See The Moon [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

From Japan comes the story of the Crescent Moon Bear. It is a story of rage and patience. A young wife must pluck a single hair from the crescent moon shape at the throat of the ferocious bear. The single hair is a necessary ingredient for a medicine that will cure her husband. I told the story at a facilitation. After the telling, the vice president of the company said to the gathering, as an apology and a revelation, “I am the bear.”

Sometimes bears are necessary. Just like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, without the bear or the wolf there would not be a story. The purpose of a fear is to face it. It is a catalyst. The lesson is almost always concealed in the obstacle.

I once had a terrifying dream. I was being chased by monsters. I ran but could not get away. Finally, desperate, I saw a warehouse and ran for the door. I was certain there would be plenty of places to hide. Bursting through the door I was horrified to find the vast space empty. Swept clean. With no other exit available, I had to turn and face the monsters rushing toward me.

Do a little research on the symbol of the crescent moon and you’ll read that she represents cycles and instinct, mystery and immortality. Change. Fecundity. Many years ago I took a class on art and transformation. One of the projects, guided by an elder, was to make medicine shields. The face of the shield was decidedly male, sun. Bull. The back of the shield was feminine, moon. Lizard. Two aspects of power that dance. One is incomplete, superficial and out of balance, without the other.

In the Crescent Moon Bear story, after an arduous journey through the forest of her fear, the bear allows the young wife to pluck the hair. The magic ingredient is not taken, it is given. The obstacle, the monster, the locked door, opens and offers its potion. Insight ensues.

Insight, literally, the sight from within.

All of this, whispers from the psyche, bubbles of deeper wisdom, regeneration, emergence from the dark wood forever changed; could there be a better symbol for our times, a better symbol of promise as we stand with no place to hide, facing our raging pandemic, our ferocious bear of racial injustice, our masculine disequilibrium, than the promise of the crescent moon.

read Kerri’s blog post about the CRESCENT MOON

Be An Avid Catcher Of Your Thoughts


Be an avid catcher of your thoughts

This notion is the heart of change. It is the practice of self-awareness. Listen to the story you tell yourself about your self.  It is ripe with ideas, dreams, and yearnings. It is also ripe with fears, doubts, and comparisons. Capture the ideas. Listen to the dreams. Follow the yearnings. It’s a muscle. Develop a focus for the creative. Capture what’s useful and let the other jabber go.

Screen Shot Avid Catcher


There Is Wisdom In Dancing


There is wisdom in dancing

To restate an old notion: knowledge is not wisdom. And, often times, our reliance on knowledge blinds us to wisdom (for instance, passing a test has little or nothing to do with learning). My mentors taught me that the toughest thing in life to master is relationship. The reason: relationship is at the heart of everything we do whether we acknowledge it or not. Life IS a relationship. Education, business, art, spirituality, leadership, management, self love, economics, agriculture, kindness, gratitude… are all relationship skills. Wisdom is found in the fields beyond your thinking. Get onto the floor of life and dance.


Thoughts Babble. Hearts Speak.


Thoughts Babble Hearts Speak

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is cut through the mental chatter, the fear stories and investments in obstacles to hear what your heart already knows: what is right for you…. Cutting through the racket is always a process of growing quiet enough to listen.


Experience The Miracle

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

“It has become my view–my faith–that all elements of nature have that power to produce peace. It is surely why so many are drawn away from their urban lives and back to natural places. But those places need not be grand scenic vistas. The same peace can be found in the dandelion growing in the nearest vacant city lot.

It is, in the end, a choice either to “shut up and listen” to these sources of strength–no matter how great or humble or where we encounter them–or to hurry on by.”

~Master Jim Marsh in a comment about my post, Sit By The River

There was a cool breeze off the lake this morning that slowed the mounting humidity. We were a mile into our usual morning walk, rounding the path to the rocky lakeshore, when we entered the storm of dragonflies. There were hundreds of them, hovering just above our heads, occupying a narrow band that stretched as far as the eye could see!

I gasped and stopped! Never in my life had I seen so many dragonflies. Kerri said, “They come out when the weather has been hot and without rain.” Before continuing on our way, we stood for a few moments appreciating the hovering, the methodical zigging-and-zagging. Until our path deviated from the coast, they were with us, green and purple spirits, riding the air-line where earth meets water. For me it was pure magic.

Many years ago, as a way of ending our relationship, a woman told me that it was too hard to be with a mystic. I’d never before (or since) thought of myself as a mystic so I looked it up to make sure I understood why a mystic might not be easy to live with:

Mystic (noun): a follower of mysticism.
Mysticism (noun):
1. Belief in intuitive spiritual revelation,
2. Spiritual system,
3. Confused and vague ideas.

I laughed aloud when I read the three definitions of mysticism; the third definition applied to the previous two! I left my dictionary with two beliefs:

  1. All human beings are mystics if they simply slow down and pay attention. There’s no trick to it. And, that was certainly the problem in my relationship: I have always liked walking slowly in a world drunk on racing to the next big thing. That is hard to live with!
  2. The line between a spiritual revelation, a cathartic experience, a scientific eureka, or an artistic visit from the muse, seems to me, to be semantic. In our age of the intellect we generally run from the word intuition unless we apply a label like “gut instinct” (transforming a feminine energy to a masculine gut) or “I just knew it!” (transforming the scary clarity of an intuitive feeling into a safe clarity of an intellectual experience). It’s all wordplay.

Hearts know. Thoughts babble. And the only way to sort it all out is to stand still, stop the babbling, and see the miracle.

Have A Chat With Erling

Kerri with her dad.

Kerri with her dad.

It seems as if the theme for the week is lost conversations. It occurred to me that, after writing yesterday’s post, there is, in my life, another conversation that I wish I could have but never will. And, because I never will have the actual conversation, I am reaching into the void and having another form of dialogue.

I wear on my right wrist, wrapped three times to form a bracelet, a pull chain for a light fixture that I found on a workbench. Kerri wears on her left wrist, wrapped three times, the rest of the chain. I found the chain during our first trip to Florida. We were visiting Kerri’s mom in an assisted living facility and, in the evenings, cleaning out her parent’s home. Kerri’s dad, Erling Arnson, died a year before we met, and she’s often said to me, “I wish you could have known my dad.”

I found the chain on Erling’s workbench. He was a watchmaker and a jeweler. He worked with his hands, rebuilt cars, machined new parts for things, and was the master of a quick fix. He liked to build things. He liked to tinker. You can tell much about a person by the way they keep their space and I spent a long time standing at Erling’s workbench. It had been mostly picked apart, scavenged, but the organizing principle was still in tact. He liked to re-purpose things. He liked to make things out of things; every bolt and scrap was filled with potential. I could feel (and understand) the simple joy of creation apparent at his bench.

When I saw the chain (discarded by the scavengers) I knew it would be a way for Kerri and I to bring her dad forward with us. We secured the chains on our wrists and because it is there, I think about Erling everyday. I wonder what I might have learned from him. I like to tinker, too. I like to make things.

Me at Erling's resting place.

Me at Erling’s resting place.

On the second anniversary of his death, Kerri said, “Daddy will show up, today. I don’t know how, but he will.” A few minutes later the faucet in the kitchen broke. Evidently Erling had a wicked sense of humor. As I replaced the faucet (the first faucet replacement of my life), a lengthy affair requiring a call to the neighbor for tools, I felt a deep sense of patience. I remember my grandfather telling me that a person can figure anything out if they just take the time to do it. “You don’t need to know how, you just need to give yourself the time to figure it out.”

Kerri was on the phone with her mom when I finished the job. I was feigning machismo, peacocking my plumbing prowess. Kerri’s mom said, “I think he passed Erling’s test.” She smiled and I thought, “Thanks for the help, Erling. Now, how do I fix the plaster on the ceiling?” His response: I don’t know. But, let’s figure it out.

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'Hope and Prayer' by David Robinson

‘Hope and Prayer’ by David Robinson

I’m in a “life is funny” phase. It is as if the universe is hammering me with this theme: you do not need to see the big picture. You do not need to see the plan or even have a plan. You simply need to take the next step that you see. The next step need not make sense.

Do you remember the scene in one of the Indiana Jones films when Indiana has to take a step that looks as if he was going to step off a cliff and fall into the abyss? What he sees is in direct opposition to what he knows he needs to do. How often does life send us that conundrum! He saw an abyss but knew he needed to take a step anyway. He stepped and an invisible path became visible.

Take the step BECAUSE it does not make sense.

On Sunday, Pastor Tom asked his congregation, “Is your faith by default or by choice?” He told the story of the Roman nobleman whose son was dying. None of the doctors of the day could help the boy so in an act of desperation, the man walked two days to find the magician/healer named Jesus. As Pastor Tom said, this Roman nobleman had the best healthcare plan available and nothing was working; in the absence of science he turned to faith. Of course, we know the rest of the story: the magician/healer told the nobleman to go home. He told him that his son would live. Remember, it was a two-day walk so the question is this: during those two days walking home, did the man have faith or did he want to have faith? In other words, did he need proof to have faith? Did he rush home to see if the magic worked? When he arrived home and found his son alive and well, did he cancel his healthcare policy? What would you do in a similar situation?

Take the step BECAUSE sense-making has nothing to do with it.

Last week Diane wrote a great comment about “knowing” from my previous post, Stand With Hope. She wrote, “…it makes me think about the definition of knowing. I am seeing that, for me, it is not about knowing an answer (like I know that 4 x 4 = 16), but knowing my self and being present with what is happening, and trusting the inner impulse to respond and act. I think this is standing in hope, but for me hope is uncertain faith. But then, when I’m short on faith, I guess I can hope to have hope.”

Take the next step BECAUSE you trust your inner impulse to guide you.

In other words, step because if feels right. Sense-making is a function of the brain. Stepping while uncertain is a matter for the heart. Sense-making is something that always happens after the fact. The next step need never make sense. It does need to make heart.

Take the next step BECAUSE it is what you must do.

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

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Step Onto The Field

The first few decades of my career were rooted in the theatre. In casting plays and assembling companies I’ve held and seen hundreds of auditions. Generally, it was my experience as an auditor (and also in managing auditions for others) that in the first round of auditions an auditor can see everything they need to know about an actor in seven seconds or less. Whether the audition is a prepared piece, a cold reading or some form of improvisation, this “seven second” rule seems to hold. For the auditor, the rest of the audition is usually an act of courtesy or spent hoping that they are wrong about what they already know. Auditors want actors to succeed. They want to be engaged, surprised, and swept into an honest moment. They want to meet the actor on the field of possibility. They want access into the story and the door is always honest action.

What can an auditor see in seven seconds or less that inspires them to call the actor back or put their file in the “no” pile? Probably a more accurate question is, “What can the auditor feel that inspires them to call back the actor?” The honest pursuit of an intention is something that can be felt before it can be seen. This is true on or off the stage, isn’t it? Do you feel it when someone is not authentic? Do you “know it” when you are being told a half-truth? How many times have you said, “I knew it but didn’t listen to myself.” Auditioning others is as an act of listening to what you sense in the first few seconds and the scanner is seeking honesty.

In the past few years I’ve been watching entrepreneurs do pitches for investors. Auditions and pitches are surprisingly similar activities! In both cases, the “seven second” rule applies. Investors know, like auditors know, when they are seeing something honest or something manufactured. An exciting viable idea in the hands of a pretender is a useless thing – just as brilliant plays are routinely slaughtered in the hands of fakers. Entrepreneurs, like actors, are more likely to meet success when they cease giving away their power and show up as they are. Showing up is not passive and has nothing to do with information delivery. Showing up means to share the quest, to bring others along on the pursuit of a dream. Showing up is being present with others. It is inclusive (as opposed to protected).

Rule #1 for entrepreneurs is the same as it is for actors: You can’t determine what others (investors/auditors) see or think or feel or value. You can only bring your best game to the field of possibility and love playing it.

For a humorous look at the wonderful world of innovation and new ventures, check out my new comic strip Fl!p and the gang at Fl!p Comics.

Listen And Be Glad

825. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I woke up this morning in a funk. There was no particular reason that I could attach for the cloud of grey that wrapped itself around my mind –except perhaps the cloud of grey that wrapped itself around the city. It was just one of those days.

I worked all morning to change my energy and lift my spirits but the gloom persisted so I finally stopped resisting it and decided to let it settle in. It was a good day to be in a low mood as I spent much of the afternoon in a darkened room watching investor pitches. I didn’t need to relate to anyone or have bright ideas. I stewed in my grey juices and tried hard to stay focused on the pitches.

Early in the evening I walked back across town. The sun came out while I was in the darkened room so I was moving slowly feeling my body soak up the sun. As I passed the train station I saw a woman sitting on the curb. She was huddled into a tight ball with her forehead resting on her knees, her bag of worldly possessions tucked beneath her legs. Something about her made me stop. The voice in my head shouted, “Ask her if she needs help!” I hesitated. I turned to walk away and the voice shouted louder, “Go back and ask that woman if she needs help!” I stopped. Once again I turned away. I was gloomy and didn’t want to be responsible for another person. This time the voice was adamant, “GO NOW!”

I approached the woman slowly and asked, “Are you alright.” She slowly raised her head from her knees and smiled broadly. She was glowing. She didn’t need my help. She turned her face to the sun and said, “Oh yes! I’m so grateful for the sun and just enjoying being alive. Aren’t you?” I nodded my head. She smiled and thanked me and I walked on, dizzy at the disjoint between what I expected and what I found.

My gloom was gone. It was as if she’d reached in to me and diffused the gloom. Instead of needing my help, she helped me. The voice inside my head smirked, “Now, aren’t you glad that you listened?”

Follow Your Gut

562. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Scott and I ate lunch on the patio of Revel, a restaurant that is not to be missed if you are ever in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. It was an unbelievably beautiful autumn afternoon so we sat in the sun, ate dumplings in a decadent sauce, duck noodles, drank coffee and celebrated Scott’s birthday with root beer tapioca topped with vanilla ice cream and cola pop rocks. Oh. My. God.

Our conversation ranged across a wide geography but kept returning to intuition. We are prejudiced to favor the rational mind, though, as Alan might say, the rational mind is nested with in the intuitive. The rational mind likes to think it runs the show (thus our dedication to testing and measurement) but it all falls apart if we include the full canon of human experience, things like love, desire, dreams, and impulse. It is not reason that propels an athlete to spend hours and hours of their lives training for a competition. Einstein’s dream-life opened his rational mind to relativity. How many times have you said to yourself, “I just knew….”

Madeleine L’Engle wrote, “Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.” To use your intuition, you must look inward. You must trust what you find there. Much of the western mythos is built upon the notion that nature is corrupt which can only mean that your nature is corrupt. This sad notion serves as an organizing principle that would have you believe that your inner voice – your intuition – is not to be trusted. It cuts you off from your self and your greatest guide: your inner wisdom (also known as your intuition). Einstein said it best:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. More than anything else, this new century demands new thinking: We must change our materially based analyses of the world around us to include broader, more multidimensional perspectives.”

It’s not a bad idea to listen to your gut and your heart in addition to your head. Your head will tell you anything (and does), your gut is incapable of lying – it doesn’t have the vocabulary. My gut told me Revel was the place to meet Scott. Root beer tapioca topped with vanilla ice cream and pop rocks…I just knew; somehow I knew.