Is "Working Your Joy" Your Next Step?
It’s interesting how certain dates stick in your mind even years after the event. The date of December 6, 1992 was a turning point for me. On that evening I attended a lecture at Unity Center in Walnut Creek, CA given by Matthew Fox entitled, “The Spirituality of Work.” In that talk Matt said, “If everyone worked their joy, there would be no unemployment on this earth. So when you are looking for your work, the work that you came to this planet to do, meditate on what brings you joy, crystallize it in your heart, build your work around it, and the Universe will support you 100 percent.”
Those words resonated within my heart. I knew I was not working my joy. For over 5 years I had been working long hours in an extremely stressful environment that had begun to destroy my mental, physical and emotional health. But I continued to work there because it offered me “security” in the form of a relatively good paycheck twice a month. And, of course, that is what working is all about–security and a paycheck–right?
I could not get Matthew’s words out of my mind and at the same time I felt I could not just up and quit my job. So, I thought that maybe a compromise would work. I decided to ask my boss if I could work a 4-day work week. I would work 40 hours in those 4 days so that I would still be giving the office a “full” work week and at the same time give myself an “extra” day to “work my joy” (which I had not yet crystallized in my heart). On December 8th I approached my boss with my request and told him that this was so important to me that I would forego the raise I had coming if he would grant me this request. He said he would think about it.
On Christmas Eve I was called into my boss’s office for my annual review, my bonus check and my raise. He handed me my bonus and dismissed me. I was a little surprised that he hadn’t offered me a raise because I knew I had one coming, so I thought, “Well, he must be at least thinking about my 4-day work week request.” So, as I was leaving his office, I turned and asked him if he had made a decision about my request. He gave me a blank look and then dismissively waved his hand and said, “Oh, I haven’t given it a thought.”
Something inside of me snapped at his response. I turned away from his office door and walked back to his desk. Standing in front of his desk, I looked down at him and said, “I have thought of little else since I made my request. And, if you had said, ‘Carol, there is no way I can give you a 4-day work week right now, we are so busy,’ I would have understood, because we are busier than we have ever been in this office. However, if you had said, ‘OK, let’s give it a try,’ that wouldn’t have worked. Knowing you the way I know you, you would have had an emergency on my day off and you would have called me to come in and if I wasn’t available you would have made me feel guilty, and pretty soon I would have been back to working the hours I’m currently working. So, that wouldn’t have worked. However, based on you ‘not giving it a thought,’ (and I waved my hand in the same dismissive manner that he had) you have my resignation.”
You could have heard a pin drop in the room as the full realization of what I had just done hit me. Believe me, I had not gone to work on Christmas Eve with the intention of resigning my job. I had no money in the bank and was $30,000 in debt. So when those words came out of my mouth I literally jumped out of my body as I thought, “Who’s talking for me!” My boss looked at me in stunned disbelief and said incredulously, “WHAT?”
I found this voice coming from deep within me calmly saying, “You are eating me alive and I will no longer sell my soul to this company.”
His eyes drilled through me as he asked, “What are you going to do?!”
“I have no idea,” I said. “I don’t have another job. All I know is that it’s going to be something spiritual.”
Well, when those words came out of my mouth, I KNEW someone was talking for me because I had never even thought those words.
My boss was equally shocked as he literally sputtered, “SPIRITUAL!?!?”
Get the picture. This was an engineering firm and about as removed from a spiritual environment as one could get. Squinting his eyes at me he asked, “When are you planning to do this?”
Not having intended to resign at all, I had not quite thought that through, so I said the first thing that came to mind, “On my birthday. You have six weeks.”
With that, I walked out of his office and drove home, my mind racing with all the ramifications of what I had just done. On one level, I felt a degree of intense panic and yet on another level I found myself to be extremely calm and centered. It was really a weird dynamic.
In those days, I used to read Tarot as a hobby and had been in the practice of drawing a card every morning from the Medicine Woman deck. For some reason that morning I had neglected to pull a card. So, guess what I did when I got home? I spread out the deck, carefully pulled a card and looked it up in the guidebook that came with the deck. The book indicated that the card meant: “You have long sought your freedom and today you have achieved it.” Smiling as a wave of relief seemed to wash over me, I thought, “Well, that’s a good sign.”
The day after Christmas I met a man who invited me to attend a 24 hour meditation on New Year’s Eve. I accepted that invitation and in between Christmas and New Year’s I began to meditate on what brings me joy, because I hadn’t crystallized that in my heart and I knew I didn’t have much time. What came to me is that healing work brings me joy. But I knew I could never be a healer until I healed myself. I had always hated my body. Ever since I was a little girl I had wished I had a different body and I knew I had to resolve that before I could ever be a healer.
So at that 24 hour meditation on New Year’s Eve, I prayed for a tool that would bring body, mind and spirit into alignment, a tool that would enable me to love me just the way I was. What came out of that meditation is the process I’ve come to call “Lighten Up.” That easy 5 minute a day process transformed my life in so many ways.
My last day on that job was February 12. On January 23 I met a woman who asked me to co-partner a new healing center, the Reunion Center of Light. I agreed and we opened the center on March 1, 1993. It started out with 3 rooms and 4 practitioners and grew to 9 rooms and 30 practitioners within 8 months. I began to do my healing work (Reiki) out of the Center. I also expanded my Macintosh consulting and training business.
As I continued to do the Lighten Up process on myself, people began to ask me to teach them the process. I began teaching classes in September of 1993. When I met Victor in 1994, he joined Reunion Center and attended my class. (I required all our new practitioners to attend a complimentary class because I definitely wanted everyone on our staff to love themselves!) Soon Victor and I were a couple and he began teaching the class with me. In the summer of 1995 we started traveling together around the country teaching it.
I am so very grateful to Matthew Fox for reaching into my heart in such a powerful way. He gave me the courage to take the risk I needed to take in order to experience the freedom and empowerment of being in alignment with my Divine purpose.
Several years later I had an opportunity to thank Matt in person when I attended another one of his talks. During the Q&A I raised my hand and told him that as a result of his lecture in 1992 I had quit my job. When I said that, he put his hand on his heart and took a step backward. I then assured him that it was the best thing that ever happened to me and I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank him.
A little while later someone in the audience asked, “Matthew, what is your definition of sin?” Matt paused for a moment before answering. Then he said, “Sin is when you see your next step and don’t take it. This woman,” he said, pointing to me, “saw her next step. If she hadn’t taken it, THAT would have been a sin.”