Creativity for the Rest of Us

What’s Workin’ Ya?


Angeles Arrien often opened a reflective exercise with these questions: “What’s workin’ ya? What’s learnin’ ya?” From her life-long study of cross cultural wisdom practices, Angeles possessed a wealth of tools and resources to draw on, and a story to go with each. This one came from Appalachia. It is the greeting when you would meet someone on the trail: “What’s workin’ ya? What’s learnin’ ya?”

I was asked the equivalent of this question earlier this week in a coaching call. It took me 17 minutes to get to an honest answer. Yes, he timed it. I danced around it with explanations, rationalizations, theoretical mumbo jumbo, and all the things I thought I “should” be saying before I finally got to the truth: I was scared. You see, I’m currently experiencing some concern about cash flow and I’m squirming about it. I’m feeling fearful and embarrassed, and I’m judging myself.

This summer was a full, fun, and creative time – new programs for next year, garden projects, making space for a studio, and hosting house guests. In all of that activity it seems I forgot to focus on developing client work for the fall. Oooops.

Here’s what’s working me: At this point in my life, I don’t think it’s okay to be scared about this any more and I definitely don’t think it’s okay to say it out loud. The truth is I think I should be further along on the faith continuum and not subject to these lapses of doubt. I also think I should have a robust pipeline of client work that automatically flows to me when I want it – like turning on the tap.

It was suggested to me in this same coaching call that there are 3 things that can impede cash flow: not showing up, feeling entitled, or new creative solutions are in order. Gulp. I really had to let that in, especially the first two. I sheepishly came to yes, yes and yes.

I spent a good chunk of the summer in planning and logistics for the Women at the Well Ireland retreat and other programs. This is heart work. I love, love, love doing it. And, it’s still in start up mode, nowhere near a steady stream of income. It’s still too early to tell where it’s even going. While this was all collaboratively creative and juicy, I wasn’t fully showing up for my other clients and tending to my base business.

More to my chagrin, I became aware of a sense of entitlement lurking in the shadows about my consulting business. I’ve been doing it a long time and have a track record of producing solid results. There is a place where I don’t think I should have to keep reminding people that I’m still here.

I discovered an inner playlist with selections like these: “Don’t they know I’m exactly what they need right now? Don’t they remember the great work we did 2 years ago? Aren’t I the first one they think of when their team hits a snag?”

No, no and no. That was then and this is now. They have A LOT going on. As much as I like to think I’m at the top of everyone’s dance card, they know many other people in the same field. The truth is in this business that, despite any great projects we may have done together, they forget about me if I don’t keep showing up. Marketing 101.

My consulting work IS requiring new creative solutions. That’s the beauty, the challenge, and the opportunity in this business. I can dig my heels in or adapt.

Moping that the phone isn’t ringing and obsessively checking email has never proved to be a productive business strategy. I can set new intentions, meditate and ask the Universe for what I want all day long. I still have to show up and do the work. It’s a fantasy that when we have the gift of doing what we love that we get to somehow skip over the hard stuff – making the calls, doing the footwork, following up – the stuff that may not be our strong suit. It’s all part of the package.

This Labor Day weekend is the official mark that summer is over. It’s been a great vacation. Time to get back to work.

So, what’s workin’ ya? What’s learnin’ ya?


The self-promotion corner– I’m available for your facilitation, team development, and coaching needs. Let’s talk.

Join us for what is going to be a magical Women at the Well retreat in Ireland.




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