Tag Archives: personal growth

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.

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The Trustworthy Facilitator

In order to grow and maintain communities where individuals are invited to trust each other and themselves it is essential for the person facilitating to set the standard for trustworthiness. I say facilitator and not leader for a very distinct reason. Leaders need followers in order to be leaders, right? But if we are trying to build community and invite people into safe space where they can explore the movement of the Spirit in their lives, our need to be a leader can very often get in the way. Primarily, if we as the holders and inviters into the space are anything, we are facilitators. We pay most close attention to the transitions, not so much to having the final word. We walk the group through the layers.

A trustworthy facilitator is considering trust levels long before a group ever begins their official conversation. The way we welcome people immediately tells them how close they are able to get with us. Do I welcome people with a hug or a hand shake, asking them how things are going, or do I wait in another room quietly for everyone to join me? Often, I will start the group with a story or thought that I had that day or right before I got there… one that usually makes me look a bit goofy or silly. Last night, at Spiritual Integration, when someone said they heard I was going to help them find God, I noted that I was pursuing enlightenment at the ranch, while shoveling cow manure. Already, they see me as one who is pretty normal. Trustworthy facilitators build trust by meeting people on their level before the official gathering even starts.

Most often, unless participants in the group are very familiar with how the gatherings usually proceed, there are new people who don’t know what is about to happen. No one is really hurt by a general overview of how our time will go… even if they have heard it a hundred times. Without it, though, someone who is new will never be close to the same page as the rest of the group. They are already at a disadvantage with the Trust Factor. To be a trustworthy facilitator means to build trust from the very beginning… by letting people know where we are going to go together.

Another thing that is extremely important for trustworthy facilitators is to establish the intention of a safe space from the very beginning and to name their intention of protecting that space. This allows the group to begin to feel that they can count on this person to be there for them. Confidentiality, treating others as they would like to be treated, no pressure to share, and willingness to take the time each person needs are a few trustworthy intentions to be noted.

The way we physically hold the space (posture, nonverbals, how we listen, etc) is also important, but I will have to write another post on that one. The last thing I would note in this post is the notion of total awareness, especially to the time! It is extremely frustrating when the group goes over with the time and it is clear that the facilitator does not know it or doesn’t care. We lose people immediately because they are trying to tell us as facilitators that we are going over. If we are the ones keeping it going, even worse. It is essential to note when time is almost up and to ask if we might carry it on a little later. This is trust-building.

Opportunities in “I don’t know”

Here’s the LINK to my last article for On the Go-Go… and article below:

Things are changing fast, extremely fast, for many of us. In this time of immediate information transfer, job loss, housing foreclosure, career change, weather shifts, relocation, and instability, many of our efforts to maintain our sanity often are met with blank stares and empty ideas. Personally, each week brings new challenges and changes that I never could have expected. I have started thinking of these shifts as opportunities.

Not very long ago, though, I would have found myself freaking out, worrying, wanting to check out of the uncertainty. I grew up in an environment where we needed to have an answer for everything. Even if I knew deep down that I could be wrong about something, I at least had to work pretty darn hard to come up with as many reasons as possible why I might be right. I got pretty good at this, and up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t really need anybody. In fact, I felt as though everything that I was learning and figuring out about life was my gift to offer everybody else. I had my stuff together, and even in the uncertainty, I had the tools to get through it. I was so smart. My motto was “Even if you don’t know what you are talking about, Nate, at least don’t let them know that.”

But then something clicked for me. (Check here for the rest of the article)