Category Archives: Expansive Questions

My Ministry in the Church of “What’s Happening Now”


I like the title of this post because it sounds like a Flip Wilson skit from the old Laugh In series (maybe it is and I’m excavating an old memory).

I’m feeling inspired to write about ministries today after listening to a Maryanne Williamson talk from Letting Go and Becoming.
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Day 19: Radical Forgiveness – Time to Create a Doorway?

draw a doorway

When I wrote my post on day 17, I mentioned that one thing I wanted to look at was my inability to make a decision about the direction in which I wanted to take my work.

I’ve been obsessing about the direction in which to take my business for years and as of today I still have no crystal clear direction to follow. On the other hand, I do have a few directions I’m clear I don’t want to follow and that’s progress.

Today I completed the Radical Self-Forgiveness to have more peace with myself and my lack of direction. It’s challenging not having a sense of what’s next but it’s a lot more difficult when I make that challenge all about what’s wrong with me.

One of the main insights I had was on how many beliefs I carry about the right way to go about finding my “right work.”

Although I had good grades when I graduated from college and I was a marketing major, I wanted to find a job in consumer research and at the time there weren’t many companies offering entry level positions in marketing research. The easiest marketing-related job to get was in sales and I pretty blew all the interviews I had for sales jobs.

What most people I knew did was read the want ads and send resumes to the Fortune 500 companies. I lived in Chicago and there were plenty of big companies to go after.

But because I wanted a job in an area most people had never heard of I did things differently. I followed the advice in What Color is Your Parachute and I did informational interviews.

I know my parents were really nervous about the fact I wasn’t sending my resume like everyone else. They thought I was spinning my wheels and probably that fast forward 30 years into the future and I’d be living in the basement with six cats and still no job.

It turned out that the best thing I ever did was those informational interviews. It’s the reason I got a job in my field of interest to begin with and I probably spoke with more leaders in the field than I ever would had I used a different route.

It took me about 18 months to find the “job of my dreams” and I made a lot of mistakes and detours along the way.

Then I kind of forgot that experience because I decided I “knew” what my career was supposed to be. I guess I decided the soul-searching part was over and I knew enough about what I wanted and didn’t want to be in a position to make quick decisions.

I’ve done a lot of zig-zagging: technical writing, life coaching, business coaching, creating information products, etc.

At this point, where I’m leaning toward is going through the self-assessment process again as outlined in Parachute and that will probably be my next major project. For one thing, it doesn’t exclude the option of technical writing. For another thing, I think I needed to cast a wider net than I’ve allowed myself in the past. Finally, I suspect I’ll end up creating something original to fit my particular set of talents and whether I work for someone else or decide to make it a business, it’s going to be important that I’m clear about what I do, who I help, and the value I bring to the table.

For the last ten years I’ve been trying to force myself into a particular value definition and it’s been more or less an exercise in frustration. Not unlike throwing myself against a brick wall and wondering when it will stop hurting.

When I stop throwing myself against a brick wall and create a door to walk through, that’s when. Not unlike the Pink Panther tossing a black circle onto the ground and jumping into the hole he just created.

Not a final decision as of today but feeling like the most promising direction. Having a promising direction I’m willing to commit to is real progress.

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Day 10: Radical Forgiveness


I was discussing radical forgiveness with someone and they said, “Maybe you’ll help other people who feel misfits find a way to be successful?” That sounded really appealing to me.

But one of the gotchas that always comes up for me around this is the idea of helping others be successful because I’ve discovered a process that has helped me become successful rather than helping others have success that I myself cannot yet claim to have.

For example, a few years ago my interest was in helping small business owners create and sell information products when I myself couldn’t claim to have created an information product that made much money.

And there’s the issue of just because a process works for me … it doesn’t mean it will work for other people.

Again, I’m not looking for a specific answer so much as I’m asking the question to be open to something I’m not seeing.

One thought I’ve been having to the second part of the question, the process piece, is to keep the process as simple as possible so that it’s based on greater truths (which tend to be true for everyone otherwise they wouldn’t be considered ‘great Truths.’ And encourage people to find the way that will work for them.

Or perhaps tell stories and share a variety of examples as a way to help people find a way that they could apply.

And another requirement, I think, is to be practicing a process that allows for finding your truth and inner guidance so you don’t get caught up in the “shoulds” and can say with confidence “this approach doesn’t fit who I am.”

The process should be a part of a larger environment that supports the persons journey.

This raises an interesting question for me: if I were to create an environment that would support my own growth and expansion, what would that environment look like?

Interesting question to consider. Perhaps do some journaling about. I’m thinking by writing about what I know I might learn at least what my next steps are in terms of things I don’t know but would feel I need to know to move forward. Hmm.

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Day 9: Radical Forgiveness – Big Ones

Captain           Tritura            Leopardo

Those Big Bad Negative Beliefs that Kick My Ass

When I initially decided to practice radical forgiveness for 30 days I assumed I’d be doing one worksheet a day … or nearly so.

Instead I’ve found myself working on the same worksheet and on the same situation over the last 9 days.

The good news is that because most issues boiled down to a limited number of negative beliefs, by addressing one situation, I’m addressing a lot of others and I imagine it will be easier to go through some of the steps in the future as I get more familiar with the structure.

As I’ve been processing this stuff, I realized I have a few beliefs that kick my ass on a regular basis. Kind of like my “Book of Doom” because none of the situations in which these beliefs hold true have happy endings.

The biggies are:

  • I will never be compensated for my gifts and talents because there are so few people in this world that can remotely get the value, I’ll probably die before anything I do is appreciated on a wider scale.
  • There is only one way to succeed in this world .. at least in the small business/entrepreneur world and that is to “hustle your ass off nonstop”
  • A teeny tiny number of people have been successful without hustling their asses off. They just happened to do something that although not obviously marketable attracted a cult following. And btw I’m not one of those people because if I were I wouldn’t have struggled with the first two.

I know I’m not the only person who struggles with these particular issues but I’ve yet to meet anyone who has struggled and found a way to stop struggling.

The other day my husband asked me “Do you have any kind of plan?” It’s a fair question and all I could think was “I WISH!”

Because I really don’t have a plan. I used to make shit tons of plans and have SMART goals and I hit a lot of those goals. But looking back, very few of my achievements merited the energy it took to get there because I don’t think the logical, systematic way I went after my goals fit my personality or style.

As I contemplated my lack of plans and seeming inability to sell I rephrased the issues so I might consider them in a more expansive way. I wrote:

  • What’s wrong with being unable to make a decision?
  • What’s wrong with drifting?
  • What’s wrong with not wanting to have to grind away doing research and asking hundreds of questions to find the right job?
  • What’s wrong with not wanting to pick up the phone?
  • What’s wrong with not implementing some guru’s process if the process just doesn’t appeal to me in a visceral way?

Of course there are voice inside of me that are very good at answering these questions and telling me exactly what’s wrong.

My friend Lynn asked me, “what if you reworded your questions to ‘what’s right'”?

So reworded the questions are:

  • What’s right with being unable to make a decision?
  • What’s right with drifting?
  • What’s right with not wanting to have to grind away doing research and asking hundreds of questions to find the right job?
  • What’s right with not wanting to pick up the phone?
  • What’s right with not implementing some guru’s process if the process just doesn’t appeal to me in a visceral
  • What’s right with wanting to do what I love, make a difference, and get paid?

Whoa! This just blows my little mind!

This is a situation where I’m just going to allow myself to “live in the question” and see what floats up for me. And have some fun with the questions and maybe just come up with the silliest answers possible.

I’m learning the best way to handle big, badass beliefs is instead of challenging them to a wrestling match which I’m bound to lose, I’ll invite them out for a cup of coffee and some conversation.

Who knows what Captain Gladiator might have to share?

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Day 11: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

What Would Epic A Do?

As I’ve been contemplating perfectionism I’ve been asking myself, what does it look like to be unconditionally lovable?

It’s hard for me to get there myself. I mean it’s hard for me to imagine myself as unconditionally lovable. Perfectionism is a hard habit to break. Every time I think about not doing something as well as possible a lot of resistance comes up.

So I’m using my cat, Gus, (A.K.A. Epic A) because I find it very easy to love Gus unconditionally.

We adopted Gus from a when he was barely 8-weeks old. He had the feline herpes virus which is very contagious and he had been separated from his litter mates and other animals.

Even when he was little Gus just got along well with people. He’s the kind of cat that greets you at the door and he always checks out visitors. My theory is that Gus was socialized at such a young age (he was barely weaned) he considers himself human or he considers us to be strange-looking cats.

Besides being very handsome, Gus has a very endearing “catsonality.” He seems to live his life assuming that everyone will love him and his needs will always be taken care of. Unlike most cats that meow and look worried when their bowl is empty, Gus purrs loudly and gives me friendly head butts until I figure out what he wants.

I nicknamed Gus “Epic A” for “Epic Adorableness” because he’s so naturally lovable. My teenage son cringes when I use this name because the word “epic” is so overused and because things the nickname “epic A” is just completely over the top in a nauseating way.

But I can’t help myself.

What’s important here is this: Gus does nothing useful in our home. Like most cats, he’s basically ornamental. But his lovability makes him incalculably precious to me. When I’m out of town, I miss him. When I return I can’t wait to get in the door to give him a cuddle and say hello.

In the scheme of things, my husband and son are way more important to me. There’s really no comparison. However, Gus is important because he’s the best example I can think of when I try to imagine what it would be like to be perfectly imperfect and yet be very easy to love.

When I described how I feel about Gus to a friend, she commented, “That’s how the Divine feels about you.”

This is a very beautiful idea and one I’d like to feel with ease. I believe when I feel that way about myself I am in the best possible position to do the work the Divine wants me to do.

So my question, “What would Epic A do?” is a serious one because Gus would never walk into a party with any worries about “will they like me? am I worthy of their attention?” He would be his curious, friendly self and assume he would be liked.

That seems like a really nice way to be in the world.

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Day 8: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

photo: Jez Page

photo: Jez Page

A Raging Case of Perfectionism

One of my measures of success is waking up in the morning and feeling excited about the upcoming day.

I usually wake up with a sense of dread and anxiety that feel like a low-grade fever. The feelings aren’t so strong that they interfere with my ability to function but enough so that I’d rather stay in bed and sleep late.

I was going to write that a raging case of perfectionism isn’t as bad as a raging case of herpes but I realized a raging case of herpes would be better because there are straightforward treatments for herpes. Perfectionism is something that I think our culture actually encourages in subtle ways.

But I’m not going to write about culture because I always have a choice in terms of what I allow to influence me. I’m going to write about why I’ve chosen perfectionism and how it messes with me and my efforts to do things differently.

I’m going to go back for a moment to the idea of looking forward to the day.

When I was a kid, maybe 7 or 8 years old, I usually looked forward to the day, especially during summer vacation. In the town where I grew up there was an awesome swimming pool that was maybe a 10 minute walk from my home. It was actually 4 swimming pools: one for teenagers, one for adults, one for kids, and one for kids who proved they could swim. My sisters and I would eat breakfast and change into our bathing suits. Then we’d pick up our friends who lived across the street and walk to the pool.

I grew up in the Midwest. We lived close to Chicago and midwestern summers can be really hot and humid. So we were happy to spend our day at the pool. We’d usually take a break and get lunch then we’d head back to the pool. Sometimes we’d even go back after dinner.

If we didn’t go to the pool we’d ride our bikes or play games. If it was raining we’d play games inside or go to the library. I don’t remember being unhappy or bored very often. There was just too many fun things to do. I liked to draw and color and sometimes I’d work on crafty projects like needlepoint or knitting. Sometimes we’d just walk along the creek and look for snakes and muskrats. If we found a caterpillar we might put it in a jar with a stick and feed it leaves to see if it would spin a cocoon.

So I would say my childhood wasn’t unusual but it was a lot of fun and there were lots of simple things that I enjoyed.

When I was 11 we moved to a new town where there were more wealthy people and I had a hard time making friends and fitting in. The move felt like a shock to my system. I knew everyone in my old neighborhood and I always had friends to hang out with. In the new neighborhood the kids seemed different. A lot of them belonged to country clubs and their time was more scheduled. They were taking tennis lessons and playing golf and seemed restless when there wasn’t anything to do but hangout. Plus there wasn’t much to do that was within walking distance. If I wanted to go swimming or go to the movies, my mom had to drive me.

Up until 6th grade I didn’t worry about my weight or what I wore. I usually wore pants and a top. Maybe a dress on the first day of school. For a while I wore the same pair of pants to school every day and a lot of the kids made fun of me.

Then one day my mom went to a local department store and bought me a really nice pair of pants, a blouse, and a sweater. Everything fit me perfectly and I wore my new outfit to school the next day. I couldn’t believe how many girls in my class complimented me and told me how nice I looked and how much they liked my outfit. It was the most positive attention I had received since moving and I felt so happy and wonderful getting that recognition.

It’s funny because I was the exact same person I had been 24 hours earlier when I was wearing my dark red pants. It was like the new outfit transformed me in the eyes of the other girls into someone elegant, cool, and admirable! I love the attention and I loved belonging.

The other girls began inviting me to their parties and even though I found I wasn’t as comfortable as I was with my friends from my old town, it still felt good that other kids wanted to be with me.

I began reading Seventeen magazine to learn about fashion and started choosing my own clothes. I started buying makeup and perfume at the drugstore. When a huge mall opened near my house, I went every weekend with my friends and was always looking at the new fashions being shown.

When I turned 16 I started working part time and I’d spend all my money on clothes and makeup.

I was a teenager in the 1970’s and being thin was the look. It wasn’t different from the 1960s which was more about being natural. In the 1970’s it was being thin and elegant so you could wear designer jeans and slinky tops. Although I was never “fat,” I definitely didn’t have the kind of figure that looked good in designer jeans and slinky tops. I was kind of chubby-looking and in most of the pictures taken of me at that time I look uncomfortable and confined in my jeans and blouses.

I decided that I was going to go on a diet and take on the weight problem once and for all. My mom was always watching her weight and worrying about my dad’s weight so it was easy, even encouraged to go on a diet. The problem was once I started losing weight and getting complimented for how good I looked I decided that if losing 10 pounds was good, losing 20 pounds would be even better.

My diet turned into a full-blown eating disorder. I had anorexia and I found I couldn’t just lose a few pounds and maintain that weight lose. I developed this deep fear that if I gained any weight I’d never stop gaining. To keep off the weight I developed these elaborate rituals around food which is pretty common in anorexia.

I had foods I would eat in certain orders at certain times and if I broke any of these rituals I would freak out because I was sure it would lead to massive weight gain.

That’s when my perfectionism really kicked into high gear. Most of my energy went into food and clothes and keeping my bedroom neat. When I went to college, the perfectionism expanded to include my study habits and grades. Looking back what I had done was to create a very comfortable prison cell to live in. I was lonely, isolated, and living a very one-dimensional life but it was predictable and under my control. I had no real friends but that was ok because friends were too unpredictable and caused problems. I had no boyfriends and made no efforts to meet men because if girlfriends were a distraction, men were a major distraction.

Plus my appearance was not exactly what most men were attracted to unless they had a freaky side. But it didn’t matter. Even if someone was interested, I would have be oblivious.

I’ve written a lot. I think mostly to look at how I went from being someone who enjoyed her life to someone who is constantly anxious and slightly depressed. I’m seeing that becoming a perfectionist made sense because it seemed to be an answer to how I could feel happier and better about myself at one time in my life. But ultimately like most things it became a problem when I was ready to grow past it.

I’m going to write more about perfectionism tomorrow and how it shows up in my life currently.

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Day 5: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit


Last night I was up until midnight sorting through “stuff” and putting it away.

Some of this stuff comes from accumulating paper, office supplies, boxes, etc for over ten years without taking the time to periodically toss out things that were outdated, no longer useful, and so on.

Some of this stuff comes from buying things online in a knee jerk fashion without first deciding “do I actually need this?”

When I shop online it’s easy to buy stuff. I don’t have to have my credit cards in hand when I buy things from I just add things to my cart, click “Buy” and it’s done. I used to love 1-Click shopping. I still appreciate it but it makes impulse buying a little too easy for someone like me.

As an example, one retailer sent me an email letting me know that I had $1,900 of unused credit on my  credit card. My guess is they want t encourage me to use that credit to buy holiday gifts. My immediate emotional response to the subject headline was the same feeling I get when I’m washing my jeans and find a $20 bill in one of the pocket … like “Wow, I forgot about this! I meant to spend this and i didn’t . Yay! What fun stuff can I  buy?” But $1,900 in credit isn’t $1,900 in cash. If I spent that $1,900 and then it took me six months to pay off that debt, I would actually be spending a lot more than $1,900.

Although I opted out of receiving emails from this company, it’s interesting how many emails companies send on the pretext of offering useful information. Something i’m a lot more sensitive to now that I’ve made a conscious  decision not to buy online.

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Expansive Question #5. Receiving


Am I feeling joyful right now?

If not, what can I do or be to have more joy right away?

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Expansive Question #4. Creating Possibilities



“Every judgment eliminates the capacity to perceive anything that does not match it.”

Gary Douglas, Access Consciouness, “Happiness is Just a Choice”

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Expansive Question #14. Actualize What You Desire


What am I refusing to be today that would give me everything I desire right away?

From Access Consciousness, Happiness is Just a Choice


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