if i do what i love, will the money follow?

Last week I was scheduled to participate in a focus group discussing a legal case, for which I’d be paid $100.  It was a no-brainer for me to sign up; now that I have an overseas trip to save for, every penny counts.  When I arrived at the session, however, I realized that I once worked in the same office as the focus group facilitator.  Since this was a no-no, I was promptly sent home, no cash in hand.

I was a little disappointed, but got over it quickly.  The situation was out of my control, so it was pointless to get too upset.  And in a way, I was kind of relieved. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and I could certainly see the benefit in spending the next couple hours outside, rather than within the confines of a dark office, discussing an intense case that would have probably left me feeling drained for the rest of the evening.

As I walked along the seawall home, my relief grew.  There was abundance everywhere.  In the sunshine. In the breeze.  In the warmth. In the water.  In the ducks (pictured below) just doing their thing in the water.  In the happy smiles of passerby. In the parks lining the seawall, filled with families and dogs and people-watchers and sun tanners getting ready for their Saturday night.

In noticing this beauty surrounding me, I felt expanded.  I could breathe.  It was blissful. When I thought about the focus group I had left behind, I felt constriction.  Bored. Grey.

I knew that what had happened was not a meaningless coincidence.  It was a clear message about abundance and money.

I have a dear friend who teaches yoga almost daily and has a popular musical gig a few times a month.  She truly loves what she does.  For the most part, she can arrange her day any way she wishes.  She doesn’t have a lot of money, but her ‘work’ is so aligned with her values and spirituality that I know she is infinitely happier and more fulfilled than she would ever be sitting behind a desk all day.

This is deeply inspiring to me.  It seems there are many of us out there who are more than ready to break out of the cubicle and start something new of our very own: something meaningful, imbued with our personal values and marked with our unique creative stamp. There’s a growing number of social media sites devoted to discovering this new, higher conscious way of living.  And that’s a very good thing.

But it can also be a new and uncomfortable road, one that seems risky and fraught with unknowns.  And it brings up all kinds of limiting beliefs and perceptions.  For example, I personally have struggled with the notion that creative self-expression and financial abundance are mutually exclusive.  Because I’ve believed that for so long, I see my belief played out all around me.  (Which only reinforces the belief!)

It is time for an upgrade.

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Is there another way?  Do we have to choose between doing what we love and financial abundance?  Do we need financial abundance if we are doing what we love?  In other words…does money matter and, if so, is it possible to have it all?

In the late 80s, the book Do What You Love And The Money Will Follow was released.  This text, still hugely popular, is a forerunner of many premising that when we follow our hearts, all areas of our life – including money – flow as an extension of that.

But to me, it’s not necessarily that doing what we love means money will automatically follow.  It’s that the deep fulfillment and inner peace that comes from doing work we love is infinitely more rewarding than the paycheck we receive from doing work we’re not remotely connected to.

The focus group experience really crystallized this for me.  That $100 didn’t hold a candle to the immense gratitude I felt on my walk, in truly appreciating my surroundings.

And the ironic thing is, we’re more likely to attract money into our lives when we’re already in a contented state.  Abraham Hicks teaches that focusing on that which gives us joy brings us in alignment with our (limitless, non-physical) Source – Who We Really Are.  In that place of alignment (love, appreciation, gratitude), our desired manifestations can more easily become physical.

It takes conscious practice to keep ourselves aligned.  It requires trust, surrender, releasing resistance, letting go, and allowing.  Ultimately, true alignment means knowing that we are inherently worthy of all we desire.   Once we really get that, the flow is unstoppable.

italy won’t go away

I was all set to work on my resume tonight.  Last week I found a job posting within a local organization I’ve always admired, and my plan was to devote a good chunk of time to writing a brilliant cover letter that would be sure to land me an interview.

But instead I am blogging.

An innocent lunch with a dear friend has thwarted my well-intentioned plans.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about my little obsession with Italy.  I’d been taking an Italian language class at the time, and dreaming of European travels.  The idea of an overseas adventure felt amazing; a vision I could really make happen.

yup, it's italian day

yup, it’s italian day

But in the weeks following, the enthusiasm slowly dissipated.  I began to question my dream: is it really wise to travel when I don’t have the finances to do so?  Shouldn’t I just try to make things work in my city by finding a more meaningful job and fun things to do?  Am I just looking to escape some inner discomfort and boredom?

And to be honest, the unexpected happened.  I’ve started to see my city with new eyes.  I feel myself appreciating its beauty even more.  I’ve become hopeful and excited about work opportunities and forging new personal and professional connections.

For the first time in a long time, I’ve felt at peace with the idea of maintaining my roots here.  Just this past week, I’ve found a new place to live, something I was stressing about.  All this has left me feeling pretty optimistic.

Europe’s distance, geographically and otherwise, seemed fine with me.

Until I met W. for lunch.

W. informed me that she is travelling to Europe at the end of the summer, around the time I finish up my job.  Not only that, she’s going to Italy.  Not only that, she wants to be there with a friend.  Not only that, a spiritually-minded friend (who also likes to party once in a while).

All of a sudden, Italy was back.  Closer than ever.

I had chills the entire time, and so did W.  (And we both knew what that means.)

During our conversation, I remembered Abraham-Hicks’s concept of ‘the grid’, which is basically the art of coming into alignment with the essence of that which we desire.  That is, focusing more on the feeling of having/living our desire(s), rather than the details of how to acquire it.

When we overly focus on the details, things can feel forced and stressful, creating inner resistance.  It’s then challenging to find the flow in life, and we feel stuck. At that point we can choose to let it go, allowing Source/Spirit to bring it back to us when we’re more aligned (relaxed).

The desire doesn’t disappear.  It circulates.  Perhaps my dream of Italy was merely put on hold, to allow details of the grid – which I see as a ‘framework’ or ‘blueprint’ – to fill in. (In this case, through my friend W.).

I left our lunch walking a little taller, a spring in my step (though that could’ve been the green juice I’d just consumed).  But I had the thought:  if I am meant to go to Europe, why are aspects of staying in my city coming together so easily?

Maybe I need to first be at peace with where I am now, before anything else can happen.  And maybe there is no ‘meant to’ anyway.  We are masters of creation.  What we put our attention on, what we are aligned with, will come to fruition.  It’s not that one choice is more ‘right’ than the other; they are just different, and will lead to different experiences.  At this crossroads, I choose which path to travel.

So which choice feels better to me?  Which feels more exciting, more intriguing, puts a smile on my face, feels a little like magic?

It’s decision time.

Which means it’s time to be still, to breathe, to meditate, to be excited, to feel that excitement in my heart, and trust that whatever transpires will be physically aligned with that.  From that place, I win.

***

You know the really funny thing?  My next stop after lunch was meeting my folks in town for the city’s annual ‘Italian Days’ celebration.

Spirit has such a great sense of humour.

I am listening.