Friday, April 11, 2008

What does "work" mean to you?

Find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life.
~Harvey Mackay

The title of today's post on one of the blogs I read totally caught my attention this morning: Killer Career Advice Goes manga, meet Johnny Bunko. Intrigued, I clicked through and discovered what promises to be an awesome way to transform the concept of career planning in the form of a manga career guide. The best part? The video trailer promoting the book:

Johnny Bunko trailer from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

Obviously, only having heard about The Adventures of Johnny Bunko this morning, I haven't read it yet, but it really got me thinking about how the consciousness shift across the planet is changing everything, literally everything. It is possible that mine will be the last generation burdened with the idea that work is drudgery, just something to get through so you can enjoy the rest of your life. While many people of all generations have broken free of that belief, the generation that is graduating from college in this decade is benefiting from the awakening that has been happening. They tend to have higher expectations about work as something that had better be fulfilling since you spend more time doing that than just about anything else you do in your life.

For me, work was always a struggle based in conflicting beliefs. On one side, I knew that if you do what you love, the money will follow. On the other side, I believed that work was, well, work, something that was difficult and complex and the harder you worked at it, the more you would be rewarded. The problems for me in breaking free, or so I told myself, were that I didn't know what it was that I loved and that I was just too practical not to have a "real job" while I was figuring that out. What has become clear over the years is really that fear was keeping me small--the longer I stayed at jobs that I didn't love, the longer I could stay "safe" by blaming the job for my unhappiness. If I took a risk and became a writer or healer or spiritual mentor, then there was a chance that I would fail, that I would discover I was mediocre, that I didn't have any true gifts to share with the world.

Since I left my job in September, I've really focused on turning my concept of the word "work" around. "Work" and "play" are no longer opposites for me. I've come to think of it more as you would "a work of art." It's a matter of where you place your attention, what you're putting your energy into, the product of your natural creativity. While I do not have "a job," I invest a lot of time and energy in my work right now--my work is to live my life as fully as I know how to today. Some days that includes activities that earn me money and some days that doesn't--I still have some unlearning and relearning to do, but there is daily progress on that front. At the end of the day, I judge whether my time was well-spent by how much joy I've experienced, whether or not there's a smile on my face, how authentically I showed up in the world today. The more that happens, the more the work I'm doing is seen as valuable to someone else and I am compensated.

How do you define "work"? Do you feel that your current work is your life's work? What steps can you take today to shift that concept for yourself? Join me this week in being part of the consciousness shift taking place around "work." Doesn't it make life more fun? Namaste.

Photo: "cubicle," originally uploaded by Kat

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hugging back

Something I was reading this week recommended hugging a tree, saying that if you get still and pay attention you should feel the tree hugging back. Somewhat by accident, I ended up participating in a tree hug fest yesterday, and I am so glad that I did. What a magnificent way to connect with nature and the universe. Booyah!

I've been feeling the pull towards the beach this week--it takes about 30 minutes to get over to Half Moon Bay and I tend to fill my days with so much busyness that I don't feel I have time to make the journey. Every time I go I think, wow, it's so close, why don't I do this more often? The intellect can be so silly sometimes. Turning it off and letting the greater wisdom within me do the thinking always nets better results.

So while I was there I had two goals: to walk my 3-mile walk for my Avon Walk for Breast Cancer training, and to soak up as much beauty and peace and, well, beach as I could. It was absolutely gorgeous when I arrived--a deep blue sky reflecting into the sparkling blue ocean, relatively warm (I'm thinking mid-60s), a handful of fluffy, white clouds. I set off in a northerly direction along a path that ran along the top of the cliff. At some point I reached an easy access point to head down to the beach and I did, walking along the water and just enjoying the smell, the way the clouds dancing across the sun cast shadows on the sand, the feeling of the sand giving way beneath my feet.

When I turned around to head back the other way I realized that dark, heavy clouds were coming in, slowly obscuring the sun, but it was an almost tangible blanket with distinct edges--when you looked out to the horizon you could see the sun reflecting off the water on the other side a few miles out. It was absolutely breathtaking in its own way. On the way back I made a game out of walking in my own footsteps, half running in the sand and laughing at my own silliness. At the car, I knew I was having too much fun to go home, so I just kept walking past it towards a clump of trees I saw hanging on the edge of the cliff.

And man, as much fun as I had walking on the beach, exploring these trees was definitely the highlight of my day. It's only Thursday and I don't want to squelch any upcoming joy, otherwise I'd claim it as the highlight of my week! I had to cross a little bridge to reach this grove of cypresses and it was like crossing into another world. A deep peace fell over me and I felt as though I'd walked into a large cathedral with the kind of deep energy that collects over many years of reverence. My steps got very slow and I could feel my energy shift in response to the trees, keeping the playfulness but almost mutating it into a sense of celebration, a joie de vivre, that resonated all the way to my core.

There was a single cypress hanging off the edge of the cliff, completely bent so that its top ran almost parallel to the ground. I walked up to it and wrapped my arms around it, resting my chin on its bark and looking out over its vista. I'd been soaking up the beauty of the beach for almost an hour, but it was like I was seeing it for the first time, I was seeing it from the tree's vantage point. I stood there for a few minutes, soaking up the energy of the tree, not even really conscious of the fact that my toes were just a couple of inches from the edge of a cliff. I just felt so safe, so centered, so grounded, so connected.

The next tree I came to was sticking out of the earth at about a 45 degree angle. It wasn't one I could really hug, so instead I ran my hands along it, really seeing it through my palms and fingers, feeling the intricacies of its bark. There were a couple of knots that looked a bit like the deep, soulful eyes of a horse or a whale or something, and I looked deeply into them, feeling like I was looking into the tree's soul. The tree emanated such a sense of grace, and I felt honored to have it share its presence with me.

After that, I ran through the clumps of trees I found and explored them like I was a little kid, seeing them as great places to play games, making different rooms out of the trees' canopies, seeing how many I could walk between along the edge of the cliff without going back out to the path. These trees brought me to a place of such joy and gratitude. I felt childlike in their presence, totally in awe of them, yet having so much fun with them.

I am so grateful to have had this experience yesterday. I needed this connection, this reminder of the magnificence of the universe and my place in it. And now I know exactly where I can go if I ever need help reaching a place of peace and serenity. The grace of these trees will always show me the way. Namaste.

Photo: "the lone cypress as seen from the 17 mile drive," originally uploaded by Vaidyanathan Krishnan

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A New Earth -- Breaking Free

Jenn's thoughts and learnings from the sixth week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

"The next step in human evolution is not inevitable, but for the first time in the history of our planet, it can be a conscious choice."
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

It was another great week with Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, and A New Earth. I'm loving the ongoing awakening that is happening within me and in the world around me. Can you feel it? It's almost tangible. And it's completely infected my language these days--I find myself speaking about ego and awareness and staying present even to people who don't necessarily know what it is I'm talking about. I figure if they don't understand what I'm saying they can always ask me, right?

The Monster Within, Take Two
Last week I talked about my big Aha! surrounding the pain-body in me and in those around me. What was so wonderful about this week was recognizing how simple it is to disconnect from your pain-body. Naturally, many people want to know how they can be free of the pain-body and how long it will take to attain that freedom. Eckhart spoke about how it is really a matter of disidentifying with the pain-body through your awareness of its presence within you. All it takes is this moment, the only moment there is, to see that the pain-body has been triggered and to become aware of it. It's such a beautiful culmination of everything we've been talking about here. Being present, being aware of this moment, enables you to recognize your identification with the pain-body in that moment and be free. That doesn't mean it won't come back again, but what it means is that the more aware you are, the more present you are, the less power the pain-body can ever have over you, because it requires unconsciousness to continue its reign of terror in your mind and body.

True Love
I loved listening to Eckhart talk about love this week. It totally reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves." Love is not about wanting or needing, it isn't about what you get from another person, it isn't about romance, and it certainly isn't about wanting another person to change in any way. Eckhart spoke about true love as being the recognition of the essence of the other person, of the divinity within each and every human being. It is truly Namaste, defined by as, "The Light of God in Me recognizes and honors The Light of God in You and in that recognition is our Oneness." When we are with someone that we love exactly as they are, requiring nothing from them, just allowing them to be, then we are experiencing true love.

Traffic as an Opportunity
At the end of this week's webinar, Oprah and Eckhart were talking about how many people get frustrated in traffic and how they just don't understand how people can experience road rage. I've spent more time in the car with people intolerant of traffic to be able to claim a lack of understanding--it is easy to see the unconsciousness slip over them. Eckhart talks about it being a matter of taking the traffic personally, which totally resonated with me. Everyone else who is on the road is just as absorbed in their own world as you are, so of course having them move into your lane in front of you isn't personal--how could it be? They barely even notice there's another human being in that car, and they definitely don't know it's you. The only thing that is happening here is that you are reacting to a situation that is completely out of your control. Getting upset, feeling stressed out about it does not change the situation in the slightest--it just makes it even more intolerable for you. Eckhart spoke about this as being a wonderful opportunity to practice your awareness, and in that case, the more traffic the better. If your car isn't moving at all, you can even close your eyes for a brief breathing meditation or practice feeling the aliveness within your body. Whether you tend to find traffic frustrating or not, take the opportunity this week to use traffic to your advantage--I bet it will transform your time in the car, and ultimately will leave you feeling more centered, more connected, more awake, and more aware. Namaste.

Photo: "Love is being stupid together," originally uploaded by Nattu

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Two of my favorite things

My meditation altar

I feel like a kid in a candy store. The last few weeks I've been indulging in a few new toys that I am just loving playing with. As part of this shift, I cleared out one of my bookshelves and turned it into a sort of altar. It is now home to my abalone shell with a sage smudge stick, a couple of Buddhas, rocks I collected in Sedona and Utah, my pendulum and crystal, and some cards whose images and messages I just love. I'm using it as a place to display my daily angel card and tarot card as well. It just has such a lovely warm-and-fuzzy feeling to it. I've been meditating on the floor in front of this altar for the past week or so--certainly not as comfy as my couch, but I do like the way the energy is building in this space. While I hate to play favorites with my new toys, the Osho Zen Tarot cards are so much fun I've been a little like a doting grandmother with them, showing them off to anyone who cares to listen. Whether you've been reading cards for 30 years or are brand new to the concept, these are sure to captivate you. Beautiful and insightful.

My love ferns

When Sean and I got married two years ago, our friend Don put together some absolutely beautiful calla lily bouquets for me and my bridesmaids to carry. As an accent to that, he also picked up two potted calla lilies that were used to adorn the area of the patio where the ceremony was held. I dubbed them my "love ferns" after the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I was a wee bit worried about my ability to keep them alive--while I no longer consider my thumb to be completely brown, it is far from green and I tend to surround myself with plants of the variety Those That Can't Be Killed. The love ferns live out on the deck and I water them somewhat sporadically; while they always seem to recover from my dry spells I wouldn't have called them thriving . . . until now. The last few months I've been much more conscious of my plants, watering them much more consistently and talking to them regularly. As a reward for my attention, the calla lilies bloomed for the first time since the wedding. They've been absolutely gorgeous and such a treat to view out on the deck each day. Definitely motivation to continue being good to them!

Monday, April 7, 2008


I just read an awesome article, "Pearls Before Breakfast," by Gene Weingarten. A friend had posted something on Facebook about it having won a Pulitzer and, curious, I googled it. When I read newspaper stories, at best I skim them, usually really just reading the first couple of paragraphs. This may be the first time I've ever read every word. In addition to being well-written, its concept was fascinating--what happens when a world-renowned violinist dons the role of street musician during rush hour--and turned out to be an incredibly interesting commentary on what appears to be the American way of self-absorption and not paying attention. Life out of balance, which is what the Hopi word "Koyaanisqatsi" means.

Take a few minutes to read the article--it is definitely worth it--and please use the comments to let me know what came up for you.

Ray Bradbury quote

If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.

~Ray Bradbury