Welcome to the Ampersand Gazette, a metaphysical take on some of the news of the day. If you know others like us, who want to create a world that includes and works for everyone, please feel free to share this newsletter. The sign-up is here. And now, on with the latest …
“No doubt, change can, and often does, hurt; but with the right mind-set, it can also be a force for growth. It’s not as if we have any choice in the matter. Like it or not, life is change. We’d be wise to shift our default position from futile resistance to being in conversation with change instead.
A concept called allostasis [SCA: allo- = other] can help. Developed in the late 1980s by a neuroscientist, Peter Sterling, and a biologist, Joseph Eyer, allostasis is based on the idea that rather than being rigid, our healthy baseline is a moving target. I see it as parallel to the concept conceived by Richard Rohr of order, disorder and reorder. [SCA: The Wisdom Pattern — Oy. Of course.] Allostasis runs counter to a more widespread but older and outdated model for change, homeostasis.
Essentially, homeostasis says healthy systems return to the same starting point following a change: X to Y to X. By contrast, in allostasis, healthy systems also crave stability after a change, but the baseline of that stability can be somewhere new: X to Y to Z.
Allostasis is defined as “stability through change,” elegantly capturing the concept’s double meaning: The way to stay stable through the process of change is by changing, at least to some extent. If you want to hold your footing, you’ve got to keep moving.…
Adopting an allostatic outlook acknowledges that the goal of mature adulthood is not to avoid, fight or try to control change, but rather to skillfully engage with it. It recognizes that after disorder, there is often no going back to the way things were — no one form of order, but many forms of reorder. Via this shift, you come to view change and disorder not as something that happens to you but as something that you are working with, an ongoing dance between you and your environment. You stop fearing change, which is to say you stop fearing life.”
from an Opinion Essay by Brad Stulburg in The New York Times
“Stop Resisting Change”
August 31, 2023
I write about change all the time. We know that, and yet, this article gave me a framework for change in a life that I’d not considered. Namely, that most of us are stuck in an outdated model for change — that of homeostasis.
Start at X, change at Y, once change is ‘over,’ return to X. If that’s not a control-freak version of an equation for change, I’ve never seen one. If you’ll stop to think about it, even for a moment, you’ll see that the underlying premise makes this equation impossible. Quite literally, not possible.
How could it ever be that if I start one place, and then change, I’d end up in the same place? Viewed this way, it sounds absurd, doesn’t it?
The most amazing thing about change in my world is that most of the time, we behave as if change has surprised us, when, in fact, we have actually invited it.
If you start every single day of your work week with a sigh and resignation that you’re stuck where you are because … whatever, implicit in that resignation is a demand for change. So you get head-hunted, or you get laid off, or you, in a fit of pique, just up and quit one day, and then … you play the Woe Is I Song about how scary change is?
That is what we do, but it’s ridiculous. Can you not see that, at some level (usually soul,) you have asked for the change?
I would also caution each of us that a request for change doesn’t always take the form of a conscious, deliberate, out-loud question. More often, I think the Universe hears the deeper requests of our hearts, the true wishes, the ones we don’t, or can’t, yet say out loud.
This is why my bottomline prayer of desperation (if I’m desperate, or stuck, or out of time, or out of luck) is:
Often, I add: Now would be good.
What I really like about this prayer is that I’m acknowledging that things or I are going to be different — they have to be. And that I’m asking them to be different. On purpose.
It’s one of the reasons I liked theologian Richard Rohr’s model: order, disorder, reorder. Another way to say these might be: Cosmos > Cosmic Chaos > Cosmos Again. But, a new cosmos — a ReCosmos.
I also like the notion that if, instead of fighting, or freezing, or fleeing, or fawning, I merely have to stay in motion — a step at a time. One. Sure, you can make it complicated and do a shuffle-ball change or a jeté if you want, but all change is asking is that you be an object in motion which, by its own inherent nature, will stay in motion, with a little help from the Universe.
The gift in all this maneuvering around change is that, as Mr. Stulberg so eloquently sums, “[When] you stop fearing change, you stop fearing life.”
P. S. If you’re still afraid of change, Beloved, look back over your life at the big changes. Are you here now? Well then, you made it through those. Whatever could possibly make you think you won’t make it through the next ones?
“[James] Patterson’s ability to see himself as a writer illustrates a concept known as “possible selves.” It describes how people envision their futures: what they may become, or want to become, or even fear becoming.
The term, coined in 1986 by the social psychologists Hazel Markus and Paula Nurius, grew out of research on self-concept and self-perception. While self-concepts — “I am a kind person” or “I am a good parent” — are rooted in the present, the researchers found that people are also informed by ideas about what they might become and how they might change.
These possible selves, both positive and negative, are closely related to motivation.
A possible self can take you beyond daydreams, which are often fleeting and not necessarily grounded in reality. It can come to fruition “if you build a bridge from your ‘now’ self to the possible self,” Dr. Markus said. But how do we construct that bridge? Here are steps you can try:
Find an expert companion.
Once you have a goal, share it.
Reach out to your weak ties.
from an article in MIND by Joanne Lipman in The New York Times
“Want to Make A Change? Conjure Your ‘Possible Selves’”
September 8, 2023
So one of the most magical of ways to foster change in a life, especially your own is to use your imagination — that’s what it’s for! As Albert Einstein, who, face it, really ought to know, was known to have said, “Logic will take you from A to B; Imagination will take you everywhere.”
They’re known as Possible Selves. Do you want to be a ballerina? See yourself in a tutu. Do you want to be a fire fighter? A slicker and a hat. A doctor? Imagine a stethoscope. It doesn’t matter what you want, it matters that you can imagine it.
Here’s why: because if you can’t imagine it, then it’s hard to get there, wherever there is.
The good doctor’s steps are great for externals, but what about how you work with this internally? And, more, energetically.
Several things: Visualize daily. Imagine daily. Tell yourself a story about you in that new life, make it as real as you can. Record it on your phone, and play it every day. What does the new you wear? Where is that new you? Who does that new you know? Don’t figure out how, Beloved, figure out what. (That’s the much harder part anyway.)
Second, pray for it. I mean it. Pray for it, for yourself. Every day. Even if it’s just a thank you that it’s already happened — a very powerful form of prayer, believe me.
Third, check in with your chakra system. How is it now? How will it change when you are this new you? Imagine those changes happening now. Ask for guidance on how to help facilitate them — a color to wear, an energy to breathe in, a collage to make.
Best of all, assume that if this desire, for whatever it is, has arisen from within you organically that there’s something to it for your next steps, and go for it. Imagine, daydream, doodle, tell fantastical tales, and live your questions right into the answers that best serve who you will become.
And in publishing news …
It’s September 18th, and I still did not make my hoped-for August publication timeline for Jasmine Increscent. I’ve still got some digital things that need sorting, but I’m almost there.
I’ll keep you posted on her progress, but it shouldn’t be too much longer.
May I ask, if you read either of The Subversive Lovelies books and enjoy them, that you post an Amazon review please? Reviews are the major determining factor for that pesky little algorithm. Thanks!
School’s in full sway now, and people are settling into this semester’s routines whatever they may be. Are you making time to read for your own pleasure? Even if it’s ‘only’ a chapter a night?
That’s one of the things I’m really careful about in my writing. Most of my chapters are within a +/- five hundred words the same length. That’s so you can read one before bed and know you won’t get caught in a long, long chapter. May I respectfully suggest the first of the series, Jezebel Rising?
It’ll make Jasmine that much richer when you get to read her story. And for those who missed it …
Here’s the blurb (to whet your appetite) —
A wedding. Increasing. And it’s time to start her vicety … it’s a three-ring circus — oh, my.
Jasmine Bailey is the second eldest of the Bailey siblings, yes, those Baileys. Known for being much more in the present than the future, years earlier she’d begun a one-woman mission to serve mothers who’d been abandoned by their spouses in the worst slum ever to darken New York City: Five Points. Universally recognized by her honorific, Lady Jasmine, throughout Gilded Age society, the wealthy take their checkbooks in hand whenever they see her strawberry blonde braid and her lissome figure coming.
Now it’s time for Jasmine’s vicety — the second of four the sibs had planned upon the death of their beloved father four years earlier. Since then, Jezebel’s pair of viceties — The Obstreperous Trumpet, a saloon, and The Salacious Sundae, an ice cream parlor — were going great guns. Jasmine had originally intended to create a high-end gambling hell. Except … her wedding is scheduled in less than a month, and she’s increasing. There’s, uh, a lot on her plate.
Jasmine’s research takes her from the lowest of the low policy shops in Mulberry Bend to an outré visit to the most elite gambling institution in town. Still, she’s struggling with what is in her heart about starting this vicety. A chance sentence, if you believe in that sort of thing, overheard whilst at breakfast one morning changes everything.
Will her struggle with gambling resolve to her satisfaction, or will Jasmine have to scrap every idea she ever had about it to start over again? Sure, no doubt she could, but does she want to, and how will that affect her siblings and their nefariously well-meant agenda in Chelsea Towers?
I’m up to writing over a fifteen hundred words a day on Gemma Eclipsing, which is rolling along nicely. Yesterday I made a list of all the scenes I need to include to get to the ending I want. I think I might be able to finish this third book in the series by my birthday, October 12th! Wouldn’t that be just swell!
Tony, my editor (and if you need a good one, find him here), (and full disclosure: my husband) bless the man, sits with me every night before supper and lets me read to him what I’ve written — like viewing the dailies in the movie business. It’s the highlight of my day, and he always has a good idea or suggestion or some notion that I haven’t thought of. He’s a remarkable collaborator.
His self-dubbed name for what he does is Book Husband. And that’s exactly what he does. He, somehow, has figured out how to live in the world that each of his authors has created, and participates avidly in that world. His gift is remarkable, so if this fall is a time to get going on that book you’ve always dreamed of writing, find him here with my heartfelt blessing.
On an entirely different note, a next, new speculative fiction series is starting to gather momentum, and I am hanging on tight. Research is still top of the list.
One of the best things to happen is that I received a working title for the series, so here it is for inquiring minds …
The series title has remained the same since last I wrote, and I have been given the titles of all four books in the series. The first one is:
The book takes on the healthcare system in the U.S., and its evil twin, the insurance industry. I’m still researching the avatar who steps forward to make the difference. Amazingly, I almost dismissed as irrelevant one of the three strands of my investigation. They were: Mythology, the Kabbalah, and Astrology. It’s turned out that Astrology, the one I dissed, (Argh! Lesson learned. Hopefully) has the greatest insight into this character.
And — so exciting! — I’ve written the first scene of the first book.
This is how it always happens. I write the first scene, and then put it away. In the case of The Subversive Lovelies, I went back to it some thirteen months later. We’ll see what Spirit has in store for The Phoenix Initiation.
How are these six for collective goals? I think they’re pretty good. Freedom and Equality for all Humanity, Greening the Planet, Upholding the Living Earth, Institutional Transformation, Spiritual Freedom, World Peace. I am more convinced than ever — yes, even for these six — that And is the solution to everything, and so, Be Ampersand, Beloved, until next time.