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  • brookeperlhalpern

Kiva? What's that you say?

Updated: Oct 3, 2019

Kiva was my protector, my friend and the first best decision I ever made. I visited her for the first time at the Anti-Cruelty Society on LaSalle and fell in love with the fluffy brown and white dog that the shelter called “Tia.” My Aunt had passed two years prior after a long battle with breast cancer, and I thought it was meaningful that my pup was called Tia. I returned the next afternoon and adopted my new pup, who was about 8 months old. I wanted to name her something that sounded similar to Tia and looked at two syllable names ending in A. That is where I discovered Kiva. There are multiple meanings, but I first read that it was a variant of the Hebrew name Akiva, meaning “protect or shelter.” And those who met Kiva, can vouch for the fact that she was my fierce and loyal protector.


The beautiful thing about the word “Kiva” is it also refers to a sacred partially underground space that was used for rituals by the Pueblos.


I was a lawyer at the time, living on my own in Chicago and working long hours at a corporate law firm, contemplating what It was I wanted out of life as it was becoming evident that the path I was walking at the time both personally and professionally was falling far short of making me happy. Virtually every person told me not to get a dog because I was too busy and it would add too much responsibility to a single person with a busy job. Rationally they were right. And yet I was sick of living my life based on what was the “right” thing to do. When I followed my head and ignored my heart, it always seemed to lead me toward unfulfilling and isolating places. My emotions seemed to be sick of being kept quiet and so they spoke up loud enough to have a say in the decision to bring Kiva home. And that was the first best decision I made. Finding a happy medium between my head and my heart lead to greater and greater decisions as time went on.

So 12 years later when I was thinking of opening my own practice, I struggled to find the right name. Kiva died the year prior and her loss was a heavy one that took a lot of space. And her name kept coming back to me as an option. Rationally it seemed a little silly, but it felt right and so I went with it. And when I looked deeper into the word Kiva, it all felt meant to be.

The beautiful thing about the word “Kiva” is it also refers to a sacred partially underground space that was used for rituals by the Pueblos. It seems so fitting for the work that is done in therapy. The Kiva’s design allows for the presence of light in dark space, and for fresh air to come in to the underground or cave where it was built. If I wanted to describe what happens in the therapy room, I could think of no better way than to use the metaphor of the Kiva. The therapeutic space is truly one where truths are uncovered as the light comes into the dark. Where healing occurs as the fresh air can seep its way into feelings, thoughts and experiences that are keeping people stuck. It truly can feel like a sacred, safe and special space for clients.

And it is ironic that my puppy Kiva, was in many ways my Kiva. The choice made to bring her home allowed me to build some confidence in following my inner voice so I could also grow and become unstuck in many ways.

So whether it is therapy, a special space, or even a dog, I hope you find your metaphorical (or actual) Kiva to propel you to whatever is waiting for you.


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