Waffling — Are You On The Threshold?

You know that place - the jumping-off spot for what you’ve been wanting to do next with your life. Maybe you’re like so many people right now, you just can’t bring yourself to cross it. In Heroine’s Journey terminology, that spot is called the First Threshold (there’s another one at the end of the journey, the Return Threshold.) Once you’ve accepted your own “Call to Adventure” and stepped over that (imaginary) threshold, then you’re on your journey.

I know, it’s so hard to commit.

There are many, many “what ifs” to consider

  • What if I’m making a mistake?
  • What if I fail?
  • What I I don’t make enough money?
  • What if I disappoint ___?
  • What if I don’t have the right experience or credentials or wardrobe or look or…..?
  • What if I’m just too afraid?

So, we waffle and stay on the safe side of the Threshold - waiting, considering, overthinking.

Meanwhile, our “Call” keeps nudging us and wondering

  • Why isn’t she answering this Call?
  • Doesn’t she know how important it is to do so?
  • Doesn’t she want to grow and evolve?
  • Why does she prefer her comfort zone to step over the Threshold and going on her next transformative Heroine’s Journey?

I was in this stuck place for a long time as I was getting the Call to stop my business, Ruby Slippers, LLC. The Call would become the Call to write, which morphed into writing my book, but at the time what I hear was…well - here’s how it went down.

My Book Writing Journey: The Call 

January 2009 – January 2013, for four years I taught, coached and spread the word about The Heroine’s Journey. There I am, living and breathing this stuff…loving it. Working with all kinds of women, using this old and powerful framework of the Heroine’s Journey to help them see where they are in their lives and find clues to what is next. Or giving them support to respond to what they knew was next.

Then, my own intuition, that very, very quiet little voice within me began to ask me to…

...stop...

At first, I thought it was “just slow down a bit” but as I began to pay attention (and this is always the way…pay it some attention and it gets louder!) it became clearer.

It was definitely saying “stop.” Quietly. Yikes. But, I didn’t stop. How could I? I’m living my passion!

My Book Writing Journey: Refusal Of The Call 

We all know it’s easiest to see things in the rear-view mirror. I know now what I was doing. I was getting the Call but I was refusing it. I didn’t know it then, however. I had to keep those plates spinning, right? Time to hear a Call? Why would I be getting a Call anyway?

Why, indeed! Now, some might think I was one of those “just don’t mess with my comfort zone” kind of people but I wasn’t. I was…am…a leaper!

I had already completed several heroine’s journeys, some involving big leaps. Big ones. Divorce. Leaving my place of employment to become an entrepreneur. Asking my eventually-to-become-my-husband colleague out on a date.

Big leaps. I knew about comfort zones. I knew the importance of leaving them when the time was right.

In this instance the time was right but I wasn’t seeing it. I was in major Refusal of the Call. I was oblivious. So, as it does, the Call persisted…and I was guided (in a way that still amazes me) to eventually see, hear, know what I needed to do.

It took a couple of years. It took a “wake-up call.” (That’s when a Call gets ratcheted up because the Callee - me - isn’t paying attention!)

Calls can be hard to hear and hard to follow. That was the case for me. Here’s how I was helped, encouraged, moved to answer my Call - in a sort-of back-handed way.

Oh, and yes, all this time I was teaching this to the women I coached and who attended my workshops:

Identity – remember who you are

Power – remember what you possess within

Direction – remember your own “yellow brick road” is there for you. Just consult your intuition, your inner teacher and compass, which will guide you to where to go next.

But I was to find out that I wasn’t really practicing this. I had to go deeper and the journey led me there. When I look back I can always see I was “guided.” Invisible hands helping me along.

When the Call turned the volume up, I received my “wake-up call.” It’s what happens when you’re not listening or paying attention to the Call so you have to get a rather strongly delivered: “Hey, listen up!”

My Book Writing Journey: The Wake-Up Call! 

I believed I had created a successful in-person Heroine’s Journey program, appealing to many women who traced their own life events within the upward spiral of the journey milestones and saw that they, too, were heroines.

I felt that the archetype of the journey provided an entry point for these women to learn about their lives, to go deep and find the strong powerful woman living inside of themselves.

At some point, one of these women, seeing my burgeoning success, suggested that I trademark The Heroine’s Journey so that I could continue to brand my programs and not worry about infringement. It seemed like a good idea.

I hired a lawyer and without any trouble, The Heroine’s Journey was trademarked. Exciting! I had my graphic designer put the ™ on all my products. Life was good — or so I thought.

Then, on September 26, 2011, I arrive home from a trip to the North Maine Woods to find a letter from Bob Walter, the President of The Joseph Campbell Foundation! It asks me to cease and desist using the name The Heroine’s Journey because it infringes upon the work and writings of Joseph Campbell. Disaster!

I never saw this coming. I call my lawyer, who says he will write a letter to Bob Walter right away. We can fight this, he thinks! Other people share with me their horrible trademarking stories. 

My practical husband suggests another route… “Why don’t you just call the guy?”

To this day I am thankful to my husband (my steady and pragmatic advisor) for his advice and that my lawyer was taking a long time writing his letter. My nerves wouldn’t let me rest anyway. I didn’t wait for the letter. I got up my nerve and picked up the phone.

Bob Walter is a lovely man. He explained why he wrote the letter, “I tried to make it as un-scary as possible. I guess I didn’t succeed. Sorry!”…

He explained that many people were using The Hero’s Journey to title their retreats and events, without getting permission from the foundation. This was causing confusion — people didn’t know what was a genuine “foundation event” and what wasn’t.

The Foundation Board decided to trademark The Hero’s Journey but then, their application was denied. Another “mark” existed and they would be infringing upon it. The “mark” was The Heroine’s Journey…and it was mine! Mine! You can’t make this stuff up!

My trademark was standing in the way of the great legacy and work of Joseph Campbell receiving its trademark! Bob asked if I’d un-trademark The Heroine’s Journey so they could trademark The Hero’s Journey. It didn’t even take a minute for me to agree.

“Yes, of course!”

Would I ever want to impede Joseph Campbell and his works from getting the protection they need? Never! The heroine stepped aside for the hero…and as I write this I still think, rightly so.

I got the attention and connection with this fine organization as a result of “putting my stake in the ground” with my business. But also in doing so, I called attention to myself and lost the “stake.”

Here's What I Learned

I think of my role as an advocate for the matriarchy, encouraging heroines to be strong and take a stand. Yet, I stepped aside easily for this request. It took some of the wind out of my sails, to be honest.

But here’s the thing - it was my wake-up call. It took the wind out of my sails and made me slow down and look at what I was doing. It made me listen.

Bob invited me to participate in the Mythological Toolbox Workshop at Esalen, Big Sur, California - the very same workshop that Campbell used to lead. I got to meet Bob and the others that counted Campbell as a friend. It was a great experience. Esalen and Big Sur are breathtaking.

And I got to go into the baths…. Wait…do you know about the baths at Esalen?

If you read the catalog for Esalen, you’ll see that they are known for their baths fed by hot mineral springs. The catalog notes in its description, “bathing suits optional.” I read this about the baths and promptly bought two new bathing suits. I’d been topless at beaches in the south of France and I pretty much stayed safely lying down while doing so.

This was different. Baths with strangers? Totally naked? Never!

I love this story. It’s so…mythic. Those unconscious archetypal forces certainly were at play. Yes, I did it and survived. If I had worn a suit I would have stood out like a sore thumb, though no one would have cared. It’s amazing being outdoors, in sulfur-smelling hot water, on a ledge over the blue Pacific far below.

But yes, it was a heroine’s journey mini-leap to go there the first time and leave my suit — both my suits! — in my room!

This experience was all about letting go. The leaps are important: like going into hot water without a suit and starting a new program, like The Heroine’s Journey. But letting go of what is dear to you as you leap, is tough.

I had to give up the trademark and watch my passion around The Heroine’s Journey workshops wane. Now I see that The Heroine’s Journey programs I was delivering were a great “suit” to wear at the time but then it got too small, too tight. It was time to take it off.

So What Did I Do?

It was time to uncover…in more ways than one. But was I ready to let go of Ruby Slippers, LLC? You can’t really move to the next step until you can let go of the last one. You know that metaphor…let go of your trapeze bar so you can fly through space to the next bar!

No, apparently wasn’t ready. That took some more work! (…to be continued)