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Ken at Spy Pond Park, Arlington, Massachusetts, 30 November 2011

Well, here’s the third of my pictures for the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge: Arlington. It’s where I live and this is at Spy Pond Park just off the Minuteman Bike Path. Spy Pond was supposedly where the ice harvesting industry started, and before refrigeration, they used to ship ice from Spy Pond as far away as India!

This one was easy for me. Where should I go next? What landmark should I take a picture next to?



Ken at Arthur Fiedler Statue on Esplanade, Boston, MA, 28 November 2011

As I said in my earlier post, I’m starting a project I’m calling the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge.  You can see the criteria I’ve listed here. Basically it’s to visit each of the 351 towns and cities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and to meditate/pray in each one for at least 10 minutes, and take a picture of me there to prove it.

I’ll be posting my pictures here to prove to myself (and all my readers) that I’m keeping myself honest.  I can tell you that the first few dozen will probably be easy.  Getting to places like Mt. Washington, Colrain, and Hardwick will take more effort!

Here’s today’s effort. and an easy one. I’m often on the Charles River.

So, where have you been and what have you been doing?

I haven’t posted in the past week, as I’ve been on a sort of personal sabbatical.  I’ve had quite the busy and full past few months, and I needed some time that I could take to slow down, take stock of where I am, and get prepared for the months ahead.  I’m just now coming out of it, and I think I’m better centered to do what I need to do for the winter.

Part of that was doing my Alternative Black Friday retreat.  I had planned on doing that at a location in Arlington, but as luck had it I instead went to The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts, which is a lovely place.   The day consisted of meditating, journaling, reading, walking, and other activities.  I’ll be planning on doing it again in the future, so let me know if you’d like to be a part of the next session!

Part of doing this was to see what interesting and creative ideas could come out of my head at this time, and I think I got a good one.  Massachusetts has 351 cities and towns.  I’ve been to a majority of them (having lived in the Commonwealth for most of my life) but there are a number of towns that I haven’t been to yet.  I have seen at least one blog about a couple working to visit all 351 towns and cities, and I thought this might be a great idea for me, as I’ve been looking for ways that I can incorporate practices to my life. I’m calling this the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge.

So, here’s my spin on this: I have to do a number of things in order for a town to count in the 351.

  1. I have to actually be in the town and either meditate/pray/sit quietly for at least 10 minutes.  This makes it so I can’t count places that I’m driving through on the Massachusetts Turnpike (Yup, just picked up Blandford!)
  2. I have to take a picture of me in front of a landmark or building that would only be in that town (e.g. post office, town hall, police station, etc.) It doesn’t have to be a government building, but at least one where there’s no mistaking where it is.  For example, I could choose Durgin Park or Fanueil Hall in Boston.  It also means I can’t just step over the border 3 feet and sit for 10 minutes.  I have to find where the life of the town is.

When will I finish this?  I don’t know.  It will be a fun project, and might get me to go out of my way to see a town I’ve never been to.  I’ve always wondered about Nantucket, Egremont, Wales, and Plympton. I’m setting this as an intention and not a goal.  I think that this will allow for some interesting things to happen, and if I just give myself the space for this, I hope they will.

Here’s my first proof:

So, what are you creating in order for interesting things to happen?

20111115-150752.jpgBeing successful, whichever way you define that, can be a difficult thing, as there are so many variables in the mix. It’s a combination of you, what you have to offer, the needs ofothers, and the zeitgeist of the moment all aligning. While you can’t change the world situation (on the large scale at least), you can affect your own situation.

As was mentioned to me again this past weekend, you need to “put on your own air mask before helping others” and that all comes down to managing your own needs first and foremost. You need to know what the situation is out there (e.g. Is there a need or market for someone who sings show tunes while riding a unicycle?) before you know what parts of you you need to develop. That being said, you also need to know what’s important to you before you decide which people, companies and industries you need to investigate. No use in trying to please someone or something that isn’t important to you.

That being said, there are three different areas that you have to be sure of yourself:

  • Head: Do you really know what you’re talking about? Are you sure the information is accurate? I’ve had too many clients take action steps because the “heard from somebody” that a certain job or industry would be a good choice. Do your research and get the facts.
  • Heart: Is this something that matters to you? Are your insides feeling good about what you’re doing? You need to know what’s important to you before spending your time, money and energy pursuing something that you are going to throw away later. Granted, sometimes you don’t know for sure, but listen to yourself first.
  • Guts: Do you have an instinct that you should do something? Not sure shy you’re interested in something but you know there’s a reason deep inside you? Our minds are complex and don’t always state our needs clearly to us (like our dreams). Again, it’s something to listen to.

We can’t ride on just our head, heart, or guts, but need to balance a great insight from one of them with wisdom from the others. Do you really want that great paying job that will make you travel too much? Are your dreams of Broadway stardom realistic given your mortgage? You need to consider all parts of you.

So, are you listening to your head, heart, and guts?

Note: If you want to another opportunity to slow down and listen to your body’s wisdom, please consider coming to my Alternative Black Friday workshop: Taking Stock of Your Life.

20111108-141049.jpgAs the days get darker, I’ve been feeling that this is a good time to reflect on where I am, what I’m doing, how it serves me, and what my best steps will be going forward.  I figure that one of the best ways to do that is to help other people do the same thing!

With that in mind, I’ve decided to do a one day retreat workshop on the day after Thanksgiving (usually called Black Friday because so many people are out shopping for Christmas gifts), so that I can focus on what’s really important and continue the thoughts of what I’m really thankful for.

Here’s the write up for the workshop:

This small (4-5 people) workshop will be an opportunity to use the day after Thanksgiving, when many people are going crazy to purchase things, to slow down and take stock of where you are in life and decide how you want to show up in the future.

There will be guided meditations, journaling, quiet contemplations, and group discussions to facilitate what is important to each of us, review of how we’ve shown up in life, and an opportunity to set our intentions for the future.

You can show your interest in attending by going to the Facebook event or leaving a comment here. You can go to to actually register for the event now.

So, are you being intentional about what you want out of life?

Addition: Here’s the video I made for this.  Please share!

20111107-085858.jpgWhile I’ve been in a more contemplative, meaning of the Universe type of space on this blog lately, I also have that productivity/get it done side to myself. Today, you’ll get a shot of that practical side of myself.

The reason I’m so focused on knowing yourself and what you want is that until you know and understand that, it’s hard to know where to put your efforts in the job search (and you’ll waste a lot of time). But once you are clear on your vision and goals, it’s time to start doing your research.

I’ve been very surprised that when I recommend that people do research, they really don’t know what to do. Consider this a little list of resources if you are going to develop a list of target companies for your job search.

  1. Your Reference Librarian: Whether at a your local library or a major research university’s library, librarians are your friends. They aren’t about book and telling you to be quiet. Librarians are like fox hounds for information. Put them on the trail and they are off. Just tell them the type of information you need (e.g. “All the TV stations in the state of Connecticut” or “film festivals that specialize in documentaries”) and they have databases (more about them below) and print resources that can help you locate them quickly. They are a great resource that most people overlook.
  2. Databases: As mentioned above, many libraries have access to large databases of information that will help you out. Most aren’t available to the general public, but libraries subscribe to these great services. Take advantage of them!
  3. LinkedIn: Yes, LinkedIn is great for doing research! Find out what companies people in a LinkedIn group work for. Discover where that person used to work as its probably in the same field. Look at the people who are linked to someone in the field and where do they work. lots of possibilities!
  4. Google: We all know Google, but there’s a good chance you’re not using it to its full extent. For example, if there’s a company you’re interested in, you can google the company name and the name of something else you have in common (e.g. The name of the school you went to) to find out if there is an alum who works there or if there’s a special program that both are working on. Put your detective hat on and look for clues!

So, are you searching for something or waiting for it to find you?

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

I am a career consultant who specializes in the connection between what your spirit wants to do in the world, and how to marry that to the work that you do in order to support yourself. While I work with people in all fields, I specialize in working with "creative entrepreneurs" and the LGBT community.

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