Today’s Kat’s prompt is “How do you surprise and delight other people?” Clean sheets on the bed, baking something sweet, a love letter, remembering something you said you wanted or liked and seeking it out to give you as a gift, a text or email to tell you I was thinking of you, telling you how wonderful and strong you are, embodying gratitude, sending help when you seem to need it, giving encouragement and inspiration, helping you with your work, doing something I know needs done without waiting to be asked, making a calm and beautiful space and inviting you in, making things easier for you, working on my own stuff, taking responsibility for the ways I struggle, kindness, being compassionate, generosity, making you laugh, feeding you, easing suffering where I find it.
Treasures. When Ringo was younger, his favorite toy was a water bottle or milk jug or juice container. He loved to chew and chase them. His teeth are too big now, jaws too strong, but when he finds one on a walk, we let him carry it. Today’s find was a tennis ball, which he carried for a mile, until he got distracted by some dogs and left it behind. He is one of my treasures.
Today Kat’s prompt asks, “What is the perfect space for you?” For me, it’s a cabin, a beach cottage, a farmhouse, or a traditional Japanese home. Something near water, close to the ocean or a river or lake, with lots of trees. Quiet and natural, peaceful and a little wild. Inside, I like simple but not necessarily minimalist. I like piles, collections, second hand, worn, used, comfortable — things like stacks of books, jars of shells and rocks, tiny shrines, old quilts, down pillows, ancient cast iron skillets, rough wood floors, and mismatched plates. I adore a porch, a deck, a place for sitting and reading and contemplation. I love a garden full of trees and blooms and food. I appreciate a cool, quiet place to sleep, and space for practice. A library is where my heart lives.
Sas Petherick has a Pinterest board called “Down to Basics” that shows exactly what I mean. I look at the pictures, and all I can think is “I want to go to there.”
This post is in response to two different prompts from Kat. Yesterday was my first day back at work, at CSU, in my new office. I was gone all day and by the time I got home, I was just too tired to do anything else. And yet, like the last time I skipped a day, the two prompts fit so nicely together, I could answer them in a single post.
The first prompt asks, “What about your multiple selves?” Kat says, “Today I invite you to spell out the range of things you are and would like to be,” and asks, “How could you cultivate a life that reflects all that you truly are?” Kat was focusing specifically on what you do for a living, how you make money.
It’s interesting, because my friend Shellie was just asking me for resources related to discovering a new career, different work. I was telling her how a few years ago, when I realized my work situation wasn’t working, was no longer workable, I took some time to consider what else I might do, research my other options. I took all kinds of career, aptitude, strength, and personality tests and quizzes to get clearer about who I was, to determine my strengths and skills and even my struggles. This is a partial list of those resources:
- Personal Strengths Profile, or DISC Index
- Myers & Briggs Personality Type Test
- The 3 Most Important Questions to Ask Yourself from Mind Valley
- how to figure out your purpose/passion/just what the hell it is you want by Justine Musk
- Does your LIFE have a THEME? (Want to find out?) by Alexandra Franzen
- The Short but Powerful Guide to Finding Your Passion on Zen Habits
- Lifestyle Design and Your Ideal World from Chris Guillebeau
- How To Focus On What Truly Matters from Zen Habits
- The Key to Dying Happy on Zen Habits
- The Simple, Ridiculously Useful Guide to Earning a Living from Your Passion on Zen Habits
- How to Identify Your Passion and Create Results From It according to Simon Sinek
- Find Your Passion in Three Steps from Michael Hyatt
- 7 Questions To Finding Your True Passion on I Need Motivation
- Discover Your Passion: Do What You Love And The Money Will Follow on Pick the Brain
- 15 Questions that Reveal Your Ultimate Purpose in Life on Goodlife Zen
- Ira Glass on Storytelling
There were so many others, but these are the ones I can find, remember. What was interesting is that every test I took, everything I read all pointed the same direction, said the same thing.
- In order to feel satisfied, I needed to have meaningful work, to feel like I was helping people, making a difference.
- I wasn’t broken, but rather a highly sensitive introvert, and I would need to honor that if I wanted to be successful and happy, to take extra care when I worked more directly with people, to pay attention to how the environment was impacting me.
- I am happier working alone, with autonomy.
- And yet, I’m also a facilitator, a peacemaker, a caretaker — someone who thrives as part of a community.
- I need a strong sense of the goal, want to understand the plan, be given clear direction.
- I like working with the details, prefer that someone else monitor the “big picture.”
- I don’t like being interrupted or distracted. I prefer to maintain an intense, sustained focus.
- I should work as a writer or teacher, a therapist or artist.
Basically, I discovered that I could stay in the job I already had, with a few necessary tweaks. That as long as I chose to work for someone else, what I was already doing was the best fit. And what I plan to do after that is also right on — teaching yoga, writing, and meditation; writing books; blogging; teaching online classes and leading in person workshops & retreats; facilitating small groups; leading people through personal retreats; being a meditation instructor; and maybe some kind of coaching or therapy.
Today’s prompt from Kat was “How will you make time work for you?” She goes on to ask, “how do you go to work and give as much as is adequate but ensure that you have enough left for you?” It’s funny, because I was just telling someone that to do what I want, I need there to be three of me. The problem is, there’s nothing I’m doing that I’m willing to give up. What suffers is my health. I don’t get enough rest or exercise.
My answer to Kat’s question is how these two prompts fit together for me: Passion. That’s the “how.” Passion, excitement has to be the driving force behind what I do. I was thinking about this as we were watching The Mind of a Chef last night, a show about “what it truly means to cook, think, create and live in the food-obsessed world that is The Mind of A Chef.” The three chefs featured so far are almost mad with passion, excitement, and feeling about food — growing it, harvesting it, cooking it, and eating it.
To do fulltime work AND work towards your dream, if you are like me and they aren’t the same thing, you have to BURN with love for the dream. Also, finding the right fulltime work matters, something that is either so different or so close you can put your heart into that too, are willing to allow it to take time away from your other pursuit.
Kat asked how one might “give as much as is adequate” in your job, but I luckily have been able to do better than that (four years in a row I’ve earned a Superior ranking in my annual evaluation) because my “paid” work, my “day” job is such a good fit, even though it isn’t my dream. What I’m good at is what they need me to do. Everybody’s happy. My work at CSU is a mix of writing and teaching, my days move between connecting with people and being alone (more alone). I can be creative but what’s needed from me is also clear, there are distinct goals. It fits with what I’m good at, what I like.
But let’s be completely honest, if I hadn’t renegotiated my contract to have summers off, I might not still be there, or my annual evaluation ranking might have been exceeds expectations, or even only meets expectations.
I have to make sure I rest enough, but that’s really hard because there’s always something, a next thing that I really, really want to be working on, and if not that, there’s dogs to be walked and laundry. To make it all work, I also need:
- To get up early, by 5 am at least to have time to write, maybe even meditate before walking the dogs or going to yoga, to leave enough time to do all that before I have to be to work
- To go to bed early, so I get enough sleep, which means less going out, especially at night
- To have less of a social life, which means fewer friends, but as a highly sensitive introvert this turns out to suit me
- To have fewer mindless activities, like shopping, drinking, watching TV
- To have a supportive partner, who will cook and clean the bathroom and be okay with taking care of things while I’m gone for days at a time at a retreat or yoga teacher training or just in the other room working on a project
- Strong practice to support quieting of the mind, a way to deal with strong emotions, to cultivate non-judgement, to practice being present and mindful
- Good music
- Inspiring content — video, books, people
- Good food
- Quiet, stillness, contemplation
- Tiny shrines, a reminder that it is sacred work, all of it
1. Yoga, While Exploding in Popularity, is Nearly Dead. A conversation between Waylon Lewis and Amy Ippoliti on Elephant Journal.
2. Good stuff on Bored Panda: Beautiful Tiny Animals Embroidered By Chloe Giordano and Japanese Artist Creates Fun Miniature Dioramas Every Day For 4 Years and 28 Magical Paths Begging To Be Walked.
3. Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt from Momastery. This is so good.
4. Good stuff from Huffington Post: 16 Beautiful Life Lessons From The Pen Of A Children’s Book Illustrator, and Meditation Isn’t Enough: A Buddhist Perspective on Suicide, and Your Body Is Not Your Masterpiece.
5. Vegan Avocado Chocolate Mousse recipe from Food Matters.
6. How & Why To Know Home and Conditions of Enoughness or the Art of Building Your Truer Life from Jennifer Louden.
7. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,
Sit quietly for a few minutes and become mindful of your breath as it goes in and out. Then contemplate what you do when you’re unhappy or dissatisfied and want to feel better. Even make a list if you want to. Then ask yourself: Does it work? Has it ever worked? Does it soothe the pain? Does it escalate the pain? If you’re really honest, you’ll come up with some pretty interesting observations.
8. Wisdom from Mara Glatzel,
Trust is built by: speaking to yourself kindly, giving yourself the space to move in your own right timing, following through with the promises that you make yourself – starting again whenever you notice yourself breaking your own trust.
Trust is destroyed by: lying to yourself, speaking to yourself in a harsh and cruel manner, putting the needs of others ahead of your own, and forcing yourself to live in a way that is out of sync with your own values.
9. Recipe for Falling in Love, a beautiful poem from Julia on Painted Path.
10. Super Love Tees. *swoon*
13. ten books that could deepen how you live and books for deepening how you live, heal, create & love from Gemma Stone.
14. 6 Reasons You Should Stop Obsessing Over Alignment in Yoga Class from Yoganonymous.
15. Truthbomb from Danielle LaPorte, “Settling for crumbs doesn’t keep you fed – it keeps you starving.”
Just look to those who already possess as you wish to possess or who have already achieved as you wish to achieve, Jill, and ask yourself whether or not they have some special gift that you don’t have? If they have more angels than you? If they’re any more loved than you are now loved? If they have suffered more, worked harder, or waited longer than you? If I would permit them to be “luckier” or have it easier than you? And you will see, after careful consideration, that their success depended upon none of these things. It arrived simply because they expected it to arrive, and then lived their lives accordingly.
17. what freedom is (and isn’t) from Tiffany Han.
18. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,
It is SO GOOD to do GOOD things, so good! It is so good to make things happen and to help others and to cross things off of our lists and to seek out more of everything that is good.
There is a time to stop and rest, however. Rest is good. Rest is one of the very good things in life to do. Our bodies need rest, our minds need rest, our spirits need rest, our relationships need for us to be rested. Our jobs need for us to be rested. The GOOD GOOD things in the world that we do need a rested BEST of us.
Rest does not need to hold hands with guilt. We do not have to pay for rest when the rest is over. Rest is an investment and makes everything we do better, more valuable and more meaningful. WE MUST REST. Please, dear friend, let yourself rest. Rest physically by going to bed. Rest emotionally by letting go of expectations. Rest spiritually by turning over your worries, problems and anger.
In your quest for all that is good and true, decide TODAY that rest is one of the best and truest of all things. Our bodies were designed to rest. We are being true to who we are when we take the time to truly truly rest. Hear it, sweetheart?
You are so loved. Now get some rest…
20. Wisdom from Rumi,
I have been a seeker and I still am,
but I stopped asking the books and the stars.
I started listening to the teachings of my soul.
21. 25 Things to Remember When Life Gets Rough from Marc and Angel Hack Life.
22. Things Girls Do That’d Be Creepy If A Guy Did Them from BuzzFeed Video. The final one, “casual wear,” made me laugh, made Eric laugh so hard it bent him over.
23. A Memoir Is Not a Status Update, Dani Shapiro on The New Yorker. I’m not sure I agree.
24. 8 Things I Learned From Being A Contestant On “The Biggest Loser” on MindBodyGreen.
25. Really, Yoga Journal? on Elephant Journal.
26. Art, Inc.: A Field Guide to the Psychology and Practicalities of Becoming a Successful Artist, a piece about Lisa Congdon’s new book on Brain Pickings.