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Hello blogging world!
I know, I’ve been a bit AWOL for a while. I’ve had an amazing summer where I was traveling a lot and had a lot of adventures. I went to New York State, New Brunswick, Provincetown (yes, there will be the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge post for that!), Kentucky, and New Mexico. I have not tended to be a big traveler, but this year was different, and I was trying something new. It has been a great experience with new learnings, and you will be seeing comments and pictures about them on this blog.
That being said, I’ve let you, and most importantly myself, down by not keeping up with blog posts. Writing down my thoughts and comments on spirit, passion, and career is not only a way to put my thoughts in concrete form and promote my ideas to you (and any potential clients), but also a spiritual practice. In the zen practice of every action you take can be mindful and promote your spiritual health, I’ve been blogging to keep myself focused and active in mind. I’ve been more active in body this summer with all the traveling, and I have gotten better with being more consistent with my yoga and meditation practices. That is a good thing, and I’m happy for that.
I can’t change the past, and it does absolutely no good to get down on myself for avoiding this, as I won’t be a better blogger now because I have a judgmental voice in my head. I can just be kind to myself and move on forward.
So, how are you being kind to yourself and acknowledging your past shortcomings?
I just had a great time in New Brunswick and Mount Desert Island, Maine on a trip to find some family roots. I had a lot of plans, and was recommended by a good friend (Thanks Scott!) to be more in the moment. Here are my thoughts on that in video form.
So, have you gotten a great opportunity just because you were present to it?
It’s past Memorial Day, so in these parts it means that summer is officially in session. I know that many people have a reading list for the summer. I have not been one of those people. I don’t tend to read books as a “start here, finish book, start the next” type of reader. I tend to pick up about four or five books and read them spottily and sometime finish them, sometimes not.
My bookshelf has been crammed with books that I thought would be great to read, but I’ve never gotten to them. In the quest to be more intentional and to actually do things that I say I want to do, I’ve decided to publish my summer reading list and write a review of each book after I’m finished. I don’t tend to read fiction and as you’ll see most of them have something to do with spiritual, career, or productivity matters (or all three at once!) I wish I liked to read fiction, but as you see they are all non-fiction
Here are the books that I’ve decided I want to try to finish this summer:
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: This book has been suggested to me more times that I can imagine from so many people, and I understand this is about how we can be with our creative selves.
Transitions by William Bridges: Career development is all about changes, and this is the standard book in my field. I’ve never read it before, so this is sort of my “good medicine” that I really need to experience.
- Embracing Your Inner Critic by Hal Stone & Sidra Stone: I, like so many, have some internal issues to work though, and this book was recommended by my friend Elsa (a mental health counselor) as a good resource for looking at this issue.
- Planets in Work by Jamie Binder: Another recommendation from Elsa. I have been researching archetypes, and I’ve been looking at how those show up in astrological readings. This looks at how astrology could be used in career development decisions.
- A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle: This book was given to me by Casey Miller and he read this many times on his cross country bike trip. I’ve seen videos of Tolle speaking, but never read any of his works. It’s about time.
- Awakening in Time by Pamela Kristan: I was at a presentation Pam gave at the Theosophical Society of Boston, and Pam’s work has to do with the intersection of productivity and spirituality. As you can imagine, this is right up my alley. I had to see how I can incorporate her ideas into my work.
- Living & Loving Well by Joseph Stuczynski: Joe presented at Easton Mountain a few years ago, and his work focuses on getting clear with our values in order to make good decisions in our lives, especially about our personal relationships. This is more of a workbook to clarify your goals, so this should be a quick win in getting it done!
- Mastering Respectful Confrontation by Joe Weston: Joe is an amazing human being and presenter, and I have been to numerous workshops that he has done, and this book puts done in words what he preaches. Joe’s main concept is that the concept of power in our culture has gotten to be connected more with physical strength and power over others, and he bases his alternative vision on Easter philosophy as the power within and with other people, and how we can have conversations that empower everyone and don’t deny our own needs. This is great stuff!
- Making It All Work by David Allen: I have been a “Getting Things Done” (GTD) fan for a number of years, as David Allen’s philosophy about personal productivity is all about how to free yourself from the stress of life and having a “mind like water” so that you can easily accomplish things in your life without fretting about them. I was lucky enough to attend a seminar last year that David personally taught, and Making It All Work is the continuation of those theories.
- How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy! by Paul Chek: In 2008, I was part of an online weight loss challenge through RealJock.com (which I won!) and DIAKADI Body was the exercise consultants on this. Though continuing to follow their great advice, I found out about Paul Chek’s work, which integrates the concepts of health, exercise, and nutrition with a more holistic & spiritual sense that really attracted me. I don’t know it so well, but have liked what I’ve seen.
- Mindfulness by Ellen Langer: This book was given to me by my boss back in the early 1990′s, and while I’m obviously interested in it, I never finished this book that was one of the first on the subject. It’s time. Thanks Dave!
- Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert: Dan’s research into what makes us really happy (as opposed to what we say makes us happy) has been really enlightening to me, as I work with people to get at the core of their happiness.
- Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good by Manuel Villacorta: In the aforementioned weight loss challenge, Manuel’s crew at MV Nutrition in San Francisco was invaluable to giving me the knowledge to eat better and lose weight. This is a new book that just came out last month, and again, I need to read it to remind myself of all the knowledge that I’ve learned (and maybe forgotten!) I highly, highly recommend that you pick up this book!
I might not get them all finished by Labor Day but it’s an intention (not at goal!).
So, what are you reading? Do you have any comments or experiences with any of these books?
Sorry I haven’t been blogging as often as I normally do. Between clients, presentations, the redesign of my website, the video project and other life issues, my focus has been on areas other than writing blog posts. I’ve been working on not beating myself up on these issues and just letting them be. As I’ve stated before about my work, while important, it’s not life or death. I say to my clients that they need to be kind to themselves when they’re stressed, so I try to listen to my own advice.
One new thing in my life is that I am now on Week 6 of wearing Invisiligns. They are clear plastic aligners that I wear all the time to reset my teeth. I chipped both my front teeth within three months of each other and my dentist suggested I get them. As my teeth have been moving together since I had braces when I was 13, and there just isn’t room for them all. It’s a little awkward and makes me be really more conscious of my eating, but supposedly I’ll have a brand new smile in 34 more weeks. I think it will be worth the wait.
I get a new set of trays every two weeks and each one works to move my teeth just a little bit each time (sort of like tightening your braces if I were to have the old metal mouth again.) The change from week to week isn’t dramatic, but the cumulative effect over the entire span of time should be impressive.
As you know from my writings, I always like to pull parallels from normal life and shine that thought onto career development. This made me think of so many of my clients that what to move toward a big new career or start a creative endeavor. Too often, they are paralyzed by the amount of effort it will take to get there, and don’t do anything. Any people want it now, and any thought that something will take a little effort I’ve a long period of time is completely daunting to their psyche.
I’ve been reminded over and over again that it’s the constant attention to the daily actions we have that really make the difference in our lives. I know when I lost a lot of weight, it came down to the decision every moment to not eat something. If you want to progress in your career, you need to take the small steps of learning a new skill, attending a professional meeting, asking for a new project, etc. It’s about being intentional in your daily life with your eyes on a goal. You can’t do it all now, but you can build a foundation brick by brick. Start your practice now!
So, what small steps are you taking today?
It’s January 26th, and the sun is in the same spot it was many years ago when I first arrived into this world. It’s usually the coldest day of the winter (some years, the high temperature is 6 degrees Fahrenheit!). It’s Australia Day (where it’s much warmer), and also Eddie Van Halen, Wayne Gretzky, and Ellen DeGeneres‘ birthday! Auspicious all around!
I’m right now riding a bus, returning from New York City where I facilitated a networking event (which went very well, by the way) and got to get together with some friends there in New York, and I’ll soon be having dinner with a number of friends as soon as I get back. I’ve also been blessed by social media by getting literally over 150 birthday wishes, and a number of people have stated how I’ve helped them either their career development, or been there for someway personally. It’s such a blessing to be a part of these people’s live and have them in mind. I’m counting my blessings.
As many of you know, part of writing this blog, in addition to promoting my ideas about how your spirit affects how you show up in the world, has been to try out some concepts that I’ve been trying to figure out. I’ve personally been trying to “walk the talk” and do a lot of personal development work, and get clear on past demons and other things that have been holding me back. I now feel like I’ve ended one chapter of my life, and another one is starting. I know what I want, and it’s time to move forward.
This birthday is a big even number (but not a momentous one with a zero at the end) and it just feels solid to me. I’m grounded, know what I want, and have a blank slate of life ahead of me. In my retreat in the Bahamas, I was able to get some clarity on some intentions for 2012 (as opposed to goals), and one of them was to be more adventurous. I need to stretch myself and do some more daring things, travel to places I haven’t been to, and to be bolder in my own life. It’s a brave new world, and I’m starting it now.
So, what bold new things are you planning for the future?
It’s the third day into the year, and already a number of New Year’s Resolutions have bit the dust.
I have not been one to put a lot of weight into making resolutions as it seems like people think this is the only time of year that they can make changes to their lives, and I like to encourage everyone that we can make a new life for ourselves at every moment. That said, it is a great time to reflect on things and see how you want to move forward in this moment.
I was lucky enough over the New Year’s weekend to have taken a few workshops at Easton Mountain, namely in gratitude, attraction, and mindfulness. They overarching message to me in these leanings was one in intention. Too often in our busy world, we are doing things that we have trained ourselves to to without thinking. While that serves us well in some fields (like driving a car) it’s not as good when we are trying to have a conversation with someone or packing for a trip. I have personally experienced many a time when I had to clean up or take extra time when I did something unmindfully.
Another concept that I’ve picked up from my recent studies in Tantra is the concept of intentions vs. goals. I’ve spoken to the idea of goals here many times and I still think that there’s a great use for them, but also have discovered that sometimes it’s better to have an intention about something. To really mix metaphors, I also have realized from my study of GTD that there’s a difference between a project and an area of focus. A project is one where there’s a clear end point (e.g.: re-tile the bathtub) where an area of focus could be something you’re responsible for, but you can never really say is ever completed (e.g.: keeping a healthy body). A goal works for a project, but not as well for an area of focus.
Therefore, I don’t have a resolution (goal) for this year, but I do have intentions. If I were to have a goal, I’d succeed or fail. I want to be more present all the time towards an intention instead. For most of my life I’ve been very goal oriented (and will never be without goals!) but I’m realizing done areas of my life need me to be more mindful in each moment and striving toward something, and intentions seem to be a better fit for that.
My intentions for 2012 are to be more present in each moment and consider what is in my best interest. As you can tell from this, I can’t have this be a success or failure; it’s just a continual striving.
So, what are your intentions for 2012?
On my way home from my family Christmas celebration in Upton, I decided that I had enough time to meditate in another town on the way home (hey, the whole reason for this challenge is to get me to go to places that I otherwise wouldn’t go and experience it.) I decided that I’d try to Hopkinton, as that was relatively on the way home, and not a place that I normally would go through.
Hopkinton is best known to most as being 26.2 miles west of Copley Square in Boston. In other words, it’s the start of the Boston Marathon. I stopped at the Town Common and saw the Marathon Starting Line painted on Main Street (Route 135) and did a walking mediation around the center. It’s quite cold, so I didn’t want to spend too much time, and it’s getting darker earlier.
I did the marathon in 1998 (in 5:07:16, which is pretty good considering I race walked the marathon and finished before many of the runners) and haven’t really been back since. That was a time that I really set a goal (I had been coaching people as part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Marathon Walking Program, but hadn’t done one myself, so I really wanted to do this to proved that I was a marathoner too. It was a tremendous effort, but so worth it see that I could do whatever I put my mind to.
So, what goals have you put your mind to?
It is the morning of Thursday, December 22nd, and the sun has come up after the longest night of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere). For cultures all over the world for centuries, this has signaled that the long, slow decrease in light will not continue, and light will return to the land. To use a term that’s been used a lot in the last few years, this was the original “It Gets Better” signal to the world.
We’ve all experienced times when things seem great, followed by times when all seems doom and gloom. I think we all intellectually understand the phrase from many traditions that “This too shall pass” whether good or bad, but that’s hard to emotionally get while we’re in the middle of something. Elation or depression can both keep us from clear thinking. I see this all the time when clients are just so happy to have a job they don’t realize that it’s not the right one for them and they dive into depression a few months later when the reality of their choice hits them.
At this time when all can seem merry and celebratory to some, and incredibly depressing to others, know that soon we will have the ordinariness of January. Take heart in enjoying what is here now, or knowing that enjoyment will come later. We are at an extraordinary time in our planet’s rotation, and that will generate extraordinary thoughts. Be kind and know they are there and that things will change.
So, what are you realizing right now?
I started this blog (almost two years ago now) because I wanted to get out my ideas on the intersection of where people feel their passion and souls live and what they do in their lives to create meaning and support themselves. I’ve seen too many of my clients who are just blindly going through their professional careers who then 5, 10, 20 or even more years into it discover that they are completely unfulfilled and feel like they have been wasting their lives. It’s my goal to get as many people as possible to consider what’s important to them first before taking these steps. They might take the same actions, but this time with confidence.
I’ve also been doing a kit of personal reflection and study in my life and tried to share my learnings with all of you. Probably the greatest insight that I’ve had is one that I’ve read and heard for years, but I finally “got it”. As is probably apparent from my posts and my professional position, I’m a great proponent of planning and working your plan. I’m always looking for ways to be in control of what’s needed to be done (just look at all the posts that I have with the tags GTD, actions, goals, and the like). That’s my natural way of being and I can easily teach this to others. I’ve had to be a student of the other side, namely allowing things to happen.
I’ve been so driven to get things done that I’ve been impatient to allow things to happen. I’ve come to realize in a visceral sense (and not just intellectually) that there are too many variables in the world that I have no control over, and I have to learn how to just “be” in order to effectively deal with life’s challenges. As the saying goes “Life happens while you’re making other plans”. If I’ve been working so hard to get everything right, I’m not able to deal with what’s in front of me effectively.
In reviewing some of the data that I’ve seen from this blog, the #1 search term that brings people to my site is “human being versus human doing”. My first post on this is subject is one of my most read posts. I think that people have a great longing wondering if what they do has meaning and if there are other ways of being. As you can probably tell, it’s my work to answer that question with a resounding “Yes!”.
The first step is to practice “being”. It sounds cliche, but you have to work at slowing your mind down and just be present to the current moment. Our fast paced culture does all it can to keep us from bring present. This is not something I can just give you; it takes practice. You will screw it up a lot at the beginning. Keep trying. There are lots of different ways (yoga, meditation, prayer, serving others, etc.). Find the way that works for you and keep trying to do it and stay present.
Once you get that down, it will be much easier to actually take the action steps you need to make your dreams happen. You’ll have a focused goal and won’t have a lot if other things crowding your mind to keep you from the action steps to get them done.
So, how are you being today?
Everything has a shelf life: bread, yogurt, prescriptions, your body, and many relationships. As things change and morph in our world, the situations that brought things together are no longer there so strongly and we start to feel that this isn’t as comfortable or serving us like it used to. That’s when we start to get restless and start looking for something new.
While I think that this is a pretty natural process, many of my clients jump at the next thing instead of making a thoughtful transition. While you might feel in “Get me outta here!” mode, it’s best to first consider why you are feeling that way to make sure that you don’t go directly into another similar or worse situation (see my writing on The Foxhole Method of Career Development for more on this).
Usually you are frustrated in a position because there is some value that’s important to you that’s being squashed. Feel that your boss doesn’t listen to you? You probably value being respected and contributing.
I like to say this is when you’ve reached Kansas City Mode. Just like in the play Oklahoma!, it’s when you’ve gone about as far as you can go. If you’ve reached that point, it’s now time to really plan for how you’re going to make your next steps. You’re usually secure yet bored or frustrated. This is a great time to make a plan for the future instead of a knee jerk reaction. I’ve find that many people can handle any situation as long as they are making progress towards something better.
So, have you reach Kansas City Mode and what are you doing to move past that?