About Pat, Spirit, Work and Money

“Pat, you’ve got to treat this job as if it were your calling.” 

The drawing on the left by Susan Szecsi sums up some of my challenges when my inner voice said this in about 1992 while I toiled for a big corporate law firm.

I trusted that inner voice. It had guided me to see John Sullivan as my soulmate in 1981 and led us to move cross-country from Washington, DC in 1987 for a master’s program in Oakland, CA under Matthew Fox. It inspired my research on how we tend to  block, distort or develop visionary potentials. It drew on years of training in somatics, human potential, visioning and creative stress release.

My inner voice led me to accept the stability of a full time job, leaving evenings free for building my dream.

Unfortunately, the firm almost daily lived up to its reputation for being a hard place to work. How could I possibly have any energy left after commuting and working in this job?

I argued with this latest guidance, though I knew it was true.

Fortunately my inner guide ignored my complaints. Instead, she reminded me of a quote by Meister Eckhart, “If the only prayer you can say is ‘thank you,’ that is enough.”

Drawing by Susan Szecsi, https://klinarts.blogspot.com/

That prayer got to me. Even in my anger I could truthfully say, “I am grateful for the clarity about how miserable I am here … and for years of practice in stress release and dealing with anger.” As gratitude deepened I was awestruck by the guidance and wisdom that flowed easily, right there in my overloaded, noisy cubicle.

I began a practice of starting and ending the day with gratitude. Then,  I created a simple workplace oasis filled with reminders of who I really am and what matters most to me.

Getting creative, my repertoire of tips and resources for connecting spirit with work rapidly increased as I discovered how to slip meditation, visualization and stress release practices into moments like waiting for the copier.

Regular Spiritual Practices at Work Changed Everything.

As a result, I became efficient enough to avoid three rounds of downsizing in the firm. I learned how to work efficiently without stress or burnout, even under highly stressful situations.

Often I came home with more energy and vitality than I had when I left for work in the morning.

Those practices prepared me for a bigger challenge, when over the next three years, three relatives on the East Coast died. Our cat slowly died from kidney failure, and John was either out of work or under-employed a lot. I had to do much overtime to pay for plane trips to be with people we loved across the country while they were still alive.

In about 1993, John’s new job as Research Director for Spirit of Health’s Spirit and Work Resource Guide opened up a whole new world, starting with Judi Neal, founder of the Association for Spirit and Work and a thought leader in conscious business.

Discovering a World of Spirit and Work Colleagues

Anyone can bring spirit to work!

Judi connected me to Steve Keeva, a journalist at the American Bar Association and author of the ABA best-seller Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life. Steve connected me to J. Kim Wright and her work to connect everyone who was doing anything creative, spiritual, and transformative in the field of law.

I was soon writing columns for the San Francisco Chronicle’s Career Section on spirit at work. My beat covered spiritual practices from any faith (plus atheism), in any type of job. Longtime friend and colleague Stewart Levine invited me to a visioning retreat for the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section. While there, I met a book scout who invited me to submit a book proposal on what became Work with Meaning, Work with Joy: Bringing Your Spirit to Any Job. 

The book led to writing many articles on spirit, work and money and chapters in textbooks for managers including Praeger’s A Handbook of Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace.   Continuing connections with Kim Wright led me to contribute to what became the movement of integrative law. A column I wrote on workplace altars for the Chronicle was re-published in her first best-seller for the ABA, Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law!

Who could have imagined or planned this?

Money Joins the Spirit and Work Equation

Cartoon licensed from Cartoonstock.com


By the time I saw the cartoon on the left in Harvard Business Review, known practical business applications of meaning and other spiritual perspectives were exploding.  Most of these applications considered how we can ethically treat the earning, investing and spending of money. 

John and I both have had serious challenges around money. At 19, John took religious poverty vows which significantly impacted how he treats money and work.  I’ve had to deal with de-facto poverty vows caused by sometimes going  over-board with self-funded research and writing at the expense of steady income.

All this made both of us explore the integration of spirit and money. The two most important resources we have found in this field are  Bari Tessler’s The Art of Money and Barbara Stanny’s Overcoming Underearning.  More to come!

Blessings to you from a life and work in progress.

At 75+, I am growing and learning everyday. I love the reality that the same river of wisdom I discovered in the stressful law firm still flows today, and that it’s connected to other streams of wisdom around the world.

I’m here to help you also discover how best to being more meaning and joy into all your work.  So enjoy resources under the “Learn” tab above and the blog. Then, if and when it’s right for you, let’s connect.


Pat McHenry Sullivan


All contents © copyright 2017 Pat McHenry Sullivan t/a Visionary Resources.

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