Accounts: Being Accountable For My Choices

accountsIt’s always a balance running a spiritual business. My passion might be for my mediumship, teaching or sharing healing energy. But every now and then I have to come down to Earth and prepare my accounts. There is a financial bottom line to what I do. Sort of.

Prior to working for myself I worked in  a corporate world. Most things were tied to a financial bottom line. There was a great pressure to be accountable for under and over spend. Financial budgets and targets were the focus of most of the attention when measuring if something had been a success. I have to say there weren’t many freebies or give aways. Interestingly, this generated a great air of competition. The belief was that I had to compete for scarce resources. And I also had to be accountable for them by making sure they produced the greatest return for the investment. Year or project end accounts were the focus of very much time, effort and attention.

When I moved into working for myself I though for a while I had left all of that accounts work behind me. Until I started to recognise that I had to have some sort of focus on the bottom line. Otherwise I would end up going out of business fairly rapidly. Yet it felt uncomfortable. There was an implication that if I was helping someone – not apparently applying my abilities – then I had to give that assistance free. It took me a long time to work out that I was seeing my work as less valuable because it was coming from my spiritual beliefs. And my genuine desire to support anyone I could. Of course I also had to work my way through the assumptions people make about what I offer. It’s surprising how many people expect that I can give them what they want for free.

I find I have to account more for what I do than many other occupations would. So it’s not helpful to me when even I actually feel I should be doing things for free.

That’s another implication of being an energy worker, medium or therapy practitioner. I have a part of me that wants to rush around tending to everyone who might need a boost. That inner force, added to the external assumptions, held me back from assessing my abilities in a meaningful way until I started to recognise that I had a business to run. If I wanted extra training, to extend my services wider or to have an internet service I would have to have an income. My passion is my spiritual work so it was clear the spiritual work would have to be the source of my income. To account for my choice to focus on the spiritual work I also had to acknowledge that it was what I was good at.

Meaning that I eventually started to value my work better. Keeping an eye on the ways the money came in also let me make informed choices. My accounts showed me which of my services was most in demand. That gave me choices. I took control of what I invested my time and energy in so that people got what they wanted. I also found that by paying attention to my accounts I had the choice to do things for free anyway. The choice to charge or not was up to me. So my business has evolved into a balance. I balance what I gift with what I require a payment for. And I am the only one who chooses when I will offer something at a discount, for free or for full charge. Those decisions help me manage the competing demands on my time and energy.

Like any other business I review my accounts to help me make better decisions. It’s not all that different than the corporate world I used to work in. But my decisions can also flow with my spiritual principles. Cash flow, profit, competition with other suppliers can be set aside. The bottom line has shifted. I do run my business to cover my life expenses and so that it pays it’s way. And I also run my business to give as much as I can. I’m delighted to say that somehow this year it has all balanced out again.

Day 886 of my blogging challenge

Entertainment Purposes Only? Consumer Protection?

entertainmentI enjoy questions. Good debates. Entertaining chats. And ways to expand my knowledge. But I’m not a medium for entertainment purposes. I’m a medium because I believe that what I can pass on to people is part of my pastoral care. Because I practice spirituality.

Already I can hear one or two subsidiary questions. They are the ones I asked myself when  the Fraudulent Mediums Act was repealed to be replaced by the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations in 2008. Designed, amongst other things, to stem the flow of begging letters from unscrupulous people who target vulnerable people for money they cover all sorts of unfair practices. Unfortunately the interpretation of these regulations is very much the remit of Trading Standards officers as they are the ones who prosecute cases. So there can be different approaches across the country. In 2008 I saw advice that suggested I should start using a disclaimer. Words to the effect that my readings were ‘for entertainment purposes only’.

It got me thinking about whether what I was doing was only for entertainment. I hope my readings are uplifting. There may be lots of laughter. Even some tears. But I’m not a TV programme, theatre production or comedy show. I am passing on what I believe and trust are the words of people who have passed over into the Spirit World. To do so is a long way away from what most people might consider entertainment. Especially when I’m working in a Spiritualist church or centre. Because there it is a matter of religious belief. I am sharing something that people respect as a way of worshiping a higher power. So much as I love what I do a blanket disclaimer isn’t helpful.

That then begs the question, if it’s not for entertainment, what is a reading? And why might someone want one?

Of course, as I’ve already said, someone may get a great deal of entertainment from my readings. However, my work is about bringing the evidence forward that is available from the communicators I work with. In other words it’s about passing on messages. Messages that contain information I couldn’t possibly know. Words of comfort, support or encouragement. I see this as the essence of pastoral care. Helping people in my community to deal with the ups and downs of their life. You might ask how is this different from counselling? When I work as a counsellor I may use some of the same skills that I use in my mediumship. But the emphasis is very different.

Counselling comes from an understanding of our metal and emotional processes. Readings come from  an understanding of our spiritual beliefs. There is no way that the counselling and psychology profession would describe themselves as ‘for entertainment purposes only’. And neither would I in relation to my pastoral care. I am mindful of the vulnerability of the people who I work with. In both roles. So I have an ethical framework to help me ensure that I am not taking advantage of someone. This includes allowing the readings to be recorded. And dealing with any issues about the quality of a reading openly and honestly. I am also prepared to stop the reading within the first five minutes if there is a poor connection.

I hope that I do provide entertainment if that is about people leaving feeling uplifted. But I return to my opening. It’s not the only thing a reading embraces. My readings reflect my spiritual beliefs. They are a way for me to demonstrate my beliefs. And I am delighted to share my messages with those who believe and those who don’t. In equal measure.

Day 874 of my blogging challenge

Weekend Approaching. Time To Relax?

weekendWhen I worked for an organisation I used to love getting to Friday night. The weekend was next. I knew I would get two days to myself when I could choose exactly what I wanted to do. Now I run my own spiritual business. And things have changed.

Of course anyone running their own business soon learns that you have to work when your customers are free to visit you. But I guess I didn’t really think about that when I moved into my mediumship. I think I had an idea that my work would be mainly in churches and centres. Those were the places I expected people to go for messages. So mostly nights of work, I thought. Until I started to be asked to do private readings. Then I found that most people were only really available at the weekend. If I wanted to do their readings for them I would have to shift my expectations of my own weekend.

Actually it was something that seemed to fit quite naturally for a lot of reasons. Especially since the weekend was the time I had the most childcare available to me. At the least cost because my family could do it. Getting any kind of business venture off the ground costs quite a bit in the early stages so not paying childcare was a big consideration. I also had to adjust my week. It was rather easy to find I had worked straight through seven or ten days because I wasn’t used to taking time off during the week. Eventually I started to carve out a space in the week that was a regular weekend. But I had to fight hard to keep the time free too.

Eventually I settled into a more fluid pattern. I work some weekends and not others. And I work Monday to Friday some weeks and not others. I identify enough days to be filled with work. And I look forward to the weekend I have built in for myself. Finally, on my days off I make sure I relax. Doing all of the stuff I normally would on my weekends. After all, I know a life-work balance is important for my wellbeing. And my work!

Day 834 of my blogging challenge

Resisting The Impulse: Feeling Like I Have To Fill A Day

Resisting rest?Some days I find myself resisting the impulse to fill my time with activity. Part of it is about running my own business. Part of it is that Spirit people often drop by unannounced. Asking me to do something for them.

A common challenge with working for myself is to ensure I take enough time for myself. The flow of work is unpredictable. I can be very busy then on what seems like a go slow. So it’s tempting to say yes to everything I’m asked to do in case a quiet spell is on it’s way. But that isn’t good for me. It’s too easy for me to become exhausted by chasing all the work. Or feeling like I have to be there for people at all times. Since I am also someone who enjoys being busy it can be very seductive to follow that impulse to work as much as possible. But I have been resisting both of these drives for some time now. Because I know I’m not effective if I’m tired.

In the same way, my impulse when I get Spirit visitors is to give them my time and attention. It’s a natural reaction as I want to help anyone I can. Yet, again, I’ve had to understand that resisting the impulse to pass on messages at inappropriate times is important to my wellbeing. I know that in the beginning I was frightened that if I told the Spirit people to go away they would never come back. But I now know they always do. Because not too many of us are prepared to communicate with them. And they really want to get their messages through to us. Over time I have become much better at setting ‘working hours’ for the Energy Beings.

So it has been a strange experience to find that I couldn’t sleep last night. At all. Not because my mind was active. Or that there was work to do. But because I was resisting letting myself relax.

I realise I needed a little lesson. A reminder that work of any kind isn’t the be all and end of my life. There has to be down time. I have to give myself a break. Of course I ended up doing something during my wide away night. I read a novel. Finally stopping myself resisting my wide awareness. Using it instead. But understanding that I must take it very easy on myself during today. Which I have done. And I have had chance to consider where this busy, busy, busy side of me comes from. Because it is part of my personality to enjoy being active. But it’s also become over exaggerated by my desire to achieve.

Ambition is a great energy to use to get things done. However, we live in a world where ambition has become a major driver in people pushing themselves past their limits. I have done that in my work in the past. Trying to achieve what I thought would be good for me. Resisting the signals of my body and mind that ambition and achievement had pushed me passed my limits. I was clearly rejecting those signals because my balance was off. I had no ambition to relax properly. Over the years since I have become much better at being busy doing nothing. Yet there must be a little bit of push left. And my sleepless night gave me plenty of time to recognise it.

Resisting a balanced life is an experience many of us share. The energy waves of the moment are asking me and you to notice where we reject rest and relaxation. To understand how our mind tries to keep us busy and active. With no time for contemplation  or relaxation. I’ve enjoyed a day without ambition or achievement. Tonight I can sleep.

Day 643 of my blogging challenge 

Up With The Lark And Singing

I love the light mornings. Up with the lark as the sky moves away from darkness. Listening to the bird song and slowly coming awake. Spring is certainly here.

I find early morning is a great time to set my intentions for the day. Especially if it is light. In Winter I want to stay snuggled under my duvet. In Spring I’m ready to get up and get going. Today as I emerged from sleep I thought about the restructure I’ve been doing with my spiritual business. My Centre has been open for three years but recently I’ve revisited it’s purpose. I wanted to be sure I was focused on the dreams I have for what I can do there. I suppose when I started back in 2014 it felt like a bit of a lark. An adventure. Perhaps not to be taken all that seriously because it felt like having fun.

Over time my attention drifted. I took on things that weren’t necessarily at the heart of my dreams. Little side wanderings onto paths that looked interesting. But possibly for now are dead ends. That’s what I realised this Spring. The song of the lark in the dawn light reminded me to look to what makes my heart sing. Hence the restructuring. Bringing my attention back to the work of my Centre. Preparing to have another go at aiming for my dreams. That means a big clear out of old energy. And ‘old’ stuff like furniture, stock and books. Today I also cleared out my doubts about my business purpose. It’s natural to have them. But they can end up limiting my options.

Most people setting up in business are unaware that it can take three years or so to move into profit. And feel that a profit is sustainable. It’s actually a lot harder in a spiritual business when profitability is not the way the business is measured.

Perhaps that’s why I felt like I was larking about in the beginning. Not taking business seriously in terms of generating a vast profit. Lots of business people around me kept asking about my bottom line. They didn’t mean my figure or my derrière. They meant my income from my business. I found it quite hard to explain to them that I knew I would be provided for. That the Universe would make sure I had enough coming in so that I could concentrate on helping people rather than charging. I probably sounded very vague and somewhat fluffy to people used to looking at cash flows and the bottom line all the time.

However I have managed to build my business. People keep finding me. I have something to offer and it seems to be what they want. That makes me glad I’ve spent the last three years learning a lot about myself, business and running a spiritual business. Today I started to implement some of my new plans. Off to my office early to move myself more into my Centre. Reorganising the rooms ready to hand some of them back to the landlord. I do keep an eye on my business finances so the changes will be cost effective. But I also know not to let the current profitability or otherwise of what I’m doing get in the way of my enjoyment of what I do.

That’s what had me singing like a lark this morning as I moved desks and shelving. I’m enjoying investing my energy in my business. It’s what I want to be doing right now. I’m certain it’s going to be another year for adventure 💜

Day 512 of my blogging challenge