Stories From Unemployment 2

Image titled Grand Canyon backpack by Kevindooley.  Click on image to see more of his work.

Image titled "Grand Canyon backpack" by Kevindooley. Click on image to see more of his work.

It’s now a little over three weeks since the layoff.  The past week has been very busy and challenging, but also extremely rewarding.  One of the things this experience has taught me is that the rest of your life doesn’t end just because you lose your job.

For instance, our boy scout troop has a backpacking hike planned for tomorrow.  The boys plan to hike a few miles with full packs to prepare for a longer hike in May.  I’ll be sharing the following advice with them before we set out.  This “Scoutmaster’s Minute” obviously has broader applications to searching for a new job, or any other challenge that life may give you.

A Scoutmaster’s Minute On Hiking

As you set out on this hike, you have a choice to make: where are you going to focus your attention?

The reason why you hike is to reach a desired destination.  That’s the goal.  Having a goal is a good thing.  It gives you a direction and a purpose.  Reaching a goal, especially a challenging goal, is rewarding.  When we reach our goal this afternoon, what do you think will be our rewards?

With so many obvious rewards, it’s easy to see why so many people focus their attention on the goal.

But consider this: what is a hike?  A hike is actually a series of individual steps taken one after the other over time until the desired goal is achieved.  What many people fail to recognize is each one of those steps offers its own special reward, if you allow it.

This is something you can’t be taught from a book or from someone else telling you about it.  You have to experience it for yourself to understand.

Each step is an opportunity.  No two steps are exactly the same.  Each step is necessary to reach the goal.  And each step will reward you in its own unique way if you’re paying attention.

That’s the beauty and the challenge of hiking: you can focus on the goal and receive your reward at the end, or you can focus on each step, receiving each individual reward along the way, and also attain the extra reward of the goal as an extra benefit.  The choice is yours.

So where will you focus your attention?

Inspiration For The New Year

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.  —  Marianne Williamson

I collect quotes.  My journals are full of them.  They inspire me, challenge me, and help me tap into the thoughts of some of the greatest minds to ever walk this earth.  I believe the quotes a man keeps say a lot about his character.  Although Dorthy L. Sayers may be more correct when she says, “A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.”

I’ll leave it to you to test the fruits of my labor.

The quote by Marianne Williamson above is one of my favorites.  I originally heard that quote attributed to Nelson Mandala, but later learned Williamson penned those words in her book A Return to Love – Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. Recently, I took the opportunity to listen to that book on tape, as read by the author herself.

The audio book isn’t very long, just two cassette tapes.  I was able to listen to the entire book in just two and a half daily commutes to work.  Williamson is an inspiring speaker and she delivers her material with a rapid-fire delivery style.  I found her book to be so pregnant with insight and wisdom that I felt compelled to listen to the entire work three full times.

In a nutshell, A Return to Love is Williamson’s story of how she discovered A Course in Miracles and how it saved her life.  She devotes much of the book to explaining her take on the principles of the Course, which she now teaches to others.  If A Course in Miracles could inspire such a profound work, I reasoned, then I need to get that book for myself.

And so my Christmas gift this year was a trip on the Internet to purchase A Course in Miracles and another Amazon-recommended book about the Course by Gary Renard titled The Disappearance of the Universe.  Over the Christmas holiday, I took some time to begin both books.

I also scheduled some time to review the accomplishments from 2008, and to set my goals for 2009.  Like Zig Ziglar says, “You can’t hit a target if you’re not aiming for one.”  Last year, I had multiple goals in seven different life-categories, including family, career, finances, and spirituality.  My results were a mixed bag; some important goals achieved, but many still unattained.

I started to compile a new list of potential goals for 2009, but as I spent more time exploring the principles of the Course, it became clear where the focus for the coming year needed to be.  In 2009, I will focus on a single goal: the study of A Course in Miracles, including the Text, the Manual for Teachers, the Clarification of Terms, and the Supplements, and the practice of the exercises in the Workbook for Students.  I will also seek out other texts that can further clarify the Course, like Williamson’s and Renard’s.  As I learn more, I’ll do my best to share what I’m learning with you.

My goal is inner-peace and healing, in my life and in yours.  May the Holy Spirit bless this effort and grant the miracle of Christ’s mind in our lives.  Amen.

How May I Serve You?

Image by awnisalan

Image by awnisalan

It’s December 31st as I write this.  It’s had to believe that another year is drawing to a close, and it’s surprising to realize that this blog is now eight months old.  Time flies when you’re learning new stuff!

I’d like to thank you all for your support and interest on this blog during 2008.  I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to stretch my creative muscles and to post on some of the things that have inspired me.  Your comments and encouragement on this blog have meant more to me than you can imagine.  Thank you.

With the New Year comes the opportunity to review the past year’s performance and to set new goals for the coming year.  For the past several weeks I’ve had the feeling that The Serendipity Journal could become much more than what it has been to date.  What that “something more” is, I can’t quite define yet.  It’s simply a feeling that there’s a great deal more potential, just waiting to be discovered and explored.

I’d like to ask your help in defining the future direction of this blog.  What do you like about the blog?  What would you like to see changed?  What topics and subjects would you like to explore? How about the post lengths and frequencies, do they fit your needs?

Writing for this blog has been a wonderful experience so far, and I’m looking forward to continuing.  My goal is to provide content that is informative and hopefully inspirational.  My greatest satisfaction comes from serving the needs of our readers.  Please leave your suggestions, comments, and critiques in the comments section below so that I can do a better job of serving your needs in 2009 and beyond.

Have a safe and happy New Year’s celebration.  I look forward to our continuing conversation and collaboration in 2009.