Love and the Bottom Line

photo indulgy via tattooedbuddha.com

photo indulgy via tattooedbuddha.com

http://thetattooedbuddha.com/love-the-bottom-line-a-dream-about-right-livelihood/

I have a dream. And I also had a dream. About corporations and fear.  Or shall I say ultimately, about corporations and love.

I have a dream that one day it will be possible to say these two words – “corporations” and “love” – together without it sounding like an oxymoron.

I have a dream that one day executives and employees, CEOS and administrative assistants, peers and teams and managers alike will join together, say a few “kumbayas” and make love the bottom line or maybe even just one of them.

I have a dream that it will be okay to say the words  “I love you” within the confines of corporate walls, real or virtual.

Yes, I have about love in the business world.

I also had a dream. A real one.  It was about fear in the business world. It went like this:

I was drifting off to sleep, thinking about my years in corporate life and how I was afraid so much of the time.
Afraid of what I could or could not say, afraid of whether I was wearing the right thing, afraid of what people were saying about me, afraid that I wasn’t pleasing the boss, that my staff might not like and respect me, afraid of the next performance review, afraid of getting in trouble, (which I never did by the way).  Afraid. Afraid. Afraid.
The fact that I worked in Human Resources only exacerbated my already fearful state. As the organizational parent, conscience, judge and jury, my own behavior had to be beyond reproach.  It was on display and it was being watched. As if I wasn’t afraid enough just trying to navigate the corporate machine as a regular ol’ employee, being in this role ratcheted up the fear factor significantly.

A few minutes pass, my eyes gently give way and I settle into slumber. Suddenly, I’m transported to another consciousness, whisked away, like Dorothy in her tornado only instead of Oz I was headed back to the LAND of THE FORTUNE 500, a land where the road isn’t always paved with gold but the parachutes are.

I find myself sitting in my black leather executive chair, in my nicely appointed office only I’m dressed in my pajamas with no makeup and my hair askew, much like I dress for my new line of work as “self-employed.”   I’m shuffling papers as if i‘m trying to find something terribly important while mumbling the words  “Love is the bottom line,  Love is the ultimate bottom line”

My assistant comes in and asks me if I am okay and I tell her not only am I okay, I am truly blessed. I then tell her that I love her.  I go to give her a hug but I can tell by the look on her face that wouldn’t be such a good idea.

I then proceed to my morning meeting – still in pjs, no makeup, hair askew.  Needless to say I receive a number of funny looks from these folks too.  They have that same look on their face – something between horror and trying to hold back laughter – that my assistant did. They ask me for my thoughts on a solution to a very sticky problem and I respond —  Hmmm – “let me meditate on it”.

I then put my hands in prayer position and tell them all “Namaste” – “the light in me honors the light in you.”

Later that day, Human Resources shows up in my office.  Everything I have been fearing finally comes true.  I said the wrong thing.  My boss doesn’t like me and neither does the staff now.  To top it off, I’m told I’m not seen as a “business person”.  The ultimate corporate insult.

HR then politely tells me I am “not a fit” for the culture, sympathetically offers me the services of the EAP (Employee Assistance Program) to assist me with getting my head back on straight (not HR’s job), and generously provides a bunch of boxes to pack my things.

I lay my head on my desk sobbing, I mumble to myself – “Oh If only I had stuck with business language, if only I didn’t say “I love you” to those I love, if only I said we are in business just to make money, if only I had the answer on the spot to the problem, they would have let me stay here in this LAND of FORTUNE and reap the benefits.   Or at least  I could have jumped on to the golden parachute and landed with some dollars in my pocket.”

If only….

I did the only thing left to do when you have just gotten fired in your dream.

I clicked my mouse three times (right click)….

And then I was “home.”  Back in the real world, or the unreal world, however you choose to look at it.  I realized I had just woken from a nightmare and returned to a place where dreams really can come true and actually do.
Even my dream about company’s being in business not only to make money but also to make love.

Now, how’s THAT for a “bottom line?”

With Grace,  Shari

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Why Being Alone on Christmas was the Best Present I Ever Had

It’s Christmas Day. And I am spending it alone.  I mean all alone.  Well –  alone without another human around that is.  I do have the company of  “Si” however, my “granddog” that I am dogsitting this week.  i_survived_being_home_alone_ornament-r59c201dd311b42dd897b86ed3e08a261_x7s2y_8byvr_324

When I told most people that I would be without any human companionship on Christmas day,  many of them gasped with a combination of something between pity and shock or just a sincere concern for me for having to spend Christmas all by my lonesome.

I wasn’t really sure myself how I felt about it.  A part of me thought that I should be upset that I was going to be all alone on what is such a traditional celebratory day usually spent in sharing the holiday cheer with family and friends.  But I think the expectation of how one should  be spending this day was creating more angst than how I really felt about it.  It was like I felt like I should be feeling more sad about it than I really was.

Was there something terribly wrong with me for not feeling more sadness or self-pity?  Was I some kind of a sociopath for not cringing at the notion of a quiet Christmas, just me and the dog?  Honestly this was much more the source of any consternation I’ve had this season than merely being alone itself.

So here it is – Christmas Day,  I’m  far from “home”- wherever that is these days (another story for another day).  I’m alone.  I don’t have one single present to unwrap.  No Christmas dinner except the rotisserie chicken I picked up last night and my favorite  chocolate Almond Dream ice cream(yum).  No one to eat with or drink with or toast with.  Nowhere  – and I mean – nowhere to go .  I can’t even put gas in my car today.

And it’s the best Christmas day ever.

Why?  Because in the space of solitude and free from the busyness and distractions of all the things we usually expect to be doing this time of year, something so much more valuable than any gift-wrapped present showed up.

In fact, this year I got the best gifts I have ever received. And I would like to share them with you:

Gift #1 – Experiencing the Love of a Dog

Si

Si

One of the biggest gifts I received this year was the gift – and I do mean gift – of spending time with a dog – just me and him –  who is fully in the present moment.  He knows nothing about the fact that this is a holiday but still spends every waking moment in a place of love, affection and acceptance and a bountiful zest for life that is consistent with the Christmas spirit .  Only he does this everyday and every moment of his life.  On this Christmas I got to experience love, affection and companionship from him that is the best example of unconditional love I could ever wish for.   It pours forth from him effortlessly and without judgment.  Plus he’s so darn CUTE.

His outpouring of love also brings forth love from me.  It encourages me to reciprocate not only to him but to everyone.  It helps me to feel and express the love that is inside of me.

 Gift #2 – Giving Beyond Presents

 On previous Christmas days and the weeks leading up to it, I was usually too busy to give of myself to anyone else.  Yes, I gave gifts to my family and friends of course, and sometimes I gave money to organizations and people in need. I gave what I thought I had to give which amounted mostly to material things.

During the season itself,  I was busy trying to do what I thought I “should’ – give and receive gifts, give and go to parties, spread joy and cheer.  These are all good things.  But I told myself the story this was all I had to give.  I had children and a job and not much time for volunteering or being a vessel to spread love to others in need.

This year, I went to a church service with my daughter who is deeply involved and committed to her church and their mission.   I went even though I consider myself “Jewish by birth” and heritage, and “spiritual but not religious”  in my beliefs.  I can tell you – from my novice standpoint  -church ain’t what it used to be.  The pastor is young and hip, there are no religious symbols, there’s rock music, most people wear jeans.  Its not even in a church!

The pastor’s words spoke to me and I believe much of what he preaches can reach many people regardless of their religious beliefs because he speaks to us as human beings and of the struggles we all face.

Part of the mission of this church is to give ridiculous amounts of time, labor, love and also money to others.  The next day they were going to give away huge Christmas dinners to 80 families in a low-income housing neighborhood.

I was going to be here in this strange town all alone.  Just me and Si.  I didn’t have any of the usual excuses of running around or preparing for parties so what reason could I possibly have for not going? So I went. By myself but completely in community.

There were lots of other people helping too.  It wasn’t a huge thing or a difficult thing to do.  But in doing it I got to see the joy that can be created by giving to those in need.  More importantly I got to interact with those in need and in doing so experience our shared humanity.  It’s a lot different than sending in a check or making a donation.  I’m not saying those things are bad or not desperately needed  What I am saying is that for me,  maybe for the first time in my life,  I understand there is nothing as powerful as touching another human being with your presence and your love.

Gift #3 – Discovering Gratitude for Real

It is amazing what spending time with one’s self and just being with one’s Self can enable us to discover.  This year I discovered gratitude.  I know that in spiritual circles this word has become seemingly overused, maybe a little trite.  I’ve read about it, talked about it, been preached to about it before.  But the truth is I spend a lot of time focused on what’s wrong instead of what’s right.  I feel grateful but often in a conditional way.

I’d also been crawling around in a lot of darkness lately, the light obscured  by lots of loss and confusion. But my experience of the last few days – spending quality time with both my daughters, loving and being loved by my granddog, spending time with people in need, and having ample time to meditate, pray, and dig deep even in unfamiliar circles has shown me all I have to be grateful for in a different, glowing light.

I’m grateful for heat and being warm on this cold day.  I’m grateful to have food.  I’m grateful to have amazing children and parents still alive and healthy.  I’m grateful for my husband being in my life.  I’m grateful that when my daughter got sick the other day she got better.  I could go on and on – and on.   And I plan to.  Maybe the word is overused for a reason.  Because gratitude is the switch that turns the light on and therefore, it can never really be used too much.

I’m grateful for this time alone for teaching me about gratitude.

Feeling Good

Gift #4 – Coming Closer to God

 This is by far the most important gift because it is the gift that makes all the other gifts possible.  I’m a spiritual seeker by nature.  Perhaps I always will be.  Over the years, I have followed many of the so called “new age” spiritual leaders  – Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra.  I do yoga and try to study the philosophy that accompanies the practice of physical poses.  I’m drawn toward Eastern spiritual philosophy. But, in the last few weeks I’ve been led both back to my Jewish roots and a pull toward Judasim, but also paradoxically toward the tenets of what I like to call “Christ consciousness” as well.

I’ve determined as many others have(and many others will also dispute) that all legitimate spiritual leaders – from Ghandi to King to Buddha to Mandela to Jesus himself promulgate essentially the same principles of compassion, non-judgment, service all grounded in God’s love plus the premise that we’ve been separated from our true selves and souls, and that there are many paths to God but they all lead to the same place.  They lead us to our own divinity, to knowing God better, to eventually making better, more conscious choices for our life because of knowing God and having greater purpose.

I’ve believed this intellectually. I believe it fervently.  But feeling it and finding it inside of myself, and especially practicing it consistently has been such a struggle.  Despite all my seeking, transformation has somehow eluded me. Sometimes  the extent of the struggle has tested my faith.  But this season, thanks to all these other gifts and the alone time I had to go inside,  I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’ve actually touched God inside of me and that me and Him or Her or the Higher Power that it is can start to have a relationship.  And that feels good and right and gives me hope.

So it is in that vain I say Merry Christmas today and really everyday.  I hope that all of your days are as full of love and serenity that mine has been.  And that you get the best present you ever had too!