Archive for September, 2009

right brain writing 5

I was fretting about not responding to several literary agents I met at a writer’s conference who’d agreed to review parts of my book-in-progress. My dominant hand wrote ‘I feel like I’m sabotaging myself.’ My alternate hand pointed out that I was doing several other proactive things and then asked, why are you putting off agents? seems like punishing self either way (not contacting & berating self for not)

No surprise: I’d set myself up by hoping that instead of what my left brain judged as ‘polite interest,’ I’d get agents salivating over my manuscript. I felt this way despite hearing that, as my dominant hand noted, ‘Some writers didn’t even get what I’m calling “nibbles.” Nibbles are better than outright rejection. ‘

AH noted that a serious underlying problem was the hideous home equity loan I have and my non-ending frustration with the mortgage company: upsetting & worth acknowledging. can you use anger/frustration to your advantage?

Instead of answering (I’m curious about why I didn’t), my dominant hand wrote, ‘Help me figure out this blog deal.’ I’d been told for years I should be blogging and had resisted strongly. AH had a cool idea: you love telling stories & have been meaning to make list of favorites. can you try that: make list? Judge Betty [my very active and vocal inner critic, a/k/a  JB] would approve, half the battle! she’s in overdrive re book and agents.

‘Yes, she is,’ my dominant hand replied. ‘So is not placating her coming from [my inner child] Little Betty?’ For the first time I felt a small hesitation from AH, but as I started writing it disappeared: always…? can you see her sticking her tongue out? tough when instinct is to fight & you end up fighting yourself!

Amen! I went ahead and started a list (2 pages so far) of some of my favorite stories. Seeing a blog as a story helped immensely: it changed the idea from what JB had been calling ‘navel gazing’ to something fun to write and I hope to read.

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Mirrors and Heroes

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This alternate handwriting session began with wondering about why I’m uncomfortable around ‘New Age’ folks when, after all, what I’m teaching about isn’t exactly mainstream. My dominant hand wrote, ‘The term “snake oil salesman” is floating in my head.’ My alternate hand shot back with, plenty of snake oil in mainstream, too!

Then we had a dialogue about who or what was being mirrored in my encounter with a disparaging female engineer and AH wrote, maybe you were seeing a reflection of yourself as ‘New Age’ and all of the beliefs/attitudes around that. you literally felt nauseous, you thought about being judgmental. if so, who were you judging?

‘Or maybe what I was judging,’ my dominant hand wrote, and went on to describe how I was told that many women engineers had to subjugate their feelings in order to appear strong:  ‘They box themselves against male peers/workplace, I box myself against…?’ AH replied, getting hurt again. you are smart, have been told this by friends & ‘foes’… being smart doesn’t equal being better. you’re compassionate about so many people/things, but observe who/what you’re ‘better’ than.

That brought up the memory of someone who was ruthless in getting what he wanted, and my dominant hand wrote, “Is that what I’m feeling, that to get what I need/want I’ll have to be cruel?’ AH: perhaps. if so, how to view it more kindly? you’re not cruel but you’re very hard on yourself. who’s a kinder mirror?

And here came another helpful list, like the one about personal accomplishments. This time it was of people who got things done and made their mark on the world without being cruel: Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller and then several friends whose work I admire.  I especially love this photograph of Eleanor with her dog.

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Why I Love This Work

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I know I said I’d share my own alternate handwriting stories, but here’s one about a client’s AH experience, used with her permission. Enjoy.

Lindsey is in her late thirties and has struggled most of her life with feelings of inadequacy and fearfulness. Although she has a college degree, she’s worked in a series of underpaid jobs. When I first met her, I was impressed with her obvious intelligence and delightful wit. But I noticed that her humor was almost always self-deprecatory and that her body language was tight and withdrawn.

A few days before our alternate handwriting session I happened to ask if she needed a hot air popcorn popper. She looked at me in absolute astonishment. She was working as a teacher’s assistant. One of the English poetry lessons she wanted to teach involved a hot air popper, but she couldn’t afford to buy one. She told me later she “enshrined” the one I gave her on her coffee table after using it in class.

So we both understood when she began her AH session with this dialogue:

Dominant Hand: Why all the references to popcorn lately? I got my hot air popper (thanks!) and that was awesome! Now I’m noticing the word popcorn everywhere. Is there any significance or message there for me? I think I’m really knotting up with fear right now. Over all kinds of things. What if there’s some deep message here for me, and I’m not getting it? And if I don’t get it, then my life’s going to go to hell in a hand basket!

Alternate Hand: Nothing deep! Lighten up. Laughter is good! Popcorn is light as air. Fast, too. Ideas and energy overflowing.

DH: Why haven’t I signed up for a dance class? Can I sign up for a dance class? I don’t think I have the time, money to sign up for a dance class. And I don’t have much if any physical coordination.

AH: Fun is apparently not allowed. Fun, enjoyment at issue here. Fun is not frivolous, despite what you’ve heard to the contrary.

DH: Coursework: bleah! I don’t know if I’ll finish on time. Feeling very stuck there. Much shame about that. Hard for me to ask about it. What to do, what to do? I keep procrastinating on it, and deadline draws nearer and nearer…

AH: Relax. Future of universe not contingent on coursework. You will…

At this point Lindsey was so happy with what was happening that she stopped writing and began laughing and talking. She had started the session feeling “nervous and fearful.” She was now visibly more relaxed.  She said she’d spent a lot of time working through angst and her alternate hand was telling her, Now you get to have fun.

Lindsey has taken AH and run with it. “This writing slows me way down and stops the train to hell,” she says bluntly. “Knowing it’s always got my back and isn’t going to shame me is very powerful. I finally feel like I have a relationship with a loving being. My earlier ones were painful and abusive, including the one with myself. Now I feel unconditional support and love. It’s enabled me to take risks because I have someone in my court. It’s easier to take action, to scatter the seeds.”

Lindsey’s story reminded me of my favorite Thoreau quote: “I have great faith in a seed. I am prepared to expect wonders.” Whether it’s corn being popped or sowing the seeds of change, AH has brought wonders to Lindsey.

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right brain writing 2

I don’t know why I continue to be surprised at how soothing an alternate handwriting session always is.

I was fretting about how I get kind of depressed after a presentation or workshop — or really anything that I’ve put a lot of effort into preparing for. My right brain/alternate hand kindly pointed out that I expect (oh no! the dreaded ‘e’ word!) more than applause at the end and wrote, what’s wrong with applause? never been booed! every single audience has been receptive.

We then got onto an interesting little track about the difference between choosing vs expecting and after advising me not to get hung up in semantics, AH wrote, choose to be kind to yourself and acknowledge what you’ve accomplished in the past 10 days.

I love it when my right brain asks me to make lists! I came up with a solid page of accomplishments and felt so much better. (One of my accomplishments was that I started swimming laps again.)

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Right Brain Writing

right brain writing 1

So what I do for a living is tell people how the can directly contact their right brain using their ‘other’ writing hand. This is called alternate handwriting. (AH: my favorite syllable!) You can literally write back and forth between your right and left brain using your right and left hands. It’s like having your own talented, completely trustworthy counselor literally at your fingertips.

One of the main gifts of this work is to make us more compassionate about ourselves and aware of when we’re not. My theory is that, the more slack we can cut ourselves, the more compassionate we can be about other people. Which in turn will lead to the world being a better place. I know that sounds naively idealistic, but I believe it wholeheartedly. Major change can and does come from simple steps. I’m determined to share this incredible power that EVERYone with 2 functioning hands can use.

I’ve got samples of my writing ‘excursions’ on my website (www.BettyRogers.com) so you can see what it looks like. I’ve been writing for several years and have lots of dialogs to share, so I’m going to do that here. My hope is that you’ll be curious enough to try writing yourself a question about something or someone that’s bugging you, putting your pen or pencil in your other hand, and letting it respond. Which it will.

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