That Which I Can Recognize But Never Name

(I recently came across this letter in a file and have decided to re-publish it here. I wrote it to friends in February 2008, about my experiences not long after the death of John O’Donohue – for whom I had  begun working just eight months earlier.  )


As a child, I always had a room inside myself . . . → Read More: That Which I Can Recognize But Never Name

Dancing in Every Direction

When I dance, I take steps forward, sideways, backward.  I follow a rhythm.  I coordinate my movements and rhythm to those of other dancers and the music surrounding me, and I love the creative experience.

When I work, I make a plan for moving forward.  I set a pace and resent interruptions or obstacles that require me to slow down or take sideways or backwards steps.  I want everyone else to match my rhythm and I expect the surrounding circumstances to offer only support for my intention and achievement.  I hate when things don’t go my way; I resent and resist.

The question occurs: Is this why I love to dance and hate to work? Is it just a matter of my expectations?  Is it just that I have a misguided understanding of how work should go? . . . read more

What Is Important?

Workflow planners have lots of advice on time management but generally assume that you already have firm grip on your basis for setting priorities.

One of my favorite time planning systems, Steven Covey’s “First Things First,” charts tasks according to quadrants:

  1. urgent-and-important;
  2. not-urgent-but-important;
  3. urgent-but-not-important;
  4. not-urgent-and-not-important.

Very helpful; but, beyond the crying baby and the kitchen fire, I still need to figure out what is truly important.

There seems to be an assumption that we either already know or can sit down and – using logic – decide what is most important in the plethora of demands and desires that make up our lives.

Right.   Since I don’t just automatically know which tasks ought to go first, I’m supposed to DECIDE?  Everything I’m doing is important!  I can list lots of reasons each thing is important to me (including the fact that it is important to others that I do what I’ve agreed to do).

So, being a sincere and responsible adult, I sit down to figure out which things get put off decide on priorities.  I begin and here come the lists of pro’s and con’s, the calculator, the calendar, the waffling, the talks with trusted confidants, the worry about making a wrong decision or making someone unhappy with me.  And subtly, under it all, a secret struggle is engaged between what I am telling myself should be most important and my underground sense that the SHOULD trail leads away from the FUN.

To top it all off, once an order of importance is decided, my nag goes into full operation, running a critical eye down the list, second-guessing the ramifications and reminding me that things are languishing, deadlines are looming, expectations are teetering on the brink of disappointment .  .  .  blechk!

I need a way to know what is important.  I need way to set an order of priorities that my nag will sign-up for and support rather than use as a way to drain all hope of fun from my days.  . . . read more

Willpower and Willingness

My inner nag is pointing out all the things I’ve left undone . . . and my inner resister-of-authority wonders if the ‘not doing’ is about needing a break.  This is always a tricky question.  I am so ready to believe that I’m a slacker who is just looking for an excuse to play hooky. 

 Productivity / Creativity – getting enough of both

Does productivity rely on effort or nurture?  I know that creativity needs nurturing (plenty of inspirational experiences and freedom).  I’ve always assumed that productivity needed a firmer hand, a driving force.  Now I’m wondering if that is necessarily true?

My creativity can dream things up – but bringing a dream from hope to fruition requires discipline, which is, in my experience, a triumph of will over unwillingness (nose to the grindstone; buckle down; straighten up and fly right . . . you get the drift).   

Might it be possible to have robust productivity without tyrannical will-power and the abrasion of facial features?  . . . read more