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Smart Woman Online: Mona Grayson

It's that time of the week, dear readers. Another fabulous Smart Woman Online interview. This week we have someone out of the ordinary -- yes, of course, ALL of our interviews are extraordinary, but Mona Grayson of Let's Do the Work is going to introduce a new perspective on life. We met Mona via... blogging and email, of course! After 'talking' a bit via the net, I knew she had great stuff to offer our readers. We think this week's Smart Woman Online is going to surprise and delight you.

Find out how...

Lip-sticking: Mona, your background is in teaching, a profession that Jane holds high admiration for. Tell us why you became a teacher (it's such a traditional career choice for women)
and what you taught. Explain why you aren't teaching now...and how the Internet has enabled you to be self-sufficient.

Mona: My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Wojack, was the sweetest thing I ever experienced in school. She was warm, she was gentle, and she gave the biggest, squishiest hugs. I couldn't help but fall in love with her and with teaching. As I continued on through school it just became clearer and clearer to me that being a teacher was exactly what I wanted to do.

I was 20 when I started teaching third grade. It was a dream job for me. Then during my fourth year of teaching, I started having drastic health issues. I retired in the middle of the following year at the order of my doctor, having been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivies. Thus began a three year path to wellness. I'm nearly symptom free now!

During that time, the internet became my entertainment, my social life, my mall, my library, my everything...and it's where I eventually met my current boyfriend! I really became aware
of what a resource the internet is to people who are disabled, sick, or otherwise home-bound and unable to go out. I think it really kept me from feeling completely helpless as my body was giving out on me.

Lip-sticking: The idea of being self-sufficient is a big one for women, these days. Ebay and work-at-home options have opened the door for women to start their own businesses, and women
in corporate America are stepping down to take their talents to a business of their own. How worried were you about becoming your own boss?

Mona: Well, by the time I started my business I was at rock bottom. It had been two years since I'd worked, and had spent that time basically living on my credit cards. So when I started my facilitation business I felt like there wasn't really anywhere to go but up. Once I found Robert Middleton's site I felt like I had everything I needed in order to get my business going. Connecting with his materials was the best thing that happened to my business and made everything else a lot easier.

Lip-sticking: Now tell us about Byron Katie -- and how you got involved with her.

Mona: Katie helps end suffering in people's lives, but instead of giving people answers and advice for their problems, she gives them the *questions* that will help them find their own answers.

This process is called The Work and after immersing myself in this form of inquiry on my own and at two of her 9 day Schools for The Work, I started shedding long held resentments, got really clear about what was going on with my health, and started finding myself more receptive to healing. It was incredible.

So, in April of 2004 I started Let's Do The Work and opened a virtual business as a facilitator of The Work as a way to re-enter the job world and help others who were interested in working through their stress and resentments, too. And now -- like Katie -- instead of giving people advice for how they should live their lives, I hold the space with the questions so that they can make their own discoveries.

Lip-sticking: We tell folks that women are intense questioners...we want to know the 'why' of things more than the 'how'. Do you agree? What does your work with Byron Katie say about that concept?

Mona: Well, I'm definitely a questioner - especially since finding The Work. One of the biggest insights I've had around the "why" of things is that I've discovered through The Work is where stress comes from, and why people get stressed in the first place. Stress comes from one of two places: 1) wanting something to be different than it is (or arguing with reality) and 2) being in someone else's business.

And I found that The Work addressed the 'how' for me, too. So many self-help methods spout a lot of theory about living in the moment, or forgiving and forgetting, or living an authentic life, and they often fail to explain 'how' to do it. With The Work, the 'how' is very clear: "Judge Your Neighbor, write it down. Ask four questions, turn it around." Following those steps is how you can end suffering in your life.

Lip-sticking: Is your work with Byron Katie applicable both to home and business? It seems like a unique viewpoint, but where does it (if it does) fit into the everyday world of work? We assume that it's meant to serve both men and women -- but since the two genders are so different, how does the Byron Katie approach deal with that? We're thinking of how men are competitive to the nth degree, and women are more intent on working things out.

Mona: The Work is equally as valuable to men and women and it works like that because thoughts aren't gender specific: "I want that person to appreciate me. My father should have shown more affection. My clients should call me. I need more money." Both men and women think these thoughts - and both can experience stress when they believe them. It's one of the universal similarities between men and women - believing what we think! [excellent point]

So whether you're stressed because you want your children to do their homework, or you want your clients to buy your goods and services, with The Work we're really dealing with thoughts. And we deal with the thoughts because it's not actually the events in our lives that are bothering us - it's our *thoughts* about those events that bother us.

But, talking about The Work is a lot like reading a book of water and expecting it to quench your thirst - it's just not going to happen. You have to actually *do* The Work in order to get out from under the stress and that's what my business is all about.

Lip-sticking: We see you haven't written a post in your blog for a couple of weeks. Jane has been monstrously busy so we can relate, but...as an 'interactive tool' (you, yourself describe it so in your website navigation), a blog needs to be updated frequently. We'd love to hear more from you...when will you post next?

Mona: I've recently embarked on Denise and Patsi's Blog to Book project [cheers all around!] and will be using my blog to write a book about applying The Work of Byron Katie - based on my own experiences and work with clients. This book has been developing in me over the past year or so and I'm really looking forward to watching it come together.

So get those RSS feeds ready because I'm going to be putting out some powerful ideas for clearing up the stress and baggage you might be dealing with!

Lip-sticking: There's no way around it -- we have to ask -- do you shop online? There's been some commentary on the safety of shopping online, right here on this blog. We're sure you're concerned about the safety of your information when (if) you shop online, so how do you protect yourself? Do you trust only big sites such as Amazon and Shop.org? Or, will you take a chance on a little site that has unique, interesting gift items?

Mona: Shop.org? Wow...I haven't heard of that one! Thanks for the tip. : ) I use PayPal on my site, so I'll go anywhere that uses PayPal. I do look for the 's' on the end of the http: when I'm entering credit card information elsewhere. Just the other day I ran across a site with this across the top: "This is a secure site where you can enter your credit card information. Notice the 's' on the end of the http: in the URL..." and I thought that was really cool because by educating the buyer they could put a lot of people at ease who might otherwise click away. In general I don't feel unsafe on the internet.

Truth be told though, my boyfriend is the major online purchaser in this house because he's amazing at comparison shopping and research and seems to have fun doing it. So I give him my shopping lists and then boxes magically appear on my doorstep. To quote you, Jane, "What's not to like about that!?" [hear, hear! LOL]

Lip-sticking: Tell us the best book you read in 2004 -- and what you're reading now.

Mona: The Craggy Hole in My Heart and the Cat who Fixed It was a real treat. [we're intrigued...we must discover this book for ourselves.] It's funny, and heartwarming, and I really appreciated the writing style. Then ever since I started blogging, my offline reading has shifted into reading magazines: Working Mother, Psychology Today, Organic Style, and Vegetarian Times are some of them. I'm enjoying reading chunks of information and getting a feel for different styles of article writing, too.

Lip-sticking: Tell us what you miss most from your childhood -- a favorite toy? A favorite food that is no longer available? A favorite TV show? What's missing that you wish you could bring back?

Mona: Big League Chew comes to mind, but I'm pretty clear that my life is better off without those shredded sugar strips!Mona_grayson

Lip-sticking: If you could live anywhere in the Universe -- yes, we said Universe -- where would that be and why?

Mona: Since you've got me thinking about books and childhood memories, and universes no less, Asteroid B-612 (as named by the grown ups) is a place I'd like to live for a while. The Little Prince who lives there tends to his volcanos, both active and extinct, and takes care of a rose which is unique in all the world. I'd like to sit with him and watch the sunset 40 times in one day. If you'd like to visit, read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry and come join us!

Thanks for joining us this week, Mona. We're intrigued by your work, your reading list, and your desire to live on Asteroid B-612. If you have a suggestion for a Smart Woman Online interview, we'd love to hear it. [that request includes YOU, too, dear reader. Do you have someone for Jane to interview? Do tell...]

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We have one thing left to say: What's not to like about that?

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