About what matters

Writing about what really matters

Category: SoulCollage

Personal power

Leo cropped

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours. –Wayne Dyer

I came across this quote earlier in the week, just hours before I’d really, really need it.

You just never know when someone’s going to act the fool, and you’re going to need to respond like the sane, mature individual you are to the most outrageous thing you’ve ever heard. There was definitely a Full Moon this week, no doubt about that.

I was able to respond with calm strength from the core of who I really am, and I’m pretty certain the other person didn’t get much satisfaction from my response, which wasn’t quite what he was looking for. It wasn’t an easy experience, but it was satisfactory. I really believe that it’s at times like this that the work of staying grounded and maintaining a regular spiritual practice really pays off, by making us more of who we really are. And that is something I’m truly thankful for.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage® card I made today. I went to the bookstore yesterday to look at magazines, and when I saw this lion, I knew the magazine was coming home with me. I’ve never made a card for my sun sign–until now. I’ve called this one Personal power + Leo.

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.



How to celebrate

Yes take 3

 When I accomplish something really big, something I have worked long and hard for, I buy myself what I call a “push present.” I recently completed writing my tenth book and bought myself a beautiful new ring that I wear nearly everyday…. The ring is a physical, constant reminder and proof of my abundance and prosperity that comes from the part of me that is connected to the Divine. And, every time I look at this ring it makes me smile and remember that I have accomplished something that I am really proud of…. I also “tithe” the same amount I spend to someone or something that provides me with spiritual sustenance. This creates even more fulfillment with me. –Arielle Ford

While I was considering how to celebrate my new job, I came across a blog post from Arielle Ford that resonated with me, where she explained how she celebrated the completion of her last book.

I was definitely on board with the jewelry idea! When I worked for a startup that recognized the Employee of the Month with a cash award, I spent my award money on earrings–the one piece of jewelry I never leave the house without. I bought another pair to celebrate a hard-won raise a few years ago, and a third pair to celebrate this new job. I also made a reservation at my favorite French bistro to celebrate with friends.

When I think of spiritual sustenance, I think of books, magazines, processes like SoulCollage, guided meditations. Typically the people behind them are already doing well and really aren’t in any need of help from me. Since this was a business-related goal, I thought Kiva loans would be a perfect way to celebrate. When these loans are paid back, I’ll loan the money again, so it will truly be the gift that keeps on giving.

These are the women I loaned to (top to bottom and left to right):

  • Fanta from Mali, who sells fabrics, including African waxprints
  • Rewad from Palestine, who’s working on her degree in elementary education
  • Tuyet from Vietnam, who’s adding a bathroom to her house
  • Mahzuna from Tajikistan, a single mother with a tailoring business
  • Martina from Peru, who has a food sales business
  • Fatmata from Sierra Leone, who has a grocery store




How do you like to celebrate?

This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage® card Yes!

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

New beginnings

New beginnings

As I prepare to start my new job next month, I find myself increasingly willing to release the old and embrace the new. This is the SoulCollage® card I made today, New beginnings. (Note the papery chrysalis from which the yellow butterfly has just emerged.)

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

At last

Yes take 3

This was my exact gesture when I got off the phone last week after verbally accepting a job offer I’m really excited about–a gesture I’ve repeated several times since. This moment has been a long time coming …

I realized nearly a year and a half ago that I would need to make a change–I hoped sooner rather than later. I went on a couple interviews then, and could have made an immediate change. But my gut feeling was that I hadn’t found the right opportunity yet, and also that (as much as I wanted to leave) my presence was needed to help stabilize the situation for others. Power and fear can be a lethal combination, that’s for sure.

There have been other interviews along the way, other offers I didn’t accept. One came quite close to what I wanted. I loved the people I would have worked with, but the job would have come with a cut in base pay along with a significantly better potential annual bonus. I was a little surprised at exactly how much I didn’t like the idea of a pay cut!

The interview process for the job I’ve accepted began two months ago, and has been slowed by a number of factors, so I was thrilled when the offer finally came through. I’ve taken my drug test–nothing like peeing in a cup while a couple of lab employees wait outside your door to keep your feet on the ground–and dug up various paystubs, W-2s, offer letters, and phone numbers for the background check.

I told a couple of friends at work that I’d accepted an offer, both of whom were surprised–which could mean I’ve finally perfected my poker face! One said he was sure I’d really enjoy handing in my notice. I was a little surprised to realize I won’t … there is no ‘charge’ around this for me. Likewise, I don’t remotely have any guilt about leaving. All of which must mean this is the perfect time for me to move on.

The really outstanding, difficult-to-match feature of my current job is my commute. When the stars are aligned and all the lights are green, I can get from my driveway to the parking garage in two minutes. Four minutes is more usual. Obviously this has allowed me to go home at lunchtime most days, which has been great. My new commute will be about half an hour and will involve tolls–assuming I want to take the fastest route, and I do.

But in virtually every other respect, I expect my new job to be an improvement over the old one. Better pay, better benefits, better bonus (which I happen to know this company actually pays, because I’ve worked for them before). I’m really looking forward to being challenged again, not to mention working with highly competent, bright, professional people. I’m also going to be doing the work I want to do in a really beautiful place–a former headquarters building with beautiful grounds, landscaping, water features, and art.

I’m so grateful for this positive change, and truly looking forward to all that happens next.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage® card I made today, Yes!

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

What I wish I’d learned in school


This past week, I had lunch with the program director for Chancellor’s Scholarships at my alma mater, the scholarship I had in college. Our conversation about my college experience got me thinking about what was missing from my education–what I’ve needed to learn on my own since I graduated.

I’m really grateful that my university experience set in motion the process of opening my mind and forming my own values, causing me to examine the belief system I’d been given, and begin the process of determining what I wanted to keep, discard, add, or change. Looking back, though, I wish there’d been more balance in my education, and that a few other processes had been set in motion earlier for me.

As I reminisced this week, it suddenly became clear to me that an emphasis solely (or nearly so) on “the life of the mind” is a seriously imbalanced approach. And really, it wasn’t just about the mind, it was pretty exclusively about the left brain. The right brain, heart, intuition, body, and soul are pretty critical too. Of these, the most emphasis was placed on the body–two physical education classes were a core requirement. I ended up taking three, and after dreading and putting it all off till my senior year, I enjoyed all of them. My modern dance class especially helped me understand my body in a new way. The instructor would regularly give us instructions like, Now breathe through your heart! And I’d try it, and interestingly enough, it was possible. Other than this relatively minor emphasis, though, the whole four years were about developing the left brain. Which in my case, was rather developed already.

When I take the Myers-Briggs type indicator test, my results for the Thinking/Feeling (T/F) axis are equal, but my preference is Thinking, meaning that I like to reason out decisions. So an emphasis on “the life of the mind” pushed me further in the direction of my natural inclination, and I ended up valuing being intellectual to an extent that today I believe is unjustified. It occurs to me to wonder how those with a Feeling preference find this emphasis–balancing? invalidating? I don’t know, but in my case, I believe it was unhelpful.

I remember being asked to take Myers-Briggs in college, and by my first employer, which I did. The results of the test, though, weren’t given to me in any meaningful way. That is, I was given the meaning of each of the four letters, which made little sense to me, but not an explanation of my four-letter type, which I’m sure would have.

Later, on my own, I found the amazingly-accurate type descriptions in David Keirsey’s Please Understand Me II, and found the information quite helpful. Particularly since I have a rare personality type, I wish the institutions that gathered this information for their own purposes had explained to me what they’d learned. I find the ethics of deriving such revealing information, but not sharing what has been learned with the person who’s been tested, at least questionable. I also would love to have been shown how the different personality types fit together like the pieces of a puzzle–no right, no wrong, no judgment, and all necessary to the whole.

I also wish I’d been taught how to meditate, like every student at Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls (who meditate before every test). I feel pretty certain this one change would have altered my life fairly significantly, if only because I would have been able to consistently hear my intuition–which, without meditation, was usually drowned out by the constant chatter of my mind.

The school I attended was so privileged that there was hardly ever a need to mention it. But I think an introduction to the concept would have been really useful to all of us. I also would like to have been prepared, as I left an environment that was generally ethical and discrimination-free, for what I was likely to encounter in the real world–best case, worst case, and on average.

It’s taken most of my life thus far to bring my voice into something resembling balance. I understand why this was an issue for me, but I see a lot of people (perhaps especially women) who share this issue, and it’s also much more rare than I believe it should be to see people of either gender using their voices for good. I took a ‘cattle call’ speech communication class to meet a core requirement, but I wish I’d been taught to use my voice in a more useful way.

Often it seems that justice and injustice hinge on nothing more than whether or not people are willing to speak up for what they know is right. Just one voice can make a difference. So I wish I’d been able to speak to a real audience about a meaningful topic, with an opportunity to make a real difference.

More than one young girl has recently voiced an opinion and made a difference. One example … Els, who’s eight, wrote a letter to Scholastic Books about their gender-based categorization of books. She loves pirates, but all of their pirate books have been printed with “for boys” right on the cover. Based on her letter, they’re changing their catalog and all their covers to eliminate this gender bias. She will know forever the difference she can make by speaking up.

It’s only recently that I’ve begun making art, and I wish a core requirement had pushed me out of my comfort zone and into the fine arts building to learn a new skill and start creating.

I also remember noticing immediately after getting my first real job that the academic model of individual achievement that I’d been working in since kindergarten in no way reflects the real world. Nor do business-school ‘teams’ reflect my experience of the real world either. The unequal division of labor may be true to life, but fortunately it’s far less easy for people to take credit for work they didn’t do in real life. I would love to have had a positive, useful experience of teamwork in an academic setting.

I’d love to hear what you wish you’d learned in school.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage® card I made today, The flowering of knowledge.

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

Have you made an Earth Day resolution?

Earth Day OK, maybe they’re not quite as famous as the resolutions made at New Year’s–it’s even possible they’re something I completely made up–but nonetheless, I think Earth Day resolutions are much more useful. Think of it as a Mother’s Day card for Mother Earth, who’s done so much for you. This year, my Earth Day resolution is to choose my next car for its eco-friendliness rather than its personality. My current car is a sub-compact, but I could still get double the mileage from a Toyota Prius. One of my prior Earth Day resolutions was to lower my highway cruise control speed. I’ve considered doing this again, but I’m a bit afraid of getting run over! Getting a significantly more efficient car will be much more effective. Perhaps you already have something you know you should do in the back of your mind, but here are 10 Earth Day resolution ideas to get you started …

  1. Resolve that each time you buy something, you’ll choose carefully (no “starter” items, temporary solutions, or stop-gap measures), maintain it, and use it till it wears out.
  2. Resolve to eliminate disposables from your life whenever possible. Use rags instead of paper towels. Instead of using Styrofoam, plastic, or paper at work, keep a mug, glass, plate, fork, and spoon (or whatever you need) at your desk. I keep a sponge and Mrs. Meyers dishwashing liquid in the kitchen at work.
  3. Resolve to limit your clothing purchases. (I guess this is a gender-related thing–I don’t know any men with overflowing closets.) I buy a maximum of 10 good quality items a year (not including scarves, loungewear, etc.). Shoes go to the cobbler and clothes to the tailor when they need repairs, and I get rid of things only when they can be worn no more. This, it turns out, is more than enough.
  4. Resolve to buy some items vintage or antique rather than new. This works for furniture, art, rugs, china, glassware, and much more. Options range from Thrift Town to Sotheby’s. Quality is likely to be better, and since the item has already lasted for some time, it’s likely to keep right on doing so.
  5. Resolve to support an organization that’s making a difference for the environment (such as the Natural Resources Defense Council) with a donation, or even regular support.
  6. Resolve to recycle everything that can be recycled–not just the items picked up from your curb, but the items you have to make an effort to recycle, like light bulbs and batteries. And not just when a recycling bin is convenient, but when you have to carry the item for awhile to get to one. Resolve that if you acquire or use something, you’ll dispose of it properly.
  7. Resolve to close the recycling loop by buying recycled paper, plastic, or glass products–or all three. I resisted giving up conventional paper products for awhile, but I finally realized that I am plenty pampered enough–I don’t need to blow my nose on the paper equivalent of silk.
  8. Resolve to switch to 100% wind electricity.
  9. Resolve that every new appliance purchase will be energy efficient. (In the US, just look for the Energy Star label.)
  10. Resolve to eliminate conventional cotton, perhaps the dirtiest crop on earth, whenever possible. Buy linen, bamboo, or organic cotton instead. Try bamboo towels, and you’ll never go back to plain cotton. Their silky texture and ability to stay fresh (due to bamboo’s natural anti-bacterial properties) are unmatched. Linen sheets and slipcovers are also lovely.

If you’re making an Earth Day resolution this year, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below! This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage® card We have the wisdom.

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

We have the wisdom

Earth Day

This is the SoulCollage® card I made in honor of Earth Day in response to this challenge. I’ve called it We have the wisdom because I truly believe that we humans, who are in the process of destroying this planet as a habitat suitable for our own species–as well as many others–have the wisdom to reverse that process. We know what doesn’t work, and therefore what we need to do. I believe love and wisdom are stronger than greed and machismo, but there can be no doubt that decisive action is needed to ensure they win.

Pictured on the card are several environmental activists. Dr. Jane Goodall is well known for her work as a primatologist. Today, at 80, she travels 300 days a year advocating for her beloved chimpanzees and the environment. Her Roots & Shoots program aims to educate the youngest generation about the environment.

The women in the middle are Pershlie Ami, a Hopi elder, and Mary Lyons, an Ojibwe elder, at the 2014 People’s Climate March, where 400,000 people participated. It seems pretty clear to me that had we American settlers followed the aboriginal example in only one respect, considering the seventh generation in every decision, it’s unlikely we would be facing a climate crisis today.

On the right is Tim DeChristopher, 33, who served 21 months in prison for bidding $1.8 million he didn’t have on 14 parcels of land around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah in a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction. He attended the auction as a protester, not planning to bid, and was inspired to bid as the auction proceeded. The leases were later canceled, and the 14 parcels of land remain unexploited. While in prison, he was accepted to Harvard Divinity School. His website, bidder70.org, is named for his paddle number.

At the bottom of the card is a Spirit Bear in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia.

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

Creating something new


This weekend’s dark of the moon–when this month’s unusually powerful New Moon sheds little to no illumination on the night sky–is the perfect time to reiterate your intentions for 2015, to reinforce all that you intend to create but have not yet fully brought forth.

As I do this myself, I’m reminded of the two SoulCollage® cards I made at the New Year to represent what I believed the year would bring. This year, my cards (below) were about mastery and a leap forward in my professional life, and heart expansion in the personal realm.

Thoroughbred     Heart 2

I’m seeing clear and very hopeful indications of both coming to fruition, and this weekend, I’m taking the opportunity to reiterate my intentions in both areas, as well as setting down in my journal new intentions for both, specific to the unfolding that’s going on right now.

It seems to me that right now is an amazing time for the fulfillment of dreams, so I hope you’ll join me in taking some time to bring focus to what you want to bring forth next!

I like to create a specific set of intentions for each goal I want to manifest. For me, being a words person, this is usually a list in my journal–but as you can see, I use my right brain to create visual representations as well. A collage or vision board might feel more natural for you, but no doubt there are many other options too–a video, a voice recording, a painting, etc. You can describe the characteristics of a new job, partner, a new house, or whatever it is you want to manifest, or you can take an alternative approach, such as describing how you would like to feel in a new job, with a new partner, living in a new house, and so on. For example …

  • I want to feel protected in the shelter of my home.
  • I want my hard work to be consistently appreciated and rewarded.
  • I want to feel truly known by my partner, and fully accepted just as I am.

For goals that take some time to bring into being, occasionally it feels right to me to start fresh, restating the goal in today’s fresh language or images or voice. That is what I’m doing today, and I hope you’ll join me! I believe we’re just on the cusp of a wonderful time.

This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage cards Unfolding of consciousness, Thoroughbred racer, and Heart expansion.

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

Making way for the new


Today I’ve been conscious of the need to clear out the old, all that no longer serves me, to make way for the new.

I was waiting for an important phone call this morning; I’d suggested 11 am, but that hour came and went, and no phone call. My instinct was to clear some clutter in order to create some space.

Recently I scheduled a book exchange and dinner with friends, and I’ve slowly been working through my stack of “maybe these can go” books. (Those that can definitely go are pretty much already gone.) Each of us will bring a dozen books or so, and take home books we’re interested in reading. I plan to donate the unclaimed books to either my neighborhood’s Little Free Library, or a nearby community library.

Our last exchange, of unwanted Christmas presents, was lots of fun. We all offloaded our unwanted stuff (and unwanted presents from family can have some weight to them), and came home with a few things we did want. I’ve also attended a clothing exchange in the past, where I was able to see others appreciate my clothes that seemed too good to just drop in a donation bin, and pick up a couple of things myself, including a t-shirt and new-with-tag pajamas that are still in rotation.

I wanted something faster, though, and I thought of my basket of catalogs. I grabbed my recycling basket, and tossed in virtually everything I’d received prior to January of this year. I filled it three or four times, and dumped the old catalogs in my recycling cart. I began emptying my wastebaskets to take the trash out as well, and in the midst of doing that, shortly after 1 pm–the phone rang. It was good news, and a good conversation.

I put out fresh towels, did laundry, ran the dishwasher, and cleaned the bath. Next up is a good spring clean of the flowerbeds.

I’d love to hear some of your favorite ways to clear clutter and make way for something new to emerge in your life!

This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage® card Ready to receive.

SoulCollage cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.


You are a precious jewel


You are a precious jewel. –lady at Lenscrafters

Our true nature is like a precious jewel: although it may be temporarily buried in mud, it remains completely brilliant and unaffected. We simply have to uncover it. –Pema Chödrön

Recently I visited my optometrist, and then went to Lenscrafters to get new lenses for my glasses made–with fabulous results! I can see much more clearly now. That little touch of prism correction is making all the difference.

I had to wait for a bit, and the woman who helped me thanked me for my patience. (This happens fairly regularly now, but I’m pretty sure that no one ever thanked me for my patience before I started meditating.)

We discussed various lens options, and I made my selections. She had me look directly into her eyes so she could measure the location of my retinas, so that my prescription could be exactly aligned with them. We were talking along about Lenscrafter kinds of things, and suddenly she said, “You are a precious jewel.” I thanked her, privately thinking this was a bit over the top, but keeping that opinion strictly to myself!

Back at home, mission accomplished, I sat down with a mug of hot green acai tea, put my feet up, and opened a magazine. The literal transaction of the Tibetan Buddhist honorific Rinpoche, I read, is “precious jewel.”

There it was, the very same phrase again. Perhaps I should pay attention! It crossed my mind that it must be interesting to have a job that requires you to gaze into the windows of others’ souls.

It’s true, you know … I am a precious jewel. We all are. And since you may not be going to Lenscrafters soon yourself, I’ll tell you right now … You are a precious jewel.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I finished tonight, You are a precious jewel.

SoulCollage® cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

%d bloggers like this: