May 27, 2007

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Pop Music

My cyberpal Jennifer Jones has a lovely, uplifting blog called Goodness Graciousness. Her postings never fail to make me reflect, smile, and remember what we're all made of. Recently she added a YouTube clip of The Monkees theme song. I was a great fan of The Monkees' made-for-TV music back in the third or fourth grade, and enjoyed singing along to their simple lyrics: "People say we monkey around; but we're too busy singing to put anybody down."

I sang a lot of other songs too, some not so light and carefree:

"I just can't get over losing you
And so if I seem broken and blue
Walk on by, walk on by

Foolish pride
Is all that I have left
So let me hide
The tears and the sadness you gave me
When you said goodbye"

(Walk On By, by Burt Bachrach)

What an attitude to take on by the time you're nine years old! There's a painful belief in every line; ouch.

You know the way love songs take on deep meaning when you're in love? After I began questioning the concepts that caused me to suffer, the silliest songs took on deep meaning for me. I started to wonder if songwriters were all enlightened beings.

"Hey life, look at me
I can see the reality
'Cause when you took me, shook me out of my world
I woke up
Suddenly I just woke up
To the happening"

(The Happening, by Brian Holland et. al.)

The rest of that song isn't so uplifting, but you get my drift.

I didn't pay a lot of attention to the meaning of song lyrics in my youth. (As my mother complained, many of the words to the rock songs I listened to were barely audible anyhow.) However I can't help but think the words made an impression on me, consciously or not. While I wasn't too busy singing to put anybody down, especially myself...I wanted to be. I knew at at early age that being mean didn't feel right. I didn't know how to do it differently and not feel like an oyster out of its shell. Sometimes I still feel that way; unsafe, unprotected, broken.

And yet, moody or blue, I have always known my true nature. All of us have always known it.

"And when you stop and think about it
You won't believe its true
That all the love you've been giving
Has all been meant for you....
It's where we stop and look around us
There is nothing that we need"

(Question, The Moody Blues)

Sometimes we appear to forget who we are, that's all.

And the remembrance—being mindful once more—is so sweet, and a popular song.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

May 21, 2007

Would Einstein Have Dug The Work?

Albert Einstein is said to have told a reporter, "I think the most important question facing humanity is, 'Is the universe a friendly place?' This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.

"For if we decide that the universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy all that which is unfriendly—and I believe that we are getting to a place where technology is powerful enough that we may either completely isolate or destroy ourselves as well in this process.

"If we decide that the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly and that God is essentially 'playing dice with the universe', then we are simply victims to the random toss of the dice and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.

"But if we decide that the universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives."

(Sourceless quote from

Byron Katie, riffing on the good physicist/philosopher, has lately been asking as part of the "turnaround" portion of The Work, "If the universe is friendly, then why is _______(insert apparently detestable reality-based turnaround here)______ a good thing?" How is it that the very thing we most fear or object to could be for our highest good, best for our loved ones, or serving the planet? It's a marvelous exercise for opening the mind and preparing it to embrace all that is.

I think Einstein himself would have liked The Work, as a "technology" for understanding our universe through understanding ourselves.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

Working on Your Work: The First Review Is In!

"My boss should..." "My clients don't..." "I have no skills." "I should be doing something else."

What keeps you from "Loving What's Biz?" With The Work of Byron Katie, you can create lasting and radical change in the workplace. (It works for me!) I'm just putting the final touches on a new eBook, a practical guide to applying inquiry to the world of work that could transform the way you relate to your job, your colleagues, your clients, your direct reports, and yourself as someone who works. It's filled with insights, exercises, Katie-quotes, and samples of actual facilitation sessions where clients unravel their stickiest beliefs about their careers.

Here's what spiritually-oriented career coach Tami Coyne writes about Transformational Inquiry: Working on Your Work:

"A breath of fresh air for those of us who need insight into the true nature of our work-related problems and a way out of our suffering. Unraveling our beliefs and our stories is the fastest and most effective way to live a happy, peaceful and successful life. I think everyone with or without a job should be required to read this eBook!"
—Rev. Dr. Tami Coyne, Career and Life Coach, author of
Your Life's Work: A Guide to a Spiritual and Successful
Work Life
; co-author of The Spiritual Chicks Question Everything: Learn to Risk, Release and Soar

This is the last chance to preorder this 94-page (so far!) eBook at $9.95. On June 1, the price goes up to $14.95.

Reserve your copy here.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

May 19, 2007


Riffing on Jack Kornfield, my wise friend Ridge Armstrong wrote:

"After the ecstasy, the laundry.
After the epiphany, The Work."

I love this, because after many years of spiritual practice and later, Transformational Inquiry, I'm aware that flashes of "enlightenment," however profound, don't mean as much as we like to think. The annoyances, disappointments, crises, tragedies, and those people and occurences that sometimes feel like complete anathema to me, continue to provide more valuable experiences and opportunities than any sexy-yet-fleeting "aha" moments.

As Katie pointed out to me once, there's nothing wrong with epiphanies; they hold us, temporarily, so they're very good...and they're not "it."

I've seen the light—we all have—and until I'm completely comfortable fumbling around in the dark, I'm grateful to have this mental flashlight.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

May 15, 2007

Can I Use The Work at My Job?

“Tell your boss what you really think of him and the truth shall set you free.”
—Patrick Murray

Beliefs may prevail regarding the appropriateness of self-inquiry in a business setting. We have been taught that it’s not professional (and also not safe) to expose our feelings at work; however, feelings are already abundantly apparent in every workplace, oftentimes expressed in unhealthy ways. It can be detrimental to a career or a business to react emotionally on the job and not explore our feelings sanely.

This doesn’t mean we have to air our dirty laundry in front of the boss or co-workers. Although group work may be preferable in certain instances (haven’t you noticed that what they really think of you is rarely as bad as what you thought they thought?), the beauty of The Work is that it is equally effective when done on one’s own in private, with others in a group setting, or one-on-one with a facilitator.

I have facilitated people who work in (and have been fired from) all kinds of business situations: coaches, therapists, and counselors…white, pink, and blue-collar workers…executives, managers, and home-based entrepreneurs…the overextended, and the underemployed or unemployed…those who can’t wait to retire, and those who feel unfulfilled in retirement. A pair of squabbling business partners were among my very first (and very satisfied) clients.

I have come to see that in every moment, even when I was temporarily disabled, lying flat on my back, and doing nothing but “being breathed,” I have always had the perfect job. I am always working with the right people. I have always been successful. Until I can see this as the truth 100%, my real work—the work of the heart—is not done.

“Your true job is to appreciate what is; your primary profession is to be clear.”
—Byron Katie

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.

This article is an excerpt from the introduction to the new eBook, Transformational Inquiry: Working on Your Work.

If you order by midnight May 30, PST, you can still receive it for at the discounted pre-publication price of $9.95. On the 31st, I'm changing the settings to $14.95.

So don't wait. Be among the first to let this practical PDF guide enhance your experience of The Work as it applies to your professional life.

To learn more and to purchase your own copy, visit

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

May 14, 2007

Mother's Day for Peace

I saw this video today at Inner Light Ministries in Soquel, California, a wonderful spiritual community dedicated to peace, unity, healing and stewardship of the planet, the global and local community, and the self. Before viewing this short film, I was not aware of the decidedly non-Hallmark Cards origin of Mother's Day, which was created as an anti-war statement by the Bostonian Julia Ward Howe in 1870. You can read the original Mother's Day Proclamation here.

I appreciate the message of this video; it promotes a worthy cause, to be sure, and I say, to myself, let me not make a gender issue out of ending the war, which only creates more war between the sexes. Let me not make it solely a political issue either, since violence begins internally. Let me not make it about these children alone, not others. Let me realize that I am, as Alfre Woodard says in the film, "responsible for every child that comes through," whether they live on the other side of the world, the other side of town, here in our own homes...and let me also include myself, for I am like a child victimized by my own unexamined beliefs.

"No More Victims" means no more victimizing, beginning in our daily lives, in our own bodies. How many wars did you wage today? I noticed I engaged in several, all before lunchtime, and the day isn't over yet. Let there be peace on earth...and let it begin with me.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

May 11, 2007

Turn Your Mother Around

Katie: So, sweetheart, let's turn this whole thing around: "I"...

Woman: I am angry at myself because I am selfish, controlling, and manipulative.

Katie: Especially towards your mother....

If you believe your mother is controlling, you may want to watch this one before Mother's Day...and do a "Judge-Your-Mother" worksheet.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

May 8, 2007

Why Is Mother's Day Stressful?

Got a mother? Wish you were a mom...or, sometimes, that you weren't? Wish yours were alive...or dead?

As the anonymous Middle English lyricist might have written, if he'd had mother-issues and the holiday had already been invented,

"Mother's Day's icumin in
Lhude sing Cuckoo!"

If you are feeling a bit nuts in anticipation of this holiday, you are not alone. Many of us dread Mother's Day either because we want our mothers to love us, we want our children or partners to appreciate us, we hate family gatherings, we have no family, or we think it's a silly holiday. It's a great time for inquiry.

Here is a sample from Chapter 6 of my eBook, Transformational Inquiry: Working on Mothers and Others:

Your Mother is Your Projection

I became interested in The Work when I heard about Byron Katie’s life story; before her “moment of clarity,” she was remarkably like my own mother: overweight, enraged, paranoid, addicted to pain-killers, bedridden for years. Depressed for most of my life and still despairing after having done all sorts of therapies and spiritual modalities, I was certain that one day I would follow in my mother’s footsteps…except it would be much worse because, unlike my mother, I had no husband or kids as enablers.

I’d been scaring myself half to death with that “my mother, myself” story for many years. So when I heard that there was someone who had been in that same kind of sickbed and had gotten out, I knew that whatever she was selling, I was going to buy it, however weird it seemed. (And it sure seemed weird to me at the time.)

Years later, when I met Roxann, Katie’s daughter, I introduced myself and said, “I’ve always wanted to meet you because we had the same mother.” She replied, “Hopefully we have the same mother now.”

I’m not quite there. However, my mother is no longer who I thought she was…and that frees me up to love her.

“Sweetheart, when you take the medicine, we get better. It’s a law.”
—Byron Katie

In Mothers and Others, you will find exercises and insights that can help you with your "mother story." What better gift can you give your mother, or your children, than getting clarity around the stressful concepts of Mother that we have held dearer than the person herself?

You may purchase Transformational Inquiry: Working on Mothers and Others at my website,

Do The Work for Sunday brunch this week, and have a Happy Mother's Day!

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

May 5, 2007

"The Secret" on Byron Katie's Blog

My friend Susan wrote to Katie several weeks ago about The Secret. Her letter, Katie's response, Stephen Mitchell's response, and more than 150 responses and still counting, are posted at Katie's blog,

Susan has found her peace with her "Secret" story and the debates continue.

It becomes more and more apparent to me that The Secret, Sedona Method, The Work, and all other "methods" are like everything else: TV, mothers-in-law, George W. Bush, cancer, health, money, lack of money, relationship, lack of relationship, the Virginia Tech gunman. Everything is here to show us the way home, if that is our interest. In LOA language, we could even say we attracted them. I can find where I have done that.

For me, the difference is that The Work is a direct path to self-realization as opposed to other- or outer-realization. I have never found consistent happiness through stuff or through other people's cooperation. I begin to tap into that happiness through realizing that "no thing" is the thing I want most; there is peace in the valley, to paraphrase Iyanla VanZant (who also does The Work, by the way). The only way I know how to get there is through inquiry...not through teachings, not through manifesting, not through attempts at yogically detaching. What could be more "vibrationally aligned" than loving what is?

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

May 4, 2007

Ask a Facilitator: Turnarounds on Universal Beliefs

Question, Carol...when I am trying to stick to the straight process of The Work on a universal belief, I tend to think I am not 'supposed to' take a sentence like 'People should not cheat on their spouses' and turn it around to 'I should not cheat on my spouse.' Can you comment?

There's no "supposed to" operating in The Work, and turning a universal belief around to oneself is a great way to examine your thoughts. The Work is about getting to konw yourself. The turnaround to "I" is a great mirror on your inner life.

I like to begin with a good, clean turnaround to the opposite. "People should not cheat on their spouses" turned around becomes "People should cheat on their spouses." Could that be as true or truer than your original statement? Give at least three genuine reasons why your new turnaround might be at least equally true. Examples:

1. They do cheat; that's reality. So they should, unless I know more than God.
2. I can't know another's perfect path in life; if the universe is friendly, this could be the best thing for the cheated-on spouse, who might eventually be spared the company of their cheating spouse, and therefore freed up to meet someone who will be better for them.
3. The "cheaters" are doing the best they can with their unhappiness or dissatisfaction. Someone who thinks they need something, whether it's another slice of cake or sex outside of their "committed" relationship, is looking for happiness in "stuff" and is confused. "When you know better, you do better." —Maya Angelou.

The natural progress for me would be the turnaround to the other: "I should not cheat on my spouse." Look for genuine reasons, not something like "Because society dictates this." Don't let yourself get away with pat or Pollyanna examples, go in for your own truth.

What if I don't cheat on my spouse with a physical act of being with another person? Have I ever fantasized about it? How else do I cheat? Where do I not tell him the whole truth...about money, perhaps, or about what's on my mind? What if I don't even have a spouse? How else, then, do I cheat on people? Do I lie, steal, exaggerate? Do I not let them know I'm thinking about ending the friendship or business relationship, that I've found someone or something else I prefer, and then do I simply disappear? And do I like myself when I cheat? That's reason, for me, that I shouldn't do it; not if I want to live in peace with others.

Now turn it around to "I." "People shouldn't cheat on their spouses" becomes "I shouldn't cheat on myself." How do I do that, particularly with regards to the issue of cheating? Maybe staying with someone under false pretenses is cheating on myself too. Do I make excuses to myself for withdrawing from my partner? Do I justify my actions to myself even though I feel so uncomfortable that I can't be honest and simply say to him, "I'm seeing someone else and I'm not ready to leave our relationship"? What am I afraid of losing if I admit to myself that I'm dishonest?

I wouldn't take it to "I should cheat on my spouse." That's spinning the turnaround, getting too far away from the original belief, possibly with a motive. Nor would I turn it around to "My spouse shouldn't cheat on me." That's spinning also...and it's getting into the territory of your spouse's business.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.