Structure Lady’s Approach to the New Month

OK. Let’s get real here. I’ve got a lot of faces I put on which are about my reactions to aspects of my self that have “gotten me into trouble” before. Yep. It’s true. One I’ve been up against all week is this one about my love/hate with structure.

Since “discovering” years ago that I am by nature a very facilitative teacher I’ve been attracted to ever-polishing those skills / that way-of-being. And I fell in love with (as in swinging to an infatuation with one aspect) facilitation and openness. I love (as in tried and true and deep soul resonation) the process/discipline of Open Space Technology.

And my relationship with structure has remained … ambivalent. I sing the glories of openness. And just with the word “structure”, a part of me feels immediately burned. That’s a clue it’s a reaction (vs. a grounded response). Embodying, I go inside my body to feel what’s happening. I notice that my whole gut has shrunk inwards and is buzzing, kinda like everything in there is huddling for safety and having a buzzing conversation about something dangerous to do with “structure”. OK. These are good clues if I can remain a curious observer. In chakra-speak what I’ve got here is a 2nd and 3rd chakra reaction. The energetics of these chakras which I feel are connected to this particular body reaction are (2nd chakra) creativity and (3rd chakra) my ability to bring my true self into the world. There it is. The body speaks and catches a different aspect of my truth than my brain alone ever could — every time. Brain likes it’s story. Brain and ego are in cahoots there. Body tells me there’s something else going on, too.

I’m reminded of once hearing:

“know that everyone will say/think whatever it takes to maintain their self-esteem”

To take us farther afield from the stated topic of this post, (and to let you know I AM paying attention, and give you hope that I may at some point return) MY LESSONS from this insight on self-esteem:

All of our stories are fine. Honor them. All of them. They are there for a very good reason. No need to figure the reason, or argue over interpretations. Just let them be, maybe even admire and appreciate them. AND at the same time, when there’s willingness, open up some of the areas where less light is shining. There will always be plenty of these. No need to worry about WHY one place is dark and another light. This leads to elaborate stories, which can be fun, but aren’t necessary. When I’m working with others, it’s fundamentally none of my business to hear this story. Sometimes people want to tell it. I’m happy to listen. Stories are amusing. When I’m working with myself, that particular question is fodder for what my mind loves to hijack me to do … make convincing, elaborate stories … and as amusing as that all it, it takes resources of time and energy I may want to apply elsewhere (or not). Also if I tell my fresh, new, beautiful stories to others, they tend to tell me I’m wrong. A logically razor-sharp person with strong opinions and interpretations of their own that need voice, may actually CONVINCE me I’m wrong and I really don’t like that. They’ll immediately spot the holes in my story anyway, and then I’ll have a deflated, wounded ego on my hands. Bummer. That all can get pretty depleting.

My brain is often busy telling me the self-esteem story.
Body doesn’t subscribe to that so much. More and more I tend to the body’s message.

So, back to the structure story. What’s true?
I’d like as little structure as necessary to get a job done. TRUE
People sometimes feel lost around me when I don’t give them the structure they need. TRUE
When I meet a new person and mention I might be able to help them achieve “x” they often doubt I am able to do so. TRUE
Huge successes with one person do not correspond to huge successes with everyone I work with. TRUE
I’m learning more and more about which people and what situation I’ll be able to be “hugely” successful in. TRUE
I carry around with me what I call my “Day Book” a bound book of complex daily forms I’ve tailored to my personal use and I love spend time with and track. TRUE
I love this book and each time I make it I spend HUGE amounts of gloriously fulfilling time honing the spacing and the content and just admiring it. TRUE

ah-ha …

and if the truth be known even further (dare we move into this territory?) I walk through the world seeing how information could be organized in a database in such a was as to gather grounding facts so as to reveal trends so as to simplify what people say they are paying attention to.

I’ve never quite said it in that way, but also TRUE
I lack the technical ability to actually set up the system that I envision. TRUE
(and there is that chakra response, again … hmmm)

Maxwell Doty was the father of Pacific phycology (the study of algae). He was one of my most cherished teachers at the University of Hawaii. People who had him as an advisor say I can cherish him because he wasn’t my advisor, but that’s an unnecessary aside. My advisor was Isabella Abbott, also another story.

To Doty…
I loved/dreaded the experience of his weekly seminars. We presented papers in a 15min time frame. No one knew if they were presenting that day so everyone had to always be ready to present. Each 3-hour meeting there were several presenters, followed by discussion, somewhere a tea break (in Hawaii it’s time for ‘pupus’) and an amazing sense of community. I feel Max knew me well. He listened to me talk. He watched what I did. He gave suggestions and observations. He’s one of my role models for a scientist.

One day he said, in passing, that he was amused by taking note of which day I showed up as a librarian, and which as a scientist. That startled me. Didn’t every scientist collect and sort through thousands of incidences of facts, working on their possible interpretations? I guess not. (note: I’ve published catalogues of recorded incidences of seaweeds and I could talk and work FOREVER on what these facts reveal or don’t about what is and isn’t actually present growing in the ocean at a particular spot). This whole aspect of my background is kindof outer space territory right now.

So back to the startle from Doty’s words. That’s a good sign of something happening to one’s story. The story was shaken up. Not everyone is infatuated with facts, meta-facts, contexts and interpretations.

Today’s story is that because that idea of a collaborative marine biodiversity inventory of the western Pacific never got off the ground beyond many wonderful taxonomic workshops, a part of me resents the structure I imagined but never could realize. A part of me tells me that all of that was HUGE expenditure of time and energy was wasted. That’s the reaction/ouch part. The grounded reality is different.

And here it is — everything I did around that inventory had an element of joy and play in it. I delighted in it. Although anything is possible, how many kids “wake up” one day to say that all the time they spend sliding down the playground slide never REALLY amounted to anything and so they would disown their relationship with playgrounds forever?

It’s kinda like that.
Joy is for its own sake.

So, actually, I love structure to the point of being able to involve myself in structure SO MUCH I loose track of what I’m doing. Then I threw the baby out with the bath water. Now I’m comfortable distinguishing them both, as just part of the overall way things are.

So, with structure and last week’s cICA classes, they hit for me on these questions:

How do I wish to approach the structure of my coaching?
Structures like
a) policies and procedures
b) coaching model
c) coaching journey are necessary.

How do I really make them mine?
This is where I am.

And so, yesterday when I sat to gather myself around the fact that it was March already I created a new structure in line with my favorite structure of the last 2 years — Gmail “databases.” These are letters to myself that hold a theme I want to track over time. In the subject line is the word “database” with the name of the theme. Yesterday I created an email topic called “month reflection database” which is place to mark a month’s passing/starting.

I brainstormed my
1) current standing point … what’s objectively true at the start of the month.
2) notable emotions of the last month
3) learnings
4) what’s up for March

and unlike this post, here, the whole thing took about 10 minutes, and I felt like I’d captured lessons of February and let go of it while I brought March into focus. Habitually prepared to be surprised, but with a sense of completion for the past.

Big things up on my radar
personal trainer coach Meghann and lots of re-energized body practices
total immersion in the coaching program at cICA
several new coachees
return of an “old coachee”
many key contacts with peers at cICA (several are scientists with stories to share, or others with stories to share of their experiences and learnings with death)
renewed interest in the various digital tools around me
envisioning and gathering my “loosely-structured Board of Directors” to bring my mix of language, science, bodywork, coaching, workshops and spacious life into the next phase.

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