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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


Sovereignty casserole. And more about shoes.

We were talking about the relationship between shoe throwing (people saying hurtful things out of nowhere) and sovereignty (the state of not giving a damn what people think because you are the king or queen of your life).

And there were lots of things I didn’t cover — little bits and pieces for the gravy pan, as Andrea says.

So we’re having leftovers tonight. A bit of this and a bit of that. A sovereignty casserole. Or something.

Making the distinction between internal and external.

Like with anything else, there are two area that need attention when shoes (real or perceived) are being thrown.

There’s the internal:

  • Thoughts, feelings, reactions, energy. Working on your stuff. All the work that happens “in the soft”.

And there’s the external:

  • Systems systems systems. The actual steps you take “in the hard” to make changes in real life.

Example: I’m on email sabbatical.

This works very well for me because my inbox is well-known for being a place where shoes get thrown like crazy. It’s apparently part of being internet famous.

So I do the internal work of clearing out stucknesses and meeting myself where I am. I find out what I need to do to feel comfortable and safe being me.

And I also have external systems — my pirate crew. The First Mate answers all my email and the bosun moderates blog comments, keeping me safe from internet shoes.

However …

When you’re not in sovereignty, external systems can fall apart.

Sovereignty, again, is the quality of owning your space.

It’s feeling so safe being you, that you can’t be shaken from yourself.

When the sovereignty thing isn’t happening, we get shaky. And shaken.

It’s obvious how this affects our internal stuff. But our external systems can also suffer.

Back to my inbox example: If I know that going in there means stepping directly into the path of flying shoes, why would I do it?

I wouldn’t. And normally I don’t.

But last week I was all kinds of tired, confused and jetlagged. I needed an important piece of information that had apparently arrived by email. I felt stressed out and impatient. And anxious. So I broke my own system.

I didn’t wait for my gentleman friend to come home so he could get it for me. I didn’t ask someone on the pirate crew to retrieve it for me.

And I walked right into a shoe-storm. What seemed like dozens of them.

I promptly logged out and reminded myself that my systems exist for a reason. To take care of me.

Your most important job? Take care of yourself.

Because when I’m looking out for my physical and emotional well-being, I can do my best work.

And when I’m depleted and exhausted, it sucks for everyone.

My external systems — just like my internal practices — keep me grounded so that I can keep working on the sovereignty thing.

It all comes back to taking care of yourself. And safety. And finding ways to access that canopy of peace.

One thing that helps: knowing your triggers.

It’s crappy and horrible when things set you off. And it’s also all information for the big Book of You.

So you take notice and learn what you can about the things that keep you paralyzed.

And you come up with your escape plans beforehand.

For me and my HSP self, it’s loudness that sets me off.

So — even when not staying in a place with jackhammers outside the window — I need earplugs (check!) and music (check!) and …?

And the knowledge that when a situation reaches a certain noise level, there is no negotiation. I have to get out.

It means I need to know enough about my reactions to be able to say “this is too much”.

It means my gentleman friend has had to learn what a no-I-must-leave moment looks like.

And that’s why I’m not allowed to drive a produce truck.

Running away from the jackhammers to our favorite cafe in Berlin brought a brief interlude of piece.

Until some sort of impromptu parade came marching down the center of the street, complete with accordions, saxaphone and trumpet.

It was kind of like being in a film by Emir Kusturica. Only louder and more piercing.

Even with my earplugs in, my fantasies about hurling tomatoes at them grew stronger and stronger, until the only thing stopping me from rushing them and pelting the band members with rotten vegetables was the total lack of available produce.

I wanted to run them over with a produce truck.

I wanted to grab the guy with the tin can by the collar and scream “THIS IS NOT MUSIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

We come unglued. Well, I do. Hi. And that’s exactly when I get tempted to become the shoe-thrower. When external situations — triggers — are setting off the hard.

Sometimes we perceive shoes and then throw them in return.

This is what turns us into accidental shoe-throwers.

Someone asks what is — for them — a perfectly legitimate question. About our rates. About how we work. About what we do.

They’re so into their own stuff and their own hard that it doesn’t even occur to them that their question really feels like a shoe on our end.

Like they’re questioning our worth or our very essence.

We see a shoe and we hurl it back.

But it wasn’t a shoe. At least, not in that person’s mind.

And now we have two inadvertent shoe-throwers.

Or three.

Carina asked in the comments last time:

What do you do if you -– through accident or a hard day or because you’re used to have that shoe thrown at yourself by others -– throw a shoe at yourself?

There’s this Buddhist concept of the two arrows. The first arrow is the hard thing that happens and the second is you beating yourself up about it.

In other words, you feel so crappy about Shoe #1 that your reaction to it is Shoe #2. Thrown in your own direction. It’s the extra shoe.

“How come I can’t just remember that this isn’t about me?” is an extra shoe.

“When am I going to stop reacting to all these damn shoes?” is another one.

So yeah. Not fun. It’s also not a big deal. I mean, hell, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t toss shoes at himself once in a while.

The flowers: they just kind of belong in the sovereignty casserole.

My friend Andreas has this marvelous story about flowers.

We were reminiscing, and found ourselves talking about various times in each of our lives when we’d come to an impasse. A tight spot. An ending. A stuck.

No options. Or the perception of no options.

The last time Andreas was in that spot, he was down to his last 12 euros.

So he spent all of it on flowers.

And he said, “By the time they wilt and lose their petals, things will be better. Or at least different. But I hope better.”

And they were.

Sometimes any reminder is useful. That this too shall pass. That things will get better. That shifting and changing is the nature of things.

Including your relationship with sovereignty. Including your relationship with shoes.

I am going to buy flowers. And by the time they wilt and lose their petals, things will be better. Or at least different.

But I hope better.

Comment zen?
We all have stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We try and keep that in mind when we respond to each other. It helps with the shoes.

46 Responses to Sovereignty casserole. And more about shoes.

  1. Hiro Boga
    Twitter: HiroBoga

    Havi, sovereignty over your inner kingdom means not only that you can’t be budged, but also that your first responsibility is to take care of yourself and your own incarnation.

    When the care and cultivation of your life is your first priority, your kingdom flourishes, far from the clash and clamor of marching bands, armies or shoes hurled in any direction. Flourishing kingdoms nourish the world around them, the way a river nourishes the land through which it flows–and are nourished by it in turn.

    Wishing you quiet, peace and all that you need to shelter your precious life.

    Love, Hiro
    .-= Hiro Boga´s last blog ..Refugees: Remembering 9/11 =-.

  2. Gina
    Twitter: gloreebe88

    “If thou of fortune be bereft,
    And in thy store there be but two left
    Two loaves-sell one, and with the dole
    Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul”

    Yes, that’s what that last part reminded of. Okay, so first of all it’s hard for me to imagine why anyone would feel compelled to throw shoes at you. You?! But maybe your courage and dedication to your sovereignty pushes people’s shoe-throwing buttons. Once again, their stuff, obviously.

    I’ve avoided being a shoe target most of my life, and in the process, have missed really engaging with people on that level, and learning important stuff. Granted, not all shoe-throwing is a meaningful event.. maybe people are just mean, or lost in their own stuff. But even the ones that just glance off still incite a reaction like I’ve been mortally wounded. Shame and heat rising up my neck behind my ears, like when I was little.

    And the reaction to throw shoes back. Or hide.

    I’ve noticed that knee-jerk response to be getting shorter in duration, especially as I get more in tune with my sovereignty. And trust in my own intentions. (“Did I mean to throw a shoe, or was I just trying to speak my truth, even if badly?”)

    Anyway, please accept my hyacinths for your soul.
    .-= Gina´s last blog ..Bless that Big Mac! =-.

  3. Briana
    Twitter: brianaaldrich

    I’m so sorry about the shoe-flinging. The image of you running people over with a produce truck is somehow incredibly comforting. Is that weird?

    I so appreciate you sharing this because so many people (i.e. me throwing shoes at myself) would say that if I’m being authentic and all that then it “shouldn’t” bother me when shoes get flung. And your whole method of having external and internal systems to deal with it has just really opened my eyes. So thanks for that.
    .-= Briana´s last blog ..Being cool is not my thing =-.

  4. Lindsay McLeod
    Twitter: gurubody

    And please accept some Sunflowers to add to the Hyacinths. It’s a strange mix, but it might just work.

    Thank you for further sovereignty recipes, it’s been a hot topic for me since the Spring. I prefer spices to herbs so I guess that works.

    I just had a shoe thrown into my inbox.. and.. blushes scarlet to the roots of her hair.. I threw the bl?¢dy thing back. Urgh. And one at myself. And maybe even one into your sweet inbox.. or maybe that was the one at myself. These darn shoe throwing monkeyz !

    I guess I’ll be doing three Ho’oponopono’s, a Shiva Nata and some Remembering.
    At least that will bring me back to some kind of sovereignty.


  5. Lauren says:

    There are days when I feel as if there is an automatic shoe throwing machine of my own making aimed right at my most tender spot. And the worst part is being pelted with my own shoes felt perfectly normal – painful, but normal. You mean this isn’t how I have to live? Seeing the shoes for what they are seems to have reduced their number. Working to meet myself where I am has helped too.

    I look forward to a day when the automatic shoe throwing machine is put out of commission. Thanks for your insights Havi!
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Frameworks =-.

  6. Stacy Reck says:

    Letting your light shine so others can see sets an important example for those who need it. It can be easy to stay hidden (trust me I’ve been doing it for years!)so no one can see or find you. Ironically, I found that hard too.

    The important thing- we learn from those shinning lights.

    I can’t imagine my life with out this blog and community. Thank you Havi.

    @Gina I loved the Hyacinths. Thank you.

  7. Shawna R. B. Atteberry
    Twitter: shawnaatteberry

    Lauren said, “There are days when I feel as if there is an automatic shoe throwing machine of my own making aimed right at my most tender spot. And the worst part is being pelted with my own shoes felt perfectly normal – painful, but normal. You mean this isn’t how I have to live?”

    Me too. No one throws more shoes at me than me. I think it’s my way of toughening myself up for future shoe throwing, and I’ve come to see that it is so not the way to go. Jen’s Freedom from Self-Improvement Week helped me considerably to see that beating myself up is not the way to go, and I need to stop. Yes, I’m working on my stuff, but I’m a good person, and I can trust myself to do what is right for me and work thru my stuff.

    And the self-care thing! So Important! I did not realize this until yesterday. After last month’s bout of depression, My Hubby decided I needed some pampering. So he bought me a spa day. Went yesterday, and Oh. My God. I have never felt so relaxed or in body ever. And I feel so much better today. I’m still relaxed and at peace. My mind is not racing like it normally does. I really have to prioritize taking care of myself. It makes such a huge difference. Hiro I loved how you put that in your comment. I’m writing it down and hanging it up somewhere.

    And now before this comment turns into a post, I will say goodbye. :)
    .-= Shawna R. B. Atteberry´s last blog ..Sermon Meanderings: The Proverbs 31 Woman =-.

  8. Kyeli
    Twitter: kyeli

    Thoughtful. Thinking. Shoes being thrown – by me, at me – is my current Big Thing.
    .-= Kyeli´s last blog ..Don’t go to the cheese factory =-.

  9. Carol Logan Newbill
    Twitter: 2fishweb

    Accidental epiphanies:

    I just wandered over to find out about email sabbatical and there was this phrase

    “… my belief that I have to be invisible and no one is allowed to see me because it’s not safe for me to be seen.”

    Whoa. Right between the eyes.

    I have to go away and think about this one now. I’ve always felt the need to be invisible but never really dug into why. I think now I know, and now I may not need to be invisible anymore.

    Thank you, Havi and Selma.

  10. Lydia, Clueless Crafter
    Twitter: Art_Style

    What an enlightening journey you took us through, that through external factors that we do not have the tools to handle, we can inadvertently become the very shoe thrower that we are angry or hurt by.

    You basically took us down the pat to forgiveness. I have had shoes thrown at me, but I have been a shoe thrower.
    .-= Lydia, Clueless Crafter´s last blog ..Crafting a Classic Tablescape: Guide to Linens =-.

  11. Tracy says:

    Wow. Just wow. Because not only are there a dozen different parts of this post that are things I need to hear right now, the comments just added several new layers. Thanks for all this food for discernment.
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..Retrospective: Be Very Afraid. And Then Draw It Anyway. =-.

  12. Bridget
    Twitter: intuitivebridge

    If I come down to my last 12 euros, I hope I am wise enough to buy flowers.
    .-= Bridget´s last blog ..Anger 101 =-.

  13. Erika Harris says:

    I love bare feet.

    And lavender.

    I send you both :-)
    .-= Erika Harris´s last blog ..Magnetize Essence With Me! =-.

  14. Josiane
    Twitter: kimianak

    Thank you, Havi, for those further insights into sovereignety and shoe throwing. It was obvious to me that there was work to be done in the soft related to sovereignety and shoe throwing, but I hadn’t fully internalised that there was also stuff that could (and had to) be done in the hard – it’s very interesting to see the idea of systems in that light. Very useful too.

    Also: the big Book of Me? Love love love this idea too! I’ve got to start carrying a notebook that will be the Book of Me!
    .-= Josiane´s last blog ..Retreating to write – and being treated to so much more =-.

  15. Lisa says:

    Lauren – your shoe throwing machine must be the same model as mine. The thing that aggravates me so much is that I see other people struggling with the fact that their’s are working overtime and I realize that they still think that they deserve those shoes! I know I’m in a different place than they are, and I find watching people in painful patterns to be one of the most difficult things that I do. I’m planning on pulling the plug on my machine for tonight.

    Havi – thanks for reminding us that sometimes we throw shoes reflexively. Sometimes we’ve fought the same battles so many times that when we think we see it our of the corners of our eyes, we put up the defenses and throw a shoe. I’ve done that to lovely people too many times, and will likely do it again, but hopefully next time I’ll remember your words and be ready to duck some shoes when I get upset at myself for throwing them at others. Whew… how’s that for a confusing sentence.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog .. =-.

  16. Amy Crook
    Twitter: amysnotdeadyet

    A lot of wisdom here, and food for thought.

    My week in a nutshell: sometimes, you just have to use the last of your milk and flour to make pancakes.

    They were tasty. ;)
    .-= Amy Crook´s last blog ..The Power of a LIttle Color =-.

  17. Tatty Franey says:

    this is the best gravy i’ve had. ever.
    i am bruised from all the shoes i keep throwing at myself.
    lots to think about, lots to work on…
    .-= Tatty Franey´s last blog ..Putting a show together – Part1 =-.

  18. Maartje
    Twitter: martieu

    There’s an old Dutch song from 1918 which rails against other people determining one’s life, and the last verse goes:

    “Hou een hart vol van warmte en van liefde in je borst
    Maar wees op je vierkante meter een Vorst!”

    Roughly and shoddily translated:

    “Keep your heart full of loving and warmth with each beat,
    but be an absolute monarch on your own few square feet!”

    The rest of the song’s great as well, as well as the title, “Mens, durf te leven” or roughly, “Have the courage to live!”

    The word ‘sovereignty’ really triggered that memory. I’d forgotten how much I loved that song!

    And yes, also working on the sovereignty thing.

  19. Cynthia Hanna says:

    Havi, thought you’d appreciate a quote about buying flowers! It’s one of my favorite quotes because it speaks so beautifully to the necessity of having balance & “soul food” in our lives:

    If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft
    and from thy slender store two loaves
    of bread alone are left,
    sell one and with the dole
    buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.
    ~Saadi, 12th century poet

  20. Sonia Simone
    Twitter: soniasimone

    I would use my last 12 euros to buy chocolate. Which would not be as wise, because it would not last nearly long enough for things to get better. Apart from me being full of chocolate, which would be good for a very short time.

    The one for me in this is ‘Your most important job? Take care of yourself.’ This is pretty much 98% of the work I do with my lovely kind coach. He is very nice & doesn’t tell me I’m dense.

    My little dude & I were talking tonight about it being the nature of mamas to take care of babies. “Mama, who takes care of mamas?” Smart, smart child.
    .-= Sonia Simone´s last blog ..How to Get Any Work Done (When Connecting Is Your Job) =-.

  21. Sandra
    Twitter: sandrajapandra

    I love this. Reading it, I felt taller.
    .-= Sandra´s last blog ..Groping is a no-no =-.

  22. […] posts up on handling people who throw shoes at us, Destuckifying When the Shoes Are Flying and Sovereignty Casserole. And More About Shoes. If you’re not following both of these wonderful women, you really should […]

  23. […] to taking care of yourself. And safety. And finding ways to access that canopy of peace. – Sovereignty cassarole. And more about shoes. By Havi Brooks on The Fluent […]

  24. Amy says:

    This resonates SO HARD with me right now. All I’ve been doing for weeks is throw shoes at myself for one reason or another. I’m actually shaken by this post. I deeply wish I had a moment to really process this but anyway, I just wanted to thank you.

  25. Carina
    Twitter: chalcara

    Thank you. :)
    .-= Carina´s last blog ..Surrealistic Gardens (Cautions: Contains Great Photos) =-.

  26. diane says:

    In a round about way, I found this blog post today. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Read. Whatever.

    So? Thanks. I’m trying to stop throwing shoes at myself.
    .-= diane´s last blog ..I fell in to a burning ring of fire… =-.

  27. […] I love about her the most though is the way she completely and totally gets the idea of sovereignty. She runs her life and her business her own way. She’s been outrageously successful the past […]

  28. […] self-assured empowerment is an important quality. It has some correlations with Havi’s concept of Sovereignty) . He also had a moment of not-keeping-the-dashboard-protector[1], which is an important milestone […]

  29. […] not. It’s inherently dangerous, and takes you out of the driver’s seat. It’s a sovereignty […]

  30. Mitch says:

    Just brilliant. And such great timing- it’s raining shoes!

    I needed to read this. It’s like a veil lifted!

  31. […] can’t hurt me any more. I’m grown up and I am myself and I wear an invisible crown of sovereignty now — see […]

  32. Peg
    Twitter: mogland

    Hi Havi
    This is helping me. Thanks!
    Peg xo

  33. The Regent. says:

    […] myself, of asking to be loved anyway — because, in short, I am incapable of handling my sovereignty as a human — The Regent takes over for me, as regents […]

  34. […] interesting reflections on Sovereignty …. to add to the wondrous explorations inspired by Havi who describes Sovereignty as the quality of owning your own […]

  35. […] And I mean not only in regards of the copyright stuff – although that’s important too – but on a fundamental, emotional level. You’re much more sensitive than I expected and if you get hurt in anyway, you tend to get blocked. That’s why I got much better at standing between you and the arsecakes and the unguided and accidentially harmful. That’s why I try to lay off with those unreasonable expectations, which I mainly picked up from other people eitherway. That’s why I need to trust you, only you, and I need to shut out the other voices, until you’re strong enough to weather them. It’s a matter of sovereignety. […]

  36. […] The Queen (or King) of Your Own Internal Space, which I’ve been learning about lately  from Havi Brooks and Hiro Boga. Because I absolutely LOATHE having to be weighed and having to talk about my weight […]

  37. […] Want to learn more about the concept of Sovereignty? Check out this wonderful recording by Hiro Boga (some probs with that link–will fix asap) or this great post on out Havi’s blog […]

  38. […] Last week a friend mentioned that she’d been reading this blog on “destuckification” called The Fluent Self, so I took a look and started reading. I didn’t think I was feeling stuck, exactly, but it turned out to be exactly the sort of thing I need right now. So I want to recommend it to the rest of you in case it turns out to be what you’re needing too. In particular I like the parts about biggification and sovereignty. […]

  39. […] been learning about personal sovereignty, the quality of owning your space, from some wise women. Playing with techniques for establishing boundaries, separating my stuff from other […]

  40. […] Boga.  You can get a copy of her discussing the concept here.  Havi Brooks has also explained it here.  I also learned from Hiro that your business has a distinct soul.  Her audio discussing that is […]

  41. […] totally intentionally) traipsed over your borders like over an old rug. In the end it’s what sovereignty2 is […]

  42. […] Havi and Hiro often talk about “sovereignty” (a word I hate because I can’t spell the damned thing) – which (in my loose translation) is a combination of “not giving a fuck what other people think of you” and boundaries – sorting out my own stuff from other people’s stuff. […]

  43. […] Boundaries help us create without giving up our sovereignty in the process (Havi writes a bit about sovereignty. Hat tip to Hiro for this idea).  Libra wants us to both edit and write, to make connections with […]

  44. […] spiritual quality of not giving a shit.”“the state of not giving a damn what people think because you are the king or queen of your life.”“being at home in your body and your […]

  45. […] ME: Anything we don’t feel ‘sovereign’ in. Anything that reminds us, “Last time I wore this was for the high school reunion where no […]

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