Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Climbing Mountains

"Just because you can have it all, doesn't mean there's something wrong with you until you do... You couldn't get it if you already had it. And it's the 'getting of it' that you really want, in an adventure that can only begin with wanting what you do not yet have."

That was the message I got in my Tut.com "note from the Universe" this morning. I hadn't thought about it quite that way, but it's very true. At least for me.

I've read in astrology books that Capricorns often "create" a mountain just so they have something to climb (Capricorns are goats for those of you not into astrology). Whether you believe in astrology or not (I'm not a die-hard believer myself, but I have found some truths in it), what it says about Capricorns is true about me. But I'm sure people with other signs can be the same way too.

I like to feel accomplished. I like to climb mountains -- both figuratively and literally.... well... as long as the literal mountain isn't too big...

But I've definitely noticed that I do this. I look for "mountains" in my life just so I have something to climb. Something to reach for. Something to solve.

And it's in climbing, the reaching, and the solving, that I feel good about myself. Because once I get to the top, or solve the problem, it doesn't take long for me to be looking for the next one.

Sure, I enjoy the view from the top for a while. I bask in my accomplishment of solving the problem. But then I'm ready to go again. Climb a new mountain. Anyone else do this?

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So back to the quote above. Like anyone else, I can lament about the things I don't have. And wish I had them. But I couldn't feel the sense of accomplishment from getting something if I already had it to begin with.

Take money, for instance. Sure, it would be nice to already have loads and loads of money and never need to work for it. I'm sure we've all felt this way. I admit to feeling jealous at times of people who are born into wealthy families and have it all handed to them.

But think about those people. Do they feel a strong sense of accomplishment? I'm guessing not. At least not in the area of earning an income and watching their savings build on account of their own hard work. Because they haven't "accomplished" that themselves. They didn't have to do anything to get it.

The same is often true of athletes. People who are just born excellent at something often take it for granted. They haven't had to work at honing their skill and becoming good. It's the people who have worked, day after day, to improve, little by little, that generally are most grateful for where they are because they appreciate what it took to get there.

So it is with these reminders that I look at my own life. No, I'm not exactly where I want to be. Yet. No, I don't have the amount of money in the bank that I desire. Yet. But I have something to work towards. A mountain to climb. And I am climbing it. Step by step.  
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What if You Don't Have a Passion?

I love me some Elizabeth Gilbert! When I heard her talk on Oprah's Super Soul Sessions about passion...or lack thereof...it resonated with me. So much so that I wanted to write my own blog article about it.

Like Elizabeth, I have spouted "follow your passion" for years. But unlike her, I was often confused about what my passion exactly was. It seemed to change. Come and go. I didn't know what to make of this. It seemed something was wrong with me. Wrong with my "passion." I didn't seem to have one...or at least not one very strong.

I have often been envious of others who seem to really have a passion. Or at least the determination to stick with whatever it was they chose as their line of work. You know, those people who say at a very young age, "I want to be a doctor (or teacher or writer...fill in the blank)," and then actually do that and follow that path for the rest of their life.

I admired that kind of passion. I longed for it. I've never had it.

Yet I still professed "follow your passion" anytime the topic came up. Also in my own head. I was just still on the lookout for what my passion was. I was still searching.

When Elizabeth shared the story about the woman who wrote to her about not having a passion...that was me! (Well, not actually me, but it could have been.)

The woman said she didn't have any one thing that set her heart afire and was her guiding light to build her whole life around. She had lots of different interests. She would pursue one, thinking that was it, then find out it wasn't, so she'd go after something else... Her interests often changed by the season, and she couldn't seem to keep up with all the interests she had.


That is definitely me. What about you?

This was also the story of Elizabeth's husband. He bounced around the world, following different interests and inclinations. When he was once challenged by someone, who pointed out he never had a central, guiding passion in his life and therefore, he wouldn't be able to leave a legacy because he never stuck with anything long enough.... When he was challenged by that person, he realized he did have a passion. His passion was "life itself."

Yes, YES!

So what do we do now? Where do we go from here?

Elizabeth suggests taking the word "passion" off the table. Stop focusing on that word. Stop trying to find it. Instead, investigate your curiosity.

We all have those little things that pique our curiosity. For whatever reason, we feel drawn to something. We want to learn more. We think it might just be what we've been searching for. But we're not sure. We're just curious.

That is what we need to give ourselves permission to look further into. When you feel curious about something, just look into it. Don't jump off the cliff. Don't give up everything, change everything, and run down that path. That's what "following a passion" asks...but not following a curiosity.

You may take a few steps in a direction that you were curious about and realize that's not for you after all. That's fine. Turn around and go back. After all, you only took a few steps down that path. See, that's the beauty of following your curiosities. You don't have to give up everything to learn more about them.

If, in fact, you do find something you want to pursue further, then you can. And you can still do it little by little. And if at some point along the way, your curiosity is satisfied and you're no longer interested in that thing...That is Ok! Follow the next curiosity. Look into it. Take a peek. See where it will lead.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

What to Make of Regrets

I've been thinking about my past choices a lot lately. More my professional, work-related choices, as that is the are in my life right now that I'm not content with.

As I've talked about in previous posts, I've had many different jobs over the past 22 years I have been working. While on one hand I am proud of all the experiences I've had, and everything I've learned... on the other hand I regret not sticking with things longer.

I know, it's a Catch-22. Can't have both.

I've always followed my heart. So I guess there's no shame in that. So why now, looking back, do I question my decision to leave various jobs?

The why is simple. It's easy to look back and see only the good, forgetting the bad. Take that, add it to the fact that professionally I am so far from where I thought I'd be at the age of 37, and you end up second-guessing.

I started out as a teacher. That's what my college degree is in. I did it only for two and a half years and "knew." It wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I left my "perfectly fine" teaching job in pursuit of something that made me happier. What it was...I didn't even know. All I did know was I didn't like my job.

Flash forward 12 years and I wish I had tried harder at that job. I wish I had stuck with it. I wish I had liked it more.

But I didn't. It's easy to look back and think "I wish..." "I wish things could have been different." Whether you're talking about a former job or relationship, it's the same.

This reminds me of a Tut.com quote "from the Universe:"

"While it's often fashionable to dwell upon what might have been, what's usually overlooked is that really and truly, it couldn't have. 

Because, invariably, any romanticized versions of how things 'might have been,' are based upon fictionalized versions of the past."

Ok. So things "couldn't" have worked out any differently. When I think how I wish I had stuck with teaching, I see the good parts of the job. The students I reached. The summers and holidays off (paid)! I know, in my heart of hearts, I could not have stuck with it any longer than I did.

What is the root of regrets? Being discontent with the now. We wouldn't regret something from the past if we are perfectly content and happy in our current state.

And the fact is, I am not content with my current professional state. Things have not worked out like I expected. I am not where I want to be.

Does that mean things won't work out? That I won't be where I want to be at some point? No! And that's the key.

Everything is a step towards where we are ultimately meant to be.

Twelve years ago I knew I had to leave my teaching job. After leaving that job, I worked part-time and went back to school to learn American Sign Language. That would not have happened if I hadn't left the teaching job. A few years later, I left my job as an ASL interpreter (which yes, I also regret). I left that job to write my first novel. I would not have written all the novels I have had I not left that job.

Each job (or relationship, or whatever your steps are) is a step towards where we are meant to be next.

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