Business


Being out of sync with the season always feels a little like walking up the down escalator, and brings to mind images of Sisyphus, carrying the rock up the mountain only to have it roll back down again. This was not a good month for me to create something new.

We’re preparing for yet another snow storm in Maine, making sure the wood is brought around from the now dwindling “big” pile, to the small pile just outside the front door, and rearranging plans so we can stay in during the worst of it. While I’m at work, my husband will make a trip to the grocery store, and will probably buy a few extra batteries, just in case we lose power again. Tomorrow is Saturday, the first day of March, and I hope to God our kids will let us sleep late tomorrow morning. Why is it that our kids don’t feel the same need to hibernate that strikes us?

They are bundles of relentless energy–less bothered by the relentlessness of a northern winter. But I am bothered. One day I smell spring in the air as clear as a Beale Street Barbecue, the next day it’s gone, hammered beneath the downpour of white we used to call snow. Now we just roll our eyes and say, “ick.” But we laugh. I sat in the sauna at the YMCA yesterday and a woman I don’t know came in. When she mentioned the aforementioned storm a’coming, we both bared our teeth at one another, and growled and growled, all inhibitions unleashed, until finally we laughed. What else can you do?

One thing, really. Try to stay with the energy of the season. Because of the Sagely Living focus on Business and Strategy, I spent a considerable amount of time early in the month researching some of the foundational issues for my new business venture–packaging and selling my gluten-free, vegan, agave-sweetened cake mix. As one snow storm came after another, and my computer screen started to look strangely psychedelic every time I entered Thomasnet.com, it occurred to me that this relentless winter was not an auspicious time to push the new baby out of the oven. All hopefulness aside (such as my last, “spring is coming” post–ha!) the prevailing energies abounding around about here is not the “new beginnings” energy of Spring, it’s the let’s crawl back under the covers and go to sleep again energy of a winter that has lasted too long.

Not one to push rocks up mountains, I turned my Sagely Living focus to reflections on the state of my current business (sole proprietor, acupuncturist). The result of my reflections are these conclusions:

  • Sisyphus was damn lucky he didn’t have to push that rock up a snowy mountain in late February in Maine.
  • Next year’s business plan must include an island vacation in early March.
  • My existing business is on track except that I really should quit pretending that I can do it all, and I should hire a book-keeper. Also, I should quit relying on my neighbor’s fax machine because he went skiing for a week and wouldn’t you know it now something comes up that absolutely must be faxed….
  • My research into the foundations of my new venture have brought me no closer to production. However, two people have emerged to advise me. Thank you Andrew and Carol.
  • As soon as I can get my hands on a copy I’m going to read the book, Five Minds for the Future, by Howard Gardner. I learned about him because I started looking into getting a domain name for this blog. Fiveminds.com and org, etc. are being used by a company whose website is almost entirely in a foreign (Germanic) language. Nice graphics though. It seems to be about finances (one of the few English words). But in the process of researching who else uses these simple words, I found this book which seems fascinating and which also happens to be about business, leadership, and 5 kinds of intelligence. Sounds like a good match for me.

By the way, I’ve settled on fivemindsmedicine.com for this blog. I haven’t moved it yet, but I bought the domain name. Moving it will allow me to get google ads (and other advertisers?) on the site. I’d really like more time for writing and ads could help allow for that.

See you on the other side of the storm.

february-buds.jpgFebruary Buds

I don’t care what Punxsutawney Phil saw–shadow, schmadow–spring is coming soon. This morning my son pulled on my daughter’s sleeve, sending her into a rage. Her hair is matted like would-be, white-girl-dreadlocks from lack of combing after swimming at the Y yesterday, and she won’t let me brush it–she prefers to glare at me instead, while snot drips from her nose. Is this not the death of winter and the labor pains of spring? I think it is. Please, God, let it be so.

spring-beneath-the-ice.jpgSpring is the season of surprises–when pale green shoots break through the frozen earth, or poke up between broken pieces of asphalt, to claim their places in the sun. Such brazen, bold, and unlikely beginnings give way to the overwhelmingly lush greenery, unpredictable winds and growing warmth of the season. Just as my daughter’s anger gives way easily and naturally. She sat down at the table in her hateful huff, and began to draw and cut. 10 minutes later she had her just-made paper-crown atop her head. “Now,” she proclaimed in her best voice o’ royalty, “I’m Queen of the house!”

queens-crown.jpg
Queen’s Crown.

Anger is a much maligned emotion. But take away all the bad things people do in anger–petty acts of revenge, screaming matches, murder–and anger’s quick moving-power can be a refreshing burst of energy. What I’ve done with anger has, at times been as stunning as what the little green plants, those first to poke their heads out of winter’s wasteland, have done. Like the time I was running on a bike path and a man lurked in the bushes up ahead. No one else was on the path. I was angry, and instinctively showed him some attitude. I started growling, loud and low, and I made my stride strong and fluid. He took off through the woods away from the path.

Wang Pi (226-249, greatest commentator on the Lao-tzu) is reported to have said

…what the sage has in common with ordinary people are the emotions. The sage has a superior spirit, and therefore is able to be in harmony with the universe and to hold communion with Wu [i.e., the Tao]. But the sage has ordinary emotions, and therefore cannot respond to things without joy or sorrow. He responds to things, yet is not ensnared by them.” (Commentary, Chapter 28).

[From A Short History of Chinese Philosophy by Fung Yu-Lan.].
While it is easy to be ensnared by anger, it is also easy to learn useful information from it. Disentangled from anger, look at it’s value as information-laden energy: Anger tells us

  • About ourselves: what we like and don’t like, what we are comfortable with and not-comfortable with, how important something is to us, etc.
  • About our world and our people: can we trust this situation or individual, do we feel valued and respected in this situation or by these people?
  • About how well our boundaries (or lack of them) serves us: Is there something I can do to respect and value myself which will alter my relationship to situations or people with whom I am angry?

My daughter’s simple rage told her: She is uncomfortable with sensory stimulation (sleeve-pulling, hair-brushing) that she is not ready for, that younger brothers and mothers with agendas (I didn’t just say, brush your hair! I started brushing it for her without so much as a “may I…”) don’t always respect her need to prepare for sensory stimulation. And finally, her art project was just the thing she needed to do to affirm her “queen-ness” in her own home (read, body).

Healthy anger is like wind. When it comes, it helps us to readjust our course, re-establish communication where it has broken down (such as when your mom attacks your rats’ nest hair with a brush instead of asking), and then it is gone, like the wind. For me, the winds of anger that swept through the house this morning were a reminder of that delicious spring forcefulness so useful for new beginnings. That same forcefulness is pulsing right now beneath the piles of melting snow outside. It’s that energy that I am counting on as it rises to give me the violent, surging energy of a new green shoot pushing up to the sun, as I continue working on my yearly Abundance (read, business) plan.

P.S. I’ve already had one burst of spring-like exuberance in my thinking, which luckily for me has trickled like the melting snow into small rivers of creativity in my mind. In that sudden burst of creative thinking I jumped out of the deep solo contemplation of my project, (in other words) my isolation (appropriate for winter, not for spring), and I have made two important contacts with people who should be helpful to me as I move forward on the cake project. More on that in my next Sagely Living Post!