less of a struggle…less of a longing for what comes next.”  One-hundred moments later, I sat with Sloane trying to …

From Fallback to Spring Forward: Bringing our better selves in times of complexity

It’s time to get into some theory! (She writes with geekiness oozing through the screen.) Truly, I do love me some theory. And, some research. Yet, I’ve grown disenchanted with writing it up in awkward third-person narrative for only the people who have access to academic databases and peer-reviewed journals to read. Let’s get it …

External Trappings


I have spent most of my life in the classroom, on one side of the podium or the other. I’m most at home when playing in the space of research, facilitation and practice in the company of others willing to co-create and push up against the edges of the learning environment. My research and writing endeavors focus on individuals navigating what it means to be human…and the growing and shedding inherent in that process. Most recently, I was full-time faculty teaching in an organizational leadership graduate program. In my past professional life, I was an administrator in and consultant to nonprofit organizations primarily in the fields of healthcare and higher education, working in the space of leadership and team development, strategic planning, and various aspects of nonprofit governance and fund development. Currently, I’m writing a book on fallback in human development (Fallbook ;-)) and trying to figure out who I want to be when I grow up. My husband and I live in Southern California with our two children who serve as the biggest reflection of my own fluid development.