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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Each January, I’ve often found it helpful to revisit the previous year to see where I’ve been personally and professionally. Often times, I’m surprised and grateful for what the last 12 months have brought me. So this January, I thought I’d share my recap with you.

  • Experimented with “Pay What it is Worth” model: With a connection to +Tara  from +Emily, I was able to begin thinking about how this model may work or not work with Database Sherpa. While I’ve done nothing more than think about this, I am seeking a client who might be interested in experimenting with me.
  • Bringing Joy and Compassion to database development: The key aspects of Database Sherpa and the driving force of the work we’re doing!
  • Applying Yogic and Buddhist principles to consulting: Currently in practice with only a few clients, but will be expanding to all client engagements, as it has been very helpful to the clients we’ve worked with thus far. As my good friend stated to me in a letter, “there is merit to this”.
  • Bringing on another Sherpa: +Veronica has begun a Sherpa project of her own this year and it will go into next year. The transfer of the process to another person has begun.
  • Teaching clients to become independent: I’m happy to report that most of my clients are learning to expand and grow their databases on their own with no help from us!
  • Gifts of Gratitude Tour: Our first gift was to Doctor’s without Borders thanks to a consulting company that referred us to our first client outside of Michigan! We have also given to a client, Nonprofit Alliance. Our compassionate work can only spread via our clients, so thank you!
  • Breaking the rules: New clients are informing this practice all the time and I am ever so grateful for the opportunity to work with them all. Our 2012 journeys included:
    • Woman’s Co-op
    • Great Lakes Center for Youth Development
    • Nonprofit Alliance
    • East Lansing Education Foundation
    • Washington Access to Justice
    • Michigan Environmental Council
    • Women’s Resource Center of San Diego
  • Attended Buddhist Geeks: I learned that there are a lot of discussions about how Buddhism will express itself in the West, but didn’t meet many other consultants who are embedding the eightfold path into their work with clients. It was what I was really hoping for and will continue to seek out a place or perhaps create that space.
  • Met kindred spirts: “Virtually” met some amazing Salesforce consultants, two of whom were my study buddies in passing the Salesforce Administration Training (thanks +Marc & +Caroline). The others are +Meghan+Tal+Pierre & +Tim). And the one, who made it all possible is +Brad. I’ve never met any of these folks face to face, but I feel a kindred spirit with them all and have learned so much from each of them.
  • Mindfulness education+April and +Carol have opened my eyes to another tool to use in guiding organizations in a compassionate manner! I’m so grateful that I was able to take this class locally. I’m thinking that perhaps I need to go deeper into this education!
  • Hired an amazing editor: +Pam had helped me to write a better blog post 🙂
  • Finally, and most importantly, I’ve been able to blend my life and work together. Being able to spend time with my daughter and continue to work has been such a wonderful gift. I couldn’t ask for anything more and I am grateful to have this opportunity.
On reflection, we have done quite a lot. I’m very grateful to my Sherpa partner in all of this, +Veronica.  And last, but not least, my life partner, David. His steady and calm support has given me the space to keep going on this path without worry or concern. That is certainly an amazing gift.
May the light of compassion continue to brightly shine in all of us.
Buddha on beach

Buddhist Geeks

I had a wonderful opportunity to attend Buddhist Geeks Conference in Boulder, CO. The site explains it like this:

“It’s an opportunity to explore the leading-edge frontiers of Buddhism, technology, and global culture. This year’s gathering brings together luminaries in the fields of Buddhism, science, philosophy, education, business, politics, and more. Participants will explore how the dharma is co-evolving with modern insights and trends to change our lives—personally and globally—in extraordinary and unexpected ways.”

Although I am not a practicing Buddhist, I was drawn to this conference because I’ve been trying to blend my Eastern philosophical education with my database expertise. This conference seemed like a place where I would meet others, like myself, as well as broaden my understanding of the changing face of Buddhism in the modern world and specifically, how it is unfolding in the Western world.

Some of the speakers were riveting and really gave me food for thought, as it relates to Database Sherpa and my personal life (which are aligning more and more every day). I revisited my notes (very sparse) and found these things written:

  1. Inner and outer work align
  2. Buddhism changes
  3. Grasping

(I also wrote a couple website and book titles, but those are for another blog posting.)

So, let me break down why I choose to write only these three points in my notebook, and how they are forming my work and me.

1. Inner and outer work align

I cannot tell you who said this or when, but I do remember writing it down and thinking YES! The speaker said the inner work of meditation and yoga practice has to align with outer work in the world. My take-away: I need to do more than meditate for change. I must also go out into the world to make it happen.

My change has been so dramatic over the last few years. The birth of Zola. Saying goodbye to a special pet. Losing my job. Creating Database Sherpa. It’s been a chaotic few years, still, I find myself at peace. My inner work has been to find peace while being surrounded by chaos — so my inner work has been successful.

Now, my outer work is to help others who are surrounded by chaos. (Those who want to be helped. Not everyone desires to be rid of chaos. Some thrive in that place, which is not a bad thing, it just is). I realized that I had used my outer work with my last client. (I didn’t know it at the time, until this conference brought it to light.) I used my own tools and techniques to guide and help her though the chaos.

So, as I continue my inner work, I will focus on aligning my outer work (not just with Database Sherpa, but also with my family and friends).

2. Buddhism changes

This was a big “ah-ha!” and more of a historical one. A speaker told of how Buddhism took 100 years to solidify in Japan. Why? Because it needed to morph and change based on the culture in which it resided.

How spectacular! Changing to address the needs and desires of the culture. The same speaker discussed how this very thing is now happening in the modern or Western world as well. Buddhism will become something new here (maybe over 100 years, too). One person asked if there would be a necessity for monasteries in the Western world. No one had an answer, but it was a good question. (That’s what I love about the Eastern world; there are never answers, only more questions.) It was fun listening to the dialogue.

This got me to thinking about Database Sherpa and how change is critical to the success of the business. Not change that takes 100 years (please, that’s too long), but the fact that change will take time. I cannot expect everyone to embrace this new way of business, but I can take my time, learn my lesson, and offer what I can. Database Sherpa will mold, bend, and flex to the changing culture of our times.

3. Grasping

Although the names of the two other speakers didn’t stick with me like their lessons did, I remember this speaker. She was fantastic and stuck in my head throughout my time at the conference, as well as into the time I arrived home. Her name is Martine Batchelor and she opened my eyes to something that, frankly, we are all doing: Grasping at something.

Her talk was titled “Creativity without Grasping”. If you’d like to see her presentation, a woman at the conference was capturing visual representations of each session. It does a great job, but what you miss are her words and the impact.

Yes, she did talk about holding something in your hand so tightly that it begins to hurt. What do you do? The story is lovely, but what it means is the really beautiful part of the story. Let me explain using “rules” as an example.

Sometimes, it’s much easier to hold onto rules: “Don’t talk unless it is you turn”, “Cross the street when the light is green”. We grasp at rules, and frankly, for good reason. They provide for a civil society. It makes sense. These are the collective rules.

So, what about the rules we make up? “Children are to be seen and not heard”, “eat dinner first and then dessert”, “waffles are for breakfast not lunch”? We may see them as collective rules, but they are not. I argue that sometimes, we may not even have a good reason for them. It’s “just because.”

Rules are just one thing we grasp. (Something that’s been coming up a lot at home, lately, with a 3-1/2-year-old running around). We grasp at ideas, people, and objects; if you can name it, we grasp at it. I have even watched in a yoga class people grasping for a pose or meditation (which is Martine’s point).

Imagine a rule is fixed in your mind. Maybe it’s, “children are to be seen and not heard.” You think it’s a fine rule. But what if you let it go? Let it float around your head. Turn it upside down and backwards. What does this rule look like? Dark and grey, or light and brown? Put the rule aside and think about life without that rule. What does it feel like? Look like?

This process of imagination is the creative approach that Martine was explaining. By being creative with your thinking, you are allowing yourself to look at things with another viewpoint. I love this way of thinking and being. It allows for contemplation and consideration.

Thank you for diving into my education at the Buddhist Geek conference. It was an enjoyable experience and one that provided me much to ponder!