I love working with Bas. He’s part childhood pen pal, part imaginary friend, part work colleague, part informal cultural attaché, and part best friend. And the fact that we’ve both been writing about transitions for several years without fully knowing we were writing about transitions dovetailed so perfectly, the timing couldn’t have been better for collaboration on this book. So I came into creating A Travel Guide for Transitions overflowing with enthusiasm and gladness for the opportunity.
Then a whole bunch of real life crap happened. April was an unexpectedly tough month for me.
No, that was my grown up filter using the words unexpectedly tough.
April sucked, my friends. It SUCKED.
Daniel and I adopted an 8-week-old puppy — my first puppy ever — and I got to learn some hard truths about myself. For example, I become a shell of my former self on just 4 hours of sleep per night. And to be my creative best self, I really do need 4- to 8-hour chunks of empty alone time and space most days. When I don’t get them, I flail and plot my escape and I questioned all my life choices to the point that I saw fear in Daniel’s eyes. That made me want to weep.
No, that was my grown up filter again. Made me want to weep, geez.
I spent 2 or 3 days each week in April weeping. I pretty much became the anti-me.
As it turns out, I am not the amazing puppy mom that I imagined I would be. I hate much of it actually. There’s a fun pill to swallow: I hate being a full-time mom. She’s just a tiny dog, arrgh, this should be easy! For frick’s sake, I have friends who raise a gaggle of human children with laughter and smiles on their faces most days!
Guilt piled high and dug deep within me this month. At least I can take comfort in the fact that 20- and 30- and 40-year-old me were all correct to trust their own intuition on this whole mom thing. No actual children were harmed in the making of this blog post or this life of mine.
Also during April my neighborhood partner-in-crime, Knox, left the country for a month, leaving me in charge of event planning for a giant neighborhood-spanning summer event. Ugh. Bleh. I love my neighborhood, and getting closer as a community, and I’m really looking forward to our new event (Yay Hopscotch CD–1.8-miles of fun!). But a solo large-scale event planner I am not. I can do it, and I’m even pretty good at parts of it (like blogging about what’s happening–surprise, surprise). But most of the tasks involved drain me of energy. Presenting to large groups? Convincing faceless strangers at the Seattle Department of Transportation that a temporary hopscotch path of flour, sugar, and water won’t hurt people? Bleh. Draining.
And there wasn’t much energy to drain in April, since I was running on 4 hours of sleep a night and already drowning in guilt about being a terrible mother, and partner, and friend.
Message received universe.
Transitions help me learn about myself, and, wow, do I have a lot to learn.
On the up side, going through several transitions at once meant that I got to learn about myself in almost record Lori Land time. Didn’t feel like an upside at the time. Felt more like I was a bug being stepped on by a giant shoe and its deliberately nasty wearer.
I asked Bas for forgiveness for working far slower than I had planned. Instead of being upset, he drew me a funny “This Sucks” doodle, and checked in with me to see how I was doing more often, and then sent me an amazing map doodle of Lori Land (yeah, that’s going in the book!), and then he did an entire fun doodle trailer for the book so I could imagine the end.
I asked Daniel for forgiveness too, repeatedly, for dumping so much on him and being so entirely not myself for so long. Really, you’d have to go to reality TV to find a worse wife than I was in April. He of course was amazing. Doing more puppy parenting, working from home so I could get a little time to myself, picking up home and yard chores that I usually do, making me juice.
Asking for forgiveness comes easily to me now, it seems. But forgiving myself? That’s apparently what I’m working on now.
Sometimes life allows us to savor transitions, and other times just surviving them sounds pretty damn good.
Don’t beat yourself up if this is not your time to savor a transition.
Ask for help or at least allow yourself to be helped.
Make time for self care, even if this means allowing others to do a whole lot extra for you right now: people who will help you make time for yourself.
Forgive yourself and survive this time around.
“You can always savor the next transition, right?” I said to myself this morning. “And ditch the guilt, girl. It’s just not you.”
And in an instant, the moment I feared would never come again is back.
I’m back to savoring.
Back to wanting this exact life.
Back to work as play.
Back to me.
I even love that damn little puppy.
I love the Friedrich Nietzsche quote “One must have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to a dancing star.”
This quote found me mid 2004 at the beginning of my marriage, my doctoral program, and the beginning of two years of amazing, life-changing work. That was a crazy year. Before then I’d been primarily Order Girl, individual superhero seeking many of the good things that her ancestors imagined for her: physical safety, financial security (money), expertise, seriousness (being taken seriously), respectability, and certainty. These were the tools of order, passed on to me by my ancestors, who used them to pull themselves away from isolation and fear. And these tools really worked for them in the past, at least in part.
And when I say ancestors here, I include my former self, Order Girl. Hey girl.
Once I’d felt all of these things within me though—in that very moment—it was time for me to begin letting them go, as hard as that was and at times still is. I don’t mean tossing them out like trash. I mean holding them lightly, swaying away from them, eventually circling back, and then moving away again. Dancing.
If I hadn’t been willing to let go of these tools, and let go of Order Girl herself, I think the tools would have become gods for me, idols. If I hadn’t let go, and begun to dance, I would have become something less than my former self, a mindless follower of them (Order Doormat?) in my unending pursuit of them. As if I believed that the old tools of order are it. All there is. All we’ve got. All we want. All we can be.
On the radio yesterday, I heard someone—it was either Tavis Smiley or Cornell West—say that you cannot simultaneously love money and love poor people. You can want money and love poor people, but once you LOVE money, there arises within you a callousness about poor people, about poverty.
To my ear, they—and frankly far more eloquently than I—were talking about this same dance.
The old tools of order take us only so far. Grasped too tightly, for too long, and they don’t see enough in us. Don’t expect enough of us. Cannot help us imagine ourselves beyond where we are right now. You know, the place where humans, open and eager to love and learn at birth, are led to believe that distrusting each other, hating each other, killing each other, and destroying the environments that support all of us are our only options.
We hang on too tightly to the old tools of order, and we cannot move ourselves beyond that place. We’re stuck.
So yes, brother Nietzsche, one must have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to a dancing star.
But I think for two it’s easier. Right Daniel? Bas? Smiley and West?
Because two can just dance.
As we dance we become sweet and shifting chaos ourselves. We feel new limbs and accept the gifts of chaos: uncertainty, fun, vulnerability, learning, flaws/connection points, freedom, and her fraternal twin, responsibility.
Yes there are still big, monster problems to solve, Order Girl. And yes, picking up a tool of order and using that tool to death has been the choice of many folks before me. And of me.
But it’s not my choice anymore. Not when dancing is a viable option. And dancing is almost always a viable option.
Play. Dance. Shake your booty in your pants. Renew yourself and others and notice that we become more responsible as we become more free.
To me, these are the gifts of chaos. They aren’t wielded. They’re not tools. They are received. Gifts.
Often we see them first in our dance partners, and then within us, as we notice that they are us too. I think our part is just to notice, to remember, to take hold of another hand, and to join the dance.
So if you are feeling alone in your decision to step away from the tools of order, dear Order Girl, accept at least this much good news…
You are not bat-shit crazy. You are human. And we humans long to dance.
Welcome to the dance.
We were recently story wrangling at Haulin’ Colin’s here in Seattle. Read his story here. The following text is from the post-interview hang out/beer drinking/storytelling session. As Colin and I finished talking, his friend Brad joined us, as did my husband Daniel, and our friend Fisher, who had introduced me to Colin. I saw as I read this transcript that the five of us were a self-organizing group: more emergent than planned, more internally created than externally created.
You can read this just for the fun of it–the humor, epic storytelling, and teasing–or, if you’re a research geek like me, read it looking for self-organizing group indicators, asking yourself what qualities you see in this group, what each person taught and learned, and which groups in your own life have similar qualities.
Brad: How’s it going?
Brad: Sorry, I’m interrupting your.
Lori: You’re not. I already asked him my last question. [Colin laughs]
Brad: Well I don’t have any questions. [We all laugh]
Brad: I was thinking about actually just trying to mooch another beer.
Lori: Oh. Go ahead!
Colin: I think that’s totally acceptable.
Brad: It’s keeping morale up.
Someone (Fisher?): As long as morale’s up, take two.
Brad: Morale is high. [He opens a beer] I can continue working!
Colin: Brad’s been rebuilding the engine in his pickup truck. It’s a long project.
Brad: It’s extremely time consuming. Like two years.
Brad: Somebody said that to me today and I was like, “What?! Really? Has it been that long?”
Colin: I don’t think it’s been that long. But our shop mate, Michael, is just this fountain of information. Just like every time you have some question, like some really technical thing, about rebuilding an engine. You know, I’ve never seen him do that, but I don’t know how he knows all this stuff. But he’ll just be like “Oh, yeah. That just works like such and such.”
Colin: “It’s easy.”
Daniel: That sounds like my brother. If he’s read it on the Internet, he feels like he has the experience. [Colin laughs.]
Daniel: So he has all this knowledge and you have no idea if it actually works or not. But, you know, it’s right a lot!
Brad: Michael is reliable.
Brad: Except that it’s a diesel, so he’s a little less knowledgeable, which is shocking given his baseline level of knowledge. It’s pretty shocking [that he’s so knowledgeable] given that it’s outside his area of expertise.
Lori: That’s like Daniel with computers. I swear to God that he can walk into a room and the computer decides to fix itself.
Brad: Yeah, Nas—ah, Michael—has been described that way, with cars, actually. That he can just get it running. And maybe, if he leaves, it’ll stop. [We all laugh.]
Brad: And if he comes back, it starts running again.
Colin: He always pulls that kind of thing. Where he’s “Aw, maybe you should just, I don’t know, tweak this thing a little bit.” And poof, it works.
Lori: Well, now that I know you have an event in December. Is it a public thing?
Colin: Oh yeah.
Lori: Very cool.
Daniel: We did that one year. Don’t you remember we were back over by Stellar?
Lori: Oh. But we didn’t make it to this building.
Daniel: But we did that.
Lori: We did the art walk.
Colin: Yeah. Georgetown has an art walk the second Saturday of every month. Technically this building is a part of it even though most of the stuff happens over on Airport Way. And it’s hard to get people to come all the way over here. So the once a year, really big event.
Lori: They have an open-house in December.
Colin: Yeah. It usually coincides with the regular. It’s on the second Saturday, so it coincides with the regular art walk. The art attack, as they call it in Georgetown.
Colin: But it’s a much bigger event. More widely publicized.
Lori: We’ll definitely have to come and see it, because I’d love to see all the rest of the spaces.
Colin: Yeah, there are a lot of people. You know, Sam—who’s the manager here—who’s buying the building and fixing it up, you know, this used to be a big manufacturing facility until it got subdivided into all these little spaces—he is also managing InScape, the old immigration building. You know where that is? How Airport Way kind of starts by splitting off onto 4th Avenue, and going diagonally over? There’s a big old government building there, across the street from the Shell station. The old immigration building. And it has now been subdivided into artist spaces too.
Lori: It’s called InScape?
Colin: It’s like three times the size of this building.
Colin: And it’s full of people doing stuff.
Colin: It’s less, ah, there aren’t as many metal working and woodworking shops. A lot of painters and artists.
Fisher: Less industrial art.
Colin: Yeah, less industrial. There’s one shop that makes bicycle frames in there and some stuff in the basement.
Lori: Yeah. From my perspective, I don’t care what exactly people are doing. What I’m looking for is people who feel how you feel about this space. People who’d say “I LOVE this space.”
Lori: In part, just because I feel like, ah, in a lot of ways, like you’re my people. I’m trying to create a community coworking space that people feel that way about. So I need to hear from a lot of different people to learn how to make a space like that. I also just love spending time with people who have actually done it: actually created spaces that they love. Because it’s not always easy.
Colin: I mean, it did just kinda happen. [We laugh]
Colin: It just kind of became a larger and larger part of my life. Now, it’s like what I do all the time.
Lori: Very cool. Well that’s all my questions. Thank you so much.
Lori: For showing us your space. And your time.
Fisher: How many trailers are you shipping out of state now?
Colin: I have shipped one trailer out of state.
Fisher: I was reading about. There’s some guy out of state who bought it. Where is it?
Colin: New Jersey. But there is definitely one of my trailers in the Bay Area [San Francisco] because someone in Seattle bought one and then I think they rode to the Bay Area and then sold it second hand to someone else. So I’ve heard from that guy.
Colin: And because Dave bought that batch of 20 and was just distributing them, there’s 20 of them out there! [We all laugh.]
Colin: And I don’t know all the people anymore! They’re on the second-hand market now. It’s crazy.
Lori: Did you have any more questions? [to Fisher]
Fisher: Oh, I do, but just about other stuff.
Lori: But not for this? You sure?
Fisher: I’m just very curious about. Are there structural things that would make your work feel more effective?
Colin: Ah [he pauses], well, yeah, I struggle with that. I struggle with being efficient and staying on track and charging enough. [Fisher laughs] We have pretty low overhead. A lot of times I have to quote people prices where I think to myself “God, I would never pay that much for that.” But it’s like, you know, the shop rate. Here we have a hundred thousand dollars worth of tools, or something, I don’t know. And the shop rate is 60 dollars an hour. Most of that goes back into the shop. Goes to pay for tools, repairs, the compressed gas, the welding wire, sanding discs, whatever.
Colin: I don’t ever really make any profit because I’m just like “Well, now I can buy another tool!” [We all laugh.]
Colin: So yeah, like structure, being efficient, I [he pauses a long time]. I don’t know. It’s hard. We usually have a whole bunch of different projects going at once. And it’s less efficient when I’m jumping from one project to another. It’s better when I set aside X amount of time, or a couple of days, to work on one thing. But sometimes it just works out like that. I have to order parts and I’m waiting on parts for one thing. And you know what? I probably spend an hour or two. I probably spend at least two hours a day writing emails and talking on the phone and ordering parts. It’s like a pretty big.
Fisher: Administrative part.
Colin: Yeah. Feel like I need a secretary.
Brad: But they’re like $80 an hour now. [We all laugh.]
Colin: Yeah. I just get emails all the time. People who want custom things. Then we have to imagine a design. Talk about how much it would cost. Sometimes they follow through and it becomes a project and I actually make money. Sometimes not.
Fisher: So you’re not charging a design consulting fee?
Colin: No. I mean, if there’s a lot of design work, technically we have a $30 an hour design time rate. But if someone just emails me and they’re like “Hey, I have this cool idea! For a trailer that has such and such.” Then I’m like “Ok.” I think about it while I’m riding my bike home or whatever. And I’ll be like “Ok, that’s roughly going to cost such and such.” But I’m always quoting out jobs beforehand. And then they take longer then they think they’re going to take. Classic. Happens all the time. No matter how many times I do it. Just takes longer. So jobs. This year we’ve gotten more contract machining jobs, where some other machine shop needs some work done, and they sub-contract it out to us. And we just charge hourly: “Ok, it took X amount of hours.” And machine shops don’t blink an eye at $60 an hour. They’re like great, no problem. But ah people. People who.
Daniel: People who want a $200 trailer.
Colin: Yeah, right.
Daniel: Say “Can you get that done in 3½ hours?”
Lori: That’s what Nils and Grant do! Their friends call them up and are like “I need a table and I have $300 dollars.” [Colin laughs] “Whatever amount of time it takes you to make a table for $300, please do that.” [Lori laughs]
Colin: Yeah. It’s interesting. I like making weird custom stuff for people who want to do it. But sometimes its just not realistic. I probably spend too much time messing around on the Internet. But I can justify that. That’s my break time. If I’m here for 10 or 12 hours, I get to spend a couple of hours doing stupid shit on the Internet. Looking at funny pictures or something.
Fisher: Is there anything you need? Just like, stuff that you need?
Colin: Well, we always need more tools. [Colin and Fisher laugh.]
We’re always buying more tools. We have a line of things, like when we all have enough money. We split everything three ways. So when we all have enough money we’re going to buy a new tool post for the metal lathe. That’s like $500. Then we’re going to buy a new set of bearings for the other metal lathe there that’s all taken apart. They’re super-precision bearings because it’s a precision tool, so that’s like $300 for a pair of bearings for that.
Lori: That’s a really good question since we’re basically publishing the entire interview and building photos and video into them. Anybody who likes your story enough, could hit that question and think to themselves “Well, I have $300. I could send it to them!” [Colin belly laughs at the idea of someone just sending them money.]
Fisher: Well there’s that and then there’s also. Ultimately what Sean and I want to do is put together some sort of fund. Even if it starts out at a thousand dollars. And then when a [bike-related] small business owner needs $500, they can get a no-cost loan.
Colin: Oh, yeah. Cool.
Fisher: And even if we never get the money back. [Colin belly laughs again.]
Fisher: It’s not a huge deal, you know.
Lori: Oh! It’d be like bike Kiva.
Fisher: Yeah, that’s the vision for it.
Daniel: Which has an amazingly high pay-back rate, over 90%, better than most banks.
Colin: What is it?
Daniel: It’s for microloans. So you get online, put money into their bank account, and then you pick who you want to loan the money to and how much. And where. Guatamala. Nigeria. Whatever. And then you can follow along and see the loan get paid back.
Lori: Teeny, tiny business loans.
Daniel: Once the loan’s paid back, you can loan the money out again. Pays like 1.6% interest, or something like that.
Lori: It’s literally sometimes like people who need just $25 to start their business and it would feed their family for the rest of their lives. It’s often just tiny amounts of money.
Colin: That’s cool.
Fisher: To us.
Lori: Yes, [tiny amounts of money] to us. [Colin laughs.]
Fisher: There’s another one: Vittana, which is local here in town. They do it for education loans in Latin, Central, and South America.
Colin: We’ve talked about getting loans sometimes, but always shied away from it.
Colin: Because it’s nice to not be in debt. And as long as we don’t need to do that, it’s better. It always gets really busy in the summer and slow in the winter. Always pulling out of the winter it feels like we’re struggling a little bit. Now. This time of year it’s great. Lots of work.
Fisher: Do you make Pedi’s? Pedicabs?
Colin: I have made two pedicabs. And I’ve worked on a few [more], yeah. Those things get abused. They get heavily used. Really, I don’t know of any shop better than us to work on them because we have this crossover into heavier duty, moped and motorcycle stuff, and we can take advantage of that. But even so, I’ve seen those things come back over and over again. You know, broken frames, broken wheels, they just need heavier duty parts.
Daniel: So when you run into an engineering block—you start fabricating and its not working out—how do you work through that?
Colin: Um, I mean, none of us are engineers. [Colin laughs] I have a pretty good sense of how stuff works, you know, what size of metal to use for what thing just from experience, but that’s kind of what I wish I’d done in college now. Like if I had a mechanical engineering degree. God, that would make a huge difference. But, we basically, the three of us have a lot of experience and we’ll just bounce ideas off of each other if we’re having trouble, designing something or figuring out how it works. I have a couple of other friends that I can call. People who do have an engineering degree, or a math degree, or something that could come in handy—who I can call to get advice.
Lori: The small business within a big building of small businesses probably comes in handy.
Colin: Yeah, although we are, our shop. I mean. There’s lots of experience, and that’s good to call upon. But no other shop in the building is making stuff at the same level of, like, precision and engineering as we are. Like, the blacksmiths will make beautiful, ornate railings, staircases, whatever. But they’re hammering giant pieces of solid bar into shapes.
Lori: Nobody has to ride them around town! [laughs] Colin:
Making things with moving parts. We’re already more technically advanced than the other shops here. People come to us with their broken power tools, and stuff like that. We fix that stuff.
Lori: Yeah. That’s it for me. You guys, anything else?
Fisher: I’m curious, what you—over 1, 3, 5 years—do you want the trailers to be in retail stores or—is this part a business to you or?
Colin: The bike trailers are the thing that I started trying to make a business out of. But overall they’re a small part of the work that I do. Maybe 20% of the work that I do. Every day I get little jobs—stuff like this—broken frames, people need brazons, cargo bikes.
Fisher: Is it almost all bike work?
It’s a more reliable way to make money—to have products—but it’s more fun to do custom stuff. Yeah.
Colin: Yeah, it’s almost all bike work. Ninty percent bike stuff. But yeah, the trailers. It’s cool to have a product that I make a lot of because I can really refine the process and I don’t have to take the time to do design work and I know how long it takes me and how much to charge. So that’s good, but I’m not really married to the idea of turning the trailers into more of a production thing. Because it’s ok. I like it. It’s a thing I know how to do now, so I get requests for custom trailers and I’m happy to be doing that, but I don’t see myself pursuing any kind of, like, mass marketing or wholesaling them to shops or anything. It’s a more reliable way to make money—to have products—but it’s more fun to do custom stuff. Yeah.
Lori: Thank you. [to Fisher and Colin and Daniel–Brad had left]
Fisher: Thank you. [to Lori and Colin]
Fisher: How did you get that big machine in here?
Daniel: That occurred to me as I looked at the lathe.
Colin: I think the lathe is about 2500 pounds. It was actually an epic journey from that lathe’s old home. Ok, this happened because I used to work at Hardwicks, ancient hardware store, lots of good stuff. The owner of Hardwicks, one of the owners had bought a bunch of stuff from a lady who was cleaning out her dad’s basement. He was a contract machinist for Boeing. Had just turned the basement of his house into a machine shop, basically. It was this neat old house in Burien, on the water front, just basically walk out the backdoor and there’s a little path this [a foot] wide and then a rock retaining wall down to the beach. At high tide, the water’s halfway up the retaining wall.
So he told me about this metal lathe there and he’s like “There’s no way I’m trying to get that thing out of there. Go look at it if you want.” So I went and looked. He had moved the thing in in the 70s or 80s on a barge. He got a barge to come over to the house on high tide.
And they used a crane to put it into the house. And walls had been built.
We were just like “Wow.” But, his daughter wanted to sell the house and is like “How are we going to get rid of this thing?”
Colin: So we got an amazing deal on it. It was a thousand dollars but that’s cheap for that, with a lot of accessories. Then we had to devise this whole plan. I welded up a custom cart with big casters. Then we had to disassemble part of two different walls. And then, instead of doing it high tide on a barge, we got there at low tide and drove our friend’s flat-bed truck down a boat ramp onto the beach and around. And we used a hydraulic engine hoist to lift the lathe up onto this cart, rolled it through this doorway, and then built a ramp that went down over the retaining wall and into the bed of the flat-bed truck. Drilled a hole in the concrete floor of the basement and put in a eye bolt and used a come-along and a chain to let this thing down the ramp slowly into the truck.
Lori: Oh my gosh.
Colin: And then, we got it here and used another crane to get it off the truck and rolled it into here and then used the hoist again to get it off. It was quite the process.
Daniel: My dad has a welding table, probably about half the size of this table but probably two inches think.
Colin: Two inches thick? That’s a lot.
Daniel: So same sort of thing. He lives in east Texas and needed a welding table. So he’s checking Craigslist and some guys dad had died.
Daniel: The guy didn’t even know. He’s like this 32-year-old kid, lived in New York City, was some kind of investment banker, and was home just trying to get rid of the stuff out of his dad’s house. My dad drove 50 or so miles up, walked in, and was like.
Colin: “Wow. That’s a big chunk of steel!” [Fisher belly laughs]
Daniel: And he’s like, alright, so what do you want for that? What do you want for that? So my dad looks through a few things. And the guy’s like “So, how do we get it out of here?” And my dad’s like “I don’t know how.
Colin: That’s up to you! [laughs]
Daniel: So my dad and his buddy go back. My dad owns two pretty good sized John Deere tractors. So they drove in with the tractor as far as they could go and hooked it. Lifted it up far enough so they could get some wheels under it. Pulled it out. Lifted it up. Dropped it on the flatbed with the tractor. But yeah. Then he parked it. He was originally going to put it up by the house but he was like “Nah” and bolted it into the garage,ah, barn. And was like “Yeah, so if I have to move it again the tractor is just right there.”
It’s not like you’re going to just pick it up.
Colin: Yeah, it’s weird moving things. Like, you couldn’t possibly get enough people around that to actually lift it. It’s machines only at that point. But we had the help of Steve, who runs Burning Specialities, which is in the same building here. They cut out those big rounds [under the feet of the machine to raise it higher]. He’s used to moving big slabs of steel. He’s good at that sort of thing. He’s the one with the flat-bed truck. It’s good to have him around.
Daniel: Like with my darkroom. The guy who owns Yuen Lui Studios, a portrait studio up and down the West coast, is named Yuen Lui. He decided dark rooms are dead, so he’s like, “You want it, its yours.” So I went down and bought cameras and sinks and trays.
Lori: Um, yeah. Like a 15-foot-long sink.
Daniel: He’s like “Just get it out of here.” We negotiated a little bit. But same kind of thing: I just couldn’t pass up the price.
Daniel: So his assistant came in and said, “Ah, so you do know that there’s no way that’s leaving the building, right? And I’m like “What do you mean?” And he says “The first room built in here was Yuen’s darkroom and every wall was built up after that. [Fisher laughs.] We’ve tried to take it out. Twice.”
Daniel: I’m like “I’ll get it out!” [Lori laughs] We had to cut one of the braces in half. And the metal sink, with enough flex in it, we actually just flexed it around the corner.
Daniel: But the first couple of tries it was, ah. I had my hand between it and the wall because I was like “I’ll take the hand damage vs. the wall.” [Fisher laughs]
Colin: But you got it out?
Daniel: We got it out. But I had to cut the stand in half.
Lori: Then he brought it home and his wife was like “You’re going to put THAT in our house?”[Colin laughs] It’s a 15-foot sink!”
Daniel: I put some walls around it, it’s fine! [Colin laughs]
Lori: That’s what the basement’s for! [laughs]
Daniel: It’s happy in the darkroom. Ceilings only this tall in the rest of the basement but.
Lori: It’d be a great studio workspace down there for me, but not for him. There are places where the ceiling.
Daniel: I actually knocked myself out one time.
Colin: Wow. Knocked yourself out.
Daniel: Yep, I turned and bam! Out! Then stumbled around.
Lori: He only did that once and hasn’t done it since.
Daniel: It left a mark. [Lori and Daniel laugh]
Colin: Yeah. Even going down the hallway here. You have to duck just a little bit to get under those beams.
Lori: Our house was built in 1908.And he’s got. Just to go from the first to the second floor up the stairs there’s a spot he has to duck.
Daniel: Yeah. We’d been in the house for about 8 years and she finally goes “You really do have to duck to go under that.” And I’m like “Yeah, for 8 years now!” [the guys laugh]
Lori: I hadn’t noticed for the first 8 years we were in the house.
Colin: You get used to it though. It’s like part of your stride. Your head goes down just a little.
Lori: Not one of those things I’ve ever had to worry about!
Photo credits: The first, slightly blurry photograph is mine. All the awesome photos are Daniel’s.
Most of the groups I study are physically local to me— in my city, my neighborhood, my region, and my home. We’re huge fans of all things local here in Seattle. Fortunately, in the land of human connection and ideas, there’s another kind of local: emotionally local. This is a conversation I’ve been having with one of my emotionally local self-organizing groups this week. Six months ago, I didn’t know Ali or Bas. Now we’re learning together on a regular basis. I’m in the U.S., Bas is in The Netherlands, and Ali is in Jordan. Go us! My question for you is this: what is this self-organizing group teaching its members?
ali anani says:
November 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm
Lori Vs. Lori [Referring to my November 11, 2011 blog post in which I discuss interviewing another Lori] and the outcome is significant as it turns around to Lori with Lori.
I loved this post because it reflects real life experiences from the mouths of the emotionally involved. In particular, I was shaken with this statement and I quote from above “Bring our individual vulnerabilities* out into the open, experience and move with/through them together, and transform them into learning, power, and action”. Trust, cooperation and shelving off shyness are among the fruits of this significantly self-organized group
Salute to Lori and Lori
November 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm
Hi Ali, thanks for the comment.
Yes, meeting with Lori S was a significant learning experience for me. Because my own adult life experience involved first seeing myself as an individual, then seeing myself as small self-organizing groups, and only recently seeing myself as community. This progression worked but it’s taken many years for me to get to thinking from the perspective of community. Lori S found and joined a community that is already conscious that community creating/building is what matters most and an organization that sees small, self-organizing groups as the creators of strong community–where lasting connections form. It’s not about a few individuals at the “top” even for those at the “top” if there is such a thing. You can hear it in their motto “People becoming the church.” Very cool. From my perspective, her way seems like a pretty efficient way to move yourself into thinking from the perspective of community and into thriving as community. 🙂
I first typed “non-traditional” to describe their experience but that didn’t seem to honor their experience enough, so I changed it to “new-traditional” because that’s what it feels like to me. People rebuilding tradition. Makes me smile just thinking about it.
I love your words “real life experiences from the mouths of the emotionally involved.” While you were typing that I was at my Seattle Consultant’s Grotto meeting saying the same thing. I was saying that I don’t believe community and self-organizing groups can be studied from a distance. You have to be there and close enough to speak with and learn from the people themselves. I’ve found that I can still call myself a “self-orgizing groups researcher” because as an individual I can see the boundaries of small self-organizing groups. However, the term “researcher” doesn’t feel right when I’m learning within/about communities. In part, because I can’t, as an individual, see the edges of community. So “community member” is the title that feels most true. If I can imagine and feel myself as part of your community and you can imagine and feel yourself as part of mine, only then can I learn as community. It’s not research. 🙂 It’s community creation/building. And you don’t need a PhD to do it! Quite the opposite. You lay down your individual title to do it.
November 13, 2011 at 9:52 am
“I first typed “non-traditional” to describe their experience but that didn’t seem to honor their experience enough, so I changed it to “new-traditional” because that’s what it feels like to me. People rebuilding tradition.”
This. Is. Fantastic. Moving forward respecting the legacy. Change not as a counteract from the old. But as a conscious revealing of the old (or the stuff that always is/was) in the new context. Hmmm. Sounding like Eckhard Tolle 😀
I agree with writing from the personal perspective/experience. I always have. But only “recently” I make this explicit. Other times I wrote an abstract form about things I was experiencing myself. Or expert like. If I ever make a top 10 of “What Was I Thinking” this one makes it in the top 5: http://www.projectshrink.com/marketing-tech-people-hate-it-640.html
Oh my. Anyway.
It takes time to get that comfortable talking about it 🙂 But practice makes .. well something.
I do need my title as Project Shrink though. And a cape.
November 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm
Bas, agree its fantastic. Haven’t read Eckhard Tolle but then again I gave up learning from experts a couple of years ago when I figured out that I learn more as/from/with groups of learners. 😉 I am actually going to go back and interview another person before I write the story of this particular new traditional organization. This is “different work” on an organizational level and it’s just fascinating to me. A pastor in t-shirt and blue jeans. This I’ve got to see! 😉 I’m so glad my work has allowed me to evolve and find self-org groups and community fascinating everywhere I encounter them, since it wasn’t that many years ago that I would have avoided a religious organization like the plague.
I still need my title some days too. May be a cape or a hat (or in my case more like a security blanket like some little kids take to bed with them), but I also like to think that the capital R Researcher me is the me that some people will connect with and there’s really nothing wrong with that.
I like that blog entry you point out. You sound like a total bad ass! Not a side of you I’ve seen. Nice.
Love Havi’s latest blog about wearing a colorful stuffed snake and carrying a floppy stuffed cow through the airport and on the airplane. Now there’s a cape!
ali anani says:
November 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm
Self-organizing groups make a new world, new landscapes that keep growing. They expand and as there are always emerging ideas they are limitless by scope, space or time. Their boundaries, if any, are elastic and shock-resistant. These groups survive. You write Lori on a noble groups that are expansive creatively. So is my respect and attentive care to read your posts
ali anani says:
November 11, 2011 at 9:58 pm
Lori, I forgot to comment on your last paragraph, which is so lovely that it can not be left unattended.
If I can imagine and feel myself as part of your community and you can imagine and feel yourself as part of mine, only then can I learn as community. It’s not research. It’s community creation/building. And you don’t need a PhD to do it! Quite the opposite. You lay down your individual title to do it.
This is a great explanation of your logo or motto “share the knowledge”. Sharing must flow to have meaning. Titles are blockages to the flow and I agree with you. If we are truly learners we realize progressively that we grow more ignorant and less learned because we discover how little we know. Topping ignorance with ice-cream titles doesn’t change the fact.
I may add that the connectedness is extensible to knowledge. We have networks of interacting networks of sciences and sciences and art. No more arts and sciences are distant subjects from each other. We need to have basic knowledge of many more fields that was not evident in the past. Networks of sharing knowledge play an important role in satisfying these demands
November 12, 2011 at 9:11 am
Ice-cream titles, i like it! Agree that the older I get the more I learn I don’t know. its very freeing. One of my favorite parts of studying the groups is that the goal is no longer to become an individual expert, the goal is to find and become groups of co-learners and communities, which is really more rewarding and even fun.
Disciplines and fields are overlapping. That comes so clear for me as I study these groups in business, education, churches, community-based organizations, online, and so on. If our higher education system evolved a tiny bit faster that is where I’d already be. I just couldn’t bring myself to publish in a system that limits who has acess to information and severely limits who gets to judge what has value. My community (whose voices i carry in my head) just wouldn’t hear of it! So for now, I work in my home based office so that I can be available and move quickly when emergent groups appear to learn with and i speak/guest lecture when asked. And I’m so greatful I do, because, for one thing, by doing this i found you.
November 13, 2011 at 9:59 am
The more I study these topics, the more I have the feeling I don’t know anything 🙂 And even that I’m not sure of. At the moment it doesn’t always feel like freeing, but I think I am getting there.
I recently wrote
“It feels I am repeating myself. I think I brought my ideas as far as I can, on my own.” I said.
“Well. That is because you’re not supposed to do this on your own.” Someone replied.
November 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm
The freeing part for me isn’t just in recognizing how much there is to know and how little I can actually know. The freeing part is that I’ve begun to behave the opposite of my former self and really cool people are showing up as a result. Deep individual expertise is part of my nature and how I’ve made it in the past involved striving for individual expertise and then sharing it and helping others in a fairly one-sided way (rarely needing help myself). Now when studying community, becoming community, every time I listen, seek to learn, or confess that I’m clueless, a whole circle of people show up around me to join the discussion. It’s freeing not to have to always be the expert anymore. Still scary. But freeing to know that there is value within me that is secure and not dependent on my expertise. Could see that in others before but not in myself.
ali anani says:
November 12, 2011 at 10:43 am
Let me start by quoting your last line and half “And I’m so greatful I do, because, for one thing, by doing this i found you”. Grateful is spelled as greatful. Allow me to call this an emergent feeling. We have feelings that overwhelm our writing and our real inner feelings surface out. For this reason, I am doubly happy that I found such a great human. That is you.
November 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm
Thanks Ali. Maybe we’ll just call “greatful” our newly invented word that means full of gratitude plus feeling great! 😉 I was typing on my husband’s iPad this morning and typing directly on a small screen instead of a keyboard is tricky!
Emergent feelings. Yep. Just remembered I was beginning to write about this back when I was studying only self-organizing work groups and focusing on how to recognize these groups at work:
I called it “sharing more of myself than expected or planned” instead of emergent feelings. I think I did this mostly because I wasn’t yet ready to use a word like “feelings” when related to work and business. But its there between the lines. 🙂
ali anani says:
November 12, 2011 at 7:38 pm
Yes, it is there between the lines. I liked the explanation of the “Greatful” word.
I use iPad and find it convenient to carry around.
I am surprised that you are not involved in some “windy and woundy” discussions on Bas Blog. I invented the word woundy, meaning causing wounds
November 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm
Considered joining but decided to stay out of that one. 🙂 I appreciate what you’re doing there and the depth of conversation. Lovely! Sometimes I just prefer to listen and watch groups and don’t feel the need to add my 2 cents. Besides, with both you and Bas in that conversation, I feel that my perspective is already there.
ali anani says:
November 12, 2011 at 9:09 pm
If self-organizing groups involve being 100% yourself by expressing self-feelings and interests then I do not qualify to be a member. You are yourself, and I feel I am not always. My two cents go for you
November 12, 2011 at 9:51 pm
Just meant that I would be there in spirt if you and Bas—both of whom have read almost as much of the Collective Self blog as I have—were there. But I did just offer my 2 cents to that discussion on Bas’ blog, because I thought that the very smart and interesting Jon was not being as respectful and kind to my friends Bas and Ali as I’d like community members to be. 🙂
ali anani says:
November 13, 2011 at 1:29 am
I have just responded to your comment on Bas blog. I do appreciate your taking the time to write a response that is honest and straight without being brutal or hard.
Every day I discover the wealth of having known you. You are a unique person. I mean it.
November 13, 2011 at 10:12 am
Can’t wait to read the interview with Lori. Lori. This truly sounds inspiring.
November 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm
Contacting her pastor as well to more fully write the story, because the small groups she’s part of are intentionally not work groups. Their purpose is connection making and community building–book groups, activity groups, cooking groups, business groups, scripture groups—all within the church itself. To make it into the Different Work book, I hope to head back and talk to the pastor who started the church 9 years ago, because in this case the “different work” appears to be at the organization and community level. Conscious use of self-organizing groups to get things done. Consciousness that community creation/building is the organization’s purpose and that small groups, not a handful of individual leaders, are leading on that front is not something I’ve encountered studying within businesses. 🙂 Lots to learn from them!
ali anani says:
November 13, 2011 at 11:30 pm
It is this quality of response that prompted me with peace in mind and heart to nominate you and your blog as the best on Bas’ blog. Lori, you have been an exceptional person at all times.
November 14, 2011 at 7:16 pm
Thank you Ali, I appreciate that. I think we’re part of an exceptional community together. There isn’t a single Collective Self blog post written that is more useful or insightful than the discussions we have together. On my own, it’s just words. It’s when you show up that together we become the change we wish to see in our world. 🙂 Still so nice to be nominated. Thank you!!
ali anani says:
November 14, 2011 at 11:18 pm
Even though I have to rush for a meeting with a very influential business man; yet I find it more propelling to respond to you.
First, I remember that you wrote once you do not respond to comments on Saturday-Monday. I find you responding. That is a rule that is not. Eagerness and engagement override rules.
Yes, together is the name of the self-organizing group. But there must be always an initiator. It is you in this case and I am proud to be a member of your groups.
Sometimes, I fail to find the words to express myself. This time I am.
November 15, 2011 at 10:51 am
Hey Ali, yep, you remind me of talking about this back in February. I said “Actually, if I’m deeply convinced that someone is a self-organizing work group member, I’ll toss out any rule—including all those I created for myself—just to open the chance to work with that person.”. (near the end of this post: http://www.collectiveself.com/fostering-self-organizing-work-groups/find-your-next-self-organizing-work-group-using-these-four-indicators/).
From my perspective, you’re the initiator of our group. I was out here reflecting and writing and talking to myself. We became a group when you found me and started talking. You’re the initiator! I think Bas found me because of you. Now I’m working with Bas on an eBook. Gratitude back to you!
ali anani says:
November 16, 2011 at 1:05 am
Lori, answering a question opens door for another one. I am surprised how our thinking is similar sometimes. Does this lead to familiarity? I know that total familiarity is not possible, but partial familiarity may even help.
November 16, 2011 at 10:55 am
Ali, good question. What do you think? I’m not sure. From my perspective, it’s similar feeling, not similar thinking, that leads to greater closeness and familiarity. Similar sense of feeling listened to and welcome.
Based on what I’ve learned from the groups I’ve studied, I aspire to diversity of thinking and diversity of ways of being in my groups and in being open to difference and doing what I can think of to pull diversity in and help myself and others feel welcome in our difference. So yes, I suppose I think it’s the feeling where unity lies–feeling welcome, feeling needed, feeling listened to.
Wow, that’s not something I’ve consciously thought about before. Very cool.
Ali, this conversation is too good. I’m going to turn it into a blog post so more people can see it!