What we do here:

Work on our stuff. Dissolve stuck. Play. Experiment. Rewrite patterns. We take sometimes-heavy things* and we make them more fun, playful, manageable.

I also write about my conversations with walls and monsters, and what it's like to work on a pirate ship. Good times.

* Sometimes-heavy things include: mindfulness and presence, pain and trauma, business-growing, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity)


Search Results for: Hofmann

The Gigantic Scary Pile Of Iguanas and Doom.


I signed up for Cairene’s fantastic Bite The Candy class (it’s today but you can do it next month) because I was tired of being intimidated by the Gigantic Scary Pile of Doom that was taking over my office/life.

But then in a fit of something or other I grabbed Selma and we disappeared it.

Which is good. Because now I can use the class to work on the scary bits hiding out inside the pile instead of on the pile itself.

So. A collection of things I noticed while pile-storming.

Some might be true about piles in general, but they’re definitely true for this Gigantic Scary Pile in particular.

Some of these are new to me. And some are things I thought I’d already learned.

All of them are going straight into the Book of You. Well, in this case, the Book of Me.

If something is useful for you, take it. If not, ignore it. Assume the “people vary” rule.

Here’s what I’ve got:

My pile is like my monsters.

Just like with the monsters, I think the pile is out to get me when it’s not.

I assume malicious intent and vindictiveness (gah, just look at the way it eyes me when I’m trying to work).

I build walls of guilt around it. I barricade myself out of my space.

Until it isn’t just collected bits of information and ideas. It’s a Gigantic Scary Pile of Epic Proportions of Doom.

All that monster guilt is trying (though not very effectively) to motivate me. To get me to interact with the pile. And then it’s all confused when it doesn’t work.

At least half of any given pile goes straight to the recycling bin.

This has been true of every single pile I’ve dealt with in the past three years.

A useful experiment (at least theoretically)? To go through Giant Scary Pile with no intention other than shrinking it in half. That could have made the last few weeks a lot more bearable.

Anything that feels familiar is a clue.

The thing that kept coming up with this particular doom pile was my god I keep a lot of crap I don’t need.

And I know I’ve said that before.

My pile is old.

It may only have formed over the last few months, but it is old. In some ways, it has nothing to do with now.

My pile is (at least partially) inherited.

I come from a long line of pilers and compilers.

The first time my gentleman friend visited the house I grew up in, he said ohhhhhhhhhhh. And I said what’s THAT supposed to mean?!

It was the piles. He recognized the piles.

Part of my own stuck is that I don’t want to have this in common with anyone. I resist the pile because there is too much symbolism there. Too much heaviness.

Not enough sovereignty. Yet.

Having a costume really helps.

If you don’t have a pile-jumping costume, you should get one.

I just use the same sparkly rhinestone arm-warmers that I use for filing treasure-mapping.

And the tiara to remind me that I am the pirate queen.

That way you can take the costume off. It gives you a stopping point.

Changing your words helps even more.

When I stopped saying the word “filing”, my life got about seven thousand times better.

God bless Metaphor Mouse for helping me with that.

The main thing that gives a pile its power is the iguanas.

An iguana is any [stupid, crappy, annoying] thing you don’t feel like doing.

Usually I think of the pile itself as the iguana. But that’s not what’s actually going on.

The thing is, there are generally three or four things in the pile that I really, really do not want to deal with.

And so the entire pile gets neglected because I’m walling off the painful stuff with resistance.

So the most important thing for me is to isolate the iguanas. Get the painful bits out of the pile.

Those iguanas need a place to go.

Like their own folder. In this case, I’m taking them to Cairene to help me with.

I can also take them to Drunk Pirate Council or work on them with an iguanability buddy or get a Twitter friend to check in with me.

The point is, it’s not helpful to let the iguanas live in the general pile because then I won’t go near the pile.

No pile can resist the lure of colored index cards!

The way I de-pile piles is this:

As something comes up, I give it a category.

Like: iguanas, stuff to file treasure-map, product ideas, things for a wish list.

Each category gets a card.

That way, if the de-piling gets derailed by a pirate ship emergency or an anxiety attack or whatever, I know what the parts and components are.

I also use sticky notes on papers to briefly state what the next step is, because half the nightmare of the pile is trying to read my pages of mad scribblings.

Big chunks = requests for system tweaks.

Anything composing more than 10% of a Gigantic Scary Pile means a system isn’t working.

Example. If a quarter of my pile is client session notes that haven’t been filed treasure-mapped, dammit … , something isn’t working. What is it?

One: taking session notes on loose paper instead of in the designated notebook, which means putting stuff in the binder which is one more step that I never feel like doing.

Two: These end up in the pile because they have blog post ideas in them that I’m afraid of forgetting.

go through the client notebook with a yellow highlighter before Drunk Pirate Council, and make a list of the post ideas. No more piling.

It helps to have a duck.

And helper mice.

Knowing that Selma is beaming at me adoringly while I do something hard and uncomfortable makes the whole thing less annoying.

It’s astonishing how much it helps to have people cheer me on when I’m in the hard. So I go to my Deguiltified Chicken Board so people will say yay.

There are treasures.

I found all sorts of great and surprising things in that pile.

Including that book I’d been looking for.

So if I can think more about treasure-hunting and less about being ambushed by iguanas, this is good.

Piles are a sign of creativity. A monument to what I believe is possible.

This is something I learned from Jen Hofmann.

Huge resistance to this concept. But I think she’s right.

There is some part of me who truly believes I can accomplish all the things represented in that pile. A part of me who is excited about the things in the pile.

A pile doesn’t say anything bad at me.

It says human. It says wishful. It says hopeful.

I still don’t have to like it though.

And I don’t. Most of the time.

The important piece is more about interacting with the part of me that fears and distrusts the pile so I can learn more about meeting myself where I am with kindness. And rhinestone arm-warmers.

So. That’s some of what I got from the Great Depiling of April 2010.

And now I’m off to learn more about my iguanas. And about my relationship with them.

Maybe there will be some unexpected treasures in there too.

And comment zen for today…

We’re all working on our stuff.

And we respect each other’s stuff-working-on process by acknowledging the hard and not giving advice.

That said, if there are things that work for you that you think the hive mind might appreciate, share away.

We remember that people vary and that what works for one of us might not work for everyone. Use what helps. Ignore what doesn’t. Trying things is good!

Item! Still talking about biscuits!

Fluent Self Item!A somewhat goofy mini-collection of stuff I’ve been reading, stuff I’ve been thinking about and oh, some completely random crap.

Basically the stuff that never gets mentioned here because I’m not the kind of person who can just make some teeny little point. Not into the whole brevity thing, as the Dude would say.

Actually, I’m under the strict compulsion to write ten pages about anything on my mind. So this is me. Practicing brevity.

Oh boy! The Items (Item!) are back with a vengeance.

I thought I’d be able to take a break from Itemizing, but no. Things don’t Itemize themselves, you know.

Actually they do.

Item! Post No. 37 in a series that gets me to occasionally close like, 734 open tabs in Firefox at once.

Item! Deborah Weber is my favourite person in the entire world!

Remember when I went and bought that wacky Healthy Boundaries spray?

Because I needed some? Healthy boundaries, I mean. The fact that they came in spray form just made the whole thing more appealing.

And of course I didn’t think it would actually work or anything. Come on. I just thought it would be a Useful Reminder for the thing I was focusing on.

And then it worked so astoundingly well that I started obsessing over it.

So a while ago when I started getting really into sovereignty (the quality of owning your own space and not giving a damn about what other people think about that), I asked her if she had a spray for it.

I was kidding. Well, mostly kidding, partly hoping. And she said she did but that it wasn’t on the website. And I said something like get out of town!

And then forgot about it.

Deborah sent me a bottle of it this week. As a present. Because she’s the sweetest person alive.

Sovereignty spray! It is making me happy! And she just added it to her online store. Which is here, if you’re wondering.

She’s @DeborahWeber on Twitter.

Item! Snail mail tips!

Not a secret that I’m a big fan of Marissa Bracke, my genius First Mate who is one hell of a Can-Do-Ologist (and a fellow maker-upper of goofball business vocabulary).

This was a guest post of hers for Jen Hofmann (someone else I write about pretty much all the time.

“The items that require some interim step between receiving it in the mail and disposing of it are the ones that befuddle me, and often end up being tossed in a pile on my desk where they promptly… sit.

(Well, they sit *and* act as the foundation layer for additional pieces of “needs further action” snail mail that come later… so let’s not pretend that they’re completely useless.)”

The rest is here.

Also, if you need a Virtual Assistant (which is what other people call Can-Do-Ologists, I guess), I cannot recommend her highly enough. Go see if you’re one of her Right People.

Marissa is @marissabracke on Twitter and Jen is @inspiredjen.

Item! In which someone else needs a duck!

Yes, this post is actually called: In Which I Need A Duck

“And Selma, for Havi, is — as I interpret it, anyway — a sort of Shibboleth, a way of identifying who those people are.

Now, we all know there aren’t that many people even reading this, so the fact that you’re even here probably means you pass.

But I’m open to suggestions for my version of a Duck.”

I love this! Even more because the capitalization of Duck.

Item! Are you in Portland? In November?

Because my friend Carolyn is doing a cool thing.

(Some of you may remember Carolyn as the one who coached me through the hacker thing, and taught me important things about how it’s okay to be beautiful when you’re running a pirate ship.)

Anyway, she does small-group intuitive painting workshops that are all about accessing creativity and power and learning cool things about yourself.

I’m not doing them justice, but let me just say that anything Carolyn does is going to be pretty freaking powerful. She is a neat, neat lady and I can’t say enough good things about her.

Anyway, it’s happening the weekend of November 7th–8th in North Portland — 10am to 5pm both Saturday and Sunday with a break for lunch.

Details are here. If you happen to be in PDX and (knock on keyboard) there are still spaces left, I say do it!

Item! Speaking of things that are only available until early November!

I read on Jolie’s blog that she’s doing a big Clearing Out of Stuff as a fall ritual.

Which is a great idea, actually.

And as part of her Clearing Out, she’s removing all her jewelry listings from Etsy as of November 5.

“Since I don’t want this stuff just sitting in my studio, I’d love it if you bought it instead. That way I’m really clearing things out (since that’s kind of the point). It’s a win-win.

You get goodies and I get more space in my studio for painting stuff.”

Look at these Laurelhurst earrings. First of all: they’re gorgeous. Then there’s this beautiful tiny watercolor that goes with it. And a story. And they’re ridiculously affordable.

It almost makes me wish I had holes in my ears. But I don’t. But some of you probably do. Or know people who do.

So if you feel like buying them earrings, this is a great time for it. Plus you get to support a talented Portland artist and make someone happy.

Item! I am a terrible stalker.

Oh, remember last week when I was all look at me, stalking Colleen? No?

I think my point was hey, that’s mostly why I got on Twitter, to obsessively follow around the mad, fabulous Communicatrix herself.

So let me just say that I’m not very good at it.

Because then I got a card from her in the mail about how wonderful I am. See? She knows my address and I didn’t even know hers until I got the card. That’s how ineffectual a stalker I am.

She also told me when she’s coming to Portland. Which is really so that I can clear my calendar and make room for buying her biscuits. Because clearly she knows which side her biscuits are buttered on. ROWR.

Anyway, there will be biscuits. And maybe she’ll agree to teach a class with me called Being Obsessive: Doing It Right For Once.

Also my gentleman friend is very happy about all of this because he’s a huge Colleen-fan as well.

She’s @Communicatrix on Twitter and we love her.

Item! Update from the land of the Peculiar & Hilarious Shivanauts!

The “peculiar and hilarious” thing comes from Melynda’s sweet bit about Butterfly Wishes.

I’ve been avoiding writing this particular piece for oh, I don’t know … five years?

People often get a little confused about why I would want to teach something that is challenging to the point of impossible and also supposedly very not fun.

And what they’re wondering is something like, no, seriously, why would any sane person ever want to do this?

And I have so much to say about that, but I really had to wait until I found the right words and the right place in my heart, so that I could give a loving answer that is also a fun answer and a true answer.

The post is called why would you possibly want to do this?

And I think it’s super useful even if you’re not at all interested in Shiva Nata.

Item! Comments!

So it was really cool the other week when I got to work on my practice of how I ask for stuff and you guys gave me the best recommendations ever!

Here’s what I want this time:

  • Someone or something I’ve tragically neglected to Itemize.
  • Anything else you’re thinking about (uh, lines from Say Anything?)

My commitment.
I am committed to giving time and thought to the things that people say, and I will interact with their ideas and with my own stuff as compassionately and honestly as is possible for me.

Even though asking for what I want still feels awkward for me, I’m just going to remind myself that this is a thing I’m practicing.

That is all.

Happy reading.

And happy Blustery Windsday. See you tomorrow.

Friday Check-in #48: Spontaneous Fruit Party edition

Friday chickenBecause it’s Friday AGAIN. And because traditions are important. In which I cover the good stuff and the hard stuff in my week, trying for the non-preachy, non-annoying side of self-reflection.

And you get to join in if you feel like it.


This week kind of went by in a blur.

But here we are.

Yup. It’s definitely Friday. No getting around that.


The hard stuff

Wrong side of bed.

A couple of days this week just didn’t work. As days.

I don’t know. Kept losing my clarity. Or couldn’t find it to begin with.

Just lost in the foggy and the fuzzy. And it took me TWO HOURS to do Wednesday’s post (which was half-completed when I started).



Speaking of Wednesday, it was brutal.

Not grounded. Depressed. Summer. Way too hot. Groggy. In bed. Miserable.

Also in pain. Arms hurt. Head hurt. Stitches hurt.

It was just generally not fun to be me on Wednesday.

It is also not fun to be me in the summer.

I tend to forget this every single year, but I really don’t do well with summer.

Pretty much everything horrible that has every happened to me has happened in the summer.

And the associations tend to catch up with me. Once I remember that oh, right, this is just my annual bout of summer misery, I can start to move through it.

But it takes me a while to get there.

Putting down baskets.

On Monday we had Jen Hofmann do a genius guest class for my Kitchen Table people and I begged her to do her awesome “how many baskets am I holding?” exercise with us.

Man, recognizing how many symbolic freaking baskets I’m carrying at any given moment is depressing. And carrying them is exhausting.

And putting them down is scary and hard. But I did it. Or worked on it, at any rate … which leads me to the good.

The good stuff

Putting down baskets.

I finally got around to canceling the VIP options on all of my products.*

*If you’ve already ordered one before yesterday, you can still totally do your session with me. So no worries.

Also finished planning the curriculum for two programs so that those baskets can go to the closet until I’m ready for them.

I looked at my baskets. And even though I love the stuff in them …

Down. They. Go.

Extreme self-care.


Seriously, I’ve been treating it like an extreme sport that I’ve just gotten completely addicted to.

This is also hard, but I’m really, truly making this a practice.

Naptime. Trips to the Angel Refueling Station (aka my meditation closet). Bed. Kindness. Permission.

All the stuff that’s hard for me but really, really good for me.

So that’s a win.

Rose City Roller Derby Finals!

Okay, so admittedly my beloved Guns ‘N Rollers came in fourth, cough, last.

But the Breakneck Betties beat the High Rollers in a brutal fast-paced super-exciting bout and that was very cool.

And Danielle was there. And Dana the Spicy Princess. And our bartender. And a billion other people. And I love Portland.

Actually knowing people to run into.

So yeah, that’s a sign that hey, we live here now.

Because in San Francisco, I never ran into anyone. And in Sacramento, I didn’t even meet anyone.

But somehow in Portland the whole “knowing people” thing is working for us. This is new. And fantastic. So hooray!

We (my gentleman friend and I) even ran into our acupuncturist at the Neko Case concert. And if that doesn’t prove we live in Portland, I don’t know what does.

My gentleman friend made homemade ravioli.

With porcini mushrooms from the farmer’s market.

Oh, and he also made his own sourdough starter this week.

Because, you know, it’s not enough that he’s smart and funny and completely gets me and is the world’s biggest goofball and I love him. RAVIOLI!

And … STUISM of the week.

Stu is my paranoid McCarthy-ist voice-to-text software who delights in torturing me misunderstanding me. I can’t stand him.

Ooh! This one might actually be my favorite Stuism ever …

I was talking to Stu and my gentleman friend was yelling “What?“, because this often happens when you talk to yourself converse with software.

Especially when you’re shouting things like “Work already, you stupid piece of crap!”

Anyway, I yelled “I’m not talking to you–I’m talking to STU!

But I forgot to silence Stu and he wrote it down. Except that he didn’t write what I actually said.

Instead he wrote:

“I’m not talking a deal to Congress on August 2!”


The rest of this week’s Stuisms:

  • it encloses UN instead of “it closes you in”
  • beer is healthy instead of “fear is healthy”
  • When we strapped on instead of “when we eavesdropped”
  • Prince of pal instead of “principle”
  • Or hmmm instead of “okay”
  • we cannot tax a sum of missed communication instead of “we can unpack some of this miscommunication”
  • him is like pure myth instead of “seem less like a pyramid”
  • and a DVD for personal ads instead of “an itty bitty personal ad”
  • a gray base for teaching workshop’s instead of “a great space for teaching workshops”
  • the endless psych of Moore crappy beans created instead of “the endless cycle of more crap being created”

And … new at the meme beach house!

Yes, that’s a Stuism too.

My brother and I have this thing where we come up with ridiculous band names and then say in this really pretentious, knowing tone, “Oh, well, you know, it’s just one guy.”

So this week, I bring you:

Spontaneous Fruit Party

Me: “Did you catch Spontaneous Fruit Party at the Wonder Ballroom? They were opening for the Pneumatic Mushrooms.”
Ez: “Dude. I heard it’s just one guy.”


That’s it for me …

And yes yes yes, of course you can join in my Friday ritual right here in the comments bit if you feel like it.

Yeah? Anything hard and/or good happen in your week?

And, as always, have a glorrrrrrrrrrrrious weekend. And a happy week to come.