April 24, 2009

From Deflation to Elation: How a Weekend Workshop Saved my Business, Part II via Claire Burstein

Rarely do I ever get sweaty palms, but I had them the other night before writing the first half of this piece, and I have them now. It’s as if my hands are telling me it’s time to write and that’s the only thing that will relieve me of this condition. Is it nerves? Not really. I’m a performer. It’s excitement. And I’ve been torn between getting on the phone to call the contacts I met at the “Rejuvenate Your Practice 2-Day Intensive” and writing this piece. I’m going to go with what my body’s telling me because my engine is revving and I need to get this out to the world. 

Excitement is not what I expected to feel right now. Yesterday I had an interview for a part-time care-giving position with an amazing woman who lives on Balboa Island. We bonded on so many levels and when she asked me if I could feng shui a person, I said yes. We talked for two hours, and it seemed like a dream job that would allow me some stability, but also a lot of flexibility. Plus, I could see myself really getting into the role of teacher, as she wanted to learn about many of the subjects I’ve studied. And I’ve been a caregiver before and found it to be really rewarding.  However, this morning, she called to say that she was unable to hire me due to unforeseen circumstances. 

Now normally, I’d be sweating because of that, and I am sad that I won’t get a chance to work with her right now. I’m also feeling the pinch a little financially, because the pocketful of cash I’d make with her each week would help me with things like groceries and transportation. Nonetheless, I feel that if it was meant to be, it would. And, there is a world full of possibilities that has opened up to me since attending the workshop. I’d like to share some of the experiences I had over the weekend with you and also some of the things that have happened since then. 

On Saturday, I got up at 6:30 a.m. to make the long, 2.5 hour trek to the Renaissance Hotel near LAX. Fortunately, I had packed the night before, but I didn’t know how I’d get through the day having only slept five hours. Still, I was determined to make the best of this opportunity. Like a good little soldier, I marched on, taking the Metrolink train to L.A. Union Station and a bus from there to the Renaissance hotel. I was carrying a change of clothing and enough food to last me the entire weekend if necessary. Fortunately, I’d sold enough pearls the week before to pay for my phone bill, my web-site, and transportation to and from the event. Still, it would be tight unless I cut down on the travel somehow. I was hoping to find last-minute accommodations with another workshop attendee and planned ahead for that possibility. 

I arrived at the event a half-hour late and was greeted warmly by Sonali, my main contact with whom I’d had a heart-to-heart chat the week before. I found a seat in the back of the room and was so glad that I could see everything in front of me. A guy at the end of the row winked and blew a kiss in my direction. I looked past to see if there was someone behind me, but there wasn’t and it must have been meant for me! What a greeting! Wow, my palms are really sweating now! 

Anyhow, the inspiring Jesse Koren was on a stage with purple velvet curtains and a gold and purple sign behind him.  Everything about the set-up screamed “WEALTH”, and that’s exactly what this event was about. He was talking about what we should expect from the next two days and was going over some guidelines for participation so that everybody would be able to fully benefit from the workshop. He also gave us some tips on how to keep the energy moving, because there was a jam-packed schedule and two long days in front of us (9 a.m.-7:30 p.m.). There would be times when he would cue us to do certain things so that he would be able to maintain his energy and really give us his best. He gained my respect with that, for sure! He was really clear about what kind of energy he wanted to maintain: relaxed and fun! It definitely was that! He also gave us the opportunity to leave, without judgment, if we felt that it wasn’t a place where we could see ourselves fully participating and adding the positive vibes of the workshop. That’s not to say that he didn’t allow for “negative” emotions and a certain amount of resistance to come up, because that happens. What he was saying was, if you know this isn’t right for you and you’d rather be elsewhere, go freely and do that rather than sit here and be miserable. 

We were given handouts at certain key points and when he asked for audience participation, volunteers would stealthily glide in with a microphone so everyone could hear their question or comment. Very smooth!  And, he asked us to replace the words “stupid” with “sexy” to keep the energy moving onwards and upwards. Here’s an example: instead of saying to yourself, “I was so stupid for doing that!” say, “that was so sexy!”  There were some very sexy moments, as can happen with any situation with so many people (almost one hundred), but we all laughed about them and it was not a big deal.  Overall, the production had amazing flow and I was definitely impressed. 

Just before lunch on Saturday, we were asked to identify the other members of the group that we’d each been pre-assigned to and that in itself was a lot of fun! Afterwards, I went to the lobby to set up my picnic-style lunch. I was looking for some companionship, though, and was not finding it with the two ladies I had joined. Deciding to seek a different kind of vibe, I saw one of my group members, creativity expert Aaron Ross of Pebblestorm, and asked what he was up to. He was on the way to the restaurant to find a group to join. He encouraged me to tag along, despite my reservations about breaking out my picnic lunch at the table since a quick glance at the menu told me that ordering lunch there was not something I could currently afford. 

We did find a group and they were completely welcoming. I felt a strong connection with at least four of the people at the table and was able to offer some expert advice regarding certain topics that arose in the course of our lunch-time group conversation. That was a boost to my ego, for sure! We talked about feng shui, singing, and a few other things that are close to my heart. It felt really good to contribute and I’m glad that I made the choice to seek something more suitable to my energy, rather than suffer in silence and eat my picnic alone in the lobby. 

The workshop continued with information about courses that we could take to continue our education with Jesse and Sharla, if it made sense for us, examples of “heart-selling” conversations, exercises with partners, and group participation cues. I was learning a lot, taking notes, and my energy was surprisingly good. It was getting time to make a decision…find a (free) place to stay for the evening or high-tail it back to Irvine via bus and train. I asked one woman and she said she’d look into it, although she was nervous about inviting guests over to her mother’s house. 

I really wanted to stay in LA for a few reasons. 1) I wasn’t ready to face my mom because she and I have radically different views about business and that’s been a thorn in my side since birth, practically! 2) I was feeling good, but still vulnerable.  I’d have to leave the workshop early and I was feeling so great that I just wanted to soak it all up! 3)…A trek to Irvine and back would require $20 and 5 hours of travel time altogether. 

The good news is that just at the end of our break, I found two offers! Making a decision of which to go with was the tough part, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. I had an amazing evening with a warm-hearted holistic nutritionist named Hillary. We stopped by a Whole Foods to pick up dinner for the evening, made avocado and cucumber sushi together, talked about mutual interests and had an impromptu feng shui consultation since she was seeking a suitable roommate pronto and I had some key suggestions to make. We agreed on a design and went for it! It was 2 a.m. before we finally crashed and I had a room all to myself! 

Sunday was an emotional day for me. I’m going to wrap it up shortly here, in the interest of my time and yours, but I’d like to share a few key experiences. The first one is that we did an exercise to help us gauge our level of commitment to ourselves and our “practice”. Level one commitment was in the back of the room and level four was in front of or on stage.  We all moved forward as a group, and when I got to the stage I started dropping tears of joy. That was a huge indicator to me that I needed to fully and completely commit to my vision and my business and that it was time to manifest my destiny! 

Also, when we were asked to make a choice about continuing forward with one or all of the three programs that Jesse and Sharla teach, I surprised myself again! I’d been thinking that I really wanted to do each of the programs but I couldn’t see myself being able to afford it. I practically jumped out of my seat when they asked who was going to do the full program. I didn’t know how I’d pay for it, but I’d find a way. I was given until Friday of this week to come up with a down payment of $500. 

Normally, I’d be terrified by that, but I made some amazing connections and people were coming up to me left and right telling me that they wanted to work with me! Sonali had asked me to bring some gemstone jewelry to show her and the lovely Jenn Tamera of Breathe Bodyworks purchased a carnelian and onyx necklace for $90 at lunch! Another lady named Susan Carlson of My Beautiful Bare Skin asked if I’d consider selling jewelry for a mother’s day event at her spa. A “Love Attraction Coach” named Tanna Boran asked if I’d do a tele-seminar with her regarding love and feng shui. A bride-to-be, life coach Kristine Castro, suggested a possible niche of feng shui for brides and we’ve already spoken over the phone about possibilities for her wedding. During one of the exercises where we were supposed to provide support by feigning genuine interest, I suggested a package of $1800 for a ten hour feng shui makeover and the woman was GENUINELY interested! The guy who’d blown me a kiss upon arriving chatted me up about feng shui. I plan to follow up on all of these connections this afternoon. I just got a call from Hillary asking me which color to paint in her bathroom.  We decided on lavender and I encouraged her to find a good eco-friendly, low VOC paint for her bathroom. So, it’s already started!  I’m on a major roll, I have a client already and I’m feeling fabulous!

Here’s another major thing for me. I had people coming up to me left and right saying how much they appreciated my energy, spirit, and most especially, my laugh! That was awesome. It’s something that’s been a sore point recently because I love to laugh and it’s my way of maintaining my energy and expressing joy. It just trips out of me and surprises me as much as anyone else. My mom hates my very high, operatic laugh with a PASSION and I’ve been emotionally flat-lining lately because of that. Anyway, it was really healing that people approached me BECAUSE of my laugh. One hottie from Guadalajara even asked to sit next to me on Saturday morning because he couldn’t get enough of it. It turns out he’s marrying his high-school sweetheart and I’m thrilled for him, but his presence and attention gave my energy a boost, that’s for sure! 

I felt so vibrant and alive after two days at this workshop. Where I was only seeing obstacles in front of me the week before, I was now seeing open doors. I was sure that I could come up with the $500 by Friday if I put enough time and energy into it. Afterwards on Sunday eve, I was out in the hall and felt the desire to speak with the woman checking out the array of business cards. She and I totally hit it off and I told her about my signing up for the entire program based on trust and the fact that we were given an amazing deal for doing so at the workshop. She said that she’d been noticing me and was really impressed by my demeanor and energy. Then, to my surprise, she whipped out her checkbook to make a donation (this was completely her idea, by the way) for $25 to what she called my “scholarship fund”. She said “let this be a money magnet for you to attract the funds you need for the University”. 

Money magnet! Those words were a complete confirmation for me because the week before, whenever I would have dark thoughts about not being able to afford lunch for myself, much less get my business off the ground, I would visualize myself being a money magnet! Wow. She also helped me get a ride home by showing me (!) how to project and she belted out “anyone going to Orange County?” I ended up getting a ride home with another woman that I connected with on so many levels, Dr. Judy L. Turner, with whom I might work in the future. 

SO, I went from feeling completely deflated to completely elated over two days’ time. I’ve, uh, felt that before, if you know what I mean, but at the time I wasn’t grounded at all and the only thing to get me level was some heavy duty medication!  Now, I’m grounded, I know exactly where I’m going, I’ve been successfully off medication for the past six months, I’m working though my emotions and I’m moving forward with dignity and grace! I don’t know exactly how it’s all going to work out, but I know that “my people are waiting for me” because I plan to help a LOT of people on this planet to feel great about themselves, their lives and their work and living environments. I feel like I can finally OWN the title that I was given of “The Feng Shui Fairy” and I can live the life of MY dreams, without taking a “job” unless I really feel inspired to do so.  

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I know it’s been a long one, but I hope that it’s been entertaining and worth your time and energy. If you feel inspired to help my cause or if you’d like my help with some feng shui, let me know. Otherwise, I’d love to hear your feedback, “good” or “bad.”

Cheers and Happy Earth Day!

– Claire Burstein.

Claire Burstein, “the feng shui fairy,” is a writer, spiritual practitioner and environmental advocate. Please visit thefengshuifairy.com for more articles and info about her services.

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