Tag Archives: bill plotkin

How I changed my name in residency

2014-07-03 12.04.30When I started this last year, I was faced quite painfully with many of the forgotten and unexpressed emotions that I had for such a long time resisted. I was a boy once with dreams, an imagination, an innocence, and a carefree-ness.

I began to believe things, one way or another, about myself. Things that were not true. Things that made that boy “grow up.”

Shame, guilt, competence, fitting in, having the right answers, not getting caught… these were things that I didn’t know or care anything about. But I began to believe things, one way or another, about myself. Things that were not true. Things that

2014-07-03 12.08.28made that boy “grow up” and push down feelings of loneliness, sadness, anger, and confusion. My supervisor told me one day, “Nate, I want to know that little boy’s name.” For a long time, I just called him “the Little Swedish Baptist boy.” He was the one who was hurt, the one who was not quite ok just the way he was.

And then one day, or over the course of a few days (I don’t remember how the process fits together), I realized that I have always been known as Nate. At least since our family moved to Michigan and I first experienced what it was like to be bullied by my peers. There was another Nathan in the class, a mean little guy, who was so cruel to some of us. I was the new kid so I accepted the name change. And Nate was the self I crafted. Nate became, to an extent, a false self. Not to say there weren’t glimpses of my true self coming through, and often, but I’ve experienced a lot of “hedging in” in my 34 years. A natural and good curiosity told that this or that was outside the realms of orthodoxy or was “new age” or was silly or an embarrassment… the list could go on. I realized that around the time of using “Nate” as my name, I first began experiencing tangible shame.

2014-07-03 12.06.51So I tried introducing myself as Nathan. It was a reminder to myself that my true self can do this job. My true self is ok to be present here. Often speaking of this significance brought me to tears. So Nathan is sticking. As my supervisor noted one day, “It’s almost as though you are realizing that Nate can’t authentically do this work of chaplaincy, but Nathan can.” How true, how true. It becomes easier and easier for me to speak of myself as Nathan, a name that for many, many years didn’t seem like it fit me any more. Each time, part of my true self is brought into the relationship and I am reminded of who I am.

cropped-img_3359.jpgTraditional rites of passage for men almost always involved some sort of naming. A boy would go into the wilderness, leaving his family and his community, to connect with Spirit and with self. It was in the wilderness that he would find what his true gift to give to the community was. And he would be given his new name. He would then re-enter the the world of his people with his new responsibility (Bill Plotkin calls it the “soulcraft”) and his new name. It is in a legacy such as this that I will often say that this time has been a year-long rite of passage. For I have my soulcraft, my sacred dance, and I have my name.

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Bill Plotkin’s latest… Wild Mind

Wild Mind by Bill PlotkinI have started reading Bill Plotkin’s latest book, Wild Mind (Get it HERE). So far, I love it! As some of you know, I have done a lot of work with Plotkin’s books, especially Nature and the Human Soul, from leading a 5 month community discussion, to a weekend workshop, to attending a conference, to (most significantly) using the material and tools with almost all my directees. I have found Plotkin’s work to be so usable as he brings in some very core elements of being in nature and coming into relationship with our souls.

Wild Mind moves beyond Plotkin’s core template of Eco- and Soulcentric Wheel of Human Development (which covers childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and elderhood), and moves towards a robust and nature-based view of the Self. In the book, he describes four separate facets of the Self, centered in each of the four directions. The Nurturing Generative Adult (North), the Innocent/Sage/Sacred Fool/Trickster (East), the Wild Indigenous One (South), and the Muse, Inner Beloved, Anima/Animus, Guide to the Soul (West). Each has their corresponding subpersonalities which come from our woundedness. Our Loyal Soldiers (North), Escapists and Addicts (East), Wounded Children (South), and our Shadows (West). HERE is a helpful diagram.

Plotkin feels that in order to heal our woundedness, it is essential for us to get to know and grow each aspect of the Self. In our wholeness, we embody each of the four facets at different times and we can learn to access them purposefully. In our woundedness, we tend to gravitate towards one of the subpersonalities and are often unaware that there is more to draw from or fall into.

I am only four chapters in at this point, but there is so much that is coming up for me… as is most often the case with Plotkin’s books. I look forward to writing more on the book from a more personal perspective.

I highly recommend checking out the webpage for the book, as there is a lot of helpful info like diagrams, workshops and tools for helping others.

Here is a trailer for the book, with Bill himself.

Have I really only come this far?!?

In times of transition, it’s only natural for me to think about where I have gone and how far I have come. I left Minnesota in 2007 with a Masters Degree and a school bus driving job. After living in Bend, what have I done? A temporary intern at a church, a ranch hand, an assistant to ginger brew and chocolate making companies, a sweets baker at Great Harvest, a substitute teacher, community director and co-owner of a yoga studio, a personal assistant to an acupuncturist, and now a school bus driver again.  Hmmm… so the career path doesn’t look that glamorous.

And what else? I’ve met my soul mate and best friend, Kat, gotten married, have the most perfect son named after two great Celtic heroes, Brendan Arthur, made some wonderful friends, did my Men’s Rites of Passage, served on the founding board of a global men’s organization, got an amazing new car (much better than the minivan), am less in debt that 6 years ago, got more education and certified as a Spiritual Director, and am starting my career in hospital chaplaincy.

It is all about what we choose to look at. I use the following model for development in my personal life and with almost all my directees:

plotkin's wheel In his book, Nature and the Human Soul, Plotkin writes about our survival dance and our sacred dance. All of us have both. The survival dance is the work and tasks that pay the bills. We have to start here. Most of the time we go to college and come out with a survival dance. Our sacred dance is the work that is written on our souls to do. We have to discover this through a lot of trial and error and a lot of self discovery. We usually don’t quite get it till stage 5 (above) and we don’t have it mastered till stage 7. This takes a long time.

Often, even after we have a sense of what our sacred dance is in life, we have to dance our survival dance as we put our soul’s calling to work. We don’t often get paid for our sacred dance in the beginning. As we keep moving down this path, however, our sacred dance and survival dance become one. See, God/the universe/the divine has written it on our souls that this is what we are to do in this life. The world is not right until we dance our sacred dance and it will support us as we live it in its fullness.

So to make a lot of words much less, as I look at the last few years (and as I sit with others on their journeys). it becomes so important to look at the bigger picture. What dance am I here to dance? and am I dancing it… even a little? Supplementary income and work is usually just fine, when we can answer that second question in the affirmative.

Being OK with Naivite… living with a vision

I suppose some would call me naive. I do, after all, believe that we can change the world… one village at a time. I hear, and maybe it’s just in my own head, “Nate, how are you going to provide for a family? Why are you not making much money? Are you saving anything? When are you going to get a real job?” Get practical. Budget (hey! I do that!).

I think there is part of me, festering there from traditional, commercialistic societal messages, saying I can’t really make money building community and connecting people. Maybe there isn’t a place in our current economic world for visionaries. It seems that the message we often hear is that it’s ok to think outside the box for a while, but eventually we need to grow up and get real. Better to build the bank account and make decisions from practicality rather than from a place of principle, values, and vision.

There is a Proverb that says,

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Bill Plotkin writes, in Soulcraft,

Even in Western society, our deepest yearnings go far beyond a vacation or retirement. We long for a vision of our destiny, and, eqully, for a way to carry that vision as a gift to others.

A task without a vision is just a job.
A vision without a task is just a dream.
A vision with a task can change the world.

It is sacred work, this “vision with a task,” that we seek, individually and collectively. The rarity of finding sacred work is at the root of our Western despair and sorrow. When not acknowledged and embraced, our grief is acted out through violence, against ourselves, each other, and the environment. Unacknowledged grief also manifests as depression, anxiety, and a growing sense of meaninglessness.

So I would much rather hear what someone is passionate about than what they are making. I would rather hear about the joys they are finding in giving their gifts to the world than hear about the latest “toy” they bought or expensive vacation they just took for themselves. I want to hear about the giveaway, not the take-away.

How are you changing the world? That’s what I want to hear! And if it has a “You are so naive” attached to it… that’s ok with me. Where there is no vision, the people will perish.

What’s your vision?

Nature and the Human soul – Middle Childhood

Just wanted to send along an invite to you to join us for our Spiritual Integration conversations on Tuesday nights at myc yoga in downtown Bend. We meet at 7:15.

Also, join us on the podcast or catch up on what you have missed. http://www.spiritualintegration.mypodcast.com

Bill Plotkin’s book, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World is a world-changer. We are working our way through it every week through April and would love to have you as part of the conversation.

Here’s last week’s conversation:

Nature and the Human Soul Dialog – Chapter 5

And the notes:

2010-02-09 – Chapter 5 outline