Archive for February, 2007

Grace and Fear

I’m reading a pretty intriguing book called The Unmistakable Touch of Grace, by life coach Cheryl Richardson. It’s a quite spiritual and somewhat metaphysical in its approach.

In different spiritual traditions, grace means different things – in all of them, it’s beneficient.

In the Christian belief system, it’s unearned love, forgiveness and blessings granted by God to a completely inadequate human race.

In the Buddhist tradition, it’s a sense of propriety and consideration for others, a disposition to kindness and compassion, and the state of one under divine influence.

In the Hindu tradition, grace is perceived as benevolence and love. It’s a central religious concept denoting God’s innate quality of giving and caring for creation. The functions of veiling and revealing are termed grace — like a dutiful parent guiding the growth of a child, concealing that which the child is not prepared to face and revealing or teaching that which it needs to know to progress in life.

The book explores all three, but really focuses on the latter – how God, the Divine, reveals our path to us daily, if we only open our eyes to notice and our ears to listen.

Within that context, I’ve been wrestling with my typical spring restlessness, a sense of “what’s next” personally and professionally. One of my favorite pieces of insight, asked by an old friend, is “What would you do, where would you go, if you felt no fear?”

So, imagine my amazement, when in the course of websurfing last night, I came across thinkarete’s website with the tagline “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” Its very inspiring philosophy? “What we can be, we must be”. Visit their website to read their entire manifesto – it will definitely get you up off your couch and moving! Arete literally means virtue or excellence but has a deeper meaning…something closer to constantly striving to reach your highest potential.

I still don’t know what is next for me – perhaps it will end up being more of the same, with renewed passion and commitment – but I’m definitely seeing some signposts of grace, now that I’m looking for them.

Posted on Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: inspiration | Comments Off

PMS Threat Level

Today, rather than writing a post that would end up mostly whining, venting and ranting, I thought I’d create a graphic for your edification.

Posted on Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: health | 2 Comments »

Dream Jobs

Today I thought I’d brainstorm a list of my dream jobs. Since I’m pretty analytical, I also added my perspective of a few pros and cons for those jobs. Don’t get me wrong, I like project management, but these professions seem particularly intriguing:

Art teacher
Pro:
Visual, creative work
Freedom to choose and research my instructional subject matter
Work that makes a difference
People-oriented
Con:
Job opportunities and money limited
Equipment costs significant
Significant experience and possible additional education required
CGI/multimedia designer
Pro:
Visual, creative work
Satisfaction of creating tangible product
Opportunity to use cutting edge technology

Con:
Eyestrain
Expensive equipment and software
Significant education and job hunting required
Fiction writer
Pro:
Freedom to choose and research my subject matter
Utterly flexible, portable self-directed work schedule
Satisfaction of achievement
Self-employed

Con:
Very lonely profession
Intermittent and unreliable income
Marketing & professional skill challenges
Requires tremendous self-discipline
Freelance Writer
Pro:
Freedom to choose and research my subject matter
Utterly flexible, portable self-directed work schedule
Satisfaction of achievement
Self-employed
Con:
Intermittent and unreliable income
Requires tremendous self-discipline

Jewelry Designer
Pro:
Freedom to create my own designs and direction
Flexible, self-directed schedule
Visual, creative work
Satisfaction of creating tangible, beautiful product
Self-employed

Con:
Lonely profession
Hazardous chemicals
Expensive supplies & equipment
Low, intermittent and unreliable income
Non-profit Director
Pro:
Work that makes a difference
People-oriented
Con:
Job opportunities and money limited
Significant experience required
Work can be tedious and fund-raising oriented
Self employment not an option
Travel Journalist
Pro:
Freedom to travel, write and photograph at large.
Travel and see new things.
Constant learning about the world and people
Self-employed

Con:
What’s fun as an avocation might not be nearly as nice as a constant activity.
Not particularly compatible with marriage, parenthood and pets.
Significant business expenses.
Web designer
Pro:
Visual, creative work
Satisfaction of creating tangible product
Self-employed
Con:
Eyestrain
Need to bring my skills current
Very saturated market.

Have you ever heard of Vocation Vacations? It’s a pretty cool concept, a service where you can try out a new endeavor for a couple of days – it’s designed for midlife restless folks like me who just want to see how other folks live. The one drawback, I think, is that a couple of days is insufficient. I think I’d want a couple of weeks – and maybe even the ability to extend the experience to an apprenticeship/mentorship once the original period was done, if I decided I was serious about the field I was exploring.

Posted on Monday, February 26th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: creativity, work, writing | Comments Off

Shutdown Day

There is a grassroots, experimental movement afoot called International Shutdown Day.

The concept and challenge is this: on Saturday, March 24, shut down your computer(s) (and in my case, my smartphone, tv and ipod too). Do not log on. Live your life offline and in the real world.

Many find life difficult, even impossible without their computers, so, disconnect and find out if you can survive for 24 hours without yours. Sign up on the site, above, so the sponsors can keep a count.

I’ve posted previously on my own hyperconnectedness and the value and clarity that offline time has brought me. It’s made me a more attentive family member, a better friend, a more focused and creative artist, and it certainly helps the laundry and dishes get done!

What would you do with a day offline? How about a walk in the woods, a kite on the beach, a gardening or art project? Spend some time on a date day, family time or learning new things. Invest in organizing your fishing gear, tuning up the bike, or de-winterizing the boat. Volunteer with your local highway cleanup, homeless shelter, humane society or Habitat for Humanity building site.

Maybe days disconnected from our computers can become a habit – and we can instead become a little more connected to our families, communities and environment in ways that really matter.

Posted on Saturday, February 24th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: downshifting, technology | Comments Off

Smith Tower Condos?

Smith TowerThe Smith Tower‘s relatively new building owner announced yesterday that they have applied for a permit to convert the building to residential condominiums. This is sad news, both economically for surrounding business and for the current business tenants.

When I cross the water to work in Seattle, I work in this very lovely, unique building. It’s the oldest skyscraper in Seattle, a building with loads of character and location advantages. It’s light, bright and comfortable, although I do admit it has a fairly inadequate heating/air conditioning system, cold and drafty in winter, and too hot in summer.

The building is in the Pioneer Square area, surrounded by fellow old buildings with character. The sidewalks are inset with purple block glass, skylights for the Seattle Underground. From the 3rd floor, I have a tiny wedge view of Elliott Bay. Those up higher in the building have pretty spectacular views, and Chinese Room and the observation deck are just beautiful.

Smith Tower ElevatorThe facility itself is an fascinating blend of old and new. The entryway is marble, onyx, brass and dark wood – but there are double doors to the omnipresent Starbucks franchise off the lobby. The brass elevators are all run by elevator operators, but some floors open onto Danish modern office space.

Our floor has the same marble flooring, dark wood wainscoting and brass trim. We actually had to modify our video conferencing meeting rooms, adding cloth baffling over the marble and wood, to reduce the echo and improve sound quality. In contrast to the antique surroundings, our workstations are all modern, curved cubes. There are no private offices, we all have cubes, even the directors and VPs. Not all office suites are laid out like this – each one has been done individually by its renter – but we inherited this one and its modern, egalitarian style from Disney.

I don’t know whether or not it will be approved. I can’t imagine redoing the plumbing and electrical for residential use without impacting some of the beautiful marble and wood features. It seems, per the news article, that the only truly protected parts of the building are the public areas, and the private areas are eligible for sledgehammer and paintbrush.

HomelessWould I want to live in the Smith Tower? I don’t think so. Pioneer Square is still a scary area after dark, with blatant drug deals, rampant homelessness, and lots of trash and human waste. (Picture courtesy of C4Chaos.) The kind of price that we’ll see on these condos will do nothing to alleviate those crushing problems! During the day, I hear emergency vehicle sirens every few minutes. Parking is often unavailable, costing $18/day and more at special event time.

What would happen to our company’s office? I have no idea. Our main offices, with some 1,000 employees, are in Anchorage. We only have 14 employees here and another 7 in a different Seattle location. Most of us in the Seattle area have the ability to telecommute, and rather enjoy that option. We do use the facility intermittently for Seattle-based collaborative work sessions, but that contrasts with weeks when only 3 or 4 folks are in the office.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Posted on Friday, February 23rd, 2007 by Jeri
Under: commute, news, seattle | 1 Comment »