Feeling Shrinky and Practicing Expansion - Christine Kane

Bonni wrote a comment on the last post

I’m feeling very, very “shrinky” lately. It’s money (as frequently is the case with so many people). I feel like penny-pinching and hoarding, and I know this isn’t a good attitude to have.

I’m still giving to charities and I’m still trying to keep myself open to spending money on things I want/need, but I just don’t feel it, you know?  Once I give the money away or spend it, it’s okay, but when contemplating, “Should I spend this?” the answer is almost always, “Oh, better not!” and a big list of stuff we have to pay for starts scrolling past…. So HOW do you expand when you feel like this? How do I open myself up and say to the Universe, “I’m not worried, I know there is unlimited abundance, bring it on!” I mean, I can say it, but how do I actually PRACTICE it?

It’s interesting that she capitalized the word practice, because that is exactly what it takes sometimes. (Bonni also invented the word “shrinky” which all the other commentators seemed to love!)

I’m convinced that many people choose not to change their lives because they’re waiting to “feel it.”  They’re waiting for that guarantee from the universe (or God, or their parents) that they won’t fail.    That’s why I love the line,  “Leap and the net will appear.”  Faith often comes from first doing it – not necessarily knowing that everything will turn out great.

It’s the same thing with expanding when you feel shrinky.  You often don’t feel like it.  This is why practice can be so effective.  It’s like working out.  Most people don’t feel like working out. But they know they want to do it, and that they love how they feel because of it. If they waited til they felt like it, they might never go to the gym!

So, since Bonni is talking about money here, let’s look at the idea of Tithing…

Tithing is not about charity or giving to “need.”   (Though giving to charity is fine, too. It’s just that tithing is a different thing altogether.)  The reason I like tithing is that it requires trust.

My favorite interpretation of tithing is that it is giving 10% of your income to anywhere or anyone that “spiritually feeds you.”  For some people, this is a religious institution. For many people – it can be anyone or anywhere because they believe spirit/God is in all things.  The idea behind this is that you are “giving back” to source or to the universe or to the flow.  (Use the word that works for you.)  For me, it’s like I’m saying “yes” and “I know there’s an unlimited supply.”  There’s a giant trust about it.

When I started tithing, I only tithed 10% of “unexpected income.”  That way, Shrinky Self could relax a bit. After all, Shrinky Self thinks, “Oh. Okay. Fine. There’s no such thing as Unexpected Income. So if that’s how you want to do it, then fine by me.”   So, I practiced on bits and pieces of unexpected income – rounding up the 10% at the end of the month, and giving it away.  Then, after a few months, out of the blue, I received check for $6500. So, Shrinky Self all of the sudden had to realize that abundance was possible.

And what did she want to do with that?  She wanted to hoard it of course!  It was all fine and good to play my little tithing game when it was $25 here and there.   But now the game had changed.

The point of this is that the very structure of Shrinky Self is that she will always be able to find a very rational logical reasons not to expand.   Things can be going badly. The economy could suck. And Shrinky Self finds a million people who agree with her.  OR, things could be going great. You’re making great money. And Shrinky Self can convince you that “hard times are just around the corner. Hold tight.”

This is why I love Intention.  Intention is your guide. It’s not that you set the intention to expand, and then you instantly and forever more “feel like” expanding.  It’s that “expansion” becomes your lighthouse – even when you’re only seeing dark everywhere.  You get to at least know it’s out there and that you want to find it.

Also, expansion is not just limited to money.

For instance, last week, when I was in New York City, I was walking down a street one morning. There were very few people out. A man was walking towards me, and without even thinking, I looked up at him as we passed each other and I said, “Hi!”

He looked at me like I was something he had stepped in.

Shrinky Self shouted at me, “You dumb ass! This is the city! You don’t say HI to people!”  (Luckily, I don’t take her all that seriously anymore so I continued to say hi to more people who leered back.)

The point is that there are MANY ways to practice expanding.  If money doesn’t feel like a good practice point for you, find other areas to practice expanding.

And remember, you don’t have to bungee jump.  You don’t have to give away all your money or do something that terrifies you.  This is why I love the idea of “Practice.”  You can still feel shrinky and practice expanding. Don’t wait until you “feel like” expanding.  That will come from the practice.  And after a while, you’ll spend more time in “expansion” than you will in shrinky.


p.s.  I’m recording my next CD, and I have another blog!  Visit BeMyRecordLabel to hear my songs as they get recorded and read about the creative process.  You can also get a free song when you visit there – just look in the right sidebar! (And don’t forget to Pre-Order your very own copy of the CD!)

  • m

    yes ! to Petra – I make sure I get the ISBN from Amazon (thanks for providing that info Amazon !) and then I email my favourite independent bookshop. The margins on books are low so when I pick up my book I also try to stock up on cards.

  • Petra

    Another way of tithing–purchase things from local and independent retailers, who may not necessarily be able to compete (pricewise) with the Amazons of the world. The money likely stays in your community, too. Paying a little more is a way of giving back.

  • Patricia

    This conversation is so timely!
    I started tithing this year by donating artwork to be raffled to raise money for groups I believe in. It’s been exciting to be a part of this process. I have more time and paint than I have cash, and in the end my donations produce more dollars and good will than any single dollar I give.
    A few years ago I was in a class with Donna Aldridge, a wonderful teacher. I was noodling around, feeling really shrinky, when she stepped in and asked me who my favorite artist was. Did I suppose they stood in front of their easel all caved in, noodling around? She admonished me to take a deep breath and straighten my shoulders. Fake it. Act like I knew exactly what I wanted to do. It worked. I often practice this when I feel small and shrinky, regardless of what I’m doing. Maybe one of these days I’ll forget I’m faking it!

  • m

    I almost laughed out loud at this (I’m in an internet cafe in London’s charing cross) I had breakfast out this morning and sat at the window and for no particular reason beamed at a woman walking past – she looked very startled !

  • Alli

    I have a little experience when it comes to working with organizations in need, I’m in the Peace Corps. If your budget is tight but you want to give, remember that often times your time is worth MUCH MORE than the cash.

    Think of it this way…
    You earn a certain amount of money per hour to perform a job. There are organizations out there that would have to pay that amount to have that job performed by someone else. Volunteer to do it for free.


    So, you come home, want to not have anything to do with work at all… Focus on what you like. If you enjoy books and kids you can volunteer to host a book reading at your local library. Like to garden, share some vegetables. Like to teach but nothing traditional, look into teaching an adult education class such as GED. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Go through your home and donate items you don’t use/like any more. Do you like to hear stories about times gone by? Stop at a nursing home or assisted living. Ask the residents to tell you about when they were growing up.

    I may be mistaken, but I believe that the time you volunteer (including costs such as fuel, mileage, etc) may be able to be taken off on taxes. I know for certain that some companies will donate money to organizations that their employees volunteer with. Check with your Benefits department and see what they offer!

    These options will not only save the organization money, but you can keep the cash earning interest, you meet new people, and perhaps have a little fun!

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks for all the cool thoughts here, folks! I’m getting ready to head out to NYC and I’m trying to pack into a suitcase filled with two sprawled out cats…

    so, I’ll just answer briefly…

    Mark – we’ll keep the “shrinkage” talk to a minimum! 🙂

    Sue – I love your husband’s clarity there. Wow.

    Monica – you could not be MORE right! I often cut and paste the MSN Money headlines and send them to my husband just because they are SUCH drama queens!

  • MbB

    I love the word…feeling “shrinky” just gets to a meaning we need to think about. There’s another word I really like, even if it is a bit nerdy as it was coined by Aristotle…”Praxis”. It refers to the actions we take based on a theory, faith, or feeling. Rather like the idea of putting something into action even if you aren’t sure, but somehow believe, it will work (and hoping for that net!).

  • Judy

    This year I began a project so big it scared the heck out of me. But after asking a few “wise women”, the best advice I got was; just begin. The rest will fall into place when it is time. But if you don’t begin, none of those things will happen. She was right. I still feel overwhelmed some days, but it has opened up my mind to looking at my work in a whole new context of what is possible. Taking that first step towards expansion is the scariest. Each one after that becomes a bit easier.

  • Deb

    I have to echo the comment about physically shrinking. In the car recently on the way to an appointment I became aware that I was literally curling over the steering wheel (not smart with an airbag, but anyway); my arms were tense, jaw clamped tight and I could barely see over the dashboard let alone get any air in my lungs. I kept on for another mile just noticing this. And then a line from Laraine Herring’s “Writing Begins with the Breath” that goes something like “breathe deeply, expand your chest, notice your ribs separating.” (that might be a paraphrase) And as I was doing it this other thought appeared that birds expand their chests to look bigger, more powerful and more intimidating. Maybe we shouldn’t major on the intimidating but I think we know that Christine is all over the powerful part.

  • Mark

    Whenever I’m about to leave a tip at a restaurant, and I grapple about whether I should leave three dollars or four dollars, I leave four – sometimes even 5 bucks. It makes everyone feel better.

    And maybe it’s because I’m a guy, but you’ll have to forgive me for not appreciating the word “shrinky”. (Don’t you remember the children’s toy, ‘Shrinky Dink’?)

  • Sue

    This is great! Since intending to practice expansion, one of the things I’ve noticed is how contagious it is. I guess like any viewpoint, lighthouse, attitude, the people around us seem to absorb part of whatever we bring to the table. When I feel shrinky now, I try to be quiet in myself before blessing the world with shrinkyness.

    My husband and I have come back from a deep financial cluster*^%$ in part by his (unlabeled) ability for expansion. When we had lost so much money he said, “I’m going to start my own business right now, today. It may seem stupid since we have no money, and we’ll go deeper into debt to do it. Someday it will be worth it. Please hang in there with me. The worst thing that could happen already did.” This originally sucked the air outa me, having been brought up to be frugal, not take risks etc. He was right though, and I thank him now for having enough ‘expansion’ for the both of us.

  • Cathy

    I appreciate your words, “Faith often comes from first doing it”. When I think of leaping and watching the net appear, I always visualize myself constructing the net on the way down. Of course, there’s always divine help involved, so the net is always completed before I actually hit the ground.

  • Emily

    Feeling shrinky has been something I have stuggled with a lot recently – particularly with practicing it. Sometimes I’ve been able to catch myself in the shrinkiness, then others it’s taken someone else giving me a metaphoric wake up call. I recently started challenging myself to do something every day that is out of my comfort zone or scares me. I’ve thought about doing this a number of times but just now started practicing it. Usually it’s smaller things – saying hello to someone, telling someone how I actually feel about something instead of just saying “I’m fine.”, asking for something I need, etc. Occasionally it’s been bigger – quitting my second job.

    I’ve been particularly shrinky regarding money this year. I started a practice the beginning of July of putting all the one dollar bills and loose change into a coookie jar each night (or whenever I had had some) with the intention of donating it somewhere. (I’d stopped my regular practice of donating each month) I didn’t think it would add up to much cuz I don’t use cash all that often. I added up the dollars and change last night and it turned out to be more than 10% of my monthly income – it was a nice reminder to be that I ALWAYS have more than enough (even if it doesn’t FEEL that way)!

  • Monica

    Great post Christine. In a related note, I have frequently thought that the business/investment media often bring about the recession/down turn in a particular stock/industry by the constant harping that the sky is falling.

    One has to always remember their own personal circumstance and not succumb to the dire predictions!

  • Diane

    Lovely post Christine! Another great line if you’re feeling shrinky is “Some choices hold you down…some chances set you free.” I also like the idea of giving your time and talents as tithing. I’m currently not gainfully employed but I still feel like I can give.

    Funny about the “Hi” comment. I enjoy walking in my neighborhood and 99% of the time I say Hi and smile when I pass someone. Some folks seem startled or annoyed but reply with a hi, some don’t say anything, some can’t hear me because they are listening to music, and yes there are some that cheerfully smile and say hi back. I’ve often wondered why someone wouldn’t say hi back? It just isn’t that hard and doesn’t take much energy!

  • l.

    Often when I’m feeling shrinky, I physically shrink. I turn my shoulders in to protect my chest, and hunch over and slouch down. If the anxiety gets bad enough, I stop eating. I’ll be working on something at my desk and realize that I’ve shrunk, and that I need to expand if I’m going to get through the next task. So, I sit up straight, throw my shoulders back and open my chest and neck up to the sky (even though sometimes it feels like they might crack open.)

    That action alone makes me feel better, and I can move on with the task at hand.

  • Victoria

    Practicing Expansion As You Walk Down the Street. I don’t live in a big city and as I walk down the street I smile and or say “hi” to the people I pass. One day as I passed a woman I smiled and said “hi!”. This woman lost it! She started screaming at me “What did you say to me?! What did you say to me you mother*$!@%*$!” (yeah she was quite offensive and aggresive) And then she continued on her way shouting and screaming obcenities at me. Wow! I am proud of myself because I practiced expansion before I knew what it was (just read it inyour post) and I still practice it to this day even though I ran into someone who maybe would be more comfortable in NYC. I continue this practice because 99.9% of the people I smile at smile back at me. IT’s only a tiny 1% that grumble, dont smile back or in this extreme case “loose it!” I dont know know why Im telling this story. Maybe because even though Im not doing the $ tithing (yet)I am happy that Ive always been tithing with my smile!

  • bonni

    Woohoo! 🙂 Not only did I coin a word, I’m the subject of Christine’s post. 😉

    Okay, so the answer here is the same as the answer to the question, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” That answer being, “Pratice, man, practice…”