Follow Your Soul’s Calling

Part 1 of a series. See also: Soul Reflections for Long Winter Nights
and Put your Soul’s Calling into Action

It’s not just a new year but a new decade as well. Life is waiting with new opportunities for you. Soul heartYou have a choice to live more aligned with the real you and what your soul is calling you to do, or stay on the same course as before. This is an important checkpoint to ask: What’s happened for you over the last decade? What have you accomplished and what have you missed?

It’s also a time to ask what do you really WANT for your life? What’s the REAL story? What’s your DREAM? What are you doing with your life? These are questions I want you to consider as you read this series of articles.

In the vast immensity of the universe, our existence is like a mere spark – hardly noticeable. Yet there is a Divine spark that animates us all. In the words of Jane Goodall, You make a difference every day. You matter and life is important.It’s never too late to make a life course correction or even move in a whole new direction and make a difference in your small part of the world.

What is your Soul’s calling?
Metaphorically speaking, your soul holds your deepest truths. It’s your authentic self that often lies beneath layers of excess baggage that weighs you down and holds you back from realizing an abundant life – a life that is true to your dreams. It’s the part of you that cries out to maximize your gifts and talents. It’s the expression of your deepest purpose and your heart’s desire. It’s also home to your spiritual GPS.

Tap your spiritual GPS
You have an inner guidance system, your spiritual GPS,  that holds the truth about who you really are at your core. This system connects to your Higher Power and provides instructions and guidelines for making better choices that will lead you down rewarding pathways. However, it can’t really speak to you if your dark inner closets are cluttered with unfulfilled dreams, unmet goals, long-lasting hurts and regrets. Brush off the cobwebs of those dreams and goals and examine them in the light for future potential.

Hurts and regrets can require an ongoing process of forgiveness work – for yourself and others. The more you do this work, the easier you are able to adapt to future situations. Adaptation is an important trait for navigating our modern, changing world. I was in a very loving relationship for several years, one that seemed destined for life. Then suddenly it was over. This experience challenged me to walk my talk. After all, if I teach others to live every precious moment, then I must do the same. Within a remarkably short time, I was able to restore myself to wholeness — with cherished memories and no regrets. Doing the inner work frees you to live a fuller and more meaningful life.

Questions to Ponder

*    Do you want to discover your soul’s calling in 2010?
*    Have you cleared the clutter of unfufilled dreams, unmet goals and long-lasting hurts?
*    Are you ready to use your spiritual GPS to gain guidance in discovering your heart’s desire?

Read next in series: Soul Reflections on a Long Winter’s Night

Passionate Living into Midlife and Beyond

Oliver Wendell Homes, Jr., once captured the essence of youth when he wrote, “In our youth our hearts are loaded with fire.” Youth, by nature, tend to be fearless and daring, filled with dreams and ambitions. They are like sponges absorbing every sensation as they seek their identity and life purpose. In adulthood, youthful passions fade, as we deal with day-to-day responsibilities of work, family, obligations. Certain life transitions, such as the loss of jobs, relationships or the death of a loved one can zap our fire even more.

I believe, however, that life longs to flow through us, and we all have the capacity to open our channels to rekindle passions or discover new ones–at any stage of life. I also believe it is our responsibility to do so.

What is passionate living?
To live passionately is to live with a sense of purpose, to engage in activities that you care about, that help you feel in “the zone”; when you lose track of time and are at one with the activity. It may be times when you feel great joy or inspiration such as being in nature.  It may be doing something that requires great hardship, as Mahatma Gandhi experienced. “Suffering, cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into ineffable joy,” wrote Gandhi.

Passion is an expression of aliveness and giving of self. To be passionate is to be ruled by intense emotions such as boundless enthusiasm, excitement, inspiration or love. But passion can also be expressed as anger, envy, or even violence. Both extremes of our passions can “rule” our lives, leaving us feeling out of sync and out of control. Yet when we live with consciousness and mindfulness, our passions (or lack of them) can teach us who we are, where we belong, and where our passion lies. This learning can guide and enrich us, even as we traverse life’s inevitable challenges.

Explore your passions
Passion in midlife and beyond is grounded in wisdom that is focused purposefully. To live a fulfilling life with purpose, it’s important to explore what you truly care about, what gives your life meaning, and what is the legacy you wish to leave behind. Your life, no matter how seemingly ordinary, is extraordinary. You have great wisdom that can be shared with others. When old belief patterns are stripped of negative limitations, you become liberated–able to resurrect old dreams or create new ones. When you examine your life experiences, lessons learned, and the inventory of your gifts and skills, you can discover your true calling.

In The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50“, author Sara Lawrence Lightfoot uncovered in those she interviewed a sense of urgency about the finiteness of life. They were not only doing the things that had been left undone, but were also engaged in new learning, inspiring curiosity, innovation, and resourcefulness. They were exploring ways to reinvent themselves. Their wisdom encouraged them to become better listeners and more patient and to have the courage to speak their truth.

Get enthused
The word enthusiasm is derived from the Greek “entheos, ” which means “in god, or to be “possessed” or “inspired.” “When do you experience enthusiasm? If you are not in touch with your passions, try taking the following steps:

* Think of the people you know who have enthusiasm about what they do.
What characteristics do they have in common?
* Examine a newspaper–every news item, editorial, ad, or entertainment
feature. Which items grab you?
* Think back over your life looking for clues about when you felt enthused.
Pay special attention to events before age 11 before habits become ingrained.
* Consider the things that excite you or anger you most.
* Ask yourself why you get up in the morning.

Blueprint for vital living

1. Identity: Reflect on your life stories to help you know who you are.
3. Passion:
Determine what you care about and are called to do in life
3. Meaning:
Know that what you stand for and what you value provides fuel to keep your passion alive.
4. Place: Based on the above, where do you fit in and with whom?

Richard Leider and David Shapiro speak of growing “whole not old”. In their book Claiming Your Place by the Fire: Living the Second Half of Your Life on Purpose, they pose four aspects to explore for vital living:We live more passionately when we understand the deeper spiritual meaning of our lives. At any time of life it is valuable to take time for reflection, to evaluate what you have accomplished–or not–and create a new vision for where to go next. Is it a new career? A service opportunity or a new or unfulfilled dream? The authors of the books I’ve mentioned stress the importance of engaging in cross-generational activities. Wise elders can be inspired by the passions of youth, as they model, teach, and mentor younger generations.

I believe we should banish the word retirement, which means “withdrawal.” It has no passion or life in it. Everything you do matters. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “…to know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”


Questions to ponder:

* Where do you find passion in your life, or do you find yourself saying, “I’m not passionate about anything”?

*  What unfulfilled dreams are sitting in your dark closet?

*  What would it feel like if you could live with more joy and passion?

I invite you to share your share your thoughts

Harmonize–R as in Responsibility

(A continuing series exploring the “HARMONIZE” formula
for achieving success on your pathways through life)

red fall leaves Whenever I am able or feel called, I seek ways to transform disharmony into harmony. Life is chock-full of responsibilities to our family, relationships, job, community and country, as well as to our health and well-being. We each must find our own path where we can best apply our skills, talents and capabilities. Every responsibility has its challenges, requiring us to dance between stress and harmony, seeking balance and resolution. The truer we are to our own nature, what we care about and what’s important to us, the easier it is to fulfill our responsibilities.

Responsibility is an action word whose roots are “response” and “able.” A responsible person is reliable, dependable and trustworthy. They are people who answer the call when you need them. Living responsibly requires you to be flexible to life and the needs around you. It asks you to examine your capabilities and then to respond accordingly.

Trust can only be earned when you demonstrate you have the ability to do the job and come from a place of truthfulness and honesty. Thus your actions are not based on, “I have to,” but rather “I want to,” from a place of caring and/or compassion. If resentment contaminates your thoughts and feelings, your actions will reflect this and trust can be lost. Living true to your own nature, honoring your values, purpose and beliefs, you make better choices in determining where you want to put your energies.

Maintaining Harmony and Balance
Often responsibilities are thrust upon us when we feel we have no choice, or, they become greater than we could have imagined. Early this year I discovered that Mae, an 89 year old family friend, was declining and needed to move into senior housing. With no children to help her, I felt compelled to take on the responsibility of helping her make this transition. Little did I know that this would later turn into becoming her caregiver, helping her handle her financial affairs and ongoing healthcare issues.

Helping Mae, has required me to rearrange my work schedule and personal life around her needs and issues. I do this both because I care about her and because I know she couldn’t do this alone. I am also mindful of my ability to serve that need and make a difference. While seeking to create harmony in her life, however, I am constantly being mindful of maintaining harmony and balance in my own.

The analogy of flying in an airplane and putting the oxygen mask on oneself first, then on those less capable, is a great lesson in the dance of fulfilling our responsibilities. More and more baby boomers, often referred to as the “sandwich generation,” are finding themselves in the midst of care giving at both ends – for children and elders.

A key component to harmonizing your life pathways with responsibilities is to consciously discover ways to feel gratitude for having the opportunity to do the job, help someone achieve a result or make a difference.

Check out other posts in this series:

  • Harmonize with Accord and Agreement
  • Harmonize with Heart and Home

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

What challenges do you have in handling responsibilities?

What possible changes you could make?

What ways have you been able to harmonize your life while handling responsibilities?

Harmonize–A as in Agreement & Accord

(A continuing series exploring the “HARMONIZE” formula
for harmonizing your pathways through life)

To live in harmony is to live in agreement with the life path you are navigating. The “A” in the word HARMONIZE asks you to live with agreements   and choices based on the real authentic you, not on other people’s agendas. An agreement isn’t just a legal document you sign when you accept a job,    get married, buy a car or a house. Agreements are made each and every moment of your life.

We fall out of the womb into a template of beliefs and circumstances that our parents had already constructed for us. It’s a no-brainer, it seems! I was born into a household with a lot of anger, unhappiness, power struggles and being told, “you never do anything right.” This became the norm for me and I dutifully agreed to comply with my template. Yet, along the way I learned that this wasn’t the way everyone lived. Some of my peers actually received messages like, “you can do or be anything you want in life.” How lucky they were, I thought.

Press delete
The truth, I have learned, is that the messages we receive throughout life are simply that. Like voice mail messages, we have the choice to agree to   them or not, follow up with them or delete them. The gift of branching out into the world is the opportunity to learn how other people live. If your life  was filled with positive reinforcement, understanding how the opposite can negatively influence people’s beliefs and choices in life can help you have greater compassion for their behavior.

What’s so wonderful about life is that past agreements need not imprison you for life. At any moment you have the freedom to change your beliefs and agreements and make better choices. This liberation is realized when you are living in accordance with the “real you” – the truth of who you really are. The root of the word accord means heart or mind. When your heart and mind are in agreement you are liberated to live your truth.

Discovery
How do you discover your truth? For me, meditation, self-reflection, writing and sharing with trusted friends have been some of the ways that have worked for me. Being conscious, catching myself when I find myself operating or reacting to a situation based on old beliefs. My clients are some of my best teachers! Often the very challenge they are struggling with reminds me of an old agreement pattern that still peeks up its head in my life.

What is holding you back from a harmonious life? What beliefs and agreements are behind these obstacles? Make a list, choose one and then challenge it. Ask questions like,” is it true?” Can you absolutely prove it?” Download worksheets on “The Work of Byron Katie” website  for simple processes to help you come into agreement and accordance with the “real you.” Also read, Don Miguel Ruiz’ book, “The Four Agreements.

Join me for the next edition of this series.

Please share your comments below:

What agreements do you want to change?

What obsticles are getting in your way?

What processes have helped you create agreements and live in accordance with your true nature?

Harmonize–H as in Heart & Home

In my September 2009 newsletter feature article, “HARMONIZE Your Pathways Through Life,” I presented a 9-part formula based on the word “HARMONIZE” for turning disharmony into harmony in your life. Over the course of these next 9 blogs I will deepen my examination into this formula.

Harmonize–H as in Heart & Home

Heart

Did you know that the brain is an extension of the heart and that the heart has its own intelligence? Over 30 years of research at the Heartmath Institute has revealed that half the cells in the heart are neurons – the same type of cells that are in the brain. The heart forms in the fetus before the brain and it doesn’t need to be connected with the brain in order to beat.

Is it any wonder that strong feelings of disappointment, sorrow, guilt, anger and hopelessness can rule your life? Yet at the same time love, peace, enthusiasm and hopefulness can also preside. Life challenges can leave a deep scar on your heart. While the pain may lessen over time, or we hide it behind a happy face, the real healing must take place inside.

When I realized there was no chance for reconciliation after a breakup with a long-term partner who I dearly loved, I used a simple but powerful process to forgive him, and myself. I recited this affirmation daily: “You are free and I am free. All is well between us. I am free to live from my inner truth. Peace is the order of my day.” Over time I experienced an incredible healing, knowing I was still a vital lovable person. By letting go I was able to feel renewed and invite in new and exciting opportunities.

Whenever my heart is heavy I seek out people who really believe in me and who are non-judgmental. Introspection, journaling and writing have also been powerful tools to help me sort things out.

Home

Is your heart in your home? Does your home support you in making the most of your life journey? Does it help you grow and thrive? Your home is like a canvas on which you paint an expression of your inner thoughts, feelings, and past memories—including your childhood home.

For many years I have consulted people in their homes with both coaching and the Chinese art of feng shui. I have consistently observed how our home mirrors or reflects our life and how it plays out. In cluttered homes people’s lives are generally in a state of disharmony and lack of focus. Some homes lack warmth or a feeling of hominess, others are like Grand Central Station, people coming and going with no time for each other. Still others are like castles with many unused rooms filled with old memories, reflecting an inability to let go of the past, live in the present and invite in new opportunities.

When you change your environment to align with your truth and the spirit that moves you, the mirror of your home can project a reflection that helps you feel more positive about yourself, resulting in a more harmonious pathway in your life.

Janice and Bob agreed to do a powerful “home reflection” process I led them through. They discovered that their lives were overburdened with “stuff,” and they had put their dreams of traveling on hold. The outcome was their decision to downsize into a smaller home, streamline their work and personal lives to allow more time for family travel and activities. Even though their portfolio has since declined with the market, their thriftiness has given them the freedom to live their dream.

Your comments

I would love to hear from you and your experiences.