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Jason C. VennerAug 15, 2020 7:47am

TRACTION

I'm excited, I've been doing a lot of work and making a lot of progress recently, without realizing it. There are good vibes right, even though at Clampco I'm completely exhausted regarding the state of the virus, another pending election cycle, working into a "new normal," and the idea that I'll always be making big decisions that profoundly affect people's lives. But I suppose that is my purpose in life, and I can't really ever seem to run away from responsibilities. Big ones at that. It is in my blueprint.


So I'm up for the challenge, and I've been energized, supported and coached by people around me who make a difference. My wife of course is a cornerstone of me trying to get this thing going. I've also been going back and forth with a good friend of mine who is completing some visual artwork to complement my own writing. I've also been taking weekly hikes with a new freind of mine who has helped me delve into my deeper psychological motivations of what it means to be myself, a leader, a businessman, an artist, and a father all wrapped into one. I've learned that people try to compartmentalize their lives, by working all week, and then shifting into weekend mode, and then doing it all over again, and I feel this is the basis of our disconnection with oursleves - the way we hate our thoughts and our bodies, and this transfers into our business dealings as well. It creates dischord, a lot of play acting, boasting, and odd behavior that really isn't reflective of ourselves, and not to mention, not really necessary.


Further, how wonderful would it be, to allow more perspective into your business and your personal life? I speak to all, but specifically to white businessmen here. Listen to women and minorities more, and let them know they're heard. People respond instantly to kindness and receptivity, so why not make it one of the conernstones of your operation, and life? The only thing you have to lose is your crusty old self or habits that may not have been doing anything to propel you or your business forward.


I know, there he goes with that hippie stuff again...But it's true. Say good morning to people you normally wouldn't. Ask people questions if you don't know instead of repeating canned phrases that you may not even agree with. Be vulnerable. Ask someone if there is anything you can do to help them. Laugh more. I feel the business world/work culture beginning to change, and for the better, but that can also be vulnerable to the everyday trickster and the "loud talker" who's afraid that change will rob them of their hard earned IRA. This simply just isn't true. My father started his company as a quiet and soft-spoken guy who just wanted to make good clamps. He listened to his wife. He listened to his employees. He trusted his gut. He's proven that not being a jerk can bring one success, and those around who may be lifted by such efforts.


Keep tapping into the people around you who are smart and supportive. Challenge those who are angry or simply wrong about something, but do it in a way that invites dialogue and not conflict. I've found that a lot of times, myself included, that people sometimes simply aren't aware of how their positions or attitudes have contributed to them feeling or being "stuck." As one of my favrote song writers Rob Dickinson sings, "you just gotta smile, and hang out with intelligent people."

Jason C. VennerJun 30, 2020 6:03pm

The Middle of All Things

I've done something sort of crazy, but sort of right up my alley. I've registered to become a Forest Bathing Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. I simply can't hide it from people any longer. I talk to trees and animals, and I want to further understand this phenomena and deepen my relationship with nature. I start my coursework October 9th.


I'm doing this because I feel it can help me with Whisper Shifter in walking and helping people dig into their work. But I'm also doing it becasue you and I are in constant motion, like the planets and the stars of which we somehow feel are "fixed" within the sky. One thing is for certian having moved out to the county: there is constant change. There are epic beginnings and inevitable endings. The sky is so beautiful without the hindrance of a city's lights, but in a way it reminds me that I'm small, and nothing really. My body is sort of like this tube walking around, housing an animus that is restless and searching for its route back home, and this learning has to be done, or else I feel I'll end up in ruin. Yup.


Also because there is death here where I live and I need to come to grips with this. I've seen so much of it in four short years, along with the ever-overwhelimignly insistent life that oozes from everything. I've dealt enough mercy death to suffering deer, turtles, mice, snakes and racoons that I could pastor my own congregation at this point. Just the other day, I happened to catch a mouse in a glue trap. It was intended for the snakes in the basement, but he was the unfortunate one. Luckily he'd died by the time I found him, and I didn't have to end the suffering, at least directly by my hands. I took the trap outside and set it down so that I could open the trash can. Without any notice, a sparrow flew smack into the trap, like a moth to the flame, and it was stuck right next to the mouse. It was frantic having been stuck, and it ripped its wing bones out of its skin tyring to escape. I had to be quick and grabbed my hatchet. I smudged it and asked for it to forgive me when it becomes my time.


I don't enjoy this part of living in the country. If you think I do, you'd be a maniac. I know people who are. I don't hunt, but my neighbors are constantly practicing with their guns. Shooting, almost every night. The riots saw an uptick of activity from my surrounding neighbors - just the sense of fear eeking through the woods was enough to make me feel phsycially ill as gunfire rattled from all sides. Some idiot has a semi-automatic rifle, so I hope that's necessary to corrall those cows. Jeez. And so, my woods is full of deer right now, seemingly thanking me when they pass by the bedroom window in the early morning hours.


But back to the forest bathing coursework...I'm doing this, all of this idea, because there has been no culutre on this earth that hasn't succeeded by the detriment of the environment or of each other. As I type on this computer, precious metals were mined from the earth by underpaid and abused workers to construct it, and the electricity that powers it comes from a sytemmic failure to protect the natural resources of this earth. We have seriously messed with our only home, and my heart is heavy with this knowledge that we may not have enough time to heal it and ourselves. There has to be a better way, and I feel I must be a part of that change, how ever loudly or quietly I choose to do so. Again, all this against that constant backdrop of natural change, inevitably occuring all around us. We can't see it, and I'm sickened by our blindness. I physically am.


Call me crazy, that's fine. Tell me I need a doctor and meds. That's fine too because I already do that. But regardless, I start my training in October. Don't worry, I'll still continue to bathe and I'll be better for it.

Jason C. VennerApr 6, 2020 7:35pm

BEGINNINGS IN ENDINGS

We will all die. It’s a simple truth. I’ve been wrestling with it quite a bit the last few weeks. It seems as if our health professionals are pushing their timelines back in an ever-increasing hedge against what they probably would like to say, which is “we don’t know when this will end, and by the way, we’ve all got it.” It’s not disingenuous at all. I just don’t think they have the ability or the permission to say, “make your plans, now.”


And so, I find it sort of fitting that I finally have put the finishing touches on a short poetry thread that has taken me a few years to write. I’m usually quite prolific in my writing, but this one took quite a while to formulate – more or less, to get out. Work, parenting, and a massive 14-acre property project has taken up a lot of my free time these past 4 years, but this is the natural way of things. I was meant to be a father, and I’ve allowed myself the grace to know that I am indeed a good one!


So, I promised that I would share my work with this blog, and to that I hold (Lord of The Rings reference, sorry). It’s just that I came to realize over the course of refining these works, and then sequencing them, that I had clearly undertaken the task of mourning the death of our second child, who was lost in the womb. I knew it was a girl. I just did. My marrow moved with knowing.


The concept of the Dandelion Man first came to me when we moved out to our property, and our first full Spring there revealed a sea of dandelions across the mowed sections of our yard. Then at night, with the curtains pulled back in our bedroom, fireflies lit up the night like I’d never seen before, as if I was looking at the yard, just at nighttime.


Being around nature has forced me to deal with death in a different sort of way. We often feel that we can live without it, but I’d beg to differ that it is our friendly companion who walks about our days along side of us. We must, and especially now during this pandemic, turn and look it in the face. Welcome it even into our hearts so that we can put negative energies aside and become our true, heroic selves.


Wow. I know all that sounds like a motivational speaker who’s really had one too many energy drinks. I realize that. But, it’s true. This world is changing, and the world needs kind warriors, especially now. Talk to your loved ones, soon if not now, about what life might be like without you. Have the discussion, so that you can move beyond fear and get to the good, if even in making someone smile for a second during these crazy times. Divine love is something fear could never handle.


But in getting back to the work. People often read my stuff, and they’re left with a feeling much like I’ve tricked them somehow. Then they are embarrassed and ask a lot of questions. But that’s never been the aim of my art. As I begin writing, most often as I do, it’s about trying to put words to visceral images or dreams, or perhaps rhythms that I’m feeling in my body that I just can’t shake. Crazy stuff. Yup. That’s how this stuff comes to me. It’s not like I sit down and say to myself, “Jason, now it’s time to write…begin!” There are no white plumes of inspiration. Just my heart leading me down a path with words much like the feeling of holding a baby mouse in your hands.


So, as I have told my friends or family members who have been taught to figure poetry out like a math problem, I say, just read and contemplate the images that come to you. Nothing more. And of all the things you could be reading right now, I thank you for looking into my mind, if even for a second.


Over the next few days, I will post between two and three poems a day and will number them for you, for the sake of sequencing in your mind. Thank you for reading!


Whisper Shifter

Whisper Shifter LLCApr 2, 2020 6:20pm

GIVING WAY


You know that whole hourglass thing. The race against time, where you feel like every second matters. You begin utilizing time differently. Seconds are spliced into bits and pieces of seconds and then your mind does these weird things, like tricking you into thinking you’ll spontaneously combust if you don’t have the answer or complete the task. This is how I’ve felt over the past month, waking up each morning to find the outbreak hitting the West coast first, then the East, then Cuyahoga county, then Ohio. In my profession, I’ve gone from thinking I’ve seen just about everything to simply and brutally asking, “have I done enough?”


Some may argue, vehemently, that I’ve failed them. Yet some thank me in the hallways for keeping the doors of my family’s business open. Opposites of a struggle where everyone feels as if any measure is too late. People rally around a common enemy when it is seen. But this? This is like a black snake in the water at night. You only become afraid after its brushed past your leg, and you realize you’re too many strokes from shore to stave your fear. We’re learning about this virus as we go, without much guidance other than to stay 6 feet away from each other and to kill any-and-all germs. Healthy people are needed to perpetuate our culture, which is, let’s face it, about making money and not actual culture.


I’ve found myself finding any excuse to sneak away, alone, so that I can read the bad news on my phone. As if the device itself would suddenly give me the one line I crave: “it’s all just a hoax.” Except it’s only more of the same, every time. More infected, more dead, no supplies. Stay at home, but you’re free to order carryout and go to work under 8-million exemptions. I’ve come home from work over the past month and sat at the dinner table, mindlessly eating food that suddenly has no taste, hoping that by doing the same thing over and over again, I’m squeezing something, anything, out of nothing.


I was out my woods the other day. Winds were 50-60 miles per hour, and this massive black cherry came down just yards ahead of me. It was a glorious way to go out for a tree, just the way it gave itself to the wind. The virus is even taking my trees I felt. The trunk had lodged into the joint of another tree, and then squirrels soon began to run back and forth, transferring their hoards from one hiding place to the next. That fast. The tree had given itself to the forest, to life. Even in death there is a purpose. But I still didn’t want to die, and I still don’t now.


Americans like a purpose. Having shit to do. They like their luxurious cars, and Netflix. The superiority of their preferences. Our routines and beliefs, which, though polarized, offer comfort against what lies deeply within us that we keep ignoring. COVID-19 is forcing us to reckon with the dark and crawling shadows within us. I see my colleagues at work as they grapple with it. They go through the stages of grief each day. I go through the stages with them.


This can’t be real. Can itbe? Is it. Is it? We bargain for reassurances from one another. Then the conference room falls silent yet again unitl one of us says, "but seriously..."


Perhaps we won’t have as much money when we come out on the other side of this thing, but then again, we may not even have our way of life. Nothing is assured. Nor are our lives. I have made friends, both religious and of other schools of thought, and they all agree to some certain extent, that what we are faced with presently, is a battle of unseen proportions. Unseen measure, which will force us inward before we can outwardly transcend the present.


None of this changes the fact that this thing is coming, for us all. And fast. We’re even told now that we should assume that all have it. And so, even though I don’t like to think about it, I’ve been forced to picture that tree, and the way it shook the ground beneath me as I watched it fall. It was a beautiful sensory experience, almost as if the wind muted itself and I was able to feel it give way. All for me. A private moment with God. Still doesn’t change the fact that I’m scared. Even now. But whatever came of great people or things hadn’t they been scared out of their gourds?

Whisper Shifter LLCMar 18, 2020 7:07pm

Peeking Beyond the Curtain

American Life Changed the moment we saw epidemiologists telling us this was going to be real, and fast. In times such as these, we all recoil back to lizard brain as I like to call it. Looking inward and to ourselves. This is hard-wired into us, yes. And we must take care of ourselves and ours. Absolutely. But we're also wired, no, woven throughout the collective unconscience.


Now, is not the time to sit upon piles of gathered resources, haughtily looking down on others for their lack of cleverness. Darkness wins, you see, when we allow it speak too loudly, as it oozes and groans from unkempt spaces within our hearts. COVID-19 has already devasted our confidence in our economic system, let alone our belief that we as humans, who think we can live outside of nature, and who have created all of the problems of this world, can't think out way out of this. We can. Most certainly. By trusting one another and sharing in a time when we have driven wedges into even our own families based on political affilation to the point where people pass away without ever having spoken again.


I cannot change the world on my own. Any living creature instinctively knows this to be but a fool's errand. Simple acts of kindess rather, perhaps even of the simplest gratitude, are the tiny packets of energy that slow the brooding and visceral dark matter that seems set to destroy our minds. Our god given right to freely think...which in my experience, can only establish a direct connection with the Divine is under attack. Only now, when we are faced with not having our creature comforts and xenophobia becomes more palpable, do we need to fight, literally, for our future as a human race.


With that said, I've been turned off by the fact that I can't publish my work - more specificically my unconscoius knowing - without having it be "approved." I simply don't care about being artistically "acceptable" any longer. So, in the spirit of this post and in you getting to know me more, I've decided to publish a series of my latest work on this blog. For free. Even if you spend two minutes making fun of my work for what it's lacking, I'll still have made my mission a success, by giving you something to think about, if even just a momentary image.


Imagination "1,"

Bad Guys "0"

Whisper Shifter LLCFeb 16, 2020 2:45pm

The Great Outdoors

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Whisper Shifter assists individuals, professionals and businesses foster creative power through thinking, writing and walking.