Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Two Most Important Questions in the Universe*

*According to Chris Guillebeau

The other day I was led to the website and blog of Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Nonconformity - Unconventional Strategies for Life, Work, and Travel. I highly recommend it for those of you looking to live your life with more purpose, especially those of you looking for tools to help you find your purpose, and also for some very entertaining writing.

In his manifesto, A Brief Guide to World Domination (not what you might think it is), he encourages anyone looking to live a life less conventional, to live a life instead filled with purpose, to ask yourself these two most important questions in the universe:

1. What do you really want to get out of life?

2. What can you offer the world that no one else can?

Okay they may seem daunting at first, but try it out, ask yourself these questions, and be honest when you answer.

The challenge for me, and perhaps many others, is in not stopping myself before I even get started. Plenty of nay-sayer voices came rushing to the forefront trying to tell me, for example, all the reasons why I couldn't possibly have something unique to offer the world. I had to tell them, "HUSH! You've had plenty of air time in my life, no more! Now it's time for the affirmative answers to step forward and be heard."

And what did they say? Here they are:

What do you really want to get out of life?
~choose at each moment, what I am going to do or be (it is no one else’s choice but mine)
~dance in sisterhood
~a relationship with a certain patch of Earth, interwoven with a web of family and friends
~grounded, and able to fly
~life enriching experiences, at home and abroad
~make beautiful things, make things beautiful
~no regrets

What can you offer the world that no one else can?
~my life as an example of living life outside the box
~belly dance - giving women permission to do something for themselves, having fun, and trying something different
~encouraging others to find what they are here in this life to create (be it one big thing, or several small) and how they can give to others through their creation
~doing all of that beautifully
~combining all of the above into my own unique way and offering it up to the world!

And now, the next step, checking in on every single area of my life to see how these two above questions are being answered, or not. Yikes. Big committment, but I'm worth it.

By the way, I do believe it's possible to do something you love while giving back and doing something for others. It usually works out better for everyone if you love what you're doing, whether it's for yourself or for others. Afterall, if you don't love what you're doing, what are you waiting for? (I have my own challenges in this area!) And if the way you give to others is less than satisfying, ask yourself if the world really needs more martyrs? Probably not.

And I'd love to hear your answers to those questions! Please share!

Happy discoveries!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Art of Nonconformity

This blog, by Chris Guillebeau, is, well, just absolutely fantastic.
Here's a post I thought I'd share.
Check out the blog yourself! The Art of Nonconformity
Unless you would rather be Unremarkabely Average. It's a choice, always.

February 18, 2008
How to Be Unremarkably Average

Simple Tips for a Risk-Free Life:
Accept what people tell you at face value. Surround yourself with people who think like you. Don’t stand out. Stay close to home. Get a normal job. Do things the way everyone else does, because there has to be a method to the madness.

Go to college because someone said you should get a degree, not because you want to learn anything. Take four years to finish, or maybe even five. No one’s counting. Take out student loans to “invest in yourself.” Follow the plan in your course catalog even if you hate some of the classes. Believe your advisor when she says you have to do things a certain way. Jump through hoops. Check off boxes.

Personal Finance
Use your credit card as your primary means of spending. Get the largest mortgage you can qualify for. Fill it with plasma TVs and expensive furniture. Buy a big, new car and complain about the cost of gas. Spend all you earn, or maybe even more than you earn. The government will help you if there’s a recession. Spend money on things you don’t want but will help you impress others. Give token amounts of money to charity. Change the channel when a charity appeal comes on. Believe the 3,000 marketing messages that the average person in the U.S. and Canada receives every day. You need things you’ve never heard of before because they will help you feel better about yourself. You deserve to buy luxury products because you’ve earned the right through your hard work.

Go overseas once or twice in your life, to somewhere safe like England. Tell everyone what a great cross-cultural experience it was to visit London. (“They talk so differently over there!”) Wherever you go, make absolutely sure that you will be safe and comfortable. McDonald’s is now in 119 countries, so you can always find something good to eat. If you want to be brave, go to somewhere like Mexico. Never travel unaccompanied to any place “really foreign.” Don’t try to speak any language other than English. If people don’t understand you, speak louder. Africa is for safaris and Asia is for cities with big shopping malls. Don’t drink the water!

Work at a job you don’t like for the majority of your professional life. Sit at a desk 40 hours a week for an average of 10 hours of productive work. One day, the corner cubicle will be all yours. Until then, get really good at Minesweeper. Read every article on every day. Attend useless meetings. Take the credit when things go right. Put the blame on someone else when things go wrong. Never take responsibility for anything. When you fail at something, resolve to never try again. Form alliances of convenience to survive office conflict. When you are forced to mediate a disagreement, make your judgment on the basis of personality instead of principle. To advance in management, don’t confront anyone and only give positive reviews. Instead of trying to fix big problems, focus on unproductive work that everyone notices. In times of crisis, wonder out loud what someone will do. Polish the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Don’t question authority; it’s there for a good reason. Believe in and actively defend “the way things used to be” even if your memory is hazy about when that actually was. Feel threatened by new ideas. Never be the voice of dissent. Support your country’s foreign policy when it is popular and reject it when it is unpopular. Don’t wonder about someone’s motivations for pursuing one choice over another.

Don’t worry, be happy
Don’t worry about being average, because no one will ever question you about it. Average is the status quo. Politicians pander to the average out of political necessity. When they try to promote their own unconventional ideas, they quickly learn how risky it is to be truly different. If you go through life following this advice, you’ll find yourself in good company with virtually everyone who lives an unremarkably average life.

What more could you want?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Unexpected Gift

Last weekend, just after my husband and I were talking about the challenging financial times (ours personally, not globally), our dryer broke. Hmmm… no extra cash this month for such inconveniences. So instead we put up a clothes line. It’s been something we’ve talked about doing for over a year. It makes sense ecologically of course, and with the times, saves some money as well. And so now, out of necessity, we got to it.

And what a great gift this has been, what a delightful shift in our routines! We have, as a result of our “misfortune,” started to live our life more consciously. We have had to actually pay better attention to the weather – no point in starting a load of laundry when it looks like rain (we’ve had unseasonably cool and cloudy weather this June in the foothills). And that habit of starting a load at 8:00 at night? That won’t do – wet clothes sitting for long periods of time take on very unpleasant odors! Wait until morning it must.

The best gift of all though, has been spending more time outside. In the ritual of hanging out the clothes to dry, and then in taking them in again, I have been blessed with shifting my life to more of an outdoor focus. While draping wet towels over the line, I listen to the different birds sing and call out, whether in harmonious joy or in alarm to warn each other of our approaching cats. I feel the gentle breeze on my arms as I pull the clothes pins from their drawstring bag. I watch the turkey vulture soar down the ridge as I hang up the socks. More often than not, I forget what I'm doing and just stop and take it all in. The dark greens of the live oaks contrasting with the bright greens of the black oaks, the trickle of water still meandering in the seasonal creek, and the smell of bear clover and pine trees in the warm morning sun.

Once the clothes are dry, I also now remember that I need to bring them in at the end of the day. As dusk settles over our home, I walk outside and notice the rosy light on the tops of the cedars and pines, I smell the muskiness of a skunk somewhere in the area, and I feel the coolness of day’s end on my skin. Before our clothesline, I may not have ventured out much after dinner, but now, out of necessity, I do so more often. And then, not needing a reason any longer, I instead choose to go outside on my own, without the need to bring in laundry, but rather, to simply experience the many sensations of nature, of the earth – the sights, smells, sounds, and feelings of this beautiful place I call home.

I see no hurry to ever fix our dryer at all. Actually, donating it (after we get it fixed) might be the best thing we could do with it. Hmmm, something to consider!

So I am thankful for this chance to become more conscious in my actions, and in my daily life.

I am grateful for this unexpected gift.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shaman's Path Intenstive

Spreading the word ...

Please Forward to Friends & Post to Any Forums– Announcing:
The Shaman Path Intensive(for both men and women)
July 2nd - 5th, 2009

A 3 day intensive held not in a classroom but an ancient Place Of Power. Taught by Jesse Wolf Hardin with Kiva Rose and Loba… with the focus on realizing a deep and experiential understanding of empowered self… and on redefining the role of the contemporary shaman in terms of envisioning possibilities: maximizing awareness, discovering purpose, bridging the worlds, and healing personal and societal imbalance.

“The change of direction can be accomplished only through what Carl Jung has referred to as ‘an obedience to awareness’.”-Joan Halifax The Wounded Healer
Specific topics will depend on the needs and desires of the participants, but may include:• Developing conscious hyperpresence, hyperawareness, hypersentience, precognition and intuition, tapping primal instinct• Sensing, connecting with, drawing energy and discerning lessons from the various manifestations of the earthen spirit.• Recognizing and learning from our kindred spirits, including our animal totems• Reshaping perception• Plant medicines and teachers• Moving energy, and the Animá principals of healing• The Animá Medicine Wheel• Reincorporating the scattered or denied parts of our whole selves. Reintegrating mind, body, heart, spirit and earth.
“A surprising experience; archaic, fresh, future, wild, refined, all at once… my respects to Jesse Wolf Hardin.”-Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Together participants walk through the portal of the feeling heart, to enter into deeper connection with the daily miraculous… taking responsibility as potentially powerful, artful co-creators of our world and our reality. Those wishing, have the option of spending a night or more out on a mini-quest, or otherwise customize the weekend experience to best meet their needs.
“Jesse’s voice inspires our passion to take us further — seeing the world whole — even holy.”-Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge
To Participate, Click Here For Your Shaman Path Registration Form:
Download this Announcement without photos, to kindly forward and post:
And click here to read Jesse’s essay: “The Shaman: Awakening the Powers Within”:

Logistics & Particulars will be mailed to anyone sending in a Registration Form.
“Jesse Wolf Hardin has a true understanding of embodied spirituality – the sacred spirit in nature and in human beings… not as an abstraction but in ways sensual, practical, and transformative.” -Starhawk, author of Spiral Dance
“Wolf sings us Full Circle to the raw, sweet wildness within, and calls us forward to the future primeval.”
-Joanna Macy, author of World As Self, World As Lover

Thank you very much for forwarding this announcement, and posting it on any forums or sites you may be involved with.