Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

A New Earth — Your Inner Purpose May 7, 2008

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Jenn’s thoughts and learnings from the ninth week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

“There is always only this one step, and so you give it your fullest attention. This doesn’t mean you don’t know where you are going; it just means this step is primary, the destination secondary. And what you encounter at your destination once you get there depends on the quality of this one step.”
~Eckhart Tolle,
A New Earth

This chapter, Your Inner Purpose, was by far my favorite in A New Earth. Don’t get me wrong, the whole book, this whole web event series, has been wonderful, but this one spoke to a deep place in my soul. My apologies for continuing to be a week behind the live class, but I really wanted to give this chapter the time and attention it deserved.

I think this whole chapter can be summed up by my favorite expression: “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” I love how Eckhart talks about this concept, gives it his own spin and increases my own understanding of it. He speaks of inner purpose and outer purpose. Your inner purpose is about BEING, is about awakening, and is always primary. Your outer purpose is about DOING, and is always secondary. When we usually talk about our life’s purpose, we are talking about the doing, and almost without fail we have placed this doing in the future. True purpose is in the present moment, whether it comes from being or doing. Its focus is not on the destination–its focus is on this one step, whatever it is that is occurring right now, in this moment.

I’ve found myself this week becoming aware of what I’m doing in the moment and saying, “My life’s purpose is to be doing this.” So right now, my life’s purpose is to be writing my blog post. Just saying that immediately makes me expand, makes me more aware, enables me to feel my aliveness and allow the words to flow through me and into my fingers. I am one with life and my inner purpose–I am awakening.

I could probably end right there–that AHA! has carried me through the week and I expect I’ll be playing with it for weeks to come. That one concept opens up my field of awareness and makes me feel so energized, so alive, so fully present, and allows me to distance myself from what has been my goal these past few months, which is to uncover my outer purpose. But the thing is, living from the inner purpose IS the path to the outer purpose. As Eckhart says, once you realize that the primary purpose of your life is the inner purpose, to awaken, then the secondary purpose, the outer purpose, falls into place. By being true to life, being true to this moment, the now, life will become helpful, bringing to you whatever is most appropriate in terms of aligning your inner and outer purpose. This is when the synchronicity associated with following your bliss begins to occur and the world shows up for you, supporting you and providing for you.

There may be a period of uncertainty while your inner and outer purpose come into alignment, but that’s the whole thing about life being a journey and not a destination–life is an adventure, full of the unknown and therefore full of possibility. When you embrace the uncertainty, you open the door for opportunities to arise. When you resist the uncertainty, you block the flow from making itself manifest in your experience. I loved when Oprah was talking about letting the light shine through you. An image came to me, that we are here to become translucent and in so doing, we let the light of consciousness or awareness or presence, whatever you choose to call it, shine through. When this light shines through us, then the light becomes fuel for whatever it is we are doing. That’s when we have the full power of the universe available to us.

Eckhart spoke of his writing practice, and it’s one that I want to take into my week and try out for myself. He said that it was never about the end result. If he’d been trying to write a great book whose purpose was to bring awakening to the planet, he would have been getting in his own way. Instead, he was coming from the place of inner stillness. He listened to the voice that told him it was time to write, and sat down with a pen, a notebook, and the stillness. When a thought came to him he would utilize his intellect to review this thought for its truth, for its quality. If it made sense, then he would write it down. If it didn’t, then he would let it go and return to the stillness, allowing the next thought to come. It’s a small moment, focused on the inner purpose, but when those moments stack, what unfolds leads to greatness. Take this attitude, this approach into everything you do this week and watch how it changes the work you are doing. Namaste.

Photo: “Autumn Stream,” originally uploaded by Kimberly

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Notes from Jenn’s World March 3, 2008

Filed under: notes — jennsheridan @ 6:28 pm
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Just a quick check-in about a few things going on in my world.

A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event

Has anyone else signed up for the A New Earth web event that begins tonight? Apparently hundreds of thousands of people (and even groups of people) will be tuning in to this web class based on the eye-opening, awareness-inducing book by Eckhart Tolle. I honestly do not know what to expect, but I am definitely looking forward to it! I finished my Chapter 1 homework this morning and I’m all set to get started. My plan is to do a post on what I learn each week on Tuesdays, so look for more on this tomorrow.

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

As you may be aware, I am committed to walking in the San Francisco Avon Walk for Breast Cancer this July. I am absolutely in awe of how generous everyone is being in terms of donations. As of 10:00 this morning, just one week into my fundraising, I am at $895, which is 25% of my personal goal and 50% of my committed goal. Thank you for all of your marvelous support! I am also hard at work on the training front, walking over 18 miles last week with a plan of about 17 miles for this week. I’m sore but I’m loving it and can already feel my body responding positively. Yahoo!

Dreams are being realized as we speak!

Technically this is only affecting me peripherally, but I am very excited to be witnessing the universe conspiring to bring dreams into fruition in such a way that the same situation is mutually benefiting both my mother and a good friend of ours. This is such a wonderful example of synchronicity at work. Very long story short, a friend just “happened” to meet a woman with a ranch in Australia at the same time as she was looking for a ranch to go live and work on for a month this spring. Of course, the woman invited her, and everything fell into place for her to go from the support of the organization where she works to free airline tickets to finding someone to stay at her place with her doggie and kitty. In the meantime, my mother is in the process of moving to the Bay Area and she was looking for a way to live here for a little while so she could scope out neighborhoods and begin to explore her new home from the perspective of someone who lives here, so she is, of course, the person staying at our friend’s condo. I just love the way things fall into place!

What’s happening in your world? Anything new that you’re exploring? Do you have any synchronicity to share? Any events coming up on your horizon that you’re excited about? Please share!


W.H. Murray Quote March 2, 2008

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Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth, the 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 events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!”

~W.H. Murray


Step 7: Follow Your Bliss

From the Steps to Learning How to Fly series.

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of . . . being helped by hidden hands?

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time—namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

Have you ever had a feeling of complete self-awareness where you recognize that what is happening right now could only be happening to you, and the events of the past hours, days, months, even years have all come together to produce this very moment? August Gold talks about the work that we alone can do, that we were born to do, and the feeling of resonance that happens when we stand in that place that only we can stand in. In The Alchemist, Paolo Coehlo explores the idea of the universe conspiring to help bring your dreams to fruition. Joseph Campbell discusses how when you follow your bliss, invisible hands come out to help you along your path.

This concept of “following your bliss” is the culmination of the ideas we have been discussing over the course of this series. It is about what happens when we begin to shift, to get clear, to take time to be still and listen, to follow our intuitive guidance, to allow our real selves to come out into the world, and to take steps, however small, in the direction of our dreams. It is about how doors begin to open for us, how people begin to show up seemingly accidentally with access to different pieces of the puzzle, how things we were led to do years ago suddenly begin to make sense within this new framework, and how our dreams begin to take shape.

There is a lot of misconception surrounding this topic. Critics talk about how if we all followed our bliss, there would be tons of starving artists in the world and no janitors. Or people will say, what I’d really like to do is not to work, so I’m going to pursue that goal and the money will still follow, right? This isn’t about imagining a life that sounds glamorous or exciting and doing that. And it definitely isn’t some spiritually couched permission to be lazy. It is about finding your place in the world, your passion, your divine birthright, and throwing yourself into it, taking the leap of faith with full knowledge that the universe will provide you solid ground to step on, or at the very least a soft place to fall.

Finding your place in the world is neither as difficult nor as easy as it sounds. As we’ve touched on previously, life is always giving us messages, showing us the next step we need to take. We don’t go out for our first run today and finish a marathon tomorrow–we take steps that enable us to reach that ultimate goal. It isn’t a matter of instant gratification, it’s about laying a solid foundation and creating the building blocks you need in order to get there. And the best part? You aren’t doing this alone, you do not need to have the full blueprint in your head in order to have it all come together beautifully. Your job is to be aware, to notice what resonates and what doesn’t, to trust in yourself and the universe, to listen to the messages you receive and follow their guidance.

One of the reasons I love Wonderfalls, the short-lived TV series starring Caroline Dhavernas, is that it explores this concept in a more obvious and direct way. The main character, Jaye, literally receives messages from the universe–normally inanimate objects begin to speak to her. Their somewhat enigmatic messages lead her to do things that set whole courses of events in motion with often humorous and always miraculous results. The show explores how seemingly small circumstances become snowballs that nudge (or knock) us into living our destiny. One of my favorite episodes (spoiler alert) includes the phrase “Bring Her Back To Him.” Jaye interprets this to mean that she should try to reconcile the nun hiding out at the local bar with the priest who has come to town looking for her. At one point she and the nun have an argument in a parking lot–Jaye gets upset and drives away, backing into a car and breaking its taillight in the process. It turns out to be the priest’s car; when the police pull him over for the broken taillight, they discover a warrant out for his arrest. His last girlfriend before he had entered the priesthood had been looking for him for almost ten years, and he gets to meet the daughter he never knew he had for the first time. By the end of the episode many “hers” have been brought back to many “hims,” including, and resulting in, the nun’s faith in God being restored.

While our messages are not usually so literal, nor the steps to get from taillight to reunion so clearly painted, they are always happening for us too. Once you really get this, you come to understand that coincidences are really incidences of synchronicity, showing us the way. Start saying “Yes!” to the universe, stepping through the doors that open up for you along the way. Pay attention to the messages you receive each day and follow where they lead. Uncover your passion and immerse yourself in it. My guess is that you will be following your bliss before you know, benefiting from the invisible hands helping you along the way, spreading your wings and soaring to new heights, loving the feeling of resonance that comes with standing in your right place in the world. Namaste.

Recommended Reading:
The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron
The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield
Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow, by Marsha Sinetar
Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell
The Witch of Portobello, by Paolo Coehlo

Photo: “follow your bliss,” by irene suchocki

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My vision February 21, 2008

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Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.
~Tallulah Bankhead

I love synchronicity. I met a friend for lunch yesterday whom I haven’t seen in quite a while. At one point I felt compelled to share a vision I have. Before I’d finished, she started to laugh and shake her head. It turns out another friend of hers has a similar, overlapping vision. She’s down in Southern California right now, but she plans to move back to the Bay Area at some point during the next year to put her vision into action. My friend is going to introduce us to see if our ideas overlap enough that we could work together. How cool is that? The funny thing is I don’t talk about this idea very much these days. It’s been feeling too “future” for me to give much energy to, but this seemed like a wonderful reminder that the only place we live is in the present.

So I’ve known that I’m on a healer’s path for quite a while now. I’ve spent most of the past decade focusing on my Practitioner work in a Religious Science community, and I am in the process of evolving this work into more of a spiritual coach or mentor. Within the past couple of years I’ve had an idea for a Center develop as part of my larger vision, mostly coming up out of the desire to create the kind of community that I’ve wished already existed in my area. I want it to be a place that is there to assist people along their life’s journey, whether they would like to work with a coach, they are in need of acupuncture or massage, they are looking for inspiration and learning through books or seminars, they are looking for a psychic or energy reading, or they just need a safe haven where they can break bread with fellow travelers.

I envision a bookstore that isn’t just a bookstore, it provides an atmosphere of community. There are books on metaphysics, religion, spirituality, psychology, personal growth — great examples of fiction and non-fiction that open you up and stretch you and become good friends. There are candles and lamps and incense, cards that make you laugh and cry, jewelery and bath products, gifts to soothe the soul for yourself and your loved ones. It’s a simple store of wood and stone, with comfortable chairs scattered throughout so you can rest and soak up the good energy that gathers from the products and the patrons.

Upstairs or in the back, you might find a yoga class or a workshop or a poetry reading is being held that afternoon, or perhaps it’s a movie night where something like What the Bleep Do We Know!? or a Spiritual Cinema Circle selection is being shown, or maybe a 12-step meeting is happening, and various readers have openings in their schedules for you to meet with them. Whether you’re interested in energy work like Reiki, astrology or numerology, tarot or shamanism, or want to invest in some long-term coaching, there is someone associated with the Center for you to work with. There are offices in the building where various healing practitioners have full-time practices or you might find a table in the store where readings are held on a more impromptu basis. You might also find a writer or a musician or painter in one of the offices, lending their energy to the space and feeding the Center’s energy back into their work.

Attached to the store is a cafe where you can get a variety of juices and coffees and snacks from a counter, or you can be seated in the dining room for a healthy and delicious meal. Perhaps a jazz trio is playing in the corner, or a singer-songwriter is just getting started, or there is a beautiful, revitalizing CD being played through the speakers. The produce all comes from local farmers and is organic wherever possible. The drink list features sustainable wineries, breweries, and distilleries in addition to the juice and coffee drinks from the counter. While not exclusive, much of the menu is vegetarian, introducing you to foods you might not have had the opportunity to experience previously. Mostly it is a place to relax and connect, and there are several community tables in the restaurant if you are interested in meeting new people during your meal.

While much of these ideas flow from my imagination, I’ve been blessed to experience little pieces of this idea around the country. This Center has its roots in at least three concepts: Golden Braid Books and Oasis Cafe in Salt Lake City, Utah; The Grotto in San Francisco, California; and Sacred Center in New York City. They are all amazing examples of spirit in action, and I cannot wait until I, too, am a part of a similar creative expression.


Which way is up? February 3, 2008

Filed under: notes — jennsheridan @ 6:59 am
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Such a busy, crazy, wild, roller coaster week. Just got home from “Little Shop of Horrors,” the story come to life as a musical. It was a nice cap to this week full of many ups and downs and lefts and rights. This has been a good experience in LIFE and what happens when we’re asked to just flow with it. One day I can barely tell where I end and the universe begins, and the next my back is out and I’m having to ice and limp around and be gimpy. The day of resistance was followed with a day of such flowering, such beautiful synchronicity. The huge blow up fight with Sean turned into a mega-opportunity for healing for us on many levels. I’ve had more than my average amount of socialness combined with much, much alone time. I’ve had days where I didn’t want to talk to a soul and days where all I wanted to do was reach out and touch the world and the world touched me back. What a week, eh?

So just a short note full of love and light and laughter. I am still here, preparing myself and looking forward to what next week will bring. Namaste.


Greetings from Connecticut December 27, 2007

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I feel a little like I’m living in a postcard this week. I’d love to find one of those old fashioned “greetings” cards. I could upload the photo for you. 🙂 Being back in Connecticut is always an experience for me. In some respects, it’s awesome. I get to see places I hung out as a teenager — as much as they’ve been transformed, they still bring back memories. I get to see good friends and family that I just never can connect with enough from 3,000 miles away. But there’s always reminders of the reasons why I left, the obnoxious people on the streets and the attitudes out at restaurants and stores.

But this trip has been different, more positive than negative. I’ve been trying to put my finger on the why of it, and it seems like it’s a matter of attachment (or lack thereof). I’m just not feeling attached to anything. Now, that might not sound like a good thing. It might smack of apathy or indifference. But that’s not it at all. I’m much more present this trip. I’m not experiencing Connecticut through the eyes of the past, I’m actually seeing it as it is now. I’m enjoying its beauty and not being bugged as much by its flaws. I feel more contentment, less agita. I’m focusing on the yummy Chinese and Italian food, the beauty of the snow and the rivers and the trees, the joy of connecting with friends and family. I don’t have a picture in my head of how things should be; instead, I’m just enjoying what is. There’s a lot of power in that kind of detachment. And a lot more happiness.

Wish me luck with the remainder of my travels. Today I am off to New Jersey to continue this journey of contentment. Namaste.

Editor’s Note, 12/30/07: I went back and found one of those postcards — I love those images! I just started re-watching one of my favorite TV series of all times, Wonderfalls, and had forgotten that they use that type of postcard as part of the titles. I’m not sure which came first — my love for the postcards or my love of the show, but the synchronicity is making me smile today.