Headbanger’s Rule #9: Adapt and Thrive

In 1984, Def Leppard Drummer Rick Allen was in a terrible car accident in which he lost is left arm. While his arm was fundamentally critical to his profession, he remained in the band – and one of the best drummers in the Heavy Metal universe – by using a customized drum set built to accommodate his new physical limitation. When we lose something that is so much a part of who we are, even when we are dependent upon it for our survival, we can adapt and thrive by creatively responding to the new circumstances of our lives.

My Week: Litter

Yesterday morning, I cleaned out the back of my car only to find that someone left a half full soda bottle on the floor. I often come home to find that someone has left their garbage at my curb, in my yard, or even in my recycling bin. At my workplace, cleaning up the garbage the blows by or is casually dropped in front or in back of the building is a continuous chore.

Like the trash that surrounds me, my mind is similarly cluttered with litter. Unhappy memories, insincere intentions, guilt, shame, and worry take up what would otherwise be pristine space in my precious mind.

Our inner and outer words are mutually reflective. It may be no surprise, then, that my home and my office are full of unnecessary things to which I am attached for both sentimental and practical reasons. Stuff, both real and imagined, surrounds me and saturates my emotional-cognitive processes.

There is a lot of litter that I would be quite happy to remove from my view. All of the dirty and now useless trash that I encounter throughout the day can gladly go away. The litter in my mind, however, is a bit more difficult to purge. While I feel ready to let it all go to create more space and freedom, it seems to keep coming back. It is like the wine glass in The Bishop’s Wife that magically refills whenever it is emptied; however, this glass is full of poison.

Perhaps the process of creating space consists of two steps – not just letting go, but also holding that space open. We can resist the inclination to put something in that space, whether we judge it to be good or bad, and just allow it to be free and breezy. By creating and maintaining open space, our minds will become less cluttered and more clear.

Headbanger’s Rule #8: Be the Rainbow

Dio’s Rainbow in the Dark is another one of my favorite songs and videos. In this song, singer Ronnie James Dio reminds us of the magical potential in natural phenomena such as lightening and rainbows and, perhaps more importantly, that such magic is buried deep inside us if only we can let go and set it free. Rather than be oppressed by the dark, we ought to dance toward the light – and allow the light within us to shine bright.

20 Questions: Starting a Nonprofit

  1. What specific needs will this organization address?
  2. How has the need for this organization been discovered and documented?
  3. How will specific community needs be identified and explored?
  4. What is my motivation for starting this organization?
  5. How does this organization connect with my personal and professional goals?
  6. How does this organization fit in with the programs and services offered by other organizations?
  7. What can we learn from other organizations who are doing similar work?
  8. What resources (money, people, facilities, technology, etc.) are needed to start this organization?
  9. Who will be involved in the development of this organization?
  10. How will the community be engaged in the work of the organization?
  11. How will the work of this organization be sustained over time?
  12. How will this organization help the community served realize its dreams?
  13. What is the organization’s vision and mission?
  14. How will the strategic direction for the organization be developed?
  15. What are the specific goals of this organization?
  16. What are the legal requirements for starting an organization in my state and municipality?
  17. How will we let other people know about this organization through every stage of development?
  18. Who will benefit from this organization?
  19. How will this organization enrich the community as a whole?
  20. What best practices will guide the development of this organization?

My Week: Sleep, Space, and Stillness

Last weekend was a bit of a whirlwind. I spent a lot of time with family, took a yoga class, worked, and traveled. I wasn’t terribly busy, but my time was fully occupied.

The week before had been very stressful at work. It wasn’t necessarily more stressful than usual, but it was challenging nonetheless. While I usually thrive when I am surrounded by multiple challenges, this past week was different.

By Sunday evening, I felt irritable, drained, and just overall icky. I went into the next week feeling depleted and exhausted. It was another difficult work week, and a bit more so than usual. I nearly fell asleep while out to dinner Friday evening. I stayed in bed with the cats a few extra hours on Saturday. Even going to yoga just seemed too stressful so I skipped it.

This experience has reminded me of the value of sleep, space, and stillness. These are three things that I need in sufficient quantity to function and to flourish.

Having been in school for the past three years, I spent a lot of time in isolation reading, reflecting, and writing. I unintentionally developed the discipline of making time for myself week after week. Now that I am not in school, I do not have the same impetus to remove myself to a quiet space for 10-20 hours each week.

Yet, I think that is why I have been doing so well emotionally over the past few years. Space and stillness are two things that I crave as a highly sensitive, introverted person. Sleep is equally important for my emotional balance and contentment.

Despite my respite from the demands of a structured educational program, I am going to intentionally continue to make time for myself every week, and every day, so that I can not only avoid feeling like crap again, but so that I can live a life full of peace and joy. I am going to allow myself the pleasure of sleeping, resting, and reflecting to my heart’s content.

Constructive Creativity

I love being creative and engaging in spaces where anything and everything is possible. Yet, sometimes this can be overwhelming and lead to a sense of frustration rather than liberation. When the ultimate goal is to make a decision or perform an action, constructive creativity may be useful.

Constructive creativity is a way to be effectively innovative. Using this method, the area of inquiry is clearly defined. This process can require a bit of time for discussion and reflection. A common understanding of what is to be investigated is fully articulated. From that common starting point, the creative journey begins. This way, the exploratory process is focused on the specific goal of the creative endeavor and the time invested is directed toward results.

Headbanger’s Rule #7: Taking a Chance

One of my favorite songs is Judas Priest’s Heading out to the Highway. I also love the video. Yes, I’m a bit of a tomboy. Anyway, the entire song is really inspirational. Early in the song, the lyrics state, “you get nothing for nothing, expect it when you’re backseat driving and your hands ain’t on the wheel,” and later, “I’m gonna do it my way, take a chance before I fall.” You really should just listen to the whole song. The gist of it is that we should fully engage in life without being afraid of failure; if we fall, we can bring ourselves back up again. We should take risks, perhaps safer ones than those portrayed in the video, so that we can realize our full human potential.

Moving Up

When we move left and right in our political thought, we saw through the foundation of our thoughts. Rather than moving left or right, I’m moving upward and outward. I am expanding my understanding rather than limiting myself to a linear, one-dimensional perception of political complexities.

If we are strong in our core and have strong political and other beliefs as many of us do, we can maintain our position while expanding our view. We may not shift in what we believe, but we can increase our field of vision and understanding by allowing alternative ideas to enter our frame.

My Week: Asking for Help

I have always felt a great deal of resistance around asking for help. This became quite apparent to me this week as it was lovingly brought to my attention by a coworker.

My reasons for resistance are complex, interconnected, and mostly subconscious. I strive for independence, I like to challenge myself, and I prefer to be a helper rather than a beneficiary. But at the same time, I yearn to be vulnerable, to trust, and to learn from others.

In a letter to Anais Nin, Henry Miller wrote, “by receiving from others, by letting them help you, you really aid them to become bigger, more generous, more magnanimous. You do them a service.” By accepting help from others, we can both benefit. When we reject or do not intentionally seek the support and help of others, we are passively, albeit unintentionally, shutting them out of our lives.

This past week I also began my first coaching relationship (I am the coachee). I was approached by the coach; it was not something that I pursued on my own. I naturally feel open to the process of self-discovery and transformation so I was excited about this possibility. Yet, when the coach started to dig a bit deeper, I felt threatened. I felt as though I needed to maintain the illusion of having it all together and being successful. This is one of the greatest ongoing failures in which I continually submerge myself.

I never hesitate to help others; yet, I do not seek help for myself and sometimes resist or reject help when it is offered to me. I am going to continue to be aware of how I feel in response to accepting loving help and support from others, and push myself to open up to the generous gifts of their minds and hearts. My goal will be to appreciate what others have to share and to balance what I give with what I receive.

Headbanger’s Rule #6: Let Go and Keep Trying

Megadeth is infamous for frequently changing the lineup. So much so, that when I was a teenager I wrote a play (which I have unfortunately lost) about all of the fired members of Megadeth getting together to start their own band. I see two lessons in the Megadeth meltdowns: don’t be afraid to let go of something if it isn’t working and keep trying until you get it right.