Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How to Use a Little Money to Create a lot of Joy

We are living abundant lives. I hope we call all let ourselves see that a little more.

Economists will tell you that the economy expands according to the FLOW of energy (money). In other words, energy (money) isn't "in" or "out" of the economy. The economy ebbs and flows proportionally to the flow of energy (money).

It's no wonder now that many of us are feeling anxious to get moving again. The beautiful strength within each of us to go after what we want and see it come to fruition (our personal ability to manifest) has not disappeared! We just need to remember to step back into the flow, rather than stand on the banks of the river, mistrusting its speed. Don't you remember that you were just IN that same river, enjoying the flow, and knowing it would carry you to wherever you want to go?

And, how do we do that? There are things in our lives right now that could use our appreciation, love, uplifting, or positive reinforcement, and when those needs are met, confidence in our abundance will return. We need to restore our confidence in what we have to give.

Start by telling yourself to re-focus on what you do have. "What if all I have is a dollar? In quarters!?" you ask.

In what way could a dollar in quarters make you feel rich? Try this:

Go to a fruit stand on your lunch break or on your way to work and buy an apple (at some carts in New York, $1.00 might even get you two apples!). Take it up to the kitchen, slice it, and arrange the slices on a plate. Then walk around the office, and start offering your colleagues a slice. Just see what happens! Notice how you feel as you bring a fresh new taste full of energy and life to the people you work with - who are probably accustomed to the taste of stale croissants and machine coffee.

"I don't even have an office to work in right now!" you say. What about using facebook as a way of creating a place of having to "virtually" show up each day, and share with your colleagues. It's a fantastic place to create a persona, because you can add things when you are in the best mood to do so. And here's a way to use facebook (or, okay, the good, old-fashioned cellular telephone) to REALLY get some energy flowing:

Find someone who you KNOW has wanted to work with you - who admires your expertise - and OFFER your services to them. Ask them if there is a way for you to help them jump-start any area of THEIR business. Notice how it feels to come from a place of knowledge and experience. Give your service to them for the joy of being of service - or ask them to barter with you in a way that will bolster your energy as well. Remember - the point is to allow yourself to see what you HAVE. And the best way to see that, is to have it reflected by someone who needs you.

"I know I have money, but it just feels so much tighter right now." Rather than get stuck in the feeling of "tightness," focus on how much more you are doing for the world in keeping the energy moving. Maybe there are artists and small business owners whose services could make your life easier, while at the same time feeding their work-flow and income. Have you been putting off a project? Why not support a smaller company NOW, to get your own juices flowing and make progress on your needs? Smaller companies THRIVE with just a little new business! As we support entrepreneurs, we are creating more flow for everyone.

Finally, take inventory. Count your proverbial blessings. Ask yourself, "Do I have natural talents I'm not expressing right now?" What are they? Begin, gently, to wonder ... "How could I begin to allow these talents to go out into the world? What difference could I make if I really began to let the real me shine?"

It simply isn't possible to feel lack and abundance at the same time, and when you are creating abundance for others, you are innately contacting your own abundance. When you allow yourself to focus on what you have to give, you are inherently focusing on what you have.

What will the world not have unless you bring it?

For me, it's about not being afraid to dust off old gifts and bring them back to light. Many of you know, that before my photography business, I was a freelance writer - consulting on screenplays, writing content for the All Media Guide, writing press releases for the People's Choice Awards, and more. Now, as I encourage you all to expand your natural gifts, I will once again include writing in the skill-set I advertise.

In the spirit of giving voice to what's inside an individual, I have created a free introductory call, True Voice: How to Begin to Hear it. This call is perfect for writers, for experts who want to be writers, or for people who just wish they were better able to express themselves through writing. It's also a great resource for developing a habit of expressing your individuality - getting your real self out into the world through the use of your words!

You are officially invited to take part in True Voice: How to begin to Hear it. On the call, we will complete an exercise that will get you tuned into your inner inspiration, and get words flowing that express the real you!

In this course, I will be helping unpublished experts to articulate their methodology and accelerate their business by showing them how to identify and utilize their own powerful written voice.

Please feel free to email me with any questions about the Writing from Your True Voice course at sarah[at]sarahsloboda.com.

To access a free recording of the call that took place on March 3, 2009, please click here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Awaiting Spring

I woke up this morning, and realized that we are only one week away from March. The sun has moved into Pisces on the astrological calendar, and that means - spring is on the way!

This winter, I took the term "hibernation" to heart. I spent countless hours settling into my couch under a blanket with a glass of wine or cup of tea, watching the modern four seasons of Doctor Who, day-dreaming of adventures through time and space.

The end of 2008 felt to me very much like a time to quiet myself - to pause and step back from my regular patterns, to assess what was working and what wasn't, and to feel that natural sadness that comes up during the dark, cold winter months. Then 2009 began, and I was still sitting in that place of hibernation a bit, having let the plants on my fire escape whither and die, and knowing that this is time of year when things fall away.

Over the course of the past week, I have begun to feel something move again - like the roots of plants underneath the soil beginning to stir with life. I have a picture in my mind of a seed, just beginning to crack - the muted brown tones of the outer casing break open, and in the darkness of the opening, the phosphorescent green of life deliberately embarks on its uncoil.

Something feels like it is stirring within me, too, and it has inspired me to feel true appreciation for what is right and perfect in my life. In fact, it has inspired me to accept and understand that everything is right and perfect in my life, right now, exactly as it is. There is no lack. What felt like a tremendous loss, was simply the natural turn of a season. Maybe what they call "Seasonal Affective Disorder," is not a disorder at all, but just a natural time for quiet introspection, and even sadness. And if I can accept that everything I was feeling was divinely right, even in the darkness, I can begin to see so many things around me that contribute to my abundant well-being.

In my desire to be more fully appreciative, I am trying to more consistently look around me - closely - to see what I have right now. To see what is supporting me emotionally, and also to see what I have that might help others at this time, as we start to grow and stretch our inner phosphorescence out into the sun.

Today, I realized that I have a beautiful relationship with my houseplants. They don't need much from me - just daily watering and a helping of compost once in awhile - and yet they give me so much! They provide fresher air in my home, a palpable energy, and something lovely to look at soaking in the light from the windows and the skylight. They remind me how simply being aware of the energy of light in my home makes me happy.

These photos were shot on my iPhone, of a moneywort plant I have in a planter on my bedroom windowsill. I love seeing this plant perk up on its ends, reaching for the sky, and fearlessly spreading out. My appreciation would not otherwise have these depths, except that - in contrast - I am coming out of hibernation, and thus I am reminded that everything really does have a season.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shape-shifting - The Story of my Changing Career

“Hello, Joe?” I said, quietly into the phone.
“It’s Sarah Sloboda. I think I need to come in for a follow-up session.”
“Sure, Sarah. What’s going on?”
“I quit my job.”
“Come in tomorrow,” Joe said.

Joe Monkman {http://earthspiritworks.com/} is a spiritual healer trained in the shamanic traditions of Peru. Two weeks before this dialogue, I had met Joe for the first time – feeling sullen, depressed, disempowered in my workplace, and suffering from a stress-related stomach ulcer. Although drawn to his work through a book I read on shamanism called, Soul Retrieval, I was extremely reluctant to believe that his drumming and waving his feather around my body was going to change anything for me, or my career.

Miraculously, my disbelief was suspended after my first session with Joe.

“Breathe in your nose, and out your mouth,” Joe instructed me, as I lay on the massage table in his Manhattan office.

Quite frankly, I didn’t do much else. I closed my eyes tightly, and listened while Joe drummed methodically, creating a feeling in the room that was deeply soothing, yet unfamiliar to me at a time when rushing to meetings from coast to coast with little to no sleep was a rhythm to which I had grown quite miserably accustomed. According to what I’ve read on the subject, Joe was interacting with a non-visible part of reality on my behalf, to balance the energy I was carrying in my body.

I told Joe about the struggles of my life, emotionally tied to the path my career had taken, and how I felt strong pangs of discontent, despite having achieved what I had said I had been wanting for years – a job in the prestigious world of television. My life had been turned upside down after a perspective-changing car accident, and although I had tried to pursue the path that film school had sent me upon, some part of me was no longer present, and neither my medical doctors nor my shrink had been able to help me locate it.

For Joe, however, this was common, everyday work. A shaman’s purpose in ancient tribes was to help restore a person’s essence, in order to keep them whole, despite the traumas of everyday life. Joe’s intention with me was to help create a space where the real me could shine through.

When I walked out of his office, I found myself making eye contact with strangers on the street. I felt open. I was seeing through my own eyes for the first time in a long time. Within two weeks, I could no longer tolerate my job. I felt pangs of anguish, knowing that there were other ambitious souls who would love to hold my position, while I was resenting it, and longing for a place to express my creative voice.

I sat in a bathroom stall, struggling to gain control of my emotions for 20 minutes before walking into my boss’s office and giving notice. Part of me was just beginning to gain enough strength to represent myself honestly, although I don’t know how I spoke to my boss at that time without fainting.

I called Joe, and told him what had happened. I had no plan. Just a general knowing that my creative sense, and my experience as a visual artist and photographer was enough to take me forward. With Joe’s encouragement, I was able to begin to make my life reflect what was more authentically me, and I began to see my entire life take on a new shape.

Within two months, I had booked my first big job as a full-time photographer – a wedding in Malibu – and had arranged with the bride who was a graphic designer to brand and launch my new photography company {http://www.sarahsloboda.com}. My photography business thrived the very first year of its existence, and garnered worldwide acclaim for the work I did with children and weddings.

Now operating from a place of near-constant evolution, I have re-branded as Sarah Sloboda: Photographer, Optimist. It is my personal mission to provide millions of people with photographic evidence of their lives working beautifully. I am also a consultant - working creatively to inspire and motivate other artists and business owners who are blocked, stuck, or otherwise need a brainstorm boost.

Following the path to authenticity that Joe helped me to open, my career now has one clear premise – to make sure that the trajectory of my personal growth is reflected in the work I am doing in the world, so that others can benefit from my experience.

(Keep up with this trajectory here, at University of Sarah: the Art School of Optimism - http://universityofsarah.blogspot.com. Click here to subscribe to the mailing list, and to receive a free copy of the 7 Points of Optimism!)

Monday, February 9, 2009

7 Points of Optimism

A brilliant woman who coaches me on my business, Coco Fossland - self-titled Success Alchemist, was chatting with me in her living room one afternoon this past fall about my endeavor to bridge my artistic sense as a photographer with my desire to inspire millions of people with optimism. She said, "You know what you need? You need the 7 Points of Optimism."

She meant it as an example - a metaphor for some kind of methodology or set of principles that would serve as the guideposts for myself, and for those upon whom I wanted to shed this light. But as it turned out, 7 Points were exactly the right number and way to sum up my thinking.

Many people are interested in the power of positive thinking - particularly with increasing
understanding of the Law of Attraction, and the way our thoughts create our life experience. However, I don't know a whole lot of people who would actually identify themselves as an optimist.

I'm not sure how I became an optimist - I reckon I was born this way, although perhaps this will become fodder for future blogging down the line. But for now, I have identified the way that I manage to think about things in a positive way, and the steps are simple enough for anyone to try at any level of neutrality, or even pessimism, about how the world works.

The day after Coco planted the seed in my head, I awoke in the morning and the 7 Points of Optimism essentially wrote themselves into my journal. Each one of them has its own value in the moment, but they can also be used as a 7-step creative process, which could be applied to any artistic endeavor, to conjure a creative business solution, or even when one needs a new take on a personal, emotional issue.

The basis is noticing and being willing to own one's own experience as such - that is, if you are willing to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings as your own, and not something being forced upon you, you are ready to experience things more optimistically, if you so choose. All that is required is a desire to change your perspective, and a knowledge that you can.

You can read the 7 Points below, and I am including them here for easy reference, both for myself and anyone who reads my blog. I would also invite you to download them for free - all you have to do is CLICK HERE, and enter your email address where prompted, and you will receive a printable PDF of the 7 Points of Optimism featuring 3 of my photos.

In sharing these words, I want them to become even more real in my life. I would lov
e to hear from you about any attempts to apply them to your experiences, and about any thoughts you may have.


1) Appreciating things as they Are.
Recognizing that nothing needs to change for me to be happy in this moment.

2) Finding the "Awe."
Once I see how things are, I can find ONE thing wonderful in this moment, exactly as it is.

3) Experiential Immersion.
Allow myself to bask in the "awe" feeling I have discovered in the now. To feel fully, all through my body, the wonder of this moment I am experiencing.

4) Relishing.
Jotting down the thought, calling a friend and sharing, taking a picture. Making the awe of this moment somehow go beyond this moment. (This creates expansion of the "awe.")

5) Self-discovery.
Recognizing my role in this experience - that the reason this moment could be relished was because I took the time to engage in it.

6) Honoring my Value.
Appreciating the role I have played, and thanking myself for allowing the true wonder of this experience to flow through me. In relishing it, I have expanded it for myself and others.

7) Make space for Creativity.
My call to interpret the moment beautifully is innate. All I had to do was make the space for it, and it appeared.