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This Sunday morning I was elated to see a beautiful essay by the abundantly generous Maria Popova (founder of Brainpickings), exploring dana. In the Art-of-Not-Having-to-Ask, from Buddhist Monks to Amanda Palmer by way of Thoreau, Popova covers much of how the core of my “work” in this world came to be rooted in the principle of dana.

Creating and working on dana is *not* pro bono, or charity, or pay-what-you-can, or even pay-it-forward! (Seen one way, it is as “free market” as it gets. Smile.) In its most subtle and sophisticated form — not touched upon in this beautiful essay or anywhere else that I have seen so far — dana is ultimately not even an exchange. It is the generation of TWO different cycles. Such that one person freely gives just to give and the other freely receives just to receive, completing a giving–receiving cycle, and the second person also freely gives just to give and the first person freely receives just to receive, completing another giving–receiving cycle. (more…)

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Recently, after my return from 6 weeks of travel that included music, close friends and family across 3 continents, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, jetlagged but with an immense flash of clarity. All my joy and wisdom seemed to have condensed and distilled in that moment into a pithy insight, which I am calling “My Formula for Miracles.” I posted this nugget on Facebook, and got several enthusiastic reponses from people, many of whom reported being able to practice a couple, but not all three simultaneously, and not always with consistency. So, I’m elaborating a bit here. (more…)

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The December 2010 issue of Courageous Creativity is here! Through our six-month journey, we’ve often been asked if members of the Courageous Creativity team will also contribute stories. Inspired by this, we decided that the year end – a festive and rejuvenating time, and also one of taking stock – might be a good time for us to share insights from our own individual and intersecting paths this year. We hope you enjoy this retrospective issue, and we look forward to continuing our journey of courage, creativity and change with our readers and contributors in 2011.

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In a recent exchange with two close friends after a late-evening music-practice session, I said something about needing a solid night’s rest these days because of how full my time is … without a single purposeless moment (well, almost). Before I could quite finish my thought, one of them jumped to challenge me: “Then how is that different from the rat-race of the cubicle-land, where people complain about not having a moment to themselves?” he demanded.

I was on my way out the door (and on to bed), so we didn’t finish the conversation. I only had enough time to offer, “It’s different.” But his question did stop me to reflect. How indeed is my time these days different from time spent in a rat-race? (more…)

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I have come to believe that creative expression is the source of healing, empowerment and transformation. Because creativity at its best involves personal / emotional risk – i.e. courage, it  always causes change inside oneself. And inevitably, it also causes change outside oneself – in the world – however tiny the impact may be.

In my journey in the last 2 years, I was fortunate to recognize that being a catalyst for others’ creativity while exercising my own, is essentially my life purpose.

So, when the idea of creating a writing / publishing platform for independent, transcultural writers, featuring both books and a periodic microzine hit me, I was compelled to give it a try! Partnering with Shirin Subhani, Flying Chickadee was founded earlier this year … and the first issue of Courageous Creativity launched today!

I really hope many are inspired by the stories in this microzine – Shirin and I are certainly humbled, touched, moved and inspired.

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[Adaptated into an essay in my book Thrive! Falling in Love with Life, published Nov 1, 2011.]

Our culture emphasizes having options. We interview in multiple places so that we have options for a place of employment; we interview several candidates for a job to find the right fit with a position. We meet different people for an ideal romantic partner; we scan various people for the best business partner. And we nurture various, sometimes mundane social relationships “just in case” we’re excluded from the in-crowd.

We are advised not to burn bridges, not to close doors. So, there’s an ingrained tendency to keep various doors open, even though one is presumably focused on a particular, well-chosen path. Especially as an entrepreneur, this might seem like an appropriate and sensible measure: should this idea or initiative not take off, surely I should have another from my wellspring of ideas ready to test and launch? Isn’t that what entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation are about – trying out idea after idea, and always having lots of ideas available? (more…)

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[Adaptated into an essay in my book Thrive! Falling in Love with Life, published Nov 1, 2011.]

A few months ago, one of my dearest friends and I were having a conversation about life, the difficulties in practicing architecture independently, the state of the economy (and the nation, and the world…), and a variety of such topics. He seemed somewhat irate, but really, genuinely disappointed, even deeply sad, that things were as they were.

Then I said it. “Breaking through some painful turns in life, I’ve discovered that – paradoxically – one can only change something by first accepting it. External change is brought about by changing oneself internally, through acceptance. If I first accept the way things are, then the foundation for change is immediately laid.”

He looked confused, and vehemently protested. “But that doesn’t make any sense! How can I accept the way things are? Isn’t that tantamount to agreeing with the status quo, to permitting mediocrity, to giving in? Isn’t acceptance essentially defeat? How can anything change by accepting defeat? Explain to me what you mean by acceptance!” He demanded. (more…)

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