Purpose

I believe in listening to my dreams. When I was in graduate school I had the honor of studying with Jeremy Taylor. Jeremy has devoted his life to dreams and dream work. His two books I love are, Dream Work: Techniques for Discovering the Creative Power in Dreams, and When People Fly and Water Runs Uphill. Obviously, there’s no substitute for studying with the master, but getting involved in a dream group taught me lots about the “purpose” of my dreams.

The last couple of days I’ve been thinking about “purpose” because it made its presence known in a dream. I was dreaming about my “purpose”, and each and every time I awoke and went back to sleep, I went back to the dream on “purpose”.

So what is my purpose? I believe there are many levels to that question. I believe my purpose is in my DNA. Since the age of four I’ve know that my destiny was alleviate the pain and suffering of others. I can remember watching the Easter Seals Telethon and wondering what I could do to help these kids walk.

Free-associating I went from, “What is my purpose”, to what purpose do I serve. I also thought about specific experiences and actions and want to explore “what purpose do they serve?”

My art serves a purpose. It allows me to create work that personifies my emotional and spiritual self. It allows me to share my story and allow my vulnerability be made public. I feel that when I’m able to share my story, it hopefully gives someone the courage, the freedom, and the momentum to tell their story; that’s my purpose.

I went to college at the State University of New York at Albany. I had a professor, T.J. Larkin, for Intro to Communications (I was a Rhetoric and Communications major). When he was in a derogatory mood he would talk about people going to Boulder to find themselves. It’s funny because I currently live about an hour from Boulder. Last I visited, there weren’t any lost people sitting on the curb hoping to find themselves.

I guess what I’m saying is that my purpose wasn’t something I found; it’s something that found me. Recognizing my purpose guides my journey.

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Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 40 Gratitude

Forty days have passed by quickly. I was looking back at past years and found that this is the first time that I posted on this blog each of the forty days. I did a few things different this time starting with the lead up to the Winter Feast for the Soul.   I focused on ways that I could carve out time each day to meditate.

Here I am, day forty and I’m relieved and excited. I’m relieved because I completed the goal of meditating each of the forty days. I went deeper in each meditation than I have in the past. Perhaps after doing this for a few years I’m aware that I flushed out a lot more thoughts than I have in years past.

I’m grateful for having the freedom to spend each day meditating. I’m grateful that over the years I have surrounded myself with people who are on a path to self-knowing. I’m grateful to have people in my life who support me, nurture me, and encourage me.

Gratitude is a funny thing because it’s not something I have in my consciousness, but there’s an awareness that hovers around me at all times. There’s an African tribe that when someone is down and depressed, contemplating suicide, they bring the person to the center of the village and tell them the impact they have on each and every person’s life. They are bombarded with connection. They are the center of a circle of gratitude. The village is grateful that person’s presence. This is a time when the village holds the gratitude till a time when the individual can embody the gratitude.

I leave this period of meditation ready to move forward. I’ve already laid the groundwork for continuing my meditation. I’d like to revisit some of the topics that have come to the foreground over the past forty days.

I hope you’ll continue to share my journey. I believe it’s something we can co-create!

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 39 Mentors

Who do you look up to? Who took you by the proverbial hand and nurtured your talent, your gifts, and your spirit? We live in a culture where the idea of mentor has been bastardized. Instead of looking for mentors who develop others, people look for authority figures that will save them. I’ve been contemplating this issue for years.

I’ve been a self-help book junkie. I scan the bookshelves at Barnes and Noble and online at Amazon looking for the next wave of people who will impart their “systems” for a better life. I’ve listened to podcasts, online tutorials, and subscribed to countless magazines awaiting the arrival of the next big name in human development. I admit, I’ve been looking for a guru. I’ve wanted to worship at the feet of an individual who will guide me to enlightenment.

It wasn’t until I went to grad school this last time that I realized it wasn’t a guru, self-proclaimed or not, that I was in search of, but a relationship. I’ve really been looking for a mentor. I’ve wanted someone who was willing to set their own agenda to the side and use their knowledge, skill, and talent to help me grow. The amazing thing is I already had that person in my life and instead of nurturing it to its fullest possibilities, I’ve allowed it to wax and wane.

I had lunch with my mentor today. She’s been in my life for the past ten years. She has encouraged me, nurtured me, and worried about me. The amazing thing about a mentor is even when I kick and scream and push her (them) away, she holds me close (literally and figuratively).

If you’re lucky enough to find someone who will take you under their wing, let them in to your life. Work like hell to keep them in your life. When you find that person cherish them. Allow them to bestow upon you their love, affection, and spirit. These people don’t come into our lives every day, but when they do they will change your life, your worldview, and allow your gifts to be expressed!!!!

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 38 Perspective

I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective over the past week; mainly as it pertains to a quilt I’ve been designing. I’ve been looking at color and proportion, seeing if it all works. On the other hand, I’ve also been thinking about gaining perspective as it relates to world/national events.

Is it possible to have perspective if you are entrenched in a particular point-of-view? How do we uproot ourselves enough to allow perspective to be a player in our worldview? Have you thought about why perspective is important?

I was watching a terrific documentary Get the Picture about photo editor John G Morris. He quotes Robert Capa, an amazing photojournalist who said, “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” I thought this was an interesting quote because he’s talking about perspective. In his case, he is commenting on the impact and newsworthiness of a photo.

Have you ever had someone recommend that you step back and gain some perspective? I have, and I can tell you that statement usually angers me because I feel as if my point-of-view is being negated. I’d much rather someone offers a counter theory/account/knowledge so I can derive my own conclusions.

It’s clear that in the world of politics and religion, perspective is always on the frontlines. It is often the battlefield because we begin to argue dogma instead of personal beliefs, towing the “party” line. Whatever happened to independent thought? Why are we so willing to fall into a trench without critical thinking being part of the equation?

Perspective is something that goes beyond art. It’s something that impacts how we related to one another. Perspective can be our best friend if we allow it to play a part in the equation of our lives!

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 37 Learning

I like school! My mother always promised me that if she won the lottery, I could go to school for the rest of my life. She hasn’t won the lottery, but I’ve done my fair share of school. I enjoy being challenged. I thrive on building a community of like-minded people. I’m hooked on expanding my treasure chest of knowledge.

The interesting thing about learning is it doesn’t have to be done in a formal setting. I was talking to Jeanne, the owner of the local quilt shop where I’ve taught. The last class I was going to teach didn’t have enough enrollments so the class was cancelled. I asked her why she thought the number of people taking classes had declined. She said that with the huge explosion of YouTube, fewer people were leaving their homes when they can find the information online.

I hadn’t thought about the use of YouTube for learning techniques, or hearing interviews, but sure enough, there’s so much information out there it would make your head spin.

The library is another treasure trove for knowledge. In the town where I live they built a new library. It’s an amazing building and has lots of features beyond just books. I asked the librarian if people were using the library. She informed me that since the new library has opened, they’ve seen a 60% increase in library card registrations.

My most recent method of learning has been documentaries. I’ve watched more than fifteen documentaries on art, artists, and fashion over the last couple of weeks. I find watching a documentary with a creative bent inspires me to get to the studio and create my own work. These stories blaze trails and open my eyes to what’s possible in telling my own story.

I guess what I’m saying is there’s more than one-way to learn. The world is full of opportunities beyond the classroom to learn and explore. Lifelong learning is important because it keeps us current. It makes us more interesting and research has shown the lifelong learning can decrease the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Go take a class. Learn an instrument or a foreign language. Explore the many avenues available to expand your mind.

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 36 Restoration

We back up our data on our computers in the case these miraculous machines crash and we need to retain our data. We take old houses and restore them to their original glory. Museums restore masterpieces of art so we can maintain the history of painting, tapestry, and other arts. Restoration is important because it strives to capture the essence of the original. It means we’re valuing what came before us. So why do we always strive for new and improved. The improved I understand, but I guess people haven’t figured out, there’s nothing new.

We’re good at restoring things, but when it comes to restoring our physical bodies, or our souls, we fall short. The New Year brought how millions of people to the gyms and workout arenas for the promise of a new life, only to stop the attainment of the perfect body by week six. Are we looking to restore our younger selves?

How do we “restore” the soul? Is it necessary to restore it, or is it acknowledging its presence and honoring its place in our lives enough? Restoration of our practice of nurturing the soul I completely understand. It’s having a practice that has given me the freedom to explore, expand, and embolden my spiritual practice. I find myself not only committing to the Winter Feast for the Soul, but that sense of commitment has flowed over to other areas of my life. I find myself more attuned to my surroundings.

The question I ponder is, “Do I want to restore myself to its previous version”? I spoke earlier on in the series of posts about evolution. It’s about gaining a sense of clarity. I have unearthed aspects of my consciousness previous hidden. They were hidden, it’s not as if they didn’t exist, I was naïve as to how I could access them.

The place where I see restoration important is our health. There’s a Campbell’s soup commercial with a guy lying on the couch with a cold. He says to his significant other, “When I would get sick my mother would make me chicken soup.” She throws the phone to him and says, “Good, call your mother” and walks out the door.

It’s important to remember that when restoring the body, we may get better, but we may not get well. Restoration to our previous “healthy” self may not be possible, so restoration of our commitment to our emotional and spiritual well-being is crucial.

What do you want to restore? What steps will you take? Is it even possible to restore what you want?

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 35 Searching

Ever lose your keys or your phone and you begin a mad search to find the lost objects? You experience a sense of panic and hysteria as you feel like a fool for misplacing these everyday items. When you do find the objects you laugh because you try and figure out how they got there in the first place, at times it’s obvious and others it’s like doing accident recreation like the insurance companies.

There’s another type of search, that’s one of an internal process. The one where you have a gnawing question that has plagued you for a while and you keep returning to the question. I found this to be the case while I was in therapy (I guess that’s why I stayed so long) and has continued throughout my meditation process.

I’ve been fortunate to go to grad school twice. The first was to get my degree in clinical counseling. This set me in motion to become a psychotherapist where I would help clients search for answers or at least revise the questions. It was an experience we co-created. The other degree is in Visual Anthropology. I’m hooked on narrative, and I explore how we create stories based on our life experiences.

I was fortunate to study with the Jean Houston. The course revolved around the story of The Odyssey. It was her interpretation of the work first brought to consciousness by Joseph Campbell. Her class focused on the inward journey, the quest and what we’re willing to do to find answers, and the perils we experience on that quest.

This year’s meditation has brought up a lot of questions for me. As we approach the end I’ve been thinking about the next steps of the journey. Unlike past years, this year’s meditation has been more provocative. It has challenged me to stay on track. It has encouraged me to use my creative voice to seek, to play, to grow. I like the idea of searching because it’s the equivalent of the Universe holding a carrot out in front of me as a lure.

The Universe is luring me toward deepening my commitment to my inner life. It is luring me toward a pilgrimage of self-expression, providing me with clarity. It is luring me toward creating a community of compassion.

I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but the search process is in full swing! Stay tuned!