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.


Turns out Metaphor Mouse doesn’t like “projects” either. So there.

Metaphor MouseBackground: the metaphor technique is something I’ve adapted from Suzette Haden Elgin‘s teachings. It’s a terrific tool for destuckifying.

We play with this one at the Kitchen Table and some of my wacky events. It’s mainly an excuse for me to make my “What’s a meta for?” joke, but the results are seriously great.

It’s also how I discovered that I work on a pirate ship. Which helped me with my hackers. And my fear of being beautiful.

More recently we turned my horrid Tickler file into an Iguana Watcher’s Guide And we turned “doing taxes” into a Secret Money Cave where I visit my treasures, take notes in my Pirate Log and make a Tribute to the lands that allow me access to their fair harbours.

Let’s do this thing.

Metaphor Mouse Chicken Iguana Pirate Troll powers ACTIVATE!

Aaargh. Projects. Unpacking the metaphor.

The situation:

I’m currently working on about a hundred projects. Which means I use the word project. A lot.

And I don’t even like it. Plus, projects have tasks and I absolutely cannot stand tasks.

So when I start messing with iguanaccountability, I’m already losing steam.

Cinderella does not like her tasks. Or her stupid projects.

This must be a job for … Metaphor Mouse!

* As always, this is is just me yelling I AM METAPHOR MOUSE to the song I am Iron Man. Yes. Still.

Unpacking my CURRENT relationship with this. (PROJECT = ?)

What are the qualities, aspects and attributes of the thing that isn’t working (including what *is* working — if anything)?

[+ should]
[+ stress]
[+ big]
[+ unmanageable]
[+ needs to get done]
[+ sometimes exciting and invigorating]
[+ proud (look at me, doing a project!]
[+ responsibility]
[+ hard to get a handle on]
[+ doesn’t always have clear boundaries]
[+ can be fulfilling]
[+ but not necessarily]
[+ tired]
[+ heavy]
[+ weight of the world on my shoulders]
[+ hard to access support]
[+ lonely]
[+ dark, with patches of light]

Reminds me of?

It’s like wandering through a forest, trying to gather all sorts of …. things that have to be gathered.

And I have these heavy packs on my back and am carrying all these baskets.

Plus I’m not even sure where I’m going or how to get there or if I’m ever going to get there. But for whatever reason I’m still not able to stop.

Learning more about my IDEAL metaphor (X = ?)

What sort of qualities, aspects and feelings does the thing I want contain?

[+ clarity]
[+ sovereignty]
[+ confidence]
[+ light]
[+ support]
[+ exciting]
[+ invigorating]
[+ happy]
[+ energy]
[+ container]
[+ clear boundaries]
[+ ritual]
[+ transitions]
[+ fun]
[+ support (not alone)]
[+ people are happy for me when it’s done]
[+ valuable]
[+ anticipation]
[+ yay]

Reminds me of?

Oooh! Ooh! it’s a TREASURE HUNT.

It’s kind of a game, so I don’t have to take it too seriously.

But it’s fun so if I want to get crazy invested in it, I can.

And I choose to be a part of it. And other people are helping me.

The things I need to do may require work, but they are clearly defined. It’s not this big amorphous thing.

And if a “task” is an element of a project, a bite sized piece, then the corresponding part of a treasure hunt would be a clew.

Or maybe it’s more like one of Lucy’s missions.

What do you think, Metaphor Mouse? Are we at metaphor?

I love this. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

What needs to happen next?

Taking forty five minutes to figure out what I know about the next clue in my treasure hunt.

And how do we make it more fun?

I want:

  • people to celebrate with when a chunk of this gets done
  • strategizing
  • laughter
  • to remember the light-heartedness of this, and let that mix with my passion for the thing I want to happen.

Play with me? Comment zen for today.

You are more than welcome to do your own Metaphor Mousing on something you’re working on.

Or to celebrate with me and join my treasure hunt.

And, as always: we let people have their own experience, and we don’t give advice (unless someone specifically asks for it).

Whee! No more projects! No more TASKS.

Come play.

*puts on treasure-hunting hat*

17 Responses to Turns out Metaphor Mouse doesn’t like “projects” either. So there.

  1. Hiro Boga
    Twitter: HiroBoga

    Hooray for Treasure Hunt, Havi! I can’t wait to see what clue will appear next, and where it will take you.

    The Peanut Gallery here is applauding madly, celebrating with you each step of the way. :-)

    Love, Hiro
    .-= Hiro Boga´s last post … Life Unfolding =-.

  2. chicsinger simone
    Twitter: simonebernhard

    Yay! Treasure Hunt! And hats! Yay! Bet you’ve already got a Pirate Map with a big X marking the spot….

  3. Suzyn says:

    Ooooh! I want light-heartedness, too! In fact, that phrase is going right on my bulletin board!
    .-= Suzyn´s last post … New Pattern: Trellis Cup Cozy =-.

  4. seshat says:

    Yay. I had almost started using this one myself, but somehow never quite got there, so this was just what I needed! I’m in the midst of an important and stressful thing-to-do right now, and decided when I couldn’t sit down to write an outline for it that I wasn’t outlining, I was working on decoding a treasure map. Because a treasure map often has bits missing, and misdirection, and quicksand you come across when you least expect it. But following it is exciting, and you get a big prize at the end. However, even though I noticed myself pausing every time I typed or thought “project”, I was still not calling the whole process by its correct name. On to the X!

  5. Tracy
    Twitter: verdissage

    Happy treasure-hunting! I want to find my own just-right metaphor for “projects,” as I too have begun to dislike the very word.
    .-= Tracy´s last post … Process: How It All Unfolds =-.

  6. Qrystal
    Twitter: Qrystal

    OOooooOOoooo, I like the idea of making a Treasure Map instead of a (yawwwn!) project plan!
    .-= Qrystal´s last post … Resolving to Overcome My Stuckness =-.

  7. JoVE
    Twitter: jovanevery

    The other great thing about Treasure Hunt is that you don’t necessarily know what the treasure is.

    A project always feels like it SHOULD be well defined. Like I should know what I’m trying to accomplish and have clear steps to take to get there.

    With a Treasure Hunt, I have a good idea what I might find, but it is perfectly acceptable for it to turn out differently than I imagined. Also digging holes in the wrong place seems like a normal part of the process.
    .-= JoVE´s last post … How an academic job search is like any job search =-.

  8. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    Treasure hunt! Yes! I am with you.
    .-= Kathleen Avins´s last post … An open letter, from me to me =-.

  9. Karen Sharp
    Twitter: karen_sharp

    oh, I love this! Yes, I have a bunch of treasure hunts going on, some of which I thought were hard long slogging projects, but now I feel much more light and free and fun about them!! Thank you!!

    And yay for your treasure-hunting, Havi, for your clues, and for your adventures! Both when you find a clue and figure out something, and for the mystery-chasing treasure-hunting, clue-searching-out times before you find the clue! Because that’s part of what I love about this (and something about this one makes me get the whole Metaphor Mouse thing better) — that “making progress” (another part of the whole “project” thing that just feels so heavy and long and hard) isn’t so important or such a big deal.

    So yay treasure hunts! Yay pirate queens! Yay for Metaphor Mouse and yay for adventures and yay for all of us!! A clue, a clue!!! :D

  10. Geanine
    Twitter: geaninethompson

    Congrats on the Treasure Hunt, Havi! Hip Hip Hoorah! I’ve gotta put Metaphor Mouse to work on my stuff.<3

  11. Mona
    Twitter: monagrayson

    Reading about the “clues” was totally awesome for me. Thanks, Havi!

    I also have issues with the idea of projects sometimes – and just thinking about finding clues to how this is going to turn out is a helpful reframe.

    Question: When I did my last metaphor thing about turning my “editing” into “putting on a play” it was very exciting and interesting and creative. Also totally unsustainable. I quickly forgot about it didn’t carry forth with the metaphor at all. And I didn’t wind up doing any editing.

    What’s your experience with this kind of thing? (Or can one of you awesome readers point me to a post where Havi writes about this?)

    Do we require reminders about our new metaphor? Is it enough that we just think about it once and it’s about the shift that happens in that moment, but we really don’t need to make it a full on lifestyle like your pirate crew metaphor that you’ve obviously taken on in a big way?

    I suppose if one were to really want to use the new Metaphor to make a difference, reminders and integrating and actually talking about it in the new terms would be helpful. Otherwise, it’s just like having a thought for 10 minutes and then letting it slide away. No real shift in the relationship that’s lasting.

    Just some questions that pop up about Metaphor Mousing and how to get the most out of it.

    In the meantime, I choose accepting the way I’ve been doing it and realizing that it’s all good.
    .-= Mona´s last post … When You Want Them To Shut Up And They Don’t =-.

  12. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    Hey guys!

    @Mona – oh definitely. That’s why I’m really big on props. Anything that helps me plant seeds and clues as a reminder.

    The other day I forgot that I don’t do “editing” anymore and do decorating instead, until I spotted my “treasure-mapping” gloves that I wear for “filing”. Which reminded me that I can wear my Decorating Costume to do my editing.

    So. It can take a while. Especially with a thing that comes with layers of pain. In general, the more clues you leave for yourself the better. And gently guiding yourself back or asking what else needs to move.

    Sometimes you need an intermediary metaphor because some part of you isn’t ready for the new one yet. So if the old thing is a dark scary forest and the new thing is a sunny meadow, you might spend some time at the edge of the forest, getting used to the idea of stepping out of it.

    @Karen – yay!

    @JoVE – ooh good point. There’s that element of surprise and mystery and discovery that makes it that much more fun. Yeah.

    @seshat – on to the X! That is great. We’ll have to start saying that at Drunk Pirate Council.

    @Hiro – mmm, peanuts. I mean, peanut gallery. :)

  13. Wulfie says:

    I can’t help myself. I don’t like the word project either so, in keeping with your pirate theme, I found these lovelies. Maybe they’ll help the metaphor mice come up with some inspiring new metaphors:



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