I’m part of an Emergent Strategy Cauldron – a local group of 14 people studying adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy through experimental methods.

We are currently working with the first element: Fractals.  As part of our work with this chapter/element, we each design one/more experiments to practice moving our actions to be more in alignment with our values and beliefs.

The basic process is: 1. Choose a value you’d like to play with or bring more into your life. 2. Come up with a simple, do-able experiment you can carry out over the next few weeks. Think about your hypothesis: what do you think might happen or shift as a result? How might this spiral outwards in a fractal (small to large) way? Think about how you will measure the results. 3. Do your experiment! Tweak, reiterate, repeat, as you wish. Note down any discoveries, surprises, any data gathered.

Here are some of mine.

1. Overcoming the ‘nice girl’ conditioning

I notice the ways I keep myself small (well, some of them at least.) One especially annoying one is beginning my emails: “I’m just emailing to ask if…”, “Just wondering if…”, “I’m just letting you know…”, etc.

This use of ‘just’ feels like a good, concise, measurable experiment. If I removed that ‘just’, and spoke clearly, plainly, would I claim the right to take up space, to speak, to make my request? I think so. I want to find out how it feels not to begin every email apologising for my existence.

The experiment: Notice each time I begin emails that way. Notice the ‘just’. Axe it. Re-write.
Find a way to speak more plainly. Reframe my idea of politeness – I can be polite without diminishing myself or my requests/desires/needs.

Data collection: Simply observe how this goes. How does it feel? Does it take longer? Or is it quicker? My email programme has an optional timer on the compose window that turns red when it passes 10 mins, watch this.

Fractally/longer-term: I notice that when other womxn don’t cushion their language with ‘nice girl’ bullshit, I receive permission to be freer, clearer. If I can make this shift for the long-term, I hope it will echo outwards, each email I send offering permission to others to be freer and clearer. What might we get done if we all stop worrying about being nice?

2. Desire

This one is the simplest and the hardest. I have a story that it is difficult to hear my desire, but it is not. I know I want to dance and I have been hearing this message for at least 18 months. I have danced – in groups, in sessions, I have booked on several workshops and danced there, it has all been a revelation and a relief. And yet, I will not listen to the simplest daily desire, when my body is saying “I’d like to dance now!” and I ignore it, because there is not a container, because it is not somebody else saying “this is the space for dancing in”.

If I just danced whenever I heard that call – what would happen? Would I become more embarrassed to be myself than I already am? (Impossible!) Or would I become less ashamed, less embarrassed? Easier in my body perhaps? What other desires might arise?

The experiment: Dance every day. So simple, haha. And yet here I am on day two, writing this instead of dancing.

Data collection: I have started a dance diary to record how I feel and what comes up, before during and after I dance each day (or if I don’t!)

Fractally/longer term: When I see people living in alignment with their desires (or at least I perceive it that way) I feel enraged, angry, jealous, judgemental. If I can allow myself to feel and express and live my desire, will I stop feeling anger at others who do this? I’m hoping for deeper connections, a spreading of permission, a culture shift away from shame and ‘should’ and towards embodiment and authenticity. WOW.

3. Giving ‘zero fucks’

Zero fucks isn’t about carelessness/not caring, or behaving harmfully. It is about being in alignment and not allowing convention or the judgements of others to define my choices. It’s partly about desire, it’s partly about nice girl conditioning, and it’s partly just freedom, plain and simple. It’s the Queen of Wands, for me.

What would it be like to stop caring about what others make of me? What would it be like to stop thinking “Oh I can’t do that, it’s not proper/polite/the done thing/socially acceptable/decorous/etc”? And instead think

At the top of amb’s website, she quotes Camus:

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

Yep. That’s the one. Can tiny acts make me feel free? Or does it have to be all or nothing? Is a small amount of freedom just undermined by all the other ways I am not? Let’s see.

The experiment: Small acts of rebellion. I haven’t pre-decided these yet. So far I have gone swimming naked on a (UK) beach with other people around, and worn what I wanted to wear to a family do. I’ll keep thinking of more.

Data collection: Watch this space.