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Leap and the Net Will Appear

Hello everyone!

Are you ready to be inspired?

Have you ever wondered how all those amazing non-profit organizations out there helping people, all over the world, with counseling, financial support, mentoring, volunteers–get started? Maybe you’ve thought about starting a non-profit yourself but thought, “Well, those kinds of organizations are only for rich people like Bill Gates?” NOT.

This week I had the privilege of hosting Leo Preziosi, the amazing, passionate, founder of a non-profit called “Live Out Loud, on my weekly radio show, Life Shifting with Dr J, This wonderful non-profit organization, dedicated to providing role models and support to LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) youth, has been doing extraordinary work–for over ten years! Founded by Leo in 2001, Live Out Loud works with high school and college LGBT support groups — bringing successful role models from the gay community BACK to their hometowns and colleges–to speak, mentor, and present a POSITIVE FUTURE to kids that may be struggling with sexuality, bullying, and virulent homophobia.

For anyone who has ever dreamed about doing something BIG in the world, stepping up and doing something to truly help those in need–Leo is an inspiration. He graciously agreed to come on my show and share his wisdom and insights about HOW and WHAT it takes to MAKE A DIFFERENCE every single day.

I hope you will tune in or download my interview with Leo–just click here or go to www.transformationtalkradio.com and look for Dr. Jeffrey Hull, under “hosts”.

I was deeply moved by Leo’s dedication to kids and his gift for starting, building and, most of all, sustaining a non-profit organization for over ten years. For anyone out there thinking about joining or starting a non-profit…Leo would surely say, “Go for it! Take the leap…and the net will appear!” Here are a few of his wise tips:

1. Go with your passion! All it takes is an IDEA…but you have to believe in it PASSIONATELY. What you care about MATTERS. Leo’s story is simple but moving. He read an article about two high school boys who committed suicide rather than have to deal with the pain of being gay in a world that shunned them. He was moved to his core…and made a simple decision: to do something. What moves you? What suffering in the world are you not willing to tolerate? What might you do about it?

2. Don’t go it alone. Find companions to join you on the trip.

All hands on deck

Build a coalition of like-minded folks who want to help.

3. Seek out the experts. Recognize your strengths (Leo, for example is great at creating events and raising funds) and seek out people with expertise that fills in your gaps (he acknowledged that he’s not great with administration and accounting!).

4. Don’t be afraid to ask. Leo shared a great story about the challenge of fund-raising: learning to ask for $$$$. He acknowledges that it can be daunting…and you have to learn to handle “no”…or “not now”…but many many people are out there who WANT to help. You have to learn to ask.

5. Stick with it. Organizations that last ten years like Live Out Loud grow incrementally and steadily…as Leo recounts, it is not a sprint to the finish line, rather it is about making small and steady steps in the direction of growing, affirming what you care about, being persistent…and staying true to your dream.

Thanks Leo…for you amazing story and the powerful, uplifting work you are doing in the world to support gay youth. We all know, from recent highly publicized events, that bullying and prejudice, unfortunately, are alive and well in our society. Even in a world where TV and movies now regularly portray gay people as just like everyone else–we have a long way to go in creating a society where acceptance and tolerance are the NORM rather than the exception.

I hope you’ll tune in to my interview with Leo, and more importantly, think about how you might GET INTO ACTION and volunteer, join…or maybe start an organization…even a MOVEMENT. Why not?

One person really CAN make a difference

With gratitude,

Dr J

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Life Shifting Re-cap: De-toxify Your Life!

Well…it has been a week since the big first step into the holiday season with Thanksgiving and Black Friday. How did it go? Did you have your fill of food, fun…and family? Did you do the cyber-shopping thing this year or get up and out at 5am and storm down to the mall? I was in an outlet mall on Friday afternoon and I have to say it seemed surprisingly tame and calm. Surreal almost. The people there did seem to be in good spirits. It was nice to see smiles and sales…a nice combo!

Since we’re entering another holiday season, when many of us re-connect with loved ones with anxiety-producing results, I invited “Goddess Coach” Melissa Zwanger to join me this week on my radio show, Life Shifting with Dr J!

Melissa is an expert in helping women entrepreneurs and business leaders/owners take their organizations to greater heights of success…AND she is what I would call a “fitness trainer for the emotions”. Melissa specializes in helping people stay grounded, centered, and compassionate in even the most stressful of family situations.

The perfect guest to help me kick off this holiday season, Melissa comes armed with years of training in a whole host of healing modalities, and an MBA from Wharton. Melissa shared her top tips for “de-toxifying” your emotional self especially when confronted with difficult family members.

Here’s a quick summary of the steps Melissa recommended you take — should you get triggered once again by that curmudgeon uncle, a testy brother or judgmental mom:

1. identify the true feeling.

Key to cleansing, grounding and re-claiming your balance when you get knocked off center, is to step back, breathe, notice your bodily symptoms, and attempt to identify the true feeling. It may be sadness or anger or frustration. The starting point for release and re-centering involves creating a space–a physical, emotional, mental opening–even if only for a few seconds, where you can identify and tend to the underlying feeling.

Calm in the storm?

2. Separate the Feeling from the NEED.

Once you have a sense of WHAT feeling is being triggered in you, then you can begin to re-frame the situation and ask yourself a crucial question: What do I need right now? When strong negative emotions are stirred up in us, usually they are a signal that a deep need or maybe a hurt or trauma from the past is re-surfacing. It is well nigh impossible though, to ask another person to be supportive, or to change their behavior, unless you are CLEAR about what you want/need to have happen. Continue reading

Are We Hard-Wired to Suffer?

Howdy all…in case you missed my new article on Huffington Post…here it is in its entirety. Seems to have generated some buzz on the wire…what do you think? Please weigh in here or go HuffingtonPost.com. I’m very interested in where my readers come out on the causal scale– nature/environment/culture?

Yesterday I had one of those classic moments with a client that never fail to bring the conversation to a stand still. He was sharing with me his tendency to, as he put it, “always feel anxious and worried about everything.” At one point, with a shrug, he simply declared, “I’m just hard-wired to be anxious. I’ve always been this way.”

Really? Hard-wired to be anxious, worried and stressed-out? Not.

Have you looked at a baby lately? Or hung out with small children who are living in a secure home with at least one loving parent? In general, well-fed kids (poverty is another thing entirely) are relaxed, spontaneous, playful and full of life a good deal of the time. Since when did it become in vogue to blame our adult anxieties on so-called “hard-wiring?” What does “hard-wiring” mean anyway?

In the 19th century, before Freud, most psychological maladies, lumped under the heading “hysteria,” were thought to be nervous disorders caused by bacteria. Patients were often quarantined, subjected to leeches, or sent away for a “cleanse.”

In the endless nature versus nurture debate over the source of our pain, nature, circa 2010, has taken the lead. We are culturally awash, once again, in a bio-chemical, reductionist moment. Peering into the recesses of the brain more deeply than ever before, we latch on to the work of electrolytes, neuro-peptides and synapses, hoping to root out those dastardly chemicals that bring on our suffering. With this narrative in vogue, we take umbrage in labeling our issues, challenges and deficits “hard-wired” — hence, unchangeable.

Ironically, it is science itself which may restore some equilibrium to this conundrum, for scientists have a wonderful habit of de-bunking their own theories. Today, neuroscientists are re-discovering what Freud, even with his limited purview on the human mind, understood implicitly in his early forays into developmental psychology: The brain itself, the supposed home front of “hard-wiring,” is malleable, adaptable and constantly renewing itself.

Brain scientists are beginning to understand that the biochemistry and neuronal network that under girds the structure of the brain is constantly re-organizing and adapting to changes in the outer world. New research bringing together the best of neuroscience and psychiatry, such as detailed in The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doige, MD. calls into question the notion that the “wiring” in our brains is “hard” in any way, shape or form.

So if the latest research is accurate, and our brains ARE adaptable and changeable, what are we to do about this tendency to default to the “hard-wiring” narrative?

In the research I conducted over a 10-year period for my new book, Shift: Let Go of Fear and Get Your Life in Gear, what I came to see repeatedly in my clients (and I might add, in my own life!) is that these default narratives, especially when spoken in the context of anxiety, stress and worry, point, not to chemical dysfunction, but to our addiction to comfort, our antipathy towards change (in a nation born of revolution) and our bifurcated relationship with FEAR. In a culture addicted to “happiness” (but that rushes out en mass to delight in big screen terror of vampires), we have forgotten, or at least dismissed, the truth that fear, especially when change is in the works, is perfectly normal — maybe even healthy.

In other words, when you find yourself defaulting to the story, “I’m hard-wired to be ______”, (e.g. anxious, stressed, worried, fill-in-the blank with your favorite), it usually means that some aspect of your life is ready to shift, ready to release, ready to be, in fact, renewed. BUT, because change is uncomfortable even for the most adaptable of us, our egos will hook into whatever cultural narrative is in vogue to hold us “in check” — in an effort to protect us. But from what? It seems we would rather languish in depression or wallow in worry instead of simply acknowledging our fear of the unknown, breathing deeply and stepping into the flow of life… and changing.

So the next time you find yourself feeling anxious and you begin to ask if perchance you’re “hard-wired” for misery, try asking yourself some different questions:

What pattern might I be stuck in–at work, in my relationships, in my life?

What change might be afoot that I’m resisting?

Is it possible that my life might be BETTER if I relaxed, just a bit, and allowed the change to unfold?

In the case of my client, when he stepped back, took a deep breath, and contemplated what possible change might be in the works, he realized that he was frustrated with his job, bored with his living situation and dissatisfied with many aspects of his life. He actually desires change but fears it.

There is another narrative available to him, of course, a story of new beginnings and unexplored territories, which could be fueled, not by the energy of anxiety, but excitement, even enthusiasm. But in order to shift gears, he will have to give up his story that he is “hard-wired” for worry. Instead, with an awakened awareness that change is inevitable, and a willingness to release that which no longer serves him, he might just re-wire his way into of a new way of being…creating whole new vistas of possibility.

So check your wiring…and don’t be afraid to blow a few circuits now and again…you may just re-wire the system… and light up your life!

Dr J

Celebrating Fear?

Well, I guess this moment had to come. I can now “officially” call myself an expert on Fear!

Why? Well, in the midst of a hurricane gale and deluge of rain last Saturday here in the wilds of New York City, I sauntered into Barnes & Noble (to get dry!) and lo and behold…there on prominent display I discovered my own book: Shift: Let Go of Fear and Get Your Life in Gear!. Wow!!! So exciting to see my dream manifest…the book delivered, published and on the shelves of my favorite book store!

Iphone Blur but Happy!

So was I happy? You bet. Was I joyful? You bet! Was I anxious, worried, verklempt (is that a word?)? Yup! Yikes. How could I be feeling FEAR in the midst of what should be a celebratory moment?

Well, as you’ll discover if you read my book, there is a clear pattern of dread that follows us all through the ups and downs of change in our lives–even at times of accomplishment or great joy. Depending upon what stage we are in as we go through career change or relationship upheaval, different fears will come along for the ride.

The final stage in the journey through life change I call REALIZATION–typically a joyful, exciting and wonderful time in the cycle, when things all line up for us and we cross the threshold known as, “success”.

Sweet Success moments are the last places you’d expect to find fear, right? Wrong! Working with hundreds of clients over the years–executives, leaders, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers–I’ve witnessed over and over the great paradox of achievement: it not only brings great joy and happiness, temporarily, but it also brings on its own peculiar brand of stress, worry, anxiety…and you guessed it: fear!

So…when I saw my book on the shelves, and started putting together my book tour plans, and started thinking about celebrating this amazing milestone with my family and friends…well, lo and behold, I started feeling anxious.

Have you ever reached a pinnacle moment–a graduation, a promotion, an accolade–and in the very same moment you felt exhilaration…you also felt awkward, undeserving, anxious…fretful? Well, here’s the thing: before you reach for the Prozac or the Xanax…or the double scotch on the rocks..take a deep breath and say to yourself: this is normal.

Fear–of success, of making a mistake, of letting others down…and of course, THE BIG ONE: not being good enough–is a perfectly normal response to success. This fear, which may emerge just as we come up close to the edge of manifesting our dream–the altar, the threshold of fame, the signing of the contract–can keep us STUCK…hold us back…and, literally, if we don’t recognize and accept it as OK…destroy the moment.

The Joy of the Spotlight?

Far too often, our media-glitz, sound-bite culture only shows the “happy face” side of fame, of celebrity, of riches and acclaim…and then we act “surprised” when someone famous commits suicide or devolves into addiction. What happened we ask? How could someone so successful be so miserable?

By only seeing one half of the success equation–the joy part–we deny the truth of how life really works. Everything has a dark and light aspect and what we push away or deny comes back to bite us, often just when we are SUPPOSED to be ecstatic. If we clamor for achievement and think it will only bring happiness, we are setting ourselves up–for a fall.

So I am learning to celebrate FEAR…to welcome it in all its glory. It is a partner, a pal, a troublesome sibling all along the road or growth, expansion and creative expression. Here’s the real skinny: If you’re not feeling fear then you’re not growing!!!

My Buddhist teacher Goenka offers these enduring words of wisdom about the fear of success: “Sit still and BREATHE into it–inhale the joy of your success and exhale the fear…but don’t fight it. Don’t judge it. Don’t make yourself wrong.”

You ARE GOOD ENOUGH…you are…as am I…a miracle of creation. Our fears, especially in moments of great accomplishment…are simply a warning signal from an “Old Self” that the jig on an outdated story is up! Some small part of you may want to remain the same, to protect you from the big bad world of CHANGE. This vestigial self hopes you won’t grow and change and become DIFFERENT..new..and BIGGER.

BUT it is too late, the vehicle of self is in the groove…on the highway of transformation: you are on your way!!!! Learn to welcome the fear of success: It is a signal that you are doing something RIGHT…you are growing, becoming, moving and unfolding the next great vision of what your soul is calling forth from within.

I am truly excited to see my book out in the world….AND I have my moments of doubt, anxiety and FEAR…about what the manifestation of this dream might mean. I hope that my book…and my owning up to my fear…will help generate a much needed NEW conversation in our culture, about change, about fear…and about the ridiculous fantasy that we are always meant to be happy. NOT. Life is much too complex for such an seductive…but false, idol.

Terrific or Terrifying? Yes and Yes.

So as I shift into a new adventure…and hit the road to share what I’ve learned about change, fear and the mysterious journey we are all on together, I am learning to celebrate my fear…not to fight it or denigrate myself for feeling it. After all, I am human…and I am happy…but not blind: banishing fear is impossible. It comes with the territory.


“Smiling Buddhas smile because they are wise, not because they are happy.” S.N. Goenka

Cheers,

Dr J

Death is Life

“Endings…beginnings. Sometimes it feels like there is very little difference between the two. Both are hard. Both occur seemingly at random. Both are unpredictable. Life is like that.” Anonymous

Welcome back blog readers! I’ve missed you! It has been a while! My apologies for dropping off the blogging radar screen these past few months. I haven’t gone far from the writing scene actually…but been consumed with completing my soon-to-be-released book, Shift: Let Go of Fear and Get Your Life in Gear, which will–hurrah!–be in bookstores in early April (you can pre-order it NOW on Amazon!)

Coming Soon...

And so…as I return to the blogosphere today, ushering in the new decade and with a new book about to hit the shelves, I’m deeply aware of the cyclical nature of life–filled with endings, deaths of a sort–and new beginnings. On some fundamental level, this natural, but all-too-often denied cycle of life is at the core of what my book, Shift, is all about.

Over the past couple of decades, we Americans (and maybe Westerners in general) seem to have lost touch with the reality that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in life moves in cycles–relationships, careers, economies, business. We have slipped into a “growth” trance, falsely believing that real estate prices always go up, credit to buy “more” is always available, that “saving for a rainy day” is unnecessary because rainy days can be avoided with Prozac.

As we emerge from this difficult time, I hope those of us in the self-help world will also sober up a bit…get off the
“instant happiness” and “five steps to bliss” trains…and re-dedicate ourselves to supporting our readers through the very real twists and turns that make life meaningful…and an on-going mystery.

Life can be tough, challenging, and frightening…but also inspirational and filled with deep meaning. But we have to be willing to face the music and accept the truth: all parties end. After all, we humans are just tiny, yet miraculous little containers of water and dust floating on a huge fire/dirt/water ball in space…What do we REALLY know of the “grand design?”

Our Tiny Home

Last night, I had the privilege of attending a short, but moving candlelight vigil service in honor of a dear friend and neighbor who recently passed away. Carol was only in her early fifties, a vibrant, passionate, and warm human being–and the star real estate agent in my apartment building. As we neighbors compared notes, we came to realize that a huge percentage of us had purchased our coops in the building (in NYC we have COOPs not just condos!) because of Carol’s heart-warming enthusiasm for our building and neighborhood, along with her impeccable integrity. We all wanted to have HER as a neighbor.

Now, sadly, she has left us–gone way too soon.

Saying an emotional good-bye to my dear friend, and being ever-present to the recent devastation and loss in Haiti, I am deeply aware of how unpredictable life can be. Perhaps just to maintain some semblance of equilibrium, and to be able to get out of bed in the morning with a modicum of optimism, we Americans tend to dismiss, deny, and generally ignore (or medicate against) the cyclical nature of life.

Sunrise or Sunset? Maybe both?

But…DR J, you might ask, why focus on the negative? Why not just read the latest tome on how to “change your mind and change your life” (not!), pull out that Visa card, take your Abilify…and get on the “happiness train?”

Well, I’m not fundamentally against happiness! But, I would say that when we deny the reality that EVERYTHING in life is transient, everything moves in cycles–everything ends–we lose touch with the depth, the meaning, and the possibility that life’s downturns provide. We miss the spaces for learning, the opportunities for being moved, the moments of deep connection, and most fundamentally, those mysterious openings when something new is being born in us in the wake of an ending. Newborns, of the human or theoretical ilk, require SPACE to grow and flower. Empty space. Gaps in endless productivity. Breaks from shopping. Hibernation. Quiet moments of contemplation and solitude. All of the above…

I’m excited about my new book. It is a different kind of self-help book…one that I hope will truly HELP people instead of filling their heads with false fantasies about the so-called “Secret” ways to attract cars, mansions and eternal riches into their lives. Not!

In Shift, I do lay out a “prescription” of sorts, for how to deal with life’s upheavals and cycles in a meaningful, enriching, and energizing way. After creating what I call the “Life-Shifting” program for self-renewal, and seeing it work, in real time, with hundreds of clients from all walks of life, I wanted to share my findings–and offer a “road map” through the dark woods of change–into the light of new beginnings.

In the book, I also share my own personal journey through the vicissitudes of change (not without a bit of drama!) and share some truly amazing stories of transformation that I’ve had the privilege of witnessing firsthand. You really can “re-invent” yourself — at any age, in the face of any difficulty. I’ve seen it.

So…In honor of the “new conversation” that I hope to kick off in the coming months, I’ll shortly be bringing this blog to a timely end…and gearing up to launch a new website and blog at http://www.Jeffreyhull.com.

Stay tuned for the kick-off date. I will be back soon with announcements about timing and exciting events where you can join me in person — and learn more about how you can “make the shift” and transform your life into a meaningful, soulful, and yes, even joyful journey.

Many Paths, Many Possibilities

In the meantime, here are a few of the questions for you to ponder:

How do you weather downturns in the economy? Or in your Life?

Do you reach for the pharma fix or instead step back, reflect, breathe…become aware of your fears… and recognize that “this too will pass”…that endings and down moments are, well, just NORMAL!?

Have you taken time during this economic tsunami to reflect on what really matters, to re-evaluate your priorities?

Are you “making the shift” to live out your dreams..yet staying grounded in the “real” world?

I’d love to hear from you!

Namaste,

Dr J

Job Loss, Life Gain. Part 3

Today’s post picks up where I left off in part 2, with you dancing in your living room.

Get ready, get set...let's go!

Get ready, get set...let's go!

Hopefully, you will allow this “dance” time to be more than a Minute Waltz–perhaps you’ll give yourself a few days, a few weeks–even a month–to re-claim your soul, and re-kindle your vision. But soon enough, it will be time to get out in the world and get to work, literally. So let’s go.

If you’ve been following my thread in these posts, then you likely have picked up on a theme — a “life-shifting” mantra — that is near and dear to my heart. Turning any job loss into a life-gain is about shedding an outworn identity, re-claiming your vision, your passion, and values–who you KNOW yourself to be– and aligning these with the world of work. It is about finding that oh so sweet, sweet spot: The place where the world pays you to do what you love.

Of course, in a Mcdonalds, Gap, Starbucks world, this is easier said than done. BUT, it’s worth the effort to go for it. Otherwise, how else will we change the world? How else do you ever make the shift–from a consumer cog caught in the machine of commerce, to a human being manifesting your true potential? This is the real job, for all of us: the job of having a meaningful life.

So if you’re finally feeling fearless (ok, maybe a bit of trepidation, but ready!) and charged up, here’s what I consider to be the next steps:

5. Don’t network. Here’s the skinny on networking: it doesn’t work. What we really need, in order to find our next home in the world of work, is not a stack of business cards, a long email list or 600 friends on Facebook. We need instead, maybe one, two or three REAL connections–real people who will help us, listen to us, point us in a new direction, and likely connect us to one more REAL person that brings us closer to our “sweet spot.” The problem with networking is that it is far too often a “transactional” form of human intercourse — where quantity and speed are valued over depth and connection.

It's the connection that counts

It's the connection that counts

Recently, I was invited to attend a “networking” breakfast. It was one of those regular Tuesday morning affairs, held at the ungodly hour of 7am by a “business networking association” (that shall remain unnamed so I won’t get hate mail!). I’m glad that I had the opportunity to see how these things work. For me, in a word, they don’t.

When I arrived, there were about twenty people sitting around a table, all looking like they needed much more caffeine than was provided by the now empty urn on the side table. Each person got two minutes to stand up and give their “elevator pitch.” It was fast-paced, anxiety-provoking, and mildly entertaining (of course it was 7am so I have to be fair: not sure that ANYTHING would have been very entertaining to me at that hour). There were accountants and lawyers and real estate agents and recruiters. Other than the few who had polished their speech with a good metaphor or self-deprecating joke, I can’t for the life of me remember ANY of them.

The only person that I would consider a “connection” was the wonderful woman who invited me in the first place, a person, by the way, that I had only recently met at another association function, and who I had the pleasure of really talking with, listening to and SEEING. She was/is a really great person, and one whose friendship and support I hope to nurture for years to come. The other twenty people at the “networking” social, are still sitting on my desk, known only through their innocuous — if graphically stylish– business cards. For my taste, the whole early morning-breakfast-spiel-business-card-swap thing–is a colossal waste of time.

What you really want to accomplish when you “hit the pavement” and enter the fray to “build a network” is this: real connection. Talk with a few–maybe just ONE–real person and do more listening then speaking. Connect with their dream…and ask them to connect to yours. Make a date to get to know them. Creative solutions to life’s dilemmas are not born from a three-minute spiel, they are born aloft on the wings of deep dialogue.

6. Don’t look for a job. Ok, let me get this out on the table (it’s probably been too long in coming): I think the whole idea of a “job” is outdated. A job–that is, a “slot” in which to fit a person–is rapidly going the way of the typewriter, the hand-held calculator, and newspapers.

We love to forget that the idea of a “9-5 job” is probably less than one hundred years old, and like “retirement,” is an anachronistic invention of the post-industrial revolution. What has always existed, and what we humans are driven to seek, is WORK. And, work that is meaningful, value-added, and flexible enough to accommodate today’s fast-paced global economy, more and more often doesn’t “fit” neatly into a box called “job.”

I tell my clients this: don’t look for a “job,” look for a problem to solve. Get out and meet people, reconnect to old friends (this is where Facebook can be GREAT), sit down with them and listen in for their “problem.” Ask yourself: what problem do I LOVE to solve? The key to finding real, meaningful work in today’s tough climate is to BE THE SOLUTION to someone else’s problem. Whether or not there is a job, there is usually a problem. Your “job” as a seeker of work, is to find the intersection–the sweet spot–between the world’s problem and what you love to do (the solution).

More and more companies these days are hiring temp workers, part-tim’ers, consultants, and project managers. In fifty years, I doubt that very many people—beyond government employees and unionized plant workers (which will surely be ALL overseas)—will have traditional jobs. We will all live a “portfolio” life, doing a bit of this, a bit of that, a project here, a consulting gig there.

It can be unnerving—and challenging to juggle in the checkbook—but it is better to get with the program: a portfolio of work, not a job, is the future. And, for many, the future is now (Freelancers Union, a non-profit organization for people who live a portfolio life — a “gig life” as many of them call it — was formed only eight years ago, now boasts millions of members, and is doubling in size every year!).

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go on Monster.com and look for a “job” as listed there or elsewhere. You should. But don’t put all your eggs in the traditional baskets (if you ever wonder that the world of work is changing rapidly, just consider that job hunting sites like Monster are now considered “traditional” when they didn’t exist ten years ago…).

What really “works” in the new world of work, is this: get really clear on your vision of what you want to do in the world; get out and meet a few people and offer to help them with their “problem” (whatever that may be); be flexible and fluid and prove your value; do your homework and find out what your “value” is worth on the open market; once proven, demand same. Done. That is, for now.

Until next time the bottom falls out…and it will. The biggest lesson that we all need to learn from this turbulent time is that there is no such thing as “long term” any more. Everything is changing, faster and faster, and we must adapt.

But this can be great news for those who learn to master the process of “life-shifting.” Becoming adept at changing stripes, shedding jobs, identities and attachments (think Zen Master in a suit/tie), you pass through a doorway and enter a kaleidoscope landscape of possibility, meaning and progress, bestowed by life with the greatest gift of all: the gift of re-invention.

My river of change...

My river of change...

As I sit here on a sun-drenched, freezing Sunday morning, gazing out at leafless trees, a river of ice flows, and a dozen, dipping, undaunted ducks, I can’t help but pause and remember: the seasons “re-invent” themselves four times a year. We could learn from that.

Cheerio,

Dr J

Thanks Deepak!

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the chilly Northeast. I seriously doubt if many of you are going to be spending time reading blogs…and in fact, I would hope not! Most of us, me included in a few hours, will be focusing our attention on something far more important: friends and loved ones.

Today is a day for reaching out, reaching back, and reaching in–to our hearts–and remembering, with deep gratitude, the blessings and support of all the wonderful people who have brought us comfort, love and hugs over the years. It is a time for doing what I’ve been writing about a lot recently: taking a breath; creating a space for reflection, being (instead of doing!), and rest. So, with this in mind, I hereby give myself permission to take a break from writing anything “adventurous” in the lineage of “Life-Shifting”.

Instead, I want to take a moment to thank someone who I don’t even know. Someone whose work and words have touched my heart and guided my thinking for many years…but who has, unfortunately, chosen to set up his home base and retreat center in sunny Southern California (now why would anyone do that?) instead of near the glamorous hills north of New York City (where I currently sit in 23 degree cloud cover).

The man I refer to is Deepak Chopra, and like Barack Obama, the dream that he speaks into the world is one that resonates with me deeply: there is no East or West, country or state–all of these so-called “boundaries” are artificial. At the end of the day, we are one people on one planet living one very mysterious and glorious and amazing experience. Amen, Deepak.

Lat night, a group of terrorists attacked Mumbai, India (known by many of us as Bombay). It was a clearly well-organized and intentional act of malice on the part of the perpetrators. A cowardly bunch, these terrorists, who would kill innocent people and create mayhem towards aims that most of us will never understand.

In the midst of last night’s moment-by-moment TV coverage, CNN had the foresight to shift gears–at least for a few moments–and bring into the situation a voice of reason, wisdom and insight that is sorely lacking on most play-by-play newsreels: The voice of Deepak Chopra.

In those few minutes of airtime, Deepak shared three key ideas that he has consistently repeated whenever given the chance. Perhaps now, in the wake of more unnecessary devestation and heart ache, the world might listen. I want to paraphrase his points here, mostly to add my tiny voice to the groundswell of change that is coming in the new administration, but also to give my own personal thanks (!), that in this crazy, depressive moment in world history, we DO have amazing leaders and spiritual guides among us.

It all fits in the palm of your hand

It all fits in the palm of your hand

Here are the three key points that Deepak made (in my words, not his) in response to being asked how we should respond to this kind of abject terror:

1. We need to stop using the slogan: “War on Terror“! It is an oxymoron of the highest order, which in essence says we are conducting a war on war. What is that? When the terrorists attack a hotel in Mumbai, it is terrorizing. True. BUT, when the U.S. drops bombs on small towns in Afghanistan (even with the best of intentions) and innocent people are killed, this is pretty terrifying as well. Especially for those on the ground under those planes.

Terror is terror. We need to step back and look in the mirror folks: war is terror; terror is war. Waging “war on terror” won’t get us the peace we seek. It simply reinforces what divides us, deepens the hurt on both sides, and makes bridge-building well-nigh impossible. (I know many will call me naive here–that we are dealing with pathology on a grand scale. This may be true, but have you looked inside THIS country’s fundamentalist churches lately?)

2. We need to stop reinforcing the division called “East” and “West”. Depending upon which side of the planet you stand on and what time of day it is–east is west and west is east. The difference is a moving target, artificial at best and divisively post-colonial condescension at worst. Why is it, Deepak asks, that we are always more concerned about casualties and violence perpetrated against “Westerners”?

Doesn’t the same red stuff run in the veins of people born in India, Iraq, and Britain? Yes, there are cultural differences among people, and tribal and geographical ties run deep. BUT, life is life…and death is death. Terrorist acts hurt human beings on all sides and we here in the so-called
“West” need to wake up and smell the coffee: it is not just OUR people that matter. Everyone does.

3. We need to remember that borders–of countries, nation-states, continents–are mostly artificial, and always porous. We here in the U.S. in particular, seem constitutionally unable to remember anything geographical that goes back more than about ten years. The reality is that forty years ago there were only about 80 countries named on the planet. Today there are over 200. Nation states are man-made entities. Borders, as seen from space, do not exist. Countries like Pakistan and India and Iraq were artificially created by colonizing forces from far, far away (much closer to here as a matter of fact).

All this to say, that we would do well to keep in mind that people connect together, first and foremost, through heart and mind, soul and spirit. Borders, boundaries, walls, and names, will never be the things that define how people connect to one another. We need to think of ourselves as one community, one world, one humanity.

As Barbra Streisand says so beautifully on her “Higher Ground” album: “when a mother holds and soothes a crying baby, her love is the same love, no matter under which flag she stands”. Thanks Babs! On this wondrous dirt ball called, “earth”, there is only one community and we are all in it. We all feel the pain of loss of a loved one. We all feel the joy and comfort in a simple hug.

So today, as I hit the road to be with my closest loved ones in the wilds of Massachusetts, I bow deeply to Deepak (and hope to meet him one day!) and his wise counsel at this unique moment of heartache…and hope.

May you all have a joyous and peaceful holiday…hold your loved ones close…and remember: we are all one.

bound but not boundaried

bound but not boundaried


Peace,

Dr J