Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rilke, Limbo, & Snakeskin Leggins or: How Do I Make a Living Doing What I Love?

I want my job to pay my rent and a plane ticket to a meditation retreat in Bali. I also want it to be ecstatically satisfying, and this desire has had me holding every failure, success, regret, and thought pattern up to the light for scrutiny.

I’m getting there. I love what I do, but I’ve been trying to incorporate more of my artistic self into my herbal business because bringing out people’s creativity is a core piece of who I am, I’m great at it, and many of my clients tell me that they want help in this area of their lives. However the mystery remains; how to make it happen?

Rilke says that we need to love the questions themselves. I’ve been a Rilke fan since 14 and he’s always been right. But with my burning question searing a hole in my head, I decided to sign up for a group firestarter session with Danielle LaPorte, the author of Style Statement, and White Hot Truth, a blog that has been helping me get to the heart of the matter. Danielle is genius at inspiring entrepreneurs to fuel their businesses and lives with true passion.

About 19 women and one relaxed man gathered in the beautiful home of novelist and blogger Aidan Donnelley Rowley, to learn how to capitalize on work we love. I walked in fairly terrified, intimidated by thinking of entrepreneurs leap years ahead of me, but mostly made sleepless and queasy by the feeling that I was on the precipice of some deep change. Change is scary to me. It helped that everyone in the room radiated excitement and warmth.

Danielle was reassuring without being cloying. She spoke of the Bardo, the Tibetan Buddhist word for the liminal states of being: in-between places, limbo. I relaxed then. I reminded myself that I’m fairly comfortable with limbo. The first prize I ever won was for limbo queen when I was three. The one I’m experiencing right now in my business is normal. Deep exhale.

Danielle, like Rilke, believes in questions. Here’s a sampling:

  • If you dropped acid and wrote your business plan, what would it look like?
    Write that first. Then write your business plan.
  • What are people interested in when you talk?
  • What do people thank you for?

Danielle was also very full of practical advice about how to increase your blog’s subscription list, how to budget time efficiently, etc. Her attention to the aesthetic and spiritual aspects of business (i.e. truth and beauty are as important as the bottom line) resonates with me deeply, so she’s a perfect teacher. And if (the boss of me) artistic self would rather hear it from a dread-headed philosopher in a grey cashmere sweater dress and green snakeskin leggings, then I’m very lucky such a one exists.

By the end of the three hours, with the help of some of the other wise ones in the room, I began to see where I’m headed.

** Awesome image found on Max "Bunny" Sparber's site


ellen said...

sounds like a worthwhile experience!

WhiteHotTruth said...

damn! sounds like we had a divine time. and we did. so glad you were there.

Ophira said...

Great writing, Kate! And an awesome assessment of the amazing time with Danielle.

Kate Temple-West said...

thanks Ophira. It was an amazing time.