Thursday, March 04, 2010

It’s The Little Triumphs We Don’t Want To Miss

Hay House has been on the top of my list of places I’d like to work since I found out they are only about 15 miles from where I live. They are a publishing company formed by Louise L. Hay. Louise was one of the first people to bring the self-help movement to life, making the connection between mind and body back in the early 70s. My mother constantly referenced information gleaned from Hay’s words as I grew up. (And you thought I wasn’t listening, Mom!) Of course when I was younger, I blew most of it off (yes, youth is wasted on the young), but as I got into the study of science and consciousness myself from my early 20s on, I was surprised to find quite a bit of what I knew “innately” originated in Louise Hay’s wisdom.

A few months after I was laid off, I was “wasting time” watching videos on the net, and I came across You Can Heal Your Life, which is Hay’s signature movie. I consumed the entire flick in rapt attention, even though I already knew many of the principles covered. (It never hurts to bring it up to the front again.) In the movie, one of the women they interview uses the mantra: My income in constantly increasing. For whatever reason, those particular words at that particular moment, strung together in that particular order really resonated with me, so I wrote them on a post it note and tacked them to my mirror. (My mantra has evolved, as I mentioned in another blog post recently, but you have to tweak these things sometimes.) The results since have been undeniable. I haven’t had a regular paycheck for 11 months, but I have not lacked for money. This is not to say I’ve been rolling in dough, but so far my needs have always been met with minimal stress.

Even with my comprehension of the Law of Attraction and how we create our own reality, I am still in awe of the Universe when I get what I ask for. (I must note here that an Attitude of Gratitude has been my habit for long before this, and that is also an essential ingredient.) I know I still have many issues of self-worth that are not sorted out, but fortunately it appears I am making at least a wee bit of progress.

Anyway, this is just one of the reasons I so admire Louise Hay and the principles she’s pushed into the public light. When you consider that I’ve been a bookworm since I learned to read, and have enjoyed working for Pearson Education publishing science textbooks for the last few years, it seems working for a publishing house that puts out materials I can completely support with my whole heart is a no brainer. And I live right next door to them! WOOO!

I’ve watched their web site for job openings, but so far I haven’t seen anything that I feel confident in applying for. The other day I decided I was going to hand them my resume personally, hoping perhaps if an internal position came up they would consider me. My unemployment benefits are coming down to the end and although I have faith that whatever happens will be the experience I am meant to be having, I would truly prefer to have the experience of another income before the money runs out!

Morning before last I was at the boyfriend’s house working on my part-time projects for Pearson. About 2pm his internet connection kicked me off and wouldn’t let me back on. I took this as a sign to stop shuffling around and get on with the business of knocking on doors for jobs. I know the reason I procrastinate is because I’m afraid of being rejected, and failure, and half a dozen other negative things, but I also planned to visit Hay House that day so I tried to focus on the motivation of what that could lead to instead.

As I got dressed, I realized the outfit I’d brought didn’t look as nice as I’d anticipated. It really needed a belt, but since I was not home, I had no options. My Right Brain (seat of emotions and Ego) tried to argue that since I did not look “perfect,” perhaps it would be better to just go home, apply to some places online, and try again tomorrow. My Left Brain (place of logic) was having none of it. It sternly shook its neurons at Right Brain and argued that this has been my excuse for too many days, which is why it’s taken me so long to find a job. It took me a good 20 minutes to convince myself that the clothes did not matter, and to just get going.

As I got in the car I realized I’d forgotten to bring my portfolio with me that contains my resumes all printed on nice, formal paper. About two seconds later I realized I also did not have Hay House’s address (which took me quite awhile to sleuth out on the net, as they prefer to direct everyone to their post office box). Although I remembered approximately where the street was, I had no definitive way of finding the correct building, and without the internet connection in the house, I could not look it up again easily.

I sat in the car, observing the two sides of my brain firing off like an old married couple, and wondered how it is that I manage to live with myself. Maybe this is why I’m still single. There are already too many “people” in my life with just me.

Left Brain: Your resume is on a thumb drive in your purse. Just go print some on regular paper.

Right Brain: But it won’t LOOK nice and then I won’t make a good impression.

Left Brain: I doubt anyone will notice the quality of paper it’s on. The information on the paper is more important and speaks for itself.

Right Brain: First impressions count tho, and without nice paper people will think I suck.

Left Brain: ::rolls its virtual eyes:: Like the paper is an indication of your worth. Please. You’re making excuses.

Right Brain: Well I don’t have the address for Hay House anyway, so what’s the point? I should just call it a day and go home.

[Note: I had not even gone out yet.]

Left Brain: Hiding at home is not going to bring you income. And you’re running out of time. Don’t mess this up.

[“Mess this up” is not exactly the thought Left Brain used, but I’m trying to keep it PG here.]

Right Brain: But I’m AFRAID of people. And failure. And I don’t want to do this. I hate being judged. Why can’t someone just hire me without all this hassle?

Left Brain: Because they can’t hire you if they don’t even know you’re looking dumb@$$. Now go print out some resumes on regular paper and stop obsessing about all the reasons you “can’t.”

Right Brain: FINE. Whatever.

I go inside and the printer tells me the ink is low (Right Brain: “HA!” Left Brain: SIGH), so I only print one resume. It is now almost 4pm so businesses will only be open another hour anyway.

I listen to Right Brain describing how much I suck all the way to Carlsbad.

As I approach my exit on the highway, I pull myself together and decide this attitude is not going to land me a job with a company like Hay House. Instead, I give it up to the Universe: if I am meant to work at Hay House, I will “use the Force” as I have done many times in the past, and I will be led to their building without needing the street address. I know for certain this has worked for me in countless prior situations so Right Brain can’t argue with that, and is finally – thankfully! – silenced.

I remember that the street Hay House is on was somewhere on the east side of Palomar Airport, so I pass the entrance and the runway. A couple days before, I was in the same area for an interview with a temp agency and I stopped at a Subway sandwich shop for lunch. As I approach the intersection where the Subway resides, I notice that the street is called Innovation Way (at least on one side, it is a different name on the other). The sign seems to stand out to me, but turning onto Innovation Way would take me in the wrong direction. Nevertheless, I think “well, perhaps there’s a reason I was over here the other day and just because it’s a different name on the other side doesn’t mean it can’t be innovative. Sounds like a street Louise would put her business on,” so I turn left.

I spent about 30 minutes riding around, writing down names of different companies in the various business parks so I could look them up on the Net that night and know something about them before I walk in to ask for Human Resources. I kept hoping I would run across THE building.

I covered about two square miles of cold concrete edifices with the only results being a few “Oh, I didn’t know they were here!”s. It was getting close to 5:00 and I decided I would go through this one last park… they were white, one-story buildings with blue trim and really didn’t look like something that would house a publisher, but I figured what the heck. Things are never what they seem and they’re on my way out.

I wound my way through the alleys noting names on doors and how many offices that were obviously once occupied now stood empty. Recession city, baby. I headed to the back of the complex and as I turned a corner saw the sign I’d been hoping to find:

Holy crap, I found it.

"Look within." What is this, a Dan Brown novel?

(Ok, the tagline is not on the actual sign on the building, but I’m telling a story here – I have a Literary License. Get yours here.)

I couldn’t believe I actually found it (but then again, I could). I was hearing Yoda in my head as I circled the building looking for the front door. There were plenty of single glass entry points, but none with an obvious “come hither” neatly lettered on the pane like the surrounding businesses. You mean I have to figure out which door my future lies behind without even a hint? What if I guess wrong? Will there be lions waiting to eat me? C’mon – at least give me a CLUE!

I started feeling disappointed that I’d come all this way, managed to locate the building without the address, and now there was no apparent front desk. I’d found two locations listed online for Hay House (I figured one warehouse, one office), perhaps I was at the wrong one. Right Brain kicked in reminding me I should “just go home” but it was a weak voice compared to my determination now that I was this close.

My life is one big freakin’ metaphor.

As I rounded the last corner a second time, like any good Hollywood movie, I happened to see someone slip into one of the doors, and in the two nanoseconds it was open I thought I saw a reception area. Hmm. Could this be the entrance? Sure didn’t look like one, but there ARE handicap spaces right in front of it (that would be McGuyver Left Brain taking over). The blinds were drawn so I couldn’t tell what the space inside looked like, but I had asked for a clue and it looked like this was the best I was going to get.

I parked the car and sat there pushing down my flight impulse again. How stupid would I look (or how much trouble would I be in) if I walked into a bunch of cubicles where I don’t belong? People might look at me funny, or even worse, ask what I'm doing there, then I will surely keel over and die of embarrassment. Right there on their most-likely-blue commercial carpet.

My mother always told me that Grandpa told her, “Walk in like you own the place and no one will question you.” He was a Navy man. I have used this method successfully in the past. Today, not so much.

I gathered my resume and my courage and stepped through the door. Oh good – there IS a reception desk, with a receptionist behind it, so I will not be eaten by lions or arrested for being somewhere I shouldn’t be. The worst that can happen is I might look like an idiot. But I will survive this. Oh look, there are chairs. And magazines. And a fish tank. Because of course fish are tranquil and that’s what this company is about. Duh. And - haha - they have blue carpet. I really, really, really want to work here. Now pay attention. Don’t sound desperate. Smile.

There is a receptionist and another employee blinking at me in expectation.

Ok smiling… smiling… I need words… words would be good… please give me some words… from the brain, out the mouth… c’mon… shit, why didn’t I rehearse this or something? Is this what guys feel like when they walk up to a pretty girl?

“Hello, do you have a Human Resources department?” (Geez, could you come up with a stupider, more UN-informative opening line?)

“No, I’m sorry we don’t.” Employee exits. My paranoid Right Brain assures me she is snickering at my discomfort. Left Brain shushes the beast.

“Umm… is there someone I can leave my resume with then? I’d really like to work for Hay House so I was hoping to speak with someone.” (Way to sound confident, like you really belong here and they should hire you immediately – NOT.)

“I could take it for you, but right now we don’t have any open positions. You can check our web site… there is a card with the address right there.”

I take the card and hand her my resume (on crappy paper, wearing my sub-par outfit, NOT holding my professional looking portfolio) imagining it will go right in the trash as soon as I walk out the door. I SOOO do not want that to happen. What can I say to change her mind? DO SOMETHING besides stand there looking crushed you idiot!

“Thank you. I’ve actually been watching the web site but I haven’t seen anything come up recently that I’m qualified for. I just really want to work here, so I figured maybe if I brought my resume to you in person you could keep it on file and let me know when there is a place I would fit in.” (Now you sound completely desperate. Good job. Just go home you loser. What were you thinking?)

The receptionist is kind of at a loss for words, having done her job and not being able to offer me anything else. I don’t want to leave though as it’s really taken a lot to reach the place I’m standing, and I’m not yet convinced that crappy-paper resume isn’t ending up in File 13. I feel like a six year old on the verge of tears when the Universe finally shows some mercy and breathes a bit of brilliance into my thoughts.

“I know your time is valuable and I don’t want to take up too much of it, but it’s a funny story how I got here today…”

I proceed to relate an edited version of the events that led to not having the address, and how I left it up to the Universe to help me find the building if I was meant to work there, finishing up with how non-descript the entrance is and how thankful I am to have found it. I try really hard not to be as verbose as I usually am in storytelling, and pack all this into as succinct a narrative as possible.

I see the change come over the receptionist’s face just like they describe in books. She starts smiling like we now have a common ground, and agrees that it is absolutely difficult to find the place even when you DO have the address. Then the miracle happens.

The receptionist gives me the name and extension of the person I need to contact to follow up on my resume. SHE GAVE ME A FULL NAME AND PHONE EXTENSION. Of someone that has the power to move this forward, when appropriate... and even tho there are currently no positions open... at the #1 company on the very top of my “I Want To Work Here” list.


In the scope of life, this should appear as a minor event I suppose, but somehow I feel like I won the lottery.

There is no way that resume will go in the trash now, which I suddenly realize was the short-term goal. (My habit is to only see the end goal and forget about the steps in between, then wonder why I can’t simply leap from beginning to end.) I am reminded that “the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.” [Chinese proverb.] I have never been so present in a moment in my life.

I am so grateful – even now as I’m writing this – to have accomplished that one small goal. I’m sure there are people that will scoff and go, “Well geez, all you did was drop off one resume. So what? There’s no guarantee they will give you a job.” This is true. I had the same thought. I have to wonder at this bizarre reaction I’m having myself. It’s not like I’ve never gone job hunting before, and certainly the Universe has its own schedule that trumps ours.

But my intuition says this: there are some crossroads in your life that are not evident when you are standing at them, yet are easily revealed in hindsight. Much like a hidden doorway (or math – ugh!), the answer is obvious once you’re on the other side, but standing at the beginning all you have is instinct and perhaps a few facts to base your direction on. I imagine there have been people that reach a point of success much further down the road, who look back from whence they came and think, “This all started because of that decision I made. Had I known that one choice was so important, I would’ve stopped to appreciate the moment more.”

Well I feel like I know, and even if I'm wrong, this is what it is to Be Here Now. I don’t know where this will lead, but I feel like it's the right direction, and needs to be appreciated even tho I don’t know what I’m appreciating yet, aside from a personal triumph over my own insecurities.

I guess I am appreciating this moment NOW because the success of knowing my resume will not go unnoticed in this company makes it much easier to imagine a time when maybe I’m standing in Barnes & Noble, autographing my bestseller book, thinking back to the day when I stood at that receptionist desk so beside myself, and Lupe the Receptionist changed my world. Wait until she finds out what she started!

Maybe it leads to nothing, and maybe it leads to everything. I am okay with allowing the Universe to keep that secret for now.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I Am That I Am, or Am I?

My mother and I had an interesting conversation in email yesterday. She sent me a link to an article published by asking the question, "Do We Want Brain Scanners To Read Our Minds?" You can read the full text here. (This is what happens when you proofread college-level science textbooks for extra cash - you are no longer interested in reality TV, late night hosts and guests [unless it's Jason Mraz of course], or CSI-type dramas. Thank God.)

The article covers testing of a new neuro-technology that uses functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to track brain activity in people in an official Persistent Vegetative State (different from a coma). It has allowed doctors and researchers to communicate (or so they believe) with a 29-year-old man that's been vegging out since 2003. (Oh c'mon, how could I not go there?) The disturbing news is that if the communication is real, many people in this state could be conscious and literally unable to move a muscle. The prior belief was that these people were "awake but not aware."

Imagine being buried alive and you'll start getting the idea. You can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel everything - but you are absolutely unable to communicate or do anything about the sensory input you receive. Actually, being awake six feet under might be preferable since you could at least scratch an itch and scream if you wanted. Those things are not possible if your brain has become this ambiguous. Suddenly rush hour traffic on the 5 pales in comparison to that kind of lesson in patience.

Mom asked for my thoughts on the article, and I thought you might find it interesting too. I wrote back to her:

I actually read something in that book on the brain [I've been reading] just the other day that was relative and also blew me away. Check out this paragraph:

Pain and body image are closely related. We always experience pain as projected into the body. When you throw your back out, you say, "My back is killing me!" and not, "My pain system is killing me." But as phantoms [limbs] show, we don't need a body part or even pain receptors to feel pain. We need only a body image, produced by our brain maps. People with actual limbs don't usually realize this because the body images of our limbs are perfectly projected, onto our actual limbs, making it impossible to distinguish our body image from our body. "Your own body is a phantom," says Ramachandran, "one that your brain has constructed purely for convenience."

If this is true (and I believe it is), think of how that relates to being dead - would the body image still be projected even tho there is no longer a living physical body, and that's why we get "ghosts" that stick around for three days (or more) then finally move on? Does it take some designated time period in this continuum (perhaps specific to the individual) for the projected image to fade? And if so, the million dollar question would be what IS projecting that image then? Cuz at that point it wouldn't be any physical part of us like the brain. This begs the question: What is the (or is there a) difference between mind and soul?

The book goes on to talk about distorted body images, such as how people who are anorexic literally "see" themselves as fat. That leads me to tie into the article you sent me... if the vegetative state means consciousness is still working but the body is not, is that a physical impairment or a body image impairment? Is this why some of them "wake up?" Hmmm!!!! Perhaps the plasticity of the brain finally repairs the neural networks enough to allow them to "wake up" and move?

As for the last couple paragraphs of the article - I love how often Descartes is coming up these days. I think Science is finally shedding the last of the "machine view" skin. There is just too much evidence of the plasticity of not only the brain, but all our functionality here in this realm, both physical and otherwise. I think a more accurate statement these days would be "I am therefore I am."

The dark side of all this info, of course, is the old adage about once you open the door, ANYONE can walk through, good or bad. (Reference the atomic bomb, right?) Therefore, yay for us advancing technology and science, but NOT yay for what the government could then justify using it for.

There was another article I was going to post in a separate blog, but it's kind of related so at the risk of really giving y'all a time sink (if you're interested enough to read both full articles), I will include the link now.

It's published by MIT News and covers another budding technique using MRI sensors to detect dopamine's progress through the brain, thus giving a look into our thoughts regarding motivation, reward, addiction, and possibly even some new clues to Parkinson's disease. The full text is here.

I received the link to this bit of info from a friend that is into nanotechnology and "directed evolution." He was interested in the error-prone PCR methodology, which is WAY above my head, but I found the news interesting nonetheless. As Switchfoot says, those genetic engineers are the most high tech!

All thoughts and comments are welcome. I love discussion on this type of thing!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I'd Like To Scream Now Please

Have you ever felt the pull between doing what you *think* you must do and what you *feel* you want to do? How do you decide what is the RIGHT thing to do??

Right now I have three different blogs (was only two until about 10 seconds ago, then a friend emailed me an article on brain imaging that is creating more content in my head!) that I really really want to write because they'll be interesting (all science-y and stuff!) and that's what I feel I really WANT to do today.

However, I only have 9 weeks left on unemployment and if I don't find a job that will bring in enough income to pay my bills soon, I could be writing blogs from a tent in the park, hoping to have enough gas to get to a Starbucks to upload them on free wi-fi. Therefore what I *should* be doing is getting dressed and going out to hand people my resume and try to impress someone.

But what I'd really LIKE to make a living at is writing! Hence, I should write, right? But writing is not paying my bills at the moment.

Insert scream here.