Disappoint & Offend

Today’s Quest2015 prompt comes from Michael Bungay-Stanier, author of Do More Great Work. In it he asks:

Who are you willing to disappoint or offend or upset or abandon… for the sake of the Great Work that’s calling you for your best 2015?

I have to admit, I’m not proud of what comes up for me with this question, because the truth is, I have been disappointing, offending, upsetting, and abandoning pretty much everyone at some point or another for years–and rarely for the sake of great work. But that abandonment I have dealt to others, is almost always about self-preservation–about time alone to regroup and rebuild after a busy day, about not being able or willing to add one more thing to my plate, even if it’s a wonderful thing with a wonderful person, about knowing that I can’t do it all and therefore I need to make hard choices that some people may not understand (especially people who aren’t far-spectrum introverts).

Because for someone like me who isn’t quite as resilient as a lot of other folks, doing great works is something I can’t even really think about until after I do the mundane work of feeding myself,and sleeping, and not getting sick. and calming the exhaustion and spin of just being out in the world with other people.

So really, for me, this question isn’t about who I am willing to disappoint, it’s about who I am no longer willing to disappoint or offend or upset or abandon after doing just that for decades. And that person is me. As for the rest of the world, those who love me, understand. Just like I understand when the people I love do the same to me.

Unmake to Rebuild

A few minutes ago I opened today’s Quest 2015 prompt from Jason Silva, read it, and quickly closed it again.

In what ways might you artfully curate your life in 2015 to occasion serendipity, creativity and awe? 

Ontological designing says: We design our world and the world designs us back.

What are the linguistic and creative choices you can make in 2015 that will in turn act back upon you and transform you?

Improv II I don’t even know how to parse the sentences he used. Especially not at this moment. Not after journaling four new pages this morning that completely undo Monday’s post. Four pages that essentially boiled down to: what if I could just drop out? What if I could stop trying to design a livelihood and focus instead on living a life? What if I could unplug, strip down, and whittle every part of everything I own, and do, and am down to the essential?

I tried it once before when I first left my corporate tech job to move to Santa Fe and write. Back then (could it really have been only four years ago?) I was sick and exhausted and deeply unhappy and had to focus on building up instead of stripping down. Stronger now, might I finally be able to use that grit to polish myself down like a tumbled stone until every band of color, every thin thread of gold shined?

And isn’t that the point of curation vs collection? To mindfully, thoughtfully, poetically choose those few pieces that are most meaningful, most beautiful, most magical? To let one small piece of intricately designed fabric inspire the whole quilt. To let its colors, its luminosity be the door through which we invite the universe in to help us co-create our most joy-full, wonder-full, meaning-full life.

Because if I have learned anything since my first attempt to drop out–and perhaps this is only the continuation of that, not a new attempt at all–it’s that when we stop trying to control, to push through, to drive, when we stop trying to figure it all out on our own, when we open ourselves to letting things evolve, when we finally dare to name our dreams–our true dreams, not just the ones we are pretty sure we can manage to do without too much stress or trouble–the universe tends to meet us halfway. Or more than halfway.

Might 2015 be the year that I finally let it all go, give it all away, all but that one tiny seed at the core of me that must unmake itself to finally meet its destiny: a leaf, a stem, a blossom, a fruit, another seed.

So what linguistic and creative choices can I make in 2015 that will in turn act back upon me and transform me? To say no–to anything and everything that doesn’t feel deep, resonant, meaningful, and essential. And to say yes to what does: poetry, quilts, and finding/building the homestead I have dreamed of ever since I was a little girl. To drop out of the rat race of consumption and constant virtual connection, and replace it with creation and true connection. Without bludgeoning my dreams with boiling every decision I make down to the single question “but how are you going to pay for it?” Replacing it with “what might it cost if you don’t?”

Gritty Compassion

Today we received our first Quest2015 prompt from visionary guide Jen Louden:

Grit without compassion is just grind. What would be most fun to create this year? How can self-compassionate grit support you in that creating?

Before I can answer that question I need to tell you about another project I’m working on besides quilts and poetry and attempted novels. It’s called the Apocalypse Garden. I first conceived of the Apocalypse Garden nearly a decade ago, back when I was still working in high tech and barely had time to sleep, much less create.

It started as the name of a type of garden I wanted to grow in the backyard of my then newly purchased San Francisco Outer Sunset house. I was already interested in prepping by then, and wanted to create a sanctuary of sorts. The garden would combine food, pollinator ecosystems, a few flowers just for beauty, and what I called survival plants which had multiple purposes, like bamboo which provided shade and screening, edible shoots, and strong stems that could be made into furniture or tools, or soap lilies the bulbs of which were used like soap by Native Californians, also had medicinal purposes, and were roasted and eaten by the Miwok people.

After I sold the house I found myself gardenless, but my dreams of an apocalypse garden went on–evolving from actual garden to apocalypse-based short stories to a broader vision that combined apocalypse fiction, prepping, history, and current events. This past October, feeling uninspired and stressed with the projects I was working on, I decided to mix things up by taking a month off to focus instead on something fun and interesting. And with a 31 day blogging challenge and a URL I bought in 2008, I took the first step toward transforming my apocalypse daydreams into a reality.

Now 62 days and 61 blog posts later, I have an ever-solidifying vision that looks forward through the lenses of speculative literature, film, and art, plus history and science, to take a closer look at what our possible future may hold, using it as inspiration for bringing to life our own visions, creations, solutions to help us survive, or better yet, avoid, the catastrophes that have already begun to plague our world.

So, with all that big context in mind, the most fun thing for me to create this year would be… harder than I thought to pin down. My first thought was:

  • Designing a line of reclaimed/recycled fashion, accessories, and other gear focused on meeting the challenges of a variety of possible future climates and cultures

But while it would be amazingly fun, it’s not really a priority. The priority for this project would be:

  • Creating an evolved version of my blog/site that meets the new vision

And of course I can’t give up my quilt making or poetry or finding ways to earn enough money to pay the rent. Maybe if I tie it all together, I can fit it all in…

And therein lies my biggest challenge–too many ideas pulling me in too many directions. Which means, the way self-compassionate grit can support me is by helping me find my true focus, determine and hold fast to my highest priorities, and let go of the time-sucks, outdated habits, and other distractions that no longer serve me, no matter how fun or interesting they may seem.


LLP Marketplace and Quest2015

November has been a busy month of sewing, selling, working the day job, and setting up an online marketplace for which I am still sewing despite the fact that it launched today. And December doesn’t look any slower. Still, as my friends all keep telling me, “busy is a good thing.” What would make it a better thing: Sharing December’s exciting projects with all of you.

LLP MarketplaceAn offshoot of the Liberated Life Project, the second annual LLP Marketplace gives graduates of founder Maia Duerr’s Fall in Love with Your Work course a chance to put what they learn about creating right livelihood into practice. This year’s Marketplace includes:

  • “Buddha and the Six Supports” — a high-quality giclee print of an original Tibetan thanghka created by Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo (of Threads of Awakening)
  • Beautiful note cards featuring original haiku and photography from artist Katya Lesher (of Pausing Turtle)
  • Coaching sessions from Ursula Jorch (of WorkAlchemy.com), drawing on intuitive and practical wisdom, to help you create the business (and life) you want

And maybe even my quilted journal covers if I can get my sewing done. Give it a look. Your purchase supports artists, coaches, musicians, writers, and others trying to make the leap from day jobs to dream lives.

Quest 2015

The newest offering from Jeffrey Davis, founder of Tracking Wonder, Quest 2015 promises to help participants “gain a fresh way to envision your best 12 months far beyond ineffective resolutions, goal-setting, and vision boards.”

Also concerned with right livelihood, Jeffery focuses on transforming artists, writers, coaches, and social-preneurs from dreamers to Business Artists. And although I have a full schedule and miles to go before I sleep, I just couldn’t turn down this opportunity to get help and inspiration in honing my focus for 2015, and hopefully with finally finding a way to spread some of that busy throughout the year instead of saving it all for the least three months.