The Power of Micro-Stories

Small Changes Add Up

magnolia blossom

Magnolia – image by DK.

I was brooding the other day about my addictive nature and how much time I waste daily in self-sabotaging habits to avoid completing things and thus have to face the possibility of failure.

Or is it the responsibility that accompanies success that I’m so afraid of facing?

The macro story here on a personal level is that I must always try very hard, frequently exhausting myself in the process. But I must always fall just shy of real success in the end.

Because, were I to succeed, the people I love would turn on me. I would be punished and/or exiled and would end up isolated, unloved, shamed and alone. So goes the narrative in my unconscious.

Living in a Van…Down by the River!

For those of you old enough to remember the old Saturday Night Live sketches with Chris Farley, the unconscious narrative that stars up in my subconscious whenever I consider threatening the status quo by doing what I really want bears an eerie resemblance to Matt Foley’s story.

Why on earth would my success, joy and happiness possibly cause anyone else to feel bad? I mean, that’s insane, right? Well, if you grew up in a dysfunctional family system (and most of us did), you began learning and internalizing a certifiably insane story about life – and your place in it – right from the beginning. In ‘my’ big story, here are a couple of reasons why I must never succeed:

  • It would “show up” my mom and my brother, both of whom played the role of the crazy-making ‘blocked artist’ for much of my life. My success would force them to examine their own shameful self-betrayals. This would make them uncomfortable and I would be punished.
  • If I had more resources I might just opt for freedom on all levels, including in my primary relationship. This would embitter my partner, who would then turn my children against me. I would be punished and/or exiled and would end up isolated, unloved, shamed and alone.

Better to honor my childhood contract with my family system to be the nice but weak-willed peacekeeper whose energy is always available to support the others, than risk the possible horrors accompanying success.

Changing the Micro-Story

It’s hard to change your narrative if you don’t even know what stories you’re telling yourself. In this case, I didn’t immediately realize I was telling myself a story about how I was too much of a loser to ever make any progress. What I did notice was that I was feeling particularly bad that morning.

Whenever we’re in the grip of a repressed or denied subconscious belief or archetype, we automatically fall into a light trance state. The mind, unable to choose between our conscious intention and the subconscious instructions to the contrary, starts to dissociate from the body and from the present moment.

This is a big reason why bringing awareness into the body in the present moment – something I do in almost every coaching session with clients – is so powerfully healing. The feelings in this trance included (K) generalized fatigue, a tightness in the stomach, and a heaviness across the shoulders and in the upper chest.¹

The inner dialog (A) accompanying the feelings – which I was unaware of until I had acknowledged the feelings – ran along the lines of:

“I waste so much time every day. No wonder you can’t finish anything. I’m never going to make it. I should just give up and accept that I’m cursed to mediocrity…”

Seize the Inspiration When It Hits

I have been asking Archangel Gabriel for help a lot this year when I find myself stuck in a mental rut. I don’t recall if I had specifically done that in the moments preceding this experience, but it’s likely. Suddenly I received a flash of inspiration: the idea came into my mind that ‘Yes, it’s true I don’t seem to be making any progress today. But I’m doing my best and that means I am making progress (albeit invisible on the outside). So I know² I will be making visible progress soon.’

Suspending disbelief, I followed this train of thought. The next idea to come along sounded (A) something like this:

“I feel it building up. I feel the resolve trying to build. Even though it’s not apparent on the outside I’m going to keep nurturing it. And once it gets strong enough, nothing will be able to stand against it! Yeah!

Whether this was the absolute truth or not (which stories are?) this thought filled me with a small surge of power. The heaviness in my chest now felt like a smooth even fire spreading outwards through the rest of my body (K).

I felt more energized and hopeful than I had a moment before. My body felt like it wanted to move. (K)

So I moved. I went down to my office, fired up the computer and started working on one of those unfinished projects. In fact, not only was the rest of that day enjoyable and productive; I’ve accomplished more – and enjoyed doing it more – in the days since then than I probably did in the entire month leading up to this experience.


1- Being aware of the submodalities — visual (V), auditory (A), kinesthetic (K) — that predominate in our various stories  (both subconscious and conscious) can really help you take back your inner authority. While there are a lot of great, proven techniques for harnessing the power of submodalities, it’s really powerful when you can simply allow yourself to become aware of which system the brain leads with when showing you a good story versus feeding you a bad story.

2 – Thanks Corin Grillo for turning me on to the power of specific angels to help us with specific life areas.

kronos vs kairos time

The Nature of Time, Post-2012

kairos time

A moment in the life of my driveway, after the rain. Photo by DK.

As I’ve mentioned on a couple occasions, we are experiencing time differently in the post-2012 era. A key catalyst behind my choice to stop writing and recording monthly horoscopes was the realization that most people would continue to read them as prophetic or oracular.

In an interview in The Mountain Astrologer, Laurence Hillman (astrologer, son of James) noted that the ancient Greeks had two different words for time: kronos (Saturnian time or what we might now call ‘clock time’) and kairos, which is the experience of the quality of the moment. Astrology, Hillman said, is a way of tuning into the quality of the moment that allows us to discern which archetypes want our attention now.

As our experience of time becomes more kairotic and less kronological, we are beginning to realize that everything can change at any moment, to the extent we are able to truly believe that to be the case. When we read a horoscope to find out what is going to happen in the future, we’re operating (perhaps unconsciously) from a kronos mindset. If we then give our internal agreement to any limitations (another good Saturn word) expressed in the horoscope, we are essentially limiting what can happen. Continue reading

Authority Issues

Mars Opposition Saturn: Challenging Authority

Monday’s exact opposition of Mars in Gemini and Saturn in Sagittarius is activating our authority issues. How this transit can energize you to rewrite your life story…

Mars is the action planet. He heats up whatever he touches, inflaming passions, escalating aggression and anger, urging us to move. Saturn is the authority, the judge, the guardian of the status quo. He is cold, impassive, objective, heavy.

It’s probably worth noting that the word authority contains – and comes from the same Latin root as – the word author. The Latin auctor includes the meanings: “promoter, producer, father, progenitor; builder, founder; trustworthy writer, authority; historian; performer, doer; responsible person, teacher,” literally “one who causes to grow”. (Online Etymology Dictionary) Continue reading

The Hidden Meaning of ‘Speak Truth to Power’

women collective story

Choose your own adventure by chiaralily on flickr.

Power vs. Force and the Roots of Anger

I don’t know why the statement “We need to speak truth to power” popped into my head last week. But it wouldn’t stop rattling around in the old noggin so I asked myself, “What does it mean to speak truth to power?”

I did a little research and apparently the phrase first appeared in a book published by the Quakers (Society of Friends) in 1955, although it is also attributed to Civil Rights leader Bayard Rustin.

I have a lot of respect for the Quakers. My great-grandmother was a Quaker in Indiana. I dig their whole non-hierarchical, non-violent thing. And I have a ton of respect for those who risked their lives during the Civil Rights movement to try to win equal status for African-Americans in our society.

This slogan may have been perfect for the collective consciousness in 1955. But its hidden meaning is actually profoundly disempowering in our time.¹ Continue reading

The Taboo Against (Healthy) Pleasure

Why the Revolution Starts With You

life is art

“Life is grim.”

That was one of my late grandfather’s stock responses to my mother when my mom was a child and couldn’t have or do something she wanted.

His other chestnut was a paraphrase of one of Jesus’ sayings in the Sermon on the Mount: “Into each life some rain must fall.”

We all heard things like this when we were kids. Often delivered either in a tone of mocking humor that demonstrated – consciously or not – the parent’s contempt for our desires. Or laced with enough anger to shut us up and back us down. Continue reading

Tales of a 4th Grade Cut-Up

Kids Creating Music

4th Grade songwriters

The creative minds and voices behind Dangerous Panda.

This is the story of how 12 fourth-graders with a smart, creative teacher wrote and recorded a catchy pop anthem about danger, pandas, Olaf the snowman, and electrical engineers…all in less than an hour.

Read about our songwriting process and listen along as the song evolves here: Making Music in School: The Story of Dangerous Panda

Listen to the podcast:

Scorpio Full Moon – Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Reframing Your Life As The Story of You Finding Your Joy

mystery garden

Today’s Full Moon falls in the 21st degree of Scorpio, the sign in which the Moon is said to be in her fall. This is a traditional formulation that probably has more to do with the Moon being exalted in the opposite sign, Taurus, than it does with Scorpio itself.

However, the traditional cautions bear keeping in mind. The challenge with a Scorpio Moon boils down to Scorpio’s penchant for fixating emotionally on the object of its desire or fascination. As we’ll see in a moment, though, this can be a gift at today’s lunation. Continue reading

Clearing Mental Clutter

Making Room for the Big Idea

I’ve been working on a Big Idea for a while now. If I told you how long, I’d have to kill you. But let’s just say it has been percolating in my creative unconscious since at least 2014.

This past week, as Mercury stationed direct, I felt the gears starting to click into place. (There are a lot of moving parts here!)

My initial reaction was mild euphoria, followed immediately by suspicion: “Whoa! Can this really be it? After all this time? But what about…?” Continue reading

Soul Mantra

Positive Reinforcement

In times like these, I need frequent reminding that Life will take care of me if I listen to my soul and not to the voices of fear. This soul mantra is fun, upbeat and designed to hypnotize you into remembering that you are the center. May it lift your spirits and bring you back to what’s real.