Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Block I've Been Living In - Part Two

Hello dear blog readers! Thank you for your wonderful and encouraging comments and messages that you sent me. Looking at the negative blocks in one's life is difficult work and it's just as difficult to change the old patterns that go along with them, but I know that it can only bring JOY and GOODNESS on the other side =-)

In my previous post I began to share my experience of a workshop I participated in during the month of February and many difficult issues came to the surface during this workshop. Today I will continue my experience in this eye opening and challenging workshop, but I warn you - this is a LONG post, so you might want to make a cup of tea or coffee and settle in ;)

In the meantime, let me share what we received in the first week of workshop - in the first week all participants were given a notebook which I promptly covered with collage art:

This is the notebook that is filled with my writing during our writing exercises -  you will see glimpses from this notebook as I continue to share what transpired during the workshop.

We also did an exercise that first week to focus on a postive memory* and we shared with others what that memory meant for us. The words that resonated most strongly for each of us were used in a new name tag and my three words can be seen on the collaged cover I made for my notebook:

That "fearlessness" was going to come in handy in the third week of the workshop!

As I wrote in my last post, the second week of workshop had us all looking at the things we tolerate in our lives, which brought up my issues around money, since my 'tolerations' are related to my living space and the fact that I am unable to afford a nicer and safer neighborhood to live in.

In the third week of workshops, the session began with a series of questions we were asked and we wrote our answers in our notebooks. It was very quiet and rather intense as we answered some very simple yet provocative questions. In the end we were asked what we wanted to let go of in our lives and my worries about money were at the top of my list.

We were then asked another series of questions regarding the thing we wanted to let go of and we continued with more writing. Here are some samplings of what I wrote in my notebook about my "Worries About Money" which is something I no longer want in my life:

I know that I do not earn enough money to live COMFORTABLY in a nicer neighborhood
I know that I do not earn enough money because I do not have the level of 'education', ie. a four year degree
I know that much of the work I do or have done is not always highly valued

(Now, those last two statements are in regard to the work I had been doing at the non-profit, as an administrative assistant. I did not earn nearly as much as I deserved to earn because of the education requirements they had and I thought I was 'lucky' to have gotten that admin job because the requirements were not as stringent for my position...however, I was one of the brightest assistants, executive or otherwise, despite my lack of 'higher education', but that is because ART EDUCATION imparts so much critical thinking that many of my coworkers with higher degrees actually LACKED the much needed critical thinking that was needed for the job! Yes, I still have resentment about the old job and I'm working on releasing it since it no longer serves me!)

In my head I can "logic" myself into thinking that I do deserve to be highly paid for my skills, no matter what my education level is, but when faced with the reality of what is actually VALUED, it's hard to reconcile what I think (believe?) is highly valuable with what others think/believe is of value...

I think this is why we as artists have had so much trouble with believing we deserve to be artists - artists are not highly valued in mainstream society and it's really hard to reconcile who you ARE with what is acceptable =-(

Now, back to more writing on letting go of my "worries about money" and my feelings about money in my life:

"I feel tired from worrying about money all the time! I feel angry that money is such a focus of worth in society and a poor motivator to doing good in the world, ie. people do not "do good' if it's not rewarded with money"
...and finally:

I'm sure I'm not the only person who feel frustrated by a lack of money in their lives and I'm sure I won't be the last!

The next question that was asked in regard to my "worries about money" brought up some different things for me and as I wrote my answers down there was a different tone in my writing but I also began to have a dissonance within. Here is what I wrote:

In case you can not read it, here it is:

"I am a spender of money who enjoys buying things that make me happy and bring fun into my life: art supplies, clothes, books. I am also a saver of money to spend on things that have meaning for me such as art retreats and workshops. I am someone who loves to spend money choosing gifts for my friends and loved ones that I know they will love. I am a hard worker who has always managed to earn money when I need it, for the things I need it for, at the time I need them."

Let's look at that last sentence again shall we?

"I am a hard worker who has always managed to earn money when I need it
 for the things I need it for
at the time I need them."

Does that sound positive to you? It seemed positive to me and yet something nagged at me as I was writing that last paragraph. It nagged me so much that I literally began to think I was doing this exercise WRONG!

However, the facilitators of this workshop began the very first day with the statement: "No one get's to be wrong here"!

So how could I be doing this exercise wrong???!?

The final question we had to answer brought back my frustration around money:

"I wish money was not the primary means of exchange to have the necessities of life:
to have a home - to eat - to have clothes and shoes
I am finding ways to reconcile this force of money in society so I can have a better relationship to it".

Okay, make that frustration and RESENTMENT about money =-\

And all of this is bumping against the things that came up in the previous week, so I was not in a happy place at this point - I don't like the power of money in society and yet I need it for the most basic things in my life, not to mention needing it if I want to live in a nice and safe neighborhood...and on the other hand I seem to be able to use it positively in my life to have things that make me happy and to buy things that make others happy.

Yeah, the dissonance was making a strong presence at this point in the workshop!

Luckily, we were able to take a break at this point and I took a bathroom break and had a few cookies that were available...cookies always seem to make just about anything better!

When we returned to the room, we were then instructed to look at any behaviors that might stem from our beliefs but this seemed confusing to myself and to a few others in the workshop. I could not see "behaviors" per se, and I was still feeling dissonance about all that I had written. I finally asked if I could share everything I had written with the group and I read out loud everything I have shared here.

When I finished reading the statement:
"I am a hard worker who has always managed to earn money when I need it for the things I need it for at the time I need them."

...one of the participants claimed that I was now their hero! But I didn't feel like a hero...I felt confused and angry and I still felt as though I was doing the whole exercise wrong!

Then I read the last statements and it dawned on the facilitator Wendie that I had fallen into the trap of "positive thinking".

I know that positive thinking can often be a trap, but I didn't realize that I had fallen prey to it...
***   ***   ***

I will end today's post at this point and continue in my next post so you can have a break - if I was feeling the intensity of feelings while doing the writing exercises, I pretty sure you might be feeling some of the intensity too and a break is certainly in order!

Thank you so much for reading this far and I hope you found it interesting or eye opening! I'll share more next time so stay tuned!

* - I have shared an image of this positive memory before but I will share the image again and what it means to me soon...


Kat @ I Saw You Dancing said...

This is fascinating, meaty and important stuff, my friend.
I also wanted to whisper: there may not have been a "wrong" way to do the exercise in the workshop, but there may have been an answer or outcome that didn't quite sit right for you. This was a vital clue for you, and I am so glad and proud that you decided to stick with it, explore it and see what it had to teach you.

SueAnn said...

Great words of wisdom....I enjoyed your sharing very much.
I don't think you were doing anything wrong..maybe just having a hard time "seeing" what you have written and where this thinking has brought you so far?? Just a thought

pepper said...

Oh I know. I read this and feel just the same way, money frustrates me and I tell myself that I always get by when I need to, but it doesn't sit well. I am intrigued and looking forward to your next post, thanks so much for sharing!
ps. I feel the same way about my old work, and have been in an almighty block too!
Pepper x

Karen Wallace said...

Hello. I love how authentic your posts are. Thank you for your honest writing. Making peace with money in my life, meant making peace with my sense of worth. Love you. Karen