well lived

follow your curiosities to your dream life

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Our society is consumed by the constricting construct of the ideal life: get a degree, start a career, make money, and climb the corporate ladder. We are taught from a young age that we pick what we want to be when we grow up, and later on we pursue said career through school and training. 

But how sound is this reason? 

I have been lucky enough to meet people in my life who knew at a young age what they wanted to be when they grew up. They had a burning inclination starting in their youth which gave them a clear, coherent vision for the future. 

These individuals followed this drive into college, got a degree, and started doing that one thing that they had always dreamed of. A doctor, biologist, teacher. 

My husband is one of these lucky few. He discovered in college what his true passion was, and has pursued it with vigor ever since. Now, his path has had twists and turns, and I anticipate many more through life, you can never really know what is coming next. But he knows, without a doubt in his mind that each day he is working towards deeper mastering his true passion for life. For a long time, I envied this. 

But for the majority of us, we are unsettled when it comes to finding our one thing, or our calling as some may say. For most of us, since society says we must, we pursue a college degree that falls into one of two categories: 

1. A degree in something either practical, sensical, or will pay the big bucks
2. Or something that doesn't completely bore us to death. 

I personally chose the later. 

Considering how much a college education costs these days, neither of these reasonings seem to stand on sound grounding. But in the hopes that we may fall into something we enjoy, we press o heroically. 

There is little support or empathy for those who do not yet know what they want to be when they grow up. College is a process of growing and finding ones deeper sense of self - which can at times end in the pursuit of a new passion, or it can leave you more lost then ever, knowing all of the choices you have for the road ahead of you. 

So how do we beat this restricting philosophy that society places on our souls? 

I can not say that I have the answer just yet. But I have some thoughts that may shed some light on the issue, and give some individuals out there some peace, knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

For years, I myself spent a great deal of time looking for my one thing. Said one thing, led me down a path of pursing art in college, since nothing else seemed appealing at the time. So, I graduated without any inclination of what I wanted to be when I grew up. 

I so deeply wish now that there had been a class, helping lost souls navigate their way through their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Maybe then I would have landed on solid ground sooner. 

After floating from one thing to the next after leaving college, it took quite some time for me to settle my unease with a simple thought. 

Maybe it was ok if I didn't have one thing. 

Maybe it was ok to live a life in constant pursuit of the things I love; chasing curiosity after curiosity, and simply seeing where I landed each time.

In my recent reading of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, she brought to light some interesting ramblings on the idea of curiosity: 

It's a clue. It might seem like nothing, but it's a clue. Follow that clue. Trust it. See where curiosity will lead you next. Then follow the next clue, and the next clue, and the next. Remember it doesn't have to be a voice in the desert; it's just a harmless little scavenger hunt. Following that scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to your passion - albeit through a strange, untraceable passageway of back alleys, underground caves, and secret doors. Or it may lead you nowhere. You might spend your whole life following your curiosity and have nothing to show for it at the end - except one thing. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you passed your entire existence in devotion to the humble human virtue of inquisitiveness. And that should be more than enough for anyone to say that they lived a rich and splendid life. 

This concept of simply following your interests, your gut, your intuition, your curiosities, to some may seem ungrounded. 

But how often do you see individuals living life as they are supposed to; get a degree, get a job, make money, make more money, buy things, and live a simply empty existence, always seeking out the next thing

Our gauge of success has been skewed by commercialism and consumerism. This default mode of living life, pulls at me from somewhere deep. It breaks my heart, my soul, to watch people living their lives this way. Beyond basic needs of providing for our families, having food on the table, and a roof over our heads, why do we trade our daily joy to ride away at a job that brings up little fulfillment, simple to have more stuff, and success

This idea of following curiosities really resonated with how I had begun living my life. After starting and running my own successful graphic design business, something was missing. There was something else I was being pulled to do. Unsure at first, I followed my urges. 

There is nothing that says this way of life will be easy. Like Liz says, you may have nothing physical to show for your efforts in the end. But wouldn't you rather have less things, and instead live a life well lived? Knowing that you followed every inclination that you ever had? 

One of my personal goals, and a goal I hope to accomplish partly through this writing, is just as I say in bio:

One day, when I am at the end of my life, I hope to feel both full and empty at the same time. Full of all the experiences, knowledge, and love that I have acquired throughout my life; but empty, knowing that there is nothing left for me to do. Nothing left undone, undiscovered. 

To accomplish this means breaking through the social constructs that tell us how we must live our lives, and instead beginning to in face live our lives. 

I know money and security are always issues when discussing topics like this. But the reality is that we never have security. Life giveth and taketh away. We can loose our jobs, our homes, our money, at any time. And I truly believe that through pursuing your greatest desires and curiosities, that both money and security will come in time. 

My hope is that one day, societal demands will break down to accommodate this more free-flowing way of living. What a beautiful world it would be if we all sought to follow our greatest curiosities and passions. 

Curiosity may lead you to a great passion. Don't ignore that bring instinct of your intuition. It may just lead you to the life of your dreams. 

do you have a calling?

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This question is one I get often. If you had asked me this just a few years earlier, I would have shrugged my shoulders and brushed off the question. For a long time I think I was searching for just that: a calling. 

A singular thing. That ONE BIG idea that I was put here to complete. A reason to get up in the morning, a purpose that transcends just keeping myself alive day to day. I was constantly search for something, but could never pin point quite what is was. 

Then one day the lights went on. 

It wasn't an exact moment, it developed over time. As if I had just woken up from a long car ride, and had that feeling of "how the heck did we get here?" 

I am still unsure of the idea of a calling. Perhaps because of it's religious context, it feels limiting to everyone at times. But I do believe we have things that we are put here to accomplish. Whether planned in advance, or found along the way. 

We all have a unique personality, strengths and weaknesses. Difference that separate us from anyone else on this planet today, before us, and after we leave this earth. There is only one of you

Because of that, we all have the ability, drive, and passion to do certain things that others may not. 

For me, it started with art. TO be honest, art was the only thing I cared enough about to pay for a college degree in. And at the time, society was telling me that I needed a college degree. 

But after years of missing something, all of a sudden, it just clicked. I felt a drive to change the way we look at life. A desire to help every person I come in contact with live a fuller, freer, more meaningful existence. 

Maybe one day I will have a word for it. That is part of all of this. Understanding how I was on of the lucky few who got to this point. 

But the reality is, we all have those moments. We all have the moments when we have a really good idea, a deep pull to do something. And it is our choice to listen to that deep desire, or let is pass us by. 

I have recently been making my way through Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic. A life changing book if you have the time to read it. Here was her view on ideas: 

"I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us - albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven buy a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human's efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual" 

At first read, I thought Liz had lost it. Ideas floating around like butterflies, looking for the perfect victim to land on. Seemed a little too woo-woo crazy, even for me. 

But when I was able to think on the idea further, I began to wonder if this is why I struggle with the idea of a calling. 

A calling insinuates that we have one thing. One specific thing that we were put here to do. But I have a hard time with that. I have always been a flighty creative soul, floating from one project, one idea, to the next. So I have a hard time grasping this concept of a singular calling. 

That is why I was lost for so long. I was looking for only one thing, not realizing that there could be so many things that I could accomplish in a lifetime. 

When putting Liz's idea into perspective in this way, it was enlightening. Throughout out lifetime, we may be taken by several ideas. We may shift what we are doing - even if only slightly, like a ship captain adjusting to unexpected winds. 

We all have those moments of genius. Of clarity. Of an idea that we just know is BIG. But too often we let it go, assuming it is trivial, or impractical. Could we be missing out on our calling at that time? 

We will all have several of these moments throughout our life. So don't feel that it is ever too late to be that which you are meant to become. 

If you missed your first chance, or your second, or your tenth, the good news is that you will have many more chances. If you live to be 80 years old, that is over 29,000 days of living. That is a lot of chances to start over, being something new, pick yourself up after a failure, and to truly live you life to it's absolute fullest. 

We all may have several moments of calling throughout our lives. Our job is to quiet our fear long enough to listen. 

And above all else, JUMP. You only get to live today once. Make it count. 

 

living on purpose with urgency

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"And you have treasures hidden within you - extraordinary treasures - and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think small."  - Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Cue the goose bumps. 

Living on purpose needs to have a sense of urgency. When thinking about living a life of our dreams, most of us adopt the same patters as we do with a new diet plan. "I'll start on Monday." As if Monday holds some magical power of motivation for us all. 

But without some sense of urgency, our fear will continually take over, and we will keep pushing out dreams off until tomorrow. Until there is no longer a tomorrow to wait for. 

One of the exercises that I do with myself and those I work with, is to weight our fears. With is scarier: Starting on a path to living your dream? Or getting to the end of your life, and knowing that you let a life truly well lived slip through your fingers? 

There will never be a perfect time to start. Too often we wait for the circumstances to be just right. Until we have more money. More time. Less demands from family. Less obligations at work. If you are waiting for the perfect time, you will alway find something to hold you back. 

You must assert your dreams with a sense of urgency. You only get to live today once. You will never be able to rewind, and relive a day of your life. So why wait? Why wait another second longer? There shouldn't be anything scarier than not living to your full potential. 

Getting over the fear of starting is by far the biggest issue individuals have when thinking about changing careers, chasing that BIG idea, going back to school, or traveling the world. And I don't blame anyone, I have the same problem with each new idea, endeavor, and adventure. 

Over the past few years, I have found a simple trick which I am sure many other have fun before me. The best way to get over fear, is to simply start. And not just start in a panic. But start without any expectations of a specific outcome. 

Out outcome based fears can be go one of two ways, and the later may surprise you. First, we fear failure. Failure is a huge blocker when looking at pursing a dream you have. What if is doesn't work? What if you can't support yourself? What is no one cares? (the last one is my biggie)

But the second fear can be ever more debilitating than the first. The fear of succeeding and having no idea what to do with that success. If find that it is almost 50/50 whether people are truly scared of failure or success. 

Once you have you moment of calling. That "ah ha!" moment when the lights get flipped on, and you have a clear vision for your future - I find that success is actually the dominant fear. With so much energy and certainty for your future, how could you fail? Bur also, what if you don't? 

Fail or succeed, you won't know until you get going. Sometimes we fall flat on our faces, but that teaches us resilience. Other times, we are a breakout success, and that teaches us confidence, and humility. 

My biggest fear for the future now, is in the quote you read at the beginning of this post. We all have truly unique gifts inside of us. Maybe that is a calling, if you will, of some kind. Something that digs at us deep within. A desire to create, learn and serve. A desire to do something that terrifies us beyond all measure. 

But if we all give into that fear, are we not denying ourselves, and all of man kind, from living the life are here to live? The clock is ticking. We will never get back today. But too many of us push off our dreams to tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that, and the tomorrow after that, until we run out of tomorrow's. 

Think of what our world would look like if everyone was able to realize their potential. To realize their strengths, their dreams, and their unique human greatness. 

Fear is only an emotion. And all emotions are temporary. But putting off your dreams until tomorrow can become a reality learned too late. 

Try today to set aside your fear, even just for a moment. Imagine what your life could look like. And with a sense of urgency - because there will never be another today - just take a small step toward your goal. Think of a name for that business, look into schooling options, talk to someone in the field you are thinking about heading into. Do so without any expectations of an outcome. Simply do it, for the pleasure of doing it. For the sake of a little good old fashioned curiosity. 

Beacause you never know where a little curiosity may lead you...