Just Do You. That is the Work.

 

17 Camel IMG_4050Daily Prompt: If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, why would you do with your free time?

I was asked this question a million years ago. And I have since turned this question on others. It’s a good one.

About 8 years ago I decided to put it to the test. I quit my job – one in a succession of failed career starts – and decided to become a holistic health coach. That lasted just a few years. But what it did for me was show me that I could do what I wanted and the money would come in. Or as Joseph Campbell said, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Sounds magical and all together impractical.

At the risk of sounding woo-woo, I now allow myself to be guided by – dare I say it? – the Universe. I have come to see all situations as teachable moments and guidance in one direction or another. I have never lacked food, housing, or transportation. In fact, I own my home, shop at Whole Foods (not every time, let’s be realistic) and drive a nice little Honda.

When I was younger I wanted certain things, specific markers of success: To live in New York City. Or maybe California. To travel the world, especially Paris. And have several homes. One definitely on the beach. All these things required a healthy salary, a particular status. I had to WORK for them, EARN them.

Then 8 years ago I decided to take my passion for natural health to the next level. I attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York. I went just for me, but came away with an optional new career and possibly a whole new life.

I became a holistic health coach. As a health coach many of my clients inquired if I taught yoga when I suggested they try it. I did not. But that changed. I now saw the next step on my path.

When I began to study yoga, the philosophy in particular, I felt I had finally found the belief system that contained within it all that I had cobbled together for myself from various religions and philosophies. Now it had a name. And I was home.

In its teachings I learned to  lean back. I have learned to trust the process of life. I have cultivated compassion and I am free to look at the world through the lens of enchantment and wonder.

Now, when I reframe all those markers of success, I see that I have achieved them all.

– While attending IIN in New York City I had to be there 12 weekends over 16 months. I rented an apartment with a friend for just those weekends. We shopped for food, ate in the apartment, went out to dinner, wandered the streets. I lived in New York City.

– My brother has lived in southern California for over 10 years. I visit him a few times each year. I drive his car. I pick up groceries. I take my niece to the park. We go to the beach. I have made friends there. I have lived in California.

– During all this yoga stuff, the guru I was studying with (and still am) was taking a group of people to India. It was never on my list of places to go, but suddenly I had to go. He was 80 and I didn’t know if I’d have another chance. I went for 3 weeks. Then I went back the year after with a different swami, and on the way played in London for three days. Then this past July a friend flew me on a private jet to the Bahamas where we played on the beach. I have begun to travel the world.

– I have several friends with houses on the beach and I am free to stay in them whenever they’re not occupied. I have a friend with a cabin in the mountains, same thing. I have several homes.

When I let go of the need to work for these things and just leaned back, everything that was to be materialized. Everything I had asked for showed up. Just not as I expected it. I could have missed it completely.

Today I own a yoga studio – another gift – and I write and I take pictures and when I have free time, you know, between 3:15 – 4:45 AM, I make some jewelry. My life is truly enchanted.

I haven’t worked a day in the past 8 years. I do what I love – all of it – and I am taken care of.

 

Soft Reboot

Ganges IMG_5647

I have been home from India for nearly a month now. It’s time I come back. The process becomes slower and slower with each trip. I leave a little more of myself behind so I can carry more of India home with me. The integration is only painful when I have to suddenly be somewhere incongruous with this process – a conference call, listening to someone gossip or accidentally catching a newsbite.

In the almost four weeks since my return I have been writing a lot. And loving it. I have been going through my photos of India and taking new photos of undiscovered (by me) places near my home. Frustrated with my lack of perfection on this one. And generally just ‘being.’

I have been working, yes, but not with the urgency I had before the cleansing of my spirit. There is so much to do that I WANT to do, but those memory-rich corners of my mind have not allowed the organizational part of my brain access to the data necessary to be effective. We must come to a compromise.

It is blending the work, here and now, with the enchantment of the India experience. It’s called presence and I just need to remember that.

Time for a soft reboot. I will make lists. I’m good at lists – it’s the doing of the stuff on them that sometimes eludes me. Here’s my first: My list of the lists I need to make.

1. Make a list of tasks that need my semi-immediate attention (taxes, newsletter for work, blog page for the Sacred India tour group, etc.)

2. Make a list of business and personal goals (really these are all personal, just some relate to the businesses I personally own)

3. Take a look at current food and lifestyle choices – adjust accordingly (same old, same old – cleanse, eat clean, move more)

4. Prioritize the items within each list then take a walk to let it all settle into my cells. Take my camera – just in case.

Just making this list makes me a little sad, but if I want to go back to India, grow as a human, I have to learn to integrate it all. I have eased back into this American life as slowly as I could. I will hold in my heart the images of Indians napping in their rickshaws in the middle of the day, the visits to temples any time for a quick spiritual refresher and the overall feeling of being held by a force so omnipresent and so unconditionally loving that I must infuse my everyday life with its essence.

I will continue to be present in everything I DO so that I may simultaneously BE.

PHOTO: In Rishikesh, up near the Himalayas, the Ganges is pristine and beautiful. Here I am near a cave that many have come to meditate in, including Swami Satchidananda. This is the Ganga Ma – the mother Ganges – just outside the cave.  I have blogged about my entire trip – From London for three days to India for 18 at http://www.allisonswanderland.com.