(my “guard” dog)

It's a funny thing.

There are all kinds of things that make us feel safe, that don't really provide long-term safety.
There are all kinds of meanings and definitions and feelings that accompany safety: rest, peace, relaxation, freedom, want.

Safety's my theme this year, so I've been paying attention to it.
Noticing when I (or others) use the word.
Noticing when I feel safe.
When I feel unsafe.
How I react and what I assume without thinking.

After three months, here's what I got so far (I promise it relates to business, eventually):

Safety = the ability to create my own escape?

After the break-ins (all three happened when we weren't at home), I used to lay in bed and run through escape scenarios. What would I do if someone broke in the back door? The front door? Would I have time to snap the dog's leash on him or should I just haul him out the window and let him run away? Would I go out the window or the door? Who's house could I run to? Is my cell phone charged? Should I just hid inside and call 911?

I came to think of safety as self-reliance.
If only I was smart enough and strong enough and worked hard enough, I would be ok.

But the self-reliance was getting in the way of my best work. When I thought, “I have to do this“, I get cramped and tight and unable to see big and clear (which is one of my gifts, the engine that runs this business).

In this self-reliant, tight space, I trusted that I could sell enough to pay our bills (my husband was tragiclaly underemployed for most of the last year). I knew that I was smart enough and strong enough, if I just worked hard enough.

And that's gave me some peace…as long as I kept pushing.

But all that cramped pushing covered up my true strength, my true safety: connections + creating.

I can't do it alone.
I need people. I need clients and students and friends and encouragement and mentors.

My best work (and thus, my place of safety) occurs when I tune into my connections (to my clients, to my friends) and I create what they need.

When I make the yarn you ask for.
When I create the classes that answer your questions.
When I create clarity for a confused IdeaStormer.

I thought my ability to work hard enough, to create enough to sell enough was keeping me safe, but it's not.
Not  in a vacuum.
Not when it's alone with my stress and my fear.

The safety I felt  was there, it was just a layer deeper: it was knowing that I was creating and that I was in relationship with my people, my world, your needs.

Even though I was in connection and in creation, I didn't realize it. I thought it was the self-reliance, the ability to do the thing I needed to do. So I built systems that made it easier. Systems for creating, selling, connecting.

These systems are useful (and most of the businesses need a few more systems)…but I eventually turned the system into the point of it all.

Completely missing the point.
Good systems can help you connect with your people and create a space for your creativity.

But I was using them to disconnect. To keep working harderharderharder.

Letting go

Now that I know that's not where my safety (and sustainability) come from, I've decided to take a step back from those systems.
To create (or not) as it comes to me.
To connect (or not) as I have the energy for.

This sabbatical will give me time to find the truly supportive systems and to work with the inner taskmaster who is convinced that we will die destitute if I don't keep working harderharderharder.  It's an experiment: will I become desitute (unlikely)? Will my businesses collapse?

I don't have any answers.

I wish I could sum this up with some answer.
Some sure thing.

But isn't that point?
There's not a sure thing.

There's just me and there's you and there's what we create for each other, to help each other or to delight each other.



7 Comments on Safety, self-reliance and other lies

  1. Kate
    March 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm (11 years ago)

    Like I said over on Twitter…YES. YES. YES.

    “And that’s gave me some peace…as long as I kept pushing.”

    This, exactly. I have been there. I have done this. It wore me the hell out. I’m learning better now.

    Thank you.

  2. Tara Swiger
    March 29, 2011 at 9:46 pm (11 years ago)

    Thank you so much for sharing that!
    What are you doing differently now?

  3. Kate
    March 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm (11 years ago)

    Breathing. Taking breaks. Letting go. Trusting.

    Not that any of that’s been _easy_, mind you. It helps, I think, that I have a cat who insists on going for walks pretty often…it’s easier to take a break that way. I think I started noticing that I could wander off for a while and things would keep happening.

  4. Tara Swiger
    March 29, 2011 at 9:54 pm (11 years ago)

    You take your CAT on walks?! That’s the most fantastic thing I’ve heard all
    Thank you!

  5. Kate
    April 4, 2011 at 5:56 pm (11 years ago)

    He’s the awesomest cat in the Whole. World. 🙂 I started putting him on the leash when he was six weeks old, so he really doesn’t know any better. Even went to the craft show with me over the weekend, and spent the day schmoozing customers in my booth.

    That’s him (really tiny) in my avatar with me…