Awakening in 2017

I would have said that New Year’s Day is really just another day on the calendar.  An arbitrary delineation that gives us a moment of pause, an opportunity to reflect on the past and the future.  Then WHY did I awaken today feeling such a monumental shift in my energy and focus?

I admit I’ve been in quite a funk these past few weeks since the presidential election. I could sum up my emotions as equal parts fury and despair. It has actually felt physical!  My heart hollow, my spirit short-circuited, my body exhausted.  Have you felt it too? Or perhaps I’m been suffering a malaise induced by my escapes to the catatonia-land of my smart phone and ipad? 

Today, though, I am awake and I wonder why. Is it the phase of the moon (a tiny sliver of hope) in the night sky? Was it last evening’s playful camaraderie of new and old friends snapping me out of it?  Have I been in a resting state in preparation for something new?

Today I see symbols in everything around me, like the clean light layer of snow that fell in the night.  My daily readings are relevant and powerful, like Richard Rohr’s meditation, “Create in me a new heart, O God.”  I am inspired by growth opportunities landing in my inbox, like Stephen Dinan’s belief that we are all part of a new Renaissance and his call to the million participants of The Shift Network to reset our vision of the future.

I am answering the call.  My “work” (my joy and my blessing) is the Enneagram.  This treasured system gives us the tools for personal transformation, a natural outcome of each person’s willingness to awaken to truth. 

These are troubled times and there is much to agonize about.  We don’t have to be  Head Types for our minds to get the best of us when we’re repeatedly exposed to negativity or, dare I say, reality. As Bruce Springsteen lamented in Thunder Road, “You can hide ‘neath your covers and study your pain…” Or not. 

Today, January 1, 2017, I sense that a new level is not just possible, but beckoning.  We, together, have a way to heal our world. We have the tools. Our Enneagram types show how wounded each of us is.  We know that we inflict pain on others and on ourselves, and we know the way through it.  With the help of others on the journey, we “do our work.” 

My desire, my hope, my intention is that we transmit those healed parts of ourselves up and out into the world.  That we speak of who we are and live what we know is possible. 

Happy New Year dear hearts! 



A Conversation Starter about LOVE!



     If we look at the Enneagram typology, we might notice

     certain characteristics or behaviors

     when love is in the air.


As a Peacemaker (Type Nine), I show love by walking in your shoes with you and by bringing ease and harmony to our conflicts. Of course, I don't ALWAYS do this. And even when I do, it doesn't necessarily have the outcome I expect.

For the Reformer (Type One), showing love can mean helping you to find a better way.

For the Helper (Type Two), Giving means loving!

For the Achiever (Type Three), showing up with positive energy can lift your spirits and help you feel loved.

The Individualist (Type Four) shows love by listening and understanding with true empathy.

The Investigator (Type Five) will dive to the depths with you to make discoveries and expand your imagination together.

For the Loyalist (Type Six), protecting you and carrying your burden are true gifts.

The Enthusiast (Type Seven) shares your dreams of adventures and a beautiful future together. 

The Challenger (Type Eight) will make your relationship vibrant, intense and alive.

These are all precious ways to love. But our "personality structure" often presents us with a very limited gift box. When we become more self-aware and less identified with that structure, our gifts of love come without strings. They become more surprising, more creative and more expansive. 

We can Be Love. 



A Pretty Big Question

As I was driving blissfully along the other day, I thought about one of my most puzzling questions and I realized it's a question that can be very tricky for all Enneagram Types to answer. Each will have its own special twist – of course!
What do I need?? (or want?)  9748135_m
How do I know that what I "need" (rest, emotional support, distraction, exercise, a vacation…) is what I really need or if it's just giving in to my personality's more compulsive nature?  How do we know that zeroing in on what we need is for our personality's relief or an honoring of our essential self? 

Does the answer require intelligent analysis based on the current situation or circumstances, or can it be found somewhere else entirely? 


So, let's say we are in a somewhat precarious or difficult situation. For me, as a Type Nine Peacemaker, my desire is to move as quickly as possible to a better place! I want peace. I want to reduce the stress and the conflict and do whatever it takes to feel better.

I recently found myself in a situation where I was being unfairly treated. The feelings were painful. I felt judged and it made me angry. It seemed to me that the best solution (what I most needed) was to remove myself from any further involvement. The pull to "go away" was strong and familiar. (These patterns usually are.) 
I spent a lot of time in my head trying to work through this. There were outcomes to consider and other people's feelings… 
Okay, now we get to the good stuff. With helpful guidance and a commitment to being present, I was able to notice the sensations in my body that were not particularly pleasant – shallow chest breathing and lots of tension. I was able to acknowledge and feel my true feelings, also not particularly pleasant – anger and pride rising to the top of the list.
My compulsion to run away was strong, but trying that on made me feel very small, like a child who isn't seen or heard. It can be compelling to fall into habits — in my case, to just disappear. When I unconsciously withdraw to avoid a conflict, there's a good chance I will lose my connection with myself.
Finding a different solution, action or response sometimes means we have to go against the flow of our usual patterns, but we can only do that when we're "awake!" You might even be surprised to discover that in your awake and present state, you choose to do your usual thing, but it will feel much different.
My attention to my process brought me to a place where I am free to choose a path of engagement, which as it turns out, feels quite peaceful! 

Transforming anything!

This week I was in the grocery checkout line distracting myself with the magazine and tabloid headlines.  Oprah's "O" caught my attention:  "Transform Your Life One Easy Tweak at a Time."  I had to think, is that possible? I'm pretty sure one easy tweak could result in a small movement in the direction you hope to go, but transformation??  I don't think so.   

Transformation implies radical change and I'm pretty sure that kind of change only happens in unique or special circumstances.  Some of these possibilities are under our control and others come from pure grace (which I kind of think only happens when you're open to it).

In this blog I want to share my personal (and fairly ordinary) experience.  As we all have, I've struggled to incorporate certain habits into my life and to let go of others.  I always think I can ease into it.  I remember many years ago when I wanted to quit smoking I tried holding myself to fewer and fewer cigarettes with the intention of quitting.  Didn't work.  The only way I quit was to QUIT!  

My attempts to get physically fit usually involve some exercise routine a certain number of days a week, giving myself at least two days off.  Those two days off tend to shift around based on my busyness (and other excuses) until they become 3 or 4, and pretty soon I've given it up altogether!  

I got a glimpse of a real transformation earlier this summer.  I spent about a month preparing myself mentally and emotionally to embrace a one-month long health detox. I wanted to reduce the symptoms of my rheumatoid arthritis and I just wanted to see how I would feel if I stopped consuming the substances that I suspect are inflammatory:  caffeine, wine, gluten, sugar, dairy…  Oh boy.  That's a complete list of everything I love!!  

It was pretty scary to imagine 28 days of following a very strict regimen.  I examined my fear and discovered I was afraid of giving up or giving in, but I was also afraid of who I might become (more on that in another blog)!  AND, mixed in with all this fear was something expansive.  Something motivating.  Something that stirred me up!  It was the challenge! This was a BIG thing and I was going to do it!

I faithfully stayed with the detox plan every single day!  I remember, about 2 weeks in, walking down the street and becoming aware of how good I felt.  I felt lighter, more alert, happy!!  Through the summer I re-gained most of the 15 pounds that I lost.  I am back to enjoying most of the food and drinks that I love.  But the detox was transformational for me.  I choose what I eat and drink with a new awareness. I have a fondness for green smoothies and dandelion tea. I am tuned into what my body is telling me. I am more conscious!  

When we try to make big changes by tweaking one thing at a time, it's easy to lull ourselves back into our familiar patterns.  It is, after all, such a tiny step backwards. Little is to be gained and little lost.  It's a recipe for same-ness if you ask me.  

Becoming conscious is always the path to ongoing transformation.



Doing the “Work”

In one of my introductory Enneagram workshops I remember a man asking me, "Why do you keep calling this 'work'?  What is the work?" This a question that deserves a proper answer.  


First, we have to let go of the usual impressions we have about work. This work is not something that earns wages (although its' rewards are substantial and continue to compound throughout life).  Neither is it something that requires a uniform, a hard hat or a power suit (although it does require us to show up every day fully prepared). This work is not something that produces sweat (although it is likely to produce some tears).

10060695_sFor those who find themselves compelled to answer the question "Who am I?", the work is an intentional unfolding of truth.  We courageously observe our internal and external habits and reactions.  We do so with kindness and patience, both strict requirements of our work. Curiousity and a spirit of discovery allow personal revelations that have the power over time, to change us in profound ways.

We become stronger, more authentic, more compassionate, more at peace.  And that's the short list!

It was said by G.I. Gurdjieff that "The work is not difficult to do alone. It is impossible."  I believe this to be true.  Having the support of a guide or a group is invaluable – and hardly feels like work at all!