I keep getting flashes (re-runs?) in my head from that cartoon from my childhood Super Friends
... "Wonder Twin Power - ACTIVATE!"
(she says): "Form of... an eagle!"
(he says): "Form of... a bucket of water!"
Seriously? You can turn into anything, ANYTHING, just by touching two rings together. And you choose a bucket of water?! Well, that is a kind of power.
I've been reading through a lot of Martha Beck books lately and power comes up in many ways - I like the references to Magic and the Universe. But the two kinds of "power" I am finally starting to understand are:
1. Power - as in "don't give away your power"
2. Power - as in energy, power that keeps things running
This first one had been leaving me baffled and seemed like a trendy catch-phrase. The knee-jerk response being "well, ok, but how do I NOT give it away?"
I am listening to Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want
while I work and I love the concepts, but admit I don't really "get" how it works in real life. As I listened to her explain the concept of problem solving by using imagination and metaphors - I realized that THAT is how I work. Completely unrelated things, ideas, quotes... come together in my head in an effort to explain something... and POOF... the explanation becomes the solution.
Years ago, I read a quote in Douglas Adams' book Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
that went something like - "The best way to really understand something is to explain it to someone else." So true! And Martha Beck takes it a step further... to determine if you have a real problem (vs. an imagined problem)... can you explain the dilemma to your cat in a way that makes them understand why it is a real problem?
So last night, my daughter was trying to express her frustration about being told not to give away her power. New classful of kids at school, new teachers, recess, brothers... eeegh... power flying everywhere!
Lilah - "If a person does something mean or annoying and I get really-really angry... how am I supposed to stay calm and not yell!?"
Yes, good point. We've all been there. Power be damned, we want to punch something sometimes, right?
Me - "So, yelling at this person - that's giving away your power?"
Lilah - "Yes. I'm supposed to keep my power. That is just all dumb and makes no sense!"
She is obviously really frustrated.
My brain starts pulling in strange metaphors and a light clicks on in my head (that's a metaphor too, isn't it?).
Me - "Let's say that your Power is a stack of Donuts - chocolate glazed and some maple glazed too. There's a person in front of you who upsets you - do you give them the donuts... or walk away?"
Lilah - stares at me. I see she "gets it". Then: "But Donuts are really-really bad for you - maybe it would be better to give them to that person and they'd get sick?"
Moral of the story: Don't give away your Donuts.
This one has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I am very-very introverted. That is quite different from being shy. I can do all kinds of brave or extroverted-looking things... like going out to lunch with friends, holding a meeting, even teaching in front of a crowd. But I pay the price the next day. Sometimes for the next WEEK. I just want to sleep. I have nothing to give. And if the situation is negative, antagonistic, or physically painful, I can get physically ill or suffer other autonomic responses (like a fever or shakes). I describe it as my "social hangover".
It was about a year ago, when I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
, that I learned this is actually very common for other introverts too. (If you are introverted or know someone who is - read it!!).
The past few weeks have been one event after another... a fabulous trip with my family (but 7 days, 24 hours a day WITH constant companionship), catching up on work and email, meetings, meetings, meetings... and not all of these were welcome or happy events. Let's just say that I was exhausted. My power had run way... way... way... down.
One morning Lilah woke me up after another night of (4am) nightmares. I had been so completely exhausted that I had allowed her to sleep on the floor next to my bed. She was bouncy and ready for the day. I was... not. She asked me if I was angry at her? I apologized for being so grumpy and explained a little about the introvert-thing. And as I always seem to do - my brain searched for the metaphor to explain the puzzle.
Me: "I am like an iPad. If I am ON and running Apps, they drain Power and the Battery symbol turns red. If I'm in Sleep mode, the Battery can last for days."
Lilah: "Some Apps use more Power - that's why you tell me to close anything I'm not actually playing with..."
Me: "Yes! We can listen to stories in iTunes all day without using up all the Power, but an hour of Clumsy Ninja and..."
Lilah: "....we have to Recharge the Battery!"
Me: "Exactly. I've been running a lot of different Apps lately - some good, some bad - but now I need to Recharge."
She told me to go take a long, hot shower (one way I recharge) and she would draw me a picture.
She drew four pictures...
Those are my BAD Apps. Her App Icons are more expressive than mere titles could be, but I will try to label them. She explained that these are programs that we might do or someone might do to us: Yelling, Sad, Arguments (I love the gestures!), Broken Heart, Angry, Despair (Crying Your Eyes Out).
And these GOOD Apps are: Happy, Brain, Computer, Hugs, Kisses (nice lips!), Creating Art, Love, Good Dreams, Gardening (that's my big weed bucket and me on my knees pulling a weed!), Exercise, Sleep (my bed has round headboard and footboard with cheetah print fabric, those are not chocolate chip cookies!), Reading, Shower.
Lilah understood that both Good Apps and Bad Apps can use Power at different rates. And some activities Drain it really fast and some use very little or actually help replenish it. So she made two more charts of Apps...
The Apps that use up a lot of Power are: Angry, Crying, Computer, Bad Dreams, Arguments, Weeding, Driving (that's a steering wheel and pedals), Exercise, Broken Heart. Oh-yes, these things are all really exhausting!!
But there is a bright side...
These Apps don't use very much Power and feel really good: Happy, Creating Art, Brain, Awake, Good Dreams, Sleeping, Love, Hugs, and Kisses.
I'm loving this concept of explaining an idea to someone and having them explain it back to me. We each add our own metaphors and understandings and the whole thing becomes so clear. There are still things that my daughter can't seem to explain to me (nightmares for one) but knowing that we are creating symbols and pictures and metaphors that create a new kind of communication is exciting and fills us with hope. Anything can be puzzled-out with the right metaphor and imagination. (Thank you Martha Beck.)
And here is one more fabulous drawing Lilah made last week in response to a comic sent to her by Mia Bonet. I posted both, with transcripts, on the ZTforKids.com page.