alfreddepew

Posts Tagged ‘Inner Work’

Studio notes: a painting dream

In Abstract painting, Dreams, Inner Work, Painting, Relationship with Self on May 18, 2013 at 6:04 am
Alfred DePew, acrylic on paper, 2007

Alfred DePew, acrylic on paper, 2007

In the dream, I sit in front of a large painting of two irregular rectangular shapes. The painting was begun by someone else and appears to have been abandoned. The shape on the left is a reddish mauve. The one on the right is a cerulean blue, lighter than the form on the right. And on its inside edge is a swipe of white that has picked up the blue underneath.

I keep looking at the space between the forms and this interesting edge, until I feel nearly ready to resume work on the painting.

When I look again, I see that a student has painted over the rectangular shapes with burnt umber and yellow ochre. The top part of the canvas is full of a loopy script.

I see that she’s working very fast, moving from this painting to two smaller canvases and back again.

I’m shocked and disappointed.

I had wanted to go into the painting and work on it myself, but it was her painting all along.

I want to tell her to slow down, sit back, and look for a while.

I ask her to imagine a story about a woman and a painting or a narrative from the painting’s point of view. I invite her to write several versions and discover what happens in each.

I wonder what it would be like if in one version, all of a sudden she encountered a magic animal that asked her a question.

When I wake up, I wonder why I am so interested in the original painting and so intent upon working on it myself.

And why does it seem so important to me that the student slow down, stop, and just look? Advice I myself have been given by every painting teacher I’ve ever had.

And what am I hoping we will discover by telling stories about the painting?

And if it were my story of the painting and I encountered a magic animal, what would that animal be?

And what would it ask me?

In Flu, Illness, Influenza, Inner Work, Relationship with Self, resilience on May 18, 2013 at 5:54 am
Illustration from the pulp magazine Weird Tales (October 1936). Source: Wikimedia Commons

Illustration from the pulp magazine Weird Tales (October 1936). Source: Wikimedia Commons

Influenza, a musical word, like belladonna. Beguiling and as full of deadly potential.

Flu is the thing we hope to avoid each winter, and whose vaccine we either get or don’t depending upon our opinions.

Shot or no shot, it can infect us—carried by the air we breathe, the objects we touch, the hands we shake.

It is ubiquitous. Like fear. With a mind and life of its own.

And despite my best intentions and massive doses of Vitamin C, it takes me down in January. Stealthily at first. And then with real insistence, it grabs me like a thief and hisses, “Don’t mess with me.”

I’ve heard it can last from three to six weeks—lingering. It can turn into whooping cough or pneumonia. It claims lives.

So I cancel everything that will require my leaving the house for two weeks, including a business trip back East.

And I go back to bed. I surrender to days of fevered delirium, fitful sleep, and waking dreams—nightmares mostly—of my life in various stages of collapse.

The flu as metaphor.

The flu as signifier.

The flu bearing news that I can hear in no other way.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Is that it?

Have I been wrestled to the ground by an angel?

I leave one of the window blinds open each night so that I can look out from time to time and see lights in other buildings, other people awake at three and four in the morning.

I manage to conduct interviews and post two stories about the Egyptian revolution on its second anniversary.

Disillusionment. Uncertainty. Exhaustion.

I ache all over.

I can find no comfortable position other than standing in a hot shower. When I lie on either side or on my back or sit in a chair, fiery tendrils radiate out of my tailbone and down my legs.

I read online that back pain is not unusual with the flu—something about the virus enflaming the nerves. I can’t sleep. The Tylenol I’ve been taking is two years past the expiry date and does no good.

I call the nurse’s line and find out that’s the wrong thing to take in the first place. What I need is an anti-inflammatory. My nerve endings are in flames.

So this is what it is to go viral.

St. Vitus’ Dance.

Suddenly I think I understand the experience of the chronically ill who have surrounded me all my life. So this is what they went through. A tease. The swing from feeling “better” to “this will never end.” Dying would be a relief. Abandoned by my own body. Cut loose. Afloat.

What does one pray for in moments like these?

Deliverance? Peace?

“I no longer believe in a peaceful revolution,” writes a friend from Cairo.

Off the record.

Speak the unspeakable, something in me keeps saying. Tell the truth.

I post both stories about the Egyptian revolution.

I cancel a radio appearance on the East Coast.

The pain subsides thanks to Advil, and I can sleep again.

I dream of a wall of pinpoints—each one opens into a hopeless story. Each story says: if you don’t do it perfectly, you die. Then one opens into a story set in Lapland that says the key to survival is staying connected.

I am delusional if I think I know anything about chronic illness. I have suffered three maybe four days. I know people who have lived like this for years.

The fever breaks. I am giddy with relief.

I know what I have to do: resign all my various jobs and read poetry. I must claim the life I have left. Claim at least two days a week in the studio—one day painting, one day writing.

I don’t want to feel like my old self again. I want to remember what I’ve learned these past few days in bed—about letting go—of all of it.

About freedom. Authority.

The fever breaks, and I wake up in a T-shirt drenched with sweat, feeling clammy.

It’s as if the room has been stripped bare and I must choose what I will put back in it, one object at a time.

I wake up, curious and bemused. Slowly, cautiously, I enter something I will one day call my new life because the old way of being has already disappeared.

James Hillman: Jungian, iconoclast, philosopher and wizard

In Inner Work, James Hillman obituary, Jungian pyschology, Men's movement, Realtionship on November 6, 2011 at 11:47 pm

by Alfred DePew

(Reprinted from the Vancouver Observer)

Its imperiousness, its shameless elitism—the very things we love to love about the New York Times can just as often make me spitting mad. And this time it’s the NYT’s obituary of James Hillman, which calls him “a charismatic therapist and best-selling author whose theories about the psyche helped revive interest in the ideas of Carl Jung, animating the so-called men’s movement in the 1990s and stirring the pop-cultural air.”

So-called men’s movement? Stirring the pop-cultural air?

Am I over-reacting, or does that sound snarky?

And who am I—a pipsqueak journalist, from western Canada, no less—to argue with the Gray Lady?

In my view, James Hillman was among the most important American thinkers of the second half of the Twentieth Century. So there! He was a Jungian analyst, theorist, philosopher, author, mentor, mystic, lecturer, visionary, and enthusiastic gadfly. By turns brilliant and obscure, his presence in the lecture hall is hard to describe.

You just had to be there. And I was, on two occasions.

The first was a retreat in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his co-conspirators poet Robert Bly and storyteller Michael Meade. 700 men gathered for two and a half days to unfold “The Water of Life,” one of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I had just returned from my first trip to Russia, so I think this must have been in the late spring of 1990, which felt important to me because I had been deeply in the archetype of Mother Russia (an archetype whose fierceness survived the Soviet years) and now I was surrounded by men embodying a German story. And in both cases, I wasn’t really sure what the hell I was doing there.

I was very uncomfortable. That much was clear to me.

And I knew something important was going on—in and around me—though I’m still hard-pressed to say exactly what. A felt sense of something in me opening or arising. A gathering of men around me (something I quite simply could not have imagined possible, much less desirable). A deep dreaming and a simultaneous awakening.

I experienced the luminosity of my imaginal world and its connection to history, legend, and the present moment.

Heavy stuff, eh? But you have to understand how hard we all laughed at ourselves and the world, even as we were in awe of the story itself. Even as we were in deep grief. Even in outrage, there was a line of pure zaniness in the men. On stage and all around the auditorium.

See what I mean? You had to be there.

The thing I remember most vividly about James Hillman is how he’d get carried away by his own thinking. A true flight of fancy. Until Bly or Meade would shout something like, “Come back to earth, you pedantic old fool,” and rein him back in.

Which gave rise to a spontaneous insult-hurling competition, each insult longer and more bodacious than the one before, until everyone was laughing so hard, it was almost impossible to tell who won.

A few years later, I drove up to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, to hear Hillman lecture for two hours on the colour blue.

Don’t ask me what he said. I have no idea. And yet it was one of the more memorable talks I’ve ever heard. It was the atmosphere he created, the quality of feeling, the wide range of thought and association. Charged, pyrotechnic, astonishing every bit as much for the thoughts and feelings his talk engendered in us, as the line of thought he was following in himself at the moment.

Indeed James Hillman seems the very incarnation of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s idea of “Man Thinking” described in his 1837 address “The American Scholar.”

“Him … the past instructs; him the future invites,” writes Emerson.

“The office of the scholar is to cheer, to raise, and to guide men by showing them facts amidst appearances. He plies the slow, unhonored, and unpaid task of observation.”

And elsewhere in the essay:

“Free should the scholar be, – free and brave. Free even to the definition of freedom, ‘without any hindrance that does not arise out of his own constitution.’ Brave; for fear is a thing, which a scholar by his very function puts behind him.”

Fearless, James Hillman certainly was, and irreverent when it came to his own profession, as evidenced by the book he co-authored with Michael Ventura: We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy—and the World’s Getting Worse.

When it came to myth, imagination, and the resilience of the human psyche, however, Hillman was in deep and respectful wonder.

A wonder he was able to instill in us all.

One Million Pounds of Fish

In Ecology, Work, World Work on October 24, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Chris Causey

Guest Post by Chris Causey, a professional mediator in Portland, Maine.

It is hard for me to imagine a world without fish.  I wish I could say that statement was linked to some scientific truth or recent data supporting the incalculable bounty of marine life but neither is true.  In fact we all know the seas are in trouble.  My relationship with fish and the sea itself has more to do with the nature of my imagination—the nature of my very soul, which is a watery place inhabited by sea creatures.  As a boy, I both loved whales and imagined I worked on tall ships hunting them.  At once I read about and studied various types of whales and also kept paintings of 19th century whaling scenes–gory scenes of men harpooning whales from open boats.  It was probably no mistake that in my young manhood, I worked as a commercial fisherman in Kodiak, Alaska–fished for six years and made my living as a deckhand on salmon, halibut, herring, crab and trawl boats.  I don’t know how many fish I contributed to killing, but I do know how exhilarated I was to participate in the hunt, the acquisition and the kill of those fish and crab.

Yet, even as I worked and made my livelihood on these boats, I related to the sea and its inhabitants in other ways, too.  The sight of porpoise dancing beneath our bow or a gray whale breaching in the distance used to fill my heart with such gladness, it’s hard to describe without sounding foolish or daft.  Once, when working on a salmon seiner, I watched two sea otters mating in some drifting bull kelp in the early morning, and was nearly beside myself.  They sort of rolled around, and I thought at first they were wrestling, then I saw the male’s piston thrust, the female’s smiling face, all in the rising and falling waves near the rocky shore, and I couldn’t help laughing.  I wished that I could turn to the multitudes and say, look at them making more otters–isn’t that the greatest thing you’ve ever seen in your life?  Any time something from below showed itself on the surface, whether shark, seal, or jumping salmon, my heart leapt for reasons I cannot entirely express.

So the idea that somehow the oceans are becoming sterile means for me, a loss that reaches to the very depths of my experience as a human being and a loss that transcends human experience.  Although I no longer make my living from the sea, my soul, my imagination and the oceans are somehow inextricably linked.  My shore for where the human meets the non-human is literally and figuratively where the sea meets the land.  It has taken me a long time to realize that what’s down there beneath the waves is both me and way beyond me, and for that, its remaining rich, fertile, diverse, and thriving is a calling of the highest order.

Recently I returned to Kodiak for a short visit.  There I met a man and his son, also visiting, who were looking for a place to spend the night.  I shared my accommodations, and the man, call him Tim, told me about his former work as a boat captain in the Bering Sea.  Now the vice president of a software company, he was then one of the first captains to explore the cod fishery in the western Aleutians.  He said he convinced a fish processing company to have one of its processing ships follow his boat, and there was a lot of risk in that, not knowing whether there were any fish out there or not.  One day, as the cod were schooled to spawn in Nazan Bay off Atka Island, he caught a million pounds.  One day.  He said he had to drag a net full of codfish behind his boat through the treacherous Amlia pass to the processor because the processor’s captain would not take the vessel through the pass to meet him.  He also said it was the eeriest day he had ever fished.  The Bering sea, which is hardly ever calm, was like poured lead and the comet Hyakutake was in the sky.  He’d seen wind clock at over one hundred and fifty miles per hour, wind that you simply can’t believe is being churned up by nature, but that day the wind and water were so flat it made him suspect something horrible might be coming.   We stood shoulder to shoulder in front of a huge map of Alaska, taped to the wall.  “I plugged the processor,” he said smiling, but without pride.  “One million pounds in one day.  There was nothing left for us to do but start back to Seattle.  My deckhands put a charcoal grill on the back deck.  They were bowing to me and saying “not worthy not worthy,” because I had just caught a million pounds and we all had made a ton of money.

The grill was going and that comet was in the sky and I’m feeling about as great as I can feel, looking out at the sea, which can tear you up, and then to top it off, as it grew darker, Korovin Volcano on Atka began erupting just enough to see sparks of orange shooting out of it.”

I knew what it was like to watch a net or a crab put come up from the bottom full of fish, the sense of wonder and acquisition, the absolute jubilation of catching so much fish.  I knew if I were a deckhand on that boat, I would have been bowing with his other deckhands, celebrating, and I know too the sense of loss I felt, knowing that in one day one boat took a million pounds of cod fish from the sea.  I don’t consider my position ambivalent at all.  I am a predator, the most capable of all predators but recognizing too that is a grave responsibility.  I have used the words stewardship and heard it used in many contexts and understand that stewardship for hunters and fisherman cannot be a smokescreen to hide some shadowy need or hidden agenda.  It means recognizing our primordial desire to hunt and fish and take and kill and be absolutely successful doing so and looking at that closely, reconciling our need to prove ourselves and provide with a greater sense of confidence that we need not actually catch or kill the fish and that there is more than a game of chance, drive and desire as the biomass shrinks

In his book, The Gift, Lewis Hyde wrote the following: “Ecology as a science began at the end of the nineteenth century, an offshoot of the rising interest in evolution.  Originally the study of how animals survive in their environments, one of ecology’s first lessons was that, beneath all the change in nature, there are steady states characterized by cycles.  Every participant in the cycle literally lives off the others with only the ultimate energy source, the sun, being transcendent.  Widening the study of ecology to include man means to look at ourselves as part of nature again, not its lord.  When we see that we are actors in natural cycles, we understand that what nature gives to us is influenced by what we give to nature.  So the circle is a sign of an ecological insight as much as of gift exchange.  We come to feel ourselves as one part of a large self-regulating system.”

Science is about not knowing and wanting badly to know.  Fishing is about pursuing and wanting badly to acquire.  The two share similar emotions of passion and drive and the limitations of where we are now vs. where we want to be.  The deadliest catch is so popular in part because of mysterious acquisition and part because of what the men on those boats endure as they go after crab, but its flaw is that it is shot produced and shown in order to appeal on a completely human scale.  What is missing is a moral vector, the perspective that includes the non-human and beyond human, the awe and humility and veneration owed to nature because it is our source not only to what we know, but to what lies beyond our knowing.

When asked if he were a religious man, Albert Einstein answered as follows:  “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that behind all the discernible laws & connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable.  Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.  To that extent, I am in fact, religious.”

My concern lies somewhere at the heart of what Lewis Hyde and Albert Einstein are intimating.  We are part of something, not lord of it, and our connection to this something (nature) is also our connection to all the mystery that lies behind it.  It includes hunting, taking, and killing and acquiring, but it also includes relating in a way that guards against arrogance, mindless consumption and exploitation.  Otherwise the watery part of the human soul is apt to become dry and brittle.

For more information about Chris Causey and his work, visit: http://causeymediations.com/about-chris-causey/

Becoming Still (Reprinted from the Vancouver Observer)

In Inner Work, Peace, Relationship with Self, Spiritual Practice, World Work on January 4, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Let’s just say it’s not at the top of my agenda most days, which is why at Christmas I usually choose to make a retreat.

Chances are, if I had a regular sitting meditation practice, I wouldn’t need to take such drastic measures: booking the retreat, explaining to friends and business associates why I won’t be at their Christmas parties again this year, taking a bus to the ferry, the ferry to Vancouver Island, and a taxi to the retreat centre.

That’s the easy part. The hard part is living in my own skin for four days without the distractions I keep saying I want to escape.

Once they are nowhere to be found, distractions seem like a mighty good idea.

Who wants to face one’s failures and shortcomings? Who wants to face one’s loneliness and cravings?

And who the hell wants to listen to what goes on inside my head?

I sure don’t. And yet that’s exactly what I am faced with in the early stages of any retreat I make. To a certain extent, that’s the whole purpose. The aim is to get beyond the “monkey mind.” My fear is always that it’s nothing but monkeys as far as the mind can see. Experience has taught me that I can get beyond them, but not without going through a considerable amount of chatter.

So far, I haven’t found any short cuts.

I was trained in the retreat process by Sufis. Once—sometimes two or three times—a year, I would drive to a small centre in southern New Hampshire and sit in a tiny hut from three to fourteen days of silence. My guide would give me various spiritual practices when she came to sit with me each morning. And in the evening, she would leave a hot meal outside my door.

The retreat process is analogous to alchemy, the practice of turning lead into gold. Unhappily, it involves a lot of burning, melting and putrefaction along the way.

Not everyone’s idea of a good time. In fact I was sure I had gone stark raving mad my first time out. And I had. That was what I needed to get through before I could find anything akin to peace of mind.

This is the point at which many say the real retreat begins.

Not for me. My retreat starts shortly after I make the intention and finalize the travel plans. I’m eager, and then resistance sets in. I’m suddenly convinced that this is not the right time. My business needs attention. What about Christmas cards? You might meet someone important at one of those parties, you know. They’re going to stop inviting you if you keep refusing.

Then I encounter everything in my life that is out of whack—a sneak preview of what I will be alone with at the outset. The theme. Then I stay up late the night before I leave, trying to get everything done. (O! Human Folly!) Then I’m up in the morning, drinking coffee, then running for the bus, having forgotten to bring along the phone number of the cab company in Nanaimo. But I get there—somehow I always get there—and I begin to settle in.

It’s lovely at first. I usually start out with a nap. And then a long walk or some basic practices before the first meal break. It’s as if my mind wants to let me believe it’s going to behave itself this time and not interrupt the proceedings. Ha! Just another ploy, so it can jump out and get me when I’m not looking. I’m much easier with it than I was when I started. The mind does what it does—distracts, bedevils, tells itself bad stories, worries, and comes up with great ideas like smoking a cigar or sneaking out for ice cream. It’s a wild ride until the mind is also brought in line with the breath and the heart. And it always takes time.

Whether I intend it or not, an examination of conscience begins. Years ago, one of my Sufi guides gave me a short form—three questions. Where am I not right with myself? Where am I not right with others? And where am I not right with God? “Right” here is used in the sense of right relationship, not right vs. wrong. No matter how much experience I have with this, it’s always agonizing—and humbling. An act of radical acceptance. And essential if I am to gain any peace at all.

Peace begins with glimmers—something I read, perhaps, or after I weep. On a walk. Sitting on a stone above the lake. The silence itself is what brings it about. That’s what I’ve come here to find.

Peace is like a pulse that gets stronger as fear and resentment and worry loosen their grip.

And I remember the verse from the 46th Psalm: “Be still and know that I am God.”

On Christmas Eve, I step outside and watch the moon growing fuller. I’m aware of waiting in a vast silence, the way that I imagine Mary waited to give birth to something beyond all comprehension.

And as I stand there, looking up, there is nothing more to think or plan. In that moment, all the words fall away, and I am surrounded by blessing.

Eldership Circles (reprinted from the Vancouver Observer)

In communities, Realtionship, World Work on January 2, 2010 at 9:00 pm

As supportive as her women’s group has been over the years, Vicki McLeod felt a need to extend her personal work into her professional life—and beyond. She also noticed that many of her colleagues and clients “were doing everything their MBAs taught them and the consultants told them, and it still wasn’t happening—things weren’t changing. Something else was needed.”

So McLeod, a local communications consultant and coach, started an Eldership Circle.

“I realized that if I was going to hold a space for change, I needed a place where I could do my inner work and be fully supported to take it out into the world. So I decided to put out a call.”

The group’s purpose is to create a space where women can help each other in “overcoming personal barriers and prejudices, [creating] conscious awareness of rank and privilege, and resolving inner conflict—all necessary to … heal our communities.” The circle is meant to go beyond personal growth and always points to service. It’s a place where personal development and social consciousness meet.

“To want to change the world is scary. One is subject to doubt and maybe even ridicule. So the Eldership Circle helps people to explore their own edges, get clarity about goals and purpose and hold space for the collective mind to emerge. There’s magic in a circle.”

And who answered the call?

Women who were “willing to stand in wisdom and fierceness to facilitate change,” says McLeod. Women in search of role models and mentorship. “Kick-ass, loving women,” as one member of the circle puts it, intent on charting new territory.

“Spiritual warriors,” says another.

“It’s hard work,” says McLeod, “particularly in dealing with system conflicts. And yet conflict is very often at the core of deep change and can offer incredible wisdom.”

What the women in the Eldership Circle seek and find in each other is, in the words of a third member, “Authenticity, friendship. Laughter. Joy. Connection. A group that will hold me to my highest self when the road gets rocky and bring me back to [my purpose] if I get lost in the mud.”

“Eldership is really about looking at transformational change through the lens of how it can impact the greater whole,” says McLeod.

“Elders ask: what does this mean for the world? If I’m suddenly afraid to speak in front of the group—that is a process for me. It may be present in the group, and it may be present in the World. We are all afraid to speak. How, then, might my crossing that edge make it possible for the World to cross that edge too?”

What is the difference between leaders and elders?

The way McLeod sees it, “leadership is often about having followers. Leaders set a direction.” Elders, on the other hand, “have faith that a direction will emerge.”

It sounds a bit like walking in the dark.

“It’s a lot like that,” says Vicki, laughing.

What, then, would be the most useful relationship between leaders and elders?

“Ideally” says McLeod, “leaders would access the wisdom of elders and eventually become elders themselves.”

This means that elders must be present and in conversation with leaders, which is not always the case today. In fact, some maintain that elders have disappeared over the last few decades into retirement communities and assisted living facilities. We do not have much access to elders. McLeod says that eldership was not really obvious in her world. Both her grandmothers died before she was 20.

“The notion of eldership circles is ancient—the bringing together of the collective wisdom of a group or tribe in service of the greater whole has been around, I would venture, as long as humanity. Certainly, aboriginal cultures consider eldership as a key component of social and community functioning.”

McLeod doesn’t want the circle to be seen as an exclusive enclave for professional women. She wants Eldership Circles to be open to anyone who feels called.

“I would love to see more circles grow, more individuals stepping into Eldership and offering their wisdom to the world. I would especially love to see men’s circles get started—or mixed circles. One of the principles of eldership is embracing diversity.

“I started my circle where I am—a middle-aged, middle-class white woman. So my circle is largely composed of the same.

“My intention for Eldership Circles is very clear. There are no fees for them, and anyone is free to create a circle and use the resources on my website to get started. While this is part of my life’s work, it is not the way I make my living. It is a contribution I want to make to the world, and then I hope that the circles will grow and become self-sustaining and self-spawning.

“It really has nothing to do with me.”

For more information about Vicki McLeod and the Eldership Circles, visit her website:

http://www.vickimcleod.com/world-work/eldership

What are You and Money doing together this Holiday?

In Dialogue, Realtionship, Uncategorized on November 26, 2009 at 8:49 pm

A Guest Post by Shell Tain, PCC, CPCC

So, what do we do with Money over the Holidays?  Most of us use it and ignore it at the same time.  We spend it with the idea that we will catch up with it in January.  Actually it’s more like April, because it takes that long for many people to catch up with, or recover from, their holiday spending.

At the very least it seems we put our money thinking on hold.  And yet, what do we expect from Money during December?  We expect it to be there.  We expect it to stretch to meet our needs and desires.  We expect it to magically appear.  And we expect it to do all this cheerfully.  Hmmm.

Remember that thing about how we are going to be in relationship with Money all our lives?  Remember the question: “If we knew we were going to be in relationship with a person forever, how would we want that relationship to be.” I’m guessing that we wouldn’t expect anyone we were in relationship with to do what we expect of Money over the Holidays.

So, what might Money want?  What’s on Money’s wish list? You’ll have to ask your Money to find out.  (Yes, talking to your Money is a good thing.)

Here’s what I think Money will say to you.  I think it wants what everyone really and truly wants.  It wants your time and attention.  It wants to have a shared experience of deep caring with you.  Well, isn’t that what we want from our loved ones?  Stuff comes and stuff goes, and, frankly, it’s very few presents that make a lasting impression.  What we want is positive time together.  Money wants some of your time and attention.  It might even want your acknowledgment and appreciation for the frenzy you put it through during the holidays.

Wait!  Money as a loved one?  That may be throwing your off, but think about it.  Money is there, in your life, day in and day out, just like family.  Sometimes Money doesn’t give us everything we want, but then, neither does family.  Sometimes we have to work really hard to keep things going with Money, the same as with family.  Sometimes Money seems to let us down, just as family does.  And sometimes, Money really comes through and helps us, just like family.

Money will be with you longer than family.  You will interact with Money every day.  What’s the relationship you want?  What’s the relationship Money is asking you for?

Oh, and again, just like family, Money has some obstacles in communicating with you, doesn’t it?  It can’t talk to you; it has to get your attention in other ways.  What if you tried to notice what it might be trying to say?   What might that bounced check be saying?  What might the pile of unopened bills be saying?  And what might the money that unexpectedly lands in your lap be saying to you?

So check in with your Money and see what its wish list looks like for this holiday season.  Can you possibly fit in giving Money a bit of what it wants now, and during the coming year?

Shell Tain is credentialed professional certified coach, a money coach who knows how to help people make changes.   As an Accountant/Controller for more many years, Shell gained first hand money experience in everything from “start-ups” to mid-sized companies.  Her coaching focuses on how your feelings, beliefs and attitudes about money affect your progress in fulfilling your goals.  Working with Shell improves your confidence and effectiveness with money.  Shell takes her clients from the crunch to the “ka-ching.”

Shell Tain, PCC, CPCC

$ensible Coaching

503.258.1630

shell@sensiblecoahing.com

http://www.sensiblecoaching.com/saleitems.htm

On Being Fierce

In couples, Friemdship, Realtionship on August 28, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Invigorating, yes. Skillful? Not yet.

So there I am, feeling the thrill of this new Inner Role, the One Who Claims Things for Himself. I am driving back from seeing friends on the North Shore, a lovely evening. I drive slowly up my street, in search of a parking spot. I see one up ahead, just behind a car that is parking. But wait! The lady stops. She hasn’t left me room. She could pull up. So I honk and wave and urge her to move forward. She does, but only a tiny bit. I tap my horn again and motion her forward, and then call out: “Go ahead. Move forward. You have plenty of room.” She is getting out of her car and locking the door. I roll down my window and shout, “MOVE FORWARD!” I notice a rush of heat. I notice I am yelling. She looks at me and says I’m being hysterical. She’s right. I know she’s right, and somehow I cannot stop. I start to back into a space I know is too small. I bump the bumper of the car in back of me. I give up, pull out and screech my tires as I round the corner, looking for a bigger parking space. For quite some time afterwards, I am shaking with anger.

It’s one thing to throw that kind of tantrum when you’re a two year old. It’s quite another when you’re well into middle age and run the risk of a massive coronary or a stroke.

What can I say? Apparently I have a lot to learn about occupying the role of The One Who Claims Things for Himself. What I exhibited wasn’t fierceness at all. It was temper; there’s a difference. And chances are what I had in mind to claim as I was discovering this role a week earlier was something more important than a parking spot. The point is it takes time to learn how to occupy an unfamiliar role skillfully. The one yelling was more like the one who never remembers to ask for what he wants—and so has to take it out on a perfect stranger over a parking space. A dodge. A sidestep.

Where might I invite fierceness into my life in such a way as to not act out in a fit of temper? How might I recognize it in myself and appreciate its proper expression? To call myself forward. To decry real injustice. To engage someone else in an idea that excites me. To say, for example, that I care enough about something to speak up—fiercely.

Inner & Outer Roles

In Realtionship, Uncategorized on August 18, 2009 at 3:24 pm

At the Center for Right Relationship, we talk about Outer and Inner Roles as essential structures in relationship. The former describes an executive function and usually has a job description: CEO, Mother, Piano Tuner. The latter refers to the emotional functions in relationship: nurturer, initiator, peace-maker.

Recently I was doing some work around my own Inner Roles with a colleague. At supper, I’d described a way in which I am always accommodating in relationship. This is so natural to me, I rarely notice it is happening, until I begin to feel ripped off somehow, as though I never quite get my turn. It simply doesn’t occur to me to say what I want or even voice my opinion about a matter until so much tension has built up inside that I’m making a speech with wild gestures in the restaurant. Sometimes on an unrelated topic.

Or I walk away dissatisfied because I never said what was on my mind.

This role can make me tired.

So I began to play with other roles, less familiar to me, and came up with The One Who Claims Things for Himself. The gesture I came up with to express that had me step forward and reach out to grab something in front of me. There was a fierceness about the gesture that I found invigorating.

My colleague had me go back to explore the gesture of accommodation, and I came up with hands moving out from the heart, and then I bowed. When I slowed it down, I discovered a great deal of generosity and honoring in it. Not all bad, this accommodation, but too much too often, and I grow bone weary and resentful.

Then it occurred to me to combine the two gestures: the one of claming and the one of accommodation, and in doing so, I found out something about sinking in to scoop it up (attention, new ideas, acknowledgement) and draw it into my heart. It was out of this new energy that I could then offer to others. A workable compromise.

Some of the people we passed on the way back to my colleague’s hotel gave us curious looks, for I kept sinking and scooping and filling my heart and then opening it to offer the World.

But what of the fierceness that I found so invigorating?

In what way does that want to be given expression in my relationships?

What happens when two parts of your life seem to be at odds?

In Realtionship on August 4, 2009 at 6:49 am

For a time my professional coaching and my writing each seemed to ask me to choose it to the exclusion of the other. I would go back and forth, stealing time from one to serve the other, always feeling I was somehow being unfaithful, as though I had to sneak out on one part myself and meet in secret with another part of myself. Crazy! I know. But there you have it.

I thought I’d got that pretty much worked out some time ago, but something similar cropped up when I started this blog. There seemed to be a split between this blog and a novella I was writing. Both were competing for my time and attention. They were becoming adversaries.

So I took the matter up in my journal and wrote a dialogue between Blog and Novella. It went something like this:

B: “I’m professional.”

N: “Are you suggesting that I’m not?”

B: “Not at all. But I notice that I’m out there with 118 hits and 4 comments, and you seem to be some sort of secret.”

N: “In a way I am secret. I’m interior, intimate, and complex ….”

B: “Relationship is all of those things.”

N: “Yes, but you take the larger view. You’re outside, defining, intellectualizing, and I’m way inside the mind and heart—image and sensation—the body.”

B: “It’s my job to be public.”

N: “And it’s my job to be private, to draw awareness to the light in that Japanese Maple over there, the quality of stillness here in the garden ….”

B: “What’s your point?”

N: “What do you mean by point? Why does everything have to have a point? I’m simply looking, noticing, appreciating ….”

B: “I have nothing against that, but I need a sense of why I should care ….”

N: “You don’t care about the light at sundown in a Japanese Maple?”

B: “I didn’t say that. I said what my job was and asked you what yours was. I’m sorry if I didn’t make myself clear.”

N: “My job? Do I have a job?”

B: “Maybe purpose is a better word. What’s your purpose?”

N: “To make you aware. To get you to feel.”

B: “Forgive me for asking, but why is that important?”

N: “Everything of any importance proceeds from that.”

B: “A viewpoint. An opinion. I see what you’re getting at. My job is to provoke thought that goes in a direction. For example this morning I woke up thinking about khidr, a desert guide in Sufi stories, and how he may be an image of the “relationship itself,” I was talking about last week. Khidr appears to those who are lost and asks that we follow him without question. But in relationship … I don’t know. I like the questioning. I think it’s important.”

N: “I do too. I question everything—the established order, the old aesthetics, the novella form itself, my own heart and mind ….”

“So what’s my point,” you ask? What did I learn? Well, it was interesting to see how these two parts of my life come into alignment through conversation. They were willing to talk and be respectful of one another. They were willing to listen. They have some common ground. They both feel that questioning is important. And something about each one’s role is important here. That they both have an important function.

Honoring that, they have a better chance of letting each other be and get on with their work.

I’ll keep you posted.