calling

Special audio blog – faith in life during dark times

I wanted to send you a special audio message during this dark time of year, whether you are filled with joy and surrounded by healthy loved ones or grieving a major change or loss…or both.

2010 has been a big year for many of you. Our world is changing rapidly, and sometimes change is painful, even as it brings new vision and possibilities to light.

My wish for you as we close out this year and prepare ourselves for a new one is faith. Not the kind of faith many religious institutions demand, where you are asked to believe in what you can’t see or know first-hand.

But faith in life itself – that you as a blessed recipient of life can rest in the knowledge that you are loved and needed. NOW. Not later after you become more successful, a better partner, thinner, healthier, kinder. NOW.

Life has been unfolding for millenia without you worrying about a thing. Life doesn’t need you to worry, it needs you to have faith.

It needs you to notice that bright blue stellar jay foraging around in the un-raked leaves in your yard, the extra-yuminess of that third cookie, the sheer bliss of a kid anticipating.

I was out in my yard yesterday in an unexpected spot of sunshine. I noticed that there are already buds on some flowering trees. They have faith in spring. Trust them.

In 2011 may you find many occasions to remember, embrace and embody your true calling. Because life needs you NOW, as you are, in your full glory, uniqueness and fragility.

And thank you for the amazing and life-giving opportunity to ride shotgun with you on the Open Road!



A Fish Tale

This weekend I spent a bunch of time fishing for salmon on the Southeast shore of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. My partner loves to fish, and if I want to spend time with her during fishing season, I pretty much need to be standing next to her on the beach, fishing pole in hand. It’s a little awkward for me, because I’m actually allergic to fish – when I eat it my face blows up like a red balloon and I stop breathing. But I figured touching it would be OK and I showed up to fish on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening, for a total of about 10 hours.

While I was staring at my bobber in the gray waves, I had a lot of time to think about the amazing parallels between following your calling and fishing.

It’s the fishing, not the fish

If you’re going to love fishing, you have to actually love ALL of it. Waiting for hours not knowing if you’ll ever catch anything, cutting heads off of herring, picking the gazillionth wad of seaweed off your line, putting up with the chatty guy next to you who won’t quit smoking, and catching all sorts of things you don’t really want.

For example, I caught 13 bullheads, a nasty little inedible fish with stingers on its gills. No one else on the beach caught this many, and my partner and her family started calling me “bullhead” I was catching so many. For a while I didn’t mind, because it gave me something to busy myself with, an illusion of progress.

You have to love the process of fishing, and let go of whether you’ll catch any actual salmon, while at the same time believing with all your heart that the big silver fish of your dreams is just waiting for you to cast one more time.

After spending so much time with my pole hanging over the water, bundled up against the August cold (never got above 70, thick cloud cover) I got into a kind of zen state. I stopped caring so much about whether I’d catch one as big as annoying-smoking-man’s. I started to appreciate my growing skill in casting, removing hooks from bullheads without hurting them and looking like I knew what I was doing.

And then, Sunday night at 8:45, I pulled in my very first wild salmon, all by myself. I thought my arms were going to fall off, and I felt like God herself had sent me that fish. Made of rain, pissed off, bright silver and stronger than you’d think a fish could be. Made all the waiting, cold and irritation more than worth it. And gave me lots of energy to keep fishing.

So my questions for you are:

What’s your dream fish? What would make you feel like singing and doing a crazy dance on the beach in front of everyone?

What are your bullheads? The things that give you the illusion of progress, but are actually distractions?

What do you have to learn to love in order to love your calling?