What's in the gallery?

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.


Speaking to the fog.

Last week Liz McGowen wrote a terrific post called Tina and the Troll.

It was inspired by some of my wacky conversations with monsters.

And it’s fascinating, because she borrowed my concept of using a negotiator to mediate the hard parts and took it somewhere completely different.

The only thing I like better than building on someone else’s concept is when someone does it with one of mine.

So now I’m going to take her idea — that you can invite a real person into your head to mediate awkward and horrible encounters — and play with it a bit myself.

The thing I’m dealing with right now:

It’s not really a monster. And it’s definitely not a troll. More of a scary fog.

It’s about the same stuff that’s going on with the rose.

The scary fog, which is sort of a green-black haze, thinks that I need to hide and to “not be beautiful” (its words) because otherwise people will hate me and be jealous of me.

So I was going to have one of my usual internal discussions with the haze-fog. And I stopped to ask whether I could do it myself or if I needed the Negotiator to step in.

But then I thought no, let’s try something else.

A whole mediation party.

I’ve never done one of these before (because, you know, I just made it up) so I have no idea how it works. But that’s never stopped me before so … let’s do this thing.

We’re in a large room with cream colored walls and a very high ceiling.

I’m in one corner and my green-black scary fog haze is in the other.

Not like boxers, exactly. It’s not a ring or anything. But we’re opposite each other and are kind of checking each other out, without actually approaching.

I know that in the next room the negotiators are waiting. I know that the negotiators are all people that I inherently trust. I know that the negotiators do things their own way and that I am to be patient and just watch.

Let the mediation begin.

The first negotiator.

The first negotiator is the typing teacher from 7th grade. I never had her for typing, but she was my greatest protector. My advocate.

She walks briskly up to the fog and this is what she says:

“Honey, I get that you’re trying to protect our sweet girl from a lot of potential pain. And I appreciate that. But you know what? When she is her whole self, that is her protection. Her best protection. And you’re keeping her from it. Think about that.”

She walks over to me and pats me on the shoulder. And then she finds a place to sit up against the wall in the middle of the room.

The second negotiator.

The second negotiator is the Dalai Lama.

He goes to the fog. He smiles at it calmly. He reaches out his hand towards it. And then he sits at its feet (or where its feet would be) and closes his eyes.

Once in awhile he looks at me and kind of twinkles. Like he’s just beaming at me. I feel instantly reassured. There is gentleness everywhere.

The third negotiator.

The third negotiator is my friend who is dead.

This makes me cry.

My friend who is dead goes to the fog. He speaks to the fog.

“You have no idea what you’re up against. Havi is the smartest and the strongest and the funniest. Nothing can stop her. You don’t want to mess with her and you don’t want to mess with her friends. I’ve stood up for her a million times and I’ll keep standing up for her no matter what happens.”

Then he comes and sits by me and holds my hand. And I cry and cry and cry.

The fourth negotiator.

The fourth negotiator is my ex-husband. He goes to the fog.

“Havi’s in a lot of pain right now. I know she’s not the easiest person to get along with and god knows it’s hell to live with her, but I think you need to give her a break.”

Then he kind of shrugs and leaves the room. He doesn’t look at me.

The fifth negotiator.

The fifth negotiator is my teacher. He goes to the fog. He bows to the fog. He clears his throat.

“Havi’s light is inspiration to the world. You block this light. This is not efficient use of your energy. We need her light for bigger purpose: to ignite light in minds and hearts of other teachers. I say these words with respect. It is time now to use your power correctly.”

I am so happy to see Andrey and hear his voice and his Ukrainian-inflected English that I want to run to him. But I stay seated.

He comes to me. He says:

“You give fog power over you. Is not necessary.”

Then he goes and sits in another corner and begins to meditate. Soon he’s floating about a foot off the ground. The Dalai Lama sees this and beams delightedly.

Marlene, the typing teacher, shakes her head. My friend who is dead squeezes my hand. And I imagine my ex-husband thinking, “Man, she hangs around with the weirdest people.”

I wait to see if there will be a sixth negotiator, but no one else comes.

I notice that the air is different.

It’s as if each new person has brought an additional quality to the room.

A brisk, sensible no-nonsense breeze. Sweet gentleness. Fierce loyalty. Compromise. Power.

I scoot closer to the fog. The fog comes closer to me.

We’re sitting opposite each other now.

Each of my negotiators is in one corner of the room, watching.

Me: “I’m ready to work on this if you are.
The fog: “Okay. We could go to Carolyn with it.”
Me: “I’d like that.”
The fog: “You’re not scared of me anymore.”
Me: “It took me a while to realize that you’re … not that scary. I mean, if everyone else can talk to you, I guess I can too.”
The fog: “You’re not that scary yourself, you know.”
Me: “What? Why would I be scary?”
The fog: “Because of your potential. All of my fears about bad stuff happening to you that I need to keep you from? It’s because you’re really amazing. I admire you. It’s just that I worry about you a lot.”
Me: “I can’t believe this. I thought you hated me.”
The fog: “Come sit with me.”

And so I did.

23 Responses to Speaking to the fog.

  1. Dick Carlson
    Twitter: techherding

    OK, so I was 2/3 of the way through thinking it was a scary “FROG”.

    I really need to read slower.

    Dick Carlsons last blog post..Seth Godin On The Tribes We Lead

  2. Marissa says:

    Me too on the scary “FROG”! LOL I was completely envisioning you, Havi, sitting opposite a big hazy frog. Which is a very unnerving visual, really. But quite a bit different from a fog. (And still a great post either way.)

  3. Hiro Boga
    Twitter: HiroBoga

    Havi, this is beautiful. You have powerful allies who love you, and who help you shine. And who negotiate with the fog for you! :-)

    That ole fog is trying to be your ally too, in its own foggy way. The difference is, it doesn’t know what really keeps you safe.

    Thanks for generously sharing your stories with us!

    Love, Hiro

    Hiro Bogas last blog post..Shepherd, Steward, Saint or Angel: What Kind of Leader Are You?

  4. leah says:

    That is so weird, I also was reading it until the very end as a frog. And then I laughed to see I wasn’t the only one!

    What a lovely example of calling forth your allies. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    leahs last blog post..CED Challenge Check-In: June 22 – June 28

  5. Dawn says:

    My therapist has long been suggesting that I talk directly to my Anxiety, but it’s been hard to do this because it’s hard to talk to parts of yourself. But I’m realizing that all along, you have been creating a template I can also use to confront/better understand/yell at my Anxiety.

    I’m also realizing that at particular times, my Anxiety has multiple personalities, so I may need to address each one in turn, as they appear.

    I am appreciate that your work gives me permission to use a little creativity when it comes to dealing with my stuff.

  6. Sara Zia says:


    I already got stuck on the idea of trying to pick 5 people I inherently trust to look out for me and couldn’t even make it to the negotiation room yet.

    Thank you for yet again unearthing another stuckification spot through your writing!

    Sara Zias last blog post..Name my newest boxing partner.

  7. Catherine Cantieri, Sorted
    Twitter: getsorted

    Havi, I could read your unstuckification posts all day. This is another gem. I really love the idea of the Dalai Lama just putting love out there for all. Beautiful post.

    Catherine Cantieri, Sorteds last blog post..Taming Time: Unexpected time management resources

  8. Laurel says:

    This is really touching – thank you.

  9. Chloe
    Twitter: chloewrites

    Of all of your ‘talking to [insert stuckness here]’ posts, this one is the most amazing. I nearly cried when your friend turned up. And I’m surprised that the Dalai Lama didn’t say anything, although if he had it probably would have set off his giggling. Did you invite these specific people in to negotiate, or were they each a surprise?

    This is silly, but your bringing in negotiators reminds me of what it’s like to live with one friend compared with two. When it’s just you and the fog sometimes there’s just no way of resolving whose turn it is to clean the bathroom. When you bring in negotiators they can say hey, actually you’re both kind of messy, how about you both pitch in.

  10. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    Okay, the frog thing is bizarre/hysterical because it totally sounds like something I would write.

    I’ll have to write a scary frog post at some point.

    But maybe you guys are thinking of my big jew frog post?! Because that’s what I think of when I think of scary frogs.


    @Chloe – that’s awesome. I can completely see how it’s like having extra roommates.

    And no, each person was a complete surprise. I had zero agenda for this.

    @Sara – oh yes, that scared me too because I absolutely couldn’t think of anyone I trusted or wanted to be there. So I went into the exercise really worried that nothing would happen (and was surprised/relieved when people showed up).

    Barbara Sher also has a lovely exercise where you try to think of people you admire and add them to your team of supporters. It’s in her book Wishcraft.

    @Dawn – neat! And my anxiety has multiple personalities too. Sounds completely normal to me. :)

    I’m glad that this is a helpful … something in that process, and that you’re getting permission to be creative with it. That’s really lovely. Thank you!

  11. Ingrid says:

    Wooow. I am fascinated and amazed by your experiences. Wow. I love reading about these. Thanks.

  12. Would a hazy frog be similar to hypnotoad? Do not look if you’re epilepti-ALL GLORY TO HYPNOTOAD!

  13. Diana says:

    Good one Havi! I really think that’s a good way to see something you can’t see (the fog).

    Dianas last blog post..Goodnight You Moonlight Ladies

  14. Amy says:

    This was very powerful; it brought tears to my eyes. I wish I had your courage, and even more, I wish I could impart a tiny bit of it to my husband. He cannot even acknowledge he HAS real fears most of the time. You know, he’s ‘fine.’

    Anyway, thank you for writing yet another inspiring post.

    Hugs for you and Selma.

    Amys last blog post..Heil Shopping

  15. Anna-Liza
    Twitter: Divina712

    Wow, Havi, this did bring the tears to my eyes. The technique of speaking with my fears, monsters, etc has always made *so much sense* to me, yet I have never been able to do it. They’re still *so* scary, I’ve given them *so* much power, that I go completely blank and tongue-tied.

    But sitting at a safe distance while people I love and trust (or who at least know me really really well) speak to it for me, at least to get things started? I can *totally* do that! I can’t wait to give it a try!

    Anna-Lizas last blog post..Pollyanna Has an Exotic Experience

  16. Kerry
    Twitter: kerryrowett

    I really loved the way you were so open to the experience and just went with the creativity of it all … I could feel the energy change as each person arrived. I particularly liked your typing teacher – no nonsense there! And how nice of your ex husband to turn up and fight in your corner :)

    Kerrys last blog post..Base Chakra

  17. Lean Ni Chuilleanain (@leannich)
    Twitter: leannich

    I think these posts are amazing. Every time you write about doing this stuff I want to try it too. Perhaps I need to talk to the wall that’s stopping me from doing it… Would that make me vanish in a paradoxical explosion?

  18. Sarah says:

    Awesome. Thank you for that.

  19. Josiane
    Twitter: kimianak

    Oh my! The potential thing! The fears stemming from the potential thing: totally one of my issues. Except that I see no fog or monsters trying to stop me from doing things in order to keep me safe from what could happen if I did the amazing things I could be doing, no – I’m doing that myself. Which may explain why I can’t seem to find an interlocutor inside of me whom I could interact with about this issue. Hmm, interesting insight. Now, I’ve got to find out how I could make that work for me – something to think about when I’ll set the intention for my next Shiva Nata practice…

    Josianes last blog post..Creative vegan tip of the day!

  20. Shana says:

    Because, really, it’s never to late to post a comment, right? I say 6 months-ish out is perfect timing. This post made me cry, and I don’t know what’s under (around, above) that yet. And the first comment about frog made me laugh so hard. So then I was crying and laughing simultaneously. It was pretty excellent. Thank you.
    .-= Shana ´s last post … And what did YOU see in the world today? =-.

  21. […] of my favorite bloggers, Havi, converses with her monsters that get her stuck. I thought I’d give it a shot. My friend Aimee […]

  22. […] Calm Me: We’re not making progress here… -looks around for a new system tool; hoping to find a negotiator- […]

  23. […] Permission, instead, to call out the negotiators. […]

Leave a reply

CommentLuv badge