background image
/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 1
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 1
A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E /
/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 1
By Robert Ross
It happens every once in
awhile -- the feeling -- the
sense -- the knowing -- that I
need to make a change in life;
something new, something dif-
ferent. I'm not quite sure what
I need, or where this is going,
but I know I've got to do some-
thing to satisfy the internal stir-
ring. It's one of those transition
BEND, OrEGON -- 1991
Richard Bolles' two week
"What Color is Your Parachute"
career planning workshop was
held at the Seventh Mountain
Resort, on the outskirts of Bend,
Oregon. At the time I was in
one of those states of mind --
the "this isn't working anymore,"
and "I need something new"
states, but wasn't sure what to
do or how to go about finding
what I was looking for.
So, I gathered together my
meager savings and took a
chance, signing up for the
workshop. As it turned out, the
"chance" worked, it was a pro-
found experience that changed
the course of my life; and more
importantly, changed how I
viewed myself going forward.
The Parachute workshop, in a
nutshell, involved discovering --
in a group setting -- one's innate
and learned skills, values, goals,
philosophy, ideal work and liv-
ing environment, and putting it
together in a picture of sorts.
We used a posterboard-size
flower to draw this picture, with
the center of the flower being
a prioritized list of our favorite
skills, and the petals listing our
values, ideal work and living en-
vironment, kinds of people we
wanted to work around, etc. The
flower, once completed, would
be a picture of our ideal life.
BEND, OrEGON -- 2010
Almost twenty years later I
find myself back in Bend, with
my old flower charts and notes,
in a setting on the outskirts of
town. This was all by design; a
retreat, by myself, to find some
answers to the age-old ques-
tions. Where am I going? What
next? What do I want?
Bend is located on the east-
ern side of the Cascade moun-
tain range, situated between the
high desert to the east and the
pine-covered mountains to the
west. Because of its proximity to
the desert, the temperatures are
moderate year round.
When I first came to Bend in
1991, it was a small town -- a
hamlet -- with a unique charm
all its own. Apparently, since
1991, the world discovered this
appealing village at the base of
the Cascades. Today, Bend is
considered an ideal area for re-
tirement, with a host of outdoor
activities like golfing, skiing,
hiking and boating.
Combine the recreational
pursuits with a cosmopolitan at-
mosphere, throw in a temperate
climate, and you have tourism as
the number one industry in the
area. The small town of 1991
has grown dramatically, with
strip malls, a Walmart, Costco
and . . . well, you get the picture
. . . it's a bustling place.
Within moments of laying out
my 1991 posterboard-size flow-
er on the kitchen table, one of
the petals shouted at me (figura-
tively, of course). It was the petal
title "Rewards." What do I want
my work, my new or old endeav-
ors to give me? I knew instantly
that there were some Rewards
that, at this stage in my life, were
lacking and that I wanted.
And so it went, petal by petal
-- along with the center of the
flower listing skills -- it was a
process of reviewing, updating
and re-prioritizing from infor-
mation I had listed 20 years
On day two of my retreat, the
second petal nudged me -- the
one about physical settings, the
type of environment I wanted
to work in, to be in. As I stared
out the kitchen window at the
pine trees, or drove into town
glimpsing the snow-covered
Cascades, I knew I wanted, and
needed, to spend a lot more time
hanging out with the beauty that
nature has to offer. Resolution:
I'll make this happen. Petal two
complete, four to go!
Over the years, depending
on what edition of Parachute
one reads, the number of pet-
als and titles on the petals has
changed, but the overall themes
have stayed the same. It's always
been about identifying -- by dis-
secting -- one's uniqueness, and
taking that uniqueness out into
the world.
Petal three -- the one about
"Values" was now getting my
attention. What do I value? I
looked at my old flower from
twenty years ago and realized
that my values hadn't changed
one iota. Discovering the truth,
having challenges, learning,
spending time in nature were
still on top of my list.
on Transitions
I settled into a routine on my
week-long retreat; looking at the
flower I produced twenty years
ago, looking for new ideas, for
changes . . . look to satisfy that
inner stirring.
By the end of the week, the
pieces of the puzzle came to-
gether. I got what I came for:
a bit of new lease on life. The
skills that I enjoy using, writing,
analysis of the financial markets
and classical guitar, would in the
coming months, be "taken to the
next level."
My home, in a so-so neigh-
borhood of San Diego, is going
to be turned into a permanent
magical retreat. And, I will be fo-
cusing more on the things that
I value. There is work ahead;
change often requires work, but
this will be a labor of love.
Transitions have been de-
scribed as troublesome opportu-
nities. When the internal stirring
becomes noticeable, when the
inner voice says "it's time for a
change," heeding the call is the
challenge. It may be a struggle
getting through it, but with per-
sistence, the rewards await. Per-
haps Isaac Asimov captured the
essence of transitions best when
he said: "Life is pleasant. Death
is peaceful. It's the transition
that's troublesome."
Robert Ross can be reached by e-
mail at:
Copyright 2010 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved

When one tugs at a
single thing in nature,
he finds it attached to
the rest of this world.
-- John Muir