The Anatomy of Discovery, Part Five: Value

This week features a series of posts to unpack and unfold the anatomy, so to speak, or design of The Iconic Self Online Experience to give you a window into how it works and why it is such a distinctive offering. But these elements are also core elements of all of our Soulful Journey offerings, and things my friends and collaborators looks for as hallmarks in our own journeys of resources that we trust and ultimately rely on. Our own experiences of powerful discovery all have these things in common--so whether or not The Iconic Self Online Experience is your right thing at your right time, my hope is that this Anatomy of Discovery will regardless help light your way.

Sharing a heartfelt moment with Caren McLellan Gazley.

Sharing a heartfelt moment with Caren McLellan Gazley.

Part Five: Value

No inquiry about resources and guides would be complete without a conversation about value, which for me involves examining both investment and contribution.

The investment side of the equation is one of our primary motivations for offering the Iconic Self interactive experience online. To give you an idea of how it compares with other options, doing this work in-person would require a 5-day intensive retreat, which would cost $1000 or more, in addition to travel expenses. 

And for less than the cost of hiring either Phyllis Mathis or me for two hours of our one-on-one professional services, participants in The Iconic Self Online Experience get both of us--together--for a whole month. 

This means:

  • getting to ask questions and
  • to clarify in real-time
  • to contribute to a collective body of story and wisdom,
  • both in our interactive classroom and in our live conference call.
iconic cd pack.jpg

Here's how it breaks down--The Iconic Self Online Experience includes:

  • daily posts featuring reflective questions, playful exercises, and daily opportunities to interact with others on the same journey--Monday through Friday for a total of twenty days. (Value: $100+)
  • every minute of the original Iconic Self audio learning course (the content of a 5-day intensive retreat) divided into delicious bite-sized mp3 morsels  (Value: $100)
  • Phyllis and me in the house! We'll be there every day, catching stories, offering additional insights and encouragement to help along the way. (Value: $50+/day for 20 days=$1000)
  • a live conference call, mid-course, with both Phyllis and me: a time to ask questions, tell stories, and enjoy being together. (Value: $250)
  • a private Flickr group to share playful exercises, creative projects, iconic outfits, and other visual evidence of soulful risk-taking. (Bonus!)
  • The registration for this hands-on, interactive experience is just $199 (valued at $1450), and you can save an additional $50 when you register by Sunday (the 13th).

    When it comes to contribution, I find it helpful to hear from other people who have already experienced the resources I'm considering and weighing. I think it best, then, to let some Iconic Self participants speak to the contribution of this offering:

    Phyllis and Jen.jpeg
    "Jen and Phyllis have a way of offering practical guidance that resonates on a deep, soul level; that appeals to the parts of me that seek clarity and quality; and that sidesteps the frustrating phenomenon of self-help actually deflating my sense of okayness. I felt guided in these conversations outside of hierarchy somehow, invited to come to the table not as hungry little bird, but as respected companion."  
    --Kristin Noelle
    First, let me say that I'm usually highly skeptical of anyone "selling" me a way to make me "better"…my Rule of Life is that a person is exactly who they should be at the time, in order to fulfill their purpose at that moment.  But I know what a thought-full and gentle person you are, and had the sense that you wouldn't throw some schlock out on a disc just to make money.  So I was curious, and was feeling that it was time to shift some things, so why not see what you had to offer.
    You had me at Aretha…she is my inner icon. and it blew me away when you guys mentioned that! I thought that although (in my advanced years here) I have come to terms with, and melded my inner and outer selves, there may actually be something I can learn.  
    And boy did I.  So far, I am recognizing that even though I had identified the "line of demarcation" between how I feel, and how I react, there were still some areas where I wasn't really being true to myself.  It's easy, I suppose, to do the hard work, then sit back with an ice tea and figure that's as far as you need to go ("you" meaning "me").  But life changes constantly, and like a computer, there are constant updates that a person needs to make in order to stay current in a Purpose.
    So, I am updating my self.  And spending time in thought about what works, what doesn't work, what needs to be brought forward, and what needs to be trashed.  I am recognizing that some of the fierceness & protectiveness of my soul that I held had turned to anger & resentment.  And that needed to go.  And that being complacent and being the good girl in one particular situation was about to rob me of everything I had worked so hard to build within myself.
    Your work on these discs is remarkable and wonderful.  I love the way your voice and Phyllis's voice blend - making listening not too gentle, and not too forceful. From a technical point of view, the sound is crystal clear and understandable. 
    You've done a good thing, here...

    Love and Bravery: Not Just for Grown-Ups

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    (enter code 2DAYSTOSAVE at checkout before Wednesday, 12/13/12)

    The apartment is sometimes unkempt and the meals aren't always locally-grown masterpieces, but these girls are well-loved. They swim in the kind of compassion and acceptance that isn't contingent on their compliance, their submission or silence. It's the kind of belonging that's there for them just as fiercely in their moments of struggle as in their moments of ease.

    I watch them spring from this board and take dives I still can only dream of--they risk being themselves. They stand for what they know in their souls is right. And their hands are quick to reach out to others, whether they are falling off swings or fearing the worst.

    LMUB 2.jpg

    Their small hands are there for me, too, at the end of my day. Slipping into mine as we walk down darkening sidewalks or pounding out the gentlest pizza-making-massage-moves you could ever dream of.

    Our love is a circle, and bravery is a dance we do together.



    Love Makes Us Brave shirts now available in girls' and women's sizes, among other styles, in our store.

    Out the Train Window

    Horizon Perfekt Camera, xpro Lomo Chrome 100 film

    There were times this summer when I would have given anything to just ride and ride these tracks up and down the west coast for days, alone. Staring out the window, breathing into the motion and the miles while my soul caught up with its own changing terrain.

    I didn't get my days, I got hours. I didn't get my alone, I got two children and interruptions at 30-second intervals. But I did get my train, and my window--for a few magical moments. And I am still staring out at the big big sky, whether I'm back on an East Coast beach or on a ferry or just standing by the kitchen window. Still breathing into the motion and the stillness while my soul catches up.

    So many gifts have kept me company these last weeks, including some books I found on the stoop. I read The Hours by Michael Cunningham, and this passage made me feel certain that we knew some of the same people:

    He will not ask the name of the movie star; he actually does not care. Richard, alone among Clarissa's acquaintance, has no essential interest in famous people. Richard genuinely does not recognize such distinctions. It is, Clarissa thinks, some combination of monumental ego and a kind of savantism. Richard cannot imagine a life more interesting or worthwhile than those being lived by his acquaintances and himself, and for that reason one often feels exalted, expanded, in his presence. He is not one of those egotists who miniaturize others. He is the opposite kind of egotist, driven by grandiosity rather than greed, and if he insists on a version of you that is funnier, stranger, more eccentric and profound than you suspect yourself to be--capable of doing more good and more harm in the world than you've ever imagined--it is all but impossible not to believe, at least in his presence and for a while after you've left him, that he alone sees through to your essence, weighs your true qualitites (not all of which are necessarily flattering--a certain clumsy, childish rudeness is part of his style), and appreciates you more fully than anyone else ever has. It is only after knowing him for some time that you begin to realize you are, to him, an essentially fictional character, one he has invested with nearly limitless capacities for tragedy and comedy not because that is your true nature but becase he, Richard, needs to live in a world peopled by extreme and commanding figures. Some have ended their relations with him rather than continue as figures in the epic poem he is always composing inside his head, the story of his life and passions; but others (Clarissa among them) enjoy the sense of hyperbole he brings to their lives, have come even to depend on it, the way they depend on coffee to wake them up in the mornings and a drink or two to send them off at night.

    Sharing your journey with such a character can give you the feeling of flying with Icarus--super-human and close to the gods. It can be exhilarating and inspiring, until you realize your companion has forgotten who he is, a mortal, and is married to some alternate reality in which he supercedes all boundaries and rules.

    It's not easy to trade in your wings and return to the dirt, to feel yourself face-down in the kind of divot a body makes in the earth after a great fall. The ground itself is not the problem, for the ground is a great comfort--a reminder that gravity and sanity reign. It's the fear of never again feeling the wind in your hair, the worry that all your magic was an elaborate ruse.

    There's a time to lay there, face-down in the dirt. And there's a time for getting up, for dusting yourself off and assuming your true height in the world. No more or no less than all you truly are, feet planted and head high. And maybe (just maybe) a little wind in your hair.

    Checking In and Catching Up

    I'm posting this picture today because I imagine us sitting in this lovely spot, just checking in and catching up. Nothing too profound or heavy, just a "what's new since last time we talked?" situation. We might admire this cool piece of art on the wall and I would sip a cup of hot water or peppermint tea. I love watching the people. I wish I knew what these two were talking about, and what point of connection brought them to this place, on this day, together.

    I'm feeling better and better all the time. Partly because I'm having big breakthroughs in the health and wellness department, a subject on which I usually experience a lot of resignation--you know, putting up with things because I think they must just be my lot in life and not really having hope or an expectation that I could feel or be better. The resignation and the symptoms are both so nice to say good-bye to. My appreciation for the healers who care for us, mind, body and soul, is vast and deep.

    It's also made such a difference to read this book on Jolie's recommendation and realize that some things I struggle with could have an explanation other than being straight-up character flaws. It's like finding a way into a new level of kindness toward myself that I was in sorry need of, and having someone bulk up my self-care tool kit even more.

    I especially love what Elaine Aron had to say about the struggle to share new work that I shared about recently:

    The difficulty, I believe, is that normally we artists work alone, refining our craft and our subtle creative vision. But withdrawal of any kind increases sensitivity--that is part of why one withdraws. So we are extrasensitive when the time comes to show our work, perform it, explain it, sell it, read reviews of it, and accept rejection or acclaim. . . . Much of the suffering of sensitive artists could be prevented by understanding the impact of this alternating of the low stimulation of creative isolation with the increased stimulation of public exposure which I have described.


    It's hard to know what else to say about this right now because I'm still processing it pretty deeply, but it has made a big difference to do interviews around the web lately. It turns out that I have things to say, but I'm so close to new work by the time it comes out that it's hard for me to have the distance required to anticipate what others might wonder or ask or want to know about it. (Another one I loved doing was for Karen, who is graciously giving away Finding Your Voice to one lucky commenter.)

    I am racing a bit against the looming summer vacation, trying to see how much I can get done before the girls are home for ten weeks and my solitude shrinks to a trickle. I'm working on the next Voice and Story Course, and cooking up all the good things I can for my students and friends at Squam in September.

    So, that's what's happening over here. I'm dying to hear what's going on with you--jump on in the comments and tell me, and it will completely make my day.

    More soon...

    Update: I keep forgetting to mention that you can now find site updates on Facebook.