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Archive for April, 2010

Dominant Hand: Will I be able to keep a job?

Alternate Hand: you did for decades!

So to recap, my goal in life is to spread the word about the power of whole-braininess: firing on both hemispheres of the brain through alternate handwriting. In the process of writing my book, I thought I should explain my past careers to show how different they were from what I’m doing now.

Then I decided the book would be more powerful if it was about other people’s AH breakthroughs. So I shortened my work history to about a page. But I really liked what I’d written, particularly because — my favorite — I incorporated other people’s writing. These are little pieces of student essays from long ago. Although none of them had anything to do with working, I found they perfectly described my own situations. And they made me laugh.

Here’s one: These heartwarming stories suck. The gauntlet is thrown! My goal is to get you to try alternate writing yourself. I’m hoping after reading what’s brought me to this point you’ll say to yourself: if she can do it, so can I.

I’m also hoping that my story doesn’t suck.

In our society, we’re often defined by what we do for a living. In my case, it was environmental community outreach. This was before “outreach” became a form of propaganda. Now it seems to mean giving people the opportunity to disagree, then going ahead with whatever you want to do. Back in the day, it meant changing your plans if people disagreed.

They say that being fired ranks right behind divorce in catastrophic events. I was “let go” four times within a period of 10 years. I understand the loss of definition that comes with losing a job. It’s a very, very hard thing to go through. In my case, it lead me to my compassionate right brain. But I went there kicking and screaming.

I’ve posted Part 1 of my career story (Early Days) in Pages.

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I have a friend named Laura (www.laurafaulkner.posterous.com). She’s a psychologist who donates her time each week to help people who’ve lost their jobs figure out what they want to do next. I gave an alternate handwriting class to them as a way of determining their true interests and passions.

Laura calls work we may take on during this transition period micro jobs. “Micro” is a less angst-fraught term than “survival.” It’s something we do to bring in some money as we establish new businesses or find the job of our dreams. Currently I’m in one that’s pushing all kinds of annoyance buttons. The whine factor is so high I can almost feel it vibrating.

I turned to AH for guidance:

Dominant Hand: I know it’s a micro job but it’s 5 hours of my daily life. I feel like it’s the antithesis of integrity.

Alternate Hand: maybe it’s in your life to let you see (again) how making $ — or $ itself — isn’t the answer. can’t even enjoy it because of what you feel you’re sacrificing. rebellion’s kicked in: Little Betty in action. how to pacify her?

DH: I guess that is her every time I “break” rules I don’t agree with, huh?

So I tried asking my inner child for help. That’s her in the photo, by the way, duded up for a birthday party. She suggested taking a walk during break to look at the wildflowers blooming extravagantly around the work site. When I pointed out that I’ll still have to be doing something I don’t like for several hours she asked, can we make it a game? Then, in childlike truthfulness she added, I don’t know how.

When I replied that I wish I could see it as a game instead of painful, she wrote, I don’t like being hurt. but this doesn’t hurt, like a shot or bees (stinging) or spanking. No, my dominant hand agreed. But it hurts my pride because I hate being there.

You know, there’s a great deal of difference between hurt pride and physical pain. The “voice” of a small, innocent child pointing out that this job doesn’t hurt her helped me to see it from a different perspective. My inner 5-year old may not be able to make it a game, but I can.

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Abigail is wrestling with bankruptcy and divorce. She’s extremely angry about both of these circumstances, particularly because her husband, who ran up a large portion of the debt, refuses to cooperate about either problem.

When she first tried alternate handwriting in a workshop several months ago, she was demanding answers about her husband and berating herself for being foolish enough to marry him. She blamed God for letting her fall in love with him. I think it’s fair to say  that Abigail was not a happy camper.

She was dissatisfied with her results during the workshop. I could see her expectations stifling any chance of true connection, so I offered her a personal session.

As always, I started it by asking her to write her complete name with her alternate hand. I’ve come to understand that this small exercise has almost miraculous power. It often connects the writer directly to their inner child because the writing itself can look so childlike. In Abigail’s case, it was seeing her maiden, childhood name that made the connection.

She’d expected to write about her husband and bankruptcy again. But she started talking about her stepbrother and how controlling he was. Zach had  taken over control of their father’s funeral, even though Abigail was her father’s only “real” child and her father had loved her “more than he’d loved Zach.” He’d praised her career choice over her stepbrother’s. Who hadn’t come to Abigail’s son’s wedding. So Abigail refused to go to Zach’s daughter’s wedding.

As I listened to this litany of longstanding grief, I could almost see Abigail as a little girl. I asked her to write to that child, and her handwriting became larger and slower. She wrote about her best friend Laura, who started school a year before Abigail. She stopped to tell me that she still remembered sitting on the porch, waiting for Laura to come home from school. I asked her if she could write about other childhood friends and she did.

Abigail is in her mid-50s. The child alive and kicking in her right brain remembered the names of three friends from 50 years ago, friends she hasn’t seen since childhood. I suggested that she continue writing to herself as a child. She said she didn’t understand the usefulness of this.

I pointed out that for nearly all of our session she’d talked about her father and stepbrother, of being a child and knowing that her father loved her and protected her from her damaged mother. I suggested that Zach also knew their father had loved Abigail best. And that he was reaching out to her now  — Zach has contacted her several times in the past few months and she refuses to return his calls — with a kindness that her inner child would recognize, even if the adult Abigail couldn’t.

Oh, the stories that we tell ourselves, the hurts that fester and burn. And oh, the power of alternate handwriting to right the wrongs, to tell the truth with compassion and love if we’ll let it. I so hope Abigail lets it.

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