I recently saw a Facebook post that amused me:
We are a small & casual restaurant in downtown Vancouver and we are looking for solo musicians to play in our restaurant to promote their work and sell their CD. This is not a paying job, but only for special events which will eventually turn into a nightly event if we get positive response. More Jazz, Rock, & smooth type music, around the world and mixed cultural music. Are you interested to promote your work? Please reply back ASAP.
A Musician's Reply:
Happy new year! I am a musician with a big house looking for a restauranteur to come to my house to promote his/her restaurant by making dinner for me and my friends. This is not a paying job, but only for special events which will eventually turn into a nightly event if we get a positive response. More fine dining & exotic meals and mixed Ethnic Fusion cuisine. Are you interested to promote your restaurant? Please reply back ASAP.
This got me thinking about the concept's applicability to any walk of life and what it means to value the gifts we're given.
In my work as a freelance Virtual Assistant, I have occasionally been asked to provide services for either free or drastically less than my normal fee. I know speakers who have been approached with "offers" similar to the one above. I know intuitives who have been "mooched upon" by people asking questions with no intent to repay. Much like the old adage about the doctor at a party who is bombarded by "Hey, Doc, I got this pain....", there are people who do not understand the concept of fair trade, fair value.
We all have skills and talents that are of value, but it is our own valuation of them that sets the "exchange rate." If I know that I have worked hard for what I have, that I am proud of my skills and of my willingness to share them, I set a higher value on what I offer than perhaps someone who doesn't understand their own gifts.
I found it tricky at first to detect the fine line in marketing between offering special deals for marketing purposes and giving away what has value. I love bartering services but like the musician in the example, I expect to receive equal energy to what I give! It was not until I truly valued myself and my talents that things changed. And so that is my advice to you - understand and value your own gifts, honor those of others, and delight in the exchange!
Just three days ago I had to put my best companion for 15 years to sleep - my cat Millie. I have not had to deal with grief for a very long time and it was a shock to me how deeply I have felt her loss. Previous losses of pets and family members occurred before I was spiritually aware, and I'm rather surprised by how the loss of my soul-kitty has affected me.Whether or not you belief in reincarnation, I do, very strongly, and Millie and I recognized each other on sight 15 years ago when I found her at a no-kill shelter. In the car, she immediately sprawled on my left shoulder, and over the years that was her favorite resting spot - I found out that this had been her favorite spot in other lives together as well. I could always tell what she was feeling, and she reacted to my emotions as well. Had I thought about it, I would have trained her as a therapy cat, as she was the friendliest I've ever had and greeted everyone who came to visit as a friend. She had a very maternal energy, very nurturing. Ours was a much more energetic/spiritual connection than I've ever experienced with an animal.
So, euthanizing her was a horribly difficult decision, yet at the same time it was not - I knew her body was failing rapidly. My first two days without Millie were intensely painful - the loss of her physical body in my life was the greatest pain. With another day of distance, I'm finding the emotion is changing. I still intensely feel the loss, the absence, the hole she leaves in the household, but I am also more aware of what holes in my spirit this fur-baby filled, and what I gave her. I am more aware of some of my gifts through this process: courage, compassion, tenderness, a willingness to let go, the ability to encourage independence, and more.
I am grateful for the many friends and acquaintances that offered their condolences, understanding that the power of animal companionship is no less than the power of human companionship. I am even grateful for the inevitable but annoying "she's in a better place" and "she's still with you" from well-meaning friends. As I continue the grieving process, I know that my emotions will ease, new fur-kids will come into my life, and I'll see Millie again some day in another form. I will always be grateful for what her spirit gave me, and that the lessons I learned from her I will share with others. And for all the others grieving the loss of a fur- or feather-companion, know that the lessons learned and energy shared will never die.
I learn so much about myself by observing others. I recently had a lesson on how far I've traveled on my journey to the true ME. [Wow, that's deep!] The lesson was found mainly in a recent experience with someone who, although she doesn't see it at all, is very fear-based. I won't go into the specifics of the situation, but I was faced with a realization that I used to react very differently to fear-based energy. Fabulous!
When surrounded by ego and fear, in the past I went into victim mode. I handed over all my personal power, decided that the other person must be an authority and therefore had authority over ME, and built quite a resentment. Being very empathic, I shared in the person's fear, and of course all that did was compound it. Then of course, I'd take it all home with me, nurture it and focus on it and fret over it, until I had a strong, effective MAD on!
What a difference this time! Something was said that was insulting to me, and rather than reacting in anger or fear, I gently confronted the statement by pointing out that the words indicated a misunderstanding that I'd like to clear up. In other words, I stood up for myself by loving myself first, and loving this person next. I did not water the seed of resentment, I let it go! Because I have set boundaries for myself that define what energy I choose to be around (loving, generous, kind, fun, productive, helpful, generous, etc.), I realized that I could choose to no longer be around this person's energy. I re-defined the terms under which I would do so, and then let that go as well!
I don't know what my change of acceptance did to the energy of this other person. I do not know how she chose to react to my firm but positive energy, but I don't need to know. I hope that, in spite of her fear-based thoughts, she was able to see that I reacted in love and not defense, but that too is not my concern.
For me, the main lesson was that because I know so well now what I'm all about, what kind of people I choose to be around, and what my values are, my freedom to choose became very clear. Letting go of what and who no longer serves is not selfish - just the opposite. The letting go allows me to give more to others without being held back by negativity. What a great idea! More of that, please and thank you!
If you're a "boomer" like me, you probably had a similar career vision, carried down by our parents and grandparents:
Go to school, study hard, get good grades.
Go to college, study hard, get good grades.
Get a good job, study hard, get good reviews.
Good reviews lead to job security and advancement.
Eventually, retire from that job, get your gold watch, and live on your pension and social security.
Does that sound like 21st century work life? Nope. In 2010 the average time spent by a worker in any one position was 3 years. With the enormous range of possibilities in modern America, it's far more common for people to jump from one job to another. I know, I've done it. The longest term job I had was 11 years. Since that one, I've had three others, the longest tenure being 9 years.
Although statistics show that Americans do jump employers often, we usually don't change careers (your specialty). Is that a bad thing? My personal belief is that if we focus on what gives us joy, what we would do for free if we were wealthy, and stay in that career field, we can have success and happiness. I believe that the jumping around is a symptom of unrest, of not feeling the satisfaction you're seeking. Just as it takes a lot of trying on to find clothes that fit you well, it make take some trying on of career paths as well. It can be harder to accomplish this when you're older and have more needs, but it's not impossible.
In my work, I often counsel clients and others that if you're in a job now that doesn't quite fit, find a way to earn some money by marketing a skill, service or product you're really good at and love. My friend Sandi Evans (also an author on this website) has been doing animal communications for many years in her spare time, and now that she's retired she has more time to devote to it. Another friend has great costuming/crafting skills and I've encouraged her to set up an Etsy store and really market her wares. Someone I used to work with was an amazing baker, and in her spare time she baked specialty cakes she gave away at major corporations, TV stations, food shows and such - soon she had to quit her job because everyone wanted to buy her cakes!
Don't stay in a place that makes you unhappy because "that's what we do" or "that's how it is" -- that's archaic thinking. Focus instead on what brings you joy, and find a way to make money at it. Do some internet research, get your ducks in a row, and just do it. Live your life!
For this city girl, the joy of living on a property with an acre and a half, woods at the back, has been a thrill (see previous post for the story of how I got here). I'd been told there were all sorts of wildlife strolling through the yard, and I have enjoyed watching. This past month
I have seen four deer, usually together - Dad, Mom and the twins. At first the twins still retained some spots but now they're gone, and I see an increased independence in them, willing to stray further from Mom as they all enjoy the fruits (quite literally) of the crab apple trees. I have not yet earned their complete trust, so although I can watch from a distance, my attempts to get closer drove them back into the woods.
Yesterday I was on the rider mower in the evening and glanced toward the back of the yard - there were Mom and the kids, snacking on apples, perhaps 100 yards away - the closest I'd been. I was amazed they were not afraid of the mower, watching my movement but at ease. I found myself deep in thought, wondering how many generations had been feeding from the same trees, accustomed to the previous residents of the house. Was the familiarity with the property and people carried from one generation of deer to the next?
How applicable to our own lives. How many of our fears are generational, sort of spiritual DNA? In my family, I know that money and reputation/fame/visibility were big issues for my parents and grandparents - did some of their fear come down to me? Undoubtedly, but I have chosen to release those. The flip side is how many and what kinds of talents and joys are carried down? Again in my family, music and the arts. Did the simple joy of abundant crab apples bring this new generation of deer into the yard for me to appreciate? If so, I'm very grateful. I have found so much to be grateful for here, in nature, with the "deer ones."
I have just been given a new home. I say “given” because I did little to obtain it. And because of that I felt it important to share the story, so that you can understand the power of creation, manifestation, gratitude. I’ve lived in a pleasant area of Lake County, Ohio for about eleven years, but with an expansion of my business felt the pull to move further south into Summit County. My goal for the last year or so has been to seek out the perfect home for me and my cats. I wanted quiet, privacy, a place to sooth the spirit. I wanted room to have events and healing work and space for friends. I wanted more than anything to be enfolded in nature with room for gardening. With a goal in mind, I offered up the prayer I learned from my friend John Davis, John of Peniel. “Thank you God for the perfect home that I am receiving – amen!” I believed it was there and coming to me. “Thank you” is gratitude. “The perfect home” is the goal, the intent. “I am receiving” is the acceptance, manifestation, creation part. “Amen” means so be it, it is done. I believed that I needed to be diligent in the search and pay attention to signs. That I needed to pursue it with all my intention.
Last summer I busily searched in areas I thought would suit, looking at tiny little houses, condos, garden apartments. Nothing felt right and nothing was affordable. I became disappointed and frustrated but re-energized the intention to have my perfect home. I typed up a “wish list” of my ideal life. “I am living in the home of my dreams, in nature, manageable with lots of green and garden space. With plenty of crash space and parking for friends and room for furbabies.” I no longer felt the need to pursue the dream but knew it was out there in the universal energy.
In the last couple of months, I’d added to my vision a home of light, where rainbows sparkle in the windows from my prisms. A home of trees and green with my bird feeders, to include a heated birdbath and visits from wildlife. I saw a bookcase at a friend’s home and said, “Ooh, I want one of those one day.” I said, “I want a new bed, classy and sexy.” Window shopping at an antique store, I said, “I love those little secretary desks – look at the gorgeous oak!” I said, “I want a new entertainment center and nice electronics to go with it” to replace my old outdated pieces.
One day a new friend contacted me to say she was feeling that I was just the person to help her. She was moving to New England to be with an ailing mother, and needed someone to take care of her house since she wasn’t sure she was ready to sell and let go of it entirely. As she was living in her mother’s home, she had no room to move her things and was eager to have a trustworthy caretaker so she could leave them. We emailed back and forth and seeming roadblocks kept popping up. But she continued to feel guided that I was the person to live in her home, and since I had nothing to lose and was ever aware that Spirit can drop gifts on you, I went to see the home.
The house is in Summit County. It is in the middle of more than an acre of land surrounded by trees. It is full of light from on all sides. It has 3 bedrooms and several side rooms that could be used by guests. It has a parking lot out front. It attracts deer, bats, foxes, birds. Getting the idea? Within the home are an oak secretary desk, a bookcase like my friend’s, a lovely entertainment unit with great electronics. A beautiful queen brass bed. Enough room to fit four of my current apartment in. The capper? There’s a heated birdbath in the basement that was never set up! Got it now? THE HOME OF MY DREAMS! Actually no, I take that back – I could not have dreamed the perfection of this home for me
I did not “work” to create this home. I did not “try” or “hope” or stress. I did not run around hunting and stressing over it. It was brought TO me, because I asked and believed. And that is why this story – to help you understand how perfect our creations are when we ask, believe and let go. May you be as blessed in your creations as I am!
I consciously feel gratitude every day - when I wake, eat, notice nature outside my door, play with my cats, talk with friends, receive something I requested, receive a gift. I feel gratitude at the rate with which my business is growing and that I can help support the "light pillars" who in turn support so many others. I received a wonderful gift the other day from one of my dearest friends, who in a conversation expressed his great gratitude for my friendship and my service to him as assistant and business partner. I was so moved by that sentiment and felt the need to really look at why I was so touched. I realize that although my awareness of his gratitude is implicit and ever present, and that my gratitude for so much in MY life is implicit, the expression of that gratitude is important as well. I didn't realize until those feelings were expressed to me how very much I wanted to hear them! Whether you feel thankful for things in your life, or relationships, or circumstances, remember to verbally express your gratitude. Although the feeling creates its own energy and fills your life with things to be grateful for, the words carry great power for healing and growth. And so I publicly say a special THANK YOU to John, MaryAnn, and Laura, and to so many other people in my life. Namast
Signs Along the Path - a Guide to An Inspired Life, by John Davis and Holly Matson I've been musing on what having a book out means to me. It's a role I had never expected! First is the "birth" aspect I've heard about so often - the fact that something I labored so hard on and spent so much time on is now a hold-it-in-your-hands product. But also the concept that something I had a hand in is now a resource to help people. Now THAT is powerful!
I am amazed and delighted that my 20 or so years of spiritual exploration and discovery have brought me to the teachers I have encountered along the way. I am blessed that Spirit worked with me to release the blocks I had and to help me to the joys I have. I've met wonderful Lightworkers in the process, and the "social circles" I am now active in are loving, like- and light-minded people. One of the brightest lights is John Davis, the author of the essays in our book and one of my dearest friends.
I think of those "Signs" along MY path and where they have led me. And now some of the things I've learned are illuminated by this book for others to follow as they choose. What light can you leave for others to follow?
Okay, before anybody has a fit about that title, let me explain. In response to my friend John Davis's (www.johnofpeniel.com) recent blog in which he quoted his fiancee's line that "God is hot water", I posted a comment that God is dirt. After a very long, LONG Ohio winter, it's finally spring, with the sprouting plants, the greening of the trees, and that lovely loamy earth smell. I anticipate getting my hands in the dirt again, to plant, to weed, to rest. I find my greatest quiet time in the earth - literally. I bemoan having a tiny garden, as I have nothing much to dig in! But I know God is there. He speaks to me there, and in all the smells and tiny green things I have absolute proof of that. I am so grateful for all the season changes, as I know God is in all of it, but OH the joy of being able to touch the earth.
For many years I lived in a concrete box of an apartment, with no outside space at all. I felt imprisoned, stifled, cut off from my creativity. When I moved into a more rural environment and once again had garden space, I felt so much more free. I understand more of who my pagan friends call Gaia, because now I feel that living force again, and I know the joy of finding God in the dirt!
I came home from a day spent in deep spiritual thought and discussion. Got my clothes changed and makeup off and went to sit and decompress for a while. One of my three cats, my beloved neurotic fearful Quinnie was on the bed grinning at me (you with animals know what that means), and I sat for a moment beside her, stroked her forehead which makes her purr, and told her how very much I love her and how glad I am she's one of my furbabies. I know full well she can't completely understand in her cat-spirit how much I love her, because she's only a cat and she doesn't vibrate or communicate on the same level.
So, is that what it's like for God? S/he sits with us stroking our foreheads, knowing all the while how "merely human", neurotic and fearful we are, loving us anyway. Loving us in a depth and expanse that we can never fully comprehend, because we're only human and we don't vibrate or communicate on the same level.
Sit with that and contemplate a while, and get a glimpse of the power of love.