Work is Joy

When your work emerges from the flow of your joy, everything you do becomes fluid, easy. Joy is a powerful creative force. Its swift current dissolves the debris of fear, procrastination, doubt, and the endless distractions that dribble away your energy, focus and purpose, and keep you from your true work. Step into the flow of your joy and both you and your business will flourish.
Let your work be a current in the river of your joy

Imagination is Freedom

woman on swing

Imagination is freedom — it can transform the world. Here’s a wonderful story told by Robert Hass, about the power of imagination in action in one of the direst places in our collective history.

“I’ll tell you a story that may or may not be true because it belongs to the history of marvels. The French poet Robert Desnos was in Buchenwald not because he was a poet but because he was a Jew. The story is that Desnos and all the men in his barracks were marched to a room and told to strip in preparation for being deloused in an adjoining room. They understood what that meant, and Desnos turned to the man next to him and said, “I read fortunes. Let me see your palm.” The man, stoop-shouldered, eyes wet with fear, held up his palm. Desnos looked at it and shook his head. A long lifeline, he said, but I see trouble in business down the line and trouble with your daughter. The man, stunned at first, laughed. And others laughed. And soon all the men in the room were standing around naked, laughing, with tears in their eyes, reading one another’s palms. The guards were so disconcered that they ordered the men to get dressed and marched them back to their barracks. The next day a transfer order came through and many were sent to a work camp and some survived to tell the story. Desnos was not among the survivors. Surrealism began with the idea that freedom of imagination could transform life, and in this instance, if the story is true, it did.”
–Robert Hass, from What Light Can Do

Work Is Gratitude

Stanley Kunitz quote

What Matters Most?

Peace rose

I love roses. I love their labyrinthine petals, their careless beauty, their mysterious, glowing hearts. I love their generous perfume, the sovereign power of their thorny stems.

The very first rose bush I planted was a variety called Fragrant Cloud. A gorgeously elegant hybrid rose with dark red-orange petals, it had a distinctive, spicy-sweet perfume that settled on my suburban garden like a benediction.

I loved it so much that I scoured my local nursery for other scented roses, hauling them home in the trunk and back seat of my Volvo. By the end of that summer, the palms of my hands were blistered from digging and planting, and the sunny side of my quarter-acre garden was a riot of multi-hued roses. Creamy headed, velvety red, vibrant orange, pink, lavender, butter-yellow – they quivered in the afternoon breeze, offering their extravagant beauty to honeybees and passing neighbors with equal profligacy.

At the end of each work day, I pottered about for hours, tending to my rose bushes. I watered them and sang to them; attuned to the Rose Deva to get its advice on when and how to plant, to feed, to mulch. I cleared the ground around their roots so they could breathe. I nursed them through bouts of powdery mildew, black spot, and other deadly fungi; released small armies of ladybugs to eat the aphids that would otherwise suck the life out of them.

After a full day of work at my business, pouring out my heart and the contents of my brain to dozens of clients, students and staff, alight with the fine buzz of writing and creating, I returned in the evening to the peace of my garden. I was happy there — a simple, sensual joy that eluded me in the more complex shadows of my family’s home.

The ground under my knees was soft, moist, musky. Crumbling chocolate earth lingered in the crevasses of my hands, and under my fingernails. Sting and sheen of sweat on sunburned arms. Scent of roses, lilies, stocks, layered over, under the sharp green of cut grass. Bees bumbled from shrub to flower, doing their necessary work. The meaty spit and sizzle of barbecue from a neighbor’s yard.

In the lingering light of summer, my boys played outside with their friends until dusk. They ran wildly through gardens and backyards, whooping and laughing, calling out to each other across hedges and from the branches of trees, filling the air with joyful noise.

Everything bloomed, that summer of my first rose garden — my sons and my garden grew tall and strong. My business was thriving too, the excitement of full-on creative fire at the heart of a vibrant community. I was in love with my work, in love with my lanky teenagers with their curious, questing minds, their cracking voices and joyous, generous hearts.

My marriage, on the other hand, was failing. Almost invisibly, at first, it began succumbing to a creeping mildew of the heart that would not reveal itself – not fully — for a few years yet. By which time the damage was terminal, and could not be reversed.

By the third summer of my rose garden, small herds of roving deer began clattering through our neighborhood, driven by new housing development down from the hills that were their natural home. They wandered through my garden at night, trampling the soft ground with their sharp hooves, nipping roses neatly off their stems, depositing mounds of faeces in the garden beds.

They stripped the bark off our apple tree, the one my boys had climbed until they grew too big for its slender branches. Yearling bucks rubbed their budding antlers against the apple tree’s trunk to scratch the uncontrollable itch of new growth. They left the tree weeping sap, vulnerable to opportunistic infections.

One morning, I went out into the garden to find my rose bushes denuded of flowers, their stems broken beyond repair by slashing hooves. The ground beneath them had churned into a muddy gloop, the tops of their roots were gashed and exposed.

I sat with my back against the bleeding trunk of our apple tree, my belly tender, feeling as devastated as my rose garden.

And I cried, grieving the loss of something that didn’t have the strength to survive without heroic outpourings of my time, energy, resources and heart. I asked myself some hard questions. Why was I trying to grow the kind of garden that could not make itself at home in the natural world? What if I oriented myself to belonging, to harmony, wholeness, ease, instead? What would that feel like? What kind of garden would I grow?

I communed with the Rose Deva, and the Devas of my garden, my family, and my home. The truth was undeniable – a compassionate laser cutting through to the heart of the matter.

When any element of an ecology is out of harmony with the whole, it undermines the health and vitality of the entire ecology. Rose bushes whose natural vitality has been bred out of them can no longer contribute to the vibrant life of a garden. Deer driven out of their habitat by human disregard trample and destroy in their attempts to forage for food. A family oriented around one person’s needs and desires cannot flourish.

That weekend, I dug up the dead rose bushes, and buried them in the compost. Determined that the new garden would grow in harmony with its surroundings, I chose heirloom roses, some of which have been around as a species for hundreds of years. Once established, they are all but indestructible. Unlike hybrids, which are as finicky as greyhounds, these are roses in their (mostly) natural state — vigorous, untameable, vibrantly alive.

Their flowers were small, shaggy, old-fashioned looking. They exuded a perfume that filled my garden with an otherworldly scent like musky angels with bells for wings. Best of all, they flourished happily in my garden, needing very little beyond sun, rain, love, and an occasional pruning.

Instead of spending hours working in my garden each evening, I now had time – to write, to cook my boys their favorite meals, to drive them and their friends to the beach or to the lake for an after-dinner swim, to listen to their stories and their unburdened hearts.

Over the next couple of years, those roses grew into towering thickets that even the deer could not penetrate. They formed a sheltering boundary that made my garden magical — a place out of time where, on long summer evenings, I read, wrote, dreamed a new life for myself and my sons. My boys grew tall too; their world expanded to embrace wider horizons than the small town in which they had grown up.

My older son moved halfway across the world to teach English in China. I finished my novel, which was published internationally. My younger son traveled with me on book tours, where he met people who lived very different lives than anything he’d ever experienced in his Canadian hometown. He returned from these adventures with a new sense of his place in the world, an expanded vision of the possibilities life had to offer.

The day I drove away for the last time — from my marriage, my home, the garden that shone green-and-gold in the evening light – I left with a grieving, grateful heart. In the end, I made the only choice that love would allow.

I’ve never created another rose garden – or any garden, really. My body is aging, and I conserve my energy for that which nurtures wholeness in my life. These days, my love affair with roses blossoms on the beach trails near my home, where wild roses mingle their perfume with the brine of sea air in the summer.

Sustainability, wholeness – these are the touchstones that guide my choices and form the path beneath my feet. I welcome into my world, and the world of my business, that which brings greater harmony and wholeness. Everything else I bless with love, knowing that it does not belong with me.

This makes choosing what’s mine very simple. I’m a business strategist whose only strategy is not a strategy at all. I choose the unfolding pattern of love, of wholeness.

Living and doing business in this way requires discernment. It also calls for willingness to embrace and act on the truth of my heart, no matter what. The gifts of choosing from this center include the miracle of a business culture that supports me and everyone in the world of my business to live joyfully and to thrive. A culture that contributes to the wholeness and healing of our world.

How about you? What feels out of place or unsustainable in your life? Where are you paying a dizzying price for something that doesn’t belong in your world, or in the world of your business?

And: What path leads you to the heart of what matters most to you? What happens when you follow this path, and give your love and devotion to this holy center?

Tender Mercies

springtime buds

On this day of renewal, when we celebrate the miracle of life emerging from broken ground — I offer you the tenderness of this poem by George McWhirter. May you savour, with a joyful heart, “the roughest, dearest sugar of the fruit.”

We all turn to sugar, paradoxically,
in the cap, where we have been twisted
hard, screwed on with a snap
by our mother or our father to keep
our love in, fresh, like the maple syrup–

as if mouths loosened with greed,
lips as curdled as the molten
pancake batter across the bevelled
skillet, drooling all around us,
could coax it out of the bottle.

But once love is gone, and this is all
that’s left–a brown rust stuck
around the rim, I am driven
back to lick the place
where sweetness scabbed the glass.

When we walked in the wood, it was June;
the salmonberry leaves were green,
their stalks slender
and ginger; the berries like
jewelled upside-down temples
raised to become solid vessels
for the light. They filled
with the dark worship of the ground–
this prickly vermouth in their mouths

vinted from the sour
sap of the salmonberries through
the lanky spigots rooted there.

I offered you six or seven,
a handful of plump prayers.
hoping you would look at me
and forgive, confer no more
with the conifers about my weaknesses.

I plucked one for myself and bit
into a whitened worm inside
and wondered why we could not always
savour our decay, eat into the corruption
where it has supped and gone granular
to become the roughest, dearest
sugar of the fruit?

–George McWhirter, On Pancake Eating at the Feast of St. John, from The Book of Contradictions

This is what language is…


Each morning, I read poems — sometimes, a single drop of a poem that widens and ripples through my life all day; sometimes, a dancing river of poems that sweeps me towards a glimmering horizon.

Poems restore my soul, return me to my beating heart, to my breath and body. They deliver me home to the lineage of bards and poets who sang around hearth-fires and campfires, who loved the everyday world and told of its mysteries in ancestral caves, and whispered their songs down the mouths of sacred wells.

Here’s an excerpt from Eavan Boland’s poem, A Habitable Grief, that rings like a pebble flung into a great, copper vat, this morning:

“This is what language is:
a habitable grief. A turn of speech
for the everyday and ordinary abrasion
of losses such as this

which hurts
just enough to be a scar.

And heals just enough to be a nation.”

This is soul food. Drink it in. Let it settle into your cells, into your hungry bones. Feel the golden nourishment of truth, eloquently spoken.

Cheek to cheek: Partnering with your Business Deva

dreamstime_xs_2830376 tango couple

The single most important element in the world of your business is you. Your energy, vitality, and creativity, your vision and heart, give birth to your business. Your love supports the life of your business.

You partner with the Deva of your business to unfold the miracle of its pattern in the world. You, and the relationship between you and your Business Deva, are the central elements in this creation that is your business.

Your life is your kingdom to shape — to cultivate, to nourish, to grow. The more skillfully you care for yourself, the more fully you access your soul and all of its qualities, including creativity, grounding, abundance, wisdom, strength, clarity and purpose. The more you embody these qualities in yourself and in your business, the more successful your business will be.

Your soul encompasses the whole ecology of your being. It holds your uniqueness — that which makes you who you are.

This includes your personality, your history, your family, your lineage, your likes, your dislikes, your strengths, your challenges, your physical body, everything that makes you, you. Everything in your personal ecology is the particularity of your being.

This is the realm of what we think of as the real world, the three-dimensional world. It is bound by laws of nature, of time, space and gravity. It is a world of differentiation and opposites — of light and dark; day and night; male and female; positive and negative. That aspect of your soul that is incarnate encounters all of the polarities and contradictory realities of this world in which we live.

But your soul also includes, in its ecology, the dimensions of subtle energy and of unity. In this aspect of your soul’s ecology, you are one with Source and with all of Creation. You are one with all that is, was, or ever will be.

Time and space function very differently in this portion of the soul’s ecology. There is no gravity or resistance—the laws of nature in our 3-D world don’t apply to the subtle energy worlds. This means that you can transform patterns very quickly here.

This is why energy technologies work so brilliantly. It is also the reason why, when you know how to work with the subtle energy realms, you can create things very quickly, and in seemingly magical ways.

To bring those creations into manifestation you have to engage the powers of your incarnation — your particularity, which lives in the 3-dimensional world. You have to create structures and forms that hold the essence of what you want to bring into the world.

When the pattern and form of your business — its shape and structure — flow organically from its essence, the world of your business is elegant and whole. This makes your business irresistible to those who truly want what you have to offer. In order to shape it in this way, you have to know how to bring your business into the world of form, skillfully and effectively.

There’s a difference between creating things on an energetic level and creating things on a physical level. There is great creative power in knowing how to navigate the whole ecology of your being so that you can use the skills and capacities of every aspect of your soul, including its subtle and physical energy realities.

On the 3-D end of the spectrum there are a limited number of things you can create. You have a limited amount of time, you have a limited amount of energy — that’s the nature of physical reality.

It’s important to make the very most of your capacity by knowing your true desires, and anchoring them in a clear and concrete intention. Because once you set something in motion in the subtle-energy dimensions, you begin gathering around you a vast array of allies and powers to help you bring your creation into form.

If you set things in motion randomly you will waste an enormous amount of energy and you will end up either creating things you don’t want, or not having the resources you need to carry your creation to completion.

Being clear about your intention helps you align your desires with your soul’s purposes. Partnering with your Business Deva helps you fulfill your intention with the help of all the powers of wholeness.

Take some time each day, to connect with your Business Deva. Deepen your relationship with it. Together, you can develop a unified vision for your business. Your Business Deva can help you with everything from envisioning the world of your business to shaping an effective business model, to creating a winning campaign for your signature offering. It can help you with both planning and implementation.

Like any relationship, your relationship with your Business Deva will deepen and flourish if you nourish it with your love, appreciation, willingness to listen and to communicate. Devas do not impose themselves, so ask for help when you need it. Then follow through and act on the guidance it offers you.

Your relationship with your Business Deva is a partnership. You are no less sacred or powerful than it is. You each have your own spheres of power and influence. So use your discernment. Feel free to say No to anything it proposes that doesn’t feel right to you, or that isn’t in right timing for you. You are sovereign in your own life.

Once you’ve called on it to collaborate with you, pay attention to the people, places, situations and experiences that show up in your life. These will be responses from your Business Deva to the help and partnership you have invoked.

Dream Team : Hiring for your Soul Business

ice climbers

This past month I’ve felt spring burgeoning in the world of my business, even as winter storms blanketed our part of the world in ice and snow. My business is growing, and I have been in the process of hiring essential new members of my team.

A great working relationship doesn’t just happen. It requires work on both inner and outer levels. Like a good marriage, it is based in a clear vision of what is truly important to you — those qualities, values, skills and ways of being in the world that are essential to you and your business.

So, if you’re getting ready to hire, start by making a list of all the qualities and characteristics that are essential to you, in a co-worker and collaborator in the world of your business. You’re not seeking perfection, here, but rather those qualities, skills and attributes that are both necessary and sufficient to grow the world of your business in harmony with your vision and values.

Think right fit for the job, rather than Mother Teresa!

Once you’re clear about the essential qualities this person must have, make an organized, itemized list of everything their job encompasses. Structure this into relevant categories: project management, team management, website design, writing, and so on.

Add to this a list of all the major systems, software and processes you use in your business, that this person will need to know in order to function effectively in the world of your business. Obviously, if you’re hiring an operations manager they will need a different level of skill with your systems than if you’re hiring a copywriter, so keep this list focused on the requirements of the job.

Based on the above, generate a list of skills and experience that are essential — and a sub-list of skills that would be nice to have — in candidates for this position.

Now that you are clear about the qualities and characteristics, as well as the skills, knowledge and experience this person must have, create an ad for your ideal person. Speak directly and compellingly to them. Tell them about your company and your team: Who you are; what you value; and whom you would love to hire. Let them know how to apply, and if it is relevant, provide an online form with a skills list that they can check off and submit, along with their application.

Give them enough concrete information so that they can discern whether this job might be a good fit for them, and vice versa.

Now, call on your allies – your Business Deva, other members of your team, your friends and colleagues, to help you connect with the right person. Share the link to your job ad with your tribe – online, and in person. Post it on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages, on your business Twitter feed, on your blog, and on any forums to which you belong.

Have a process in place for handling applications. As they come in, divide them up into categories – Definitely not. Maybe. Yes, I want to talk with this person.

Stay open to serendipity. You might connect with the right person because someone you know knows someone they know, and they help you make the connection. Or they’ve been on your team for a while, but are now ready to take on more creative responsibility.

Do your homework. Meet with people on your short-list, be receptive to the quality of their presence, and be guided by your intuition about whether, where, and how, they belong in the world of your business. Look for chemistry, ease, flow — and trust your gut.

When you talk with them, ask questions and listen for how they respond. Give them the opportunity to ask you questions as well. Share your own heart and hear theirs in return. An interview is a place to connect and explore, to discover if there is enough common ground for a fruitful relationship to unfold.

Ask for and check references — talk to people they’ve worked with. Here are some things to consider, as you talk with referees. Has your candidate done similar work for them, or are you comparing apples and oranges? Are the referee’s standards for his or her business comparable to yours? Are there things the referee might hesitate to ask your candidate to do, because they aren’t sure of their ability to do them? What do they love/find challenging about the candidate? What can they tell you about the candidate’s working style, their learning style? If this person is no longer working for their organization, why and how did the relationship end?

Use your discernment to sift through all of this information, while paying close attention to your intuition. Inner and outer work go hand in hand, in this process.

Attune to the soul essence of your short-listed candidate, as well as to their personhood — everything that makes them who they are, unique and irreplaceable. Consider the alignment between them and the soul of your business.

Throughout the process, ask yourself a few fundamental questions: If I hire this person, how will I feel? Check in with your body, to get a felt sense of your response to this question. Ask yourself: Will this person add to the sum of harmony, wholeness, creative power, and coherency in my business — or not? And, can your business offer this person what they need to truly flourish? Will they be happy in this job? How will you help them grow into the job, but also how will you support them in becoming more fully themselves?

There is an element of serendipity and magic in connecting with the right people for your co-workers — those whose vision and values, skill, knowledge and experience are in harmony with the world of your business.

Business — like any creation — is an ecology of relationships fostered through love and devotion, clear communication, integrity, willingness, reciprocity and partnership, generosity of spirit, and a host of other soul qualities.

Different people in your business’s ecology may embody these qualities to greater or lesser degree. We are all individuals, and we bring our souls as well as our personalities to work with us.

If too many essential qualities are missing, if the person you’re considering isn’t sufficiently mature or skilled, doesn’t have the skills and knowledge you need, or if there’s a large energetic discrepancy between you, it will cause friction and difficulty in your business.

On the other hand, if the person has the practical skills, genius, and experience your business needs, there’s sufficient resonance and alignment between you, and you have clear agreements and strong systems to support you, your business and everyone in it will flourish.

To summarize, here are some essential elements to consider, in crafting a soul-centered business relationship:

Is there harmony and resonance — a good energetic fit — between you and the person you’re considering as a potential ally and co-worker.

Do you have the means, capacity, willingness and structures in place to support each of you, so the relationship serves both of you and your business in becoming more whole, integrated, creative and joyful?

Is there clear and honest communication between you? What are your expectations, needs and responsibilities towards each other, towards your business? What is your reporting and accountability structure? How do you negotiate differences? What process do you have in place for handling challenges?

Once you’ve hired someone, offer them welcome, appreciation and hospitality. You are making a commitment to their well-being, and you contribute to the quality of the relationship by your own attitude toward them.

Give them time and support to find their place in the world of your business. Hold qualities of flexibility, appreciation and patience, as you build trust and negotiate the differences between you. Be clear about expectations and responsibilities, and demonstrate that you hold everyone on your team — including yourself — to the same standards of impeccability and excellence.

The best business relationships are those in which each person feels safe, cherished, and encouraged to grow according to the inner pattern of their being; where boundaries and agreements are clearly delineated and understood; and there is a foundation of love, flexibility, trust, humor, good will and clear communication.

A soul business hires by committing to the well-being and fulfillment of everyone involved. Wholeness embraces everyone and everything in your business’s ecology and provides a container for everyone’s perfect unfolding.

Hidden treasure: When what you long for seems out of reach


The light of our souls veils from us that which we are not yet ready to receive or to participate in.

If you’ve ever wondered why that thing you so want remains just out of reach, or why a particular project doesn’t yield the results you had hoped for — even though you’ve done everything you know of, to make it happen — it may be because your soul is waiting patiently for you to grow into the person you must become, in order to have the thing you most desire.

The interesting thing is that during that journey of growing yourself, you encounter a wider horizon of Desire. So that the thing you thought you wanted reveals itself to be an aspect of the Sacred that is so much vaster and more profound than anything you could have imagined.

That product you thought would help your tribe write more efficiently, or would help them create winning graphics for their next ebook, turns out to be an invitation to express the power and generativity of the Source within. That goal of speaking at a glittering gala to a rapt audience finds its true expression in your soul’s desire to illumine and awaken the pathways of grace.

This process unfolds in Divine Timing. What we think of as stuckness, failure, or procrastination is often an evolutionary process through which you and your desire both grow into your soul’s pattern, until you embody the power and presence necessary to co-create what’s next.

What sustains you?


The Deva of Sustenance offers us its companionship this week.

Who or what sustains you?
Feel the miraculous ways — big and small — in which you are held, nourished, and provided for.

Feel the earth beneath your feet.
Feel the presence of the Deva of the Earth, which holds you, provides for you, and sustains you throughout your life.

Feel the air entering your nostrils, filling your lungs, sustaining your radiant life with every breath.

Feel the presence of your soul, in your body, in your energy field.
Feel the great, sparkling stream of Sustenance in which your soul dances.

Sustenance is a quality of soul — your soul, the World Soul.
Feel Sustenance flowing into you, filling and nourishing the cells of your body.
Feel it nourishing, supporting and strengthening your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy bodies.

Feel Sustenance flowing through you, flowing out to hold, nourish and support the life of all that you love.
Feel the great river of Sustenance, and the current that is you, within it.

Feel the love and partnership between you and the Deva of Sustenance.

What do you know about the relationship between what sustains you, and what you sustain?

  • You are a sovereign being,
    a fractal of the Sacred,
    a fractal of Wholeness.
  • The flow of your life.
    The soul of your business.
  • Grow your business.
    Grow yourself.
  • Expand your life. Evolve your business.
  • The art of alignment. The miracle of action.
  • Trust in the power of your perfect unfolding.
  • Permission to grow, to flow, to know.
  • You learn about freedom by experiencing what it feels like to be bound.
  • Beyond your beliefs, beyond your drama — the truth of your life.
  • Success is becoming the person who can ask for hugs and holding when your own strength has deserted you.
  • Embrace the mystery at the heart of creation.
  • Your soul sends out tendrils of light and fragrance into the world.
  • You are the gift — and the giver.
    You are the Love, and the lover.
  • At the heart of all things — even limiting beliefs and painful programming — is wholeness.
  • Surrender is an act of will. It is aligning your will with the will of the Sacred.
  • You learn about sovereignty through the experience of being dethroned.
  • Love transforms.
  • Your soul's purpose is to participate in wholeness, to express wholeness.
  • True Desire is a messenger of your soul.
    It leads directly to your soul’s purposes.
  • Unfold the miracle of your life and business.
  • Business = Love in action.
  • Everything you need is already within you, waiting to unfold and express itself.
  • Your inner world shapes your outer world.
    Success is an inside job.
  • You are the story, and the story-maker.
    Your life is yours to shape.