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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 (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?


I am proud to announce that I have a new home base for seeing clients and holding workshops at the Theosophical Society of Boston, whose offices are at 21 Maple Street in Arlington Center.  It has generous parking, as well is on four different bus lines of the MBTA.

I will be able to see one-on-one clients in a quiet, cozy setting, but also have the availability to run more workshops, which you will be seeing more of in 2012.

To quote from the their website:

The Theosophical Society (TS) is a center of learning where people can explore, with freedom of thought and inquiry, many philosophies and spiritual practices. The TS offers a wide range of lectures, workshops, study groups, and meditation practices.
The goal of the programs presented at the TS is to promote ways in which all of us can communicate and cooperate with each other. As part of this goal, we:
  • seek universal truth;
  • honor and respect other spiritual points of view as well as those who hold them; and
  • recognize that each and every one of us are expressions of the same life and that our well-being is linked: whatever happens to one of us happens to all of us.

As anyone who reads this blog consistently knows, this philosophy is in line with what I espouse here on The Spirit-Work Connection. I’ll probably be providing some programming for them, as well as doing my other programs. They have lots of interesting programming there, so check it out!

While I’m thrilled to have a home base, I will continue to meet with clients via the phone, Skype, and in other locations convenient to all involved.

So, when will you be coming to see the new home?

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?

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!

I’ve just returned from Easton Mountain where I participated in an intensive tantra and breathwork retreat lead by Ian Ellington. While I can’t go into all of what I learned, I can share one particular learning that was really revolutionary for me, and I think has a direct relationship to what how we connect our spirits and the way we show up in the world (e.g.  your career choice).

Here are some of the most powerful messages for me:

As I’m learning about tantra, it’s about accepting all the is, and not judging it, but instead seeing if it serves you or not.  This non-judgemental presentation of reality is really quite freeing. We tend to get so down on the “right” answer, that it puts so much pressure on it.  If we just see each action as an experiment, then we can be easier on ourselves.  So that interview didn’t go so well.  Hopefully you learned from that and will be better the next time.

Ian also presented a concept of masculine and feminine energies and coupled them with the classic yin and yang approaches of Eastern philosophy. He presented that our classic presentation of masculinity is the Masculine Yang (targeted, goal-oriented, adventurous) and the Feminine Yin (nurturing, enclosing, receiving).  He also said that there are other options, like the Masculine Yin (steadfast, resourceful, abiding) and the Feminine Yang (Thrusting, Moving, Transforming: Think Giving Birth).  You can see more about this in his video about it, but what was fascinating to me about this is that the Masculine Yin is more about creating safe space, and the Feminine Yang is about the crazy, wild, creative stuff that gets dreamed up when the conditions are right.

How many times have we gotten a great idea, or clarity on something, and it seems to come out of nowhere? Times when it seems that the planets are aligned and everything finally fits together?  We can’t seem to make it happen (like landing your dream job) but what we can do is to create the proper environment (Masculine Yin) so that good things (Feminine Yang) can happen.  Most clients that I have are doing so many Masculine Yang actions (applying to posted jobs, etc.) that aren’t getting them results, and I keep saying that they need to do more Masculine Yin actions (networking, researching, etc.) that will creative good relationships and the conditions that will make getting the job (Feminine Yang) to happen.

While this might seem a little philosophical, the jist of it is that too often we try to force things to happen, and creativity can’t be forced, but it can be coaxed.  I know from this that I need to be kinder to myself to set up space for great things to happen for me (it’s a lot easier to make space for others.  I’m a professional at that!)

So, how are you creating space for magical, creative things to happen in your life?

Last Thursday, I participated in the iRelaunch Conference at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The focus of this day was on people who have had a noticeable gap in their employment history and are now trying to “relaunch” into the workforce. The large majority of the participants seemed to be professional women who had taken time to raise their children, but there were others who had family and personal medical issues, as well as other issues. From the initial introduction, I learned that the largest constituency in the room was lawyers but there were professionals of all stripes.

The organizers were Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Stein Rabin, who were both careers relaunchers and co-wrote the book Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-At-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work. They not only shared their stories of triumph in returning to the workforce, but also brought in voices of others who have relaunched (both employees and employers).

Here are some of my key thoughts from the day:

Relaunching Takes Preparation: if you’ve been out of the workforce for a number of years, it will probably take more time to get all your preparation in order before starting a job. Don’t put it off!  Do your research.

Reassess Your Goals: While you might have been quite clear in where your career was going a number of years ago, you might have a different perspective on it now. Do some self-assessment to get clear on what you really want right now. Of course, I can help you on that if you need.

Know Your Value: You will be offered a job for what you have, not for what you don’t. Do your research and understand what it is that’s needed and look to describe how you can fill that gap. When I work with clients with a disability/challenge, I always emphasize to them to talk about what you can offer, and not what you’re missing or can’t do. Emphasize the positive!

Make It Easy on Recruiters: There was a recruiter panel, and what became clear to me is that they would like to help this population, but too often candidates don’t present themselves in a way that makes it easy on recruiters to help them.  You need to understand what the recruiters needs are, and them give them what they want.  (As a side note, I don’t think that they are always clear about how you can help them.  Two of the recruiters said that they felt that you should bullet everything on your resume because they need to see it quickly.  Well, I’ve come to realize that resumes can suffer from Death By Bullet as much as presentations can suffer from Death By PowerPoint.  I don’t think that bulleting everything gets them what they want, but that’s how they understand it. You can see my comments on resumes here.)

Networking Is Key: You need to be able to talk with many people about your experiences and get them to know you as more than just a piece of paper.  The more people who know you and your value, the more you’ll be able to impress others you don’t know yet.

You Are Not the Only One: There were probably 200 people at the conference, and many of them had similar stories, and they can share their successes too. As I like to say: You’re special, but you’re not unique!

So, what are you doing to explain your situation to others?

I was fortunate enough this past Friday to participate in the Making It All Work seminar instructed by Mr. GTD himself, David Allen. As many of you who read this blog know, GTD (Getting Things Done)  is a productivity philosophy first explained in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity. The main goal of the process is to get ideas out of your head so that there’s room to think of more creative ideas and to live in the very zen-like state of “mind like water”.

I’ve been studying GTD for about two years and seeing how I can integrate it into my life. While I’ve read books, participated in online forums and study groups, this seminar was great in filling in the gaps and bringing things together for me.

Here are some of the tidbits that I picked up in this session, and I can say that they are applicable to just about every area of one’s life:

  • The optimal state is being in control, relaxed, and focused.
  • Concentration minus distractions = Power
  • Getting something off your mind frees up a lot of energy, so figure out where to put ideas so that you’ll find them again. That’s why we put the trash next to the door so we’ll remember to take it out in the morning.
  • What frazzled us most is when we don’t know what to do with something, put it down, and pick it up again not knowing what to do with it.
  • People blow fuses because they don’t know where to start.
  • “Trust in Allah but tie up your camel.”
  • Fear = Fantasized Experience Appearing Real
  • We have a stasis with what we are comfortable. The only way to change is to make ourselves uncomfortable where we are. Until then, we won’t move.

While there were lots of other things I got out of the seminar, that’s all I can process now. If you’re interested in learning more about freeing up your mind, here are some resources I’ve found helpful.

So, what are you doing to stop the voices in your head?

For the second year in a row, I’ll be delivering a career exploration workshop at Easton Mountain called “Finding Your Calling: Making Connections Between Your Spirit and Your Work” and this year I’m offering it on March 18-20, 2011.  If should be a great opportunity for those people who are interested in finding out more.

Easton Mountain Logo

For those of you interested in participating, here are the homework exercises that I ask everyone to complete before coming to the weekend:

  • List, Ten People You Think Have Cool Jobs: Think about ten people who you know of (but may or may not know personally) who you think have really cool jobs, and list some of the reasons why you think their jobs are cool.
  • List, Ten Organizations You Think Would Be Cool To Work At: Think about ten places you know of (but may or may not really have a great understanding of) where you think it would be really cool to work there, and list some of the reasons why you think it is cool.
  • Essay, Perfect Day in Your Perfect Job: Write an essay (anywhere from one paragraph to three pages) of your perfect day in your perfect job.  Include as many details as possible.  Examples: When do you get to work?  Who do you work with?  What is the result of your actions?  Answer as many “who, what, when, where, why, and how” questions as possible.  You do not need to state the title of your job, they company, your particular duties, etc.
  • List 10 Successes of Your Life: List 10 situations in your life that you consider a success.  It does not matter if anyone else thought it was a success, but you felt proud of it.  For each situation, notate:
    1.      The Situation that you encountered,
    2.      The Action you took to change that situation, and
    3.      The Result of that action.
  • Pluses & Minuses of Current and Past Jobs: Look at the last three jobs that you’ve had, and make a list of at least five things you’ve liked, and five things you haven’t liked, about each position.

If you’re not sure if you want to come, you might want to start thinking about these exercises that might get your mind going.  We’ll be going over them and much more in the workshop.  Let me know if you have questions.  A complete description of the workshop is available at the Easton Mountain programming page for the workshop.

So, what are you doing to get what you want in life?

I’m riding the train this morning with a whole bunch of other people heading into the city, and I’m scanning their faces. Some look quiet and serene. Some look focused and tense. What is similar with all these people is that they are all heading somewhere for a purpose. For most, the purpose is to get to work.

The question of what gets you up in the morning is what motivates you. The word motivate makes me think of a car engine starting. It’s that initial spark that that initiates all other actions. For many, that spark is missing and coffee fills the void. Usually, what gets you going is something that answers one if your core needs. It could be the need to help another, complete a task, or to have motivated others to make a change that affects the world. We are all very individualistic in our motivations. That is why we gravitate to certain areas if work. I’m motivated by making a difference in people’s lives and having them acknowledging that with me. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be motivated in the field or architecture or engineering.

Many times when I work with clients, the issue of motivation if central to them feeling stuck. They can be successful in their current careers, but it doesn’t get them up in the morning. My sign in identifying that is what subjects make them talk more excitedly and get them to smile more. And it’s not just that they want to do those things, but the reasons behind them. This is another opportunity to work in your own personal power.  What do you want?

So, what gets your heart racing?

Note: To discover more about your motivations, consider coming to my career exploration workshop at Easton Mountain, Finding Your Calling: Making Connections Between Your Spirit and Your Work on March 18-20, 2011.  Please let your friends know about it!

I’ve been lucky enough to be interviewed on three different shows over the past year where I can share my thoughts about career development and how it interacts with the other aspects of people lives, and I thought that many of you might not have heard these and would like to get a better sense of my approach. Take a listen to these and let me know if anything resonates with you!

  1. In March 2010, I was the guest speaker on the Getting Things Done Virtual Study Group (GTD-VSG) Podcast where I talked about “Utilizing GTD in Career Development“.  It was a great time with some great questions from the audience. If you don’t know anything about GTD, it’s a productivity philosophy developed by David Allen and I highly recommend it to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed and wants to get control of your life (or at least feel less anxious about it.) Listen to it directly.
  2. In December 2010, I was interviewed by Harry Faddis on “The Quest of Life” radio show out of WRPI-FM in Troy, NY, where I discussed “Connecting Your Spirit & Your Work“.  Harry asked me question about how people make decisions about where their careers are going and how you can make choices that serve you better.
  3. In January 2011, I was again a guest on The Quest of Life, and here I discussed “I Could Do Anything I Wanted If I Only Knew What It Was“. A big part of my work is helping clients with career exploration and assessments, so this was to clarify what people can do to help them get more clarity on what it is that makes them happy and how they can increase their chances of working in areas that make them happy.

Note: The workshop that I mention in the last two interviews (Finding Your Calling: Making Connection Between Spirit and Work) has been rescheduled to March 18-20, 2011, so you still have a chance to register!

I have a great time doing these interviews and am considering doing a podcast/audio/video blog to answer questions that people would have.

So, what questions would you like to ask me?


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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