Saturday, October 9, 2010

Outsource My Worry

So, I’m reading this great book by a simmering wunderkind genius named Timothy Ferris. It’s called The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.

I know. Right. Right? But doesn’t that title kinda make you salivate, just a little bit? Or, perhaps, depending on your current relationship with your work and your finances, it kinda makes you long to collapse in your recliner with annoyance and a bag of Skittles. Or maybe, if you’re feeling extra discouraged, it awakens a desire to go ahead and get your medical marijuana card. After all, you’ve put at least four hours of work into avoiding your work already this week. Must there be more? These damn kids today. . .

A provocative disclaimer shouts from the top of the back jacket cover: “WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK UNLESS YOU WANT TO QUIT YOUR JOB”

As my friend Olga would say, “Indeed.”

I won’t go into all the surprisingly wise and practical suggestions this book offers right now. Because that would require my doing the actual work of analyzing and condensing for you. And frankly, well, I think there’s a new episode of Family Guy available online. Also, I have to consider the best possible giant fuzzy boots for fall.

But I do want to touch on a brilliant concept from Ferris’s chapter on “Outsourcing Life: Off-Loading the Rest and a Taste of Geoarbitrage.” (I’m afraid I simply do not have the resources at the present time to explain this last term, else I get lost down a rabbit hole of my own giant fuzzy economic ignorance).

Ferris, a passionate advocate of personal outsourcing, cleverly outsources this chapter itself to another writer, AJ Jacobs, editor-at-large at Esquire magazine. Jacobs, in turn, explains how he was influenced by another Outsourcing Opus, the best-selling The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, to outsource low-end tasks of his own life. Paying bills, changing wireless services, finding his son a Tickle Me Elmo, apologizing to his wife, that sort of thing.

Delighted by his new Bangalore virtual personal assistant (pleasingly named Honey K. Balani), Jacobs decides to outsource his worry:

“For the last few weeks I’ve been tearing my hair out because a business deal is taking far too long to close. I asked Honey if she would be interested in tearing her hair out in my stead. Just for a few minutes a day. She thought it was a wonderful idea. ‘I will worry about this every day,’ she wrote. ‘Do not worry.’

“This outsourcing of my neuroses was one of the most successful experiments of the month. Every time I started to ruminate, I’d remind myself that Honey was already on the case, and I’d relax. No joke—this alone was worth it.” (Ferris, p.118)

AJ Jacobs you mad genius. I love this idea. More than anything else in life, I would vastly enjoy having Less Worry.

Seriously. I mean, sure, I want more money, more love, more freedom, more harmonious relationships, more shoes, more praise, more approval, more flowers flung by adoring fans as I walk, more of you admitting I am right and you are less right. . .

Yeah, pretty much more of everything.

And I’m a recovering junkie, so this is normal. We addicts definitely love our “More.” We love our More more than just about anything. But I don’t think we’re alone in this feeling. . . I think most of us desire. . .more. I think that’s just part of our design, part of how life evolves and unfolds, and “More,” while not necessarily “better,” isn’t necessarily bad.

But less?

Oh, in this case. Yes Oh Yes Oh Yes Oh Yes. Give me less worry. I am dying to outsource my worry! I am so excited to try this. But I don’t yet have a virtual assistant, in Bangalore or anywhere else?

Who should I ask?

Should I ask different people to worry about different aspects of my life? It doesn’t seem fair to load any one person down with all my shit. I am a skilled and gifted worrier—in fact, worrying is one of my most spectacular character assets.

I am also a very quiet worrier—don’t tend to share my worries out loud—so others, in general, don’t have to be disturbed by my worry until I begin to act out in totally unexpected and psychotic ways. Which is lots of fun for everyone involved.

Maybe I should offer to exchange worries with someone? If any of you would like to swap brooding obsessions, please let me know. One thing about my worries is that while the item in question may change, the general subject matter stays tediously consistent.

I have to worry about this a little more and then I’ll let you know. See you next week.

Much Love to All,


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spiritual Challenges (aka "Other People")

Wow, You Guys.

It's so amazing to write stuff, put it out there, and then have people WRITE BACK.

So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Got some great questions/comments coming in from you folks. I will do my best to reply.

Jen from Colorado writes:

"Dear Ellen,

I believe it's important to love everyone, and I'm working hard on approaching people and interacting with them with love (rather than judgment, or sarcasm, say, like I usually do). But what about when the person is a dick? Or a soul-sucker? Or passive-aggressive? Or just boring? What is my spiritual and moral obligation there?"

Dear Jen,

Ohhhhh, good question. I am dying to find out what I'm going to come up with, cause frankly, my initial answer is "Jen, hell if I know."

This is one that trips me up quite a bit. When I'm by myself, I can often get into a pretty good Ninja Zen Master Zone. . . an emotional energy field of love, acceptance, and curious, pleasure appreciation and anticipation.

Left alone to stew in my own meditational juices, I occasionally hit a plateau where it feels like nothing anybody says or does will ever bother me again.

I can feel how funny it is that I ever thought it mattered.

And this blissful state will last forever, because it is the truth, and I am ringing with it, gently, like a deep and happy bell. It will last into all realms of eternity, all reaches of time and space. . .

Except for the convergence of time and space where my boyfriend calls me up to tell me about the latest computer software he's coveting at Best Buy. . . but he really can't afford it. But he really wants it. But he can't really afford it. But what if he were to budget for it? Do I know how amazing this new technology is? Do I realize what he could do if he just went ahead and bought it anyway? Should he buy it anyway? Maybe he'll buy it and try it and then maybe take it back later.

I love him, but I am also longing to kick him to death.

What is my moral/spiritual obligation here?

What is the appropriate spiritual response to my neighbor, Carl, who's always coming over to chat in the middle of the day? He's a nice man, actually, basically a good guy.

But he also drinks with admirable dedication. He's got a beer in his hand pretty much every second he's conscious. And he's got a gift for long, surprisingly detailed (yet curiously vague) stories that take a lot of plot and character exposition. About things that happened thirty years ago, back when he was a hell-raisin' high-school youth. These kids today, it seems, don't know shit from shine-ola. I haven't told him yet that I would be hard-pressed to identify shine-ola myself. But, in any event, the important point is that things were different back then, back when people knew their ass from their elbow.

I get in this weird cycle of listening because I feel tuned in to his essential goodness, and also to his profound loneliness, but underneath my apparent empathy I'm starting to become quietly, deeply insane with boredom.
I would rather be doing something else.

I wish I could say that that "something else" is my work, or meditating on the Divine, or actively engaging my creativity, but honestly, listening to Carl talk makes me long violently to be reading Us Weekly, or to be experimenting with parting my hair on the left side instead of the right.

I mean, spiritually speaking, how does this scenario fit in with offering love at all times?

And these are people I basically like.

What about people I don't like at all?

Reading Emmet Fox's The Sermon on the Mount, and came across this bit:

"People. . . have been under the erroneous impression that to forgive a person means you have to compel yourself to like him. Happily, this is by no means the case--we are not called to like anyone whom we do not find ourselves liking spontaneously, and, indeed it is quite impossible to like people to order. You can more like to order than you can hold the winds in your fist, and if you endeavor to coerce yourself into doing so, you will finish by disliking or hating the offender more than ever."

Thus speaketh Emmet, and I think he has a good point here. But is it truly possible to "love" someone that you don't really like? What does that feel like?

If anyone out there has direct experience of this phenomenon, please, please post a comment or email me at

Jen, I gotta think about this one some more. I'll check back with you guys next week.

Namaste. Or, as my friend Toby says, "Narcisste." Which means, "The narcissist in me judges and rejects the narcissist in you." Give it a try!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Conversation with My Passion, Part Deux

Greetings, My Interweb Brethren.

Got a lot of interesting comments from you guys about the conversation between me and My Passion.

For those of you who have not the pleasure of knowing of what I'm speaking, in an earlier post I wrote about initiating a conversation with my Creative Passion, based on a recommendation from metaphysical guru Wayne Dyer.

Dr. Dyer advises that we think of our passion as the Source of Creative Energy within us, that we visualize talking to It, asking It questions, taking It for walks while we hold hands. I followed this advice and found my Passion extremely (almost maniacally) enthusiastic and chatty.

Many of you reported that you also have been speaking with Your Creative Passion, and that strangely, Your Creative Passion and My Creative Passion sound a lot alike.

Which, frankly, is making me kinda suspicious. Do you think all of our Creative Passions get together for Motivational Seminars? Maybe they call the Most Persuasive Creative Passions to the stage and give them Inspirational Gift Baskets?

Oh, that would just be so typical of My Creative Passion to get involved in some shit like that. My Passion is probably involved in a Multi Level Marketing pyramid to make money on the energy of other people's Creative Passions.

Which I guess is. . . good, now that I think about it. But on the other hand, I'm the one hosting My Passion. This is my house! And there are rules. Well, okay, I'll admit we're not too organized yet, but I could call in one of those organizational experts, or Supernanny, or somebody, and then--well, I don't know. Yet.

All I'm saying is that if My Creative Passion is racking up the power points in vibrational reality, I just want a cut. And I don't think I should settle for extra cell phone minutes or 10% off a Vegas vacation.

Oh, and by the way: Did you know that Vegas is like a ghost town these days? Apparently President Obama advised Americans to stay away from gambling in these tough times. From what I've heard the mayor of Las Vegas is maaaaaaaad.

But back to the topic at hand: spiritual vs. physical manifestation. You know, if I've learned one thing from all these spiritual self-help books I read, it's that the most important question in life is "Where's my stuff?" (Eckhart Tolle just called and he wants his Power of Now flash cards back).

All right. I'm getting to the bottom of this right now. I'm calling My Passion, that sneaky bugger, and we'll find out what's really up:

ME: Hey. You. Creative Passion. You there?

MY PASSION: Heyyyy! It's you! Are you ready to create? Do you want to go for another walk? Do you want to hold hands again?

ME: Can it, Twinkles. I want to know what's going on over there in Non-Physical Energy World. I've been talking to my friends and I'm starting to think you're cheating on me.

MY PASSION: Oh really?

ME: Yeah. You know, you're all super-sweet when it comes to me being your favorite person and all, but how come all you're telling all my friends the same thing? Your milkshake bring all the boys to the yard? Is that what it's all about for you?

MY PASSION: You really need to get a grip. Seriously. I think it's time to cut back on Tool Academy and Charm School. In fact, you might want to take a little break from all of VH-1 for a while.

ME: Nice deflection, Toots. Fess up. I can take it. Are you out there inspiring other people when I'm not paying attention?

MY PASSION: No way. I am your One and Only PERSONAL Creative Passion. Everybody gets his or her own. No Take-backs, No Sharesies. It is true, however, that we all share a common mission.

ME: Oh yeah? What's that?

MY PASSION: We want you to love yourselves so much that you can't help communicating that love exactly as you are specifically designed to do.

ME: Oh. Well. Okay.

MY PASSION: You, for some reason, were designed occasionally to express your love through an incredibly inappropriate sense of humor. Like how you met Oprah Winfrey and did that riff on how gigantic her head is. Wasn't that fun?

ME: Oh yeah, she loved that.

MY PASSION: And what about that time you wrote your boyfriend that song about his cat getting feline leukemia? Now, that was creative.

ME: And hilarious! But only cause he worries so much.

MY PASSION: See? That's how it is. That's how the Universe expands, because of creations like that.

ME: The Universe expands because of feline leukemia?

MY PASSION: No, because of your unique perspective on each and every event. You chose to concentrate your attention into this physical form, and now here you are, having life experiences. And every life experience you have enriches the Universe, because the Universe expands through you! Which is awesome! And we all appreciate you soooo much! And don't worry because that's exactly what Every Single Person is doing here! And they all have personal Creative Passions to help them! And I'm probably not supposed to tell you but sometimes we DO get together and just brag and brag and brag about you guys. You all are so amazing! All of you, but especially you, Ellen, especially you. Do you remember that time you wanted to create a line of Spiritually Incorrect Affirmation Cards? Now THAT was a hoot. Or what about the time you wanted to--

(Here, again, I had to hang up on My Passion. Because I was afraid it was about to say something really embarrassing. But you get the general idea.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Me and My Passion: What Would Wayne Dyer Say?

Hey Y'all.

So, I'm reading Wayne Dyer's Excuses Begone! (that Wayne, I'm telling you. I totally want to hook up with that Magic Publishing Water he and Deepak Chopra appear to be swilling. You could build entire structures with just one copy of each of their many books. Probably be a pretty solid structure, too).

In the chapter on "Passion," Wayne says:

"It may be helpful to think of your passion as the presence of the creative Source inside you. Talk to this invisible yet tangible presence within and thank it for never abandoning you. Go for walks with it and imagine holding hands with it. Ask it questions and listen to what it has to say, making mental notes of how it is directing you. Feel enormous gratitude for the reality of this presence, and allow it to guide you in any way it wishes."

Fair 'nuff. I decided to sit down and have a chat with My Passion and see what's on Its mind.

ME: Hey. What's going on?

MY PASSION: Dude, not a whole lot. How come you're not doing any writing? What about your book? What about your blog?

ME: Ahhhhh, I dunno. Don't really feel like it. Gotta lot of stuff to do, you know, the whole work thing.

MY PASSION: I see. So, work. And searching for the perfect skinny jeans. And keeping up with Kim Kardashian and the Brangelina thing is really taking it out of you, I guess.

ME: Okay, now, see, when you put it like that it just seems lame. I'll have you know I lead a very complex and rich and rewarding life, and I do lots of cool stuff. I do lots of stuff for other people, too.

MY PASSION: Yes. Other people are nice, aren't they? I really admire you and all you do for others.

ME: Thank you. Finally. You see, that wasn't too hard, was it? Just a little bit of validation now and then.

MY PASSION: Indeed. But I, for one, have been really missing you. I'm getting kinda restless just hanging out in here all full of wonderful energy, incredible ideas, magnificent blessings, all these delicious, desirable, delirious vibrations! I'm psyched you want to hang out!

ME: Oh, I do, I do. I'd sorta forgotten how inspiring you can be. I like the inspiration a lot. It's really awesome. But could you maybe think about arranging it so I don't have to do any actual work? Writing is a lot of hard work. I mean, maybe not for you. But for me, well, it's cool and all, but it's kinda tiring. Right now I'm already feeling like eating a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and taking a nap.

MY PASSION: Go ahead! I'm just glad you're talking to me! And when you wake up I have so many amazing thoughts for you to write about! I'll help you every step of the way! I am Your Muse, baby, your one and only Personal Muse, and we are going to have so much fun! We came into this particular Life Experience PRECISELY to create these specific things together! It's Our Destiny! The Source Within Us is simply panting with anticipation of Our Magnificence! You are my favorite person in the whole world! Let's go out and--

ME: Wow, you are pretty darn perky, aren't you? Anybody ever tell you that you're a little, you know, a little much? I appreciate your enthusiasm, but could you maybe take it down just a notch?

MY PASSION: (silence)

ME: Yeah, that's what I thought. Listen, don't take it too hard. I do appreciate you. I really do. And we will talk again. Soon.

MY PASSION: Yes! That's going to be so great! And we're going to go for a walk, right? Wayne Dyer said you should take me for a walk! That will be so, so, so fun! We can go look at leaves and dogs and snow and people's houses and the geese at the park! Oooo, can we go look at the geese at the park?

ME: Real soon, buddy. Real soon.

MY PASSION: YEAAAA! Can we go after your nap?

ME: Mos def, my friend. After my nap. Or real soon, maybe tomorrow. And we'll get crackin' on that whole book thing. And write some more blog posts.

MY PASSION: OMG! I just can't wait!!

ME: Talk to you soon, friend. Be good to yourself.

MY PASSION: Oh, I will! And I'll be good to you too! You are going to be so fired up! Just wait til you see what we can do! Remember that one time you wanted to write that book making fun of yourself and all the spiritual Self Help books you read? It's going to be soooooo funny and people are going to laugh sooooo much. But also be inspired, you know, laughing but not in a mean way. And you know that we can start with--

(At this point, I had to hang up on My Passion, because I was afraid It was never going to shut up. But I must admit, Wayne did have a point. I'll let you know how this relationship goes. I guess I'm going to have to, because now that I'm talking to My Passion again, looks like I'm going to blog. But you spiritual bastards better write back so I don't have to talk to It all the time. I'm telling you; I'm flat worn out from that exchange. Until next time, Be Well and Be Easy on yourselves, people. Over and out.)