Posts Tagged Career change

Computer craziness

What do you do when a computer crashes? Do you call the local computer guy, replace the machine, or start trying to fix the problem yourself?

This time around, I went with the latter. The crash was my fault, so I suppose that I felt guilty and responsible. I had done something almost embarrassingly stupid (so stupid that I’m not going to tell you what it was because, well, would you tell me if you wanted to download a free episode of a TV show and the site insisted you click on a suspicious link before it would let you and you knew it was a bad idea but you did it anyway and seconds later you knew for sure that it was a mistake but by then it was too late?)  which led to a virus or some other dastardly creature on our hard drive. Before we knew it, the windows system was corrupt and the machine wouldn’t load the operating system. I know, I know, for most of us this is already speaking a foreign language, so I apologize in advance. But this explains why I haven’t gotten much of anything else done for the past several weeks.cpu fan - good place to blow dust out

Anyway, after the machine wouldn’t do what it’s supposed to do and bring up that lovely blue screen, like an idiot – or rather a fool who has no idea what might happen – I dove in. As the laptop started up, it displayed an error message. I looked it up. Oh, I needed a certain file, did I? And I could create it on another computer, use that computer’s start-up disk (it actually came with one, unlike the messed up laptop). That file didn’t do the trick, though, so I started reading more stuff on the internet. I spent hours, trying one thing after another with no luck.

And then, hurrah! A friend said that her boyfriend, who lives halfway across the US from me, could help. I struck gold. Kind of. He sure knows his way around a computer, being an IT guy and having repaired many a sick machine like ours. He came up with a strategy. I don’t even want to tell you what he’s helped me go through, all from a distance. I made a few mistakes, he misunderstood a few things I said, I ordered a hard drive which turned out to be bad (I am returning it), and on and on.

Oh, yes, along the way I managed to disconnect the laptop’s power switch. It took two or three days just to figure out why the machine wouldn’t power up and then to come up with a fix for THAT mistake. I was so totally tempted to use the machine as a frisbee, but it’s a little too hard for my dogs to catch. So maybe it could be of some use out in the garden, perhaps holding the gate closed, or as something to kneel on while I weed?

We’re not done yet, but we’re closer. Close your eyes, because I’m going to speak geek for the rest of the paragraph. I figure that I’ve earned the right. I’ve moved all the photos and text files of note over to my Mac, and we’ve reinstalled not only an operating system which Steve put on an IOS file in dropbox for me to retrieve, but also all of the drivers for all of the little devices which the computer needs to run and they work. Every single one. Eek! Steve pretty well figured it all out from photos I took of the insides of the computer.

Okay, done with geek. You can read now. Steve deserves to receive a pile of gold, say about $10,000 worth, for all of the time he’s patiently spent leading me through the process. I wish it was finished, but I probably have to spend another day on the booger. But, as he says, we’re keeping it out of the landfill and saving money, if not time.

I’ve learned enough I could probably fix your computer, but please don’t ask.

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Book review: The Keka Collection, by Cynthia M. Dagnal-Myron

The Keka Collection: The Best of Keka’s Blog on Open Salon (Volume 1)

I met Keka (aka Cynthia M. Dagnal-Myron) in an online writing course. We were a couple of weeks into the course when her mentor, the film critic, Roger Ebert died. Keka wrote a wonderful tribute, and I not only loved her piece: I discovered her writing. She had me in tears. When she published this collection, I rushed to read it.

However, I couldn’t rush through this book. I savored each very personal essay about growing up black in the Chicago area, starting out at the Chicago Sun Times, living with the Hopi, raising her daughter, going through early retirement, and all her other topics (I can’t possibly leave out the essay on her one date with Arnold, can I?). Although she sticks to her own experiences, she lightly touches on their larger significance, and relates them to contemporary culture. She’s interesting and thoughtful.

Keka was and is a wild woman (she claims that she’s calmed down, but who believes her?) who ‘went for the gusto’ without ever losing sight of who she was down inside. I think that’s one reason her essays are so much fun to read. She also knows how to wrangle words and sentences into beauty. Hers is one of Open Salon’s most popular blogs, and no wonder. I loved this collection.

Because these are blogs, they appear unedited, so there are some (not many) typos and grammatical errors, which she warns the reader about in advance. Towards the end, a couple of the essays rambled a little too much for my taste, but that didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of her prose. I can’t wait for Volume 2.

I received a free copy of this book from StoryCartel in exchange for my honest review.

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Self-transformation and Bodywork – Part II

This is the second of a series of posts on healing the self through the Bodymind. To see the first, go here.

I remember clearly my very first professional massage. I was maybe thirty, and it had never occurred to me to get one before my boyfriend at the time insisted. We were visiting San Fransisco, and our funky little hotel in the Haight had its very own massage therapist. My boyfriend made the appointment for me and insisted that we take the time out from our sight-seeing for me to get worked on. He felt that relaxing would help with my asthma and I also probably had neck pain and very tight legs from all of the bicycling and hiking I’d been doing.

The therapist was a man and I felt super nervous, afraid that there might some sexual intent behind his work, but there wasn’t. I sure needed it. It got me in touch with how tight my muscles had become. It hurt to have him work into them but I realized that I needed more and went back in for a second time before we returned home. I felt so much better afterward! I can’t believe, looking back on it, that I didn’t get any more professional bodywork for another five or six years, because it probably would have made a huge difference for me.

Of course, just because I had never seen a professional doesn’t mean I had never had any massage. My friends and siblings and I used to work on each other. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but we’d pound on backs and rub shoulders and feet, and it usually helped loosen us up.

Still, the first bodywork that made a deep and lasting impression on me was actually energy work. The therapist never even touched me. My skeptical brain tried to convince me that the effects were caused by laying there for an hour and slowing down long enough to relax, but another part of me was completely sold, especially when I “saw” my third eye, which still ranks up there as one of the most mind-blowing experiences I’ve ever had. Her treatments helped a lot when I was dealing with worsening asthma while struggling with the decision to leave academia. My lungs improved, as did my state of mind. She gave me great advice, on top of it.

This image depicts a Reiki treatment in progre...

This image depicts a Reiki treatment in progress. Author: James Logan; Uploaded by Andy Beer with agreement of author and models. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have tried more energy work since then. It has sometimes really shifted me in amazing ways, revealing one more step on my path, and other times had little effect. I suspect a lot has to do with the particular therapist.

How about you? Has bodywork helped you with your personal growth? Have you tried Reiki or other forms of energy therapy? How has it helped or not?

This week I’m posting over on Vie Hebdomadaires on very different topics. Stop on over and have a look. Vie Hebdomadaires is a rotating blog, with a new person every week. It’s been a joy to follow, and see all of the different ways people talk about their lives.

I’m also participating in ROW80, a round of words in 80 days. We’re into week 2. My 3rd check-in is at annstanleywriting.wordpress.com/ROW80.

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Delving into shamanism

Have you ever wondered if shamanism could help you? I think a lot of people have, because books like The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz fly off of the shelves.  Carlos Castenada‘s books still inspire us to suspend disbelief and think that maybe we could enter a magical world, if only we could meet a teacher like his Don Juan.

I had the good fortune to take a workshop with one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s students when I still struggled to emerge from my ‘dark night of the soul.’ During this workshop, I had a particularly amazing experience. We did an exercise where we lay on the ground around an old tree, and visualized ourselves going down and down and down into the earth. I did this, sliding down the roots of the tree in my mind, and I came upon a stream and turned into a seal. I swam down the stream and then I “saw” a huge cavern, with a lake at the bottom. I turned back into me, caught a ride on an eagle to the opposite side, and journeyed onward until I came to a door. As I stepped through that door, I disappeared and turned into pure space and oneness and I re-collected myself on the other side as a changed person. When our leader asked us to return from our visionary travel, I retraced my steps across the lake and up the tree roots.

Now I know that this all happened in my mind. My body stayed under the tree the whole time. However, it had a deep and lasting effect on me. It healed me, not completely by any means, but substantially. For a long time after, I could lie down and retrace my steps down into the earth and past that cavern, and learn something about myself. And then one day, it was as if the universe closed the door and I couldn’t go there any more. It was time for me to learn something new.

You might think that I would drop everything and follow this teacher, or Don Miguel, but I can never get that excited about any guru sort, shaman or not. I have, of course, tried workshops and private sessions over the years, of various sorts, with various shamans. Some of them transformed me. Some seemed awesome at the time, yet didn’t really have a long term effect. None cured my asthma, but who knows? Maybe someday. I will never stop searching.

Shaman of Kyzyl, 2005. Tuvan shamanhood is bei...

Shaman of Kyzyl, 2005. Tuvan shamanhood is being preserved and revitalized (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are curious, realize that there are many different shamanic/healing traditions and I am using the term shaman very loosely. Even people who live close to each other developed their own healing paths, which can be quite distinct from each other. Some groups blended herbal and other healing practices with shamanism, which has more to do with the soul (ancient psychotherapy) than the body, and some kept them separate. Some use hallucinogens to gain visions and speak to teachers, some do not. All have wisdom to offer us.

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Mary Called Magdalene

Recently, my father suggested I read Mary Called Magdalene by Margaret George. We had just finished a long two-day drive from my home to his, and I had checked out some books on CD from the library to pass the time. My parents love history. They have been learning about the ancient Greeks and Romans, and life in the Middle East during Jesus’s lifetime, so I selected a tome on what historians know (or think they know) about Muhammad and Jesus. This inspired some interesting discussions as we drove through some rather desolate sections of the United States.

Despite the fact that I would not have chosen this novel, published in 2003, on my own, I liked it a lot. It fell into the “couldn’t put it down” category. I enjoyed the details about Jewish life during Roman rule, but the story came alive because Mary, as portrayed here, had conflicts which still affect women today.

The novel is told from Mary’s point of view. Raised orthodox Jew, she is obedient in many respects, but cannot stop asking questions. Forbidden to learn to read, or associate with the “wrong sort,” she lied about learning weaving in order to spend time with a friend and study reading and Greek. Pushed into marriage, she tried to make the best of it. Becoming what today we would call mentally ill, she went on a pilgrimage to find herself and heal (oh, do I relate to this). After Jesus casts out her demons,  which I saw as her finally being able to see the truth about herself, she returns home. However, her family does not accept the new Mary, and she refuses to give up her new knowledge and go back into the restrictive box they fashioned for her. They throw her out and she loses her daughter. Although her daughter stays in her thoughts for the rest of her life, Mary cannot sacrifice either her passion for Jesus and his teaching, or herself in order to regain her child.

Can you imagine sleeping under a tree like this with only your coat for a blanket?

Margaret George fills the second section of the novel with stories about Jesus and his disciples, including what it might have been like to camp in Galilee (in the rain in the winter!). I found some of this tiresome, since she seemed to elaborate on every story from the Gospels, but Mary’s internal conflicts and intense emotions carried the story forward for me. I read reviews on Amazon which argue that George gets Mary Magdalene‘s story all wrong (in this fictional account she is neither a prostitute nor Jesus’ lover/wife), but little is known about her, which leaves George free to invent an interesting character.

Mary shows how one woman could – no, had to – stand up for herself, with help from others, against the rules of society which would drive her insane. I rooted for this sweet, passionate, person to thrive. George did not disappoint me; Mary succeeds against the odds unlike so many women who have been cut down over the ages. Think of the healers put to death for witchery, and all of the young girls even today forced to marry against their will. Think of all the women who have not been allowed to learn to read, who have been cloistered, or forced into slavery, or called prostitutes for showing a piece of hair. Mary called Magdalene shows how rules can bind and defeat their original purpose. and thus to all of us who have been lucky enough to follow our dreams and also keep our children.

This rather long novel addresses other issues, but this central story, of freedom to be oneself and follow one’s dreams, was what compelled me to stay up late several nights running, with my eyes glued to the page.

As usual, I welcome your comments.

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Personality tests

The astrological symbols/glyphs used in Wester...

Image via Wikipedia

Did you ever mean to do something and then get distracted by some other shiny thing? That seems like my life these days. I truly meant to write a little more about Pema Chodron’s book Start Where You Are. Instead, I got distracted by Kristen Lamb’s recent post on introversion versus extroversion. I just had to follow a bunch of the links, and then take and retake the personality test that Brock linked to (at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp) and read about the results and fish through the rest of the personality types to see which one I thought fit me better. I finally decided that I am none of them, but rather a blend of several.

Okay, I admit that I always reject whatever box I seem to fall inside. Am I the only one who does that? My friends seem happy to be Geminis or Libras, but I reject my astrological sign as having anything to do with me. I never have been able to figure out which number fits best on the eneagram scale, but some people seem to delight in proudly announcing that they are 3s (or whatever). And now this. Can people really benefit by calling themselves ENFJs or ISTPs? Can they figure out who to marry and what job to do based upon 72 yes and no questions? I say bah-hum-bug! And I am not going to tell you which boxes I supposedly belong to.

Oh, but I was talking of shiny things. I then decided I could and should figure out which of the 16 categories each of my characters fell into. A worthy enterprise, I suppose, but rather time consuming. So I am writing about the boxes we like to fit ourselves into, instead of the Buddhist path to an open heart. Hmmm….It is related, I’m sure.

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Why study massage?

Were you lucky enough to find your life’s passion early in life? I wasn’t, and I know I’m not alone.

I’ve been in search of my passion for a long time. In my first undergraduate year, I thought I might major in music, but then I realized that I had no desire to take a lot of music history and theory classes, and I switched into something that came easy to me and not to a lot of other people: math. I ended up in graduate school, and I was never quite sure if I was happy. I talked and thought a huge amount about dropping out and switching to something that felt more ‘me,’ but I was never quite sure what that was. I liked philosophy and music, and I fantasized about writing, but changing majors and schools only to find out that I didn’t like those things enough never seemed worth the risk.

Still, when I finally took the plunge many years later and decided to stop what I was doing and go in search for my passion, I wasn’t quite sure which direction to head. I took a few classes. I wrote a few pieces of music and even made a couple of tapes for family and friends, and I tried my hand at painting before deciding that wasn’t going to work out at all. My elementary art school teachers were right about that one.

Petal for life

Image by Leonard John Matthews via Flickr

At some point I realized I had better figure out a way to support myself while I floundered around.  One day I was taking a bath, and it suddenly occurred to me that I should go to massage school. I always loved giving massages to my friends, but I would get bored pretty quickly because I didn’t know what I was doing. Massage has also helped me enormously. So I followed through on this ah ha moment, and have been a massage therapist for eleven years. I enjoy this work, but I knew pretty quickly that it wasn’t ‘it.’ That special thing.

I kept searching. I read book after book on finding this magic purpose. What should I do with my Life?, by Po Bronson; Do What you Love, the Money will Follow, by Marsha Sinetar; Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton; and The Purpose of Your Life, by Carol Adrienne are just a few of the tomes still sitting on my shelves. I took personality tests and career tests. I wore out a copy of What Color is Your Parachute?. All of these books are wonderful, but they somehow didn’t allow me to figure out what to do with my life.

Life & Death

Image by mrlins via Flickr

I even worked with two different Life Coaches. It was fun doing all of their exercises, and, perhaps if I had been in a different place in my life, they would have helped me more, but nothing seemed to be getting me any closer to a career that I could embrace with all of my heart and soul.

It has only been in the past four or five months that I’ve realized I’ve fallen in love with writing, and that’s what I am called to do, even though I’ve been writing for years. The falling in love could only happen because I changed some concepts I had about myself and the people and world around me. I’ll talk a little about how I did this in a post next week.

I love getting comments. How have you found your calling/passion, or have you?

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