Sunday, November 20, 2016

Accepting a Few New Clients in December

For the last few months, I have had to say no to potential new clients. This is the first time I have reached my coaching practice limit, and frankly, I really have had mixed feelings about it.

On one hand, I really have been pushing a bit too hard; I am teaching an extra class this quarter so I can teach only one in the winter (and one of my favorite's, my online "Criminalization of Immigration" course, and what a poignant time to be teaching it!). I am also working on the revisions for my textbook, Navigating Human Services, and am working on a edited book on international health care social work.

However, my coaching practice is perhaps my favorite part of my career, and I miss the excitement of helping people I have not worked with before!

So, with a couple of clients successfully moving through the preliminary stages of the tenure and promotion process (does this really need to be a six month sojourn?),  and with my moving into a less demanding teaching load, I can take on a few new clients!

So, if you know someone who might wish to work with me, let them know! I am willing to give anyone a complementary call (or Google Hangout) to explore potentially working together. Do hurry though; I should book up again soon.

Friday, November 18, 2016

And Acceptance is the Answer...

In my young 20s, I attended a 12-step program for a while that focused on what has been termed "codependency." While it was helpful at a certain time of my life, it was largely not for me. I did, however, learn some valuable lessons that stuck with me.

One of those was from what is referred to as the "Big Book" of Alcoholic Anonymous, a text borrowed by that group.

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
One of the
I really appreciate this perspective on acceptance. It does not mean that we do not seek to change the world, but it means that we need to understand that our own perceptions are the source of our own upset, and that a key means of self-regulation is to accepted the world, and most centrally ourselves, for what they are in this moment

If we wish to change ourselves, we must first accept ourselves, and work on radical self-acceptance as a key to our well-being. 

If we want to change the world, we must reconcile the way it is now, and not deny the nature of its existence. It also means that the world will shift and change in ways that are beyond our control, and that being at peace means learning acceptance without resignation. Again, acceptance without resignation. Struggle without being internally activated. Tough stuff.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Go with Your Energy- An Argument Against Weekly Planning

I think I am starting to become identified as being anti-planning and anti-goal setting. That is just not true. I believe goal setting and planning are essential aspects to being productive. The problem is, they are not the only tools that scholars need to consider in order to increase their productivity. As I have frequently written about, goals have little value unless you build in writing processes, procedures and rituals that lead to daily, or near daily work. Without having a clear set of processes that operationalize goals, weekly, monthly and long- term goals become the fodder for self-reproach and shame.

Another concept to consider when exploring the type of goals you set is the notion of going with your energy. Must I stop something I am excited about because I have other writing goals that I set at some point in the past? Hmmm....

Each year, my department's annual activity planning process calls us to consider what we will write and publish the following year. And each year, I basically ignore this section of our annual reports. I know that I will write each and every day. History has shown me that I can trust myself and go with my energy,; I will write and publish a good deal. If I allow myself the freedom to go with my energy, and stay in process, I will be far more productive than if I force myself to work on that which seemed more interesting the previous year.

Instead of being tied to rigid outcome goals, I go where my energy is, writing articles and books that have currency to me now. When I focus on things that matter to me, I am able to get into the zone and really be super productive, without a great deal of emotional strain. When I fight myself and try to push into a space that I am less than thrilled with, I am less productive.

Of course, this does not mean that I just willy-nilly start things and let them go. Writing takes hard work, and is not always a delight. There are times when finishing out a piece is a royal pain. When a revise and resubmit comes back, I attend to it right away, and try to get it out within two weeks (my rule). Still, I know that the degree to which I write each day, keep my head free of clutter, and use my tools and processes, I will get things done, and feel good about it!

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Let's Start Work Together When I Am Less Busy"

Over the last few weeks, I have received several emails from current, former or potential clients informing me that they wish to work with me, or start back working with me again.  In each case, I was given a projected date in the future for when they they will be less busy. Travel, teaching, conducting data analysis, dealing with sick relatives; these are legitimate reasons why they are not writing.

The problem is, life always happens! Not only that, but it is easy to do well when things are going smoothly, when we are on summer break, and when the universe does not present us with a crisis. But good methods of writing productivity should be designed to account for the vicissitudes of life, for our emotional ups and downs, and for the long haul. The best time to start working with me, or with another coach of any sort, is when things are hard. That is when we can see if various tools and techniques are actually working.

So, don't want until life is perfect to reach out for help. Start now! (well, if it is with me, not until December- I am still booked!!).

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Challenge of the Day: Scarcity Mindset

Many of us have internalized a scarcity mindset. For example, we look at the bare minimum that we need, and hope to get there. This can be with money, love, or writing! 

How have you internalized a mind set of scarcity? What would you need to do to move beyond it, especially with your writing and scholarship? Spend time minutes freewriting on this. Consider its impact on your life and work.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Aqui No Se Rinde Nadie

These were the first words I saw as I crossed the border from Honduras to Nicaragua in 1986. My once near perfect knees bent down and picked up a few pebbles by the side of the road. I rolled them in my hand, waiting for my bus, as I read the words on the billboard. Aqui, no se rinde nadie- "Nobody gives up here."  Above, the broad, almost mocking campesino face of Sandino, the hero of the Nicaraguan revolution, namesake of the Sandinistas. I spent several months traveling over land to come see the revolution. What a magical place, in spite of the war with America's proxy, the Contras, the blockade, the bombing of their harbors, the intention of the most powerful nation of the world to destroy what they built, a tiny revolution by the poor and oppressed. I spent three months in Nicaragua traveling, seeing, touching, listening. Much listening.

Remember the times. The worst days of the Cold War; nuclear war with Russia seemed, if not likely, at least a strong possibility. Tickle-down economics. Death squads. Apartheid. Marginalization. Despair.

This morning I am in my favorite cafe writing this post. I have letters to write and calls to make; friends and students are in pain and are confused. In spite of how absurd everything seems this week, I have much to do. I have dogs to love who know nothing of politics. I have a daughter with whom I will work out later, talk about her freshman year of college, about the nature of hope, hope as small acts of obligation and loyalty. I have clients who are suffering, and for whom the tenure clock will not stop.

And I have these stones, I roll around in my fingers now, thirty years later. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Reccomended Posts for New Readers?

The other day, I asked someone who recently discovered my blog if there was anything he wished I would post about. He responded by asking if I had thought of a pinned post (on twitter) that had links to good places to start reading.

So, dear readers, I am going to work on an list of five or ten "essential" posts (that sounds grandiose, but you get the idea). This would serve as a good introduction to scholars, leaders and creatives who are just learning about my work. It might also serve as a place to go when in need of a little writing pick me up.

So, any ideas for which ones I should choose? Feel free to respond here, or email me!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

750 Words, An Online Tool

For your perusal, 750 words. A tool/community that uses various metrics to help you assess your daily writing. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How are you doing? How are you feeling?

There is nothing like a major life upheaval to teach you the difference between, "How are you doing?" and "How are you feeling?" Even well over a year after my divorce, I am still in touch with the many mixed and complex feelings of it all.

Today, that gulf seems especially wide. I bought a new car yesterday; the old car, sitting, ready to sell. My old car. We brought it to carry my daughter's classical bass. It did not hurt that it was easy to lift my now-ex wife's into wheelchair the back. Painful, painful times. Happy, happy times. Sigh.

Today, I am doing well. I woke up and had a great hour long writing session. I had wonderful chats with a few coaching clients. For the first time in my life, I bought a new car! I am doing well.

But today, I am also filled with grief, loss and sadness.  Letting go of that car triggered a lot for me. Painful, painful memories. Years of dreams that were lost.

Of course, over time, my new car will come to signify hope. New adventures. New dreams. My feelings will be more in line with how I am doing. What is called for on days like this is hope, trust, and patience. I will sit in my chair, dogs in lap, and have a good cry. I will let go a bit.

Tomorrow I will drive to a Punk rock show in Seattle. I will have a scotch at a cool bar beforehand. I will laugh. I may also cry again.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Existential truths, productivity and coaching, over my morning coffee :)

This morning, I came pretty close to crying during a coaching session (Google Hangout); a client has come so far!  She is such an amazing person, and I am so grateful to have been able to be a small part of her journey. 

While I don't let myself "go there" I do allow myself a bit more emotional authenticity and openness in the coaching relationship than I do in psychotherapy practice. This does not mean that I forget professional boundaries and ethics. Hardly. What it does mean is that I can practice a bit more comfortably from my general existential stance.  I utilize techniques from cognitive therapy, CBT, REBT, Narrative therapy, and other approaches, but when it comes down to it, I am an existential practitioner.

I strongly believe that one of the core tasks of living is to create personal meaning; perhaps this is more true for scholars and our work-lives than for just about any human endeavor. I have dozens of "techniques" at my disposal to help scholars write more productivity, yet when they develop a powerful, personal "mission" that they can get on board with, it is far easier for techniques to stick.

Now, back to coffee, and some and some of my own writing :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

One Tree, One Word, One Day

This morning, while walking my dogs (my writing coach and therapist!), I lamented that there are not more trees in my neighborhood. I carried this thought with me for about a block, until I turned the corner. In front of me, one old, thick tree covered in moss. It struck me how perfect this tree was, or this tree and its moss companion. They are moving, ever so slowly, through life just how they should.

I felt silly, lamenting the paucity of trees, with this perfect tree in front of me. And then, I noticed another tree, and yet another. The dogs did what they needed to; we returned home. I sat in my chair, wrote a bit on the introduction for an edited book I am working on. I wrote this. My home is warm. The sky is grey here in Tacoma, just how I love it, just how it is supposed to be. I am loved. I give love. I have help. I am of service. There is that tree. There is writing. There is today.