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Zen Navigating & Living Artistically

I have a horrible sense of direction. I can get lost crossing the street. I go places and my poor wife worries that I may never be heard from again. I have seen a lot of amazing places and met tons of cool people – I just didn’t do very much of it on purpose.

I have Garmin, a Higher Power, kick ass friends, and a great sense of humor. This is all I need to find my way, whether it’s out of a jam or into an unexpected windfall. At this point in my journey, I only make plans so that I can hear the Universe laugh. Wandering, working, and having a sense of wonder allow me to live creatively and grow spiritually.

For me, spirituality is simply connecting to the amazing people that appear in my path and believing that something greater than myself put them there. Connection is everything. It’s intimate. It’s purposeful and passionate. It’s what I crave and truth to tell, I’m addicted.

Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.” I couldn’t agree more. Quite often, showing up means just being present in the place that you are and not resisting when things seem to go awry.

We all like the idea of practicing random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty but we want to have control over the course of these events. Control is an illusion. Letting go of where I think I’m going and what I think I want allows me to receive seemingly chance meetings and make new connections.

Nearly everyone I love are people I met and came to know unexpectedly. This alone proves to me that not only am I not in control, I neither want nor need to be. Easy example: I have had an amazing mechanic who became a great friend of over 20 years now. I met him because I got lost and went to the wrong garage. The wrong place was the right place. (Murray’s Campus Service Center in Orono – tell them I sent you).

I absolutely love my job. I’m on my sixth career and I didn’t pick any of them on purpose. I just fell into them. I had no intention of ever working with the developmentally disabled, but I can talk both your ears off telling you what I learned from those I served. I had no intention of doing trauma recovery or addictions counseling and yet both have become my life’s work and connected me to extraordinary people.

I am not an alcoholic but my life has been made joyous by connecting to people in local AA. My respect for their community and the work that they do is beyond what words can express. I showed up. They were gracious enough to teach me everything I couldn’t learn in grad school. They’re the most passionate folks I know and being around them is thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring.

My life is endlessly enriched by those I employ. I am surrounded by strong women who do great work. I’ve never run a help wanted advertisement.  I met each of them through series of coincidences. The next person we hire is yet another extraordinary woman sent by the Universe because she’s supposed to be here.

After years of encouragement from my wife, I started blogging. This connected me to Pat Lemieux – an absolutely exceptional man who has not only been incredibly supportive of my efforts but has enriched my life through his writing. This in turn allowed me to come to know Karen Foley who writes powerfully and beautifully because she IS powerful and beautiful (and yet somehow single – wake up bachelors of greater Bangor!). Karen kindly refers to me as her writing partner for Get a Life. None of this was planned and yet there it is and it’s awesome.

I am blessed beyond words and my life kicks ass. I just didn’t plan it that way. Wanna know what my plans are moving forward? I don’t have any – but I fully expect that more amazing people and more amazing opportunities will be coming. The alternative would be me being perpetually surprised.

I’ve learned the tough lessons of letting go and not worrying. I’ve had my back against the wall so many times that I’ve left an imprint on it. It’s very simple: “I get by with a little (lotta) help from my friends.”

Hope I get to know you too. – Jim

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