The Retreat

I am just home from leading my first solo out-of-town Enneagram retreat. It was about a dozen women from my church and we spent the weekend on the bank of the Mississippi – or maybe the St Croix – river – or maybe it was a lake (we spent a fair amount of time sitting in chairs around a fire holding coffees or beers or a glass of wine debating the topic in that fun, easy way you do when no one really cares and no one can’t be bothered to pick up their phone and check).

It was good – at least for me. I know the women enjoyed the time away from daily life and the time together. I hope they got something out of the many, many words that seemed to tumble out of my mouth and my hastily drawn diagrams and my probably far too many handouts. But I met the two goals I always set for myself when I speak: 1) I made people tear up and 2) I made them laugh. Just now I am thinking I need to add another goal for retreats. It’s a goal I always set for myself when taking groups of kids somewhere: I returned with the same number I started with.  Continue reading

Overthinking and Creativity

My daughter shared this article on Facebook and dedicated it to all her 6s.

Apparently research shows that people who tend to be anxious and overthink are more creative. They don’t say than who. People who underthink and are too calm I guess.

I am just enough of a contrarian to be suspicious of this conclusion. (But not so much that I didn’t take a moment to bask self-congratulation.) I am leery of people who say “This is creativity. This is what it is like and what it takes to get it.” I cringe when anyone talks about this or that group being more creative that another group. I have stood, tired and sweaty, over a problem I solved after days of trial and error only to be told I didn’t understand what it was like to be creative. I have had people gush over my creativity when what I had just done seemed dull and mundane to me. I am beginning to think creativity is wild and wooly and way bigger than we usually think. Continue reading

It’s What We Do

This past weekend, I set my alarm for Too Early on A Saturday O’clock, showered, dressed up and then grumpily drove for two hours into the heart of Minnesota farm land. I had a funeral to attend. The father of a friend of mine had passed peacefully at 92 years old and, well, I guess we needed to bear witness. It was not my first choice of weekend activities, to be honest. But it need to be done.

So we gathered in the church, heard and said all the right things. Then we ate the ritual ham sandwiches on white buns and drank the instant lemonade. We made the required small talk. We toasted Leonard’s memory with the traditional weak, lukewarm coffee. Such are the Middle American Christian funeral rites. Continue reading

Trust Falling

I am beginning to think I learned one of my biggest lessons about trust in high school.* I was a dumpy, clumsy girl. At least that’s how I felt. I was heavier than most girls and was always, always aware of that. I walked through life half wincing, so that when everyone started laughing at me, I was prepared.

Our school was hosting a gathering of kids – including foreign exchange students – from other schools in the area. We played team games and getting-to-know-you games. Then came the dreaded trust exercises. Continue reading

My Spiritual Practice of Asking for Help

I can tell anyone the universe has their back. I will try to convince anyone and everyone it will work out, the world is a benevolent place and whatever Gods they care to believe in are on their side. I have been called a “terminal optimist” and I’ll take it. I really DO believe it will all turn out all right.

For everyone except for me.

Welcome to the inner world of an enneatype six. Continue reading


Keys and I have always had a complicated relationship. I grew up in a small town and my folks grew up in an even smaller town. I don’t know about no one ever locking their doors, but we rarely did. Keys were a thing grown-ups did. I rarely locked the house I raised my daughter in. I rarely lock my car. But I love the look and sound of keys, especially old ones. I have trouble throwing them away, even if the building or car they open doesn’t exist anymore.

They still signal doing grown up right
The problem with keys is they don’t follow me everywhere like a besotted puppy. They stay behind – usually right where I left them, dammit—instead of being where I need them. I have become adept at breaking (or weaseling) my way into places – apartments, theaters, churches, schools – without my keys. I have climbed piles of old tires, boosted myself off car hoods, dropped to basement floors, jimmied locks and woken caretakers.

But keys and I had a particularly rough morning today.

Continue reading

Portrait of a Young Six

One of the first questions we were asked in our enneagram training last fall was some version of “What’s your first memory of being your type?” I found it an interesting way to see how the different types reacted, often at a very young age, to similar early experiences. It also helped me get – deep down – how my type has been influencing how I move through the world for a long, long time. I found the simple answer to that simple question very enlightening, and from their reactions, I think my fellow trainees did too.

I first answered that question over six months ago, but just recently I started thinking about my answer again. Right now, to be honest, I can’t remember what got me thinking about it, or what my sudden insight was. I remember the flash that came with the insight – it truly was like a cartoon light bulb over my head – but no details. I have thought and remembered and pondered and rolled those things around in my head too much the past couple of weeks for me to remember what’s the original thought and what I have added on sense then.

But let me start with the story I shared in answer to that question. Compared to some early childhood stories, it’s pretty mild. Continue reading