Cat Talk: With Jeff Goins and His New Book “The Art of Work”

Cat Talk with Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins, a dear friend, was kind enough to take time out of his busy day writing, making guacamole and walking his dog Lyric, to answer a few questions about his latest book, The Art of Work.

POOH

Jeff, “The Art of Work” is a different from your previous books, “Wrecked” and “The In-Between,” where you wrote about experiences from your own life. Why the departure from your previous format in “The Art of Work,” where you interview other people?

JEFF

I wanted to write a book built on principles, not just my personality. But something fun happened as a result of doing this. Telling other people’s stories helped me understand my own story better.

Cat Talk, "The Art of Work"

POOH

Taking cat naps in a sunbeam is an art. How can work be an art?

JEFF

Work is an art when you don’t just follow a set of guidelines but choose to see your life, and vocation, as a canvas on which you get to create something beautiful. In other words, finding your life’s work will be more art than science. It will take tenacity and courage, but also creativity and grace.

POOH

What do you mean Jeff by the sub-title of the book: a proven path to discovering what you were meant to do? Are you saying there is only one job we are meant to have?

JEFF

I actually think your calling won’t be a job. It’s not only what you do; it’s who you are. And in that respect, we never stop realizing our calling until we breathe our last breath. The idea of it being a proven path is based on the research I did, both in interviewing everyday, extraordinary individuals, and in reading countless biographies of people who have led interesting lives. This isn’t just a bunch of ideas; it’s the path towards what a life of impact looks like.

POOH

Did I make a mistake Jeff? Was I suppose to be a mouse hunter and not a writer?

JEFF

Why can’t you do both, Pooh? I think we all need to be organizing our lives more as artists, and by that I mean we should think of what we do as a portfolio. The best writers live portfolio lives. In my case, I’m not just a writer; I’m also a father, a husband, an entrepreneur (and some might argue the world’s foremost expert on guacamole).

POOH

I am so curious. Curious as a cat, to know how you apply the ideas in your book to your own life Jeff.

JEFF

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is the idea of legacy, that your great work might, in fact, be a body of work. And that you could spend your whole life creating it. If that’s true, then I should be spending much of my time building something that is bigger than me, that will be around long after I’m gone. And the way that I get started with that now, I think, is by investing in relationships, in doing everything I can to encourage people to find their calling and live the life they were born to live. Practically, that means I am trying to make more room for connecting with people, realizing that the work I do isn’t just about me.

Cat Talk, "The Art of Work."

 

POOH

You are a good friend Jeff and you do a great job encouraging humans, and cats. Now tell me Jeff, what is the best part about “The Art of Work?”

JEFF

I like the Appendix. If you’re averse to reading 200+-page books, it might be right up your alley. Within a page or two, you can basically get the whole synopsis of the book. Think of it like a cheat sheet for busy people.

POOH

Jeff, is there anything I didn’t ask that you would to share about your latest work?

JEFF

Only this: I don’t think people are being honest about this process of find your dream (or calling or purpose or whatever word you use). To me, it is a complicated, messy, sometimes difficult process. And when we say it’s easy or “you just know,” I think we do this process a disservice. It can be hard and confusing, and you may always be questioning yourself, but it will also be worth the struggle. That’s what I discovered about becoming a writer. It was nothing like what people told me. It wasn’t what I expected. But in a way, it was better.

POOH

And Jeff, on a lighter note, why do you have a dog and not a cat? Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Allan Poe all had cats.

JEFF

You know, my son loves chasing the neighborhood cats. So maybe you’re on to something there.

POOH

Oh dear Jeff. Perhaps your son needs a cat to manage his life. I can contact my cat friends in Tennessee to see if anyone is available.

Thank you Jeff, it has been a pleasure talking with you on Cat Talk on The Write Practice. You may not have a cat to manage your life, but you do know how to help people manage their own lives. I give this book five mice. Why give stars when you can give mice? The Art of Work entertains and instructs.

To find out more about Jeff’s book you can read about it here artofworkbook.com  The book releases on March 24th, 2015. A day to celebrate. I wonder if Jeff will have a party? I hope he serves mice.

Connect with Jeff on his blog or catch him tweeting on twitter. I wish I lived in Tennessee so I could go for a walk with Jeff and his dog Lyric. I might even try his guacamole.

I am dictating the interview to my typist.

I am dictating the interview to my typist.

PRACTICE

For practice today write about a significant event in your life. This is part of an exercise from Jeff’s book, The Art of Work, to help you discover what you were meant to do. Thinking about your significant life moments will help you bring clarity to your life.

Write for fifteen minutes then share your story here in the comments section. I am excited to read your stories and get to know you better. I love to make new friends.

Please be kind and read someone else’s story and make a comment. We, as writers, can encourage each another to find out who we were meant to be.

All my best,
xo
Love Pooh

Cat Talk

About Pooh Hodges

Pooh Hodges is the cat who writes. He is an author, an entrepreneur and a visionary. He dictates to his typist every morning before he takes a nap in a sunbeam. He is currently writing his memoir, a tragic tale of loss and redemption. Pooh would love to be your friend and he would love to connect with you on his blog, thecatwhowrites.com

  • nkgem

    Two days ago my husband and I went for a day of skiing. It’s significant because we were celebrating our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We had skied the same slopes on our honeymoon, and not since.
    Yes, there was fear and trepidation, and this from a person who is pretty ready to try new things. Would my knees hold out. Would I get an injury? Could I still do it? I’m happy to report that I flew down the runs, white snow flying under my feet, every muscle alert.It was exhilarating.
    What did I learn? Why did it matter? I learned that I had limited myself mentally ahead of what I am physically capable of. Note to self: you are younger than you think. This experience mattered because it was new (practically) and I was taking it on. Secondly, it was beautiful, fresh, tangible, risky. Me, out in the expanse of God’s perfect white powder, immovable pines, and tending wind. Wonderful!
    My husband and I were invigorated by our time on the mountain. I think in some ways it was a reset of the clock for us. A flash from the past and a kick into the next adventure.

    • My dearest nkgem,

      Before I comment on your bravery, may I take a few moments to congratulate you on the celebration of twenty-five years of marriage.

      You have inspired me with the wisdom you gained from skiing. “I learned that I had limited myself mentally ahead of what I am physically capable of.”

      May we never limit ourselves with our minds again.
      Oh, what will your next adventure be? All my best to you and your husband.
      xo
      Love Pooh

    • Susan W A

      How exhilirating for you! I enjoyed reading this. I felt the crisp freshness of the outdoors and of your realized rejuvenation. Brava!

  • Creative space seems to come to us at different times in our lives, as well as in various portions. I realize, now, that although I had thought teaching was where I was supposed to be, I was suffocating. Only since I’ve been free to discover where my talents lie, am I realizing my potential. We may not find our dream, at first; but it begins to unravel as we continue down our path. Cat Talk is a wonderful addition to the Write Practice. I look forward to hearing more from you Pooh.

    • My dearest Shelley,
      As you find your creative space and realize your potential I look forward to seeing where your heart and your dreams take you.
      Perhaps we can walk together down the path Shelley?
      All my best,
      xo
      Love Pooh

    • Susan W A

      Wise reflection; I enjoyed how you expressed this. It seems you’re feeling very expansive right now. So glad for you. Something to rejoice to have your “creative space” available in a larger “portion”!

  • Great interview Pooh, thanks for Interviewing Jeff to get more details on his new book. A question for you is what are the best sunbeams for naps – morning or late afternoon?

    • My dearest Jon,
      Thank you for your kind words about my interview with Jeff. Jeff really does know how to explain his ideas clearly.
      Jon, I prefer the late afternoon sun for a nap. The color of the sun is golden, and warm on my fur. Mind you, a nap in the morning gets me ready for lunch. When do you prefer to nap Jon?
      All my best,
      xo
      Love Pooh

      • Well Pooh, my motto has always been that anytime is the perfect time for a nap. Life is busy but I almost always work one in each Sunday afternoon. A great close to the weekend.

  • TC

    A great interview! And it is a great book!

    • My dearest TC,
      Jeff really wrote a wonderful book, didn’t he?
      Thank you for taking the time to comment.
      All my best,
      xo
      Love Pooh

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    Love ya, Jeff , but Pooh always steals the show, I am afraid 😛 hehee

    AMAZING interview #HUGSS

    • Hello again my dearest Krithika,
      Now, now, I didn’t mean to steal any show. Perhaps it is my bow-tie, or my soft fur.? Jeff does have red-hair, doesn’t make him the show-stealer?
      All my best, and a hug for you,
      xo
      Love Pooh

    • Indeed!

  • Alisha Joy

    Ideas to occupy my time while the kids are away. =)

    (1) Lunch.

    I’m not really a luncher, but I could be, why not. I am a capable adult woman who can lunch if she damn well pleases to lunch. Catch up with friends, drink chardonnay in the afternoon… Cheers to my new beginning.

    (2) Call Sara and ask how to go about lunching…

    (3) Work on my novel.

    It’s time. This is the last rewrite, a full week without kids. That is, if Tony actually picks them up like he promised! That is, if he can handle his children for a full week after a year of not showing up!

    Stop.

    Breath.

    He will show up. He will show up. Do not put the possibility of him not showing up into the universe.

    Okay, so Tony picks up the kids and I Work on my novel. I haven’t looked at it for a year, but that’s a good thing. I can now approach it with a clear mind. I have some distance, distance is great, better than great; it’s ideal. And I have a full week with no kids to distract me. No car-pooling. No lunch making. No piles of laundry. Oh, that reminds me…

    (4) Catch up on Laundry.

    (5) Yoga.

    No excuses. I can easily make the 8 am yoga class now that I won’t be driving the kids to school. It’s a great class, start the day off right, Yoga in the morning, write, then lunch…

    (6) Go on a date.

    Okay, so there’s that. It’s been a year. Yoga in the morning, write, lunch, catch up on housework… Go. On. A. Date. Do I need to Tinder or OKcupid or Tweet or whatever? Isn’t that how people find dates these days, peruse and swipe at strangers on an iPhone screen in the comfort of their own living room? I’m going to need wine for this event.

    (7) Buy a box of wine

    (8) Google best dating websites for women over 35.

    I’m going to have to post photos of myself. Do I even have a current photo? Oh my God! Do I need a selfie?!??! How do you even take a selfie? I’m going to have to ask the kids to teach me before they leave. Sam got that selfie stick for Christmas, I’ll ask him how to use it. Wait. He’ll wonder why, and I can’t tell him! What if someone he knows sees my dating profile. No teenage boy wants to hear about his mom’s internet dating profile!

    Breath.

    There are other ways to meet men. I can do it the old fashioned way. People have been socializing for centuries without the aid of computers. I just need to put myself out there. Smile. Say hello. Wave my ring-less finger around. Exude “I’m available and looking for a hot man to ask me for my phone number” pheromones.

    Maybe I could meet a guy at Yoga, a fit Yogi and we could drink tea in some trendy teashop or hit up a vegan hotspot. I hate vegan food. Yogi’s… is that’s even what you call them… maybe that’s an offensive term. Oh God, what if I offend the hot yogi before we even get to the tea house.

    (9) Google proper term for Yoga enthusiasts

    • My dearest Alisha Joy,
      You brought me joy this morning as I read your story. Did writing your thoughts bring clarity to your life?
      Did the day go as planned? Did Tony come? Did you take a selfie? Did you go to the Yoga class? Did you work on your novel?
      If you novel is as engaging as your numbered list for today, it will be a best seller.
      Wishing you all my best as you navigate your new life.
      xo
      Love Pooh

      • Alisha Joy

        Dear Pooh,

        Do days every go as planned? Discovering who I am as a woman outside of kids and a failed marriage has been a process… But I do find writing about it, and allowing myself to see the humor in it is very helpful.

        x
        Alisha Joy

    • christih

      This is hilarious. I look forward to a new “Stream-of-consciousness” book!

      • Alisha Joy

        Thankyou. My novel is a fantasy about dreaming and nightmares… very different than this! =)

    • Susan W A

      Purely and simply delightful!

      This flows so well, drawing your reader into your “You go, girl!” vs. “Ack! What am I doing?” thought process as you plan your week. I feel like I just lunched with you!

    • Love this. I giggled all the way through. The dilemma of the modern mother. Cramming the ideal life into 1 week.
      This writing and pacing demonstrates how quickly the mind can carry us away into a mental torrent.
      I would have picked yoga and writing. 🙂
      Great sharing. Your choice of words and tone (voice) would speak to millions of women around the western world.
      Thanks
      Dawn

  • Phooh, thanks for the amazing interview. (Do you like cat kibbles? And no, I prefer stars to rats. And I think Jeff would prefer them too. Unless he likes chocolate. Then we prefer chocolate)

    I don’t remember the first time I wrote, just to write, an not because my teacher told me to Or my dad or mum said. I wish I really could remember, it would have been an amazing memory. But I think it might have been a rainy day.

    Drip. Drip. Drip.
    It was a rainy day

    Drip. Thump. Drip. Thump.
    Ohhhhhhh yea. Ohhhhhh yea.
    It was a rainy day.

    Drip. Too-too. Drip. Too-too.
    The day –
    I picked up a pen.

    Ohhhhhh yea. Ohhh yea.
    And wrote. And wrote. And wrote.
    On a rainy day.

    Drip. Drip. Drip.
    On a rainy day.

    • Susan W A

      Yes, wishing for that visceral, cell-touching memory of a first time. It IS remarkable when we can remember how it felt to accomplish something, especially for the first time. And that time was special for you because it was for YOU, not writing for anyone else. I like how you recreated the memory for yourself.

    • I prefer chocolate.

  • christih

    The first time I realized that God knew who I was, I was lying in a hospital bed. 8 hours earlier I had delivered a beautiful little girl who was having trouble breathing and had been whisked downstairs to the NICU by the nurses. I had proceeded to the maternity recovery ward and was listening to my husband snore on the fold-out cot the hospital provided for him. Unable to sleep I had awoken with one clear sentence on repeat in my mind—“She needs to eat.” I knew with certainty that my milk would be several days coming in and that nursing was not the answer for my little girl.

    I wrapped my uncomfortable and too-large hospital gown around myself to head downstairs and went to the little isolette that held my baby. I stared at her wondering what I was supposed to do now. They had rocking chairs in the room and I sat in one and waited. After a long while a nurse came in to check on the numbers and I asked her if the baby had eaten anything. The nurse apparently thought I wanted to nurse and simply answered that I had said previously (at a doctor’s appointment that felt forever ago) that I would be nursing so they hadn’t fed her anything. I was aghast—not even sugar water? I was told they had fed her! But the nurse glanced at the chart and shook her head no. I immediately told her that I thought the baby would do better if she had something to eat, and I wouldn’t be up to nursing for several days. The nurse tried to explain about colostrum and liquid gold and how you can’t see it but the baby is getting it. I stopped her, stating “This is my second child and my milk takes days to come in. I would like her to have something more nutritious while we wait. I will pump, but it won’t be enough for her.” The nurse just nodded, submitting to my personality (or the hormones still racing through my system) and asked how I felt about formula. I told her that that was completely fine and to do whatever they needed to to ensure the baby had enough important nutrients.
    As I went back to my room after seeing a feeding tube inserted, I knew that I hadn’t been the one to realize that the baby needed food. God had told me, clear as day, that she needed formula

    • Beautiful story and a very significant life event.

    • Alisha Joy

      Mother’s intuition is a powerful thing. Great story. Loved your opening sentence, it captured my attention immediately.

    • Susan W A

      The soul of motherhood thanks you from the center of her heart for listening to your voice within.

      Thank you for sharing about this special connection. A great lesson in honoring the intuitive self.

  • Trekking Nepal 1992

    Breath taken away by altitude,
    heart pounding with the slow walk of a steep incline,
    heels blistered by second hand boots,
    sky screaming blue,
    cheeks slapped with thin air,
    distant snow-wisps whip mountain tops,
    hands rest on bruised worn hips,
    Macupachare holy, sacred
    stands solid, thick grey and foreboding,
    sleek clouds tremor by
    I am beautifully insignificant
    in the full glory and command of nature
    Standing at the top the world
    Wordless.
    Breathless.
    Small
    And still.

    • Alisha Joy

      Loved this! “I am beautifully insignificant” Powerful line. Well done!

      • Hi Alisha
        Thanks
        What I enjoy about a quick practice, when I just let go, is that some little gem always bubbles up. And I too smiled at ‘… Beautifully insignificant’ .
        That’s my favourite line.
        Love Dawn

    • Susan W A

      Wow…what an accomplishment! A strength and awe you can draw on for a lifetime.

      • Yes Susan, lots of little yet monumental travel and life experiences rattling around. It’s the prompts here at TWP that tease them out occasionally.
        This one was just the sheer breathtaking majesty of this planet we call home.
        My favourite line, as I said to Alisha, is “I am beautifully insignificant.”
        I’m going to use that as a prompt to explore (have internal dialogue with) a little more.
        I get the feeling there is something exquisite in there to be discovered.

        Thanks for your consistent encouragement.
        Love Dawn

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