February 18, 2009
Shape-shifting – The Story of my Changing Career

“Hello, Joe?” I said, quietly into the phone.
“It’s Sarah Sloboda. I think I need to come in for a follow-up session.”
“Sure, Sarah. What’s going on?”
“I quit my job.”
“Come in tomorrow,” Joe said.

Joe Monkman {http://earthspiritworks.com/} is a spiritual healer trained in the shamanic traditions of Peru. Two weeks before this dialogue, I had met Joe for the first time – feeling sullen, depressed, disempowered in my workplace, and suffering from a stress-related stomach ulcer. Although drawn to his work through a book I read on shamanism called, Soul Retrieval, I was extremely reluctant to believe that his drumming and waving his feather around my body was going to change anything for me, or my career.

Miraculously, my disbelief was suspended after my first session with Joe.

“Breathe in your nose, and out your mouth,” Joe instructed me, as I lay on the massage table in his Manhattan office.

Quite frankly, I didn’t do much else. I closed my eyes tightly, and listened while Joe drummed methodically, creating a feeling in the room that was deeply soothing, yet unfamiliar to me at a time when rushing to meetings from coast to coast with little to no sleep was a rhythm to which I had grown quite miserably accustomed. According to what I’ve read on the subject, Joe was interacting with a non-visible part of reality on my behalf, to balance the energy I was carrying in my body.

I told Joe about the struggles of my life, emotionally tied to the path my career had taken, and how I felt strong pangs of discontent, despite having achieved what I had said I had been wanting for years – a job in the prestigious world of television. My life had been turned upside down after a perspective-changing car accident, and although I had tried to pursue the path that film school had sent me upon, some part of me was no longer present, and neither my medical doctors nor my shrink had been able to help me locate it.

For Joe, however, this was common, everyday work. A shaman’s purpose in ancient tribes was to help restore a person’s essence, in order to keep them whole, despite the traumas of everyday life. Joe’s intention with me was to help create a space where the real me could shine through.

When I walked out of his office, I found myself making eye contact with strangers on the street. I felt open. I was seeing through my own eyes for the first time in a long time. Within two weeks, I could no longer tolerate my job. I felt pangs of anguish, knowing that there were other ambitious souls who would love to hold my position, while I was resenting it, and longing for a place to express my creative voice.

I sat in a bathroom stall, struggling to gain control of my emotions for 20 minutes before walking into my boss’s office and giving notice. Part of me was just beginning to gain enough strength to represent myself honestly, although I don’t know how I spoke to my boss at that time without fainting.

I called Joe, and told him what had happened. I had no plan. Just a general knowing that my creative sense, and my experience as a visual artist and photographer was enough to take me forward. With Joe’s encouragement, I was able to begin to make my life reflect what was more authentically me, and I began to see my entire life take on a new shape.

Within two months, I had booked my first big job as a full-time photographer – a wedding in Malibu – and had arranged with the bride who was a graphic designer to brand and launch my new photography company {https://www.sarahsloboda.com}. My photography business thrived the very first year of its existence, and garnered worldwide acclaim for the work I did with children and weddings.

Now operating from a place of near-constant evolution, I have re-branded as Sarah Sloboda: Photographer, Optimist. It is my personal mission to provide millions of people with photographic evidence of their lives working beautifully. I am also a consultant – working creatively to inspire and motivate other artists and business owners who are blocked, stuck, or otherwise need a brainstorm boost.

Following the path to authenticity that Joe helped me to open, my career now has one clear premise – to make sure that the trajectory of my personal growth is reflected in the work I am doing in the world, so that others can benefit from my experience.

(Keep up with this trajectory here, at University of Sarah: the Art School of Optimism – http://universityofsarah.blogspot.com. Click here to subscribe to the mailing list, and to receive a free copy of the 7 Points of Optimism!)

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