Finding My Seat

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

This summer I found my seat.

Each morning, I woke up two hours before my children and had the velvety luxury of meditating for twenty minutes and then quietly reading and writing in my journal.

I always thought this statue in my meditation corner was of the goddess Kali, but she's usually depicted with multiple arms, so I'm not sure...

I always thought this statue in my meditation corner was of the goddess Kali, but she’s usually depicted with multiple arms, so I’m not sure…

I had a vague sense that I needed some healing and growth around issues of control and money, as I’m sure many members of my coven of self-employed folk share. So, I meandered through a series of books that found me and fed me.

I started with Anne Lamott. You just can’t miss with her. Author of self-deprecating, witty, spiritually packed memoirs, she’s the most articulate navel-gazer-who-applies-her-personal-musings-to-help-the-world that I know of. A member of my own tribe. I went through five books of hers this summer, starting with Some Assembly Required, a sort of sequel to her classic Operating Instructions, which mused about single parenting her son’s first year. Anne’s son, Sam, has since grown and become a father himself. A teen father. Together, he and Anne write about raising Jax, and the changes that come when your heart lives outside of your own body.  That phantom limb feeling parents have when their kids start spending time away from them.

Some Assembly Required was just training wheels for what I was up for next. As I continued to anchor myself in Lamott’s work on faith and spirituality (Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Travelling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith), I alternated her soothing and funny balm with Gay Hendricks’ Big Leap and Marianne Williamson’s The Law of Divine   Compensation. Both address the psychological and spiritual issues that block the receipt and distribution of abundance.

This was my hard work for the summer, and I read slowly and carefully, digesting manageable bits as I  could. The Big Leap helped me become aware of moments of self-sabotage that prevent me from growing and suggested a mantra that I incorporate into my daily meditation practice. Marianne Williamson’s work made it abundantly clear that I had better change my understanding of how money works if I wanted it to flow easily to and through me. This is where I began to understand the relationship between internal and external abundance and began to conceptualize money as energy that flows through me, helping me heal the world. Having had my fair share of work with organizations suffering from scarcity complexes, I had some unlearning to do.

Next, I revisited some tasty tomes in the field of evaluation and research, revisiting some favorites: Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use by Michael Quinn Patton and pairing it with Systemic Action Research: A Strategy for Whole System Change by Danny Burns.

Beloved dog-eared copies of Patton's and Burns' texts

Beloved dog-eared copies of Patton’s and Burns’ texts

You wouldn’t believe the effect that daily meditation and Lamott’s and Williamson’s work have on approaching technical texts. They were anything but! I approached these works as a meditation: reading slowly and absorbing small morsels. I noticed things I hadn’t noticed before.

The biggest takeaway? The unparalleled value of having an evaluator sit as an equal at the program planning table for emerging social change projects. Evaluators who have the ability to see the big picture; ask thoughtful questions about process, intent, and content; and are able to gather data and rapidly feed it back to program staff are invaluable for a complex change process that unfolds in an unpredictable manner.

Now it’s approaching winter. My children are deep into their school routines, and my early mornings are once again given over to the routine of waking up sleepyheads, feeding them, packing lunches, and shuttling the littler one to school. I continue to find my seat each morning, but gone are the luxurious hours of journaling and reading. It’s fine, though. I’m well provisioned to take on what the winter offers: time to practice one’s musings in the world and to give thanks to the social change projects, big and small, developing and well-established, that value a learning culture and abundance. These are projects that have found their seat.

May you find your seat, as well, and may your holidays be full of learning and abundance.

 

 


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