We sure do get this money stuff tangled up, don’t we? This is the place where I untangle pieces of it. Most of it’s about money while some of it’s about something else that strikes my interest. All of it is about noticing how things get knotted up and how to untangle the knots. Oh, and if you have a topic you’d like me to explore, just let me know. I’ll be happy to give it a good shake and see what untangles.
Do you find yourself brooding about money? Perhaps you spend hours analyzing how much you have, trying to find the magic key to the numbers? Or maybe you check your accounts multiple times a day? If you do, I’m guessing there might be a surprisingly different impetus hidden in all that fretting that isn’t tied to money.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I really want you to have a great interactive relationship with money. After all, money has so much to tell you. Money lets you know when you are achieving your goals, or when you need to reevaluate and focus more. It tells you if your mood is up or down. Lots of good internal data is available by looking at money.
Like many things, there is a place where it stops being informative or engaging and becomes obsessive and compulsive — kind of like tequila, chocolate or ice cream.
Frequently my clients share with me that they are so tied up in brooding over money that they can’t sleep. They spend hours in the dark fretting and worrying. Their minds are sent zooming over all sorts of bad scenarios. Thoughts tossing and turning around extreme situations like going broke. Losing everything. Starving. YIPES! Very scary stuff.
This worrying is NOT effective. It’s just spinning and brooding. It’s not planning. It’s not motivational. It is a pain in the ass!
What’s behind it? I think it’s your Inner Critic. Now, I know you may hear that from me a lot. That ‘should, must, have to’ voice is your Critic. Your Inner Critic is very vigilant at keeping you right where you are!
There are plenty of blogs here on my website that talk about this ‘piss ant’, omnipresent, irritating voice in our heads, so I will just give you a bit of the top notes here.
Your Inner Critic is there to keep you safe. The problem is that its perspective of safe is very narrow. Your Inner Critic thinks that as long as you are not in imminent danger of losing your life in the next 30 seconds you are fine, and should stay right where you are. It believes that doing something new will lead to death and disaster. So it’s ultimate job is to keep you right where you are! It does not care that ‘where you are‘ may be struggling, or unhappy, or even broke. You are alive, so don’t rock the boat.
So what does all this Inner Critic stuff have to do with brooding about money? The Inner Critic’s most effective tactic for keeping you where you are is to distract you! When you are fretting, obsessing and panicked you aren’t really present. You miss things. You don’t hear anything else. You don’t notice what is going on. You stay stuck.
Money is the perfect topic for the Critic. Money is still very much a taboo topic, so we are likely to not talk to anyone else about our money worries and concerns. Most people don’t feel at ease or comfortable around money, so it’s easy to stir up angst about it. Oh, and money is tied to our feeling of self-worth and value. A perfect place for the Critic to stir up distraction!
The next time you find yourself brooding and nattering about money, press the pause button. Spend a moment or two seeing just how distracted you are. Are you actually coming up with solutions? Or are you spinning weird scenarios?
And if you determine that it’s your Inner Critic creating chaos in your brain…TELL IT TO SHUT UP! Stop giving it ‘air time.’ Change the channel in your head. Do not engage with it!
You’ll sleep better, and be much more present in your life without the constant distractions.
PS: Critics do not go away — instead you can choose not to pay any attention to them!
Shell Tain, the Untangler
Really shutting up your critic can be a challenge. I’m happy to help. Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.
When I first learned about Dr. John Gottman’s work around the ‘Four Horsemen’ I was so impressed. By doing extensive research he had discovered four behaviors that are crucial for us all to both understand and to learn from. He based it on the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ and his message was clear — We need to mind these horses!
Dr. Gottman, after spending countless hours with couples, applies his work surrounding the story of the “Four Horsemen” to the marriage relationship. My take on the matter is that these principles can be applied to ALL of our relationships, including the one with money — Yes, you do actually have a relationship with money! And the horses can give you insight on how that relationship is going.
As long as there have been horses, people have been tasked to mind their horse, meaning to pay attention to what it’s doing. I think understanding and minding these particular horses is essential to all our relationships and interactions. Dr. Gottman has given us four of them to be attentive to:
- Blaming or Criticism: We know this one, right? It’s all about judgment and more snarky than a complaint. We may complain about something, but when we add a bit of character assassination, it turns into blaming.
- Defending: This one really got my attention when I read what Dr. Gottman said about it. You see, defending is really veiled blaming. “The dog ate my homework” shifts the responsibility away from you and to the dog. It just tends to add more blaming, instead of calming things down.
- Contempt: This one is more about tone and intent than the actual words. It includes things like sarcasm, mockery, eye-rolling, and name-calling. The best example is Dan Aykroyd’s classic opening Point/Counter-Point line on Saturday Night Live with Jane Curtin: “Jane, you ignorant slut…” Literally anything can be said in a contemptuous manner.
- Stonewalling: This one is all about distancing and disengaging. It’s the ultimate cold-shoulder. It increases the frustration of the person who is talking to you if you don’t respond or even look at the person. The word really says it. Originally it was a noun, meaning “an act of obstruction.”
It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that these ‘horses’ tend to travel in pairs. Blaming and Defending trot along together, as do Contempt and Stonewalling. And they both stir up a bunch of dust. I liken this to the Wild Horse Race at the Rodeo. If there an issue worth paying attention to in the center of the arena — Like an important topic to be discussed — it will be invisible and ignored, shrouded in all the dust and fury of the horses galloping around.
Okay, so there they are — four horses. And what do we do about them? It’s really a three-step process:
- First, when you find yourself facing a ‘horse’ you repeat this mantra as many times as needed: ‘It’s not about me, it’s not about me, it’s NOT about me….’
- Second, you avoid getting on a ‘horse’. Stop, don’t ride at all. Dismount.
- Third, in order to help the other person dismount their ‘horse’ try this:
- Instead of joining them on a ‘horse’, try acknowledging the ‘feeling’ underneath the uneasiness by saying something like: “Wow, I get when that happens it really bothers you.” Notice that you aren’t agreeing, or surrendering, or apologizing — you are acknowledging and affirming that they are in a tough spot. It just might slow the ‘horse’.
I know, I know, easier said than done. We all experience ‘riding horses’ in our lives. They are in our heads and in our relationships. Dr. Gottamn’s work can show us something deeper about your relationships. Try this small experiment if you will. Think of a horrible relationship from your past…we all have at least one of those to ponder. Got one in mind? Okay, now which specific ‘horses’ were present in your interactions with each other? Which ‘horses’ did you ride and which ones did the other person gallop into the arena? Now let’s ponder a different relationship. One where you and the other person got along really well. A ‘good’ one. Any ‘horses’ there? How does that positive interaction compare with the first one? Finally, just for grins think about how you are with money — any ‘horses’ trotting around there?
Intriguing, isn’t it? You can see why the concept of the ‘horses’ is something I cover early on with my clients!
What’s really going on with these ‘horses’? What’s underneath all this? And why do I say it’s “not actually about you” when the other person is on a ‘horse’? The answer is the most important thing for you to know about ‘horses’!
We get on a horse to quite literally, get a leg up. We trot out a horse when we feel diminished — when our sense of self-worth is low or is challenged, especially when we feel powerless. ‘Horses’ are a distracting way to pull ourselves up by laying the responsibility elsewhere. We see it constantly. A prime example today is road rage. Even children can be seen getting on ‘horses’ to navigate their emotions— but they usually do it more cleanly. It’s not hard to see when children are on a ‘horse’ because they have hurt feelings. It’s harder as an adult to be vulnerable and admit that we feel diminished or put down — so instead we mount up and charge in!
Understanding and taming ‘horses’ matters now more than ever. They are no longer just running around in our personal lives but are stampeding all over! It’s time to learn to mind our own ‘horses’ with care and diligence.
Shell Tain, the Untangler
Want some help getting off a ‘horse’, or avoiding each other’s horses’? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.
It seems like it’s everywhere these days: People seem to expect to just magically be perfect at something without practice or study. I don’t really know what’s behind it—or even if I’m just noticing it because I have several clients who expect themselves to be perfect right ‘out of the chute’.
What I do know is that it’s not only a futile endeavor but a trap. It’s one of those handy tools that our Inner Critic voice uses. You have heard me speak of that, and I will continue to do so. Frankly, I think helping people to stop giving their Inner Critics ‘air time‘ is one of the most important things I do… whether it’s about money or not. This perfection thing is just another diversion in the Critic’s Toolkit.
Somehow many of us feel like we are supposed to be able to be perfect without practice or effort. I beg to differ with that. Even the things that we are ‘good‘ at, or have some innate talent for, require practice, enhancement, care—or we either lose them or they get stale.
This desire to be instantly successful and perfect at something is everywhere in our lives. We should just know how to write a blog, cook a great meal, play an instrument, or manage our money, right? Um, no. All those things and many more take practice—lots of practice.
It’s not even just a matter of patience. It seems to be more about expectations. We expect that we will magically be able to do something without struggle or effort.
One side of my family was full of artists, and I do some art myself. Art is a particularly good example of a skill where you have to give yourself the time and patience to fail, experiment, and just mess up.
Long ago I was taking a beginning drawing class at a local college. A young guy in his twenties had the easel next to me. We were doing some kind of sketching, I don’t remember the actual objects. What I do remember is that he kept drawing a bit and then wadding the paper up and throwing it on the floor. There were grunts, gnashing, and colorful language that accompanied this endeavor. The instructor noticed the pile and came over to talk to him. I both love and agree wholeheartedly with what she told him. She explained that every art piece goes through a very ugly stage where you just want to rip it up and start over. I was delighted to hear that because I thought I was the only person who had that problem! She also said that you just have to keep working at it and get past it. It’s part of the process.
Along the same line, I recently read an article in Artist’s Magazine about starting a drawing practice. The article, by Danny Gregory, had a box in the corner titled: NOTE TO SELF which included these points:
- Never compare yourself to other artists… Let their progress inspire, but not intimidate, you…
- You’re making more progress than you think you are. You may not see it, but it’s happening…
- Everyone struggles at the beginning… the struggle is normal, inevitable… and a positive sign that you are working through things.
I have several clients who feel like when they take a class to learn something new they have to do things well from the very beginning. Maybe that comes from competition in school or the need to get good grades to meet family or cultural expectations, but it is not an effective method of learning something new as an adult. What that idea is really good at is keeping you from even trying to learn something new or improve how you do things. It distracts you from engaging, and that is a shame. It’s a Perfection Trap, and none of us want to end up in a trap.
The real question is: How would your life be different if you allowed yourself to be messy, awkward, and nowhere near perfect? And even more radical, what if you could think of doing that as the ‘perfect’ way to be? Give it a try!
Shell Tain, the Untangler
Want some help getting out of the Perfection Trap? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.
Remember your teenage years? It seems to me that Junior High, which is today’s Middle School, was where it really became clear. There were the cool kids, the in-crowd, and there were the rest of us. Most of us weren’t in the in-crowd. That’s part of the value of a clique: exclusivity. There were different forms of cliques. Some were for the athletic types, some for the nerds. Tough kids, surfers, hippies — all had their own groups with specific rules around dress, language, and behavior. They worked hard to stay in their group and to exclude others. Without excluding others there isn’t anything to feel special about.
Many of us didn’t meet the criteria. We weren’t good enough for whatever reason. We weren’t pretty, or thin enough. We weren’t smart enough—or were too smart. We didn’t have the right clothes. It hurt and made us feel ‘less than’.
This is not new for humans. We have been doing it forever. And the solution is in a very old fairy tale: ‘The Ugly Duckling’ written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1843. You all know the story, and the point was and remains to be — stop hanging out with ducks! Go where you are appreciated.
Now there is a particular reason I’m bringing this up. I’ve noticed over the years that many of my clients get Money tangled up in this ‘do I belong’ conundrum. It goes something like this:
- If I was rich I could fit in with the ‘in-crowd’
- I’m jealous and envious of those who have more than I do
- It’s not fair that I don’t have more money
- I messed up because I didn’t save when I was young, or get a degree, or…
- I feel like I’m always being judged as ‘less than’ others
Somehow we make up that it’s all about money. Money is the problem. It caused it. I don’t have it. On and on it goes. And here’s the rub. Yes, money may be a factor in this tangle, but not in the way people think. You may be tired of hearing it, and here it is again: “Money is reflective, not causative!” You made choices, some good, some not so good. And sad to say, you may still be stuck in those choices. Going over them and over them. Letting them consume you.
This idea of making it all about money is a giant distraction! It keeps you from living your life now. It has you trying to fit into places you likely won’t like when you get there. It’s the Duck/Swan thing again. I remember once putting an offer down on a house in a particular neighborhood. I had this weird thought in my head. It went like this: “If I lived in this neighborhood I’d have to put on make-up to get the mail!” I liked the house, the price was fine, yet it didn’t feel right. I was not going to be with my peeps if I lived there. Luckily there turned out to be a siding issue that had us not buy the house.
The thing that has you not be in with the ‘cool kids’ is not money—really! And if you keep thinking it is, and fussing with it around money, you will just keep spinning in circles.
The problem is that the real issue is harder to deal with. It’s what’s under the money stuff, and it’s likely about your own feelings of ‘worth’. It takes courage and fortitude to dig in there, but it’s well worth it.
I’ve recently been on my own journey around this tangle about ‘where do I fit’ and realized that I was hanging around with people who were not nice to me, and I was trying hard to get them to like me. Finally, I figured out that they just weren’t my peeps! I set some new boundaries and am hanging with swans instead! And there is a huge weight off my heart and soul. See, hanging around with other swans is easy. They laugh at your jokes, they like you, they respect you… you can be yourself.
Please give yourself the gift of hanging with your own particular in-crowd!
Shell Tain, the Untangler
Want some help getting out of this tangle? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.
What part of you manages your money? The kid or the grownup? Let’s take a look at that.
- Avoid or ignore money, hoping it will solve itself
- Get angry
- Makeup excuses
- Spend more to “feel” better
- Worry and obsess about it
- Try to act like they know what they are doing with it
There is something all those choices have in common: They are the actions of children, not grownups. That’s right! We all have little kids managing our money!
We were little kids when we learned what little we know about money. The first thing we learned was that we ‘don’t talk about it, ever!’ How do you learn about something you can’t talk about? By observation. And the thing that most kids learn by observing their parents around money, is that it’s a very ‘hinky’ thing! There often are more conversations about what not to do with it than how to actually manage it. If you got any training about it in school it was likely from a teacher who didn’t like dealing with it. We fumble around thinking everyone else looks like they are doing well with this, and we are the only ones who are clueless.
Thus our thinking and skillsets around money never got revised, improved, or shifted.
Frankly, if any of us were to pick a part of us to run our money, I don’t think we’d pick our little kid part. Personally, I want my money run by the part of me that is thoughtful, adept, balanced, calm, and curious. What part of you do you want to run your money? What part do you think is running it now?
What is money’s role in this? Was any of this money’s fault? Maybe we should have scolded money, given it a good talking to, frightened it? It all sounds pretty funny, doesn’t it? We often treat money as if it was a person. And act as if it’s money’s job, to protect us and possibly even parent us. More of that little kid stuff, huh?
Money’s actual job, as I see it, is to tell us what is going on WITHOUT the emotion, criticism or judgment. Money has been doing that all along. It’s been saying “there are no savings”, “you don’t have insurance”, “you are spending a lot on bright shiny things”, etc. Money tells us all that and more. It does it quietly. We have to actually look and listen if we are going to know what money is telling us. The evidence of what is going on will pile up. It’s all there. We can all be forensic accountants of our own spending habits. And money will never have an opinion.
Money is reflective, not causative. It shows you what you are up to—in how you make it and how you spend it. Money won’t fix your life or solve your problems just by having it. It will tell you what you are up to around your problems and life if you look. You’ll find that looking at what money is reflecting will be an effective way of solving the mystery of where you are. Give it a try with that grownup part of you, and see what you find.
Shell Tain, the Untangler
If you need support in figuring out what money is telling you, give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.
That was the theory that Julie Newmar suggested on the Dick Cavett Show I watched recently. Granted, the show originally aired on February 4, 1971, but it’s not as crazy as you might think.
The stock market is having some ups and downs now. We all know that has happened many times in history. Loads of people make a living studying the trends and data. They make predictions based on all sorts of criteria. Some of them come true, some don’t.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying their research and opinions are not valid. It’s just that there is an overriding factor that has always affected the ‘Market’, and always will, that many of them are stepping over.
I was thrilled when Alan Greenspan, Chair of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, actually said it. Here’s the quote:
- ‘Fear and euphoria are dominant forces, and fear is many multiples the size of euphoria. Bubbles go up very slowly as euphoria builds. Then fear hits, and it comes down very sharply. When I started to look at that, I was sort of intellectually shocked. Contagion is a critical phenomenon which causes the thing to fall apart.’
Simplifying what he is saying: The Stock Market is based on emotion! and being the analytical guy that he is, he was shocked to discover the impact of emotion on money. You won’t be surprised to find out: I’m not.
Let’s get back to Julie Newmar — For those too young to know, Julie Newmar was Catwoman on the campy Batman television show of the mid 1960s. And she did a great job of pleading her case. It was quite fun. Danny Kaye, a screenwriter, and a doctor were the other guests. Kaye was the only one that tried to pull the attention away from Julie. That wasn’t going to work. She was dynamic, savvy, and dressed for the part — including ‘hotpants’. She brought up the concept of how the Market and hemlines were tied together. Her perspective was that hemlines had an effect on the market. You see when hemlines go down the market is calm and steady, and when they go up it gets volatile. Is this a chicken/egg thing? I don’t think so. I do think that the actions of the Stock Market and the hemlines are reflective of and a response to the emotional tenor of the time.
The truth is that the thing which most strongly affects money is emotion, and Julie Newmar had that figured out in the early 1970s. That hasn’t changed. And now, more than ever, emotions are high and on edge.
“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride” – All About Eve (
Shell Tain, the Untangler
If you need a bit untangling your hemline issues give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.
It’s not one thing that creates stress… it’s a whole bunch of things that build up. Little things that pile on until we are over our edge.
Right now, the world is mired in all sorts of concerns. We all are feeling it. Climate change—which they just should have called Global Weirding and no one would have debated it! The mass shooting of innocent people. The Stock Market in a tizzy. Too many to mention. It’s way capable of frazzling our nerves!
But of course, there is also whatever your triggers are! Little things like health, making money, relationships, the car breaking down. ‘Tis never-ending!
The real problem for us all is that our biology is behind the times. It hasn’t caught up and probably won’t, based on the speed of change these days. Our bodies evolved to use ‘stress’ as a way of getting our attention and focus when bad things were about to happen. Things like a lion or a pack of hyenas running toward us. One of the evolutionary fixes for coping with danger is the fight-or-flight response, a physiological reaction to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.
To simplify the result let’s just say we go into hyperdrive. The “Danger, Danger, Will Robinson” alerts kick in and carry us away. There are all sorts of things going on in our bodies and minds, not the least of which is we lose our peripheral vision, and can’t hear—which explains why when in an argument you often find someone saying: “Don’t you hear me?” Actually, they don’t, and they won’t until they have calmed down which will take between 20 to 60 minutes after they have stopped stressing.
This has been going on for quite a while. In 1910 Rudyard Kipling wrote the poem “If”, which started with “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…” So it’s not new.
The real point is how do we manage the stress? How do we keep the deep mire of it from sneaking up on us? There are so many stress factors bombarding us every day that it is prudent to get ahead of it. Don’t wait! Create your own pockets of peace now!
There are all sorts of ways to build your capacity for dealing with the vast, never-ending triggers we experience every day. In my search for balance, it’s the little things that are the most effective for me. I’m being purposeful in creating what I call “Pockets of Peace”. Some examples I’ve been trying include:
- Time swimming—being in the quiet of the water
- Muting the ‘ads’ on the TV—otherwise thought of as ‘limiting white noise’
- Reading books that take me away, and are NOT scary
- Petting the ‘purr machine’—otherwise known as the cat
There are lots and lots of possibilities. There are only two things to keep in mind:
- Have some techniques that work for your own stress reduction in the moment
- Have some everyday practices that build calm and peace as a preventative measure
Unfortunately, we can’t actually eliminate stress, what we can do is make choices about how we handle and manage it! Find the ones that work for you… it’s crucial, especially now!
Shell Tain, the Untangler
If you need a bit of support finding those pockets of peace give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.
Here’s yet another guest blog for your summer reading. This one is from Kate Deaton, a certified coach, friend, and colleague with a slightly different take on the Inner Critic voice than mine. Kate is writing a book about the Inner Saboteur and agreed to give us a taste of her work. Her contact information is at the bottom of the blog if you’d like to get in touch with her, or follow her musings!
“My boss-he doesn’t care about what I am doing- he just wants more. Even if it means I work late 4 days a week and take work home, it’s always MORE-MORE-MORE! If I didn’t count on that paycheck for my family, I would quit. I know I have my master’s but jobs in my field just don’t pay that well. I am lucky to have gotten this job.”
There is a saying that a complaint is simply a value that is being stomped on. Being expected to do more and more at work, beyond what can be delivered in a 50-hour work-week may stomp on quite a few values: family time, fairness, quality over quantity, being able to deliver good work…just possible examples. Yet do you notice that, in the first example, the worker ends by reminding themselves why to continue in that cycle? It is not that it is not true- most of us depend on our income for supporting ourselves and our family. Yet something else is true, too: We could be more satisfied, have more family time in other circumstances that might also support the value of family security. So what stops us from checking out those options?
“The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t.” That could have been written by our inner saboteur-that inner voice that creates seeds of doubt each time you try new behavior or have a thought about taking a stand for what you need. Have you noticed that voice sometimes? It is the one that tells you the safe way is the best, keeping the status quo is imperative. It may even go so far as ridiculing you for dreaming and planning, for taking steps toward something new. Here is another example:
People had always told Kim how good her work was on creating mosaic inlaid furniture. She had been encouraged for a few years to apply for a juried arts and crafts show in her community and she always laughed it off. “No one wants to pay for my work- it is best as a gift.” Finally, Kim was persuaded to try, and the first time she applied for the high quality, juried show, she was accepted. Kim sold well, got lots of compliments and 6 months’ worth of orders. Although this was what she loved to do, she refused to apply for more shows. “It is just a fluke that I got in. Sales won’t keep coming. I will just finish up these orders. I was lucky to get them.”
So what kept Kim from celebrating her success and reaching for more? The voice of her inner saboteur, telling her she was just lucky- nothing to count on.
Each time we challenge the status quo in our life, the voice can get stronger and meaner to match the level of threat to the norm. And the worse thing may be that the voice is cloaked to sound like our own voice or even the voice of our parents or people we love.
So how can we make changes and reach for more in our lives? A simple method is to become aware of when the inner saboteur shows up, what it sounds likes like, thank it for trying to keep you safe and then take the next right step. With some practice, you will be able to notice the trends of when your inner saboteur is going to get activated. Then you will be ready to avoid getting hijacked by the fearful thoughts, thank your inner voice for wanting your safety and take steps forward. It is a new dance. And a new dance that will create new neural pathways in your brain that support new options, rather than familiar behavior.
So what do you want? What small steps can you take toward your goals? Just be ready with some recognition, appreciation, and movement.
For other methods of recognizing and dealing with your inner saboteur, look for Kate’s upcoming book…….
Kate Deaton MS CPCC, Personal Leadership Coaching, (434)390-0105, Kdeatonleadership@gmail.com
Shell Tain, the Untangler
As part of my summer blogs, I just couldn’t resist sharing this with you! Meet Marcus Elliot. He is an amazing Sax player and Composer in Detroit, Michigan. He has recently written and performed an fascinating piece of music dedicated to his mother. One of the most beautiful parts of his journey with this challenging time in his life is his recognition of the value of really being present in the moment. He’s someone I’m honored to know. Please read what he has written and listen to “Aesthetically Present”
“April 27th, 2019, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, multiple myeloma. This news really shook me at my core. As time went on I begin to find myself trying to distract myself from the reality that I was faced with. One of those distractions that I fell into was hoping for “more time”. I found myself hoping and praying for more time with my mother, and hoping that all of the treatments that she will receive will work, and hoping that things would be better than they were at that time.
I did all of this hoping with the thought that doing so could only better the situation. I was wrong. It did not better the situation. If anything, it created a distance between myself and the reality of where my mother was at. It was not allowing me to be present with her at this moment and time. The “more time” that I was hoping for was already happening. I was missing the exact thing that I was hoping for because I took for granted the fact that every single moment that we are alive and we are with one another is the “more time”.
Our lives are not a given, every moment is truly a gift. For me, music is an exercise in this principle of being present. Music allows us for a brief second to realize just how beautiful, precious, and fragile these moments that have been entrusted to us are. “Aesthetically Present” was written during the time that all of this was happening in my life. It was not originally written with this theme in mind, but it felt appropriate and necessary to dedicate the music to the time that it was written inside of.
Thank you to my mother, Jo-Lynn Miller, for your love, strength, wisdom, and encouragement. If I already don’t say it enough then please, let me say it again, I love you.
Sincerely, Marcus Elliot”
Such a joy to know such talented people!!!
Shell Tain, the Untangler
It’s Tuesday, and I’ve been spending the last several days in another dimension – one where time, access to information and connection are very different. It truly is like being in the Twilight Zone!
This past Saturday in the early evening, I happened to take a look at the box where my WiFi/internet comes into the house, and it was swarmed with ants—thousands of little tiny ants in my living room. I know these guys, there is an ongoing war between me and them! Last November they took out an electric outlet which left me in the dark for several days before I could get an electrician out to restore order.
This time is more bizarre because it took out my capacity to use the web and my phone (which is voice over internet). I’m left with my truly basic cell phone, designed for emergencies only. What that means is that it’s a basic “burner” phone. I can call and get texts but no data at all. It’s sort of reliable.
Of course Frontier doesn’t see this as urgent so they have decided to drop in and fix it on Wednesday. I was delighted to have a neighbor who allowed me to use her computer so I could email my three clients that I had calls with on Monday, and friends I was supposed to meet on Tuesday. I still need to contact the clients booked on Wednesday to warn them. Theoretically it will be fixed by the time of their calls, but I’m not really trusting that.
So here I am writing my blog, not in WordPress where I normally do this. Instead it’s back to Microsoft Word for me. I have TV because I have been on an antenna for that for several years. I also have a fairly big collection of movies on DVD. So there is that.
The phone doesn’t ring. That’s odd in a way. Somehow that’s more about all the catch up I’ll need and want to do when I am reconnected to people.
Which brings me to the real reason I’m writing this blog. The most pervasive and odd part of this ‘blackout’ is that I can’t go look anything up, any little fact. Things like:
- What’s the weather going to be like today?
- Which internet provider gives the best service? (Frontier had me on hold for an hour, and wasn’t clever enough to have an option where I could choose to have them call me back. They did continue to suggest that I use the internet to solve my problem…hmm…but I both digress and rant.)
- Is the next Phryne Fisher Mystery ready for me to download onto my tablet from the library?
- What’s an easier Hair Ball treatment to use than that sticky brown toothpaste I can’t get down Miss Teak’s throat?
One of the reasons I don’t have a smart phone is that when I’m out in the world, I want to be present in the experience. So I’m frankly amazed at how many times I go look something up out of curiosity, a desire to plan, or wanting to gather data to make a decision.
Most of my childhood through my teenage years I spent summers in Wyoming with my maternal grandmother, “Cupcake” (so named by me when I was very young because she was sweet and had white hair – Frosting on top). She never had a TV, and reception for those that did was spotty anyway. We read, played games, wrote letters, sewed, knitted, talked…did things. The phone was on a party line so people didn’t tend to have really long conversations, and if they did, they did so knowing that someone might be listening. Summers where very different than my life at home where I had a TV in my room, and spent much time on the phone as a teenager.
I held the two places as equally valuable, just different. Frankly I think these two different worlds helped me to be both adaptable and curious.
Today I’m feeling calmer about this turn of events. There is something in this ‘experiment’ about the value of just ‘being’ where I am in the moment.
I have learned something from this hiatus. It’s something around allowing myself to sink into where I am right now, instead of anticipating and leaning toward what’s next. Trying to cram it all in to the detriment of not really experiencing the fullness of what’s here. Oddly, for me, the next step will be to limit how many times I go look something up once I am able to do that again. The question will be: “Do I need to know that now? Or can it wait?”
What might the experience of being without phone or internet in your daily life for several days be like for you? And could there be a pony in the midst of that pile? Looks like at the end of this I’ll have to acknowledge some value in the ants’ act after all… hmmm.
Shell Tain, the Untangler
PS: it did finally all get sorted. I’m back in the present!