Monday, January 25, 2010

True North: Finding Your Center and Staying on Your Path

Manifesting and Magical Thinking

There has been a lot of talk lately about Manifesting. Oprah does it. "The Secret" has been a bestseller for years. And each day, my inbox is teeming with offers to manifest my dreams (not to mention a new BMW in the driveway) in 90 days or less. Seems too good to be true? I know, which is why I decided to delve into the details.

Let me begin by saying I'm wary of magical thinking - you know, the belief in the ability of the mind to affect the physical world. The reason I raise an eyebrow every time it is mentioned is because, as a teenager, I was diagnosed with OCD (for me, the dark side of magical thinking). For many years, I tortured myself with counting rituals- believing that if I didn't do them, something bad would happen. Some believe OCD is caused by a chemical imbalance, some say it's a coping mechanism to deal with a world seemingly out of control. I've come to believe it is both. Dr. Daniel Amen, in his book, "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life" explains how the pathways in our brain are shaped by our thinking - and he tells us how we can alter our own brain chemistry with the foods we eat, the amount of exercise we get, and yes - the thoughts we have. Interesting, isn't it? By focusing repeatedly on certain thoughts, we can alter our own brain chemistry. Perhaps, then, by focusing repeatedly on positive thoughts, we can alter our chemistry in a way that benefits us?

Most of us acknowledge that there are currents moving outside our everyday conscious perception which we do not fully understand, forces which have the power to affect our lives. We have all heard the stories about twins who can sense what the other is feeling, the laying on of hands which have cured people of terrible illnesses, clairvoyants who are very successful with their predictions, even cats with an internal GPS who find their way home over thousands of miles. I do believe that there's a large part of the human (and animal) brain which remains relatively untapped.

In books such as "The Celestine Prophesy" (James Redfield), "The Artist's Way" (Julia Cameron), and "Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life" (Wayne Dyer), the authors encourage the reader to believe that positive change will indeed come if we simply put forth our intent. They ask us to pay attention to synchronicity and coincidence, and to believe that forces will come to our aid. They instruct us not to push, not to force, but to follow our intuition and be present.

In my career transition, I'd like to believe in this power of intention. I want to believe that if I state, "Universe, I'd like to work in a creative capacity where am giving something of value back to the world, where I am connected to my community, where I feel fulfilled, and where I make a comfortable living doing so", the universe will begin moving to make this happen. All I need to do from there is to be open to how this will manifest and follow the signs.

But a tiny voice in the back of my head whispers, "Are you sure about this? What if it doesn't work? Should you put all your eggs in this basket?"

My solution to this is simple. While I am stating my intent and following my intuition, I am also meditating, rewriting my resume, exercising, networking, getting enough sleep, researching career and education options, eating well, reaching out to friends for advice and support, and applying for positions which will bring me closer to the work that I want to do. As my husband says, if you're sitting on the couch and you want to manifest a beer, the best way to do that is to get up, walk into the kitchen, open the fridge and pull out a beer. I do believe that the universe helps those who help themselves.

As we all know, this society is jam-packed full of quick fixes: diets which require no exercise, pills to fix everything from bad breath to restless leg syndrome, and junk food for $1 ready in 60 seconds flat. Consumers suck this stuff up faster than it can be churned out. So, of course it would follow that some folks got the idea to sell cheap manifestation over the internet with money back guarantees. Let the old adage ring in our minds: caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. That doesn't necessarily mean all manifesting is unreliable. We should discern the potentially helpful from the decidedly phony.

Let us go ahead and allow a bit of "magic" into our lives! For, what is magic other than a way of shifting our focus and motivating ourselves? Give it a try - think of something that you would like to manifest in your life. Put a picture of it in your office to remind you. Then, live your life, follow your intuition, and see what happens next. I'd like to hear what kinds of experiences result from this - positive and negative. Because, I believe that our collective bodies and our psyches need to slow down a bit. We need to relax. Breathe. Meditate. Go for a run. Do some yoga. Just be. Without the myriad distractions we fill our days with, who knows what things we might be able to accomplish? I, for one, am willing to try.

I leave you with a quote which has been attributed to Goethe in Faust, "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

True North: Finding your Center and Staying on Your Path

What Now?

Like so many others, I was laid off last year. After climbing the corporate ladder at a well-known NYC-based company for over ten years, playing the model employee, working to distinguish myself, swatting away the pettiness and the politics, and building a successful portfolio, the senior management changed direction and I was systematically "de-hired".

Now, I have seen this transition as a huge blessing from the very beginning, for a number of reasons. This job was one that I took when, as a young single lady in my late 20's, I moved from Woodstock to Manhattan with dreams of working in the music business. I found out quickly that those MTV and Arista Records jobs weren't plentiful and didn't pay well and so, having to cough up the dough for my new 6th Floor walk-up studio rental, I accepted a job in the fashion world. Like Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada (2006), I was working in an industry I didn't feel a connection with, in a job I didn't find fulfilling, with a number of self-centered people (not all, mind you) who only cared about the next promotion. My true calling has always been more personal and creative– writing and performing music, and psychological and sociological counseling have been the two areas that have always beckoned me from (seemingly) afar.

During the last nine months I have been lucky enough to pursue pastimes I love, including traveling (a delightful month in Europe with my husband), reconnecting with old pals, strengthening bonds with my dearest friends, completing projects around the house (a bathroom remodel), and engaging in more creative endeavors, like building my flute repertoire, learning to play guitar, writing more songs, and organic gardening in my backyard.

While this professional status change was a blessing and an opportunity, it's also a frightening transition. Because, you see, I am a different person. And I cannot go backwards. I am unable to fathom the idea of practicing my previous profession in the type of corporate environment that I left. And, while I am clear about that, I'm unclear about what's next. I was very good at my work and I took a fair amount of personal satisfaction from that knowledge. I made a great salary, which allowed us a comfortable lifestyle. But I can't sacrifice my spirit to the paycheck any longer.

Over the past few months, I've tried to force fit my return to the workplace. I have gone on several interviews with corporations who wished to hire me in my old capacity as a Purchasing Director. I found each of these experiences stifling, controlling and terrifying. On one occasion I was told that I would need to take a drug test as a condition of hire. On another I was told that if I could start the very next day then I would get the job but if I could not then they would hire the other candidate. What? Do we really live in a world where people (under the cloak of a corporation) can push other people around this way? And, do we really have to take it?

No, we don't. We each carve our own reality, and mine sure as hell is not going back to a place where employees are abused. Many pundits talk about how bad our economy is, and how any of us unemployed should take the first thing that comes up and feel lucky to have it. But I refuse to make these important decisions from a place of fear. And, I'm lucky enough to have a husband who supports me in this choice.

At this point, I've begun to realize that I can't force myself back into a situation that I've outgrown. There is a level of stress and pressure I feel to 'figure this out', to determine what I am qualified to do, what I would be good at, what would be fulfilling, and to get it 100% right and do it quickly because the mortgage isn't going to pay itself.

I have done enough personal work to know that good decisions do not come from a frenetic, stressed mind. So, I have tried to slow down, and have been meditating, journaling and listening to my dreams and my intuition to determine my calling. I'm also keeping an open mind regarding what that calling will be, because, you see, it would be very easy to discount any of them which involve going back to school (too expensive), volunteering (too time consuming), and starting from scratch (not enough income).

For now, I must admit, I do not know what is next. There is a freeing and a release of breath in the not knowing. The most important thing I have learned thus far is to stay in the moment. I am not bringing bad experiences of the past to my new life, and I am not projecting fear about the future into the present moment, I am taking each and every situation anew. So, will I pursue arts therapy? Mediation? Writing? Opening a cafe? I don't know. But I do know that, whatever I choose to do, it will be far more authentic and fulfilling than the work I was performing one year ago. And, for that, I feel blessed.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Welcome to our new blog.

Here, we hope to inform, inspire, educate, entertain, infuriate, and challenge your sense of what is, and what might be– and we hope you'll do the same for us. We'll speak frankly about our hopes, fears, dreams, struggles, ideas, opinions, failures and successes. We will try our best to be objective, but being human, we will probably let our biases show from time to time.

You can expect posts on everything from music to politics, the environment to comedy, the creative process to the dumbing down of modern culture, with forays into travel, exercise, eating, drinking, shopping and fashion (do we really need it? Lady Gaga says yes).

Rather than create a blog specifically for Inner Gypsy (the band), or Great God Bongo (the religion), we opted to create this all encompassing blog to show a behind-the-scenes look at how or why these things came to exist and continue to expand and grow. There is not a business model behind this idea, but a human model– that is to say we're in this for a sense of community and camaraderie which will help us all to understand each other better, and make more constructive decisions regarding the world in which we live.

Having said that, let us end with the one about the man who goes into a bar, and asks the bartender, "Do you have 5-foot tall penguins in this town?" The bartender answers, "Why, no." "In that case," says the man, "I think I just ran over a nun!"

All aboard, the train is leaving the station...