Monday, October 31, 2011

Refining the pursuit Day 16

I spent last week on an exciting work/consulting trip. I was nervous that I wouldn't measure up to expectations or be at the same level as the other contributors to the project. I felt some of that nervous energy throughout the week--especially when we had to give a televised presentation--it morphed into more excitement about the challenge. It was energizing to be around people that are experts in the field and to be considered part of that group.

While I was there it reaffirmed for me that so much of what I do for work, I really enjoy. I like the broad range of issues that it addresses--environmental, social, economic, and community and also ties into politics. Sometimes the political system is interesting and other times it's headache inducing. As I've been embarking on this journey to figure out my calling I've been thinking about all sorts of different paths. Some of those paths were completely unrelated to what I am currently doing. I enjoy writing and feel confident doing it so I thought maybe I can do freelance writing. I've been working on an article for a mountain biking magazine. I have no idea if it will get published but the editor said they need to refine it to address their audience. I realized that my professional writing is much better suited to a professional audience, I have a more formal style than most magazines. My voice isn't really a funny, catchy one that will sell magazines--which I'm totally fine with. I'm realizing that my skills are better suited for other tasks.

My husband has reminded me a couple times that it's great to move onward and upward from where I'm at but moving in the complete opposite direction might not be the best choice for me. So I've refined my goals and pursuits. I think there are a lot of things that I'm doing right now that are really interesting but maybe I'm just not quite in the right niche. I still don't know where I'm headed but it's feels closer all the time!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Doubt and fear Day 15

Self-doubt and fear inevitable creep in during the pursuit of passion. I'm on a work trip right now. I was chosen to be part of a team doing consulting work for a community in the mid-west. It's exciting and scarrry!!

Before I even arrived I wondered if I would be skilled enough to participate and contribute in a meaningful way. I'm excited but also doubting my own abilities. I am trying to remember that I was chosen based on my skills and qualifications--not because someone felt bad for me and thought it would be nice to include me. Although I may not have the same skills and background as other participants I have my own perspective to bring to the project.

I think we all doubt ourselves and abilities, especially when we're in a new situation. Although it can be frightening these experiences hopefully enable us to expand our boundaries, change and grow. I'm optimistic this week that I will not only be able to make a valuable contribution but that I will also learn a lot.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Miss Representation-- Day 14

Have you seen the documentary Miss Representation? I got to see it last night on TV and it was exceptional! It motivated me and infuriated me. The movie is about the representation of women in media. It discusses everything from movies to politics.

Essentially, we, as women, are still getting a pretty bad deal in media. There are few strong women characters, sexy women are still the predominant selling feature, and women in politics (regardless of their party) are typically caste in terms of their looks and what they wore. This is bad for all of us and it's important to remember that we are role models for our children--boys and girls. When we teach that women are objects (which is how tv, movies and video games depict us) it diminishes women as humans.

I'm certainly not doing the movie justice but one part in particular spoke to me--money talks--women represent 86% of the purchasing power in the US. If we simply don't consume goods that diminish women--tabloids, trashy tv, etc. then our message will be clear and the market for these goods will disappear. So for me--no more checking out People magazine or watching any of the "Housewives." These mediums often represent women as dumb, gold-digging, catty, superficial beings that are easy to dismiss. These characteristics in no way represent the women that I know and love. Let's remember to support each other and make a better way for our daughters and sons.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In your element Day 13

That place where your passions and skills collide--when you're in your element. This to me is the ultimate expression of our best selves. For me that's what this whole pursuit is about--being in my element so that I can be my best self.

This is my horoscope from today's paper--which I read after starting this post--

"Meraki is a Greek word that refers to the bliss you feel when you're engaged in a task that's important to you and that you're doing really well. It's your theme right now, Libra. According to my reading of the astrological omens, everything's in place for you to experience meraki in abundance. Furthermore, that's exactly what your destiny is pushing for. So please get out there and do everything you can to cooperate: Make this a meraki-filled week."

Hahahahahaha! It cracks me up because it's so in sync with where I'm at right now! I'm not a huge believer in horoscopes but lately they've really been in line with my thoughts and actions. It makes me laugh! I'm trying to cooperate!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Knowing what you don't want Day 12

Sometimes knowing what you don't want to do can be just as helpful in pursuing your passion as knowing what you do want to do. It's often easier to name that which we don't want than exactly what we do want. I've been able to refine my list of likes and dislikes over the past few months to more clearly articulate what it is I'm looking for. I enjoy writing, research and analysis. I really like the process of consulting work and policy development. I don't enjoy particularly enjoy the constraints of working for government, busy work, and working without broader goals.

***Photo from Parker Pastures

When I've been looking at opportuntities to pursue my passion or find my calling I've referred back to my list. I've often found opportunities that I feel I could do well but then I realize they include many of the items from my "don't like" list.  I am waiting for and seeking out the right opportunities. This is different than my usual course of action. For many years I pursued every opportunity that might be remotely close to what I am interested in. It hasn't worked out. After casting a broad net for so long I've realized that in order to get further along the path I need to be clear with myself about my intentions, desires, passions and skills. I'm seeking out opportunities that make my heart sing with excitement.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Many passions Day 11

During the pursuit of passion I've found that I'm passionate about many things. There's a general theme for my career that I'd like to focus on but in my personal life I love to bake, sew, decorate, mountain bike and spend time with my family and friends.

We all likely have numerous passions. Some are more important and life changing but when combined the pursuit of your passions leads to a full, satisfying life. When we incorporate things that make us happy, interest and challenge us on a regular basis life is better.

To that end, I've been doing some home decorating/improvement projects lately. Young House Love is one of my favorite blogs and their bathroom from their first home inspired me. I painted wide tone on tone stripes in our downstairs, half-bath. The bathroom was painted a medium tone khaki.

I taped off the walls next which took me a bit to get the hang of. I was anxious that the tape wasn't perfectly straight and that the stripes would look goofy. The tape was mostly straight and in the end the stripes looked fine.

I had some of the original bathroom paint on hand so I just added some white paint we already had to khaki. I added the white and tested it on the wall until I liked the color and contrast. It took about an hour to paint stripes. I only had to do one coat--hurray! I ripped the tape off as soon as I was finished, per the directions from Young House Love.

I love the stripes! It was a pretty simple project and took about four hours. I like to go in and admire work a few times a week!

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's never too late Day 10

I heard a story this morning on NPR about a 100-year old man that completed the Toronto marathon in 8+ hours. He was 100. As in born in 1911--amazing! He said it was his goal to complete the marathon and he became the oldest person to ever finish a marathon. He told the interviewer that he started running twenty years ago--at the age of 80. He STARTED running at 80. Can you imagine?

What a great, inspirational example this man is: it's never too late to achieve your dreams and goals. Even if you're 80, you can start a new project, hobby or passion.

I'm in my mid-thirties but I do occasionally think that I should have achieved a certain level of success by now or gotten further in my pursuit of passion and career goals. But I'm realizing that it's never too late to begin and really where we've been is leading us to our next destination.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Listening--Day 9

The pursuit of passion requires good listening skills. As I discussed yesterday, it's important to listen to the whispers of your heart. It can be difficult though, right? This morning I came across an interesting opporutnity online that I'm considering pursuing for a variety of reasons. But. My heart didn't really sing or expand as I was reading about the opportunity. Is that a sign that it's not right for me?

It's easy to convince yourself and cast aside your doubts and inner voice. The inner voice can be fairly quiet and by letting the louder voice in your head dominate you can easily go against your intuition. Maybe that's where I get led astray and off of my desired path? So rather than immediately pursuing this opportunity (did I mention there's a deadline, and of course the deadline is today) I'm going to stew on it for the day and think about if it's something that gets me interested, excited and energized. I'll do my best to listen to the whispers and then make the decision about whether to pursue the opportunity.

How about you? Can you talk yourself into things, even when your inner self is telling you otherwise?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Finding the messages Day 8

“What does it matter what makes you cry or tear up? Maybe it just means you’re overly emotional, sappy, too sensitive. Maybe. Or maybe our tears are tiny messengers, secret keepers of the most vulnerable kind, sent to deliver a most important message—Here is where your heart beats strong. Here is a hint to your design. Here is a gift from your inner life, sent to remind you those things that make you come alive.Chatting at the Sky.

Finding your passions isn't always easy or obvious. As I recommended on Day 5, taking some time to write down activities that full immerse and engage you is a good place to start. After reading the above from Chatting at the Sky, she reminded me that there also smaller whispers that we should pay attention to. When you get the chills, the tears well up or there is some other small little voice saying "isn't that interesting,"--pay attention! These things speak to your heart and sometimes it takes a bit longer for our head to process that information.

I'll be paying closer attention to those whispers and reactions. Writing them down when it happens is useful so that we don't forget those moments. What whispers have spoken to your heart?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Failure and the pursuit of passion. Day 7

Failure is an inevitable part of life, we've all heard that, right? I've had my fair share of school rejections, job rejections, etc. They've all shaped who and where I am today. I still look back on some those failures and wonder what might have been but really that's pointless.

I watched an interview with Oprah the other night and she thinks of failure as the universe redirecting your path. I believe that is probably true although it can be difficult to understand the redirection. A redirection requires a new evaluation of your location and place--but sometimes we're just not sure where we're at after failure. How do you move on, readjust and redirect?

In my personal experience I think that we sometimes have to learn certain lessons before we can move on to a new path or move up to the next level of what we're seeking. It seems that the universe doesn't let you get ahead of yourself, no matter how much we hope it will. Honestly, I don't know this for certain and I often doubt it. I do believe that once we gain time and distance often the view comes in to focus and it is easy to understand how the path has lead to a destination. Sometimes when you're on that path it's hard to see a destination, much less believe that you're not just going in circles!

I think to be ready for the next leg of the journey, it's important to be prepared and keep learning. Whatever it is that interests you--take a class, read a book, decorate a room, get certified (Scuba, EMT, whatever). I try to keep improving my skills. I went back to school to get my graduate degree, I've obtained professional certifications, I've done some interesting volunteer and consulting work. These things all take time and energy but I've found that they've actually energized me, rather than sapped my energy. When I'm engaged and learning something new, I'm excited and happy (and sometimes tired). My hope is that my being active and interested I will spark and manifest new opportunities for myself.

Failure can be a catalyst for change and improvement. It's not easy but it is usually exciting to try new things and might spark some new opportunity.

How do you handle failure? What do you do to stay engaged and motivated?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The pursuit might take patience--Day 6

So I missed day 5, oh well, it happens.

Moving on... Day 6.

The pursuit of your passion might take some patience. Patience is not really my best virtue. I want things to happen quickly, I want people to respond immediately! Ugh! I get impatient, a tad frustrated and begin to doubt myself when things don't work out immediately.

Most often, life doesn't work out that quickly and according to plan. On my journey to pursue what I am passionate about I began with identifying those things which I am passionate about and then brainstorming ideas for how I could incorporate them into my life and career. After I came up with a list of ideas I started pursuing five or six of them. I have had a few things out there/in the works for the past four or five months. I've had some response to a few things and no response to other things.

In my perfect world I would have gotten immediate responses back and they all would have worked out successfully! Ha! All summer I've been fluctuating between thinking that I'm not good at what I've been pursuing to nobody likes me to I'm in the wrong line of work. I've been working for the past month to remind myself to be patient, take deep breaths and believe in my goals. Recently, I've heard back from a few of the things that I was pursuing--a couple of them have worked out!

It felt good to get some positive feedback and positive response to those things that I was pursuing. It felt like affirmation that I'm on the right track. But I'm trying to learn to rely on my instincts and hard work and realize that although certain projects might not happen it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm no good or that I'm on the wrong path.

Persistence and patience are valuable traits in the pursuit of passion. It's easy to feel that we're working in a vacuum and that all of the self-exploration and hard work might be for nothing. It helps to get positive reinforcement, especially when you are repeatedly patting yourself on the back, it can feel a bit ridiculous. It's important to remember that discovering and making your passions part of your daily life can take time. It can especially take a while when you're looking for some outside reinforcement (new job, new etsy store, new blog).

Remember that you're on this path as part of your life journey and that it probably won't happen over night and that's okay. We have to remind ourselves that this life is about working to be our best selves and it's a process. Keep in mind your goals, passions and ideals for the future. Believe in yourself and I think if we're true to our selves and work hard that the ultimate plan for our life will begin to reveal itself. I believe that the universe has a plan fo me and with my hard work and participation I can make it happen.

Are you patient? How is your journey working out? Are you losing faith or do you trust the process?

Finding and serving your passion-Day 5

As we move through life it can be easy to get caught up in the daily to-do list. I’ve noticed over the past ten years of my life while I was beginning my career, getting married and starting my family, I haven’t had much time to think about my passions and long range goals. If we are able to express that which we are passionate about it, it is often the best use of our energy and the best way to serve ourselves, our families, and our communities.

Having a family is a full time endeavor and much of my attention has been focused on that and on my full-time job. But I’d gotten away from the quiet reflection on myself, beliefs and goals that would allow me to direct my energy in a manner that serves my passions.

Now that I have a small child I find that it has become increasingly important to use my time in a way that serves my passions, rather than just passes the time. I’ve been working to name those passions and give them a voice—for me it’s writing, international social and environmental issues, baking, sewing and family. For you it may be a totally different list or maybe you’re not sure what’s on the list.

I find that having some quiet, alone time is a great way to begin exploring your passions.
·         Find a time that works for you—for me while I’m running is a great time for me to think and get lost in my thoughts—without much interruption. Meditation or sitting outside with a cup of tea may work best for you.
·         Take time to write down activities where you are thoroughly immersed. When an activity is so interesting or enjoyable that you are able to focus solely on that task, then you know that you’re onto something. Don’t judge your list—it’s okay if there are things on there that seem silly or small.
·         Write a bucket list of life goals and dreams—where do you want to be in 10 years? What do you want to accomplish in life? What do you want your days to look like? Shoot for the moon—this is your dream list, if you don’t give voice to your dreams, how can they come true?
·         Once you’ve begun to name your passions and goals begin thinking of small ways in which you can get on the path to achievement. Start small—maybe writing a personal blog or volunteering for local groups that speak to your heart. It doesn’t have to be big but a small shift can alter your path and bring new fulfillment.
·         It may take multiple tries to figure out what’s best for you. Listen to your instincts if it feels right, go with it! If you’re not interested, then move on!
·         Shape your time so that your passion and goals are included on your schedule. Instead of watching tv after the kids go to bed (my main time waster) spend some time using your energy in a way that benefits your life and your future. This probably won’t happen every day and that’s okay, but try and use time intentionally rather than passively.
·         Don’t feel pressured to get everything done now—there are seasons of life and there are times when you may only have enough energy to focus on your family and regular responsibilities. Try not to lose sight of the end results though and remember to regularly return to those lists of passions and goals so that you can reevaluate the path you’re on.

When we are living to our full potential and using our energy to express and fulfill our passions it is the ultimate gift of service. This service is the best expressions of ourselves and what we have to offer this world.  Don’t get hung up if your passions don’t match your expectations. You may head down an unexpected path but that may be the best route! What goals and dreams do you have?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What would you do if you weren't afraid? Day 4

The question requires personal reflection and stillness. At the moment I have not been quiet enough to distinguish fear from anything else. Do I not choose to do something because I'm afraid or because I prefer a different lifestyle?

While I think more seriously about the question, I'll leave you with this:

"Up in this high air, you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands, you woke up in the morning and though: 'Here I am, where I ought to be.'" Isak Dinesen

Friday, October 7, 2011

Passion as habit--Day 3

I was out for a run this morning, without my camera or phone (boo) and it was a beautiful, freezing fall/winter morning. It was 18 degrees where I live, there was fresh snow on the peaks, frozen grass and the sun was rising. I run on a dirt road where there a bunch of horses with their foals in the pasture. It was a perfect moment.

I realized in that moment that pursuing your passion is similar to any other thing that we incorporate into our daily lives--it must be done with consistency so that it becomes habit! A-ha!

I had never thought of pursuing passion as habit before but it makes sense. If you work on it daily or with regular consistency it will become part of what you do and the general make-up of your life. If pursuing your passion is something that you think about once a year or every few months it's easy to get off track. Similar to eating well or exercising, you cannot expect results if you don't make passion a habit. Honestly, I can't believe that had never occurred to me before. It seems so simple and, hello, obvious.

Writing 31 days of pursuing your passion will have the benefit for me of incorporating passion as one of my daily habits! Did you already know it needed to be a habit and I'm just that dense?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Life and death

Day 2 of 31 days of pursuing your passion

I was reading various news articles this morning about the death of Steve Jobs. He was a visionary, inventor and innovator of our time and I feel saddened to hear of his passing. I read the commencement address that he gave at Stanford in 2005 and it resonated with me. Here are a few excerpts from the address (I've included the link at the end).

"Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

"Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

"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."

Jobs' message resonates with my pursuit of passion theme for the month. Keeping in mind his words and thoughts is critical to our own personal evolution and growth. We have to keep our eye on the end goal--to live a full, satisfied life where each of us lives to our full potential.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

31 Days to Purse your Passion

I'm joining in the 31 days series that I first saw at Chatting at the Sky. I've chosen 31 days to pursue your passion because that's what I'm working on in my own life. I'm a few days late to the game but that's okay.

Pursuing your passion is easy for some and a struggle for others. I find it's easy to name what you're not passionate about but not as easy to identify what you are passionate about. This series will be an exploration of discovering and pursuing your passion. My goal is to incorporate my passion as part of my career. I want to work toward goals and ideals that I believe in.  In my own life I've noticed that I get all excited, ready to make something happen and I work on some life changes for a while but then over time they seem to fade to the background and here I am still at the same job, ten years later.

My goal in working on this series is to maintain motivation and exploration. I think it's important to revisit your goals and ideals on a regular basis. It can be so easy to get lost in the day to day activities without much thought for the bigger purpose.

I'd love to hear about your passions and how you make them part of your daily life!

Oh, I'm also giving up sugar for 31 days. I'm still eating fruit but putting a ban on the sugar that comes in cakes, cookies, ice cream--you know what I mean. I've been feeling addicted to it lately and am ready to break the cycle! Wish me luck and be glad that you don't live with me!