Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heading North

Shortly before Rusty and I invaded their home, my parents returned their satellite dish to its true owners and resumed watching only those TV channels that could be accessed via rabbit ears.  They now spend many evenings with my mother nodding over a book in the living room and my father playing computer games in his home office.  I'm getting through a lot of reading material myself; thank goodness for the local public library.

I just finished a book I picked up there on a whim: Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck, a local "life coach" and one of Oprah's buddies.  The subtitle is "claiming the life you were meant to live," and I figured that I could use a little good advice in that area. Much of the author's work is based on Eastern philosophy, her writing style is far more humorous than that of most self-help gurus, and she doesn't believe that one path to happiness fits all.  I enjoyed the book even though I didn't agree with all of it.

Finding Your Own North Star discusses how to let your body and your emotions, rather than your brain, guide you toward achieving your deepest desires.  I'm a little skeptical about that, since the biggest mistakes in my life have all been emotionally-based decisions that my brain had serious reservations about, but I agree that my best choices (like my move to New York) were those where every part of me - body, mind, and emotions - screamed "YES!" in unison.  I also enjoyed the know-thyself exercises and the discussion of the change cycle, which helped me to better understand why I've been on an emotional roller coaster lately.  However, I found the advice to avoid making major changes during times of crisis impractical.  Now that my relationship has foundered, for instance, I must find a new home and possibly a new job; continuing my old life is simply not possible.  I believe most major crises bring a similar cascade of largely involuntary life-altering changes in their train.

Nevertheless, the exercises in the book did reveal what I've suspected for a long time - that although I was a good manager and enjoyed some parts of my 20 years in management immensely, I'm happier doing work myself rather than directing others to do it for me.  When I'm at the office now, time flies much more quickly than it did when I was working in insurance.  As one of those annoying credit card commercials might say, "Spending the entire day in your right brain - priceless."

"At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want. " ~Lao Tzu

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