Sunday, June 28, 2009

Change Your Mind, Change Your Past

One of my favorite sayings and one that has had life changing impact on me is "Change your mind, change your life." (This quote is loosely related to one by Norman Vincent Peale "Change your thoughts, change your world.") This concept is easy to see if you think about the future - if I change my outlook then my future will reflect this changed thinking. That makes sense and I have seen it work in my life, almost like a miracle everytime i take the effort to change in my mind.
The idea of changing the past was a new one for me, one that I got to experience firsthand when I was 35. I always thought that the past was the past, water under the bridge, something to move forward from. In my case, I had this mental image for as long as I can remember of my Dad leaving me, walking out of the house, out of his marriage with my mom and out of his role as my Dad. I held onto that image and the emotions surrounding it for about 33 years. Even when I saw him every weekend, when I spent my time growing up around him, his new wife and his new family. The only thing I could see was his leaving me. Like being with someone but not being there - lights on but nobody home - that's how I would define our relationship.

So I did a brave thing when I turned 35 I decided to change my mind about the situation. I decided that his leaving was the only thing he could do at the time. I saw it for the first time as an act of love, to remove me from a bad marriage, from an unhappy couple and from an ill-prepared Dad. I decided in that moment to let down the wall I had built around my heart "for protection" from what he had supposedly done to me and an amazing thing happened.
I felt the flood of 33 years of unfelt love rush over me. As if it were waiting just on the other side of that wall I had built and fortified year after year. I felt the love the only way my Dad knew how to give me and it was overwhelming. A past, barren of my father's love was suddenly drenched in unreceived emotions finally finding their way home.

In that moment my past transformed. My relationship with my father transformed. It was as if my life was re-lived but this time with a happy ending. I called him that night and told him that I finally felt his love and I knew it had always been there, waiting for me to open my heart to receive it.
It took a few more years, but after decades of avoiding him, I moved to South Florida to be with my Dad, to share our lives and the love that was always there waiting for me to change my mind. The mind is a powerful force. I hope that I can always find a way to use it for good in the world. I love you Dad - happy father's day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Friends Recommending Friends

I recently did something that I do all the time. A colleague of mine was looking to hire a freelancer that had skills another friend of mine possessed so I hooked them up and the colleague hired the friend and so the project began. Of course I highly recommended the friend to my colleague and my friend asked me if I could vouch for the company which I did. Both of these people know that I don't recommend anyone lightly so the marriage was made with my blessing.

Then life happened. The friend had childcare issues with a newborn baby that resulted in her only finishing 70% of the project within the project deadline. My colleague had to find someone at the last minute to complete the unfinished part of the project. And so ended a perfect match. My friend invoiced the colleague for the completed part of the job and my colleague turned around and hired a lawyer without paying a dime. Of course the colleague can't talk to me under advice of the lawyer and my friend is stressed emotionally and financially over a business arrangement I initiated.

I asked for advice from a few of my trusted friends and was amazed by the responses I received. I will share excerpts here:

"I would try to make good with the client somehow and earn their trust back. And a true friend would recognize you stuck your neck out for them. In the end, the job wasn't finished. Hopefully, on this copy job, they collected at least 25% up front. As I see it, the contractor owes you a make good in this case. If you need a copywriter, I'm happy to funnel a day's worth or work to my staffer on my tab for this should you need it. "

"...the important thing is you were trying to do a service to both for the introduction so you really can’t be responsible for the outcome. But you also need to make your own ethical decision on future recommendations of the two parties based on this! "

"I would warn people that they (the employer) have had a situation like this so they need to be cautious. I often find when companies don't pay people, it is a pattern and as a consultant, you wish you had known that ahead of time."

"If you feel so personally responsible, you should step in and offer to mediate a settlement acceptable to both parties.... A matter this small should never escalate to the point of litigation."

"As tempting as it may be to help your friends and salvage your reputation, the chances of you being able to improve the situation are slim unless they both ask you to do it. Butting in is likely to just remind both angry parties that you got them together, which is not good for you. It's kind of like cops with domestic disturbance calls - they hate taking those because the battling parties are likely to both turn on the cop. "

" seems straightforward, e.g. daycare. Since I have children, I know that "day care" issues can be resolved with planning. The person didn't have enough contingency plans. "

"Don't sweat this one. Give some of your time, in whatever capacity you can, to the original person. Ask the two of them to set a figure for financial reconcilliation. Talk to the person that hired the lawyer and say that never fixed anything and save the money. Then move forward. "

"I think we all rely on recommendations. Since you didn't make any referral fee or anything on the recommendation, it was made in good faith. As you put it, for years you have recommended people and all parties have been satisfied. "

"Did the company pay 100% of the bill to the agency? Did the company have any negative feedback about the copy/content provided? If they paid 100% and has zero complaints on the quality, then the agency is obligated to pay the contractor for the 70% delivered. "

"If this situation is resolved to your satisifaction and handled professionally by both parties, then you should not hesitate to recommend them both again. IF this situation is NOT resolved to your satisfaction and handlded professionaly by both parties, then you should not recommend either and you should disclose to both why you will not longer be referring business/work to them."

"If the situation has escalated to the point where lawyers are being called, then the options on the table have been diminished rather significantly. "

"I am assuming the owner of the company reviewed the person's work before the engagement of services and found the work to meet their needs and expectations. That said the company owner employed the person and therfore is obligated for services rendered. My opinion is that they should pay the 70 percent and be done the it. The agreement is based on time and that is what they are paying for. It's a little late to fault the writing quality since that should have been discovered along the way."

"Ask each party to consider they may be wrong. The answer is not for either party to stick to their guns, but simply to do this: GAIN RESOLUTION AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE AND MOVE ON. "

"As far as ANYONE's REPUTATION being tarnished--of the 3 parties involved, forget it. This is just life. Life happens. Move on and let all 3 parties move on...All three parties are good people. Good people have misunderstandings."

Do you know what I have learned from this situation? That I have amazing friends that help me find my way when I can't see clearly through my emotions or perceptions. The last comment sums it up best, all three are good people and even good people have misunderstandings.

May we each find our way to an inner understanding, even if it cannot be found between those directly involved.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What does All Maya mean?

For some reason not a lot of people ask me about this, even when my email address for the past 15 years has been allmaya, my license plate on my car is ALL MAYA and my user name on most social media sites is allmaya, I'm surprised at how few people ask me about it. But the few that do ask me are always fun to watch when I tell them. It's like asking a 5 year old what they want to be when they grow up and they answer you with a full rundown of their plans to attend Harvard Medical School and then take up a specialty practice in Neonatal ICU - it just isn't what you expect as a response. Fireman, nurse, teacher, but not the depth of thought maybe.

So I thought it was worth a post. Maya is a Sanskrit word that represents the veil of illusion that we perceive the world through - a filter that is our perceptions, judgments and past experiences clouding this reality, changing it, making it in our own vision but changing it along the way from reality to illusion. For most of us the filter is so strong that by the time an experience gets through to us, it resembles nothing like what actually happened. This is why sometimes a situation will be experienced by two people and it is as if they didn't experience the same thing - because they didn't.

When I apply this to my own life it helps me to let go of things that upset me, things I don't like, things that don't turn out the way I wanted them to turn out. I hop in my car or I check my email and these words all maya remind me that whatever I perceive isn't reality - a reminder that it is all an illusion - all maya - something I made up and my emotional reactions aren't real either. They are merely my reactions to this made up story. It helps put things into perspective.

The great thing about this is that I can make up a different reality for anything that happens, I can choose another illusion and a different reaction if I want to. I did this at one time in my life as part of a 22 day intensive course where everyday for 22 days I had to tell my workshop partner my life story, over and over again. But each day I had to change the theme of my life story; one day to be the victim, the next to be the hero, one day my life as a tragedy, the next as a comedy. Let me tell you, after 22 days, I was so sick of my story I didn't ever want to hear it again. And I realized something even more important - it was just a story. It wasn't real. It was the made up things in my mind that were reactions to things that just happened, neither good or bad or happy or tragic, they just were. What a powerful release that was - to see it all as maya, my own personal illusion that was getting in my way of seeing the world as it truly is.

The tarot deck has a powerful figure that represents this concept, the high priestess. She sits in a place of honor with the scroll of our life on her lap. Behind her is the veil of illusion that once we are able to let go of, will reveal to us our true purpose in life. I like this image and she inspires me to let go of these things that stop me from seeing the world and my place in it for what it truly is and what I can truly be - a perfect child of God.