Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dumbo's Magic Feather

"Use the magic feather," Timothy the mouse guides Dumbo, who is afraid to open his ears and fly. He puts the feather in Dumbo's trunk and says with absolute conviction, if you hold this, you will have the power to fly; just open your "wings."

Many people have offered us "magic feathers" throughout our lives. Very well-intentioned parents, teachers, and elders have said, "work hard, and you'll be rewarded."

But what happens when the magic feather slips through Dumbo's grasp? He believes all his power to fly was in that feather, and without it he is paralyzed with fear.

When we lose a job, an opportunity, or anything else that felt like the roadway to our desire, we seem to act like we have lost our magic feather. "Without [fill-in-the-blank], I will never be a writer or a famous performer, or I won't reach the financial goal I set, or I won't get that apartment I wanted." And this is the way we use our disappointments to block our future success and keep ourselves small - by making certain circumstances into magic feathers, without which we cannot function.

Once we have identified our "magic feather," we put all of our stock in that. Essentially, we give our power away to it.

Then, suddenly, we find ourselves high up on a platform with hundreds or thousands of people watching, a little mouse in our hat yelling, "Fly! Fly!" A gust of wind has swept the magic feather from our grip. Frantic and terrified, paralyzed by the loss of that feather that slipped away just as easily as it had come, we stand there, frozen. Everyone is going to be disappointed in us. Maybe the circus master will hurt us or leave us without sustenance. Or, if we risk the leap, quite literally, we fear instantaneous death.

But the truth is this: "The magic feather was just a gag - you can fly!" Timothy shouts this desperately, trying to get Dumbo to simply stop clenching and open his ears.

As we let go and trust, we see it is our own strength, our own essence that allows us to fly. It is not that lost job that would have brought us to the feeling of wealth and abundance we seek. As soon as we release the job as the magic feather, there is room for wealth and abundance to come in the best, easiest way possible. Through our natural gifts - no matter how freakish they may appear on the surface - we naturally take off. Because it wasn't Dumbo's magic feather, but the giant ears he had so fearfully tried to hide, that let him fly.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spontaneous Clarity

It seems to me that sometimes after months and months of meandering aimlessly in one's own thoughts, suddenly clarity comes as if spontaneously out of nowhere. And one might think, "Whoa, where did that come from?" But upon further reflection, it had obviously been building up very carefully through obsessive, relentless self-inquiry.

Tonight, speaking with a dear friend, I had an epiphany.

I have decided to become a consultant - working creatively to inspire and motivate other artists and business owners who are blocked, stuck, or otherwise need a brainstorm boost. If you are a screenwriter, and a friend of mine, you have probably worked with me in this capacity before. Or, if you run a business, and I've ever sat down with you to talk about it, you might have noticed it is natural for me to throw out ideas, and to want to help people bridge the gap between their desires and their accomplishments. I have been doing so for years, almost by accident. Now I can see with absolute certainty that it is time to take this gift more seriously.

I know that when I launched my photography business full-time in 2005, I was undertaking a wide array of challenges that would make me a better photographer. I am completely enamored with image-making and recording. It helps me make sense of the world, and focusing on it as a business enabled me to take it further than ever before - it helped me focus on making my work more articulate, more honest, more engaging.

Now, as I fully embrace the love I have for helping others to step into their dreams, complete unfinished projects, and polish blossoming works, I know that building a business around it will naturally enhance my focus and my ability to inspire and encourage people. In the process, I am owning the latter part of my tagline, "Sarah Sloboda: Photographer, Optimist."
I didn't know all that I would learn about imagery by running a photography business, just as I now don't know all there is to know about helping others. But, if my experience in photography is any indication, I feel certain that following my deepest desire - to help people discover and relish their happiness - will lead me to insights that take my work in this arena to a new level as well.

This news was so big, I just had to share it. As of now, there is no business structure, website, or point-of-reference. Just an unmistakable feeling of clarity that this is my path. I would love to field any questions or thoughts, as I know doing so will help me to formulate this new endeavor even more rapidly, so feel free to email me at sarah[at]

The revelation came as the kind of clarity that whispers to you, at first, as if to let you in on a secret. And you can ignore it if you want, but you know it will keep tickling your ear. And soon you'll have to scratch it or you'll inadvertently start twitching and freaking people out on the subway.

Or, you can just say, "Yes, little whisper. I hear you. I don't know where we're going, but I hear you."

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Year's Intentions

The term "New Year's Resolutions," has been used for a long time, and recently, I have noticed that people are shying away from it. I told my friends I was setting "New Year's Intentions" this year, and they liked that better than "resolutions." That made me wonder a little bit...

Because resolution - coming from the word resolve - seems to carry more weight, actually. If you resolve to do something, nothing will stop you from doing it. You will do whatever it takes. So, if we really want to reach our goal, why the repulsion to the word resolution? Is it that we feel we have failed in the past to do what we supposedly resolved to do? Or, have we learned that even though we may think we know exactly what to do, sometimes life surprises us by making it more difficult than we imagined - or even, impossible to achieve it the way we originally thought?

Maybe enough of us are starting to see that in life, you can't always force things. By making
the statement gentler, and simply intending to do something, it feels more like leaning in the direction of the desired outcome, and leaving room for it to manifest at its own pace, and in its own way.

It also leaves room for the unknown, for magic, for serendipity, for cosmic orchestration. It makes life seem bigger and more vast - it helps us tap into a grander sense of existence. It leaves room for a random phone call from a person you never would have expected, for things to fall into place
more easily than you even dared to hope.

It opens us up to what we probably already know - that we really don't do anything on our own. All kinds of situations and people and pre-existing conditions help funnel the life we want to us. And if we're smart, we'll set our intentions to leverage the power of these other forces to work collectively with our own efforts - rather than creating a resolution to do something our own way no matter what.

I have set some ambitious financial intentions this year, and I know it's going to stretch me beyond what I now know about myself in order to be able to achieve them. I know if I simply "resolved" to accomplish them from where I am now, I may not have the will, the knowledge, or the endurance to persevere when I inevitably come up against areas of challenge for me. So, I am intending to reach these financial goals - knowing that I don't know everything about how I'll reach them - and so gently forcing myself to be open to new information, and help from places as magical as my own psyche, as dull as a textbook, from obvious things, and esoteric things - simply knowing that being open to receiving from wherever it comes, will be the only way to be sure not to miss my real lesson.

Because, quite frankly, who knows what that will turn out to be. All I really want, deep in my heart, is to grow.