Web Site: http://livingfrompower.com
Bio: Don is a father, engineer, entrepreneur and life coach. Passionate about connection, creating relationships that are authentic, deep and rewarding. Don is 47 and lives in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, Canada. He has two fast growing Sons, a Dog and a fantastic view from the deck. He recently got back into the Pilot seat (literally) and also enjoys running, swimming and camping when the Pacific Northwest weather is amenable...
Posts by coachdon:
This is more of an essay than a blog post, and more personal reflection than ‘being coach’ which is where a lot of these writings have been from. It is incomplete, a work in progress and – at least as your are reading it right now is at least ‘done’ to version 1.
Yesterday I touched into a strong sense of outrage and anger, witnessing the ongoing disaster in Syria. I had no idea what to do with this apart from express it, find ways to encounter it from different angles and keep the emotion moving until what it was trying to tell me came. This morning at about 5am something arrived. It woke me up.
A few years ago when I was going through a major emotional upheaval in my life I was introduced to ‘King, Warrior, Magician, Lover’ – Lyons and Gillette’s book based on the Jungian model of the male archetypes (link to an abridged version). The parallel Female archetypes have been developed by several authors and are summarized in this article. Together they create a picture of the mature Feminine and Masculine that is instantly recognizable as the greatest of who we are as humans. They carry with them their inevitable shadows; those undeveloped (or stunted developments) that manifest in their darkest forms in the destructive aspects of humanity, and less dramatically as those aspects that are stuck in dualities which hold us back from our full expression.
There are too many examples to count in the real world of right now (21st September 2016) of the immature destructive aspects being manifest. What got me yesterday was the incredible human cost of the ongoing war in Syria. It does not take a lot of looking through the media to find many more examples staring us in the face. I will mention no names…
The Jungian Feminine/Masculine archetype models look like this (with acknowledgement to FallenAngel) :
The King and Queen are parallels – so I think this is equally applicable to Masculine and Feminine – however what I witness currently in the world out of balance on the gross scale is preponderantly in the Masculine (guys; we have work to do).
In the following I will use the King and masculine pronouns. It is the one I know best; forgive me for not attempting the linguistic acrobatics to address the Queen as well as King. I would love for a female author to provide her perspective to complement (or contradict!) my own; I do not feel adequately qualified (although I do lay claim to my own feminine) to write it and do the subject justice.
How come ‘Game of Thrones’ is so popular? The immature King is all over it – and it is a self-generating self-replicating (and multi-series) mess with a massive body count. Somehow we are fascinated. I gave up after season I; the ongoing plot appeared to be becoming overly predictable. It provides a backdrop where the mature masculine and feminine can be recognized all to briefly and then snuffed out – again and again. Interesting for a season; not a story I am enrolled in.
The incompletely developed or immature King creates a world shaped by what looks like Power, and is (I assert) not. It is Force.
Outwardly Force appears to be Power and people respond to it and label it as such. However Force has its anchor in fear and gives rise to ‘have to’ and in its extremes oppression and tragic diminishing of the other into mere objects, and acceptance of powerlessness in the face of it. The polarity of force gives rise to the Tyrant (who weilds it) and the Weakling (who avoids it). Often these two look similar; the weakling may use the language of force to defend themselves. They are stuck in the same duality.
So what of the King? This archetype holds the other archetypes in balance and is experienced as Power in a completely different transcendent paradigm to mere force. Power is enrolling. Power gives rise to leadership through Love and human connection. It is ultimately cohesive, infinitely strong, self-less.
I believe all of us integrate these archetypes in all of their forms. What manifests in our character, our actions and our influence in the world depends on what we put our focus and energy into developing. Where people have highly developed the mature forms of the archetypes it is blindingly (as in, the light shines out) obvious.
Perhaps all of this is obvious.
What I want to communicate is that there is a deliberate process we can go through to recognize these archectypes within our lives and do the work (play! liberation!) required to bring the mature aspects to the fore and have them in the driving seats of our lives.
What hooked me yesterday – my weakling. It recognizes and projects the Tyrant out into the world, reinforcing its own sense of powerlessness. I experience this duality through anger. The recognition that this is what was going on involved me taking a trip through my anger and rage, getting to a place where all that liberated energy (behind the anger) could find a creative outlet.
And what I see is there is a way for me to bring this forward, to inform my coaching and move me in the direction I need to go to further develop my own King; my leadership, my passion – harnessing all of me; Warrior, Magician – and yes, Lover.
Feels like another layer of this journey is just beginning.
This is a response to ‘Being “Not Lonely” isn’t Enough’, which I cross-posted this week. It is a great article, and as many eloquent writings about ‘settling’, desire and deserving it all – I noticed that I had not read a good male perspective on that subject recently.
So rather than looking for something to cross-post, I looked for the closest available Man who is looking to create the relationship of his life. I found myself (and yes, that is another story too…)
Actually I found myself in more ways than one. The marriage that I left in 2013 was not giving myself or my ex-wife what we wanted, and we had been struggling for years to find the win-win within the marriage. We finally got to the point that we were clear the win-win was not to be found there; we had to look elsewhere and independently. So – the breakdown and all that followed – leading to the present moment.
Here I sit on a Sunday evening, having just returned to my new rental suite where I am sorting out my living space and preparing for my kids to be with me in a few days time. And I am doing a lot of deep soul-listening at the same time. Transitions are like that for me; they stir everything up – and I get to experience how I have changed since the last major shake-up.
The last time I moved, two years ago (and separation +1 year) it was to a place where I had the peace and space to heal. I needed to cry, a lot. I needed to rant the anger and frustration out. I needed to give those demons some serious exercise so that I could exorcise them. I had a relationship in which I had the time and space to heal. The last 6 months have been a process of breaking out of the cocoon…
What I have now is something I have never had before – a deep unquestioning resolve to create what I want and not settle. I would rather be alone than engage in a relationship that just exists to fill a ‘need’; covering up loneliness or the desire for sex. I have rediscovered my inner romantic.
And rather that it being the hapless guy I used to remember, this guy is not ready to compromise. He knows he is amazing and is looking for the connection with amazing. He does not have a formula, but he is following his heart – however crazy it is seeming in the moment. He even trusts that irrational part of himself that he blamed for guiding him onto the jagged rocks and sinking him – he had given up on it for a while. He has made peace and friends with his heart again.
And what is bubbling up –
It is about the indescribable time-vanishing beauty of eye contact; holding connection straight on through uncomfortable into completely new realms. Allowing unexpected silences. Intrigue and curiosity. It is about openness and revealing. It is about depth. VISION. DREAMS! It is not about trivial comfort and keeping it away from pain. It is about leaning through and past old edges. It is about vulnerability being strength. It is about the gentlest of touch drawing the energy from each and between us; weaving it. Feeling it physically awake at my solar plexus and deep through my chest. It is about saying YES, and meaning it even through fear. It is about trust. It is about how I look at you and you bouncing it right back at me. It is about the smile and easy laughter that follows. And it is about not being able to stop the conversation. Late night candlelight and being close; unwilling to let go. It is all about making love and not so much about sex. It is about win-win. And for a cliche – it is about soul-mate.
Scary shit – says the twit in my head, trying to keep me safe and distract me – telling me that this is just crazy talk. He keeps pulling faces and running at me, trying to get me to back off and think of something else.
I know better. Getting ‘safely to death’ is no longer my game plan. This was always meant to be played all-out.
I choose to think I have these desires to fulfill them – to allow the universe to experience itself through me – that is why they are there.
I think I just needed to share this out loud without ‘coach’ being in the way; good to write this as a Man.
Yup, I really did just say all that out loud…
Hitting ‘publish’ quick before I have second thoughts…
Well, not quite. According to the Holmes-Rahe stress inventory scale, it is number 2.
And in Canada (your local statistics may vary), since the end of the 1980s, between 35% and 42% of marriages have ended in divorce. In other words almost one in two people who marry will go through this experience in their lifetimes. Note that this statistic does not capture those who go through committed relationships that are not recognized as ‘marriages’, which break up with similar personal impact – and sometimes more so as those around you do not recognize it as ‘divorce’.
So the impact on individuals is huge, and it is common. It is also a difficult subject for friends and family to deal with. They want to help and support which can vary from offering to ‘step in’ and ‘help fix it’, to sharing horror stories of how divorce is likely to go and what you can expect. It is deeply emotionally-charged minefield. In my experience also leads people to into what can be difficult introspection in their own relationships. So at the time you need it most, your existing support networks may not be up to giving you 100%.
Working with professionals (therapists, counsellors, coaches) through this life transition is becoming more common and accepted. However even in dealing with these skilled professionals, it is very common (and human!) to feel that you have somehow failed or come up short in life by getting to this experience. It is difficult to see outside of the lens of ‘failure’ and/or ‘victim’.
Even with expert support possible to remain ‘stuck’; the best you can do being to avoid the painful grief-filled thoughts and operate over the top to keep your life moving. You do what you need to survive and ‘put your life back together again’. Some glue, putty to fill in the irreplaceable cracks. And then you get to take this rebuilt self out into the world to pursue – again – creating the life of your dreams. If you can remain out of the shoals of anger, resentment, cynicism and resignation…
Enough of the bad news. Here is the good.
YOUR DIVORCE IS A HUGE BREAKDOWN.
IT CAN BECOME THE GREATEST GIFT OF YOUR LIFE!
Before you look at the last sentence again in total disbelief, let me get clear on what I mean by a breakdown;
BREAKDOWN: YOU DID NOT CREATE THE RESULTS YOU INTENDED’
That is it! Your reaction to the breakdown is what makes it so hard to be with. You invested everything you had into everything you knew how to do to create the partnership, happiness, intimacy, joy you wanted and it did not work out that way.
Let me be crystal clear – that totally sucks! You are entitled to feel everything you are feeling, and I am so sorry for your experience… My divorce was not your divorce – and mine really sucked. I get it.
I went through the end of a 15 year marriage with two children in 2013. Simultaneously I retrained as an Ontological Life Coach. The latter training and support gave me profound insight into working with myself and others through this major life transition. Far from making it trivial it forced me to dive deep into myself, through all of the hot and messy emotion, into what happened, into how I interpreted it, into how everything I had learned about the world had contributed to this outcome. I kept digging. I FOUND GOLD!
HERE IS THE GIFT – YOUR BREAKTHROUGH
What if this were the opportunity to get what did not work out of the way once and for all and create a new life containing everything you want? I am talking about a RADical opportunity to reinvent your life! Your divorce can be the catalyst to create what you want in your life. No shit – no kidding.
It does not matter if your divorce happened a decade ago or is in process right now. Is it over?
REINVENTION AFTER DIVORCE (RAD)™ is a brand new program I am putting the finishing touches to and will be launching on July 1st. This program is designed to support you in using this ‘mother of all breakdowns’ in creating the BREAKTHROUGH TRANSFORMATION OF YOUR LIFE!
Over the next few days I will be writing and sharing more about this subject and the program. I am really excited (and I am British, so you know this is an understatement) to be able to offer the fruits of my experience and transformation to support you in the next steps of your journey of healing, recovery and reinvention; creating YOUR NEW AND BEAUTIFUL LIFE.
I would love to hear from you any questions you have – I will be pleased to answer them and look forward to the conversation.
If you have never seen ‘die himmel über berlin’ – loosely translated into English as ‘Wings of Desire’ I highly recommend it. The same story got weaponized by Hollywood as ‘City of Angels’ with Meg Ryan and Nick Cage. Go for the original.
The core twist of the story is an Angel who decides to become mortal. He appears in the human world with an ancient suit of armour and clothes as his sole posessions. He sells the suit of armour to get some money as he begins his human existence – following his heart.
This is however not a movie review or a spoiler. Just go see the movie…
We all have our version of the suit of armour that we carry around. It is built of all the ways that we interact with others. Our expectations of how they should be and how we should be. What is ok, what is not. What is right and wrong. What gets out and gets in has to get past this barrier. It creates our experience of the world.
There is nothing wrong with armour – in the right circumstance (motocross, fighting a forest fire, in an actual fire-fight) body armour is important, useful and life-saving. As a strategy for living however it has some shortcomings.
WE ALL WANT TO SEE AND BE SEEN
Intimacy and connection are profound human experiences. Our culture is bathed in a mythos of romantic love being the one place that this experience is fully available. The divorce statistics tell another story. Even in this place, dismantling the armour is an intentional act – no accident.
Armour is heavy. It takes energy to maintain. And – key to this writing – it does not work. If what we want is a richer, deeper, more vibrant, effective and involved experience of life – the armour is directly in the way of that. If you want stable, predictable, limited – by all means keep it.
If you keep your armour on in one place in life – you are actually keeping it on everywhere. Take it off and you take it off everywhere. This is a game-changer.
Two questions: – firstly; ‘What is your armour costing you?’ – your bonus question; ‘Who would you be without it?’
If you answer to the last question is some variation of ‘I don’t know’, then we are in rich territory! And here is where I will take a leap.
YOU NEVER EXISTED ANYWAY
I assert that our armour as we have constructed it defines who we are. If you remove the armouring, then who you are is just an expression of life in the moment. The ‘self’ the armour has been defending – indeed the armour has been defining never existed anyway! You get to be all of you, in life, in the moment, right now. You get to experience and bathe in it all. In the heart of life.
The flip side, the armour has also been defining your world. Taking it off and the experience of life shifts profoundly!
What would be possible for you in your life, your relationships, your family, your friends, your career, your business if you really allowed yourself to open up to it all?
It is a practice.
Where are you defending? What are you making impossible?
As an exercise – list 10 ways that you armour yourself against the world – in your life, your relationships. Choose one. Change it. See what shifts. Rinse and repeat.
Working with someone who specializes in armour removal may be beneficial…
People come to Coaching for many reasons. Either there is something they really really want and do not know how to get there. Often they come because where they are at in life not what they want – they know there is something more.
The first conversation we have is nearly always one to generate clarity about both where my client is at and what they want.
It brings a huge question – what is it that you really want? How do you know?
REVEALING YOUR DREAMS
There is a process of discovery as layers are pulled off of your desires, the cobwebs and dust of ages is blown away and the clarity and depth of your dreams is revealed.
This is a scary process. They are your dreams goddamn it! Having them would be breathtaking, stupendous, unimaginably wonderful! And the fear that these will just remain dreams is not far away; just waiting in the wings to hijack the conversation and keep you small.
I know this from personal experience (lots and lots…)
FEAR IS ALL THAT KEEPS YOU SMALL
If that fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) were not there, you would have these things by now. Fear is also a core part of our biology. Your fear has also kept you alive and created the life you have right now. The other side of that fear is – a) where your dreams live, and b) completely unknown.
Part of you knows that place though. Your heart knows.
“The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.” ― Sri Nisargadatta
So – relying on the rational mind in this domain – your fears and conditioned responses, the ‘figuring it out’ just perpetuates the maze that keeps you from what you really want. Your God-given ‘Heart’s desire’ exists outside of this, outside of what you know, in this unknown world of possibility.
WHO ARE YOU OUTSIDE OF WHAT YOU KNOW?
I have recently been reflecting on who my ideal clients are – those I really want to work with and make a difference for. And it comes down to this – those who know there is more and are willing to (with support!) jump off the edge of what they know and follow their heart. Those willing to step into a life created by their passion – to live into the greatest vision of who they are in this world.
THIS IS LEADERSHIP FROM THE HEART!
I literally cannot describe how good it feels to practice living from this place. It is a practice, not a perfection. It is a choice moment to moment to listen to the heart and keep following it, whatever comes up. It is a complete shift in identity, and in Life.
ARE YOU READY TO EXPERIENCE HOW BIG LIFE CAN BE?
YOUR HEART IS WAITING FOR YOU…
I entered the New Year with an unusual ‘bang’. I have a lot going on in my life; Coaching, Consulting, Coach-training, co-parenting my kids, occasionally breathing deeply… In the gap after Christmas it became painfully clear to me how little space I seemed to be providing for myself in all of this. My tentative solution was that something had to give – and I was looking to the outside world for answers. What should I give up? This sense of ‘pressure’ and that there was ‘too much’ (or, not enough me) was pervasive – was disturbing my sleep. Two days before New Year I woke at 4am in this fog and allowed the thought to enter my mind – ‘what if I stopped doing the coach training work?’. It would clearly free up both time and money. It would provide relief. There is just one issue there – there is a program – I am part of a team – I promised that I would complete the year. Trade in my integrity for relief and freedom?
Faced with this I did something different. Normally I would suffer it, make the whole world wrong – basically have a temper tantrum and sulk in a corner about how it was all so unfair. Yes, I am 48 and I still have a petulant inner 5 year old who sometimes stamps his foot. Instead I chose to open up and actually let some support in. In two days I racked up 6 conversations with friends and coaching colleagues, culminating in a ‘THIS IS IT’ conversation at 4pm on New Years’ Eve with my Coach. I gave them all a spectacular earful of what was going on, why continuing was impossible, that I needed the time and space and that this was the only way I was going to get it. All very reasonable. The more I rehearsed this and let all the emotions out, there was a clearing that started to emerge in the fog.
I got a glimpse out of the corner of my mental eye that there was something else available to me. It started to become clear to me that this ‘fog’ was somehow something I was making up. That there was actually a different experience of the same circumstances available – something other than grinding through it and suffering it – hitting my life with the same old hammer. By the time I spoke with my Coach I was clear on two things; 1) There was another way I could experience all of this, and 2) I had NO IDEA of how to get there. None. Zip.
The reason I work with a Coach is that – as a Coach I practice the same thing I support my clients in; creating non-linear, unpredictable, breakthrough results by stepping beyond their edge. This means you spend a *lot* of time right on the edge of who you know yourself to be – always at the edge of the unknown. Sometimes this looks like just taking the next step forward. Sometimes it looks like stepping off a cliff. This was definitely a ‘cliff’ conversation.
And I cannot really explain how the next 45 minutes unfolded except that there was a well-used box of tissues, crying and gnashing of teeth – and as my Coach held space for me there was suddenly a whole new experience available. I really got that, in that moment and sustained since – that suffering is optional.
My suffering of choice is ‘muscling through’ and ‘grinding’. I am really good at it – I can pull all-nighters when I need to – and be massively productive. However the cost is that my wellbeing gets hammered. And once in that state, all my old defences rush into the gap and close down my world to become something safe and controlled and really really limiting. Once there I can make the whole world wrong and unfair in a heartbeat (my inner ‘righteous saint’), and I get to be right about it, and I get to suffer from all that injustice. And I get to create nothing new (my inner ‘impotent wizard’). Yes – it does suck as badly as it sounds. It has also been the water I have swum in for much of my life – not the whole time but it has been a close companion.
And now I get to experience something new, and my life circumstances are in the process of catching up with this new way of being in the world. I am excited to be able to share my gifts from that place; I have already seen my clients sharing in that breakthrough and I am excited to find out who my next clients will be and what they will create!
How come we make these different things? You have probably heard the quote:
“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” – Marc Anthony
I think there are many ways to read this. One of them is – ‘I am having no fun – therefore I must be in the wrong job or doing the wrong thing.’ A variation on the theme is that work is ‘Work’ and play is ‘Play’ and the two are clear, distinct and separate. In this model, ‘Work’ carries with it a tinge of ‘suffering’. It is really easy to follow this with all of the reasons why you have to stick doing what you are doing – and so the cycle continues. You get to be right about how it sucks and suffer it. Or is it just me who left to his old habits does this 🙂
Now, don’t get me wrong (I am a coach after all – change is the game…) it may well be that a change in career or starting the business you really want is the next thing to do and leave this one behind – however bear with me. My thinking is that ‘Job’ you are ‘Stuck’ in might have something for you.
Two things I have been reading and listening to have come together in a new way for me. The first is from Tara Brach (whose podcasts I thoroughly recommend – http://www.tarabrach.com) where in a recent talk she drew a distinction between ‘aversive judgment’ and ‘wise discernment’. The other comes from Michael Singer and his bestseller ‘The Untethered Soul’. In a nutshell – events happen – and they become problems where we resist them – and the resistance is all our stuff. To put it another way – no resistance; no problems. Easily said – right?
Taking these distinctions into the ‘job’ that is ‘work’ – from ‘aversive judgment’ it may there to just be struggled through and survived – that you cannot be with it, or your co-workers, or your customers or all three. Your buttons get pushed – your stuff – your resistance. From here there is no space or freedom – it is a trap, a cage that you survive to keep the paychecks rolling in. After that you really need downtime and rest so you can just continue doing it. Now let me be clear – it is not your fault that the job shows up like it does (nor anyone elses) – it is just that is how it shows up for you. Period.
From a place that you can take responsibility for your stuff, the job becomes a place where you can see it playing out. You actually get to choose how it goes. Are you going to have your stuff dominate how the experience goes? Or are you going to see it as just your stuff and work with it? This is where resistance comes into focus.
Resisting life is hard work. Life is an infinite stream that keeps flowing no matter what we do. Resisting is trying to hold back a tide that is infinitely and forever coming in. We resist it where our stuff gets triggered and we try to somehow manage it to make it better. What if it was just okay that our stuff got triggered? It is just stuff after all – stuff we made up, beliefs about how it ‘should’ go and what is the ‘right’ way for things to work out.
From aversive judgment – we make the job, the boss, the client, the circumstances wrong – we blame and get messy. And we are busy resisting which takes even more energy. No wonder we suffer the experience.
“The winds and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.” – Edward Gibbon
From discerning wisdom – we see that we get triggered – the wind and the waves. From there we have choice. How do we want to be with being triggered? We can go down the reactive route or stay elevated where there is choice. From this perspective there is still the possibility this may not be the job that is your dream – where all of you gets to be put at service of your greatest and most heart-felt contribution to the world. Or maybe from elevation it is clear that it IS and we need support to get from our current experience to a more satisfying and empowering one.
So what about work and play? My invitation is to look at where you resist life and create work. If you take away the resistance, all there is left is play, and you get to never work another day in your life… Easily said right? Perhaps time to have a conversation with a Coach (just sayin’).
The great thing about moments is there are lots of them – at least that is our experience. They seem to be in limitless supply. One day they will run out.
So what makes this one, right now special? important? irreplaceable?
My observation is that we discard a lot of moments out of hand – put them into the recycling (or more often the mountain of trash) in the hope that there will be a better one along in a while – a moment that contains what this moment does not. Thinking of luck, or better moments we have had, looking for magic.
There is magic. The mistake is looking for it anywhere but RIGHT HERE. RIGHT NOW.
All that lies between us and the life we want is what we put in the way. We do that moment by moment with our thoughts and actions; conscious and unconscious that keep creating our moment to moment reality. Our collection of NOWs.
All that there is to do is choose your NOW. In this moment – what do you want to create? Who do you want to be? What do you want to experience?
If you are anything like me I heard stuff like this with my head for a long time and it sounded ‘woo-woo’ and ‘kinda out there’. Something other people got to have or be. Mostly in white robes.
In my work as Coach I have a different experience. I get to see magic in my life and in the lives of those I work with. It can all change in a moment. The moment that we choose something else. The moment we make a choice where we believed there was none.
Are you ready to uncover the truth of the power you have in this moment? And this one? and this? How about now?
Are you ready to define your life rather than live it by default? (spoiler alert – you know how the second one goes…)
Until 3pm on Sunday 3rd January 2016 I am offering a massive discount on my regular rates to fill the last available slot in my practice starting January 2016; first 4 months of coaching with one month for free. NOW is the time to take on your life and make 2016 THE YEAR it all changes! One moment, one choice defines it all and can create your whole future. Your power really is in right NOW. Nowhere else. Call/text 250.532.9959 and lets get this thing MOVING! (Notice I am using the ‘Now’ thing and creating some urgency here? Just like life…)
This is not really a coaching blog entry. Or is it? You get to decide.
Those who know me well understand that since 2005 I have been doing strange things with old Vegetable Oil.
I have been steeped in the science of climate change and greenhouse gas impacts for a long time courtesy of my father – Graham Goodeve – a geomorphologist by trade who, whilst I was growing up, fed my curiosity about the physical processes at work in the world around me and the timescales over which geology happens. I don’t know of many other kids who got exposed to both the processes of weather in-the-moment (often from the receiving end – there is a family myth that my father could find water ANYWHERE – airborne or underfoot – when we went on a family outing), and the in-depth lectures of what happens when weather happens and when climate happens, ice sheets melt, ocean currents change etc…
In 2005 I became interested in what I could do to personally reduce my carbon footprint. The result of this investigation was that running my family’s transport needs on recycled vegetable oil was a viable option. I started looking for a suitable diesel vehicle (a rare beast in North America) and studying the alchemy of turning smelly used cooking oil into pristine fuel. In the process I wrote a couple of articles, and got onto local TV driving a VW Passat running on recycled vegetable oil. I became a full-fledged bucket chemist and developed some techniques of my own that made the production of usable fuel from base fat a more rapid process. I found out first hand (as did my family) exactly how good a paint-stripper Biodiesel (chemically cracked vegetable oil) is as it proceeded to remove the covering from our garage floor. Old clothing became de-rigeur as I perfected the process and dedicated a few hours a week to brewing the weeks’ transport energy needs. I became intimately familiar with energy in the form of fuel. It was no longer an abstract experience where I connect a ‘pump’ to my car and hear the gurgling as numbers change on a display. I knew what it smelt like, how much it weighed. I developed a feel for the whole process. And of course I had an experience of self-righteousness as I drove with a miniscule carbon footprint.
One of the parts of the process I ‘felt out’ during this era was, as well as being a paint stripper par-excellence – how aggressive Biodiesel is on normal (EDPM) rubber compounds. Basically they do not survive. They swell and weaken and start to become way too soft. I started carrying a length of replacement rubber hose to use to replace the injector return hoses on the VW as they inevitably after 2-3 months lost their fight with the Biodiesel. I did not find any alternative hose that would stand up to the ravages. Also there was some work to do changing fuel filters as the Biodiesel paint-stripper also cleaned all the gunk out of the fuel tank and system and dutifully deposited it in the fuel filter, in time clogging it. Once the fuel system was thoroughly cleaned – problem solved.
However the Passat was not a great choice. The vehicle had spent time in Alberta in the ravages of winter, salt and grit and it started failing ancillary components such as the power steering and water pumps. After a short while I came to the conclusion it was time to trade up. The problem was however that on my budget there were few diesel vehicles in reach.
And then a friend got me interested in Japanese right-hand drive imports – notably the Mitsubishi Delica. There is a ready export market of these vehicles from Japan – and they have proved very popular in Canada with their combination of ruggedness, spaciousness and efficiency. The ideal vehicle for my family and with the ability to carry Dog, Kids and relations on both local and extended trips. I found a 1993 vehicle with reasonable mileage (110,000km) and in great mechanical shape. I bought the vehicle, got it home, realized that the glow plugs were all toast – replaced them and there began 5 years of largely trouble-free motoring on Biodiesel punctuated only by replacing an Alternator, servicing brakes and regular oil changes. It loved winter and off-roading, the 4-wheel drive making a piece of cake of even very challenging driving conditions. The machine loved Biodiesel – got good mileage and successfully lugged a huge amount of stuff around – including Biodiesel, waste Vegetable Oil etc… It was quite simply an awesome machine – christened ‘Beastie’. It carried my family on multiple road trips down to Seattle and across BC.
And it gave its life heroically.
In the winter of 2012 a friend asked if he could borrow Beastie for a family trip across BC to Fairmont Hot Springs. My family was going to be away in Europe – so the timing seemed pretty good. We set off for Europe – he set off on his family road-trip. On his return leg across BC the weather conditions were poor; deciding too late that it would be time for 4-wheel drive, my friend ended up skidding the vehicle across 3 lanes of traffic in wet snow to end up in the ditch on the opposite carriage-way. No one was hurt; 6 people walked away shaken but not injured – however Beastie was bent beyond repair. The good news; I only lost $1,000 on the insurance pay-out versus what I had paid for the vehicle 5 years before. They are good quality machines as reflected in the market value.
And so I made the choice to attempt to replace Beastie. With the help of a friend and some long-distance contacts we located a newer-model Delica (with a more powerful 2.8L intercooled turbo-diesel engine) at auction in Japan for $1,500CAD. A few weeks and several thousand dollars later we picked up the vehicle at a freight-handler’s in Delta, BC – the vehicle having been unpacked from its trans-pacific container. After an hour recharging the battery we got the vehicle running, picked up the necessary insurance to drive it to a garage that could do the inspection work and drove it home. A few days later the vehicle had a new VIN number and was fully insured and ready to run on BCs roads.
Driving a right-hand drive vehicle in North America is not problematic with the one exception of turning right. Then you need to exercise your core muscles to look ahead of and behind the passenger-side door pillar to ensure nothing is hiding in that blind-spot. Other than that the Delica has excellent visibility, including a cunningly-placed reversing mirror that shows you precisely the position of your rear bumper relative to whatever is behind. I could parallel park that vehicle in some very tight spots – and would, as a point of pride, park in ‘Small Vehicle’ parking spots, ensuring the accusatory words remained visible behind the precisely parked ‘small’ versatile switchable 4-wheel drive Van.
And as final praise for the awesome engineering work – the design on the older-style (L300) and newer (L400) Delicas includes armoring for the underside of the engine and transmission and excellent driving clearance. BC Logging roads hold no horrors – we got to some great places –in comfort – with no concerns…
So it seemed my new driving experience was complete – new vehicle, more powerful than the old, slightly more space. As capable on the highway as on back roads. I could even fold down the seats in the back into a perfectly serviceable double bed along with factory-fitted curtains as well as transporting 7 people in comfort…
Then the problems began.
The first was a stuck exhaust-gas recirculation valve. When this stuck, I would have no power and a cloud of black sooty smoke. A visit to a local garage with some expertise resolved this issue, and then we were back in action.
Then something really annoying started happening.
When I started the vehicle, it would run poorly for a minute or two before settling down into good running order. Having recently separated and being close to divorce, I was being very careful with finances and decided to see how it would go and do my own research to attempt to resolve the issue. Over a few months the issue steadily got worse until the point that the vehicle would suddenly loose power on the highway, leading me to pull off and nurse the engine back into life before joining the stream of traffic again. I replaced the fuel and air filters to no effect. I figured that the problem was something to do with fuel pressure and so I put a boost pump in line with the fuel fiter to ensure the fuel injector system was not getting starved. This helped but did not resolve the issues. I also backed off from running Biodiesel in the vehicle and stepped back onto the gas station forecourt for the first time in years, to put the fruits of ancient global warming into the tank. It did not help.
I talked to everyone I knew who had knowledge about Diesels and Delicas. The best information came from a local parts supplier who suggested the problem was the drive-end seal in the Injector Pump. He suggested a local garage I talk to. I took the vehicle there, and they decided the problem was the fuel injector system was not clean, and proceeded to charge me several hundred dollars to clean an already clean fuel system and not solve the problem.
Then I found a garage that did understand the problem. They stripped the injector pump off of the engine, replaced the drive-end seal and – hey presto problem solved! With my bank account considerably lighter, I had a vehicle working properly again! That was at the end of January 2015.
Then, in August 2015 the problem came back. Same symptoms – poor starting. Unwilling to keep running. Occasional stalls during running. Then I had the vehicle stall four times on me on the way between Brentwood and Victoria; some 22km trip. I revised my research and looked into the replacement seal that fixed the problem before – there is only one source I could find and that anyone I talked to knew about. The seal that separates the engine oil / air filled crankcase from the fuel-filled injector pump. If there is an air-bubble in the injector pump, it cannot generate the pressures needed to get fuel into the cylinders and the engine runs poorly or stops until those air-bubbles have been flushed. And it was happening again. My conclusion is that seal and Biodiesel do not mix. The eroded seal allows air bubbles from the crank-case to invade the injector pump leading to poor or no running. Biodiesel erodes the seal, which in time will fail and requires the same maintenance again – about every 8 months. And each time for about $700-800 of labour to replace an $18 part. My sad conclusion – the L400 engine with this seal is not Biodiesel compatible.
From what I understand, the L300 engine uses the same seal however it is externally mounted, meaning it is not subject to the ravages of rubber-corrosive fuel – and hence 5 years of issue free motoring with my old Delica was possible.
And so time for a choice.
I am determined to not be part of the fossil-fuel economy to the degree I am able. I currently rent a suite with oil-fired central heating, and with a wood stove. I kept that stove running all last winter and intend to pull the same trick this year. Carbon-neutral and supporting my local economy that sources the locally-cut-and-split firewood. I am also wanting to spend more of my time focusing on where I can have an impact. Talking and writing about this stuff – not necessarily lugging around vegetable oil.
And so after delivering the Delica to a specialist garage (who have since done the needed servicing and bought the L400 Delica from me) I test-drove an all-electric Nissan Leaf, fell in Love, arranged financing and bought it. It is called ‘sparky’, has an on-paper range of 150km, a network of charging places available locally and an 8-year, 160,000km warrantee on the battery and a solid 5 years on the drive-train, which is simplicity itself. The only other warrantee-preserving maintenance requires is an annual brake check, tire rotation and little more. There is nothing else to go wrong. 2,000 moving parts in an average internal-combustion engine car down to about 60.
I am now taking on a new adventure in transportation – making use of Canada’s abundant renewable energy to experience a new era of very-low-carbon transport. In a way, reclaiming my power and my choices around where my energy comes from. In turn I am also choosing to turn towards the culture and the provision of Electricity. With Biodiesel, I could live in an illusion of independence where I was making my own fuel goddamn it! There is a beauty to this, and also it does belie the truth that the waste vegetable oil is only there at the end of a very long supply chain. Electricity is no different. Electricity is however one hell of a lot simpler!
There is more to be said – this is part I in a new journey. The next part involves fixing my own energy leaks and simplifying the overly-complicated life I have created and been living in these last few years; reclaiming my own power, replacing my own leaky seals – a potentially dangerous metaphor – and falling back in love with my life and what I am creating. There is more power to be had – and a greater life to be living. And – it is more fun driving an electric car – just sayin’!
More to follow – watch this space…
Impossible belongs to an interesting family of words; reasonable, feasible, predictable. Another set of words lies close by; luck, hope. Taking it apart it is the concept that there is no way to get there from here. Perhaps the only way is divine intervention or some happy accident…
Imagine, if you will, your life as a big game board – like monopoly or snakes-and-ladders – only bigger. A LOT bigger. You play the game by following rules about what moves are allowed to get you to where you need to go to win.
Now on this board, which contains all the possible results, all the possible lives you could ever experience, there are similarly rules defining what moves are allowed. Following these rules there are parts of the board you will simply never be able to get to, no matter how hard you try. They are impossible.
Here is the trick – the key to it all. The one who decides what moves are possible – what the rules of the game are – is you. You don’t normally see these rules for what they are because they are the tools you have used for pretty much your whole life to build your life. They work! (and kudos to you for having invented them!) – however they may be making the life and results you want to experience impossible. And as they are the water you swim in – the very way you percieve your life, they may be totally invisible to you.
Enter the Coach (who has their own version of this, and who – IMHO should always be working with their OWN coach to move their own life forward powerfully) and the Coaching Conversation. In this sacred space, the game gets seen for what it is. We actually look at the rules, the ‘legal moves’, and question them – ask the ‘what-if’ questions that allow those rules to start to bend and break. Expose them for what they are – just an invented story of how life is and how life works – and open to the larger mystery of life.
In this larger space we create new moves – a whole new set of ways of playing your game that wear down the barriers that used to mark out the territory of the impossible, allowing you to play a bigger game on a bigger board than you ever imagined.
Loosing 50lbs impossible? Running that half-marathon? Changing that career? Starting that business? Creating the perfect relationship? Rebuilding and re-inventing your life?
How about playing the game of life to win?
Ready to look at what ‘impossible’ is hiding from you?
Perhaps it is a good time to talk to a Life Coach… (hint: there is one close-by…)
(here is a link to the original awesome mission impossible theme…)