What Do You Love To Do?


Wonder and Beauty

Have you ever wondered what you are here to do? Perhaps a tell-tale sign of this is what brings you alive…

Last night, while I was writing, I peeked outside and saw the most beautiful clouds. They dotted the sky like a million pillows.

Clouds and Attics

Something about the sky drew me outside, like a call to my soul. I feel that sometimes. I feel the call from the wild world, the real world that’s always waiting for me to snap out of the day-to-day sameness within which the conditioned mind likes to confine itself. So I answered the call. I stepped outside.

The wind was billowing. The sky was filled with a zillion colors. The evening sky had a magical quality to it. As I so often do when I’m reveling in the mysterious unfoldment of life, I took pictures. I love the experience of capturing a moment in life that speaks to me. When life presents such beauty, I meet it willingly with open arms and an open shutter.

This picture, Clouds and Attics, captured the magic of yesterday’s evening sky as it poured itself over the place I live.

A friend of mine, Rachael Maddox, recently commented on one of my Instagram photos, “I love your love for beauty.” Her words resonated deeply. I become intoxicated with something hard to put into words when I witness beauty. I suppose that ‘something’ is love, the divine, the no-word-for experience of witnessing the magic of ordinary life.

When I read Rachael’s words, something opened inside me. A remembering. A knowing. A recognition of what is true for this woman’s soul. I’ve often chuckled at myself, because I take so many  close-ups of flowers. And I never grow tired of doing so.

Even if they all look alike to an eye that only sees the word and concept ‘flower’ when seeing a flower, when I really see a flower, it is wholly unique and in seeing that uniqueness wonder seems to simply appear.

Do What You Love

Currently, I am teaching two courses, Creativity and Leadership, and The Whole Woman, both based on a course originally taught at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

In my courses, we talk about purpose as more of a quality of essence we each bring to life, a unique expression of the divine.

To discover purpose, each student lists what they love to do and what they hate to do, and then looks for the qualities inherent in the love-to-do list, and missing in the hate-to-do list. This process is always eye-opening for people.

We are most happy when we are bringing these qualities of essence to everything we do. For me, qualities of wonder, mystery and beauty are must-haves in what I do. They immediately bring me present to the wonder of life as it is, right now, not as I would like it to be. They light up a quiet joy within me, a thick peace that permeates everything.

I find these qualities a must-have for coaching. When I bring them to client calls, I find myself in wonder about my client, always remembering they are a mystery unfolding before my eyes.

To me, that is such a gift. It’s a constant reminder to me to be in the state of not-knowing who this person is, to listen deeply to what is being said, in order to hear them rather than my own mind-chatter about who I imagine them to be.

And, you?

What do you love to do? What are the qualities of your essence, that when brought to everything you do, bring you fully alive?

Take some time to wonder and discover. And really question what it is you think you love. Move past what you’ve been told you should love, and listen to your body instead. It will let you know beyond any doubt about what you truly love.

If you want to discover more about who you really are, drop me a line at julie at gmail (dot) com, or sign-up to receive my posts by email by completing the box at the top right of this page.

This is at the heart of what I do in the world…


Work and Creative Desire


Creativity in Work

I’m preparing to co-teach the annual fall class, Creativity and Leadership, at Stanford Continuing Studies. We have a full house, again: 50 students.

Much of this particular course is based on the Stanford Graduate School of Business course, ‘Creativity in Business’. In its day, it was a highly popular course for business students, many of whom went on to create some of the core businesses that were the foundation of what has become Silicon Valley.

In this class we speak of Self and Work, capitalized with intention. Self is a term many are familiar with: who you truly are, your deep Self, Essence, true nature. Many aren’t as familiar to Work, to what it means when we capitalize the ‘W’.

“W” is the work of your life. Some may refer to this as purpose. I like to think of it as that which brings you most alive.

Spiraling Deeper

I’ve been wrestling with this very question, myself.

I spent many years working as a programmer/analyst for a financial institution. While I loved programming, it certainly wasn’t my Work.

After I graduated from school in mid-life, I could see that I did not want to spend more decades doing that work.

So I ventured out to find something else. I became a coach, a teacher of Creativity in Business, and subsequently a writer. I’ve been teaching this material for eight years, now, and I have to admit, even as a teacher, and maybe most especially because I teach this work, I’ve been spiraling down closer and closer to discovering what I love.

Re-discovering what we love (and yes it is re-discovering, since we did know it in our youth) is integral to learning to love oneself. After all, to truly honor what we love, what is at the heart of our soul’s deepest longing, is both honoring of Self, and honoring of the Sacred.

I’ve kept what I love deep down in places where I can’t see it, where it can’t pull at my heart. It is painful to do what you don’t love for over forty hours per week.

I put what I love away a long, long time ago when I was very young and decided that I shouldn’t love it, but instead should love what I saw adults in my life doing. After all, they were the wise ones, right?

Not. So. Fast.

The juicy joy of doing what you love makes you come alive. Deeply alive.

The sheer pleasure of doing what the soul loves emanates love from the soul into the world.

Think about it. When someone spends decades doing work they are ambivalent about, maybe even hate, what kind of effect does that have on them? on the people around them? the world around them? the world at large?

What is the wisdom, here?

Creative Desire

I’ve been writing (for the course I’m teaching this fall in Berkeley, The Whole Woman) about what it would be to ‘work’ from creative desire, pleasure, love and joy, rather than from striving, pushing, and sheer will. Flow doesn’t happen from the latter.

For many of us, just considering our desires and pleasure causes us to cramp, to contract, to tighten up. Yet, when we are in the place of pleasure and joy, there can be a delicious kind of freedom and devotion to beauty, to harmony and love, even to the truth.

My friend, Mandy Blake, shares the following quote on her site, and for me it truly speaks to what a shift from work to Work might mean for us all…

“I feel that the attitude “work is a means to an end, which you have to put up with to get to the fun in life” is pathological.  I think it results in no end of harm.  The philosopher David Hume had a motto which was “work is its own reward.”  If this thought is just meant to express the Protestant work ethic gone mad, then I think it is awful.  But if it means we should do the work which is of itself fulfilling and meaningful then I think it is right.  If people the world over stopped doing the work they didn’t believe in there would be no arms trade, more equality, and greater well-being for everyone.”  ~Robert Poynton

The Artist in Me

I am coming to the place where I can finally re-claim the artist within. As a child, I love to paint. As a teenager, I painted in oils, taking after my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I have paintings painted by each of these women in my matriline. Yet, at some point, I put down the brush.

One way of seeing this is to do what we love as a hobby, while doing what we’re ‘good’ at or what can make us a lot of money for a living. And, there might be a different way…

A question I’m exploring:

Can what brings us pleasure, sheer pleasure and joy, be what financially supports us and helps us to remember the sacred to a world that seems to have forgotten what these are?

I do know if so, it will be because rather than my intention being to save the world, my intention must be to do what I love, while I let go of the outcome. Perhaps it’s as simple as people doing what the soul loves, emanates the beauty, the peace, the joy that is at the heart of a truly alive world, a world that is sacred.

While my soul comes alive through art, creativity is NOT about art…it is about the art of being fully human. Creativity is what we are. It’s our nature. We are all creative creators.

And, you?

Take a moment to consider what it is you really love to do. Not what you’ve been conditioned to love, or taught to love, or believe you are supposed to love, but that which, when you do it, causes you to forget time, feel most alive, joyous and a deeply connected part of this wild and wooly world.

Can you let yourself do what you truly love?

Can you know you deserve to do what you love, and that the world might be better off for you doing what you love?

What is your Work?

Early Bird Discount

Tomorrow, September 18th, is the last day for the Early Bird discount for my new course, The Whole Woman. If you live in the Bay Area, or know someone who does, check it out here, and register here. I’d love to have you join me.


Remembering Self


Reverb10 Day 07
Prompt: Community.
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010?
What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?


For four years, now, I’ve taught a course at Stanford Continuing Studies on Creativity and Leadership. I teach the Creativity part, and my colleague teaches the Leadership portion. The two topics intertwine throughout the ten weeks.

The course is based on a course from Stanford Business School called Creativity in Business. It’s highly experiential, as a course in creativity needs to be. Creativity can’t be taught. Yet, it can be facilitated. Exercises, guided visualizations, and great theory all combine to open students to their deepest creative resource within. This course helps guide students to begin to trust their creativity.

Community of Students

What really deepens this trust, though, is the community that’s created over the ten weeks. It’s created because students are willing to share about themselves, about their experiences with the material, and about how they are changing as the course progresses.

Each week we do experiential exercises. After the exercises, the students share with each other, and then share with the entire class. Not everyone is comfortable sharing, but many are, and the class is richer for it.

In addition, each week the students have a ‘live-with’, which is a practice for the week that helps them bring the course to their daily lives, both personal and professional. The ‘live-withs’ are ways to be in the world. For an example, the first week the live-with is “Have No Expectations.” They spend the week living the practice, then come back to class and share their experiences.

Last night, the ninth class out of ten, we covered the topic of Prosperity and Self-Worth. In our class, we see Self as Essence, as the source of one’s creativity. This Self is perfectly ordinary, not special at all. We each have a unique essence that is ordinary, and at the same time, totally extraordinary.

In this particular class, we do an exercise that allows each student to really be seen, seen for who they are rather than the person they think others want to see. You know what I mean there, right? That person you pretend to be, the one that you think others want to see.

An important part of this exercise is to see others with your heart, rather than simply with your eyes or your mind. Seeing with the heart awakens compassion and soul.

Last night, as this exercise was taking place, I could feel the energy in the room grow more vibrant, more alive. As each person was being heard and seen, their own unique qualities were being reflected back to them, and their inner light began to radiate out. It was very palpable and completely amazing to behold.

The students left happy and joyful. Some even sat around talking to each other for quite a while, even after my colleague and I left the room.

We need to connect.

This is what community does. True community, where each person is seen through the heart of the other, allows for connection, for remembering Self. Community creates a place where fragmentation can heal, both collectively and individually.

We are meant to be in community, to be in relationship. We need community to know ourselves, by way of the reflection through another who is open, attuned and present to us.

We need to be connected. Our souls wither when we’re not.

As humans, we suffer from the illusion that we are separate beings. Living in a culture where we’ve been taught to do it on our own, to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, to ‘man-up’, we’ve suffered greatly. We’re vulnerable in life. We’re vulnerable in our human state. We need each other. And, we women truly need each other right now to re-discover our true nature and the gifts we’re here to give.

In 2011, I long to create a community of women to teach this same curriculum to. I envision combining the creativity work with discovering the wisdom of the body. It will be a community of women gathered together to discover this true nature as souls in female bodies.


Happy May: Use Your Voice & Speak Up!


Happy May Day. Celebrations on this day have their roots in pre-Christian cultures. May 1st is also a cross-quarter day, a day half-way between the equinox and the solstice. As for female traditions on this day, in the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary’s month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

j0409066.jpgThis month also happens to celebrate Speaking Up and Voices in general…at least in two of the circles I run in: the Creativity in Business (CiB) Teacher Training community of 2006 and the National Blog Posting Month or NaBloPoMo.

I was blessed to be a coach and trainer for a second group of people training to teach the Creativity in Business course that was taught at Stanford Business School for over 25 years. I took the course in 2002 and teach it to a variety of groups and individuals.

In our CiB teacher community, we are following a Live-With titled “Speak-up”. A Live-With is a practice that suggests a new way of being in the world with regard to a specific challenge or tool from the course. Our group is now practicing new Live-Withs that are not in the course per se, but continue to challenge us to grow into the fullness of our creative nature.

The purpose of this Live-With is to learn to speak up in situations that one might not normally do so. Sometimes we don’t speak up due to fear or perhaps habit or maybe even unconsciousness. To speak up is to tell the truth, our own truth, even in times when it feels frightening or difficult. It also means discovering what is true.

NaBloPoMo was started by Eden Marriott Kennedy, and, according to the site, National Blog Posting Month is “the epicenter of daily blogging”!The theme for NaBloPoMo this month is “Voices”. Since I have committed to post something every day in the month of May related to this theme, we’ll explore all the ways in which Voices might be experienced.

When I realized the two themes were so closely related, I figured something was up and I had better pay attention and join in the fun. Perhaps it is time to speak up and really use my unabashedly female voice, or maybe it’s time for you to speak up here to tell us about how you are discovering your unabashedly female self.

I hope to hear many other unabashedly female voices this month, so please stop by for a moment and post a comment or just introduce yourself. I look forward to hearing your voice here and enjoying what you have to say when you Speak Up!!!

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