Tag Archives: Enneagram

On Being Thorough

For some of us unlucky folks (or perhaps lucky), thoroughness does not come naturally. “This is good enough,” we say. So a job is done, but maybe not completely. So what if my shelves are off by 1/16th or even 1/8th of an inch? No one can tell. There is a grain of rice on the counter… no big deal. I can attest that I save a lot of time this way! This is good.

But for others, the need to be thorough is a burden (or a blessing) we have learned to carry. Everything has to be done to completion or even perfection. That 8th of an inch is not okay and neither is that grain of rice… look at how much it stands out! So things remain quite tidy and very well done. This is good, too.

This morning, I found myself saying for each thing I did, “Be thorough, Nate. Be thorough.” I needed this, and I needed to remind myself of this with each task I put hands to. For others, there is a need to say, “Let this go for now. It’s okay.” Each of these reminders are hard ones to follow through with on some days, but needed. It is true, as well, that we can’t expect the other to measure up to our standard… but we need each other and we need to understand each other.

If you are familiar with the Enneagram, with 9 (the Peacemaker) and 1 (the Perfectionist) these are common issues. May we find a balance. May we gently remind ourselves to do more… or less even! There is no right way when it comes to these things, only the right way unto ourselves and our particular way of walking in the world. Balance, awareness, self-acceptance, and love for the moment, these I wish for you and for all beings.


Climbing Mountains


I’m a lot calmer now. There are so many times I wish I could be more in control of my environment. If I could only keep the dog from eating Brendan’s spaghetti that I feel so good about making for him (it even had meat in it…). If I could only stop my two year old son from screaming and crying for no apparent reason… something that doesn’t involve going back outside and jumping in puddles or spilling water everywhere as he helps with the dishes. If I could only just cure my wife’s baby nausea and have enough food in the house to match her voracious appetite. If only it would stop raining on my clean laundry that is “drying” on the line.

It is such a ride to watch my emotions happen, mainly anger and resentment… not necessarily a fun ride, that’s for sure. As a 9 on the Enneagram, that anger is always hanging out close by, ready to explode. Now that the dog was yelled at and banished to the back yard, Brendan is talking to himself in bed happily, my tea is drank, the dishes are done, and some semblance of calm rests on the house, the heat can die down under the water kettle that is my anger.

That’s so what it is, too… a kettle. I start rumbling and building up pressure as the heat turns up, and then its only a matter of time before I am boiling and whistling away. God forbid that this doesn’t last too long, or it is misery for myself and any around me. It happens so often on these restless days when all I feel like I’m doing is waiting. Waiting for the rain to stop, waiting for a friend to call, waiting to start working again, waiting for Brendan to take a nap, waiting for Kat’s nausea to end. Ugh, get me out of here.

Yesterday, my stir-craziness was at its maximum level so I did the only thing a sane person would do… climb a mountain. I picked the closest one. Tumalo Mountain and gave myself all of two hours to go up and back down. Of course it was raining and so windy my fingers kept going numb. I had my bag of raisins to eat (as my stomach only contained what was left of the half peanut butter sandwhich I had for lunch) which I had to keep alternating hands while I shoved the other in my pocket. It was cold, and my 9 kept telling me I didn’t have to go all the way to the top. Well, I did anyway. 90 minutes to go up… and I was supposed to be home in a half hour.

So I ran back down. 30 minutes. I think my knees, hamstrings, and most other muscles in my legs were about to give out as I hit the trailhead. I am feeling it today, but it feels good. So while all I want to do is check out from all the waiting, anger, and stress, I suppose mountain climbing works too.

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;

to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
– Dawna Markova

Setting Priorities, fun for the 9…

This whole year so far has been one of such deep, deep searching and clarifying of intention and person and soul. Friends have been asking me what I have been doing lately, and as of last week (due to sickness and much work at Great Harvest Bakery), I have been telling people I have 3 priorities:

  • Kat (along with baby Brendan) and the home
  • Work (as much as I would rather this be of lesser importance…)
  • Homework (I am after all paying for my further education and it is deeply important to my gifts to the community)

Of course wrapped into all of this is my deep dedication to listening, prayer, and self-work.

Setting priorities in this way has always been a major hurtle for more me. Much of the importance of the homework I have been dedicating myself to has been in working with the Enneagram (one of our western civilization’s oldest tools for spiritual growth). It has been one of the most enlightening (and “gut wrenching”) things I have ever been exposed to. After a bit of confusion and brutal honesty, I realized that 9 is my central number… and that I have been working on 9 issues probably my whole life. Riso and Hudson describe 9 as the following on their website

The easy-going, self-effacing type. Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually grounded, supportive, and often creative, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent and emotionally distant, simplifying problems and ignoring anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.

My sister, Brittany,  reflected recently on being a 4.

I have been reading Richard Rohr‘s book, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, and finding it so powerfully informing. In reflecting on the root sin|set-back|hurdle of the 9, which is laziness (or goal-lessness), I realize some humbling truths. A 9 numbs himself under stress, in an effort to maintain balance, harmony, peace. The turnaround is having goals and practicing taking the first step.

Personally, I will actually stay busy|active|engaged with small tasks (email, extra time reading, coffee shop, movies, drinking a beer, etc) SO THAT I can avoid doing other important tasks. And its not even that I don’t want to do these other tasks… I just don’t want to do them in that instant. I don’t want to take the first step. As Rohr writes and says, “I’ve been doing everything for all the wrong reasons my whole life.”

There are of course many positives to being a 9… I don’t have to get into them now… time to take the first step and eat my lunch (rather than blogging) so I can get to my 1:00 meeting on time.