Archive for October, 2008

Tuning Up

I’ve been working to set up my life-coaching practice. It’s founded on the principle that we need to live our lives in tune with ourselves, that the problem with many of us is that we split ourselves in pieces, shove the unseemly parts aside, polish up the good stuff and sell it to the public. When we stop doing that and honor all the parts, our lives come into resonance, like a good stringed instrument. Only then can we build a life that has any integrity, any authenticity, any real music.  

Hence the name, Resonance. Your life, in tune.  You can read about it on my makeshift web page (one of the changes I want to make is an affinity for the basics of technology, but oh well), or at Jen Lee’s blog, where she kindly interviews me about my new venture.

So far, here’s what I think:

I think that there are 4 areas a person should pay attention to if she wants to get her life in tune. You could think of your life as an instrument with 4 strings that must be tuned, each to a unique frequency, as well as to each other, in order for your instrument to begin to make decent music.

1. The head. For you Jungians, the Magician Archetype. The power to think, to imagine, to analyze, to gather and process information. 

2. The heart. Lover Archetype. This is the realm of emotion, connection, and human values.

3. The gut – intuition if you’d rather, but I like to stick with the body analogy. This coincides with the Sovereign Archetype, the king or queen. This encompasses alternative ways of knowing, senses, subtleties, inner wisdom, spirituality.

4. The feet. Warrior Archetype. This is the realm of the body, and of volition – the will. When all is processed, felt, sensed, and analyzed, what do you end up actually doing? How do you vote with your feet?

When these 4 areas are in tune, my, my. What music we could make.

This is Resonance. This is what I seek, this is what I work with.

This is what I know so far.

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I’ve been a bit withdrawn. Turtling, you might say. I’ve been pondering how I know things, and then how to tell about what I know, after I know it. I’ve discovered it ain’t all that easy. There are things to know that can’t be put into words. I can’t tell you how frustrating that is. It’s very hard to write about. 

So instead, I’ve discovered that sometimes it’s good to pull inside oneself and be with what’s there. As long as it takes. For the sake of what, I’m not sure. Just until, I guess. Today I thought I’d stick my head out and look around. Give you an update, for what it’s worth.

I’m trying to make a fundamental shift in the way I live my life.

Conventional wisdom dictates that if you want to make a change, you first think up the thing you want to do instead of the thing you’re doing now. Next you break the thing down into reasonable, manageable goals, and then you set about accomplishing your thing, until you have it, enlisting whatever expert help you can find along the way. Many a success story and self-help book was founded on this simple way of being. It’s not bad advice, really. 

It just doesn’t work for me. And no amount of goal-setting, accountability, paid professionals, and self-recrimination makes any difference in the outcome. The things I want to change remain unchanged, while other things seem to come about anyway. Hmmm, she said.

Lately I’ve been thinking there’s got to be a better way. Or at least a way that’s just as good as the other one. My way, the way that works for me. 

That’s what’s goin’ on under the shell.

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photo by jen lemen
photo by jen lemen

Last week I spent a pleasant morning interviewing my friend, Jen Lee, about her new life’s path – writing – and two extraordinary projects she has created. These projects come straight from her brave soul, and serve as inspiration for us all.

The first project is entitled, “Don’t Write: A Reluctant Journal,” and the second is an audio cd with original stories called, “Solstice: Stories of Light in the Dark.”

Here’s my interview with Jen:

Me: So. “Don’t Write.” isn’t that a funny name for a journal? Tell me how you came up with the idea.

Jen: I was going through an internal show-down with all the messages and voices from past and present that were very loudly admonishing me, “Don’t write.” So, first came the poem, “Don’t write”, in which I laid bare my fears about the consequences of my words, and also spelled out just what it was that compelled me to keep going–even in the face of all I risked.

Don’t write.

It’s too powerful.

It might tell someone how

you feel. How you hurt.

What you don’t understand.

Don’t write.

It’s too powerful.

It will show who you are

on the inside to the outside.

It’ll blow your cover,

your nice reputation.

Don’t write.

It’s too powerful.

You might hurt someone’s feelings.

People may not like your words.

They may attack you, or abandon you. 

Don’t write.

It’s too powerful.

It might give others hope.

Let them know

they’re not alone.

It might change minds.

Change directions.

Change the world.

So, whatever you do,

Don’t write.


Jen: Then I was washing dishes one night, in April, I think, and I just thought, “It’s a journal. Don’t Write is a reluctant journal”.

I was warned against keeping journals my whole life, so it seemed the perfect expression of my dissidence.

Me: I love it so much – staring down the inner threats and saying “watch me!” 

Jen: They’re already there. In my head. In the room. We might as well name them–and something about seeing them in front of me makes them a little less scary. Like, bring it!

Me: Yes! And it gives us all permission to do the same. I feel a little flash of defiance when I think of it.

Jen: I think most of us could use a little flash of defiance. 

Me: Who do you especially want to use the journal?

Jen: People who are tired of being silent. Those who are done buying their own lines of bullsh*t about how they don’t have time, or what they have to say isn’t all that important–those who aren’t buying the voices telling them their words won’t make a difference. People who are ready for a revolution. 

Me: I’m feelin’ that flash of defiance again. I love it!

I heard you have another brilliant idea you’re working on. Can you tell us about it?

Jen: I just released a project that is my fiction debut. It’s an audio story collection called “Solstice: Stories of Light in the Dark”. It’s a little vulnerable for me to do a project that incorporates my physical voice, because I’ve really struggled this last year with the way I’ve even shut my voice down physically throughout my life.

But, I’m gaining confidence to put what I’ve got “out there”. These are the moves I got.

Me: Jen, you’re incredibly brave. This writing thing is really about letting your soul loose, isn’t it?

Jen: For me it is. It’s the best vehicle I’ve found for that so far. It’s easiest for me to be myself when I’m in the presence of those who love me outrageously. The six stories on this CD are really my love poems for these women.

Me: I can’t wait to hear them. How can we get our hands on both of these great projects? 

Jen: Both are available now for pre-order on my website. “Solstice: Stories of Light in the Dark” begins shipping mid-November, and “Don’t Write: A Reluctant Journal” should begin not long after that. The quantities are limited, though, so I’m hoping no one waits too long!

Visit Jen’s blog to get your hands on these two great projects, straight from the heart of a friend. 

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…says Spock’s mom, played by Betty White, in the Star Trek classic, The Voyage Home. I’ve used this line many times in conversations with my husband, the engineer.

Modernity has had a love affair with logic, the scientific method, rational reductionism, and the bottom line. And it has its place. But Disney World isn’t one of them.

It was the end of April, 1993. I had spent the better part of 6 months studying for the Examination for the Practice of Professional Psychology. 15 hours a week, slaving over flashcards and practice tests with a knot in my stomach the whole time.

(This test was a bugger. Some of my friends had taken it as many as 5 times and failed. I was taking it with a Master’s Degree under my belt, and not a Ph.D., because Minnesota was one of the few states that would still license psychologists at the masters’ level, which meant I was competing with doctoral students. I ended up passing. Fat lot of good it did me, but I’d like you to be impressed nonetheless.) 

In April, I took the test, took a breath, and promptly got sicker than the dog we did not have.

We had scheduled a trip to Disney World to celebrate. I was too anxious about the test to participate in planning the trip. I have an aversion to planning in general. 

Our 2 kids were the perfect age for Disney, 11 and 9. They were excited.

My dear logical husband had been reading about how to get the most out of the theme park and avoid the lines. So many rides, so little time. And he loves to plan. He’s a professional planner. Nothing makes him happier than planning to have fun, moment by moment. The planning is part of the fun, executing the plan is the epitome of fun, and patting oneself on the back for a good plan is also fun for him.

Plan=fun. Me? Not so much. But I had other things to think about.

He had devised a spread sheet for the Magic Kingdom, reading descriptions of rides to the kids, asking them to rate their attraction to the ride on a scale of 1-5, so he could weight their answers and mathematically discern priorities for the day. He plugged his values into the spreadsheet and came up with a winning scheme to get through the park with a minimum level of hassle. He was so excited.

And then I got sick. The day before we left for Florida I went to the doctor and discovered I had a nasty case of bronchitis. Pumped full of antibiotics, at 4 the next morning we bundled off to the airport. For the next 3 days I stumbled around Disney, led by the hand, barely functioning, napping in the afternoons if I could. Thank God someone had planned.

And then I got better.

Immediately the plan went from godsend to millstone around my neck. I chafed and complained, whined and objected.

I prefer spontaneity. Let’s leave it at that.

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