Three Tools to Explore Resistance

I missed posting last week. Have you ever experienced a time when everything that was simple seems complicated? When finishing regular tasks takes three times as long? When every thought seems to veer off the straight path and into some other very fuzzy train of thought? That was my week last week. Despite many hours at my desk nothing worth writing about emerged and all my draft posts seemed totally unworthy. I was deep in a huge feeling of resistance.

The first thing that began to create some movement was Trevor Simpson’s SoulClarity Newsletter where he shared an auto-responder message:

Resistance Autoreply: From the desk of ….. “Thank you for your e-mail. I will be in resistance until Monday February 23, but will return your message once I am back from the state of denial.”

Trevor’s correspondent was feeling some resistance too. Funny how comforting it was, finding out that someone shared my state.

Then there were some helpful posts from folks I follow. Lissa Rankin wrote about being more “eggy”, more receptive and less inclined to push your way through on her blog and Marie Forleo interviewed Steven Pressfield about his new book, Turning Pro. Steven wrote the The War of Art and Do the Work about resistance, and had been helpful in the past. The interview sowed some useful seeds.

And then I worked with these guidance tools. Before using the tools I reflected on the question I wanted to ask for guidance in getting through my resistance and came to “What do I need to do to redeem my shadow and clear the way forward for my creative and spiritual work?”

The Tools

1. Susan Seddon Boulet and Michael Babcock’s Goddesses Knowledge Cards

I first used these cards in Atum O’Kane’s Spiritual Guidance course. The art by Boulet is inspiring and the text by Babcock straightforward. Locally they are available from Banyen Books. I received the card for Hathor, an Egyptian Goddess. The card notes, in part, Hathor reminds us that we too must acknowledge all parts of ourselves, that what we call destructive is sometimes necessary to allow creativity and compassion to flourish.

2. The I Ching

It had been years since I consulted the oracle, but I thought it would be interesting to discover how I felt about it now. I received hexagram 31 Influence changing to hexagram 13 Fellowship with Men. The direction that perseverance furthers, encouraging approach by being willing to receive, and waiting until being impelled to action by real influence seemed remarkably apt, particularly with the direction from the second hexagram about both the power of peaceful union with others and the injunction to remember that joining with others is an ideal and the actuality may involve more down to earth considerations bringing people together. Clarity of intention is critical.

3. Consulting a book as an oracle

The practice of using a book as an oracle or guide is one I have found useful before. Sometimes I’ve used the library, walking around until I felt called to a book. This time Roger Housden’s Ten Poems to Set You Free was the one that presented itself. The book fell open to David Whyte’s poem, Self-Portrait. The poem asks a series of questions. One,

“I want to know if you know how to melt into that fierce heat of living falling toward the center of your longing”,

seems to be the exact question for my issue this time. Housden’s essay on his experience of the poem was helpful too.

Readers in the United States — I wish you a happy, delicious, heartful holiday.

Join the conversation: What tools have you found helpful when working with your resistance to work or moving forward?


Celebrating Help


I ask people who come to programs, how did you get here? I know I’ve arrived at this point because of all the encouragement and support that’s come my way. I’ve done the work, yet it has been the encouragement and support that’s allowed me to sustain the work. I am grateful for all the family, teachers, friends, other writers and bloggers, and artists in my life. This is a celebration of their work and an appreciation of what they offer.

It is a short list, focused on the website, so it leaves out more people and resources than it includes, but when you have lots to acknowledge you have to start somewhere!

Family and friends have shown their support and belief in me in so many ways over many years. You may not remember the countless times that you affirmed my dream or asked how the writing was going, or introduced me to the work of someone you love, but I thank you for each question, each acknowledgement, each connection, each time you recognized the “quiet light” in my heart.

Atum O’Kane: I took Atum’s two-year Art of Spiritual Guidance course at Hollyhock on Cortes Island from 2007-2009. It came at the perfect time for me, just as I was getting ready to make the transition from being a Regional HR Manager at Capers to some unknown other work. The practice and work in the course helped me move toward my soul work. I went on to study The Alchemy of Transformation from 2009 to 2011 and am now taking Archetypal Dimensions of Spiritual Guidance which began last year and will finish in 2013. I am profoundly grateful for the way work with Atum continues to nourish me spiritually and creatively.


John O’Donohue: The first book I read of John’s was To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings. I go back to the book over and over again to use the blessings, and to study the essays about blessing. His work continues to lead me deeper into the mystery, and has been a blessing in my life.


Julia Cameron: When I finally started actually doing Morning Pages (see The Artist’s Way) it changed my creative life. I had kept a journal off and on for decades; the switch to faithfully writing three pages every morning helped me to turn on a tap that had been rusted almost closed.


Danielle LaPorte: Danielle’s writing and videos ignited a spark of urgency and booted me toward greater transparency. I ordered the digital program Your Big Beautiful Book Plan that she co-created with Linda Sivertsen and her Firestarter Sessions and found them both full of inspiration and help. I love the way she writes and talks; lots of great information, lots of soul, lots of straight talk, and a fabulous smile.


Roger Housden: Roger brought me back to poetry. Because of Roger I went to John Fox’s workshop last year. Because of the gift of Dancing With Joy, Roger’s anthology of 99 poems, I read poets I hadn’t read before like Billy Collins, William Stafford, Stanley Kunitz, and Jane Hirshfield and began to investigate more poets. It inspired me to reread poets I love like Mary Oliver, Wendell Barry, Pablo Neruda, Rumi, Hafiz, Denise Levertov, E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. His essays on poems in the Ten Poems series of books helped me read poems in a new way. Poetry is incredibly nourishing.


Robin McKinley: The first book I read was Beauty; from there I went to The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, and on to all the others. I reread Blue Sword and Hero regularly. I am not alone. Her blog is well followed and there’s lots of conversation on her forum. I want to celebrate her characters and heroic fantasy and her way of being herself on her blog, Days in the Life. Reading the blog nearly every day (remarkably she posts every day) she gives me a closer to reality vision of the writing life and this has been incredibly encouraging.


Jennifer Parker: I found Jenny by falling in love with a font, tracking the font to the designer, Stephen W. Rapp, and then finding the Jennifer Parker Designs website as an example of one of his fonts in use. I kept going back to her website, drawn by her designs and her art (look at the personal altars), and finally contacted her about designs for this website. She was wonderful to work with and I am delighted with the results (my logo, and logo art for dream, discover, explore, create, and celebrate). There’s something wonderful about the way long distance collaboration works and about the power of visual images.


Robert Ouimet: Helpful, easy to work with, knowledgeable, intuitive, and a good teacher, Robert has made the process of getting my first site up and this redesign done workable and creative. I love the feeling that Robert’s got my back; that there is a real person to hold my virtual hand, if needed.


Union Photographers: Holly took photos of me and made it fun. Her laugh is so good, you want to do what you can to have it happen again; fortunately this isn’t hard and you get great candid photos.


Join the conversation: These are some of the folks who helped me get here. Who do you want to celebrate for helping you?