heart is the first organ to develop immediately after conception. It is
our first intelligence before the brain evolves. There is research that
the heart entrains the brain rather than the other way around. The
heart is made up of the same kind of neurons that make up the cerebral
system. According to the Institute of Heart Math, “the heart and brain
maintain a continuous two-way dialogue, each influencing the other's
functioning.” Neuro-scientists have come to see that the heart is an
organ of great intelligence beyond it’s capacity to tirelessly and
heroically pump our life blood.
And yet how
often do we consult with our heart? Are children asked- “what is your
heart saying?” What emphasis does school curriculum put on heart
intelligence? And when did we all learn to abandon our hearts, setting
aside it’s deep wisdom for the preferable realm of the intellect? And
going even farther, when did we learn to shun it, to judge it’s
communications to us as sappy, worth belittling, and ignoring?
Perhaps the deep secret is that we are terrified of it and the wide
range of emotions it offers us. Can you imagine a corporation or even a
family saying “Okay, it’s heart time.”? Or a presidential candidate
being asked “How would your heart participate in your leadership?” What
would any kind of peace talk look like if the heart was involved? I
How often do
we bring our attention to this magnificent part of our being instead of
relegating to the back of the bus? When do we create a sacred time and
space for this essential part of us that is too often set aside for
productivity, busy-ness and a distorted sense of survival? Are we
willing to re-connect to that which is a brilliant guide and the very
center of our life force? Are we willing to give ourselves “heart
time”? So much of modern psycho-therapy is analytical, using the mind
to control the heart, instead of finding safe ways to deeply listen to
the heart. Are we willing to take note of all the automatic ways we
protect ourselves and why? Are we willing to be brave enough to take
the road less travelled and dive into the emptiness we fear, the
disappointments we distract from, the losses we won’t lean into? Are we
willing to let our hearts relish in joy and celebration as well, to
experience “Happy” for even a moment? What would the world look like if
the heart didn’t have to be sneaky about it’s voice, and rather was
celebrated as the primary link to ancestral wisdom and our humanness?
How do we protect ourselves,
I was in the car listening to an interview of a young couple in love,
and they shared about how they had come together. The young man
said, “It took awhile before I knew I wouldn’t get
hurt.” I wondered how he knew she wouldn’t hurt him
or he wouldn’t hurt her or himself. I wondered what hurt
meant to him. I wondered if he’d say the same ten years
from now. Fear of getting hurt could have kept him from knowing the
precious moments along the way if he had run away, but lucky for him he
had a “knowing” inside him that said, “She’s
okay. I won’t get hurt.” And he could allow and open to the
relationship. I doubt that he will never feel hurt by her, but he has
moved forward with a brave heart.
and from what?
When you are
young and you explore fire and your hand gets burned, there is, for
most, a decision not to consciously put your hand in the fire again.
You stay away. It is a good thing, no doubt, to learn these things
about the physical world. Maybe the burn leaves a scar, maybe not. If
it does, a scar reminds us, “Careful, you could get burned
But what of
the heart? What does the heart learn through disappointment, loss, and
experiencing the feeling of abandonment, or getting
“burned”? If a lot of these feelings happen at a very
young age and the child does not learn how to hold these experiences,
soothe, discern, and find resiliency, it becomes the beginning of a
very long story that repeats itself again and again. A child may decide
they will never open their heart again because love hurts and they may
grow to be an adult who avoids ever really loving again or being
vulnerable to the possibility of emotional hurt. A child may decide
that love only hurts, yet they want love nonetheless, and will attract
people to confirm that bias. In adult relationships, those who have had
the courage to invest the heart and expose it to the possibility of
challenging moments may find that these inner children from the past
are present in “the back seat” or at the dinner table, and
even in bed.
When I was
about ten years old I heard a sermon entitled “The high cost of
loving.” He shared that he had lost many in his life, his son,
two grandchildren, and many others. And he said that something so
precious as love must have a price. It is not free. I never forgot
that. And I wondered to my young self, how will I have the strength,
the courage to bear the cost of loving, because I long for it so much.
Now I want to tell my ten-year old self, “I still continue to
learn that lesson every day.”
something profound. “Tis better to have loved and lost than never
to have loved at all.” I wonder how he kept that notion present
in his own life.
The good news
is that the heart is a very strong part of our humanness. The heart has
the ability and potential to beat over 3 billion times throughout a
lifetime. Through disappointment and betrayal it keeps on beating. The
heart has a lot of wisdom when we listen to it deeply, in a place
beyond the racket of the mind, and the past hurts. If the un-resourced
child within us shouts its bad advice we cannot listen deeply to what
the heart is truly saying. We must listen to that inner child
with compassion and support, and we can’t let her drive us. The
heart knows beyond past hurts. It knows what it needs and what it
wants, and it knows what is true.
How do you fight?
all fight. We fight when we sense we need to protect
something. What are we protecting? Perhaps we fight for our
pride, our need to be right, our sense of control and autonomy, our
status, our feeling valued, our territory, our perceived security, or
in response to our feeling invisible? We fight to keep things the
way we want them. And life is very rarely exactly what we want, is it?
And since it isn’t, we fight, hoping we can make it so.
Katie says “Defensiveness is the first act of of
war.” Initial aggressiveness is not the first act of war;
it is an assault. And then it is our response to that aggressiveness
that begins the war.
how do we fight? I know I have a whole arsenal. Some ways
are blatant like yelling and blaming, only in the privacy of my nearest
and dearest of course! I am letting my uglies out, so here goes!
Maybe sometimes I pull the vulnerable card and cry. I am not saying
this is not genuine. It’s all genuine. It’s how
I feel and how I fight. Sometimes I withdraw and get very cold
and withholding. Sometimes I assert my power sideways. Sometimes I turn
my anger inward at myself and get depressed and collapse or get sick.
Mostly I am very smart with my words, appearing like the rational one,
the deep one, the one who sees beyond the fight that is deceptively
still taking place. My five foot one and a half stature seems to get
taller at these times, and my words can make me feel like the Giant and
Goliath, both. I notice how hard it is for me to confess these things.
I feel momentarily ashamed, and also disarmed. And yet it’s
true. It takes a Brave heart to be aware of how we fight and own
it. And I am shaking a bit as I type this.
asked a couple people how they fight and they immediately became
defensive about the question itself, wanting to present themselves in
the best light. Of course one may think that being quietly
passive aggressive is preferable because it’s not loud.
Though it holds the same violence as a more blatant version of
aggression or defensiveness. We all fight, whether we admit it or
not. It is innate. And from a young age our families may make it clear
what they think is the most acceptable means of fighting, though they
probably won’t call it that.
at the presidential debates. That’s a fascinating study in
different ways of fighting. One may scream and demean others. One may
quote the bible. One may appear very professorial. One may get
cold, with eyes glazed in an act of hiding, while citing supposed facts
or statistics. This is how they fight. This will probably be how
they lead as well.
all fight. Even lying down and playing dead is a form of
resistance. The important thing that must be seen and acknowledged is
that we are doing it, how we are doing it, and that we recognize we are
protecting something. What are we protecting? Is it worth
protecting in this moment, or is it a habitual response? Could we
say out loud I am fighting with you right now because this or that is
feeling threatened by you? Wow, wouldn’t that be
refreshing? And disarming. And perhaps even amusing like a Monte
Python movie. I think we are all soldiers who might have
forgotten what we are fighting for, and in our closest relationships.
This warrior is protecting something young and vulnerable and it may
not even know it.
Like the Joe and the Fish song:
“And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.”
American warriors rode into battle bare-chested, brave hearted as they
fought for their home and tribe. They knew what they were fighting for.
what if there was no fighting and we learned how to listen and
compromise and live in peace? Nice story. It’s a lot to ask to
fight off what’s innate. And yet another fighting begins, the war
between me and myself. For now, I vote for taking the fight out of the
unconscious and into the light, truly examining what we are protecting,
if it is a real, substantial threat, if indeed it’s worth
fighting for, and how the fight impacts our relationships and our
lives. And committing to that process requires a truly Brave Heart.
Join us as we explore what we are fighting for with Brave Hearts.
is November 1st. This is the first time I have committed to two
days at the Harbor Grand room 310 since I began coming here in April to
write my book. The view has continued to change with the seasons. I can
see even more of the lake as most of the trees have lost their leaves.
The lake and the sky have a grayish tone to them, and the light somehow
makes the outline of everything in the harbor more distinct, detailed.
The sounds of the gulls’ calls and geese’ squawks cut through the crisp
air with more clarity than in past months. Everything seems more
heightened as the prospect of winter and austerity faces us. My three
dear weeping willows have held fast to their leaves and the only
discernable change I can see in them so far is a slight thinning and
greater variation of green intermingled with gold. There is a speckled
scattering of delicate shriveled yellow leaves on the ground at their
roots. It looks like these three grand ladies are having a bad
hair day as their trestle-like branches are droopy and lack luster.
They are gearing themselves up for letting go, I can tell. They are
still clinging vehemently to the enjoyment of tossing their drab
dreadlocks in the wind. I pause and acknowledge how I know this in
myself. I know how the notion of truly letting go, making way for a
kind of death-time and loss-time makes me grabby, holding on tighter
for as long as I can before the inevitable exhale comes, before the
necessary release empties to make way for the new…for the unknown and
mysterious face of change. I feel how the tightening and holding on
contracts through my body in anticipation of…what? And Fear is the
companion of this tightening. And Doubt, her sister.
idea of coming here for two days was an experiment to see if I could
get more writing done in 48 hours than I have been in 24 hours. I have
noticed that when I have to get packed up to leave at the end of each
writing tryst I am in a zone and I really don’t want to break my trance
or disconnect from the channel that I am reveling in, that I’m on a
roll so to speak, and don’t want to interrupt that which I am clinging
to. Perhaps the inspiration will never come again. So it occurred to me
last month that I could book two days and see how it goes.
the interim I doubted whether this was a good idea, and I watched my
expectations increase as well as the stress that accompanies those
expectations. What if I don’t have any more in me after 24 ½ hours? I will have paid for another day and night and for what?
my husband helped me load the car, I realized I had forgotten
something, my phone charger. He tried to encourage me to forget about
it, that I didn’t need to take it with me, that I shouldn’t be on the
phone much anyway while I was writing. I have a tendency to give in to
his suggestions and doubt my intuition, only to deeply and angrily
regret it later. This time, I said, thanks but I think I’ll trust my
gut here. In other situations I can easily and frequently doubt myself.
I even doubt my inner Doubter. Or criticize and judge my inner Critic.
Or boss around and overrule my inner Boss. Or belittle my Unworthy One.
What a lot of energy all this takes and what does it accomplish? This
time I made a choice to trust without questioning. Nice. I just went
back into the house and retrieved the charger with a knowing- I will
need this. It proved to be right as someone called who truly needed me
to answer the phone and to talk just as I needed to be present for her
and myself in that conversation, which of course was about fear and
doubt. I was keenly aware that Doubt was definitely hanging around.
So hello there. Welcome, Doubt.
is my sense that the Doubter, or the Critic arrive with a mission of
protection. Of course there must be fearful thoughts or the need to
protect wouldn’t be there. And of course fear isn’t any more or less
real than any other thought. But it feels real. Oh it feels very real.
These thoughts have arrived to be seen, sometimes out of habit,
sometimes out of wisdom. How do you know the difference? So I am
interested in how we can observe the arrival of the Doubter, or Critic,
or Boss or whoever with inquiry and presence, allowing it to be seen,
acknowledged, and held. It reminds me of a child with a hurt, who may
be screaming melodramatically, but seems to be put at ease, for the
moment, by climbing in your lap, listened to, and not fixed, as this
particular hurt is not really fixable.
the Watcher and I lie down on the fluffy king-size bed in room 310 at
the Harbor Grand and cuddle with Doubt. She wants to sleep, she doesn’t
want to write. She is in resistance and she will absolutely not sit at
the keyboard. She doesn’t want to read a book either. She wants to
sleep or watch tv. Period.
What have you come to tell me? I whisper. Doubt has an alias name- the Procrastinator, and she is stubborn. I want to hear you, I whisper again, coaxing her. What do you need from me to allow us to write? She
tosses and turns a bit. She says nothing at first. I said she was
stubborn. I fall asleep with her for two hours. It is a heavy, dead to
the world sleep. I allow it and watch it. A few times my eyes glimpse
the computer, which waits patiently. Doubt turns over in the bed and
away from the monitor which glows with light and possibilities. I think
the “possibilities” part gets to her. I think that when the Watcher is
really present, that out of the watching, other possibilities and
choices always seem to emerge, spontaneously, as a surprise.
climbs out of bed and teases me as she goes to the bathroom, then has
something to eat. She climbs back into bed and under the covers.
I am still patient. I know I cannot force her because Doubt is
extremely passive aggressive and will win. I ask Myself- what if I
don’t write a word in these two days? What if nothing comes, and Doubt
holds me captive? Could I love myself enough for that to be okay too,
all the while “not-doing” with awareness? Doubt comes awake
having overheard this. I can tell she is ready to speak. Perhaps she
trusts that I have proven I am really ready to listen. Write for us alone, she sighs, relieved. Write
because we must, because the expression itself is what matters. Then I
will feel safe. Then I will not be afraid. What is there to doubt
except whether I am speaking from my truth, and I am a good reader of
that. I will be here to remind you.
see we are a good team, Doubt, the Watcher, and me. She comes to remind
me about what is important, if I listen deeply enough. If I had merely
judged her thoughts as negative thoughts, thoughts that attract other
“bad” thoughts which hold me back from manifesting the life I wish I
could live, and had turned quickly toward the “good” thoughts, the
“Ahhh, I can do it!!!” thoughts, I would have pushed through, and in
doing so, lost my way. Instead, I did not find her as my enemy, my
blocker, but rather as having wisdom behind her fear. She knows how to
create safety when she is engaged in problem solving rather than just
I hear you, I say. I
might lose my way again. It is easy to do so in our world. So come back
to remind me and I will take the time to listen. On this you can trust
And so Doubt let me write about her. And this is her chapter.
is the intimacy of the self-mastery process, the tender relationship
with self. Can we allow all aspects of the process, including fear and
doubt, envy, and rejection to be held with love and acceptance? Can the
surrender and letting go come of its own accord, in its own time,
through a righteous and compassionate relationship with the complex
self? Can we trust that the exhale will come when it must and be
certain that the inhale will follow, without forcing the breath to be
as we will it to be? Can I trust that this book will write itself, will
breathe itself into the keyboard in its own way, in its own time?
glance out the window at the pile of leaves on the ground below the
willows. It appears like there are many more of them there now, having
let go of their clinging, fallen from the branches when I was not
Rewriting the Dream
What if you could imagine that your life is a dream? What if you could
imagine that just as you can wake yourself up from a dream you are
having at night, you could wake yourself up and rewrite your life’s
Sometimes when I am having a disturbing dream I wake myself up, sit up
in bed, and say “I don’t like how this dream is going. How do I want it
to go?” And I think of a way to rewrite the movie I am dreaming so it
doesn’t disturb me so much. And I go back to sleep and the movie/dream
changes...since I am the writer. Sometimes my unconscious will take
hold again and veer me back to those disturbing images or scenes, and I
get to wake myself up again, rewrite, edit, perhaps even recast the
characters if necessary, and close my eyes and dream into something
that feels more in alignment with where I want to be in the dream.
I remember when I was a little girl and would have a bad dream and go
wake my mother up for help. I would stand next to her sleeping self and
say “Mommy I just had a very bad dream.” In my mother’s sleep she would
first say, “That’s nice dear.” I would stand there and wonder, “Does
she mean that, or is she just still asleep?” Quite an interesting
moment. That’s nice dear. Maybe it was nice. Why not? Even though I was
very scared and upset, perhaps she was right. And sometimes I would be
persistent and say, “I’m scared to go to sleep again because I might
dream it again.” Then she would say, still with her eyes closed, “Go
back and choose what to dream. Dream about dancing in the Nutcracker,
or something wonderful.” And I would go back and do what I was told.
After all I was a very good girl. Yes, I might have enjoyed a little
cuddle, or having her walk me back to my bed and hold me until I fell
back asleep. But in some amazing way, I built a resourcefulness for
myself around my dreams because my mother did just what she did. I
became the master of my dreams. I was in charge of my dreams. I was
empowered around my dreams. They were my stories after all. I believe
that translated into my waking dreams as well. How do I dream my day?
What costume will I wear tomorrow? What’s the storyline going to be?
Over the years, as I have worked with my dreams consistently, I have
developed a narrative voice that will speak aloud to me as I dream. It
will say “Oh, this is happening in this dream because you need to look
at this or that.” Or it will say, “This death isn’t real it’s just
making you face an ending of....”. It is a very wise and reassuring
voice, and has amazing perspective. I believe we can all develop that
voice, whether we are asleep at night or awake in the day. It’s all the
same. I have not always lived my life with this truth. Sometimes I
forget that I can wake up from the dream. Sometimes I feel held captive
by the dream. But the fact that I let myself forget is a dream I have
Sometimes when I am dreaming something disturbing, I choose to let that
dream unfold because I feel I need to experience its nightmarishness
for a reason. At those times I choose not to wake myself up and rewrite
or edit. I choose to have the nightmare and then mine the gold of the
experience of it in the morning. Why do that? I suppose a part of me
feels the need to learn something from that particular movie, and
doesn’t want to mess with it. It’s like, sometimes I am in the mood for
a tearjerker, and will choose to go to a very sad movie so I can cry
and move the sad feelings within me. Maybe I just need to have a
pity party for the character in the movie and myself simultaneously.
And why not? Or I might want to see an action film because that mirrors
something in me that needs to be aggressive. Or I may need to go to a
very silly, inane comedy because I have been holding my life too
tightly and need to lighten up and be childlike and goofy. It’s all
available. I can watch a movie. Or I can dream the movie, by day or by
And then there are the reoccurring dreams. The dreams I have revisited
again and again. When I was little I had this dream where King Kong had
come to our neighborhood. He destroyed some houses but he didn’t
destroy ours. He peered his one giant eye into my bedroom window and
put his finger through my window. Somehow, though I was terrified of
him, I knew he didn’t really want to harm me. After all I cast him in
my dream and there was something lovable about this big beast, even to
my 5 year old self. In time that dream became less scary. I kept
rewriting it until he was truly my friend. And then I never dreamt that
dream again. I didn’t need to.
So how does this apply to my life? Can I dream the changes I
believe I long for? Can i budge the status quo of my life if I truly
believe I must and am ready to do so. Of course I can. Why not?
The questions I must ask are “Who is the Dreamer of this dream?
Who wants this dream to be different? Who longs for the change? Is all
of me ready for this dream to change? Is the cast of characters within
me on board to develop a new script and production?”
Different parts of ourselves have differing ideas about change, about
rewriting our dream script. Some parts want to cling to the story they
know, and they are very powerful in holding us in the status quo. They
are afraid to rewrite the dream, and in their powerful resistance they
will keep the dream going the way they know it to go. Sequel after
sequel. These parts need to be seen by our narrative voice, and
exposed, then befriended. I always loved that scene in the Wizard of Oz
when the great Oz turned out to be just a sweet little old man, wise
and dear, with his own self doubt and good intentions. It took little
Toto the pup with no ego to sniff him out and pull back the curtain.
When he was seen as he truly was, small, beautiful and human, his best
self came forward and he helped Dorothy and her gang while he helped
himself...and he changed. He went home to Kansas in his hot air balloon
with a new vision. He could have returned before but he wasn’t ready to
rewrite his dream.
Before we can rewrite our dream script we must know all the characters
well. We must see the saboteurs, expose them kindly, and get them on
board for the rewrite. We must understand them and befriend them, like
my little girl’s King Kong, until we don’t need to keep dreaming that
same ole dream. We must develop that strong all seeing narrative voice
that knows all aspects of our dream production well. Then we can look
at the old dreams of our lives and say, “That’s nice dear. Now dream
about...” And so we will.
The Creative Force
From the moment I arrived in New Buffalo, Michigan to write, there has
been a severe weather advisory. The wind is fierce. It is loud and
powerful and I can't believe the little yachts in the harbor aren't
being picked up in a funnel cloud and taken to Oz. The four Weeping
Willows outside my window are dancing like Sufi trance dervishes, I'm
glad they can't have a heart attack, because the wind just won't let
them rest. Will they be bald before their time? They are not ready to
lose their leaves, and as the gusts sweep them to and fro lustfully,
almost abusively, they hold on and their sweeping branches become even
more flexible than ever, because they have to in order to survive this
force. I worry about my old Magnolia back in Chicago. Will she be able
to weather this powerful storm?
The outside reflects the inside. Why has this storm come to me this day, as I beckon my own creative force to surface?
How is this nasty windstorm like my creativity? It is dark and scary.
It can't be stopped until it stops. It arrived unexpectedly. It
sometimes feels like the angry breath of Goddess, and I can't hide from
it, though I may try. It has great impact. It will run its course and
then it will return when you least expect it. It is very noisy. Then it
is quiet and discreet. Has the storm ended? Oh no. Here it comes again.
The building is shaking from it, and even with windows closed, I can
hear it wailing, and moaning, and roaring. It is strong in its
expression, varied, teasing, bombast. I wonder how the birds navigate
it, but they do. They seem to ride it like a surfer on the ocean,
becoming at one with it and not questioning or resisting where it will
take them. It never seems to tire. As night descends, before my very
eyes the lights on the harbor flicker as the Wind demands their
obedience as well. It is overwhelming and invigorating. I was cold when
I started writing this, and now I am very hot.
This is the creative force in at least one of her many forms. She
brings about movement, manifestation, some destruction, that ultimately
makes room for reconstruction. She is birth and death and birth. She
digs away at the unseen. I know so many people who say with conviction-
I am just not creative. That is like saying "I am alive, but do not
breathe." Creativity is the life force itself. We are creating in each
moment, in our thoughts and actions.
Creativity can be capricious, fleeting, sometimes hard to tame. It
arrives, like the windstorm when it wants to. I must open and wait
patiently, intentionally for its next visit, like a faithful lover. I
must turn myself toward it. No amount of discipline can command its
presence, or control how long it stays. But when it comes through the
door, its dance is so delicious, so entertaining- time stands still. I
am not young or old, infirmed or healthy, I am all that is- at one with
the words, or the colors, the textures, the light and the dark, the
ugly and the beautiful, there is no preference, just the movement of
the wind through my soul.
A long time a go a teacher of mine said- “We are most ourselves when wearing a mask. “
Many years later, I might alter that phrase- “We can be most ourselves
when wearing a mask.” My phrase amplifies the implication that we
believe we are most protected and ironically, most able to be authentic
when wearing a mask. The fact is, we are never not ourselves. We have
many versions of ourselves, and all the masks we choose to wear are a
part of our whole person. The mask is constructed to allow certain
things to be seen by others, and other things to be hidden from them.
What we decide to show (consciously or unconsciously) and what not to
show grows from how we perceive the world and the people in it, and how
we perceive ourselves in relation to that world. Our mask also
reflects our relationship with ourselves. As one of the participants in
my mask workshop said, speaking to his mask, “the gift you give me is a
layer of insulation between me and the outside world.”
The Oxford dictionary defines mask both as a noun and a verb. As
a noun it is- “a covering for all or part of the face which protects,
hides, or decorates the person wearing it.” Or-“an appearance or
behavior that hides reality”. As a verb, to mask is – “to prevent
something from being seen or noticed”. Why do we do this? Why not live
by the motto “what you see is what you get?” But even that stance, in
its extreme, can be a kind of mask as well, because what you see is
never the whole picture.
From an Enneagram perspective, we can create masks to hide from the
world and from ourselves that which we believe we are lacking, or
something that we think we should have, like confidence, expertise,
wealth or power. Sometimes we hide our great talents and gifts for fear
that others will envy us and not want to stay connected. The type One
might hide their mistakes or incompetence, to avoid being perceived as
less than perfect by seeming completely put together and on top of
things. The type Two might hide their neediness or sense of
worthlessness, by showing everyone how resourceful, wise and helpful
they are. The type Three might obscure a view of their failures or
their secret feelings of “not enough-ness” by acting self-assured and
showing off their successes. The Four might cover their fear of
rejection with aloofness or rejecting and withdrawing first, or by
being overly warm and accepting when they feel otherwise. The Five
might mask that they don’t know something or don’t feel resourced
enough, by arguing credibly even when they don’t know, being
condescending, just disappearing or dropping out. The Six might display
a provocative and challenging exterior to hide their worry and anxiety,
or conversely, appear the victim or helpless when they are very capable
of meeting the moment but don’t want to try. The Seven might appear
confident and maven-like to keep their feelings of inadequacy, that
they stronger in breadth but not depth, in the shadows. The Eight
might hide their vulnerability and tenderness, most especially from
themselves, and consequently to the world, by taking a tough and
forceful position that appears “not to care”. And the Nine might
wear a beautiful, toothy smile when they don’t want you to see that
they would rather growl and bare teeth at you out of anger. We can
recognize most of these masks and Enneagram energies within ourselves
at different times and in different situations. Our core type, however,
defaults to one of these masks most frequently.
No “conscious” choice about what we show or don’t show is wrong. The
question is, are we conscious of having made a choice at all? Perhaps
our masks may need some remodeling from time to time. Perhaps it’s time
to try o a different face and see the gifts that come from doing so.
The Outside reflects the Inside. Perhaps to grow and expand who we
think we are requires some insight into how we limit that growth by our
To China with Love
and No Mask
When your only child is lying in a hospital bed across the world,
seriously ill with an unknown kind of hepatitis and high fever, in a
tiny room that smells like a sewer, filthy with cracked ceilings, wet
towels hanging across his bed to dry, nurses with blood stained
uniforms because they can't afford clean new ones, and no one at the
hospital can speak your language-English, there is no mask in the world
that one can contrive to navigate the situation and create the illusion
of safety. I knew the words- "Nee How- Hello", and "Sheh sheh- Thank
you." That's it. Language and words create masks for us in each moment;
what we choose to say, what we don't. All the word choices available to
me meant nothing at all. The only thing I had to reach another was an
exposed, vulnerable, open heart, and eyes that did not lie. Eye to eye-
I to I. My son has many amazing expatriate friends who have
created a dedicated family/community among themselves. Young people
between 18-26 from all over the world that truly show up for each other
with a commitment to be supportive in a way I have never experienced
from others in my own life. I felt their support and sacrifice in each
moment. Since the hospital does not provide food, my sons friends
brought food and anything he needed until I arrived. They took turns
staying with him, and when I got there they pooled all their Mandarin
speaking resources to help me get to the bottom of his illness, and
ultimately out of that clinic and home to his apartment. They helped me
get around, register at the police station, use a cell phone photograph
to get test results to our doctor in the U.S. because the hospital had
no FAX, xerox machine, or email. There were no roles, or masks to mess
around with, only a mutual loving intention to help my son and me.
There was no status to seek, nor dignity to protect. There was the
essential agreement to trust and be proactive with a mutual cause to
help someone we all love. It was refreshing to leave my masks behind,
and operate from transparency in each moment. I wonder what it would
take for each of us to practice that kind of trust more often. Why
Prosperity and Moving
Beyond the Status Quo
Last July, right around my birthday, I woke up one morning feeling an
urgency and clarity around my readiness and desire to let go of what
was keeping me from being truly prosperous. Over the years I have
worked a lot with myself on inviting abundance and receptivity into my
life and now feel I am blessed to have a very rich, full, and abundant
life on so many levels. The piece that was still lingering in the
realm of status quo was literally around prosperity as it is defined-
flourishing financially. Though I have always been fortunate to
have a roof over my head, and though, only early on in my adulthood did
I truly know real hunger, I have always made just enough. There have
been times that money has been less problematic than at other times,
but there has always been stress and worry for me around money to some
degree. The issue around prosperity was not about greed, wanting
more and more, but rather around ease and deep trust, without a ceiling
that the growth of my income was always bumping up against.
Instead, I felt ready for the wide-open sky of pure potential.
The previous February I had gone to a presentation for the Chicago
Community Group of the Institute of Noetic Science. The presenter, Jose
Luis Stevens Ph. D is a wonderful teacher and consultant who uses,
among other tools, the gifts of Shamanic work and is president and
co-founder of The Power Path Inc. I knew this was someone with
whom I wanted to connect further.
In April I was presenting a workshop for international consultants in
Santa Fe where Dr. Stevens is based and I tried to get an appointment
with him but my schedule and his availability were not aligned. Then
one morning months later, in July, on a Friday, I sat up in bed at 6 am
and knew I needed an appointment with Jose Stevens! I immediately
e-mailed his office. His assistant e-mailed back promptly to say that
he had not planned to be in Chicago for a good while but coincidentally
he had just received a call asking him to fly to Chicago for some
consulting work on Monday (3 days later) and he had an appointment
would I like one? Oh yeah.
In this one-hour appointment Time seemed to stand still. Jose shared
with me that my issues with prosperity were a legacy from my parents
passed on to me, a psychic wound that was keeping me from the pure
potential of prosperity, and that this psychic wound created an
energetic pattern that kept my earning power in the status quo, and
that together we could collapse the standing wave of status quo with a
simple ritual. I had done a lot of awareness work, cord cutting, and
ritual making around letting go of the conditioning around money in my
family, and yet I was still stuck. I felt deserving. I felt that I had
worked rigorously with my beliefs around money. Yet I felt wide open to
learning something new, another tool. How were my conditioning and the
messages of my parents still supplying data to the quantum field that
kept bringing the same results? During this ritual I could feel the
information in the quantum field that I inhabited dissolve and be
replaced with a powerful movement toward possibility, that wide-open
sky of pure potential, with no ceiling. I felt myself change on a
cellular level. I felt the sacredness of the moment. Jose said "I
encourage you to use this ritual with your clients for whatever ways in
which they are stuck in the status quo. Perhaps this little ritual will
be one means of
prosperity for you. Who knows?"
Since that day I have facilitated this ritual with many clients and
have seen real movement for them around their stuck places. For myself,
I have not worried about money since that morning in July. I am in a
state of trust each day and can feel my movement toward finally
flourishing financially. I feel so much more ease. And then,
synchronistically, I received an e-mail from Life Force Arts inviting
me to present an offering on Prosperity. Ah, the Universe once again
smiles at me. I knew in that moment what I was meant to share and I
look forward to passing on this powerful ritual that was gifted to me
by Jose Stevens. When the student is ready the teacher appears. When we
are curious about why we hold onto our suffering or stay stuck in
places that feel ready to move, sometimes a simple ceremony can create
a complex shift. I was ready. At another time perhaps I would not have
Transforming Resistance in the Midst of Change
In 2010 I committed to giving pro bono workshops for organizations that supported the unemployed. I called the workshop
"Transforming Resistance in the Midst of Change." As we approach
the new year and start to open ourselves to the change that awaits us,
I wanted to share this excerpt from a longer piece from my upcoming
"Very little of the Resistance we have to doing a task or committing to
something comes from a deep "I know in every cell of my being that this
is the wrong thing to do!" place. Mostly it comes from just not
wanting to. We may just stay in inaction because an inner voice is
saying, "I don't want to!" and we may never explore the Resistance with
adult open inquiry any further.
Some of us will be direct in showing our Resistance and say a loud "NO"
to ourselves and the people around us, rationalizing, attacking,
arguing our position. Some of us will be indirect, passive aggressive,
or manipulative and say we will do something and then just not do it,
or procrastinate, or make excuses for why we haven't done it. And a lot
of us will merely be unconscious about our Resistance. Looking at our
Resistance full on requires honesty and courage.
Of course, if we have looked at the "No" with curiosity and arrive at
the decision from our thinking self, our feeling self, and our
intuitive or gut knowing self and all three centers of wisdom are in
agreement then the Resistance is well founded and we should follow the
Most Resistance is just about fear of Change, of the unknown, so we are
too often resisting from a reactive place. Actually Resistance often is
coming from a very young place inside of us. Perhaps now I am in my
terrible two's, saying "No" for autonomy, control, power, the need to
be right, or differentiation. Perhaps now my "No" is coming from fear,
maybe that five-year-old self on its first day of school, wanting
independence but wanting security more. And maybe it's a big "No" from
our teenage self questioning our worth and just secretly not feeling up
to it, or enough for the task, or deserving of the unseen good that
might come from it.
We don't need to resist our Resistance, which ends up being pretty
futile. We do need to be interested in it from our compassionate
observer self and honor it long enough to explore it, dialogue with it,
and get to the bottom of its reactivity. Befriend it from a grown-up
place, and then do what mature and wise grown-ups do, make a
value-based decision and then take it out of the driver's seat. These
young places really are not old enough to drive, but they end up doing
so too often.
Change is happening in each moment without our say so. Resistance, when
allowed to be seen, leads us to openness, strategy and planning, and
finding the support we believe we need to navigate with resilience that
which we are moving toward...the Change we are actually seeking.