Kim Nathan

Author & Life Coach

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Embracing Uncertainty

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We crave certainty. We like to make plans and execute on them, believing they will lead us right to the desired result. As humans, we want to create certainty but it just doesn’t exist. The truth is that there are more unknowns than knowns. Things don’t always turn out like we planned, especially in creative endeavors.

In animals, uncertainty can lead to a heightened state of awareness, but humans are unique in our ability to reflect on it. We tell ourselves a story about it, dwelling on potential results, and this can lead to fear and anxiety. We worry about future threats, but avoiding uncertainty robs you of opportunities. Great work requires moving forward in spite of it.

Creativity is inherently uncertain because, by definition, to create something new is to venture into unknown territory. Along with uncertainty comes the risk of loss and exposure to judgment. Uncertainty slows us down and can paralyze and keep us from acting. We’re hardwired for it as part of our survival instinct. Uncertainty causes suffering, anxiety and fear, but we must embrace it if we want to create something new.

In his book Uncertainty, Jonathan Fields offers a strategy for leaning into the pain of uncertainty. Certainty anchors can work as a psychological bedrock on which to launch into the unknown. These anchors are rituals and routines. You see them in every faith and they offer a source of comfort in an uncertain world. But ritual does not necessarily need to be faith-based. The simple act of engaging in a ritual or routine serves as a certainty anchor. The anchor adds something known and reliable into your life. Their consistency makes them an effective tool to counter anxiety. They help you live with uncertainty as well as help you to move past it in order to create something new and innovative.

Recently, I adopted a new routine that changed my life. When my day job schedule changed, I lost the time I had previously used to write. I wasn’t getting any writing done and feeling frustrated and guilty about it. After reading Mark McGuinness’s Productivity for Creative People, I learned two new strategies.

First strategy is to do the most important thing first. If you don’t, it will get sidelined and pushed aside by the ebb and flow and unpredictability of your day.

Second strategy is to plan and make the time for it.

For me, this means getting up at 5 am in the morning to do creative work for ninety minutes before I go to work at my day job. I also implemented a log to track my hours and which projects I work on.

This new routine has been transformative. It’s given me a framework to be successful. I’m writing daily now. It’s an anchor for me, knowing this bedrock of my personality will be honored and expressed. The interesting consequence is that I am now more generous with my time during the rest of my day. I no longer move through my day feeling resentful that I should be doing something else. As I go to sleep at night, I look forward to waking up to my writing the next morning.

Certainty anchors provide you with a way to center yourself. When you aren’t quite sure where things are going, the unknowing can stop you cold. But when you have a practice that grounds you, you feel more prepared to embrace the uncertainty in your work and in your life.

Moving forward in the face of uncertainty requires courage but also practice. We must cultivate the certainty of who we are and what we stand for.

You must go out into the world to deliver your gift.

The only thing that is certain is that you have one.

 

 

What To Do Now

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Add it to another one of those “where were you?” moments. Where were you when JFK was assassinated, when Challenger blew up, when 9/11 happened?

When Trump got elected, I was sleeping. My husband came to bed at one in the morning and told me. I broke out into a cold sweat, felt sick to my stomach, ran to the bathroom and fainted on the tile floor.

That’s what a gut punch to the rise of the feminine consciousness looks like.

Hopes were high on election night that the values I hold dear would be preserved and taken to the next level. Women would finally break the ultimate glass ceiling.

Instead, we witnessed the shattering of Hillary’s dream, and thus our own dreams for women’s equality and the preservation of human rights in this country. In the ultimate act of misogyny, America elected a racist narcissist with no experience and a short attention span over the most highly qualified woman in history.

I slept a lot for the next 24 hours. I was down for the count. Couldn’t eat.

Within 48 hours of the election, here is a sampling of my experience:

Holding and crying with my gay friend who has a disabled wife. She’s terrified that her marriage rights will be taken away. She’s afraid of a president who publicly ridicules disabled people.

A black co-worker tells me he woke up in a cold sweat because he dreamed he and his family were being rounded up and made to wear gold stars.

I hear stories about Muslim women afraid to wear their head scarves.

I see photographs of ugly racist words sprayed painted on cars and walls.

I watch protests in the streets on TV.

A life coach colleague is “grabbed by the pussy” while pumping gas in Tennessee.

I am fortunate to live in Seattle, a city where we celebrate our diversity. My late mother-in-law Mickie Pailthorp worked tirelessly on the Equal Rights Amendment in the state of Washington and for civil rights with the ACLU. My husband was raised as a feminist and hoped his mother’s dream would be fulfilled when a woman got elected to the White House.

We need more people like Mickie Pailthorp. People who rise up at the sight of injustice and work for a better world, who stand up for the disenfranchised among us, who protect the rights that make this country civilized.

I’m embarrassed for my country. I’m ashamed for my own gender when I hear that 53% of white women voted for Trump. That’s a self-inflicted wound.

Did we need to be slapped down so hard before we understand that we really do need to rise up?

We are all shards of Hillary’s broken dream. We must carry those values forward without her as our leader. She deserved better; we all did. I thought I would witness the rise of the feminine consciousness with her election. Instead the male patriarchy raised its ugly head like never before. It is not going down without a fight.

Here’s the good news. It’s going to get one.

Change is coming, people. We need to participate so we can shape and drive it. This is no time for complacency.

Since election night, I’ve been told repeatedly by men that I need to accept that Trump is my president. This will never happen.

I do not tolerate racism and misogyny.

This is not about Republican or Democrat. It’s about human values. Equality and liberty and justice for all. That’s what makes America great. Those are the principles that this country is built on, and I am committed to defending them.

My senses are awakened in whole new way. I am alive in a whole new way.

I will be Hillary in the world. I will carry her mission forward.

I will be relentlessly vigilant in protecting human rights, particularly of women and minorities who have been disenfranchised by the Trump election. I am inspired by women organizing all around me, mad as hell about the outcome of the election and ready to fight back.

The rise of the feminine consciousness is happening. I thought it would happen when Hillary got elected, but I was wrong. I wanted her at the helm, but now I see that I am the one who must drive. We all must.

It’s time to rise up and protect the values we stand for.

Buckle up, Trump America. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

 

 

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