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: monsters

This is a list that my monsters wrote!

This week’s Very Personal Ads reminded me — again! — that I am desperately in need of a Pirate Queen Holiday.

And that if Selma and I don’t go into Emergency Vacation mode and take one immediately, some pretty not good things will probably happen.

Even the monsters agreed.

And they are usually of the (extremely vocal) opinion that any time off whatsoever is DOOM DOOM DOOM and IMPENDING DOOM.

My monsters were now more worried about the impending doom from not taking a break than they were about the doom of taking one. Wow. That got my ass in gear.

Thus a mini-holiday!

A mini-holiday! It is happening! Hooray! And happening tomorrow. Again hooray!

Except about ten seconds later it turned out that the pre-holiday freakout was happening too. Surprise. Not-hooray!


Let’s be scientific about this.

As you know if you have the Monster Manual & Coloring Book, one of the ways to lovingly stop your fuzzball monsters in their tracks and get them on your side is by invoking SCIENCE.

Your monsters don’t just get to make wild claims and give supposed evidence by telling stories about how much you suck.

They have to come up with a hypothesis and test it.

And your crew of internal scientists comes out with their lab coats and clipboards, and it’s awesome.

Because it pretty much always turns out that the monster theories are not very accurate. And then you are armed with statistics for the next time they mistakenly attempt to terrify you.

Anyway. That’s just background.

Let’s do this. Seventeen Billion Things!

Monsters say there are Seventeen Billion Things To Do before I can go on this mini-holiday. So DOOM!

Also they say that I will never get them done, so not just DOOM but also SHAME and possibly a chorus of Oh No Oh No Oh No Oh No and some hyperventilating.

That’s their number. Seventeen Billion Things To Do.

I say, on the other hand, there are no more than thirty things, and that some probably don’t need to be done right this minute anyway.

Who is right?! It’s so hard to say.

Let’s bring in the scientists!

Wait. Monsters say we can’t bring in the scientists because:
a) no time! and
b) some of the Things To Be Done are things whose existence we won’t remember until later, and the monsters will feel stoopid (again!) in front of the scientists.

I pull out the Clipboard of Tested and Acknowledged Facts.

And I show it to the monsters. Yup. They made the very same No Time argument eleven out of the past twelve times that we consulted the scientists.

And in all twelve of those situations, consulting the scientists actually saved us time.

As for the feeling stoopid thing, we are asking the scientists to reserve judgment and be neutral. They can do that. They’re like the Negotiators. They don’t take sides.

Compromise? Compromise!

I suggested to the monsters that we just make a list right now of the things that Absolutely Absolutely must get done.

And they said Okay. Deal.

They wanted to make the list themselves without me looking.

So. This is a list written by my monsters, who wish you to know that they have permission from me to write it.

And I will just add that they were granted that permission on the condition that they not say anything mean, call me names or try to guilt-trip me.

They asked if they can quietly whisper-add “except in bed” to each item to make it funnier and I thought that was a good idea, and now they are giggling hysterically. Which is weirdly cute.

Also. These are not in order but the monsters say there’s a Very Strict Rule about how if there aren’t numbers it doesn’t count.

Except in bed. Tee hee!

So there are numbers but I don’t have to follow them. Yes? Yes.

The monster list of things we think Havi absolutely absolutely needs to do today so she can go on mini-holiday tomorrow!

  1. write notes for the dvds ordered this weekend
  2. finish and put up the new Shiva Nata post
  3. edit and put up the next Fluent Self post
  4. give FM packages to deliver to Cindy
  5. have a giant fit about packing
  6. pack
  7. go to stephanie
  8. don’t forget to tell stephanie about what NOT to do
  9. buy toothpaste
  10. go to the Horrible Store and procure the Thing You Can’t Live Without
  11. make lists of posts for while you’re gone
  12. Oh! The folder! The folder! It needs so much work and this is urgent ohmygod!
  13. tramp on the tiny trampoline
  14. go to dance class
  15. notes for the chickening
  16. clean up for S who is coming to stay (take note, imaginary Twitter stalker burglar!)
  17. take care of the Project Mess at the Playground
  18. send the card to Svevo
  19. put the pouncers in a box
  20. laundries
  21. emergency birthday present hunt because uh-oh we forgot his birthday
  22. questions for H.
  23. put that music on the ipod because you’ll need it for doing Shiva Nata

The monsters feel ashamed that they temporarily cannot think of more than twenty three things but they assure me there are more that they have forgotten.

They also say that if I weren’t so disorganizizized, they would have a better list, but they understand that I am scared of order because they yell so much.

They kind of wanted to put GET ORGANIZIZIZIZED PLEASE on the list but I reminded them about being realistic. And about not yelling.

So here we are.

The monsters wish to say thank you for the opportunity to write a list all by themselves without supervision, which has never happened before.

And I want to say thank you to them for not saying anything mean on the list. I’m sure that was really challenging, guys.

All right, monsters! They also agreed that I could stop freaking out if I did some of the things on the list. And they agreed that they would stop freaking out too.

So I’m going to see if I can help them out by doing a couple of these while they chill out in the Chilling Out Room (it’s like a safe room) and drink their Timber Joey milkshakes while making extra loud slurping sounds.

And comment zen for today..

Interacting with monsters is hard! It’s the hardest!

You might be wondering why my monsters weren’t more abusive and scream-ey and terrifying today. That’s because I’ve been talking to them every day for the past six years.

So we have a different relationship than you might if you’ve only recently started experimenting with opening up channels for sovereign, compassionate internal communication.

This stuff is challenging. It takes time. And I still have moments when I forget what I’ve learned.

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. It’s a process.

No advice, please, but if you want to make lists of your own or say YAY or invent milkshakes, that is welcome.

Love to all the commenter mice, the Beloved Lurkers and everyone who reads.

Ask Havi #32: Green monsters. Dealing with envy.

Ask HaviNote: it is almost impossible to get on the Ask Havi list. Though of course you can keep sending scarves for Selma. She loves them.

Yay. First dinner in the sukkah last night! Please note that I did NOT get eaten by moths/bears nor do I have sauce on my dress. Calling this a total success.

Breakfast out there, though? Somewhat less romantic.

Okay. On to the monsters.

The topic. It is a big one.

A lot of stuff coming up lately in the programs I teach. Related to feeling uncomfortable when other people are successful. Or appear to be heading that way.

Some of these questions are about what you can do when you’re feeling anxious because you’re intimidated by other people’s success.

Some are more about jealousy. Or the more existential I’m not good enough crisis.

Anyway. I have way too much to say about all of this, even without trying to define the elusive thing we call “success” or venturing into Imposter Syndrome territory. So this might have to be a series.

But today it’s envy. And what to do when it shows up. And even if envy is not your issue, you can apply some of this to other situations as well.

Legitimacy. Again!

I know. We always start here. But only because it’s such a good place to start.

When you encounter other people doing their thing and shining at it, sometimes you get reminded of the ways you want to feel radiant and appreciated and acknowledged. You see everything that seems to be missing.

And it’s unbelievably painful. It’s also REALLY NORMAL.

I have these moments too. So do the most fabulously self-aware people that I admire.

Feeling envy is a normal and perfectly acceptable part of being alive. We don’t want to have to stay there, because the staying there is not fun and it doesn’t help.

But discovering that you’ve landed there? Not a big deal.

The next piece.

If legitimizing being where we are is the first step, the second step is releasing as much guilt as we can stand about the fact that yes, we are still there even though we don’t want to be there.

Luckily, it’s the acknowledging and the legitimacy that eases the guilt.

If it’s natural and normal that I would feel envy sometimes, then maybe I’m not a despicably horrible person for not being able to stop feeling it yet.

This is where I forgive myself if I can. And if I can’t, I can’t.

The art of releasing guilt needs another sixteen hundred blog posts. But I’d start with something like this:

“Even though I really don’t like feeling this way, I am allowed to have envy. It’s not the end of the world. I’m not an awful person. It’s a temporary thing, and I’m learning about it so I can move through it.”

Then it’s about shifting focus.

One of my wisest teachers used to say (she probably still does):

Build your own tower instead of knocking theirs down.

There are enough people in the world who take pleasure from trying to sabotage each other’s towers. We’re not going to do that.

So the new point of focus becomes:

  • What do I need to do to strengthen, support, encourage and love my own thing?
  • What do I need? What does my project need? What can I do so that I feel safe, supported, comfortable and loved?

Normally I wouldn’t ask these out loud, because they can be used as what I call “inspirational harassment”. Like the well-meaning motivational things people sometimes post on Twitter (“What are YOU going to do today to blah blah blah?”).

But in your own head … these can be really useful questions. And if not, don’t use them. Make up better ones.

The point is: we’re shifting our focus from “Aaaaaagh they have what I want!” to discovering what options we have: “What can I do to build my own thing?”

You can use Metaphor Mouse for this!

One of my clients recently noticed that she was trying to pull herself out of envy mode by saying, “Okay, I’m going to run my own race”.

But that was not fun.

Because running a race — for her — included elements like [+ sweaty] [+ exhausted] [+ miserable] [+ competitive] [+ can’t stop] [+ resentful] [+ no purpose] and [+ despair].

So we used Metaphor Mouse to deconstruct running my own race, and came up with exploring my new city instead.

Now working on her own thing has the qualities of [+ fun] [+ curiosity] [+ I can take my time] [+ resting] [+ discovery] [+ homebase] [+ joy] [+ appreciation] [+ hidden mystery] and [+ sweetness]. And she’s not obsessing over where everyone else is going.

Your metaphor mileage may vary, but I bet there’s something good in there.

The advanced practice.

When it’s possible, we work with it. When it brings up too much stuck, we drop it.

But here’s the concept. With bonus cliches!

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”

It’s true. The fame and fortune of the person you’re currently envying often as not ends up being useful for you.

I can feel envious of Jen Louden’s brilliant books. Or I can celebrate with her because I love her, and remind any small scared selves that Jen is awesome and is totally going to write the best blurb ever on OUR brilliant book.

Her glow adds to mine. My glow adds to hers. It’s good for everyone.

And if there’s interest in someone else who shares your message, then there’s going to be interest in your version, too.

Of course, we’re all human.

Even on my best days, when I can happily rejoice in the good fortune of people I admire and care about (whoo! advanced practice!), I’m still human.

So I’m not necessarily always capable of being truly happy for someone whose message I don’t like when it receives attention and praise.

But that’s okay.

You don’t have to be all joyous and fake confetti-throwing if you don’t feel like it.

You can still go back to building your own tower, though. And reminding yourself that there is room for you too.

Because what it comes down to is this:

It’s worth finding out what you’re really scared of.

That there might not be room for you? That you have endless possibilities? That what you have to say isn’t important? Or worse, that it is?

Those are the sad, scared selves and/or the fuzzy monsters worth having some conversations with.

And in the meantime, we get to work on our stuff. And do some tower-maintenance. And wear our crowns and our costumes and dance the patterns and not be so hard on ourselves. Or at least try.

Comment zen for today.

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

People vary. So use what you can and discard the rest. Try things.

And my wish for you is this:

May your tiny, sweet thing receive all the love and support it needs. And may you break all the rules, do some damage, laugh your head off and dance, dance, dance!

A conversation with SOMEONE ELSE’S monsters for a change.

I talk to monsters. Like my Book monster. Or the You’re Not Allowed monster.*

* At first they are very scary but then they’re all schmoo-schmoo-schmoo. Extreme schmoo-ness!

And sometimes I talk to other people’s monsters. It’s kind of one of my superpowers.

Usually just with clients, but every once in a while for one of my students. Let’s call this lovely person Susannah.

Her monsters were going on and on really loudly and in unison about what a completely terrible person she is for not having updated her blog.

It was a collective of monstering. And they would not stop being shout-ey and mean to her. They were creating her writer’s block and making it worse at the same time.

A negotiated conversation with Susannah’s monsters.

I wanted to talk to just one and so I asked for a name, but it turned out they really, really wanted to be all smooshed together.

In fact, they decided that they’re calling themselves MonsterMash. One word. I know. But that’s what they said.

So here we are.

Havi: Hey, Susannah’s monsters, it’s Havi. And Selma the duck. I just want you to know that I’m not going to try and make you go away. I’m sure Susannah hired you for a reason. I just want to get some clarity on what’s going on, okay?

MonsterMash: It’s been almost a MONTH without a post, so clearly she’s profoundly and irreparably broken. Clearly she was never cut out for this writing thing. Clearly she’ll never be able to post again. Clearly

Havi: Clearly you’re feeling really upset and anxious and worried, because you need to know that Susannah is going to be okay.

MonsterMash: Yes but how is she going to be okay when clearly she is such a mess and it’s been a month and there is NO LIGHT at the end of this tunnel!

Havi: That has to feel really frustrating, when you want her to find the way out of the tunnel and she can’t. Do you know why she can’t see the end of the tunnel and the light that’s there?

MonsterMash: Because there is no end there’s only tunnel!!!!!!!!!!!!

What is true?

Havi: Come on, look at her. Look at Susannah. Look at the tunnel. What is true?

MonsterMash: Susannah has her eyes closed.

Havi: That’s right. That’s why she can’t see any light. Do you know why she has her eyes closed?

MonsterMash: Because she feels boxed in. Because I crowded her. I scared her too good.

Havi: You scared her too well. Come on, you’re supposed to be writers.

The monster who thinks there’s no point, again.

MonsterMash: Fuuuuuuunnny. I didn’t mean to scare her. I mean, I did. Okay.

But I didn’t realize that she couldn’t see the light because of me. It doesn’t matter though because there’s no point.

Even if she does start writing, she’ll just realize what a waste of time it is. It’s better for her to let the blog die than to keep it going and make no money from it.

Havi: Who says she can’t make money from it? It’s pretty hard to find out if you won’t let her try.

That’s like a group of scientists running an experiment for five seconds and then deciding that it doesn’t work.

MonsterMash: How can she even think she’ll make money from this? What a joke!

Havi: You sound pretty sure of yourself. Isn’t this kind of one of those “the house always wins” scenarios?

You’ve fixed it so she’s so paralyzed by her own potential that she can’t create, and then you get to say “I told you so” when it doesn’t make money? Does that seem like fair play?

The real world.

MonsterMash: She should get a fair chance, yeah, theoretically. But the real world doesn’t work like that.

Havi: This is her world we’re talking about. I say we play fair.

MonsterMash: Okay, but it doesn’t matter anyway because she’s spent eleventy billion monster dollars on coaching and her attorney, so she’s screwed anyway.

Havi: From what I understand, she’s been getting some pretty shrewd advice from her support team.

And anyway, we already decided that it’s not fair to decide that she can’t make money until she’s had a fair shot. If she had six months with no monster talk, that might be a fair shot, but you guys won’t even give her a minute.

Have you ever tried another way?

MonsterMash: That’s bullshit. She’d be a failure without us too. Even more of one. That’s why we have to yell at her so much and then hide when she tries to talk to us.

Havi: Maybe. But how do you know? Have you ever tried it differently?

MonsterMash: No.

Havi: So …?

MonsterMash: Everyone will find out what a fraud she is!

Havi: You mean, when her people know that she goes through periods of struggle with her writing too?

I think her people will be hugely relieved to discover that. They’ll be able to identify with it.

The only way they could discover that she was a fraud (which she’s not) would be if she pretended to be perfect and to always be in flow. But she’s just being herself.

Uh oh.

MonsterMash: Uh oh that doesn’t sound good.

Havi: Guys, I’ve met Susannah. She’s awesome.

She’s super smart, really funny, very creative and has this wonderfully Susannah-ful way of articulating her thoughts. What is it that you don’t want her to discover? Why is it so important that she not see this?

MonsterMash: It will go to her head.

Havi: What does that mean?

MonsterMash: She’ll just see herself and then she’ll be disconnected.

Havi: But right now she can’t see herself and she’s ALSO disconnected. Isn’t there something in between?

MonsterMash: Hadn’t thought of that.

In between.

Havi: I think there’s something in between.

MonsterMash: Well, if she could see herself in the context of other writers.

If she could see how her being smart and funny helped them find their own smart and funny … that would be okay. It’s just not okay if she does it for herself.

Havi: Do you think she knows that? I mean, that this is your opinion?

MonsterMash: Dunno.

Prank calling.

Havi: If we let her open her eyes, and we helped her back to context, and we gave her room to breathe a little … and gave her permission to begin to feel her way to where it’s lighter…

MonsterMash: Well, don’t say it was our idea.

Havi: I wouldn’t.

MonsterMash: Can we tug her braid and run away?

Havi: What’s wrong with you?

MonsterMash: We need to play pranks when we get restless.

Havi: Okay, let’s go prank call some people. But first let’s give Susannah a giant magic flashlight and some rope and a map to the end of the tunnel, okay?

MonsterMash: PRANK CALLS!!!!

Havi (places giant magic flashlight, rope and map by Susannah’s feet)

And comment zen for today.

Oh, talking to monsters can be so hard and so painful.

I don’t at all mean to imply that it’s easy because it’s not. It really does take a lot of practice.** And you’ll want some negotiators too.

** See also my monster coloring book for extra help.

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. And we try to meet each other with as much understanding as we can stand, which means we can talk about what works for us but we try not to give advice, unless someone specifically asks for it.

If you have loving words for Susannah, or if your monsters also like to make prank calls (or not — some monsters don’t even like cookies), you’re more than welcome to share. Internet hugs all around.