Navigating Change for Makers ( a series of posts I wrote in April 2012)

We don't get to know what is going to happen.

(yes, even those of us with a magic eight ball that doesn't conjure up - reply hazy, try again - 99% of the time like mine does)

We don't get to have sure-things and job securities and relationships that are guaranteed to never ever evolve away from us.

(and this sounds like it sucks - but only if you don't think it through to the end I promise)

There may have been a time in our planet's history that those things were available - that with a fixed attitude you could create a fixed outcome - but times have changed - we can't go home again and anchoring ourselves with an abundance of comfort and security on the straight and narrow path actually throws the entire planetary system off-course.

(yes, we are, each and every one of us that important!)

Because the irony is that there is nothing certain about certainty anyway

(we need a new definition please Mr. Webster)

and the only guarantee that really comes with doing the thing that seems the most likely to produce that good safe outcome

is that we get to go through life wondering how things could have been if only we weren’t so fixed on the most sure thing, if only we weren't so determined to hold onto what used to work for us (or even worse what used to work for someone else) -

if only we weren't so scared.

(cue the Jaws music here)

Now the opposite of fear is not courage in its modern definition. Since courage is something that can only evolve by facing fear (in a feel the fear and do it anyway, kind of way) and that isn't how other opposing polarities work after all. You don't get cold by facing up to heat or get silence by being very loud.

(although silence can speak very loudly so I may be on the wrong track with this part)

The root of the word courage is cor (the Latin word for heart) though, so we can work with that one.

Courage originally meant to speak one's mind by speaking one's heart.

As makers we have to do this, we can't not do it, it is who we are and why we are here and without an intrinsic "wholeheartedness" to our work we may as well be living in another century because this one - the one our souls have chosen to fully participate in - will pass us by.

And if you are still thinking this is a bus you would rather leave the station without you I ask that we consider that the uncertainty of this exact period of time is a gift -

that without a big picture to guide us we can do ... well, anything actually!

I have been shaky with uncertainty so many times in the past few months -

(yes, spilling coffee and long held beliefs all over the livingroom, life is messy)

and shaky (remember that DeNiro movie and Oliver Sacks book about the illness where people shook themselves to the point of rigidity) can lead to stillness (a good thing) which leads to action (another good thing) - and perhaps most importantly it evolves into a kind of softening

(or rigidity, it is always up to us after all - but if we do not want to end up in a room with people in white coats throwing plastic balls at our heads - you may have to see the movie to know what the hell I am talking about here - softening is probably the way to go)

a less certain way of being in the world that is well ... pretty damn amazing at times.

Up Next - Navigating for Makers Part II - the gift of uncertain times

*have your cake print by DB Artist

(In my quest to finish up any unfinished business - can unfinished business ever be finished?? - I had a past life telephone reading with an amazing intuitive a friend recommended - I don't want to bore everyone with the details but I do want to say that she said hubs had had many lives in the military and was a high up general and me ...

was I Cleopatra, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman?

well, no I wasn't.

But ... I was ... a whirling dervish

yes, you heard me folks, hubs was a general and I was a whirling dervish - which explains why he calls everything a "mission", is very precise and organized, hates the cold and is obsessed with foot care - it also explains why I like to eat wild mushrooms, my propensity to spin myself into delirium and fondness for tall hats - she also said I have access to fairies from many lives as a midwife which explains the sparkly dust in my studio in the morn


Sometimes when I am at a crossroads trying to decide which direction to take - I get rid of something.

Sometimes a whole lot of somethings.

(once an entire business that I flew to Chicago and dumped onto my niece's livingroom floor)

I sell it or give it away or throw it away or often I leave it at the curb with a FREE sign carelessly lettered on a piece of cardboard and it is ... gone ... fast.

(one of the great things about the crowded state of New Jersey is that there is a home for every unwanted end table, broken flower pot and bottle of Debbie Gibson cologne circa 1988)

the very first spring cleaning was almost certainly a woman who having been cocooned by winter for far too long and seeking expansion simply shed what she could not take with her

Often the act of shedding alone can create the space for us to get clear on what we want.

Sometimes it feels like we have no choices - like things are going on outside of our control - but we can usually control what we do today.

Today we can make a courageous choice and stick with it. We won't look back and wonder what if - we won't look forward and wonder what lies ahead.

We will simply choose.

When we think we should know what to do or need to know what is going to happen or what is next - we get stressed. Stress is not good.

(well, sometimes stress is good because it makes us decide, but usually stress is to negative 'feeling' the way that worry is to negative 'thinking' it can quite literally eat us up)

But when we embrace that not knowing is our natural state - we can open into that.

We can see that, in a sense, we can’t really know anything. We have never and will never know anything. So when the time comes to make a decision, we simply choose.

we simply choose and let life change us

(feeling inspired right now by the painful journeys that have brought us to the places we would have never chosen and in the end have taught us a little bit about what we are made of - which is stars and galaxies and total amazingness actually and I promise to tie this into our makings models in Part III - trying to keep these posts short and sweet - just like me and Olive - ack) xo

* one day handwritten print by merelee made


Now, I have always been the girl with more trust in confusion than trust in confidence.

Tell me about the sure thing - the fact that you know best - the million dollar idea - that you are absolutely right, what I should do, what you should do - yadda, yadda - and you are certain to see my eyes glaze over and my feet inch toward the exit sign.

Tell me that you are not certain but your heart is stirring - you are unsure of what to do next - you have done no thing for yourself in so long, you have no idea what you even want to do - you do not know if this will work - you aren't sure - and I will be listening ...

I will be right there with you!

Following our heart does not mean we will never lose money. It does not mean we will never get hurt. We don't work from our hearts to make our lives safe.

All the tens of hundreds of thousands of people who are out of work were not fired or laid off by chance.

(and I am not talking about jobs moving offshore and corporate greed and stagnating money and underwater mortgages because although on one level all those things are happening, on another level this unraveling of our safety net - a safety net that has always been made of our intention for safety and need to be cared for, which we are evolving (kicking and screaming) past - is so much bigger than all of that)

Doing unpalatable work soley to earn money is no longer in harmony with the energy sweeping the planet - but if we lose that job that if we were honest with ourselves we didn't love anyway and we spend hours and days and weeks and months running around in circles applying for similar jobs to the ones that left us -

this is kind of like when you want to break up with that boyfriend, you know the one who gave you something to do on a Saturday night and someone kind of presentable - well, except for his stupid bulldog t-shirt collection - to bring to your parents on holidays,

but the one who didn't make your heart sing and you knew that and although you knew you were going to have to change this relationship because it really wasn't working, you didn't want your life to change just then and of course what happens is the guy with the bulldog t-shirt collection

who has most likely been feeling exactly the same way about you that you have been feeling about him - well, he dumps you on your ass and suddenly you realize (fall into your fear) just how great he was and how adorable those t-shirts were and then you run around in circles trying to get the t-shirt guy back or finding someone else equally un-challenging

- when what is really happening is that life is calling on us to expand, to raise our vibration and clear away the cobwebs so the right stuff can find us.

Life got tired of waiting for us to leap and finally just pushed us, ready or not, off that damn limb

and, depending on how awake we were before that push, we may have landed in a pile of leaves or a pile of snow or if we were really in a deep sleep - the sleep where you are so deep and snoring so loudly that you don't even stir when your wife smacks you in the head with her Nook - not that I have done this - well, maybe it has taken a hard landing in a field of desert cactus or a rocky cliff to
wake us up!

I know so many people who tell me they don't watch the news because they don't want to see any bad news and this is exactly the way of thinking that brings this bad news to our door so we can see it.

This isn't to punish us. Everything in life is showing us our connection to every other thing - the wheels are set in motion for all of us. We can barricade that door and spend weeks, months, maybe even years holding at bay what we think is out there - but it is absolutely coming in anyway - or we can open that door now.

So the second thing I do when I am at a crossroads

(after getting rid of something - see Part II) -

I make something.

(making things is not just for professionals named Martha in Connecticut or skinny people in Brooklyn who wear black - this is not about making something perfect or something amazing or something that says anything other than I made this)

The act of creating anything is a spiritual act. Our grandmothers instinctively knew this because this is how they spent their days - they made bread, the made sweaters, they made friends with their neighbors, they made a life with what they had.

I will finish up this series tomorrow with Part IV of Navigating Change for Makers -

here is a wonderful link to the amazingly talented artist, musician and writer Kirsten Cram's blog as she tells the tale of the beginnings of her little adventure called Tollipop which started with a voice that called to her with the words "you should make something".

* keep your coins, I want change photograph by YMPhoto


As a maker with a maker business

(or a wannabe maker business - which is an exciting, and yes, sometimes scary, place to be, too)

at a time of immense change when we do not know what to do next - when life is cracking us wide open and up is down and down is up -

it is often the time to be still and listen (ie hear and pay attention).

We hope the answers will come to us quickly - and sometimes they do - but often life wants us to have this empty space.
It's not a time to panic -
it's a time to stop.

(and sometimes the problem isn't that we don't know when to stop, but that we don't know how to get unstopped - and sometimes when we just can't get clear on where we are going it is because we are already exactly where we are supposed to be and we just haven't made full use of it yet)

Prayer and affirmations are a great way to ask for what we need, but meditation is really the best way to listen.

This listening part can take awhile.

Sometimes we have to let pieces of our life (and other people's lives - we are all connected after all) shift to allow what needs to happen to happen. We have to trust that there are lots of things going on behind the scenes - we have to have faith.

This can be the hardest part for people who like to take action. But our fallow times are there for a reason - the universe can't send us stuff - ideas, people, connections, etc - if we haven't made room in our life for it.

Fallow times can bring up alot of fear.

(Asking ourselves - is there any excitement in this fear? because there almost always is - is a good idea. We are designed to move through fear - we were not designed to play it safe)

Fear is faced with courage which means speaking one's mind by speaking one's heart. We always have to do what works for us.

(and sometimes we find out what works for us by finding out what doesn't work)

A few years ago

(after 9/11 but before the Iraq War)

I trademarked the words Homeland Security Blanket - I made a few sample blankets with the tagline "don't forget to tuck and cover".

Then the Iraq War started and almost over night this entire concept that I had put so much time and energy into just didn't work for me anymore. There were still plenty of people who would have bought my blankets, but it just wasn't in my heart to make money with them.

If I had stayed with this - I'm sure I would have made money, maybe as much money as I have made with Olive Bites, maybe more,

but I would not have made the life I have now. I let it go trusting that something better and more authentically me was waiting.

When I first started my new lines I had absolutely no idea I would be making a living with cork and car parts. I had decided to go back to school and was looking to make enough money to pay for that. I had no idea where following my heart would lead (and of course I still don't).

"This doesn't work for me" is a higher reason to not do something than "this isn't going to pay my bills".

I would not have thought I could pay my bills with my jewelry and believe me I did enough craft shows pre-Etsy with poor sales that it was only the knowledge that I knew I was speaking my heart and would find my place that kept me moving forward.

Sometimes people give up too soon and decide - "this isn't going to pay my bills" - and maybe it won't, because many things don't - but it could evolve into something or lead us to something or take us somewhere that will.

This is a time in our planet's history when we are being asked to give things up (or life is prying those things from our fingers - which is why I do not worry about broken nails anymore) - it is time to let go of what isn't working because we are meant to have so much more.

And this "more" isn't always something external because life is big and messy and complicated (and small and neat and simple - isn't that amazing!).

Sometimes the desire to create a business is more about what that "desire" does for us inside than about the thing we are trying to produce which may or may not make us money now. Maybe the desire is preparing us for something else later.

1. Give Something(s) Away (Part II)
2. Make Something (Part III)
3. Listen
4. Then Choose Wholeheartedly

As always I will wrap up this series with the disclaimer that following any advice on my blog could result in you ending up living in your parents' basement and addicted to Angry Birds, so proceed at your own risk

(unless of course this would be an improvement over your current living situation in which case I will take full credit for your success).

* released print by oreilly ink

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