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Archive for July, 2010

I’m a big fan of Martha Beck (www.MarthaBeck.com). She’s an insightful and often hilarious writer of books and articles, and a wonderful teacher. She’ll be making an appearance in my Circuitous Route story soon.

I took one of her classes (Finding Your Own North Star) as  I was entering what I now like to think of as my Jungian fugue state. In my years of studying the brain and how it works, I’ve become better acquainted with Dr. Jung. I found out that after he and Freud parted ways, Jung spent the next five years creating the drawings for his fabulous Red Book (the drawing above is one of his mandelas), thinking and developing his own theories.

This was reassuring for me because I’ve spent about the same amount of time creating art pieces, learning and teaching about alternate handwriting and watching and writing about  reactions to it.

I’m in a new micro job, this one even more stultifying than the last. I’m grateful for the income. One of my co-workers, a young man who’s enlisted in the military, said it was kind of a Zen situation: something good (income) coming from something so mindless.

I’m also slowly realizing that the only things I can control are my thoughts and actions. The simple idea that I can’t control anyone or anything else has my left brain (Judge Betty, a.k.a. JB,  a.k.a. my Inner Lucy) in a tizzy because it’s such a control freak.

So what does this have to do with Martha Beck? I’m on her e-letter list and finally got around to reading her most recent edition. She wrote this in reference to her latest favorite book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath:

Our rational minds need extremely detailed instructions whenever we do something new. If a step is missing or unclear, our rationality has trouble making progress. Making progress — in a new direction —  is literally exhausting. So, in the Heaths’ words, what looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.

Think of an area in your life where you feel you’re being resistant or lazy. See if you have detailed step-by-step instructions to carry you through the entire process. If not, stop beating up on yourself for not moving forward, and make it your goal to fill in the blanks of your own instruction manual.

I read that and I swear I almost felt my compassionate right brain do a fist pump. No, I’m not a slacker for not being a social media expert (my left brain’s most consistent criticism lately). I just don’t know enough yet to feel comfortable doing a bunch of it.

My alternate hand has written this a number of times in a more roundabout way but it’s nice to see it put so succinctly by the talented and intuitive Ms. Beck. Cut yourself some slack and move on. Always the bottom line.

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Last month I went to a class at The Wizard Academy (www.wizardacademy.org), an amazing place run by Roy Williams, the most gifted and generous iconoclast I know. He encourages students to look at things from different perspectives, sometimes literally upside down and inside out.

I was going to be speaking about alternate handwriting at a lunch meeting soon, and I was looking for a new angle to describe the different “personalities” of the right and left brain hemispheres. Roy talks a lot about the brain and he compared the right brain to Tom Sawyer and the left to Tom’s Cousin Sid. I made a note about Linus and Lucy being right and left, respectively.

I’ve always loved Linus. He’s such a gentle character, astute and kind. And when I was little, I carried a security blanket. We were living in France and Germany at the time, where my father was stationed. We didn’t get American comics, but my grandfather sent a Sunday strip, which my mother saved for me. It shows Linus and Snoopy fighting over the blanket. I think my grandfather may have been trying to reassure his daughter that her daughter wasn’t completely nutty.

I still remember standing next to my mother, pulling the blanket through the sewing machine as she added a new binding to it. And holding it while it dried on the clothesline. Once I forgot it in bed, and my mother ransacked the house trying to find it as I wailed. Finally she yanked down the bedspread and I said, “Oh, now I remember.” They even let me take it into the pre-op room when I got my tonsils out at age 3.

So as I was writing my presentation after the Wizard class, I did a little research about Linus and his bossy sister. I thought I remembered that their last name was van Pelt, but wanted to double check. When I did, I discovered that Linus was “born” in the same month and year as I was. I was delighted.

So was my audience. I told them that I thought Linus and I were star-crossed. And that Lucy (a/k/a Judge Betty) had called me a Blockhead for thinking they could write with both hands and eat their lunch at the same time. Which of course they all did, and had fun in the process. So did I. Part of my satisfaction came from my egocentric Lucy, but it was Linus who’d asked, why not let them figure it out for themselves?

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Part 8 of Circuitous Route is in Pages.

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Sometimes when I talk about how alternate handwriting can uncover memories, people react with fear. Recently I was offering free ‘mini sessions’ and a guy we’ll call Jake literally raised both hands in self-protection. “I don’t think I’m ready for secrets,” he said with a nervous smile.

I explained that the right brain will never tell us anything we’re not ready to ‘hear.’ If you don’t get a response and try writing the question another way and still don’t get a response, you’re not ready. This is different than there not being a response, like the time I asked if there were any deep secrets I was hiding from myself and my alternate hand simply wrote “no.”

Jake, a successful business owner, didn’t know me or AH from Adam, so to speak. But he agreed to try it. He had a simple question: why was he so shy? When he didn’t get a response, I suggested that he try writing a slightly different question: why do I hesitate to approach people?

His alternate hand immediately wrote that he was afraid of making them angry. He sat back and said, “Well, look at that,” in a tone that clearly implied he knew exactly what the response meant. He glanced up at me and the look on his smiling face was one of enlightenment, like a mystery had been solved.

My job during these sessions is to listen and sometimes guide in phrasing questions. It’s not my job to give advice or satisfy my own curiosity. Jake was obviously content with this very short writing ‘excursion.’ He thanked me several times and later sent an email thanking me again.

I encouraged him to continue with the writing. I encourage all of my clients and students to continue with the writing. And if you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to try it. And then to continue. You have nothing to lose and much to gain.

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Part 7 of “Circuitous Route” is posted in Pages.

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