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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.

 

Setting it up.

Over the past few months I’ve been spending a huge portion of my time trying to set things up for Slightly Future Me so her day goes well and she feels cared for by me.

It’s a pretty interesting practice.

Last week I was on my vacation and things were going semi-disastrously. Nothing too big. Just a bunch of crappy, hard-to-take things.

So I sat down to figure out how I could make the next vacation more joy-filled and less challenging for Future Me. With six questions…

“What parts of now will turn out to be good for Slightly Future Me?”

The question.

Not that I have to appreciate all the things that are going wrong, because that would be annoying. I’m allowed to have my stuck.

Just: what’s the good — for her — that’s going to come out of all this hard right now?

The answer.

Oh, right.

I’m learning more specific things about creating ease. Setting things up to be more ease-filled for both now and next time.

Which means I’m also going to have to talk to the parts of me who are uncomfortable with ease.

This
is the experience that forces me to clear out the resistance so I can get better at making things sweet for me-who-is-arriving.

“If I were the Fairy Godmother…?”

The question.

If I were the Fairy Godmother for someone like me, what would I give myself to make my Pirate Queen Holiday happen with more ease?

The answer.

A pack of cards. Transition cards.

Like the Stone Skipping cards you made for the rallygators to use at Rally (Rally!).* You can pull a card and it will give you a reminder or a ritual.

*Now available in the Playground Toy Shop. Awesome. Thank you, me-from-last-week.

And a page of important and relevant Book of You highlights. Maybe in Dropbox so you can pull it up on your phone.

A case for a razor, so that you never ever accidentally cut yourself again.

The tiniest, sweetest little first aid kit, like the one you have in the Galley at the Playground, just in case you do get a cut. Though not from the razor, because that isn’t happening.

“If I had a Fairy Godmother…?”

The question.

If I had a fairy godmother who thought of everything, what would she give me for this vacation?

You don’t need to know. It’s a creative writing exercise. Invent!

The answer.

A small jewelry bag.

A case for your sunglasses.

A bedside altar. I mean, it’s not an altar. But it’s a box that turns into a tray, and it has all these little reminders of your you-ness, and you keep it by the bed when you’re away.

Checklists! Pre- and Post. Maybe printed on a card?

Something that’s like sovereignty boots, but smaller. Sovereignty stockings?

“If this were my boss and I was helping her…?”

The question.

Let’s say I worked for the CEO of a company. And I’m her fabulous Traveling Secretary. It’s my job to make her travels go smoothly and think of everything.

What thoughtful things do I pack for her so her vacation is nurturing and ease-filled?

The answer.

Little scissors in a tiny case.

Colored pencils.

A list of Useful Journaling Questions (like the exercise we’re doing right now?) that she can pick from.

Flannel handkerchiefs in a pretty case, like the ones we have at the Playground.

Interesting that just about everything I want/need falls in the category of things I already make sure my students have access to but never think to give to myself…

“If I were mentoring someone…?”

The question.

If I were mentoring someone and training her to eventually have my job and become the CEO, what information and gifts would I want her to have?

The answer.

Really good tweezers. In a little package. Dedicated travel ones. That cannot be forgotten no matter how forgetful she is.

(Not that she would be forgetful. But since this is the thing I always forget, it would be nice.)

The daily Hey Let’s Evaluate The Day question about what’s working and what we’re going to do differently next time.

A crisp and stylish CEO outfit to wear for checking into the hotel (always gets you a better room, and yet still I forget to show up in work drag).

Notes on why checklists maps, as I call them, are so important. Hint: it’s not just about not-reinventing-the-wheel.

And a designated Gwish Book for writing about her gwishes.

“What advice does Slightly Future Me have about this?”

The question.

Let’s ask me-in-the-future. What does she know? What’s her advice?

The answer.

Asking these questions right now is really important. It’s symbolically important.

How you travel reflects how you are in your business.

Each fix is setting up the future to have more literal and symbolic smoothness.

You need to be able to experience what it’s like to know/feel/trust that all doors open for you.

And until you’re at that point (it’s going to take a while), you need to set stuff up for yourself so you feel the smoothness.

You need to feel cared for so you can create. And so you can heal. Build these experiences of ease now so that you can believe in them.

Setting it up.

It’s kind of like being a football team. Or a roller derby pack. Only with versions of me playing all the roles.

Future Me is the striker. Yes, proper football that kind of football. And right now I’m making assists and setting things up so Eric Brunner can be this happy.

Future me is the jammer. And me right now is like Layla Smackdown, Smack Ya Sideways and Napalm Beth getting ready to do some damage so Sully Skullkicker can rack up the points.

Okay, maybe sports analogies… not the best. But that’s what’s on my mind.

Anyway, I’m making space for myself. And committing to making things good.

But not at the expense of me-right-now. Because that’s not what future me wants.

I’m taking care of myself now so me-to-come can be the kind of person who knows what that’s like. And I’m taking care of her so her world becomes all about being supported and loved.

And comment zen for today.

This is hard stuff. It’s a practice.

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff.

You are more than welcome to think out loud about setting things up to be better for Slightly Future You.

Or about this thing we call ease, and why it can be such a painful and resistance-filled concept.

We let everyone have their own experience and we don’t give unsolicited advice. xox

18 Responses to Setting it up.

  1. Hannah
    Twitter: Hannah_Savannah
    says:

    My favorite post ever!

    I am saving the questions or writing them on Wishing Cards or something… something! I love all the ideas involving special cards – there is something about a white correspondence card that is so promising and organized and clean and ready to be filled with color all at the same time.

    Waving!
    and bowing to say great post :)
    Hannah

  2. Nicole
    Twitter: nicolecristnyc
    says:

    Future me will be traveling for business soon. Present me wants to give her:
    -healthy and delicious snackeroonies like fruit & granola bars and a bit of chocolate too.
    -her favorite kind of morning tea, and her favorite kind of nighttime tea. and honey.
    -internet connection from her smartphone into her laptop that actually connects.
    -her skype password so that logging on doesn’t take half an hour.
    -smushy socks and her own smushy robe.

  3. Elizabeth
    Twitter: elizabethhalt
    says:

    I was journaling about ease yesterday. It turns out that I don’t like ease because it reminds me of school, when I spent years feeling guilty that I didn’t have to study much for my grades while other people studied so hard and still got much lower ones. It seemed so unfair and I didn’t know how to make up for the unfairness of it all. So now, anything that involves ease makes me feel guilty. At least if it’s hard and I have to struggle, I don’t have to feel guilty about it.

    I do like the idea of setting things up for Slightly-Future-Me, especially since she is always so helpful and loving.

  4. Maryann Devine
    Twitter: maryanndevine
    says:

    I love this concept.

    I can use it in so many contexts!

    And the fabulous traveling secretary?

    Reminded me that my imaginary assistant Tina would be SO good at this. Must add to her job description.

    Thank you!

    xo

  5. Esther says:

    Since it’s a vacation, I would think…. sovereignty slippers? For the pool, perhaps sovereignty sandals…. And certainly, sovereignty socks!

  6. s.
    Twitter: mostlywater413
    says:

    This: “…committing to making things good. / But not at the expense of me-right-now. Because that’s not what future me wants. / I’m taking care of myself now so me-to-come can be the kind of person who knows what that’s like. And I’m taking care of her so her world becomes all about being supported and loved.”
    -means so much to me.

    But I don’t even know where to start making myself feel safe and taken care of because I’ve almost never felt it before.

  7. Hannah
    Twitter: Hannah_Savannah
    says:

    *HUGS* big hugs to s.!
    :)

    I want to comment again! That’s how excited I am about this post!

    I was thinking about all of this at the gym and realized *slightly-future-me* has fun things coming up. There is a quiet working week, traveling-for-fun, traveling-for-work, which involves fancy hotels and airplanes, and great weekends with my boyfriend.

    The person we should be feeling sorry for here is clearly *right-now-me*!! who is preparing for all this fun with planning and getting visa’s and working ahead and dealing with difficult outside pressure to make the future fun happen

    *Slightly-future-me wants *right-now-me* have a chilled evening, be proud, have tea, and sleep well.

    *Slightly-future-me*: You did well *right-now-me*!! I can’t believe you recently even filled in your tax form for the first time ever. You have been kicking ass all year and if there is anything I’d tell you it would be to enjoy this. So. I have only one request from you, which is that you put your feet up, play some celebratory music and enjoy your appartment. :)

    Hugs to everyone posting things :)

  8. Anna Barnett
    Twitter: annabarnett
    says:

    The traveling secretary is my favoritest.

    You reminded me that when I went to New Zealand I had the Little Book of Me on index cards. And since I was living out of a backpack in a van, things like the Little Book of Me on index cards were somewhat more salient than in my regular, um, highly resource-filled life. If I went into a spiral I had a card that said “signs of a spiral” and “first aid for a spiral” (heavily inspired by Pace and Kyeli’s awesomeness course – props!). Since being back things often seem more complicated and more stuck, and I haven’t even looked at those cards. Hmm.

  9. claire
    Twitter: claireofRA
    says:

    Great questions!

    I have two words for you: folding scissors! Not meant as unsolicited advice but rather a mention of a thing that once upon a time I did not know existed. Since I was given a pair, I’ve thought them awesome and keep ’em on my key ring. (Along with my little tape measure, w00t!) I try to remember to take the scissors off when I’m flying, but it’s gotten through a few times no problem. (Haven’t flown recently though.)

    Also, thanks for sharing this which I did not know but which makes sense:
    “A crisp and stylish CEO outfit to wear for checking into the hotel (always gets you a better room, and yet still I forget to show up in work drag).”

    “Work drag” is the perfect way to describe it.

  10. Jesse
    Twitter: persnicket
    says:

    Ooh. I like to think of my Travel Secretary like Pepper Potts in Iron Man; cool, whipsmart, a little amused at my forgetfulness but she knows it’s her job to prepare me. She is also my slightly future self in disguise, maybe, or she secretly works for my Future Self. Future Self sends her memos: “Remember that time when we forgot about traveling with the In Case Of Period kit? Hilarious! Well, pack it for her.” And other useful things like that! Travel Secretary/Pepper Potts always looks awesome in a pencil skirt, too. Side bonus.

  11. Melissa LaMunyon
    Twitter: melissalamunyon
    says:

    Whoa…Kind of overwhelming. I lovelove the concept–setting your future self up for success. I have been working with this secretly in my own life–but it has to be a secret or I get too overwhelmed/freaked out. Because everything I do shift over to making my future days easier and better illuminates ALL of the other stuff that hasn’t shifted and I struggle with insulating myself against the Angry Horde. Anyways. Huge secret progress has been made–my kitchen is almost always practically perfectly clean at night. Talk about making things better!

    xoxo Havi, hope that you find an excellent travel tweezer case, because there really isn’t much worse than waking up in a hotel and realizing you’ve got unibrow spikes coming in…

  12. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat
    says:

    I’m going to be projectizing this weekend, with a deadline on the horizon. So, let me give these questions a try.

    If I were my own Fairy Godmother, what would I give myself to make this work more ease-filled?
    –A softer, more comfortable place to write. Magic glasses to help me see my resources in all their multi-dimensional glory.

    If I had a Fairy Godmother, what would she give me?
    –A pink bubbly shield, for safety and loving-kindness.
    (Okay, a bit of explanation: when my daughter was younger and felt anxious about being left alone at bedtime, I introduced the idea of creating a beautiful shield/force field, a shimmering bubble in whatever color she chose, to keep her safe, to keep scary things out and comforting things in. For years after I introduced the concept, she would ask me to give her a “pink bubbly shield” before turning off the light.)

    If the person working on this project were my boss, and I was her fabulous personal assistant, how would I help her do her work?
    –Easy. I’d run interference. As many times as necessary, I’d offer variations on the theme of “She’s in the middle of a project right now and can’t be disturbed, but I can set up an appointment for you at X o’clock,” setting boundaries in a firm yet completely gracious way that would give no offense and respect everyone’s sovereignty.

    If I were mentoring someone and training her to do my work, what information and gifts would I want her to have?
    –Creature comforts. A marvelous beverage in a beautiful cup. The ability to tell others what is and isn’t helpful, and the ability to ask for help without fear.

    What advice does Slightly-Future-Me have about this?
    –Working on this is going to feel better than not working on it. Try a different story, a different role, than the “poor me this is hard” character. Pretend that this will be a fun challenge, like a crossword puzzle at just the right level of difficulty, filled with contemplation followed by Click! and Yes!!
    –Smile. No, seriously. Practice different smiles: mad scientist smiles, loving mother smiles, mysterious Zen smiles. Play.

    What parts of Now will turn out to be good for Slightly-Future-Me?
    –I’m learning how to protect myself from other people’s stuff. I can let them have their stuff. I can offer them love, and just keep moving.

    And egad, can there really be ease around this projectizing? Is it possible and permissible?
    –Permissible? Yes. I hereby give myself permission. Possible? Well, why not assume that it is, and see what happens?

  13. Bethwyn says:

    I love this post and I love the comments! One particular comment really resonated with me – Elizabeth’s. When she said that when you’re having a hard time at least you don’t have to feel guilty about it.
    yesyesyesyesyes. This is exactly how I feel! I am sick A LOT, but I only ever feel not-guilty about being sick when I’m so sick I cannot walk or talk. SILLINESS. Sick is sick. And when I am sick, I need to give present-me some space and some pillow fortresses so that future-me can feel all rested and sure of herself!

    AND if present-me is a little bit upset with friends for making her feel like she shouldn’t trust her own instincts about sickness, then perhaps present-me should think about what friends are giving her warm fuzzies and funs so that future-me can focus on them! But all this can be done in my own space, in my own safe room. :)

  14. Bethany's Joy
    Twitter: carolynjfrancisgmail.com
    says:

    Ok, so I’m new here.
    And now I’m going to say the thing that I’m almost positive everyone who’s found themselves here over the past hundred years has said upon arriving…
    Holy shit! This place is just freaking amazing! I keep clicking and clicking on post after post and it’s hilarious and beautiful and wise and true and there is a duck and dancing and something about old turkish ladies that I will surely figure out later. And Bolivia. O my.

    So I considered not writing this comment, thinking that it is surely lame and makes me sound like a crazed fan or needy self-help nut of some kind. But what the hell. I think that if I were Havi (or Selma) and already had millions of Right People all around the world I would still want to know that, right now, there is a little person somewhere whose life just got bigger and whose eyes just opened a little wider upon discovered this enchanting little corner of the world. Thank you. You have the most extraordinary voice. Enchanting. Beautiful. Really.

  15. Lurker Mouse Caroline says:

    This is so perfect for me today, a bit more than a year after you first wrote it.

    I’m spending a *lot* of time at the moment setting something up that I’m hoping will be of enormous benefit to Slightly Future Me (and Long-Term Future Me) but, oh my goodness it’s got my monsters in a bit of a state, and in particular the no-time-no-time-no-time one.

    So this is what I needed to read right now. Thank you for linking to it from VPA #142 which brought me here, and as Bethany’s Joy said above, every time I come to this space I think ‘this place is just freaking amazing!’ And enchanting. And beautiful.

  16. oliver danni
    Twitter: choirqueer
    says:

    This was a good place for me to go today, too! Mainly because it reminded me that Setting Things Up is a practice I have intentionally cultivated for a reason, and that it’s become so well integrated into my habits by now that I’ve started taking it for granted. Sparklepoints for me, for doing it and continuing to do it and KNOWING that I do it! And love to you for re-minding me!

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