Strength in the Struggle

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

In the school where I’m now a Career Advisor there is a 20-minute rule which indicates that a person must work for 20 minutes on a problem in which they are stuck before asking for help.  The reason is that after that time has lapsed, the chances of you seeing what has you pinned in place are diminished.  So you ask your neighbor.  If after 20 minutes you are still stuck, then you ask an instructor and they clear the path for you.  This is referred to as Strength in the Struggle.  With each problem you have a chance to solve, you become more confident, more capable, more self-sufficient.


I can appreciate this rule because that is the defining moment of my career.  I recently shared a quote from Simon Sinek that indicated those who fear change are those who have mastered what currently is.  I was that master as the Editing Coordinator of a local TV station.  The owners bought and installed new software and with that, I knew that the playing field was leveled, so I set aside time after the morning news broadcast to practice my craft using the new platform.  My defining moment came when there was something seemingly simple I wanted to do and I could not for the life of me figure how to do it.  I went to the help section.  Nothing.  I clicked a few buttons.  Nothing.  I clicked again.  Finally, on the umpteenth time of flipping through the manual, EUREKA!  I found the answer and moved on.  That was the moment when I knew that I would not be defeated.

Sure enough, come launch day I required little assistance which freed our consultant up to be with other operators.  That consultant later recommended I be a trainer and that is how I traveled the United States and Australia as a Training Specialist.


My husband and I inexplicably made it to five years of marriage.  I say inexplicably because we’ve had a fair amount of challenges, not to mention spending the first two years as a commuting couple, only to be united as one household and now, again, separated as a commuting couple.  We have been reborn in the work world where we have both taken on jobs that fit in with our passions and evolve our skillset.  Strangely love is sweeter and the challenge, my husband says, is strangely worth it.  We wish things had been easier but we are somehow stronger as a couple.



When I first heard of Strength in Struggle it was the second time in one day that I made the reference to the story A_Monarch_Emerging_from_Cocoon_(6017672587)of the man who watched the writhing of a cocoon, and in compassion, ripped it open to let the butterfly out.  The short life of the butterfly was cut even shorter by this act of kindness because, as it turns out, that time writhing in the cocoon – the struggle – is what makes the wings of the butterfly strong enough to fly.  As I think back on my study of our relationship with nature I realize also that it is the pecking on the shell from the inside that both breaks the bird out and strengths its beak, and it’s the wind pushing on the tops of trees that give them their strength and, thus, their ability that stand tall.

Think back over the last month, year, or five years.  What has been your struggle?  Now that you’ve named it, think of all the ways in which that struggle has made you strong.

Contemplating the Caterpillar

green caterpillarBy Tiffany A. Dedeaux

Insects are opportunists, enduring, and possess an uncanny wisdom for doing what humans do, but more efficiently, according to Ted Andrews in Animal Speak. What is the message to me? I grew so hot in the unsavory spring heat, that I opened my office window. Once, when I turned to look outside, I noticed a golden-flecked caterpillar crawling on the window screen. ‘Huh,’ I thought. ‘How’d he get inside?’ All windows and doors had been closed, and all screens were in-tact.

“Life only becomes more difficult…when we resist its natural flow.”

Is it possible that the caterpillar is telling me to go, inch-by-inch, along this row that’s been so tough to hoe? I have asked other business owners what it takes to succeed and, once all ideas are exhausted as ones that I’ve tried, I have been told to wait.

The secret is time. ‘But how long?’ I finally asked, frustrated. ‘Weeks? Months? Years?’ caterpillarYears. On average reports are that businesses take 3-5 years to establish a foothold or fail. I am not sure why I forgot this fact. Perhaps it is easier to do the back-breaking work when your head is down and you’re not looking at the long row of time ahead.

Next time I looked at the window screen, a white material draped from the corner to the caterpillar. ‘Maybe he’s weaving a cocoon,’ I thought, going back to work with the slight hope that I could witness his metamorphosis.

“This the second stage of metamorphosis, the second key to creating and manifesting anything….to making the changes that facilitate or carries on life.”

If the egg is the idea and the caterpillar is the work, I am creating a business, trying to manifest a utopia of satisfied workers. Interestingly, this is the second stage of metamorphosis, the second incarnation of my business, and the second time I’m doing all the things I think I’m supposed to do…

When next I looked at the window screen, a spider was charging toward the caterpillar. ‘That’s not a cocoon, it’s a web!’ The caterpillar broke free and continued to roam around the window screen as the spider and the web disappeared. ‘He’s too strong for the web,’ I thought, in reference to the caterpillar.

“Many people fail at life because they try to accomplish the great all at once, rather than building and doing a little at a time so that it becomes great over time.”

As I contemplate what it means to wait, someone astutely points out that all the people who told me to wait are the ones who never quit. I have moved locations at least once, and that’s had me thinking I stepped far out in front of my vision. Perhaps I am being told to do a little at a time…

The last time I saw the caterpillar he was crawling on the rug on the floor. I scooped him up in a piece of paper and set him out on the front porch next to the garden.

“Change ensures growth. We have to shed the old before we can come into the new.”

My idea is this new carnation of my business as a Career Coach. I’ve been asked about being a video editor and I’ve had to explain that technology is such that everyone thinks they can edit. It doesn’t matter that I spent more than a decade training my eye, with an Emmy on my mantle to remind me of my work. This is not the Age of Expertise, as some career trend reports said would be the case. This is a time of doing for yourself…of having your own experience…of creating with your own hands.

I have been asking other business owners, what have I been missing? The last time I focused on my business it took off on the wings of one contract with one large company. I knew that was not the way for sustained flight. This time the building of my company is more deliberate, more an expression of my way in the world and not the art that would enliven it. More like the steady, slow movement of a caterpillar: full of promise and slow with definite answers.

When I conceived of this version of my business, a ladybug stopped me and compelled me to consider this path of awareness. She appeared periodically in my locked office, at just the right time for me to know that ‘yes, I had a good moment,’ and ‘yes, coaching is the path for me.’

black caterpillar

Now I have this visit from a caterpillar. What am I to think? Andrews would have me know that the caterpillar, with the spinning of its cocoon, ‘works to strengthen itself and achieve its foundation.’ I, as is evidenced by my visitor, am beyond the idea stage. I am in what I’ve referred to as the opportunity stage where, like an idea, things ‘need to be worked with, shaped, formed, developed, and honed.’ I am in the building and strengthening stage, creating the foundation of this enterprise. When I am done, the Age of Chrysalis can begin.

“Everything we create in life has to go through stages.”

Grapes Tell a Story

CC BY 2.0

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

Grapes tell the story of a place from creation to where we are now, says 5th generation farmer and Lady Hill winemaker, Jerry Owen.  This point was noticeable to me when I had the chance to visit Johan Vineyards, one of the few certified bio-dynamic fields.  These grapes grow with native wild yeast and little manipulation so that they winemakers can ‘let it be what it is.’  With an orange Pinot Gris named Drueskiall, and the first bio-dynamic Pinot Noir they call Petillant Natural, what I’ve learned from these winemakers is that each season can teach us something different:

  1. 2011 was a year of patience.  The winemakers had to wait until November to harvest and, in order to spend time with their families, rush to get it all taken care of before Thanksgiving.
  2. 2012 was a year that didn’t start how it finished.  The Johann fields experienced a cold and wet June which gave way to a beautiful July.
  3. 2013 was a year of happen-stance.  Typhoon remnants dropped six inches of rain in two days, which led to an unexpected treasure: a biodynamic dessert wine.
  4. 2014 was a year of abundance.  The question, which was a good problem to have, is where to put it all?  It was reported as one of the best Oregon growing seasons with no abnormal rain dump.
  5. 2015 is ahead of the curve.  With such a mild winter, the cycle of growth is about 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule.

As a bio-dynamic wine yourself, what story do your grapes tell about the last five years?

Enable the Conversation: Lessons from a Winemaker


Wine is not merely a beverage, but a way to enable conversation.  Like life, wine is about relationship and Jerry Owen, the owner of Lady Hill Winery, knows this.  Jerry is more than a winemaker; he’s a 5th generation farmer and a storyteller.  The story starts with the name of his label:  Lady Hill.  This is what he calls the land where he lives because he can count the number of boys in his family on one hand.  He calls himself a household facilitator and in recognizing his lot in life, he embraces the feminine qualities of his conversation elixir.

Beyond the powerful story and the great conversation spaces he is preparing to open in the Summer of 2015, the key lessons I am taking away from my conversation with Jerry are these:

It’s easier to tell a good story if it’s yours to tell.  No one can tell Jerry’s story like he can, so for anyone representing a brand we have to make the story our own.

Saying you’re as good as another creates an artificial glass ceiling.  By putting yourself in the same category as another, you limit your room to improve.  This is where the ceiling comes in.  You don’t have to be better than another, you just have to be different, Jerry insists.

When you get a second chance:  build, don’t repeat.  Lady Hill is Jerry’s second winemaking venture and he went into it wanting to keep what worked and purge what didn’t. The story continues in the pour.  When he first made wine he created a bottle that translated as ‘Going into the Shadows,’ so to pick up where he left off, this time we are ‘Headed into the Light.’

Who you are shows in your work.  Jerry says many don’t respect Merlot because it’s easy to abuse by over-cropping and still, it remains drinkable.  For Jerry, wine is like food, it can lose its flavor if you dumb it down in order to mass produce it.

To read how this can apply to work career or life’s work click here.

By Chance or by Choice

© Copyright roger geach and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

Change is always happening.  Change is a basic element of life, like air.  You cannot see it, but you can witness the effects.  It can happen in small whispers or it can happen in big gusts.

How are you caring for yourself?

How you care for the Earth mirrors how you care for yourself.  Like the seasons, you’re transitioning from life as you’ve known it, to a time when you cannot avoid the impact climate change is having on where you live and how you live there.

Change happens by chance or by choice.  When these two worlds collide, chance and choice, you must decide how you respond.  Do you choose to embrace the change or do you choose to resist?  The secret is, whatever you decide, you can also choose to change your mind.

With the book Ethics and the Earth Missionary I will show you how we can all learn from our past to more mindfully inhabit the Earth.  Take a deeper look at the places you love.  How have they changed?  How have you changed?  This is your chance to better care for yourself, for your environment, and create a legacy that celebrates life.

I am a ecopsychology-based career coach because I am fascinated by how we express and share ourselves through our work.  It can be a deeply personal act, which is why change in how we work can be both exciting and offending.  When it comes to how you work — especially on behalf of Earth — I can help you find that excitement and deal with offense.  I work with those of you who are gasping for change, and those who are gasping trying not to let it in.  I work with those of you who are gulping change in with a glint in your eye and smile on your lips; and those who are taking it in, eyes wide with fear.

Change is your air, and I help you understand that you have a choice, how to make that choice, and how to prepare for when it happens again. If you are curious, reflective, aware and trying to find your way, this book…this journey is for you.   Buy Ethics and the Earth Missionary by Earth Day, receive one free- 45 minute coaching session with me before Summer Solstice.

Let’s co-create a better life.

The Body We Live On

What sets me apart?  It’s my understanding and embracing the relationship with nature as a coach.  Even when I talk to other coaches, many focus on the body and sitting deeper in the senses.  What about the body we live on?  What about Earth?

Living more truly in our bodies may situate us better in our relationship with the Earth…with energy, with grounding…but Earth is not a literal part of the conversation.  If this relationship is not literal, how do we expect everybody to remember?  At some point, do they forget why they called us?  Do we forget why we are called?  At some point, if we don’t talk about it, do we all forget why or how we feel when we go outside? Don’t just go, share.

In the end what sets me a part as a coach does not make me special; it just means that sometimes I remember.

Recommended Reading

1484869613Ethics and the Earth Missionary: Outlining Standards for Ecopsychology and Mindfully Inhabiting the Earth
Tiffany A. Dedeaux

0871564068Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind
Theodore Roszak

0262517787Ecopsychology: Science, Totems, and the Technological Species
Peter H. Kahn Jr.


By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

I have met a lovely woman who accented her face with copper highlights.  She is the Phoenix.  She does not like to play with fire, but she has the wisdom of knowing she can rise from the ashes of her past to share the beauty of her present.  When the wings of flight show up in her life she knows she must be or is being Fearless.

Carry your symbol with you either in the form of something tangible you can hold, or as an image in your mind, and notice when it appears to you.  Notice what you believe it is telling or asking of you in a word like ST Becoming an Elder Title‘fearless’ or in a question like ‘whooooo are you?’  This is another form of the wisdom of the Elder You.  She is wise even in her own eyes, and she can show you the way.

This is an excerpt from my Becoming an Elder eCourse.