Your (My) True Calling

I had so much success with last year’s projects prompted by Quest 2016, that I’ve decided to do it again. Join us at

Today’s prompt is from Krista Tippett (1). As the host of On Being, she challenges us regularly to consider the mysteries of human existence.

“What is your vocation, your sense of callings as a human being at this point in your life, both in and beyond job and title?”

In 2009, when I started this blog, it was titled, “On The Quest: A Woman in Love with The World” (or something to that effect). But the world is a difficult thing to love. It is messy, and complicated, and prone to violence. People are even harder, especially in groups.

For a long time, I doubted. I wrote sideways, and obliquely, and worried that people would think I was daft, or naive, or merely uninformed. But I still have this deep pull in my heart toward what Charles Eisenstein calls, “The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know Is Possible.”

I was, to be honest, in love with The Universe, in the abstract, more than the world in all its complexity. With cosmology, with physics, with philosophy. I love ideas. I love an elegant turn of phrase, and the challenge of grappling with a new worldview.


Yet I also came to know that people don’t experience the world in the abstract. We experience it subjectively, through bodies and minds that are entangled with the messiness, but trying to make sense of it at the same time. It is beauty and pattern, chaos and connection, tragedy and ecstasy, all at once. Sometimes, everything lines up, and sometimes it all comes crashing down around you.

And meanwhile, you still have to eat.

For the last couple of years, my subtitle has been, “Experiments in Living with Uncertainty.” I’ve adopted many many worldviews over the years, because to truly understand something (even if I ultimately reject it), I felt that I needed to see what the world looked like from inside this perspective.

I’ve been on an exploration of spiritual practices, while, in parallel, trying to figure out the question of Right Livelihood. This is an astonishingly difficult problem, this livelihood (especially in the light of spiritual practices). How do we make something of ourselves, maintain our ability to eat and stay warm, participate in our communities, flourish rather than merely survive, and do so in ways that don’t adversely impact the ability of others to access their own deep paths?

In the midst of this prompt, fearing that this blog post would take the rest of my week, I recorded this video:

I may not know you (yet), but I want your life to be amazing.

I want you to feel fulfilled, and connected, and loved. I want you to look in the mirror and see the beauty of creation. I want the trees in your yard to bear abundant fruit, the air in your community to be clean, and the water in your rivers to sparkle. I hope for your relationships to be replenishing, and your quest for meaning to be just challenging enough.

I want you to be whole.

I want to be whole. I want to live in a world full of people who are whole. I want to live in a Whole World. I want to do everything in my power to bring that about.


1. who happens to have the same last name as my paternal grandmother, and the great-grandmother after whom I was partially named, and therefore I wonder whether we are related


Two Stories

Quest2016 Prompt #12
What’s the story you most desire to bring to life in 2016?
What’s the story your just-right client most desires to bring to life in 2016?
Where do your two stories overlap?
Today’s (okay, technically last month’s) prompt comes via Jen Louden, a wise sage, and generally helpful for providing guides to living.

The story I most desire to bring to life in 2016 is one in which I step back into my teaching role, and bring my Technologies of Peace framework into the conversation about how each of us decides where to use our personal energies to make differences in the world.

My just-right learner/client/thinking companion cares deeply about the impact of their work.

They have thought long and hard about the meaning of life, and are dissatisfied with the mainstream answers they have been offered. They have probably gone down a number of different rabbit holes in search of answers and may need help (probably from a group of people) turning them into a coherent whole.

They want to hang out with more with other (deeply thoughtful) people, to meet them, work with them, and to make a living from the passions of their lives, not by merely supporting the existing structures. (They also are not satisfied with disruption for its own sake; it has to be focused on solving real problems. Social entrepreneurs, perhaps?) They are concerned with forming community, and ways in which their work can best benefit the people they touch. They want to use their powers for awesome.

Overlap: we both are looking for the same things. I have both technical and interpersonal skills to contribute to their development: I can easily shift gears from talking 20th century philosophy to configuring a mail server, from debugging code to supporting a friend through an emotionally challenging situation, and from making dinner for my family to teaching a yoga class tailored to a particular sport… I am multifaceted, and understand the (time, organizational, and emotional) needs of the multifaceted. (That impacts both my writing and my software design.)

(I also believe that we are all profoundly multifaceted and it is just our stories that make us forget that, especially about one another… but that is another post, entirely.)

How to Weigh What Matters

The #Quest2016 Prompt today is: of these 3 options, which one is most important in my work right now:

  • Quality of life
  • Quality of work
  • Quality of compensation 

(from Sally Hogshead – look at the bottom of my post for a gift code to do her Fascination Advantage test, which is normally $10.)

I started out by coming down unequivocally on the side of Quality of Life. It seemed pretty obvious when I literally quit my last career to move to the country and keep bees. (It turns out that I am afraid of bees, at least in batches of 50,000. Also, I picked a most inauspicious time to start my beekeeping practice. Also, I moved somewhere that it’s a bit too cold to keep bees without enormous amounts of effort. Which is all very sad, because I really, really like bees.)

“Life” seemed to be the clear answer. Until I thought about it more, and it wasn’t.


I have entangled a friend and myself in an early-stage-startup, which means that the compensation has been mostly in the form of satisfaction. Even that is mostly around “things I didn’t break today.” We have had (a wee bit of) revenue, which makes some of the other founders around us open their eyes really widely, but it’s still in the two figure range, so at the same time, it’s a bit mock-worthy.

I believe in what we’re working on (which is good, because I’m the one in charge of explaining it to others) and I genuinely enjoy much of the work. Life is good. Work is pretty good, even if this week involved being where I thought I’d be on Tuesday morning at close of day on Friday. Little bit of “argh!” there, but pretty satisfying on the whole.

Compensation… not good.

I’ve had only part time and occasional paid work for most of the last decade, and nearly none in the last three years. I have the indirect compensation that results from being a stay at home mother with a supportive spouse, but I am after something more obviously connected to my actions in the world. More direct.

I have got a handle on the other two. I would go so far as to say I am good at them, not merely that good things have happened to me. I made choices to prioritize them, and they became well-tended and successful.

Yet I have reached the end of what I can do while neglecting the third. The business (tomato) that I have planted in the world cannot become a living, growing, self-sustaining thing, unless I accept that my responsibility to this entity includes a focus on compensation.

And so, much to my surprise, quality of compensation it must be.

Speaking of money (which I have been), I would like to recommend that you check out Heart of Business’ Heart of Money program. I took it several years ago, and it hugely changed my experience of money. I am taking it again in this round, and I would love to see you there. It’s also Pay from the Heart, so if you are struggling with money (and of an open spiritual bent) this is a highly accessible way to get back on track.

[That’s an affiliate link, but I think you know I would never recommend something I didn’t believe in. And I certainly wouldn’t pay for it twice. 🙂 ]

If you want to check out more by Sally Hogshead, use this code by Jan 15, 2016 to discover what makes you fascinating: JOY-TPD (That’s for The Practical Dilettante. In case you didn’t notice.)

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