My name is…and I’m a…

What do an unkempt yard, garden tools, and a timer have in common? The answer… awareness and inspiration. My time pulling weeds and cleaning up garden debris has brought to the forefront of my awareness an obvious addiction I’ve had for years…perhaps my entire adult life. It’s one that is often welcomed in the professional arena. But before my friends and congregants get too concerned about my problem, let me declare it here and now: I’m a workaholic…on the path to recovery.

During the past two years, I’ve focused on two separate careers. Long hours and extensive commuting have been the priority, excluding me from any kind of real life. Now, having left the distant, full-time office job and turning full-time focus to ministry, teaching and writing while working from home, I’m discovering the challenges of creating my day’s schedule, learning to rest without becoming complacent or distracted (staying motivated), and quieting the voice in my head that constantly tells me I’m not doing enough.

Just recently, I literally forced myself to spend an afternoon on the couch, resting after a busy Sunday morning and watching television with my husband. There was work waiting at my desk (there always is) and projects were clearly visible around the house, in the yard, garage, and especially in my office. The whole time I was on the couch, that ugly voice was whispering how lazy I was….that I wasn’t really tired and didn’t need to sit there…that work – any work – was more important than television (no matter what was on)…that I’d pay for it later…and other things that were much more critical and hurtful. Ego will say whatever it can to keep things static, familiar. It was all I could do to force my restless body to stay seated in the recliner.

I have always known how to work. I learned it at an early age and have been rewarded for my efforts. It’s what I do best. Frankly, resting, taking breaks, or relaxing is where the difficulty lies. Take away my opportunity to work on a project, to solve a problem, to meet a deadline, and it’s like taking away the bottle from an alcoholic or drugs from an addict. In the past, given a choice to work or go to some social event, I’d gladly choose work (in my head). Most always I have two or three or more projects going at the same time. My brain never shuts off and is generally focused on work-related topics. I learned I could rest when the work is done, but it never is. I’d start a 12-Step group in my area, but taking on another task would only add to the problem. (Go to for symptoms of this addiction.)

As I work on my landscape maintenance projects, something I absolutely love doing, it’s become critical for my health to pace myself. I use a timer…and the “power of an hour.” I give myself one hour each morning to play in the dirt – that’s it. Then I consciously talk myself into cleaning up, putting away the garden tools, bagging up the weeds and yard trash, before going on to the next task (it’s quite a conversation!)…where I set the timer again. If I don’t limit my time in this manner, I have been known to work myself into exhaustion – euphoric with what I’ve visibly accomplished, but unable to move a muscle from all the adrenal push and exhaustion. My body needs the physical exercise and movement, but I don’t need to work myself to death. Yes, it appears I’ve reached bottom.

My ego had been fairly quiet these past two years as I pushed myself through an insane schedule and rationalized it was something I had to do. Now, it’s shouting again. Making the choice to focus on one career and a personal life has not been an easy one for me. I’m seeing me in a glaring light of self-awareness. I’m noticing the difficulty in pacing myself through projects, finding balance on a daily basis, and committing to recovery from this obsessive, addictive behavior. I’ve even begun to set the timer for my rest periods or fun activities, too, so I know when I can get back to work. Baby steps…one day at a time.

I’m ready to enjoy life – every bit of it – family, friends, home, hobbies, fun and relation, time for me, and work – each in its own turn. I’m grateful for all the loving support in this recovery endeavor. It’ll be interest­ing to see who I become through the process. I could go on and on about this, but right now, I’m being called outside to give a six-year-old lessons in tree climbing. See you later.

What You Can Do

I grew up in an age when mothers stayed home to raise the children and fathers were the primary wage earners. My generation (baby boomers), especially the female population, were just being indoctrinated with the idea of career liberation. For me this was not political revolution but common sense.

Why should anyone be restricted or limited from pursuing a profession or career position simply because of their gender? Or racial background? Or any other identifiable characteristic? If you think you can do it, pursue it – was the message provided by the adults surrounding me.  Thank goodness! This approach applies not only to career aspirations, but to every realm of life conceivable. (The one caveat I include is “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone” in the process.) In this culture we have the option to explore any job for which we have the skills or are willing to learn. We can develop artistic capabilities, musical talents, aptitudes in technology and science, human or social interests.

Life offers unlimited possibilities in every realm of consciousness. Nature is evidence of this idea. So the reasoning follows that if the Creator (God) has abundantly supplied the universe with innumerable features and beauty, available for all to appreciate and respect, why should we limit ourselves to only one or two modes of creating a life?

Through time and natural evolution new species of animals and plants have come and gone. The same is true for the technological advancements the world continues to produce. We now have items available for purchase that used to be just something seen in a sci-fi movie. After viewing a recent television commercial about an advancement in television technology, I got the feeling that I’d been projected several years (decades?) into the future. It was a bit disconcerting, but awe-inspiring as well. It validated, once more, if you can do it, pursue it!

Question is: what do I want to pursue? I’m never at a loss for new ideas. My challenge most often is deciding which path at what time. There is a cornucopia of opportunities all around you and me, surrounding us. Which one to choose? Where is time best spent? What is the best use of skills and talents? What inspires me or you today…at this stage of life…with what you can do?

There’s no doubt we change as individuals…our interests, our skills, our priorities. While my current day-job provides me with sufficient funds to pay certain bills, it leaves my soul crying for greater expression. (Fortunately, I do explore other heart-supporting endeavors, too.) A recent “personality test” allowed me to answer questions that confirmed it’s time to fulfill both – to earn an income that exceeds my financial obligations AND in a way that satisfies my creative yearnings. I know it exists or I wouldn’t have the idea. If I can think it, God (the Universe) can create it. And with God as my partner, I cannot fail!

Start Where You Are

Thanks to a daily reading provided earlier this week by Mary Morrissey, the idea of start where you are has been at the forefront of my mind for several days. I think of it as an expansion of “first things first,” “be here now” or “living in the now moment.” Start where you are implies there is something to be done and that you have all the tools you need to begin it.

Let’s say you want to start a meditation practice. You’d really like to spend at least an hour or two a day in total spiritual bliss and prayer, and emerge from the experience as an enlightened giant among men. But you never seem to have that much time to spare in your busy working life and you don’t know what to say. Start where you are. Dedicate just five minutes – in the morning, at night, at lunch, on a break – and begin with what you have. Set a timer if you must; it can help you relax into and focus on the moment. Use the words you know and feel. Prayers coming from the heart are much more powerful anyway. Then watch as you naturally expand the time for this meditation practice, and happily see unrealized benefits in all directions.

Recently I was counseling someone about an experience they were having with a family member. As I listened patiently for the story to be told, I could feel the pain in their words and remembered a similar incident in my own childhood. My intent was to bring unity to this person, their family, and the situation, but how? By the time the tale was told, I found myself sharing what I had done as a child when such a situation occurred in my home (Reading!) …and how I’ve benefited years later. I shared that, although my experience was painful at the time, I discovered my solution empowered me, made me feel good about myself. I found peace in the midst of chaos and a method that has been my comfort to this day. It’s led me to advanced education, writing, teaching and speaking. I started with what I had, what I knew, and built from there. Given the slightest encouragement and support, growth is inevitable!

Whether you are searching for a job, moving your home, changing a habit, helping those less fortunate, or trying to improve relationships, start where you are…it’s all you can or need to do! Tap into that Divine Energy within for strength and courage to put one foot in front of the other and get moving in the direction you have in mind. Build on your intention. What you focus on WILL grow and expand.

You can also start where you are by appreciating what you have to begin with. Gratitude is a key element in attracting ‘more’ into your life…more love, joy, peace, abundance. Just like the mustard seed, growing from its tiny form into a giant tree, you can do anything you truly desire, focus on, and nourish – start where you are!

What Do You Do?

It’s interesting how people respond when asked, “What do you do?” Many people start by naming their primary job or occupation, or sharing that they are now retired. However, what I recognize more and more in conversation is that their response is often followed by “but I also…” Perhaps I’m particularly sensitive to noticing this as it has become my habit as well…up until now.

What is it about our culture that we are not content with having only one occupation or job or with being done in the work world? Must we really let everyone know how busy we are at all times? And list all of our hobbies or interests or volunteer activities? Is it our ego that demands such attention to what we do or acknowledgment of what productive citizens we are? Surely our God-Self has no concern about the reply, for that Creative Energy does it all anyway! Or is it because many of us are not satisfied with our primary, income-generating occupation? Is the only way we make a living and find personal satisfaction in life to do this AND something else?

Maybe we just need another way to respond altogether. When asked, “What do you do?”…we might say something like: “I’m creating a fulfilling and happy life.” 

It’s an answer that covers all the bases without a litany of description or excuses. Another nice thing about this response, it doesn’t lock you in to one type of job description. It sets you free to do all that interests you and for which you have talent (or want to develop further)…without justification or validation. This response not only sets an example for others in how to answer such a question, but also opens the door to speak to what interests the inquirer – if they choose to take it to the next step in the conversation. With pin-pointed questions, you can respond to the exact nature of their query.

Our work is not our entire life. While it can be a big portion of it, and while we may need to pursue the “have to” until we find our bliss and the money follows, we can be grateful and happy for all that we are blessed to be doing. Do it with balance. Do it with humility. Do it with joy. What do you do? I’m creating a fulfilling and happy life!


Everything and everyone in creation has value, either to some thing, some process or experience, or someone else. Interestingly, it is our individual judgment or opinion that determines the value of whatever we’re considering.

While we may decide something is “bad”  now, we could just as easily determine (after a time and deep reflection) that it really was “good” to have had that person, thing or situation in our lives when it appeared. The goal, especially as one becomes more spiritually aware of the Oneness and overall Good of the Universe, is to see the benefit in all things as it is happening.

For example, consider this scenario: Perhaps you really don’t like your job anymore. First, acknowledge that you do have employment (good). The money is necessary for life and you get paid regularly (good!), but the satisfaction has diminished or disappeared (judged as bad). Although it’s been hard work amidst lots of company politics (bad), the skills you gained in your position have increased your professional worth (good) and you are respected in your field (more good). You know your work so well, that most days you can show up, do your business, and not feel stressed at all! But you miss the challenge. What do you do? You have several choices.

  1. You can continue on this current path and be satisfied with the good there is, as it is.
  2. You can complain about your job to anyone who will listen and attract that very same negativity into your life, perhaps resulting in your termination and loss of wages – before you’re ready for such a change.
  3. You can look for additional challenges (projects or other positions – in the company or elsewhere) that would test and grow you to another level; releasing the status quo and creating in another area…be of more service.
  4. You could develop interests outside your work and on which you could focus your excess energy, perhaps creating a whole new business, profession or personal outlet for yourself.
  5. Or…you could do any combination of these and more!

We all have a choice in how we respond to Life…to the Good that is all around the very thoughts we think. Since it can be difficult and confusing to judge our own life experiences as to what is good or bad, we do well not to spend too much (or any) time, energy or thought judging others. We can never really know the full benefit, the good, of their experiences. We need to be concerned only with our own. It’s often just a matter of actually looking for the Good and being Grateful for what we DO have.

Gratitude is the best antidote for “the blues” or the “less than” feelings we sometimes bring to the surface of our consciousness. Gratitude for what already exists, starting with our very breath, life, and acknowledging everything else in our field of existence. It’s not always easy; we often like to place the blame for our bad situations elsewhere. Stop! An “Attitude of Gratitude” coupled with earnest prayer can do wonders to turn the day around and help us see the value in everyone and everything we experience in Life. Isn’t that what you would really rather experience?

Life happens…and it really is ALL good!