sark, old dictionary,Canon 300d Digital Rebel

Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost my mojo.

There have been times in my life when I felt so tapped into synchronicity, I could feel the magic vibrate around me. I was like a magic person.

When I first started working with SARK (about 10 years ago) it was a time like that. I had been working in a clothing store for two years and I was sure it wasn’t my path but really didn’t know what was. My friends would ask me great questions like, “Well, what are you good at?” and my feeble response was always, “I’m good at cutting and pasting.” They would then shake their head as if to say, “Girl, you’re screwed.”

One night, my friend Helene was spending the night and I told her about a game called Magpies I played with the dictionary. I discovered that I could meditate for a few minutes on an issue or question, open up the dictionary at random, point to a word, and find my answer.

“Let’s play it now!” she exclaimed. I agreed, hoping that it would work and that she wouldn’t think I was completely crazy.

I closed my eyes and thought about my job of selling clothing and how ready I was to start something new. I thought about how I wanted to be creative, to truly share my gifts and to wake up and be excited to go to work every day. I asked, “Give me a word for something I should be aware of that I’m not aware of.”

The word I got was “sark.”

My friend was confused. “What’s a sark?”

Trembling with surprise, I explained that it was the name of one of my favorite authors. I pulled one of her books off the shelf, opened it to show her what the book was like, and the page I opened to said, “If your work isn’t your dream or leading to your dream, quit sooner rather than later.”

“Oh my god,” I said. “I’m going to work for SARK.”

Within three weeks I had quit my job and started my five-year job/mentorship with one of my heroes. And you know what? For the first several years, most of what I did at the job was cut and paste. (Literally with scissors, by hand, as the design assistant for her licensed gift collection)

What are you good at?

What kind of work would have you excited to get out of bed each morning?

What should you be aware of that you’re not aware of?

p.s. See great note from SARK in the comments section


  1. Posted May 1, 2006 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I love this story.
    I graduate from college in two weeks and I have this overwhelming feeling that everything is just going to work out. I’m not excited or scared… just calm and sure.
    It’s a good feeling.

  2. Posted May 1, 2006 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    i LOVE loVE LOVe this story… when i read it in sark’s book i just thought it was superb… hearing magpie from your story is double delightful.
    hey, thanks for being YOU, ya know?

  3. Posted May 2, 2006 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    This is a great story, and serves as a great reminder. I hope you are going forward with SARK and hope in your life right now!
    One of my life “teachers” reminds me that everyone is going through something monumental at this very moment. This helps me sort through things, sometimes. Best of luck to you…

  4. Posted May 2, 2006 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    I too love this story. Makes me want to pick up a dictionary and see what word pops up!
    P.S. I got one of your necklaces for my birthday. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT! I am blessed by your talent. Thank you.

  5. Posted May 2, 2006 at 3:04 am | Permalink

    This is a wonderful piece so full of hope for anyone who thinks they are in a rut!

  6. Posted May 2, 2006 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    I liked this post too….and funny, I am actually struggling with these 3 questions.
    I have recently discovered that I can take a decent picture…and truthfully, it’s when I feel most alive….taking pictures. I am thinking about it….thinking about it alot.
    I can’t stop thinking about the fact that you let slip that once your husand Matt was a corporate lawyer….that has got me thinking. People make changes…..fundamental ones…..isn’t it better to get out of bed for passion rather than money?

  7. Posted May 2, 2006 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Perfect timing!
    I will let you know how it turns out.

  8. Posted May 2, 2006 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    It’s an amazing story. I just graduated too, where should I go from here? Passions aren’t always followed by money and sometimes it can be hard convincing not only everyone else (and would-be employers, most importantly) but yourself, too. It’s a tricky situation and sometimes it feels like there are too many possibilities and not enough at the same time.
    I tried the dictionary thing: What should I be aware of? just now. My finger landed on the word “judge”, and that was a little confusing, but then I noticed that the line my finger was on was the definition of the expression “be no judge”. Perhaps it means that I shouldn’t make up my mind just yet?

  9. Michele
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Thank you Andrea. That was just what I needed this week. I would love some hopeful guidance, so I will try…here’s my word:
    uniquity : (noun) having unique qualities, synonymous with uniqueness
    We express our uniquity mainly through creation and achievement.
    trying new things:
    an illustration blog
    trying to find a new home
    learning better balance
    freelance design work
    Continuing things that are fun:
    riding bikes
    gardening vegetables
    wearing pigtales
    I guess these are my unique qualities and I will enjoy them as well as pursue them.
    That was fun Thanks! : )

  10. Christine
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Your posts always seem to come at the right time. Last night I came to the conclusion that although I never wanted to be a nurse as a kid, I think I can do it if I get to see miracles happen every day. I can’t face death, and there’s not a lot of places where nurses can easily escape that. So that’s why I’ve decided to work at the island’s first and only birthing center. The decision sits so well with me and who I am. I’m glad that I finally have direction for this career I’ve chosen, and I don’t feel too scared anymore.
    P.S. You know, your dynamic reminds me a little of Dear Abby. Loved by many. Sounding board for the anonymous.

  11. Jenn
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I have been thinking about this so much lately… today this will give me something to think about. I love the question what should you be aware of that you are not aware of… this really has me thinking. Thank you.

  12. Posted May 2, 2006 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Whadda kick-ass story! Love it!!

  13. Posted May 2, 2006 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Woh. That is amazing!
    I want to play!

  14. Posted May 2, 2006 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I will always be gratefull to Andrea and the dictionary! Andrea was a fabulous employee and is now a dear friend~
    i play Magpie often and am usually astonished at the words that pop up to be seen.
    When my Dad was sick, i asked “what will happen to my Dad?” and i put my finger on the word
    He died a week later.
    Magpie doesn’t fool around;)
    You can also ask for clarification by picking another word.
    When i asked “what will it be like when my brother moves?” i got the word “festival” I wasn’t feeling that great about my brother moving, so i asked for another word to explain about festival.
    i got “jamboree”
    This time i embraced the concept, and have been enjoying the
    aftermath of his move.
    Thank you to Andrea and this community for the thoughtfull posts, i often read them, and they fill my heart~

  15. Posted May 2, 2006 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    love this story.
    lovin’ on you!
    (adore SARK too)
    i’ll play today and email you
    the word.
    warm hug,

  16. Laura
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    What a fabulous story. Thank you.

  17. chinita_jill
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    what a wonderful story. i love it. i know i’m good at “cutting and pasting”, too. but i’m in a foreign country with a 1 year visa, with only a minimal grasp of the local language, and so the safest thing is to do is to stay in a corporate job.
    …For now. I hope that one day I will find the courage to break free of this corporate world and finally do something creative, which would fulfill me.
    You, your blogs, your photos, and your creations are my inspiration, that maybe one day I could do those things, too. In the meantime, there is your Magpie game to discover hidden secrets about myself.

  18. Posted May 2, 2006 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    that is an amazing story…
    gave me the shivers!

  19. Posted May 2, 2006 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    What a great story. You always have the most interesting posts and creative ideas. From the outside looking in, it sounds like you have lived a really interesting and fun life! You are such an all-around talented person, it is so great that you share this with the world…on so many levels ?

  20. Posted May 2, 2006 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I asked the question: What goal should I focus on now? My finger landed on the phrase “pull out all the stops” – exert extreme effort.
    What this means to me is that I shouldn’t be trying to figure out my particular goal (I’ve been doing that a lot lately, I probably have all the clarity I need). Instead, I should just get to work with gusto.

  21. Posted May 2, 2006 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t of read this at a better time….I need to do this more than ever. let’s start coaching baby….

  22. Posted May 2, 2006 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    You are such an inspiring person. I look forward to reading your blogs. Thank you for sharing your life with us!
    I loved your Magpies game and am sure I will be playing it over and over again. How did you decide on the name Magpies though?

  23. Posted May 2, 2006 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    i heart SARK!

  24. surcie
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Wow. That is all.

  25. Meg
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. What a great post. Sometime I feel like I’ve lost my magic too. I used to be able to “page” my friends with my mind, and they’d call right away… or I would hear questions people asked me in their head (like through a echo chamber)… and I could read tarot cards… And all sorts of magic things. And I’m in a good place, but not a magic place. I’m in a good job, but not a magic job. It’s weird.
    I first started reading your blog in 2003, 6 months or so after I had graduated. The economy was terrible in New York, and I hated my job. All I did all day was surf the internet, and it was killing my soul. But your little blog helped me out, and the idea that you hadn’t known what you were doing with your life once upon a time too kept me going some days. I have to say, that feels like a million years ago, but I still find you so so inspiring.

  26. Posted May 2, 2006 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    We call it magpies because the first time we discovered
    the game, (quite accidently) we asked who was sending us the messages and the answer we got was the word “magpie.”
    In native american folklore, the magpie is the messenger between
    the two worlds… We were definitely connecting.

  27. Posted May 2, 2006 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m reading your blog here at work where I don’t do much that I like at all. What I’d like to do is to get paid to blog and/or write and to take photos, to make collages and keep crocheting and knitting and anything else crafty. I’m so focused on the money, though. I know I need to leave, I’d just feel a bit safer if I knew where I was going to go next. I’ll try that magpie game at home. Thanks for this post. I feel inspired!

  28. Posted May 2, 2006 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    A friend told me this story about how you came to work for SARK but without the details and the fact that the game was called “Magpies” — a word I love (and the name of the main character of my novel!) so it was great to read it here. A wonderful lesson is staying open to the messages whispered by the world!

  29. Posted May 2, 2006 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I feel so dead lately. I’m stuck in a job that’s leeching the life from me and I’m afraid to jump fulltime into the freelance writing business I do on the side. I asked the dictionary when I should quit my job and it gave me the word Pentecost. Turns out that this year Pentecost is June 5. That date actually works well with the other things in my life. Now I just have to decide if that means I should give my notice now and be done on that date, or wait until June 5 to announce my departure.

  30. Diana
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Love this! Just magpied (can it be a verb?) in the middle of my afternoon, needing some inspiration/delight/whathaveyou. I used your question because it felt right: what should I be aware of, that I am not aware of?
    Answer: Self-doubt.
    Then I used SARK’s clarifying question. And I got “chlordane”. What? Seemed ridiculous. It’s a very toxic insecticide apparently.
    But, perhaps this was driving the point home about doubting — in this case, the first very how-much-more-obvious-can-it-get answer.
    Or, a message about how poisonous self-doubt it.
    Anyway thanks! Much fun.

  31. Kate
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Magpies is a great idea (I’m going to do it right now as soon as I find that darn dictionary)! You are great! You put magic into my life everyday, dear! And I’ve never even met ya! How’s that for magic?!

  32. boogiewig
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, I am always balancing between heart and mind, believing and questioning. You help me balance. I opened the dictionary with your story telling my heart it could work and my mind wondering how, with so many words in there, anything meaningful could come up. When I opened my eyes, my finger was on Namaste.
    Namaste, Andrea.

  33. Posted May 2, 2006 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing experience! Tonight a “friend” and I (a friend I was “in love” with) sort of “broke up” so I asked what I should do with this… The word I was given? Ascend. I just think that’s beautiful.

  34. Posted May 2, 2006 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    thank you – so much!

  35. Posted May 2, 2006 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    what i love about what you wrote was that it reminded me of timing. Timing takes care of everything if you’ve got the patience for it. And you haven’t lost your mojo baby, it’s just timing, timing.

  36. junewell
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    People used to do this with the Bible, but I like Magpie better. With the Bible, it’s less random because you know if you’re early in the Old Testament chances are you’ll end up with an unenlightening “so and so begat so and so” or something bloodthirsty.

  37. penelope
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    i got “prepare”

  38. Mumble Jones
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    My friend and I felt the same way about our job and decided to take that leap into a new place to make us happier. We began a hand-made/custom Halloween decoration business and we feel much more fulfilled – and it’s only the first week! I’ll have to see what Magpie says about our venture. Keep sending those magical thoughts to us all!

  39. kikileo
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm…I’m intrigued that you were working in a clothing store and “sark” means “shirt”. (If it were me, I might’ve taken that to mean I was doomed to work there forever ;0 )

  40. Mia
    Posted May 2, 2006 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Dear Andrea
    HOw strange! I just wrote a post on my site about Sark and pleasure and then I clicked on yours and you have also written about Sark. I find this is happening more and more often with the women’s blogs I read.
    You are really lucky to have worked with Sark. I would do anything for that opportunity!
    Take care Andrea

  41. Posted May 3, 2006 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    You have GOT to be kidding!! Will wonders never cease!?
    Love, Shelley

  42. Fatemeh
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Dear Andrea,
    I loved this post really.
    I play that game with dictionary too. I truly agree with you. I discover that it is true with any precious book. I get answer from “Dr. Wayne Dyer books”, Paulo Coelho books,
    And Hafez. I myself think that those books are related to God in a way and they are true books.
    I also understand that this is right about some blogs too. That you think about something and you go to a weblog, and you see the answer there. I found this magical power in your site too.
    I myself think that I haven’t found my true job yet and your website helps me.

  43. Posted May 3, 2006 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    wonderful story and affirmation of the amazing power of synchronicity-I’d noticed how opening any book with an sincere intention in mind had yielded interesting, right on results. But, having my mathematical father in my brain, it’s been difficult to embrace and trust the power of “chance.” All that began to change when I worked with a lovely woman using the i ching (a wonderful adapted version by Carol Anthony and Hannah Moog). Still struggling with trust, but the help I’ve received is powerful and unmistakeable.

  44. Posted May 3, 2006 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    What a great story! It makes me wonder whether someday, someone will be playing an online version of magpie, end up on your website, and change their life because of YOU! I think you have that power to inspire. ?

  45. Tommy Boy
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I just tried Magpies…Q: “how will my life play out?”
    A: “Heavy”
    Wow! Heavy!

  46. Posted May 3, 2006 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I’ve always been a fan of the dictionary method, but never managed such an amazing story as this one. Gives me extra faith in the power of the dictionary.
    Thanks. I think I’ll go try it now.
    [“Powder blue” was my answer. That one will take some creative interpretation.]
    Still greatly enjoying your blog. Thanks, Andrea.

  47. Anshu
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Thank you again Andrea for inspiring all of us! When thinking about what to do about a guy that I have a huge crush on, the word I picked was gratitude. To me that means be thankful for what is and not worry about what it may become. Living in the present! Another lesson I’ve learned from you!!!!

  48. nina
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I love coming here. I love being reminded that there is so much magic in this world! But is it the word under my finger the one that’s for me or the word my finger points to? Because I’m at a crossroads career-wise and the word under my finger is “burger”, while the one I’m pointing to is “burgeon.” I’m willing to keep an open mind here. Maybe I’m supposed to be a burgeoning burger babe?

  49. tali
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Man, I’ve been searching for that answer myself the last few months. It occurs to me now that I know what it is…I just need to find the courage.

  50. kristen
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    wow magpie is like an oracle, eh?

  51. ed
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I hate you, andrea.

  52. doug
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    …damn…my finger landed on manslaughter…

  53. Posted May 3, 2006 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Like so many others I found inspiration and levity in exploring this game of magpies. My husband and I did it together and ended up with answers both ironic and humorous.
    What is it about coming here that is like an existential tea-party? Thanks, Andrea, for your consistently genuine energy!

  54. Posted May 3, 2006 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    That was a wonderful story, after all the comments I pulled out my dictionary too. I asked what I should be doing with my life and got Courage, asked for a clarifying word and got grand. I figure that must mean I should finally get up the courage to write the story of my Irish Grandparents. I have over 200 letters they wrote to each other from 1901-1910 while they were courting. She was in the US and he was in Ireland. I keep thinking it will be a great story to tell. Maybe its time. Thanks for inspiring me.

  55. Posted May 4, 2006 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    omg was that actually THE Sark up there?
    I was about to come squeal like a schoolgirl at my love for that woman, but now that I know she reads this, I think not!
    We are all succulent wild women.
    I don’t think I have an actual dictionary in my apartment…I wonder if I can play at hehe
    Thank you Andrea

  56. Posted May 4, 2006 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Isn’t this what Dr. Dolittle did with a map to see where he was going on his next adventure? What a great way to keep moving! Right now I love my life and my work, and I am trying to keep the chi flowing…

  57. Posted May 4, 2006 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    ok, I tried the game this morning and I got “gentamicin”, a broad spectrum antibiotic and my clarifying word was “lipoma”, a benign fatty tumor. My interpretation: I’ve been given the means to fight off infections (mental and physical), but which are actually inside of me, at the moment in a benign state (unless left unaddressed). Works for me!
    I’m going to play this with my nieces!!

  58. Posted May 5, 2006 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I wanted to relate an amazing example from this post.
    We know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and is receiving aggressive treatment. She is very close with us; she has been caring for our daughter, part time, for almost two years. So I picked up the dictionary (my daughter was with me) and really concentrated on having a question about her answer. Three times, on different days, I came up with the word “clubhouse”. I was baffled — what does this mean? I tried to read something into the word — maybe she’s joining a club? It’s a happy word, so I felt some kind of reassurance.
    This morning I was driving my husband to work and we passed a street named “Clubhouse Drive.” All of the sudden, I understood. She works, primarily, as the nanny for a family who has offered her a room in her home as she recovers from each treatment. Clubhouse Drive is the street connected to thier cul-de-sac. (The name of their actual street is not in the dictionary.) So this seems like an answer to my question in the most immediate sense: although I don’t know if she will survive the cancer, I have some reassurance that she will be taken care of.
    Thanks for letting me share, and thank you again for sharing your experiences (and art!).

  59. Posted May 5, 2006 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Wow! What an amazing post. I have chills.
    Did you ever read The Alchemist? That book made me realize retail was not for me and I LONGED to do something more creative that would fill my soul. It took a while for me to listen to me, but now….BLISS!

  60. Posted May 5, 2006 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    What if there is no job that would make me excited to get out of bed each morning? What if even if there was one, it wouldn’t pay for the mortgage or wouldn’t allow me to get a Green Card? What if you are good at a lot of things but don’t have the interest and passion to devote yourself completely to anything? What if every time you think you found what it is, you get disaapointed just a few years later?