Writer, producer and coach Kathrin Seitz and Marc Felix, a Camden psychotherapist and student of shamanism, are exploring  the phenomenon of relationships — what they are and what they mean for the human experience. In May, they will hold a daylong workshop to invite relationship into lives and enhance the relationships one has. As part of this project, they also venture forth with the broader Midcoast community with this column, to investigate the idea of relationship, that heavily nuanced word in the English language that implies much but is so hard to define.

Andrea from Brooks asks, “How can we make our relationship to our job better?”

Marc’s answer:

“Work is love made visible.”

— Khalil Gibran

When I hear the word “job” I think about the things people do to get a paycheck. I believe we all deserve work that inspires us.

How different is a “job” from a “vocation”? Vocation comes from the Latin word vocare, which means to call. When we have a vocation, we are doing what we are called to do. We’re doing what we have a passion for. Joseph Campbell talked about this when he said to “follow your bliss.” Perhaps the most intense cinematic example of being called occurs in Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Remember Richard Dreyfus’ obsession with the hill, and the famous scene where he carves the hill in his mashed potatoes. He didn’t just want to go there. He had to go there. That’s the passion we feel when we’re called. Artists know this experience of deep passion when they have an image that they have to put on canvas or a melody they have to compose.

In my own career I started out as a traditional psychotherapist, which I liked. Then, through a long shamanic apprenticeship, I became a psychotherapist whose “hobby” was spiritual transformation. This separation of work and “hobby” created a stressful split inside me. Then, over the next decade, I integrated psychotherapy with spiritual transformation and created a powerful blend that effectively changes people’s lives. It was a long journey to get here, but I’m passionate about my work, truly love it, and feel called to do it.

The Buddha talked about “right livelihood,” viewing work as an ethical embodiment of love that serves our fellow men. Work, in that tradition, is something to be done with a mindful, meditative attitude. Work is an opportunity to be fully present in the moment.

A business can be run with spiritual principles. The bottom line of making a profit can be expanded to include personal growth, and values like compassion, truth, kindness, and environmental consciousness.

The most powerful strategy I know for making your relationship to work better is to see your work as a spiritual practice. Don’t get so lost in the details of what you’re doing that you lose sight of eternity. Don’t be so caught up in accomplishing things that you forget the miracle of life. Don’t let the everyday tasks distract you from the indescribable mystery that the universe is.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your work:

What am I passionate about? Does my work give me the opportunity to do what I’m passionate about? What are my gifts? Does my work give me the opportunity to give my gifts to the world? Does my work serve others? Is my work a channel for me to express my creativity?

Often we don’t need to find another job, but rather we need to adjust our attitude and approach to our current work to be more aligned with our passions, our values and our gifts.

Kathrin’s answer:

“Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

— Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and Pixar

Marc and Steve Jobs say it well. We know, somewhere buried deep within us, what it is we are meant to do. It’s a question of uncovering this truth. And then it’s a question of having the courage to obey our intuition. Living like this does not guarantee worldly security, but it does build inner trust. And a sense of joy in being alive. And that’s the kind of trust we need in order to take risks on a daily basis.

I have found that once I have figured out where I want to go next in my work life, I have to then figure out how to get there. When, as a young executive in the entertainment business, I sensed that it might be time to move on, I would have breakfast, lunch and dinner with everyone I knew in the business, figuring that by doing so, my name would be broadcast out into the universe.

My lunch date would say to his friend, colleague, boss, “Oh I had lunch with Kathrin Seitz. She’s having a good time at ABC, but I sense she’s looking for more.” So the idea is planted and my name is repeated. And at some point, and maybe it has to do with numbers, the next job would appear before me. And sometimes, that job would mean a salary cut, but that was not relevant. What was relevant was my desire, my passion, for the job. Passion plus discipline plus faith and the ability to take risks — these qualities will get you where you want to go.

I think, for women, there are periods in our lives when career or vocation are of the uppermost importance, and other times when raising children or relationship can take precedence. It is important to recognize the difference in these moments in our lives. Sometimes we put off big ambitions to be present for our children. Yet, often while we are raising our children, opportunities for meaningful work present themselves in surprising ways. As I was raising my son, as a single mother in Hollywood, a job offer came to me out of the blue. The job was at Nickelodeon in the animation department. I had never worked at a kids network and I had never worked in animation — I would never have considered working for a children’s network in my old career days — but this job turned out to be the perfect job for me as a single mom: I got to spend time with Alex and, at the same time, learn and grow in my chosen field as a creative producer. And I knew that Nickelodeon, because of its brand, would have to honor my needs as a mother.

If asked when young, I wouldn’t have been able to define my passion or bliss. But by writing about my life, by looking at the curve of my career and personal life, I came to understand that I have been following my bliss my entire life. The choices I have made, which at the time seemed arbitrary, were in fact right on target. On a cold winter Sunday afternoon, in February, I was going through old papers and happened across my senior thesis for Barnard College. The thesis investigates the use of images and words in a play by Paul Claudel, exploring how stage images replace words in order to shorten the play. This concern — the balance between words and images — has been at the center of my work life, whether I was editing books, buying movies for distribution, producing television movies, feature films, or animation, or teaching the process, as I do now. It’s where I have lived and where I have prospered.

So spend some time this Sunday afternoon traveling around your past. Look at the patterns. See how you have made choices about work that follow your bliss. Congratulate yourself. And sharpen the path, focus the energy. And offer the world your gifts!