focus, goal setting, passion, Personal Development, Personal growth, Uncategorized

Content, Connection, Goals, and Plans

Things are not always what they appear to be on the surface
Photo by my friend Andrea.

The other day I was listening to a talk by Bradley T. Morris, a lifestyle and business design coach. He was describing one of his “AHA” moments. While sitting in Nature enjoying a sunset, he discovered he was already formulating a social media post rather than being absorbed in the moment. That realization was his inspiration to approach business in a completely different way. What a perfect example of how social media and online presence has taken over the lives of so many. Going through our days with an eye to creating content and capturing likes, follows, and share instead of fully embodying our experience.

Social media’s been mixed for me. I’ve definitely had moments when I take a picture or have a passionate flow of words come to me and think “Oh man! This will make a great post!” It’s also connected me to people I’ve come to call true friends, collaborators, teachers and mentors from all over the world I wouldn’t have had a chance to interact with otherwise. It’s provided an audience for my images, words, and music I might not have had. It’s inspired me to refine my photographic eye and hone other creative skills.

Being content-focused to me is living on the surface. It can take up a lot of energy, without a lot of reward for either the creator or consumer. Creating content with the goal of connection, though, has the potential to be inspirational and even interactive.

It’s important too, I feel to make sure the mission and message are aligned. That a subversive mission of gaining a following doesn’t dilute the offering.

In my own experience lately, I found I was expending a lot of effort in creating content in a way I thought would bring me passive income and potentially a large following. It. Was. All. So. Hard. I realized one day I had distracted myself from my original goal, which was (and still is) to find a way to share with others my joy of creative practice, and how it can contribute to making meaning.

To the point where even though a particular plan felt so uncomfortable, wrong, not “me”, I was pursuing it anyway. I had veered off the path of wanting to truly connect with others and holding space for them to make their own discoveries to healing, stillness, and celebration of this thing we call life.

Full.

Stop.

So, Adele, you may be thinking… what does all this have to do with goals and plans?

For one, the concepts of content, connection, goals, and plans have been tumbling around all together in my mind these past few weeks.

Let’s consider, for a moment, to look at both content and goals as intent. They can both be broad and vague. Examples could be: This topic is trending and I’m going to rehash it/share a meme. I want to increase clicks with this catchy headline. We will create a brand that will create excitement in a certain demographic. I want to write a best seller novel/song. I want to be a baseball player. I want to change my weight/fitness level. Goals are an expression of a desire. Sometimes they are realistic, and sometimes they are really more dreams than anything.

Plans are the action steps: I’m going to go a new provocative route with this trending topic, and these are the steps I’m taking. The headline is not just a teaser, but the content makes you want more. This month we will launch new packaging that’s more appealing to a demographic. I am scheduling time each day to devote to a pursuit, either for enjoyment or mastery. I am sitting down today to make my meal plan for how I want to eat. They connect (see? this is how my brain works!) the dream to reality. The route to achievement. A sense of meaning is being created. Good stuff!

I chose the image for this post because for me it’s both content and connection. It’s made from a butter box I was going to recycle. I turned it inside out, and created something different. From the outside, it’s not what it appears to be. It can hold anything. Rocks, slips of paper with words of encouragement. Or as it turned out, a pair of sock I knitted and gave to a friend because I started knitting them while staying with her when I had nowhere else to stay.

My invitation to you this week is to look at what you are putting out to the world. Are your message and mission in alignment? Are you creating value, or simply a scroll pause?


course creation, creative block, creative practice, Creativity, goal setting, inspiration, journaling, Personal Development, Personal growth

Overwhelm Can Lead to Innovation

I will admit- the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself becoming overwhelmed. Both by content, and the goings on in the world. It’s seemed like a priviledged extravagance. It seemed that everywhere I went there was someone promising “complete transformation in just eight weeks”, offering an app that held content much like I want to present. or making this or that spiritual claim. I used this bombardment of information and enticements as a template, and I’m discovering that’s just not me. I was not being true to my values, beliefs and integrity. Which made me laugh, because that’s one of the explorations I offer to people.

Between finishing up some trainings, looking for a “regular” job to support me on my journey, coming up with course materials and trying to figure out platforms and methods of delivery, and .. and… and… whew. I kinda shut down.

This created a fantastic opportunity! Overwhelm can indicate that a person or group is out of alignment with core tenets and values, or headed a direction that’s not right for the project at hand. It’s a cue to step back, evaluate and recalibrate. Concepts might be vaild overall, but not for the current situation.

In my personal situation, it came to that I was trying to cram too much into one package. AND yay! Many packages! Sometimes it’s necessary to do some sorting out and see what’s noise, and what’s music.

I can’t promise, nor do I want to, a formulaic transformation miracle. I’m more a hands-on kind of person, so I’m beginning to think offering self-paced learning is not what I want to offer. There’s something about in person shared experience that lights me up. I want to take “just enough” time in developing things that when the world sees it, people will think “Yeah! That’s the stuff!”

I believe my music, words, and energy come through me not from me, and I never want to lose sight of that. I witnessed too many people I’ve admired on their journeys begin to believe their own hype and become characatures of themselves.

I believe in the science behind the healing properties of meditation, sound, and energy, and that there are many ways to achieve a state of relaxed awareness. That this is accessible to everyone, and much as there are people more receptive to talents with words, or music, or painting, there are people who are more open to being channels for energy.

That some of the practices I’m exploring use symbols and tools that don’t quite jive for me, and that’s OK.

What I can, and deeply desire to offer:
* A safe and sacred space for people to find their way to relaxed awareness. This can
be through conversation, meditation, sound experiences and creative practice.
* That in this state, people can discover what makes life meaningful to them, and a
few life purposes to lead a satisfied life.
* Contemplative excercises, including some fun creative practices, that have worked
for me in making these discoveries, and maybe they will work for you, too.

I invite you to begin by thinking of a time you felt fully yourself, being and doing something you completely got lost in. Commit to doing this activity twice a day, for twenty minutes. Write, walk, make or listen to music, participate in your community in an uplifiting way. It can be anything that aligns with your values and longings.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, let’s chat! We can explore together a way for you or your team to develop a personalized course. Become more effective and satisfied with your life. I can be reached at info@craftingthespirit.com

inspiration, journaling, meditation, mindfulness, Personal Development, Personal growth

Reimagining Sacrifice

“Every choice we make is a sacrifice of sorts, when you think of it. And we often do it without thought. It’s when we are confronted with the biggies… changing our life course in one way or another… that sacrifice becomes A Really Big Deal. Learning to cultivate the awareness of this, and transferring energy to radical positive actions is an art.”

I’ve been thinking lately about the concept of sacrifice. How it’s often seen in a negative light… one of nostalgia, guilt or regret. Of giving up one’s own path to boost another’s. Of deprivation. Of punishment. And often unwillingly.

I began then to consider a shift in perspective. To see sacrifice as an intentional, willing offering up. An act of redemption and rebirth. A surrender to what is, in order to allow opportunities to be seen. A liberation from the tight attempted control of ego over circumstances. As the book I’m reading currently says “giving up the transitory for the sake of the transcendent.”

Every choice we make is a sacrifice of sorts, when you think of it. And we often do it without thought. It’s when we are confronted with the biggies… changing our life course in one way or another… that sacrifice becomes A Really Big Deal. Learning to cultivate the awareness of this, and transferring energy to radical positive actions is an art.

Callings” by Gregg Levoy is one of the guiding books I’ve returned to many times in life. He writes: “Every sacrifice, though, every step toward action, every response to a call necessitates a leap of faith and is done without knowing the outcome. It is, as the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard described, the epitome of anxiety meeting courage. It is Jonah leaping overboard, which seems like madness, yet often in following our own calls, we’re told by others that we’re crazy. At some level, we, too have to make an ultimate sacrifice to our callings. We need to devote everything, our whole selves. A part-time, sorta-kinda commitment, an untested promise, wont’s suffice. You must know that you mean business, that you’re going to jump into it up to your eye sockets and not turn back at the last minute. In making the leap from vision to form, you will be tested and suffer setbacks, occasionally severe. At our first steps toward authenticity– or love or compassion or any high calling–every devil in in hell will come out to meet us. Only when you try your vision in the world can you test whether it’s true.”

The description of sacrifice being the epitome of anxiety meeting courage… whoa! What a powerful interpretation of the concept of “leap of faith”!! I’ve talked before about the “oh shit” moment from the book “Radical Leap”, and following the what ifs as a jumping off point for adventure and discovery. And committing once and for all, as presented by Alan Seale. These are all ways of sacrificing what was, what is, for what can be. Devoting one’s self to the process, regardless of outcome.

You be thinking, but hey.. he’s talking about commitment to an action… isn’t that contradictory to surrender? I don’t see it as such. What if you replace the word surrender to awareness, acknowledgement, or acceptance? Doing so might open sight to possibilities within a circumstance. Or it might indicate we need to change something completely.

“What are you willing to give up to ensure your own unfolding, and the unfolding of what is holy in your life?”

inspiration, instinctive meditation, instinctive meditation, journaling, meditation, mindfulness, passion, Personal Development, Personal growth

The Many Doorways to Meditation

Today I came across the poem “On Meditating, Sort Of” by Mary Oliver, and I feel it’s a great description of instinctive meditation, which is what I practice.

She describes the common perception of meditation requiring a certain posture, mindset, or even staying awake. How wonderful it feels to enter that place in between, and the deliciousness of returning, feeling refreshed, relaxed, and a deeper connection to self and everything there is.

This is the beauty of instinctive meditation. It can happen spontaneously, like when you look at a flower or rock so intimately that you follow the textures and colours to their own stories. Or become aware of the conversation between different types of trees when the wind dances with them. Feeling the energy of the sun seep into the galaxies of cells in your body. Laying down for a sacred nap and floating for awhile.

It’s a beautiful gift to yourself to set aside intentional time each day for meditation, as well. I like to do this when I first wake up, before getting out of bed, and last thing. Mid-afternoons, too when I have time. It doesn’t have to be for long. If your day is busy and you are in the midst of other people, you can make a couple minutes private time to remember a favourite place, or a time you felt so at home with yourself, and come back a bit more refreshed. Maybe you have a rock, or shell, or some other small object you can carry with you as a reminder.

These times you gift yourself don’t have to be spent in stillness, with your eyes closed. If you enjoy listening to music, listen. If you like e to make your own music, play. Dance, go surfing, run, or go for a walk if movement is your jam. Make jam! Write in your journal, draw long flowing lines, or paint, or weed your garden. Anything that is time just for you, and brings a sense of ease to your day.

Try it for a week, and let me know how it goes!

Affirmations, focus, goal setting, inspiration, journaling, mindfulness, Personal Development, Personal growth

“What Do You Do?”: Moving Beyond a Work-based Identity

Me back in ancient times, playing with my pet turtle in our blow-up swimming pool

In the culture I grew up in, training to identify with work started at an early age. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A lot of kids answers have some element of adventure to it, once you take away the label. Fire fighter, astronaut, faery, explorer. Some are more practical: teacher, nurse, scientist, doctor, parent. For an entire year, I insisted I was a pirate named Maria.

Later, if we go to school beyond the teenage years, it’s “What’s your major? What trade are you training in?” And of course, the good old fall back at social gatherings: “What do you do?”, meaning what do you do for work. It’s a way to compare social status, I suppose.

All of these are identifiers as who we are as commodities, or part of a work community, but not who we are as people. I’ve done everything from cleaning bathrooms, to being an executive assistant to having the privilege to meeting a U.S. President. Those are all things I’ve done for work, but not who I am as a person. They don’t describe how I like to watch the play of light and shadow, stop to talk with birds, feel the texture of beads in my hands, get carried away in meditation, or how creating music will carry me away for hours. For a time I ran a group called “I am not my day job”, where we celebrated what we enjoyed when we weren’t working.

I’ve mentioned before elsewhere how having an event at one of my workplaces changed how different departments viewed and interacted with each other, simply by having a day of sharing what we all enjoyed doing outside of work. It elevated communication and interpersonal respect, and that improved productivity.

There’s so much beyond that practical value, though. I feel in so many cases now, there’s more and more pressure and expectation to produce more, with less time, and give up more of our time to our work. In some jobs, the time it takes to complete a task is monitored, not taking into account that workers are biological beings, and not machines.

This leaves very little time for us to do things we love, spending time with family, and just being. It’s gotten to the point where many of us are expected to be available for work 24/7. Belgium just recently passed a law that government workers no longer have to answer work emails or calls after work hours. Technology’s been great in so many ways, and it’s also accelerated burn out for workers.

It’s time to change how we identify, if we haven’t already. One of the- I suppose you could call it gifts- of the past couple of years is that many had an opportunity to rediscover things they love to do, and the desire to have a better balance in life.

My invitations to you this week are these:
When you meet someone, instead of asking them “what do you do” ask them what brings them joy, where’s the best place they’ve visited, first music they bought. Get creative in your inquiries.

And for yourself:
Write “I ….” and list as many things you can think of. Challenge yourself not to edit. These can be affirmations, such as “I am joyful”, things you like to do “I like wiggling my bear toes in the sand” “I love sinking into my bed after a long day” “I make music that fills my soul” “I am a friend/lover/parent/child”.

Make a list of your values. How do these reflect what you love to do? Who you are at your essence? Does what you do for work incorporate your values, or is it in conflict with them? (Sometimes we have to do what we have to do for work, and that’s OK!) If your work doesn’t align with your values, how can you make more space in your day for what does? Are there changes you can make within your current circumstances to better reflect who you are?

Look to see if there are groups or categories of identifiers. Are there unmet longings? Habits-in-waiting asking for attention? What action steps will you take today to bring these to reality?

I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
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This is a taste of the course I’m developing on defining one’s life purposes that I’ll be offering later this year. If this sounds interesting to you, send me an email at info@craftingthespirit.com and let me know you’d like to be on the mailing list.