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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.


My stuck isn’t talking, and things get weird. Also there is a trapeze.

Alternate title: “I hesitate to call this the strangest blog post I’ve written so far because I’ve written a lot of really bizarre posts but this one might just take the cake.”

So yes. I’m a big fan of talking to blocks and interacting with stucknesses but I also think it’s useful to have someone around to negotiate for you. Because talking to the stuck is hard.

And uncomfortable.

Like when I had Cobalt mediate my conversation with my arms when my arms were on strike.

Or when I got together with the negotiator, the monster and the scribe.

Long story short? I went to have a conversation with a stuck today. And my stuck refused to talk to me. So I brought in a mediator.

It only gets more weird from there, so I guess that’s all the introduction I can give.

For some reason I’m on a stage, sitting in a tall wooden chair. The mediator enters stage right.

The mediator: So … what’s going on here?
Me: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
The mediator (after a pause): Sounds like you’re feeling kind of frustrated… is that right?
Me: Uh huh.
The mediator: Okay.
Me: Sigh.
The mediator (looking around the empty stage): Where’s your stuck? I don’t see anything…
Me: I don’t know.
The mediator: Tell me a bit more about what’s going on.
Me: I don’t know!
The mediator: Alright. We can do this without the stuck too. Why don’t you just tell me what you do know.

Me: I feel so confused.
The mediator: Do you know what the stuck is about?
Me: That’s the problem. So I have this thing. And it’s a thing I want to do. And I’m not doing it. And I don’t know if the stuck is the thing or the not wanting to do it or the resistance or the resentment or all those things together and …
The mediator: I know you’ll probably smack me if I tell you to take a deep breath …
Me: Don’t say it.
The mediator: Okay.
Me: breathes

The mediator: You know, I don’t think it matters right now — for our purposes — what the source of the stuck is. This is more about your relationship with the stuck than the stuck itself.
Me: Alright.
The mediator: What do you need from the stuck?
Me: To show up so I know what it is. To stop hiding from me! To say something so I can refute it and tell it why it’s wrong.
The mediator: Ah. Okay. That might be why it’s not showing up.

Me: Oh. I see. My stuck is afraid that if it comes out of hiding I’ll try to convince it to stop being stuck?
The mediator: Or to stop being afraid … or to stop worrying about you.
Me: My stuck likes to worry about me.
The mediator: You got it.

Me (shouting offstage): Come out, stuck! I’m not going to try to talk you out of being stuck!
The mediator (raising eyebrow): Really?
Me: Whose side are you on, anyway?
The mediator: Um, I’m a mediator. That’s why you called me.
Me: Oooooof.
The mediator: You don’t have to make promises you can’t or won’t keep. You can just agree to meet with the stuck and find out what’s going on.
Me (sticking tongue out): Fine. I agree to meet with the stuck.
The mediator: Let’s do this thing.

The stuck comes shambling out and sits down in a metal folding chair that has appeared out of nowhere. There is a spotlight just in front of the chair, so the stuck seems to be even more in shadow than it already is.

The stuck is wrapped in layers of dark cloth, it could be sheets or a shroud. The shape of a person, with no body parts visible, not even a face.

The mediator: Alright. Progress. I appreciate that you’ve come out here to sit with us.
Me: Come on.
The mediator: What?
Me: Is this going to be one of those stupid Jungian things where we unveil the stuck and it turns out to be me underneath? Because that’s lame.
The mediator: No. No, it’s not you under there.
Me: It’s not?
The mediator: No.
Me: ?!?!

The mediator: There isn’t anything under there.
Me: ?!?!
The mediator: (shrugs)

Me: So … what are we doing here then?
The mediator: This isn’t really stuck. It’s just the shell of a stuck. It’s the reminder of a stuck. It’s old, old, old, residual frameworks that used to surround a stuck. But there’s nothing inside.
Me: How do you even know this stuff?
The mediator: A mediator knows many things.
Me: About Floyd Merkle’s death?
The mediator: Why would a mediator know that?
Me: (giggles)
The mediator: Sooooo … as much fun as it is quoting obscure Neil Simon movies, maybe we should get back to the stuck.
Me: You said it’s not a stuck.
The mediator: The shadow of the stuck.
Me: I told you. None of this Jungian stuff. I’m not in the mood for it.

Me: This is what I want to know. What does this stuck need from me in order to be able to heal or be transformed or whatever hippie-ass stuff happens to stuck?
The mediator: Exactly.
Me: What?
The mediator: What does this stuck — this shadow of stuck — need from you?
Me: To acknowledge that it isn’t real? But that it’s still here? And that I need it to remember that it’s just a shadow of what was?
The mediator: Bingo. I don’t know why you even need me around.
Me: Who else do I get to quote obscure Neil Simon movies with?
The mediator: I could answer that, but you won’t like the answer.

Me: So what happens now?
The mediator: Your stuck is from then. It doesn’t know that it’s now. That now you have other things to deal with. It’s not that you won’t have stuck anymore. It’s just that this particular version of stuck isn’t a part of your life anymore.
Me: But it doesn’t seem to know that.
The mediator: Yeah, it needs to come into present time. Into right now.
Me: What does that even mean? And why are you speaking in this spooky voice?
The mediator: I was kind of hoping that something would happen …

A trapeze bar descends from the ceiling. A young woman dressed in a hot pink ’80s prom dress holding a glitter-decorated scepter is sitting on it, swinging her legs. There might also be confetti.

Me: Give me a break. A freaking deus ex machina?
The mediator: It’s hard to find a way to actually show the quality of present time. We’re doing what we can here.
Me: shakes head
The mediator: Can we bring this stuck into right now? Into your current state where this stuck doesn’t live anymore?
Me: If the stuck is willing, I guess I am.
The mediator: Whose side are you on, anyway?

Me: Well, it is MY stuck.
The mediator: Your stuck that you’re not going to identify with anymore.
Me: No, I do identify with it.
The mediator: Okay. What do you need, then?
Me: For you to know that it’s hard for me to process all this stuff. It’s hard for me to recognize where I am, and what’s still my stuck and what’s my old stuck.
The mediator: Oh, sweetie. You’re feeling frustrated because you need us to acknowledge how painful this is for you.
Me: We?

The stuck is next to me now, patting my hand.

Me: Oh, stuck. The mediator is right. I’m having as much trouble letting you go as I was dealing with you when you were really there.
The mediator: Oh, it’s okay. There will be new stuck.
Me: Thanks. That’s really helpful. What’s wrong with you?
The mediator (laughs): I think we’re done for now. Is it okay if I take the stuck shadow with me?
Me: See you next time. I think I’m going to practice my lindy hop with the princess here.

Me and Present Time dance around the stage.


Comment zen for today:

I don’t even know what to put here.

32 Responses to My stuck isn’t talking, and things get weird. Also there is a trapeze.

  1. Emma Newman
    Twitter: emapocalyptic

    That. Rocks. That is all.

    I mean, what can I possibly say after that?
    .-= Emma Newman´s last post … Your Nisaba’s friendly guide to Twitter, part one: the very basics =-.

  2. Amna
    Twitter: Germinational

    Somehow, this post makes surreal completely not incompatible with perfect, linear good sense. Applause! And for diving in and modeling this process. Because where else, in one’s normal waking life, could one unravel this kind of good schtuff?

    I’m trying to do such a thing with one of my stucks. I do not seem to be able to stop the mental eye-rolling and really drop into this state of asking and answering, so far.
    .-= Amna´s last post … Germinational: Dealing with rejection as a writer (it’s just business!), from Merlin Mann: http://bit.ly/4qN42b =-.

  3. ilikered
    Twitter: carriemoore

    I have been finding it interesting that when things are going well for me and I am feeling happy and hopeful, I tend to ignore my stuck. My life is in a state of upheaval and big change, mostly for the better, and its been exciting. I have been very distracted, or.. hm. un-centered maybe? Not very internally focused or in tune. When I do get a quiet moment or pause in my day, I can feel the stuck lurking and hulking around in the background. It makes me afraid to settle back into a normal rhythm and self awareness where I can face and work on stuck things. It feels like they will be huge and smothering. I know it won’t be that awful, but thats not how it feels right now.

  4. Hiro Boga
    Twitter: HiroBoga

    Oh, Havi, I laughed my head off, picked myself up off the floor, and am now waving to you and your prom queen. **(Hi!)**

    Love, Hiro
    .-= Hiro Boga´s last post … Sunday Poem #8 =-.

  5. claire
    Twitter: claireofRA

    I really enjoyed this. Strikes me as an imaginative model for using non-violent communication with oneself. I don’t feel like I’m good at accurately naming my feelings a la NVC, but this post was a reminder that I don’t have to have all the words or answers to engage in the process. Cool.
    .-= claire´s last post … Rainy day, 2 =-.

  6. Barb McMahon says:

    Talking to your stuck! I usually just feed mine potato chips. Time to rethink that one.

    Thanks Havi!
    .-= Barb McMahon´s last post … Thoughts on the New Ikea Catalogue =-.

  7. Amy Crook
    Twitter: amysnotdeadyet

    It’s times like this that the thought of “after I finish this small work thing I’ll take a break and make zombie heads” doesn’t even feel weird anymore — and I love you for it.

    My cats would like you to know they do not appreciate your metaphor, btw. I dropped a chicken stock ice cube on the floor (very useful for sauces), and then picked it up. This left a spot on the floor that smells utterly delicious, but confusingly does not contain any actual deliciousness. Like the opposite of your stuck, good things lingering just to mock them.
    .-= Amy Crook´s last post … Gifts – It’s the Thought =-.

  8. R says:

    This makes sense… I was berating myself this weekend for falling back into old patterns but maybe it’s not about the old pattern per se. Maybe it was something that needed to happen that just happens to look like the old pattern. New food for thought.

    Which makes me ask, can you get epiphanies from the Dance of Shiva if you only do it once every three months?

  9. Charlotte says:

    This is fantastic, Havi.

    I’ve been having lots of trouble for the last few days talking to my stuck… and I didn’t realize that it might not be my stuck, but the Ghost of Stuck Past. I’ll try talking to it along those lines.

    I wonder… why would your stuck’s ghost pop up in regards to this one particular thing you’re thinking of doing?
    .-= Charlotte´s last post … Is Your Sales Funnel More Like a Sales Sieve? =-.

  10. djuro
    Twitter: djuro

    Oh Havi, that is awesome! You light up so many things when I least expect them!

    I have a whole gallery of Shell-Stucks that conveniently come sit next to me when I’m THISCLOSE to being stuck-free.

    I WANT to work on the thing, but… “Hmmm…there’s that old stucky feeling… Oh hai stuck! Welcome, welcome! Lemme see your face! Stucky, where do I know you from? Oh Yeees! Remember that time we…”
    …and I’m back to being comfortably stuck. I know the territory, and it’s good.
    NOT. I want better.

    I should call a mediator, too. Does anybody know if Samuel L. Jackson is freelancing?

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

    How utterly brilliant. I love the stage and the chairs and the spotlight – for some reason they struck me at least as much as the prom-queen-onna-trapeze! This kind of fully featured “scene” is something I’ve usually only been able to achieve with guidance. I’m hugely impressed at the results you get on your own.
    .-= Lean Ni Chuilleanain (@leannich)´s last post … Dragon Rampant =-.

  12. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    Hey guys!

    @djuro – ooh, Samuel L. Jackson as professional destuckifier. I like it!

    @R – oh, of course! Retroactive epiphanies. :) And once every three months is completely reasonable.

    (Also: yes, sometimes the reminder of the stuck looks like the stuck. It’s very annoying!)

    @Amy Crook – zombie heads!

    @Barb – potato chips. Ahhh. Brilliant. I’m going to try that!

  13. Emily
    Twitter: emilyroots

    Just, wow. Thank you so much for showing us how this works for you. Your writing always gives me hope that whatever I’m working with actually can work out just fine if I just remember to, uh, breathe? No, that’s not it. (Hee, hee). Well, it actually IS part of it, isn’t it? But really, I just need to remember to acknowledge that where I’m at now is where I’m at. And there’s nothing wrong with me.
    .-= Emily´s last post … The Inner Editor Changes Her Point of View =-.

  14. Andrew Lightheart @alightheart says:

    I’m just imagining this being someone’s first visit.

    Welcome to Havi’s blog!

    I love that you post this.


  15. Sarah says:


    I’ve been doing some of these, inspired by you, and I love the humor that comes out even amid the hard.

    Your trapeze girl sounds so… nonchalant. And cool.

    I think I told you about the other day’s “don’t write poetry cover letters” monster turning out to be a Fraggle. today’s surprise was that, in case you’re wondering, Rumi’s “field beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing” is actually a room with astroturf on the floor, a mirror on the ceiling, and a unicorn. at least, in Sarah-world.

    Also: your stuck? Even your stuck has talent for (somewhat mournful?) comedy. I love the hand-patting… never expected that…

    .-= Sarah´s last post … Half Time (a new song) =-.

  16. Sarah says:

    Oh, and also, the other day my Negotiator wanted to tape-record things, so I banned her. Later I read on a voice dialogue website that “tape recording can be beneficial to the client” and I kind of wanted to throw a folding chair…
    .-= Sarah´s last post … Half Time (a new song) =-.

  17. spiralsongkat
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    So beautiful!

    I’m reminded of a very powerful image I had once during a therapy session: I was in a stuck place that was familiar from my childhood, sitting hunched over in fetal position, surrounded by the walls I had built, walls that had been meant to keep me safe, but were also keeping me isolated and so very lonely. Then, all at once, I stood up…and the walls were only about knee high. I’d built them as a child, but I’d grown a lot since then, and now I was taller than the walls. So, I simply stepped over them, and walked out into the world. The memory of that image continues to be a source of comfort and inner strength for me.

    Thank you so much for sharing this story! I’ll be smiling for days at the thought of the trapeze, and the pink ballgown, and the confetti.
    .-= spiralsongkat´s last post … Some people cry at weddings… =-.

  18. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    @Sarah – oh no! Maybe you need a Negotiator who’s more respectful of your wishes. And your astroturf unicorn world. Awesome.

    @Andrew – yeah, I thought of that too! Sorry, new people. I’m not always this weird. But at least you know what you’re getting into! Wooooooooooooh.

    @Emily *blows kiss*

  19. Alicia says:

    This reminds me of a friend whose life I have no business writing about publicly. It seems like the familiar structure is valued even when intensely negative. Because it is hard to build anew.

    Ah well. Go prom dress!

  20. Sarah says:

    Loved it–my favorites are when you act them out for us. Always so useful. And loved someone’s remark above calling them “ghosts of stucks past”. I’ve been getting rid of/doing meditations on a 140-year-old-stuck from both sides of my family (I have a wacky energy clearer friend who helps me figure these things out as she clears all my fields a few times a year) that has been manifesting as pain in my right calf, and that has been interesting. After every meditation, the pain moves. Now it’s in my left knee. And I feel different now, which I like/find promising.
    .-= Sarah´s last post … A Man Named Pearl =-.

  21. Josiane
    Twitter: kimianak

    Oh. Ghosts of stucks past. Something new to consider. Very very interesting. And useful, as it seems that this may be what’s happening here. Yes, my stuck feels so old, and so not useful right now – but still, *so* stuck. I’ve got to play with this new idea; hopefully, it will help. Thank you, Havi.
    .-= Josiane´s last post … Noticing – the dragonfly edition =-.

  22. Claire says:

    I’ve been lurking for some time here and this is the post that gets me out of lurkdom to say “oh how I love you”.
    Funny, real, sweet at the end and still funny.
    Oh thank you for being you and sharing it with us!

  23. elizabeth
    Twitter: elizabethhalt

    This is fantastic.

    I tried a visualization exercise once for talking to your fears – it worked, I was flabbergasted – but my fear got teary-eyed at one point because apparently it felt misunderstood (it wanted me to know that it loved me and that I didn’t have to be afraid of it, hence the misunderstanding). I was surprised. (Also, the fear looked like the mean teacher in Roald Dahl’s Matilda. That was kind of cool.)
    .-= elizabeth´s last post … no. 18 =-.

  24. Sonia Simone
    Twitter: soniasimone

    Your trapeze girl makes me think of Wim Wenders, hope that does not make you barf.

    I like “there will be new stuck.” Something ringing a bell for me with that one.
    .-= Sonia Simone´s last post … What Makes Marketing Hard? =-.

  25. rod johnson says:

    ahh, yes. always new stuck. best to let the old go. hard but i am learning. and shredding old stuck with my 2002 tax receipts – if the irs can’t get me after 7 years, should old stuck?
    .-= rod johnson´s last post … awkward²! =-.

  26. Leocadia says:

    How cool is this, I think I will sit down tonight and have a serious talk with my job stuck.
    I have the feeling I may find it hard to let go of it as well. But I know it is a grown up stuck, so I may just be able send it out into the world to either bother someone else (not nice, I know)or simply disintegrate and feed some worms who sometimes may also know what feeling stuck is like. Or it could just decide to turn into a beautiful, elve-like vison in which case it will be welcome to stay.

  27. Ruth says:

    alright, if THIS is the kind of super crazy shtuff that comes out of Shiva Nata, maybe I DO need to sign up. Great post, thanks for being real with us (in a weird dreamy surreal sort of way).

  28. Lydia, Clueless Crafter
    Twitter: Art_Style

    I like this way of finding the shape and form of stuck. It’s a visual method that really appeals to my personal ways of relating.

    Now, if only we could do that ink thing that doctors do to find things in the body for touching on our stuck. I’m going to invent “stuck ink.”

    Feeling like Romy and Michelle who invented the glue for post its!
    .-= Lydia, Clueless Crafter´s last post … The Homemade Halloween High =-.

  29. Anne says:

    Awesome :)

  30. Amie says:

    Don’t even know what to say. Just that you are awesome, and inspiring, and if my navigator (a pirate devil ducky named Leonard) still existed he would adore your duck. Just keep on doing what you’re doing, you always give me tons to think about, tons to smile about. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Thank you:) ~Amie
    .-= Amie´s last post … Out Of My Mind =-.

  31. Melody
    Twitter: MelodyKiersz

    All I can say is that it is posts like this that inspire me to write true to what actually goes on in my mind. Apparently, my stuck likes to think of itself as an editor. I need to have a conversation with it about this issue.
    .-= Melody´s last post … Leaving the crossing for next time =-.

  32. Hannah
    Twitter: Hannah_Savannah


    I love this conversation. I love the eighties prom dress queen and the witty conversations with the mediator and the way the conversation is broken down into little parts with pauzes in between.

    love it love it love it!

    *blows kiss

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