Connecting Coaches, Creatives, & Curious Folks through what's emerging in this moment

Slaying the Dragons

Anyone can slay a dragon… but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero. ~ Brian Andreas

Since those close to me and I first started talking about doing a fundraiser to help with my overwhelming medical costs, I’ve talked about ‘pulling the trigger on this fundraising thing’.  I hadn’t given much thought to the language I was using until a friend posted the above quote on facebook this morning.  What was I aiming at? What was I planning to shoot with my trigger finger?   It seems I have a dragon to slay and a beautiful, hand-engraved invitation to ‘wake up every morning loving the world all over again’.

Let me back up a bit.  For those of you have followed my journey, you may recall that when I was on the ventilator I had a clear opportunity to lay my burdens down and choose the ultimate peace that I could sense filled the space behind death’s door, or to choose to climb back up that long ladder into a life that was much less certain, and potentially full of much more pain and struggle than what beckoned there at the edge of being and non-being.  My memories of my journey in that unconscious state are filled with metaphorical dragon-slaying.  I was fighting my darkest demons.  Truth is, I’m not even sure yet what those demos were… I just know they scared me so much I was very tempted to give up just to make it stop.

When I did choose life, I came back into a world that showered me with love from the farthest edges of the globe all the way into the circle of friends and family closest to me.  My very most inner circle saw me in my darkest hours.  I think the darkness that still haunted me was working like a shadow cast on my nearest and dearest and it brought out some of their demons too.  Some of it was physiological as I was dealing with some PTSD type flashback stuff, a bit of depression, anxiety, and was in a very fragile physical state, yet some of it was my doubts about choosing this challenging world we live in over the ultimate peace I sensed I could have had.  How do you help someone in that state?  Do you make them tea?  Do their laundry?  Do you just leave them alone and hope it goes away?  What about when they’re awful to you?  Do you forgive them?  Do you use it as evidence for your worst thoughts about them?  That may seem harsh  – yet when dragons are around and the slayers exhausted and hungry, they aren’t always on their best behavior and don’t always act rationally, reasonably, or kindly.  I know I didn’t.

As I prepared to ‘pull the trigger on this fundraising thing’ there were so many dragons to slay:  dragons of irresponsibility, weakness, exposure, fear of being judged, fear of the greater impact on my family, profession etc.  I had to slay the dragon of blame: blaming myself for getting sick, my insurance agent for not getting back to me, my ADD and ineptitude for not having insurance firmly in place, and our US Health Care system for being the way it is.  I had to slay the dragons of doing it alone, giving up, greed, limited dreaming, and undeserving.  No wonder my hair was falling out!  That’s a whole weyr of dragons to slay!!

Finally, with the help of my friends and family, we launched…  ‘Pulled the trigger’, so to speak.  My bills are just beginning to be reduced/forgiven – much more to come there.  We’ve raised over $13,000 from the generosity of friends and family.  There are still $73,000 worth of bills.  We set a high goal for fundraising and a high goal for getting the bills reduced.  My intention is to find a place in the middle – between what we’ve raised and what was forgiven – where I take full ownership of what’s left and pay over time without losing my home or going bankrupt.

There’s a piece of pride and integrity in the middle of this that I hold onto like my friend Caroline says the world-class rower holds onto her oars.  The expression is “don’t kill the sparrow”, but rather hold it in your hand so it can wiggle around and stay alive.  If you grip it too tight, the sparrow dies.  Too loose, and it flies away.  If I hold that pride and integrity like the rower holds their oars, I will keep my dignity, receive fully, slay my dragons, and keep my heart in a place where I can ‘wake up every morning loving the world all over again’.  Sounds simple, yes?…maybe more simple than easy!

As each day passes, and the amount of money donated rises, new dragons emerge to slay.  It’s funny to me how I can set a goal then get freaked out and take my foot off the gas as we get closer to the goal.  I start to think I shouldn’t want to reach it… that it’s greedy or selfish… taking the easy way out of the mistakes I’ve made.  (See? more dragons!!) When I slow down and give myself a break, feel the immense gratitude in my heart, and forgive myself and our system for this situation – it feels easier to receive, to dream, to let go of worry and suffering, and just love what is.

As a coach I’m curious ~ What dragons are you slaying?  How are you doing at waking up every morning loving the world all over again? Where do you take your foot off the gas when daring to dream?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading, supporting, slaying a dragon or two with me, and being heroes and heroines in my life!  Thank you for your generous contributions to helensfund.org.

With love and gratitude…

Namaste,

Helen

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Comments on: "Slaying the Dragons" (27)

  1. Ah, Helen. First of all, I love the shift in this site. The colors, the title and tagline…it’s a much wider space in which to run, play, scream, explore, wonder, point, etc. Beautiful!

    A few thoughts came to me as I read this most recent post, but what stuck out the most was the phrase “When I slow down and give myself a break…” I have a whole compulsive eating thing that I’m just now, at 40, starting to be curious about. And I guess I’m not ready to “slay” this dragon as much as I am ready to be curious about it…peek at it, observe its habits and behaviors, what scares it, what *it’s* trying to slay for the sake of my protection (as misguided as that might be), and so on. But what I noticed today at lunch is that none of that can happen if I don’t SLOW THE FRICK DOWN. For me, compulsive = fast…whether it’s compulsive thinking (aka dragons running amok) or compulsive eating (aka dragons running amok). 🙂 So, all that is a very long-winded way to say that you’re on to something. 🙂 And like you said, even just that idea of slowing down might be simple, but it ain’t always easy!

    As always, sending buckets of love from here on the east coast, and mountains of gratitude for all you’re sharing here. Thank you!

    p.s. I’m also hip-deep in the “Eragon” book series, about…you guessed it…a dragon and her Dragon Rider!!! Hmmm…wouldn’t it be something to ride the dragon?! Yikes! Cool! Wow! Wonder what THAT would take?!?! We should create a retreat all about it, with all profits going toward your medical bills!

    • helenhouse said:

      Thanks, Laura! You’re so great at plucking things out and making magic from them. It helps me when you illuminate certain things that tend to just flow out of my fingers and barely get noticed. Though slowing down has been such a huge part of life lately, there’s an expectation of fast in much of my world that doesn’t always serve. I used to be notorious for running everywhere – not running like exercising, but just running running running. I did everything fast when I was in hyper mode. When I would ‘run errands’, I would literally park the car and run into the store… buzz around the store… then RUN back to my car nearly hyperventilating on my way from here to there. Man-oh-man! What is the big hurry?!?! Life isn’t about that any more (thankka God) and your post helps me remember how important that is. Thank you, M’dear! (Yes… let’s ride them dragons, Sistah!)

  2. What an amazing contemplation you’ve put forth, Helen. It reminds me of how wonderful it is to help others, to be charitable. “Let us give up all this foolish talk of doing good to the world. It is not waiting for your or my help, yet we must work and constantly do good, because it is a blessing to ourselves. That is the only way we can become perfect. No beggar whom we have helped has ever owed a single cent to us, we owe everything to him, because he has allowed us to exercise our charity.” ~ Swami Vivekananda

    • helenhouse said:

      Absolutely beautiful, Stacy! Thank you for Swami Vivekananda’s words here. What a gift. “foolish talk of doing good to the world”… I love the way the word ‘to’ is used in there. I can feel the arrogance, hierarchy, and pity that could live in that space if we’re not careful. Thanks for the loving way you’ve offered support and invited your world into mine.

  3. Befriend the dragon. The same power that slays you, heals you.

    “In contrast to European dragons, which are considered evil, Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, hurricane, and floods. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck.
    In Chinese daily language, excellent and outstanding people are compared to the dragon while incapable people with no achievements are compared with other, disesteemed creatures, such as the worm. A number of Chinese proverbs and idioms feature references to the dragon, for example: “Hoping one’s son will become a dragon” (望子成龍, i.e. be as a dragon).”

    I have danced with the dragon and with great respect and joy, been given a ride on the dragon. There is nothing to destroy and you could not destroy it anyway. You can be renewed and replenished by the dragon’s power. May you befriend and ride the dragon, laughing with your fiery friend at thinking your healing powerful friend was your enemy. Blessings.

    • helenhouse said:

      Thank you for your words, Jeeva! When I read this, I thought “YES!” as in many ways that’s what I meant by ‘slaying the dragons’. I know my words don’t convey that, and yet in my heart I know there is nothing to slay, destroy, extricate etc. In owning it, however, the dragon seems tamed a bit and ready for the riding. These all feel like part of the gifts we have to dance with. It’s this idea that I took to my dreams last night and amazing things followed. I love your line “The same power that slays you, heals you.” I couldn’t agree more heartily!

  4. and i just continue to be inspired by you. the thoughts you share, the you you share, and the me that is called forth just by being part of your world. I am one of the people who prayed daily, sometimes minutely (is that a word) for you. I had just seen you. I had just met your mother, and, like all of us out here who love you, was not willing sit by and wait. so i did what i could, and i’ll still do what I can. i pray. i set intentions, and i honor the beauty that you share with us.

    My dragon. I’m trying to find the courage to leave a really good job in a world class company, making a really good salary, in order to do what I most love. I’m terrified. Each day there is a new dragon to slay. And they are really big fire breathing dragons that challenge everything i’ve ever believed about myself, and the world, and what is right, and what is responsible. And the dragon that challenges me to be interdependent while being independent, or , gasp, actually a bit dependent … she is really really big.

    My foot comes off the gas about 200 times a day. I make my decision, and then i change my mind. I get brave and then scared.

    and, now, in this moment, while I think about you, and your challenges, and your courage, my sword just swelled with love, and i’m thinkin it’s all gonna be just fine.

    and my dragons, they’re in the kitchen. I’ll think i’ll go make dinner.

    love, love, love,

    vicki

    • helenhouse said:

      Oh Dear Vicki — Thank you for your acknowledgment, your daily, hourly, and minutely prayers, and for putting yourself out there vulnerably as well. I thought about you and this post on and off throughout the last 20 hours since it came in. I was thinking about how all those things that show up before us are part of the journey. You have big decisions before you with big consequences and impact as those decisions are made. I think about the teachings of ‘Form follows Function’. It sounds like you’re getting clearer and clearer about the ‘Function’ of the work you do in the world – how you want it to impact you emotionally, spiritually, physically, etc…. but you’re not as clear on the ‘Form’ it will take. Yes? Keep letting yourself dream of the function and know that you can co-create that in your world. What form it will take will present itself to you in due course. Keep cooking… keep dreaming. Love to you ~Helen

  5. Helen, I marvel most at your complete, open and sincere curiosity about your experience and the world around you. I love how you ponder and explore so deeply, the patterns of thinking that for most human beings lie beneath the surface of conscious awareness that few ever really gain insights into what runs them. I love how you inspire conversations that delve into the shadows to reveal the light. This, my beautiful friend, is why this world needs you.

    As for me, I feel like I slay dragons multiple times a day. Sometimes they get the best of me and I wonder what the hell am I doing this all for. Then I remember that high frequency begets high frequency and I work with all my parts to negotiate how to bring myself back to high frequency. I wake up and go at it another day. And other days, it feels so easy, so light, so full of love.

    Choosing this life is not for sissies, that’s for damn sure.

    How do we surrender to the stillness, let go of the worry when the world around us feels like it’s falling apart? How do we focus on love and bring ourselves back to higher frequencies when there are bills to pay, health on the line? How do we reconcile the worship of the dollar over life?

    I figure the only answer to this is to have a determined and perhaps blind faith, a certainty that there is a reason for everything, a sense that there is a way bigger picture at play than I can grasp. I am always aware of my choice to focus on the moment, on what is right with myself and with the world. It is the constant dragon I slay every day.

    With great respect and endless love,
    Annie

    • helenhouse said:

      Mmmmm… what a beautiful comment….

      Your insights and questions here are a gift to all of us reading here. Thank you for the offering. What hung with me all day was oddly one of your first words – ‘marvel’. That’s such a great word! Me thinks it’s right up there with ‘gawk’… or to live in ‘curiosity with wonder’. Imagine if our main job in life was simply to ‘marvel at’… Doesn’t that connect us instantly to the heroism that Andreas speaks of — “waking up every morning and loving the world all over again”? If I’m marveling, that seems so easy to do.

      And then I think of the first part of the quote “Anyone can slay a dragon…” and relate it to your daily dragon. How cool that it’s so simple and easy that anyone can do it… to choose “to focus on the moment, what is right within myself and with the world.”

      Loving you,
      Helen

  6. Lisa Boester said:

    Dear Helen,
    Warmest wishes and best intentions for taking the steps you did. I celebrate your honesty, whatever you summoned up just to take action and write this and your courage.
    In reference to your question, tonight, the dragons are slaying me. Thank you for asking. It feels good to actually say it.
    Much love.
    Lisa

    • helenhouse said:

      Oh NO!! Don’t let the dragons slay YOU!! Are you weary? May I offer you some tea? Miss Lisa, whatever it is… you can do it. May the dragons bow down and offer you a ride. Remember that scene in Avatar when they rode those winged creatures the first time? That’s the image I get for you. Hang on!! Love, Helen

  7. Helen,

    Thank YOU for the opportunity you have given to lavish some love and resources on you. Back up the truck!

    Love,

    Stephanie

    • helenhouse said:

      Oh My… now THERE’S a visual that brought a smile to my face! Back up the truck – oh yeah! You’re the best, Stephanie. And, you were the first donation outside of my family. Always ahead of the crowd, you are. xo

  8. Thank you for choosing life! For the gifts you share! For the questions–

    “What dragons are you slaying? How are you doing at waking up every morning loving the world all over again? Where do you take your foot off the gas when daring to dream?”

    I cannot easily answer these–so I must have some work to do. I will let you know what I come up with.

    –Kim

    • helenhouse said:

      Thank you, Kim! I’m looking forward to what you come up with. Please come back and share! ~Helen

  9. Kristine McPeak said:

    Helen,

    I think we met at a training session years ago… when you and Andrew Beck were starting out as coaches….. either way, I was moved by your story and your ability to see deeper. I am only able to send small monetary help today, but will send an abundance of love and will post this to see if others out there are able to offer their assistance.

    By the way, I just love Brian Andreas, and have several of his prints…. along with a cool mirror that says, “sees lots of things other people miss”……..

    And my favorite print……

    “there are things you do because they felel right and they make no sense and they may make no money and it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other and to eat each other’s cooking and say it was good” – Brian Andreas

    Don’t think I have seen a quote of his that I haven’t loved!

    Been working with a healer doing intuitive kinesiogy in Hancock, and this is the phrase I came up with today while she did some releasing…….

    LIFE IS NOT FAIR, WE DON’T GET OUT ALIVE….. BUT WE GET TO CHOOSE IN EACH MOMENT WHETHER WE WANT TO GROW or merely survive…………. 🙂

    We are either mentors or tormenters in one another’s lives….. thanks for being a mentor in sharing your story 🙂

    PS – I’m not only going to not slay dragons, I’m going to learn how to ride on them and go WHEEEEEEEE all the way home!

    Much love and laughter, Kristine

    • helenhouse said:

      Thank you, Kristine! Nice to reconnect. Perhaps you were in Andrew’s workshop years ago? I’ve been coaching for 15 years now, so it must have been when he was just getting started. I introduced him to the field.

      Your healer sounds interesting. Could you pass on her info to me? (coachhelen@charter.net) It’s always good to know what resources are here in the U.P. Great line you came up with! I do believe choice is the life process. Maybe it’s the death process too?

      If you’re out flying your dragon sometime and see me flying mine, be sure to wave or stop by! 🙂

  10. those fears buried. What he didn’t expect, however was for me to look the dragon in the eye. He was a big one…..actually huge (Three stories high). He was breathing fire and smoke rose from his nostrils. When my feet hit the ground, I looked him straight in the eye and held my ground. I felt no fear. I wasn’t running away anymore. I’m sure that surprised him. He was stunned.

    The ending? I was not eaten by the dragon, I was not harmed. What happened was the dragon turned his head as if he couldn’t take the power of my stare and skulked away. I haven’t seen him since…..at least not that particular one. 🙂

    It’s nice to know we all have what it takes to win the battle, we just have to remember we have it.

    Believing in you!

    Love and Joy,
    Kate

    • helenhouse said:

      Love this: “It’s nice to know we all have what it takes to win the battle, we just have to remember we have it.” Remembering… that’s so key. It’s in the remembering that anyone can slay a dragon. Maybe it’s in the remembering that it’s easy to wake up every morning loving the world all over again too. How do we remember these things when in our weakest moments? What parts of us must we access? Where else do we find the strength and courage to remember?

      Though I’d love to have read the first part of your story, it’s kind of cool that it’s missing. It’s a story of triumph that we can all relate to. Any reader can insert their challenging story and claim this as the ending. Beautiful Kate! You triumphant being, you! Thank you…

  11. Looks like part one of my story is missing. I bet the dragon ate it.
    🙂

  12. I’m just completely blown away by your whole experience. I’m appreciative of the vulnerability of your generous sharing.

    And there’s that question of peace ( “yet some of it was my doubts about choosing this challenging world we live in over the ultimate peace I sensed I could have had.”) that struck me. Recently, during a morning musing while hanging in bed in a house not my own in a state of extreme stress and on day 6 of 24/7 headache (8 on a scale of 10) I thought maybe death would be ok. And that was nothing compared with what you experienced. Still, I had a moment…. I am tired.

    There’s a surrender in your story that is not giving in. It’s something not even akin to giving in – more akin to a commitment to living fully (alien to struggle). Something like surrendering to the fullness and the wholeness of life – in the same way that Beauty is not all pretty.

    There are many species of dragons. Some are not so nice and some, like the one that does my psychopomp work with me, are the most amazing guides.

    I suspect you are dragon-hearted, Helen – and that is how you are able to slay all those other dragons.

    All I know for sure, is I am grateful for your well-being, your immense courage and your sheer beauty.

    love to you, k

    • helenhouse said:

      Such words… such wonderful words! I’ve read this comment several times and each time I need to read it like David Whyte reads his poems – repeating some lines over and over to get them in me. What I’m discovering as I read this is how much I’m fed by this sort of dialogue…and how much we need it in our world. I tell my story…. it inspires stories and insights in you… you comment on mine and offer things I hadn’t seen before… and now, what’s my next bit to nourish you? “Surrendering to the fullness and wholeness of life – in the same way that Beauty is not pretty.” That’s something for both of us, yes? I have believed in the value of the fullness and wholeness of life (the dark with the light) and have preached the gospel of it for years through my work… yet adding the word ‘surrender’ in the front of it gives me something I didn’t have before. I think before I was limited to something like acceptance… or ownership…’being with’. This deepens it in a way that lets me loosen my grip on those oars. Maybe it’s time to let some sparrows go free…. Thank you Kathy…. thank you. Love ~ Helen

  13. Thanks for posting this Helen! So much that I can relate to in this, and from this space all I can say is I hear you, I get it, and I’m sending you love and light. This post has me contemplating from that curious space — what dragons am I myself slaying? I know there are a few or more — the term really resonates with where I myself am at the moment. Perfect and frustrating, all at the same time. Taking it one very conscious step at a time… Gail

    • helenhouse said:

      “Perfect and frustrating, all at the same time”…. Those words go so well together! In the past few months I’ve so often thought things were just that – Perfect AND Frustrating. Nothing to do… nothing to change or fix to make the frustrating go away… and yet there it is in all its perfection. Thanks for sharing your words and living in the questions with me, Gail. Best, Helen

  14. Nehama Morton said:

    Hi Helen,
    I am amazed by you, your strength, your wit, and your mind. It is great to know that even great coaches like you have demons and that life is a journey!
    My “Red Tent dream” is coming alive slowly, and I still remember my first CTI course with you and the strength and power I got (and still am getting) from you as a leader, from Kim, and from the rest of the ” Chicago Tribe” as we still keep in touch. I have joined a Center called “the heartwood Center” in Evanston and Danielle and I are starting the “Red Tent” vision” Within the Heartwood center. Danielle told me she showed you the flyer.
    Thanks for your part in moving me forward.

    As for practical matters, My Husband is a litigation attorney that deal with negotiating bills (medical bills) on a daily basis. He was very touched by your story and offered to help (there is no promise, but he will try to guide you and negotiate for you-at no cost to you). He is really good at that, I know from personal experience!! He is out of town this weekend, but will be in his office in chicago Monday morning. If you feel he can be helpful, and you want him to try and help, please call him at 312-372-4448 (Steve Morton). we will also donate.
    much love and admiration,
    Nehama Morton

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