A love poem to money

A few weeks ago, my business coach asked me to write a love poem to money. A rather strange request, you might think. But then I did come to him because I want more money.  Who doesn't, right? Yet, that hippy part of me still struggles with knowing that's OK.  Hence, the assignment.  I sat with this, and pondered it, and thought, how on earth am I going to write a love poem to money?? 

Then one day, sitting by the south bank of the Yuba river on our family summer vacation, it all came to me. So here it is, my slightly playful, but honest, reflection of my current relationship to money.

Now honey love,
That’s two words I can
            put my head around
            wrap my heart around

But money love?
That’s two words I’m not so sure about

I love  you, honey
            just rolls off my tongue
            slips through my lips
            like a sweet kiss

But I love you, money?
            a bit of  a wince
            check and see who may be listening
            did I really say that?

There, I said it.
I love you money.

I love you in my pocket
a promise of…. so many things
            a gift, a new dress, a blackberry pie, a plane ticket, a helping hand, a dream…

How do I love you money?
Let me count the ways.

I love you passing from one hand to another
I love you showing up in unexpected moments and unexpected places
I love you doing good work in the world
I love you bringing joy
I love you bringing hope
I love you saying thank you
I love earning you, easily and joyfully,
I love seeing you growing in my bank account
I love investing you
I love giving you away

Save you for a rainy day?
I’d rather play with you on a sunny day!


How To Increase And Sustain Productivity When Working At Home

"I get to work in my pajamas." How often have we heard that phrase as an advertisement for the benefits of being self-employed and working from home? It's a great statement, implying having your own schedule, only having to commute as far as your home office from your bedroom, not having to worry about what you look like.
The down side of working in your pajamas 
As someone who works at home though, I can tell you that the down side of "working in your pajamas" is that it makes you feel, well, like lounging on the couch with that second cup of tea while catching up on the day's news. And then maybe, the bed looks really inviting and you think, well... I'll just take a little nap. Before you know it, the day is half over and your productivity is shot.
Put on your running shoes 
So, my best advice for being more productive when working from home? Get dressed as if you're going out to work. No, that doesn't mean you have to don a suit and tie or panty hose, but it does mean being showered, hair combed, dressed, and - I don't know why this is so important - but wearing sneakers, as opposed to flip flops or slippers, just makes me feel energetic. Don't believe me? Try it!
Four tips for making the most out of your workday at home
A few other tips that I find useful to maintain and sustain my productivity when working at home: 
1. Focus on income producing activities first. Leave those "busy" tasks (like cleaning out your inbox) to later in the day.
2. Turn off Facebook and email notifications while focusing on a task. It's even more tempting to take frequent social media breaks, which can easily lead down the path of hours wasted, when there is no boss looking over your shoulder.
3. Unless you are expecting an important business call, turn off your cell phone ringer, or better yet, leave your phone in another room. Does the very idea make you break out in a cold sweat? Just try it for small increments, say a half hour and gradually build up. Like detoxing in reverse.
4. Use a timer for daunting tasks. You can do anything for 15 minutes. And then another 15 minutes. Before you know it, you've made a good dent in that project you'd been putting off because it felt too daunting. 
Get ready, get set, go 
In summary: get dressed, put on your running shoes, turn off distractions, pace yourself and have fun being productive and basking in the glow of one more important income producing activity you can check off your to do list.
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What if yours was the last word someone heard?

What if? Often those “what if…” thoughts are the worst-case scenarios, the dire imaginings that our minds are so wont to concoct.  Happily, our worst what if’s don’t usually come true. Life is infinitely more creative and unexpected than what our brains can imagine.

I heard a different take on the “what if…” possibility at a recent talk by Edward Viljoen. The subject was love, and what stayed with me is the idea that what if the last words someone heard were your words?  What if the last thing someone saw before they died was the look on your face?  What is someone’s last memory was the interaction they had with you before you right before they slipped away to that unknown dimension that lies on the other side of this consciousness?

What if the last thing someone saw before they died was the look on your face?

This really gave me pause to think. How many times do I mindlessly go through life, not really giving much thought to the hundreds, perhaps thousands of interactions that I have each day with my fellow humans, not stopping to consider the ripples created by my looks, my words, my actions.

I started to wonder, what would my life look like if I kept that thought, that particular “what if…” present in every interaction?  Would I be so quick to roll my eyes, let that tone of impatience slip into my words, speed up to get my place in the checkout lane if I knew that look, that word, that action would be the last thing this person experienced before some sudden twist of fate, luck, God, intervened and that person was suddenly no more? 

Sound Advice: Take a Breath before Responding

I decided to try it and find out.  My discovery? I’m a nicer person!  That thought, that simple “what if…” thought, gives me just the needed pause between that moment of reaction and the ensuing look, words, actions…. The opportunity to take a breath before responding, to suspend my judgment, to take the high road , to be kinder, more generous, to give the benefit of the doubt,  to smile .

What if we all went through life this way?  I wonder if the invisible web of creation which binds us together, the indiscernible ripples of cause  and effect, would make this world a kinder, gentler place to live?

A break through while washing the dishes

On a recent Sunday morning, Edward Viljoen spoke about Seva, the Sanskrit word for sacred service and the different ways in which Seva differs from volunteering. Although both involve actually doing something, volunteering simply means freely offering to do a task or set of tasks. The key element in Seva, however, is the consciousness we hold while doing the task, the recognition that we are offering our time, our energy, our skill in service to God, or whatever term we may want to use to convey that sense of Oneness and Connection.

Chopping carrots, with love

He recounted the story of Dr James Golden, also a recent speaker at our Center for Spiritual Living, who was given the task of chopping carrots during a Buddhist meditation retreat. Chopping away with great efficiency, true to his military KP training, he was shocked when the monks told him he was doing it all wrong. They proceeded to demonstrate the exact quarter inch by quarter inch size the carrots needed to be. Staring at the crates of carrots waiting to be chopped for the monastery’s lunch, he expressed his concern that he would not be able to chop all the carrots as instructed in time. The monks reassured him that what was important was that he chop them with love, and that no doubt the right amount of carrots would be ready by lunchtime. Huge break through for him, as he realized that indeed the consciousness with which he approached this Seva was what mattered, rather than his efficiency in accomplishing the task.

What matters most, consciousness or efficiency?

Reflecting on this story as I dashed home from the morning service to wash the breakfast dishes I had left piled up in the sink in my mad rush to bake cookies (Seva) in time for the morning bake sale, and proceeding to buzz through the dirty dishes as fast as possible so I could get on to the next thing on my list… (this being Sunday, no less!) I was struck by the startling revelation that I too was totally focused on efficiency rather than my connection to the One life. And not just while performing Seva. I started wondering how many moments of my life am I so focused on getting the task done and being efficient that I loose sight of my place in the grander scheme of things, the wonder of Life, the magic of each moment, the sacred web of love which unites all living things…

And so, I paused, took a deep breath, and surrendered to the moment, to washing the dishes with love, to being truly present to each moment in my life.