Thursday, January 14, 2010


Dust off your notes from last week and get comfortable.

Today we will continue thinking about how we will shine in 2010. It is true that the introduction of this topic coincided with the new year, but this work is in not like the same old empty resolutions you have made in the past. Shine 2010, is an experience designed to help uncover some of the things standing between you and your dreams and to begin chipping away at them.

Shine 2010 is less about resolutions and more about how to live your best life.

If you are excited by the possibilities, but haven't joined us until today, revisit posts from January 4, 5, 6, 7, and the video from January 8.

We'll start today's activity with a short personal story. It will help illuminate a point made in M.J. Ryan's chapter titled, "What Need Is Being Served By What You Are Doing Now?"

I lived in a house with loving and devoted parents. My father was an English teacher and my mother stayed home during most of our formative years. Later she worked as florist in a New York City. Somehow my parent's were able to make most things work on their modest wages. There were piano lessons for my sister Ellen, dance lessons for Ann, school uniforms, summer camp, cultural experiences in the city, healthy home cooked meals, braces, and the list goes on.

Money was a stressor though. I knew it was, because I could hear my parents talking at the kitchen table long after they thought we were asleep. I overheard phone conversations where money was a topic of conversation and, though young and self-centered, I understood that the expense of Ann's ballet, Ellen's private college tuition, and my after school activities amounted to more than most teacher salaries could handle comfortably. They worried about money, so I worried about money.

In retrospect, I think my childhood experience taught me to believe money is scarce and that I should be thankful for what I have.

My parent's experience with money has shaped me and even influenced my decision making. I grew up appreciating my steady job in higher education. I knew I might never get rich in my chosen career, but rich was in no way what I was striving for. Like my father, I was proud of being an educator and enjoying the modest, but stable benefits of working in education.

It worked for a while.

In 2007, a move from Kentucky to Texas meant leaving my job and being unemployed for the first time in my life. Surprisingly, when I left the job I was not upset. Time in the field slowly made me more impatient and more discouraged than when I first started working. I was ready for the break.

Then I met all of you. I started this blog and realized I loved being creative, I loved writing, and I loved being the impetus for people coming together in community. I loved reading in the morning, writing in the afternoon, and generally controlling the way I spent my days.

But how impractical. Money is scarce and I should be thankful for the opportunities I've been given. I needed to look for a job. Besides... it's work that matters, it's steady, the insurance is good, and higher education is what I received all my formal training in.

I began pounding the pavement and, after a only a few disappointments, found a position in higher education that I believed would be a good fit. And, for the most part it was.

At least for a while.

Slowly I realized my days as part of the administration were filled with more red tape than writing and my creativity was more about circumventing systems than it was about creating value. I grew increasingly aware of the disconnect between how I was spending my days and how I wished I could be spending my days. Time made it more clear that, my ideal career was no longer as part of the administration. It really is as a consultant, teacher, trainer, writer, and researcher.

How impractical, though. Money is scarce and I should be thankful for what I have.

Still, I left my job for the chance to build my dream career. This time by choice and fully aware it would mean doing without extras afforded by a steady paycheck. I am nervous, but I am also more invigorated than I have been in a long time. I wake up each day ready to read and write and committed to turning my decision into my dream. The Year of the Book.

Now to the point of Ryan's question - What need is being met by what you are doing now?

There were a number of needs being met by my career in higher education - the chance to work with students; believing I was shaping future citizens; working with smart, motivated people; driving up to work on a college campus every day; the status of holding titles valued by others; the ability to relocate easily if interested, and, of course, a steady paycheck with little chance of ever being unemployed.


As pointed out by M.J. Ryan, in her book, This Year I Will...", we unknowingly do things that run counter to our goals and dreams, because our actions fill some need. My returning to work and staying in the position for as long as I did, filled my emotional need to feel financially safe and secure. Ryan explains, "Because we are not conscious of what we are doing, the strategy we chose to solve the problem eventually becomes a bigger problem than the original one."

Here's what that looks like for me...

"Because we are not conscious of what we are doing, the strategy (taking a stable job at a university) we use to solve the problem (stability over pursuit of passion) eventually becomes a bigger problem than the original one (fear of not having enough money)."

Understandably, some of you will want to dismiss my example, because you are stuck on my having the choice to leave my position and pursue something different. Duly noted.

So, forget about me and my Year of the Book. Let's make this about you and your year.

What need is being served by what you are currently doing... but that you hope to change in 2010?

Phew! That's a workout.

Signing off until tomorrow...


Claudia @ Highlowaha said...

No comments?!?! This is unusual for this time in the morning. Is someone scared to break the seal on this lengthy post?

No wrong answers.

Heather said...

I've been letting this one ruminate all morning...I think my "need" is the same one you had...the need to feel like I'm in control of my financial situation has kept me from investing time and money into my house. What I must realize however is that a house is just that without decorations making it feel like a home.

Cheryl said...

This hurts my brain.

I also work for financial security. I will ponder this morning and come back.

Peggy said...

Well, to lighten the topic slightly, please go to my blog for a light heartedly look at coffee... I'm not as poetic as Claudia, but I've had a weird epiphany of sorts lately:

okay back to ME again... I've struggled years about the money and status situation and have come to the conclusion like politics and religion... you CAN converse about it, but can't compare. All the paths we've taken have gotten us to 'this' place. Even last night, DH and were talking.... although I have a BA degree (whatever that means) I will not be a career professional. PERIOD. We chose the path for me to be a mom... and we've paid the price (or lack of) all these 20 years.

Our family is balanced right now, and has been through our moves from WI, TN, WI and IL. Although my brain isn't always balanced! What I hope to change through balance is a full circle... it's okay to be a temp worker, it's okay to be a mom, it's okay to be frugal, it's okay! This is the path, the right side of the fork we chose to go down!

Mandy said...

OH.. I have been thinking about this exact topic for a long time. I hate my job, but I enjoy the financial stability. It hasn't taken me long to decide that the financial stability is not worth being unfulfilled in your career.

Now - having the courage to make a change.. that's tough. But it was my New Year's resolution. This post reminded me of that, thanks!

Mandy said...

I didn't know there was another Mandy on here... it was very strange to read that.

Mandy said...

It's not my job that I'm trying to fix... but on the topic of The Year of Family...

I didn't realize how dependent I was on my family, until I didn't have a rotten marriage to hide from anymore. My needs have changed- and thus the re-evaluation of who MY people really are has become the priority.

Hmmmm... I think I'll be thinking about this one a lot today.

lindsaymarie said...

right now i'm in graduate school, working toward a master's degree in social work, and trying to establish a life/career that will combine counseling with my passion for human rights work, feminism, and international issues. the combination is more difficult than it sounds, i tend to think of my life in two parts: the grad school/social work/internship part and the human rights/feminism/international part. in 2010, i will combine them and get more involved in anti-trafficking work, as i think that issue is where my passion and my degree intersect.
i'm not sure if that really answers the question, but those are my haphazard thoughts.

lindsaymarie said...

i just realized my answer seemingly has nothing to do with my "year": year of yoga... well, i guess the fusion of my passion and my education relates to yoga's value of balance and cohesiveness... so it kind of works!

Claudia @ Highlowaha said...

Today's post is not for the faint of heart. It's long and complicated and requires some serious reflection on the part of anyone participating.

The intent of the exercise is really to get each of you to think about what it is about your current behavior that works for you. For instance, there is a reason that year after year goes by and you don't produce art (Cheryl) or achieve the sense of balance you aspire to (Peggy), or take enough time for me (Robin), or get organized (Holly), or keep to a schedule (Kat), etc...

That is what we are trying to get at. What is it about not engaging in your desired behavior that works for you.

In my example, having security worked for me. I ignored my real interest/passion because the satisfaction of a steady pay check felt better than the fear of doing my own thing.

How about you? Think about what you want this to be the year of and spend some time thinking about what need you are filling by doing it the old way.

Anyone want to take a crack at it.

Cheryl said...

What Need Is Being Served By What You Are Doing Now?

The need to relax and do nothing is what is being served because at this point in time not having a regular paying job with benefits is not an option.

Kids and chores need to also continue so it's my leisure time that I'm not using wisely.

The television, the internet, fiction, shopping, blogging- these are things I could spend my time more wisely creating art.

It's about creating a routine that works for me. It's about creating a space to be able to create the routine to create the art.

I had a pottery teacher once and when he came to the studio he said the first thing he always did to get started was to sweep. Once he swept the floor his mind was in the right mind set to then be able to focus on his art and he had a clean space as well. It was his routine.

One of my first steps that needs to be taken in order for my resolution to succeed is to organize my space.

Peggy said...

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time!

To NOT obtain balance... I would sweat the small stuff, burdens and tasks 'weighed' heavily on my mind and on my shoulders, choosing to be un-happy was a constant reminder of what I didn't have.

Forming new habits(be it for a good thing) from what I heard takes 2 weeks... although then I heard on the same 'show' an idiot say to break a habit takes at least 28 days... we're making new habits, new resolutions, an 'awakening' of sorts, takes more than one day.

Are we breaking habits or making new ones?

So Cheryl, don't clean your entire spare bedroom (unless THAT'S what you want to do) Clean one corner, purge one pile, set up a desk with great lighting. Then tomorrow, if you want 'more' help... I'd be happy to encourage you to meet another small goal, and "WHY NOT" do it?

Cheryl said...

Well, last night I purchased the desk that I've been wanting for the space. Claudia has also mentioned this same technique to me. The Fly Lady? The Sink Lady? I can't remember but she says to start with the kitchen sink. If the sink is clean then it will flow to the counters and enivitably into the other areas of your home. One bite at a time. One 15 minute segments at a time. Pardon the grammar but that just ain't going to cut it with this mess! It's going to take some time dedication. I think I'll have to pull everything out of the room and only put back in an organized fashion. It's completely doable.

Heather @ said...

The Fly Lady!!!!

I just signed up for her daily emails...we'll see if it helps!