Aten’s Dance: Autumn and the Rest of the Sun

Saturated with poignancy, the Autumn speaks to us of transformation. In a patchwork of pieces drawn from our lives, we’re drawn into a landscape of our own design. We shift and change, age, alter our perspectives. We become aware of our own innate wisdom and attend our creations.

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In a word, we are becoming “mindful.” Whether we’re smoothing an apron, laying bricks, or ironing out a deal in the boardroom, we must place our attention in a manner to create ease in the work. We do not come to attention; rather, it already resides within us.

Attendance, or Aten’s Dance, asks us to place heightened attention the way we receive understandings about our creations and co-creations. As the Sun God rests at night, as Gaia slumbers and Persephone retreats, so must we, too, honor this time of composting.

Scarlet, purple and gold litter the pathways of the nature trail near my home like confetti. Nature’s artistry reminds me that these rests, like pauses in a line of music, are necessary for new awareness to emerge. In music, a rest stop lies silent; in dance, we find it in the stillness which lie in the space between breaths.

The emptiness is to be embraced. Like time or a river, we allow it to flow past. Watch, each thought as a leaf in the stream. Present, then not. Needle, stitch.

To be mind-full, we must first become empty.

Sherri L. McLendon, MA, is a marketing public relations consultant, conscious business coach, and certified lead content strategist with Professional Moneta International, LLC, http://www.professionalmoneta.com and http://www.sherrimclendon.com. Reprint with Permission.

 

Hungry Ghosts: What Eats at Us, Eats at Our Money

In Buddhist beliefs, there are six worlds. On the wheel of life, the world of the Hungry Ghosts is the largest of the four forming the actual wheel. The landscape of this shadow world is desolate, written in shades of gray and white, and fraught with yearning. For what we yearn, we may know not.

This relentless desire to hold and control is the opposite of the energies of growth and rebirth we normally associate with Spring Equinox, but this emotional Pisces new moon coincided with an eclipse window, opening the door to both light and shadow. Those who struggle with the descent into darkness at this time may be wrestling in this toxic world of Hungry Ghosts. We recognize this possibility because our experience with them can be painful. In Western mythologies, we may be the gift-bearing Inanna to their inner angry Erishkegal, while they are the dark side to our inner mirror.

As humans, each of us experiences life as a Hungry Ghost at some point in our lives. As Hungry Ghosts, we are driven by cravings which mask our displaced desire for something to be different. Often, this wanting we can’t quite put a finger on shows up in our money lives, and in our business.

For me, when I enter the world of the Hungry Ghosts, it first shows up in my life and business as restlessness. It may present as a craving for a new city, lifestyle, office, house. I imagine and desire a different life. From the shadow world, I sometimes watch my current life from afar as though it belongs to someone else, as though it were the shadow, not the reality. If my thoughts get caught in a loop, the desire for difference takes over and my reality becomes painful with lack of fulfillment.

The yearning takes the form of thoughts of escape, and struggles to move forward, a butterfly in a cocooned straightjacket made of wisps, of sylphs, of invisible ties that bind.

Instead of escaping to re-create my life, I shop. I focus on the textures of the fabrics, the colors, the rhythm of the flipping of hangers, to bring me back to reality. But inside, I am still hungry.

In seeking fulfillment, I over-shop.  My life and I are colorless, so I buy color. Instead of eating what I love, I overeat. Instead of de-cluttering my house, I look for the next place I’ll call home. During these times, I can barely repress the expression of the reality I wish I had. I feel a tightness in my throat for the words I do not say, and a weight in my heart for those I do.

HungryGhostScrollKyotoHungry Ghosts Scroll, Kyoto, Japan.

During the darkest times, food becomes tasteless and I drop weight, feeling the Hungry Ghosts deep in my gut. Joy is out of reach, receded like a low tide, ripeness and plenty lie out of reach, and everything I touch turns to cinders.

I become Hungry Ghosts. Each of us becomes Hungry Ghosts. How do we know? We

  1. buy things. Sometimes just for the need to buy something, anything, to prove we are here.
  2. splurge against our own desires as a form of self-sabotage.
  3. cannot control our spending.
  4. become obsessed with having an object of our desire.
  5. are preoccupied with savings, our checking balance.
  6. hoard, living on the minimum possible instead of allowing luxury into our life.
  7. pile up money for our own sake, not for others’.

When we buy one thing as a substitute for something else, or exhibit forms of unaware self-sabotage, we are neither conscious nor fulfilled. We are Hungry Ghosts with our desires surrounding us, binding us to our own unspoken yearnings.

The problem with being a Hungry Ghost is that we eat ourselves up from the inside, and undermine ourselves through our unhealthy use of our life force energy expressed as money.

To survive, we need either to release the cravings, desires, and the suffering of being unfulfilled, or we must take action to bring the thing our heart desires most into reality. The in-between place between the two is a form of limbo, where we wait for something to justify the change we want to see, we want to be, in the world.

I am grateful to be a witness to others’ experience of this phenomenon this year, rather than currently living the experience. But others may be living with the hungry ghosts of a parent, a partner, or a co-worker. We see the self-destructive behaviors and know those for what they are. Or, we’ve there ourselves, looking for a way out.

What happens when you’re dealing in the world of the Hungry Ghosts?

Sherri L. McLendon, MA, operates Professional Moneta International, a marketing public relations consultancy. Learn more about her conscious business coaching for spirit-rich women at http://www.womenspiritandmoney.biz.

 

 

That’s Entertainment: Tap Dancing Around the Issues of Everyday Life

Miss Barbara, my neighbor, leans over the fence to watch me chase chickens every chance she gets. I’ve got a variety of routines. Her favorite is the one in which I wield a big black umbrella, flap it back and forth, and make hawk noises to scare “The Girls,” six beautiful fluffy white-and-tinted hens, hand raised by yours truly, back into their cozy condo.

She missed the show yesterday when a real hawk showed up and swooped down into the chicken corral. The feathers flew, but he went away with talons empty. My routine varied to include a floppy yellow dust mop and percussive “shoo” noises. My girls performed beautifully, running for cover just as they’d been trained.

My fear? Someone’s going to install a hidden camera and my 6-year-old will see me on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Heaven forbid. Of course, my pied piper clucking and my grandmama’s fail safe “chick-chick-chick-chick-UN” calls are worthy of a You Tube video or Grand Ol’ Opry appearance.

I’m known for my studious nature, but the time I spent in dance, theater and entertainment industries means I value showmanship and a good laugh in a variety of circumstances. That’s why this week when the plumbing dissolved into a swimming pool in the basement, I chose to laugh about it. That’s why this week every time the roofing job gets post-poned, I look for the sunny side up instead of dwelling on the Humpty Dumpty side of things.

Entertaining women are anything but boring. We can tap dance their way around any subject, or spotlight a personal passion. We consciously create memories weaving the fabric of the meaning in our lives. The most entertaining women, who we may know as lifelong learners, dancers, potters, weavers, painters, dreamers, and do-ers, have perfected the arts of reckless abandon, personal expression and manifestation.

Whether sharing a pot of perfectly brewed tea as we cultivate our friendships, or hanging over the garden fence with the woman next door, entertaining the important women in our lives may be as simple as recognizing the significance in our everyday dramas, then finding what makes the serious parts laughable.

But a subject we shouldn’t tap dance around is the need to respect and protect our uniqueness in our businesses. A hard-won lesson I’ve learned first-hand as an entertaining woman, whether performing, speaking, or writing with a client or collaborator, is the need to “get it in writing.” No matter how simplistic, contractually defining the responsibilities and ownership of any work for hire agreement or collaborative venture is important. The terms need to be spelled out by individuals who enter into creative partnerships of any kind.

I learned this lesson the hard way. In the early ‘90s, I pioneered a publication series which gathered and aggregated data for sale to business owners within a specific industry as a service. My co-collaborator offered to do the computer work if I’d create the information stream and do the marketing. As soon as the first month’s edition was ready to go, she copyrighted my work under her name, grabbed my marketing strategy (I’d trained her), and earned a living off the fruits of my intellectual property.

I didn’t see it coming.

Yesterday, a writer friend of mine told me the same thing happened to her. She recently collaborated on a movie script with a colleague, and the colleague took the entire work – including my writer friend’s significant contributions – cut her out of the mix, and claimed the work as her own. Now her colleague is collecting the royalties, and my friend’s significant writing contribution? Immaterial.

She didn’t see it coming, either.

So here’s the moral of this slightly scrambled and anything but over easy tale. When we know what the expectations are, it’s easier to mix business and pleasure, to share laughs and build businesses, to create networks of support and community around our work. When those expectations are in writing, and both parties have agreed, we eliminate the same-old-song-and-dance routine and raise the curtain on a new evolutionary leadership that entertaining women consciously craft.

Believe me, any actor worth her salt since Katherine Hepburn became the first woman in Hollywood to manage her own career and contracts knows that necessity is the mother of re-invention: “I have not lived as a woman, I have lived as a man. I’ve done what I damn well please, made enough money to support myself, and I ain’t afraid of being alone.”

Katie would be appalled if she knew ours is a 21st century United States in which women are not guaranteed equal rights under the law. That after burning her bridges and setting new, high standards for feminine leadership, we continue to be historic and social minorities, without equal pay for work product, or adequate legislative recourse for creative copyright violations.

She’d likely have something pithy to say about the whole mess. On camera.

Until women require contracts which favor their rights under the law, we’ll continue to give up our power to the benefit of others – a decision which makes about as much sense as running around with an umbrella trying to convince chickens you’re a scary hawk while the neighbors watch you instead of television.

Yeah, right.

Sherri L. McLendon, M.A., owns and operates Professional Moneta International, http://www.professionalmoneta.com, specializing in mindfulness approaches to marketing public relations and feminine leadership. This article originally appeared in WNC Woman Magazine in November 2012. All rights reserved. Reprint with permission.

In January, She Dreams: An Invitation to Wisdom

In Appalachia in winter, the days dawn with a bright yellow white light that glistens off the damp ground. Snowfall, an invitation to deep insight and inner wisdom, encourages us to shift from planning to doing, from note taking to writing, from inaction to action. As the Epiphany window closes, the door to the next phase of our path and work opens with Capricorn new moon, then unfolds with the sun in Aquarius, followed by a Leo full moon.

Beginner’s mind belongs to the fool, the one who is ignorant of what the future holds, but remains filled with optimism at the journey ahead. As initiates, we enter anew the journey toward Sophia, the divine feminine experience of wisdom.

The Tao Te Ching tells us, “Experience is a river bed. Its source hidden, forever flowing: its entrance, the root of the world. The Way moves within it. Draw upon it; it will not run dry.”

CypressSatillaRiver

A Stand of Cypress on the Satilla River, Georgia

In my mind’s eye, the tannin-amber mirror of the rivers of my native south Georgia wend their ways through my veins, carrying me back to source, back to the wisdom of my own experience. Wisdom, then, is an initiation into our relationship with Source. Within the wisdom of our experience lies our path, our unfolding journey within the flow of source energy.

Moneta Movement: An Invitation to Inner Wisdom
This year, I invite you to join me for a journey into abundance, prosperity and mindfulness to deepen and expand our relationship with our inner self and what we manifest in the outer world. This is a cyclical process to strengthen our relationships with spirit and money in business. I hope you, too, will participate in the dance. Here’s what you’ll need:
  • An uninterrupted block of time
  • 2 pieces of music for dancing
  • Optional background music while you work
  • The Initiation Questions (below)
  • Your Journal and favorite pen
  • A Candle or Incense
  • A Glass of Water
Gather everything together into a space where you have room to move and a place to write. Start by preparing the space, lighting the candle or incense, and working with any inspiration or guidance you chose. Put on the first piece of music, and dance to clear space in your body and mind. Then, as the music closes, sit with your journal and answer the questions until each one feels complete. Drink your water, as it will help your thoughts flow. Allow it to nurture you deeply. Pay attention to the places where you feel resistance, and put a STAR by those, as these feelings mask the greatest opportunities for growth in the New Year. When it’s time to put down your pen, dance in the new with the second piece of music you’ve chosen. Dance until you feel inner alignment with the understandings which have emerged.
Moneta Manifestation Questions
Remember, in every end there is a beginning, so the first stage in the “Invitation to Wisdom” is reflection. Your answers may reflect on your personal or professional lives, in whatever way these answers show up.
1. What trials have I met in the previous year?
2. What gifts have I gathered through my experience?
3. What new knowledge have I obtained through coaching, training or education?
4. In ways do I express gratitude for these experiences?
5. How did I celebrate my successes?
6. What tools do I need to navigate the change which lies ahead?
7. Which tools do I already have, and which might I acquire?
8. What do I need to release? (Use the coming Leo full moon to release in order to expand.)
9. What needs to be re-membered, or made whole?
10. What is the transformation I dream of this year?
 Sherri L. McLendon, MA, @SherriMoneta, is a conscious business coach, marketing PR consultant, and content strategist near Asheville, N.C. http://www.professionalmoneta.com

Memos Regarding Mindfulness – Or, the Things I Say Again and Again

Applying mindfulness practice means those taken for granted beliefs we carry around in our back pockets no longer serve. These outmoded ideas about  the way the world works, and the business world in particular, must be shifted or release to make room for new growth.

BE-ing, Not DO-ing13A

A focus on BE-ing through our work rather than DO-ing our work also requires a shift in experiential reality. In other words, it feels different to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset which creates change rather than maintains the status quo. It feels different to be the person creating and manifesting resources and income rather than collecting a check. To adapt to this changing emotional landscape in our vocation, we also have to change our thinking.

Mindfulness Memos

The following seven statements are drawn from memos I write to myself about the things I say to my clients again and again. These are business insights drawn from my own mindfulness practice and its interface with business clients of all sorts, men and women, entrepreneurs and corporate shareholders, and the occasional freelance consultant. As a feminine business leader, you’ll find these are indicators of what I’m learning about what that means, too, in the context of working with other women who are also emergent leaders in their own businesses.

Here are my “Memos Regarding Mindfulness:”

1. Tactics change, strategies last. 

In short, decide who you address and what you want to accomplish before deciding how you’re going to reach them. Strategies drive tactics, not the other way around. Learn more about this in my October 1 post, “Carts, Horses & Tail Wagging Dogs: How Tactics-Driven Business Creates Failure,” at http://www.sherrimclendon.com.

2. There’s more than one way to do everything. 

The “my way or the highway” approach doesn’t do it any more. And mindful marketing public relations practice is not one size fits all. Which brings us to the next point. Pick the way that’s right for you.

3. Your work style and learning preferences matter.

Frankly, if something doesn’t feel right to you, it isn’t. If you’re a visual person, Pinterest is your friend, not a long-winded blog. Why does this work? Because your ideal clients are a natural fit. If you preference marketing that feels in alignment with who you are relative to the work you do, then you attract more of the people who are meant to work with  you.

4. You don’t have to know it all.

You need to know what you want to accomplish, or begin with the end in mind. Then ask, “Where do I need help?” When it comes to tactics, you need to know enough to understand where you need support, and where you do not. That’s it.

5. Simplicity is the goal.

The simplest answer that gets the job done is often the best. Beware of bright shiny object syndrome and guru hoodoo.

6. Money is a mirror into the self.

Think about how a tactic will return before you spend the money. Nine times out of 10, no- or low-cost options can be preferenced in your marketing public relations planning with no negative effect on a small business. Look at tactical expenses as investments. If there’s not a discernable advantage for the investment, you don’t need to spend the money.

7. When  you’re stuck, ask for help. 

This one has two parts. First comes help by way of support. Build a team you can trust, and have a contingency plan in case you’re needed elsewhere.  Second, ask for INSPIRED help. Dance, go for a walk. Write yourself into the truth. Listen. When you pay close attention, the answer you seek will come to you, literally out of thin air.

Sherri L. McLendon, @SherriMoneta, is a feminine business leader, content strategist, and marketing public relations practitioner in Western North Carolina. 

Words Like Stones – Mindful Creation, Monkey Mind and Beginnings

We can all throw words like stones, but it doesn’t really help our clients.

My clients work with me because they want to build something authentic, create something from the uniqueness of their lives. They see the need for strategy, for creating an inbound system of relationships, so they can maximize their energy, whether expressed as money or life force.

In a mindfulness approach to marketing public relations, the goal is to start where you are. If you need to go from zero to hero, and want to do it all yourself, starting where you are often means using what you’ve got and refining as you go. If you wait until things are perfect, you’ll never move forward. For this approach to work quickly, integrating simple systems designed to grow outreach across platforms is created one piece at a time, layered content around a central message. A lotus, if you will.

Yes, I could sit down with any website and make a list of what’s wrong. I can make a list of what the client “must” do, or how their consultant isn’t serving them based on the way I would do it. I could say, ‘don’t do anything until X is perfect.’ But I don’t do that. It feeds the “not enough” monster, the one with the bottomless appetite and the monkey mind. Instead, I take a deep breath and help my clients clear the clutter and move the next step forward.

Always forward.

Criticism is rarely constructive. It creates fear, overwhelm, anxiety. It forces decisions out of that lack of confidence in one’s self, through negativity. It destroys, fans flames, creates dramas. All of which are counter-productive to building and moving forward. Criticism is not critical thinking, which is about discernment. However, criticism is a powerful tool for convincing others spend money by creating a sense of fear of “not enough.” That we, and our work, are “not enough.”

Enough. We are enough.

Beginner’s mind in Buddhism suggests the potentiality in looking at each day anew. In the ‘new’ business model, there are no mistakes, only the conscious practice of our business as a part of our soul journey. Each movement along the path yields valuable information which allows us to adjust as we go. Cleanly, clearly, and with clarity.

We watch perfection, and we let it go. We start where we are. We begin again. We improve. We learn. We grow. And so does our business. One beautiful unfolding at a time.