Wednesday, July 27, 2005

How and When Is Input From Others Helpful To Us in Living Our Soul Purpose?

"I'm just not sure which way to go?" my friend was saying to me. "There are so many potential ways to bring my work out into the world." My friend had been listening to input from professionals and nonprofessionals, each with their own unique idea about how he should ultimately produce and market his art work. Rather than becoming clearer as a result of hearing all this input, he was becoming more confused.

So, I encouraged him to stop thinking about all the input he had been getting and return to his thoughts to his original reason for sharing his art with the world. We explored the following three questions:

1) What unique experience do you bring to your viewing audience?
2) What underlying message behind the art expresses your true Soul Purpose?
3) What approach and venue for sharing your art makes your heart sing?

From my observations, it seems that a Soul Purpose expresses a core belief or message we long share with the world through our actions. In effect, it is the message behind our act of love - our service to the world or our community.

Now, I'm not suggesting that we all need to stand on a soap box. Far from it. I think, for the most part, the best expression of Soul Purpose is reflected far more significantly through our creations and actions rather than our words. The exception to this is when our Soul Purpose is naturally best expressed through word based modalities such as writing or speeches.

I love it when I'm invited by someone to be part of an experience that gives me new insights. I would much prefer to have a full-bodied, rich and personal experience of someone else's Soul Purpose than be told about it. Take my artist friend - or an artist you know - isn't it much more exciting to experience their art, pehaps with a short story about its meaning and creation than to hear them talk about it?

I knew if he got in touch once again with the experience he uniquely shares with the viewer, he would once again access his unique gift - his reason for existence. We then explored the underlying message. His message is elegantly simple and quite profound. He gives people an experience of the process of creation through his art.

Embracing his true message may feel like a stretch at times, because it seems bigger than human. That is a good sign. A Soul Purpose is bigger than human. If it didn't feel bigger than how we see ourselves currently, we would have nothing to explore! We would become bored.

Out of all the approaches and strategies proposed to him, there was likely to be one that felt a little bit ominous, but would also feel like a perfect fit for him - something his body would sink into when he thought about it. Also - the approach would excite him and stimulate his own new ideas.

He paused for less than a minute before he succinctly described how he most wanted to share his art.

Now, I didn't ask him what he thought. His mind was already full of ideas. I asked him how he felt - what his heart had to say. When checking in with his heart about what was important to him, he knew immediately:

1) What he wanted people to experience through his art
2) What underlying core message thoroughly captured his attention and grabbed the attention of his viewers
3) What approach and venue scared him a little, but energized him completely as soon as he thought about it.

Once he spoke out loud his desire, message and vision, he was free to choose from all the input he had received the specific ideas and suggestions that applied to his vision. Now he could use that sharp mind of his to sort out which input would be truly helpful in living his Soul Purpose.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

How Do You Know When You are Living Your Highest and Best Purpose?

It was a gorgeous morning, and getting quite hot already. It was only 7:00 in the morning, and I was ready to find the air conditioning. The desert can be like that - stifling hot.

The evaporative cooling system needed some attention, so even though the temperature was uncomfortable, my husband climbed up on the roof to make some repairs.

We were expecting our friend, Bob, to come by at 8:00 with an estimate for some work he was going to do for us. He arrived on time and I told him we needed to go up to the roof to get my husband because he was reparing the cooling system.

"Now is that his highest and best purpose?" he asked me, teasingly. (I thought this was a particularly great question in light of the fact I had just started this blog on discovering one's soul purpose.)

I thought carefully about how I was going to answer this question, because it seemed significant.

"Well," I said, "given how hot we can expect it to get today, I'd have to say for the moment, it probably is his highest and best purpose."

Bob chuckled and followed me to the ladder, where he scrambled up to give my husband a hand.

I have been thinking about his question ever since he posed it. On the one hand, my husband or I could have determined that our highest and best purpose would be to begin our usual day and call out a repairman. It would be easy to argue that our hghest and best purpose is always done through the service we offer others in fulfillment of our missions. Theoretically and for the most part, I believe that is true.

And yet, from time to time, we may find ourselves getting up in the middle of the night to tend to a sick child. We might put some of our career activity on hold to care for our elderly parent. We might continue a good paying job to provide for our family while developing a career during our off-hours that is in more alignment with our mission.

If we choose to be of service to the people we love when they are in need, are we off purpose?

Practically, I know sometimes our highest and best purpose occurs when we respond to the needs of our family and friends. Sometimes it is the best avenue through which to express our highest purpose. If our purpose is limited to a career or particular action, it is probably not big enough.

If we consistently took care of others in order to avoid our truest, most meaningful work - if we were using it to escape, then indeed we would not be living our highest and best purpose. And yet, there is a place for loving acts of kindness within our life of purpose.

Some years ago, a dear friend and elder told me about a realization she had during a near-death experience. When she met with guides on the other side, together they reviewed her life. She was quite surprised when they told her that doing what she had gone to earth to do was very good. But what they really deemed significant were the thoughtful, kind acts of love she offered along the way.

In other words, it is good to live our purpose. That is what we have come here to do. Yet we would be missing out on the deeper meaning of our purpose if we neglected to do the little, loving, thoughtful things along the way.

Monday, July 11, 2005

As We Get Older Does Our Purpose Become Clearer?

Recently, I have had the honor of assisting a couple of dear friends in their preparation for elderhood rituals and celebrations. An interesting phenomena occurs as these women acknowledge their passage into what I consider to be the real prime of their life.

As they look at what they want to accomplish between now and the day they exit this world, they become dedicated to identifying and committing to fulfilling their soul purpose. There is a power in acknowledging their death. Recognizing the limit of time here on earth catapults them into the full memory of what they came here to do, as well as a burning desire to bring their purpose to completion.

Simultaneously, I observe these women acknowedging all of their gifts and talents, as well as their broad range of interests. They review their years of life with a fondness for all of the experiences they enjoyed and perhaps a little regret for the ones they never had time or enough impetus to do. The adage and frustration of "so much to do, so little time" probably never has as much meaning as it does when you realize your time on earth is growing shorter.

As they approach elderhood, I notice them growing calmer with this frustration because they seem to surrender to the fact they arent' going to get to do it all - and instead find peace and joy in what they have been able to experience. Instead of spinning in regret, they ask themselves, "What is most important for me to do now? I've tried out all kinds of careers, raised my family, provided for myself and others, given to my community......and before I go, what legacy do I want to leave?"

Unless we are born with the memory of our purpose and retain that awareness through out our childhood, most of us spend our lives discovering what it is. We spend decades slowly pulling out our awareness of purpose from under a cloud of confusion and fogginess. Elderhood seems to push the awareness to the surface where it can be embraced and acted upon with determination.

Both my friends tell me retirement sounds like a foreign concept to them. How could they possibly think about retiring when their whole life is ahead of them? The most they truly have to give and experience is happening right now. They are living more of their true purpose now than they ever have before

Some of us are fortunate. We know and accept our purpose when we are younger. Some of us have always known it and acted upon it. But for those of us who have had to dig down through layers of forgetfullness to remember, it can be reassuring to know our own natural progression to elderhood will help bring it to our awareness.

Friday, July 08, 2005

What Does Our Response to Terrorism Teach Us About the Life We Are Creating?

What do you do when people are killed and wounded by terrorist attacks? Do you write, talk, cry, fight, get angry, pray?

I sing. Why do I sing? Because singing calms the beast. I sing to the beast within humanity that has the capacity to be so cruel. I sing for all of us to replace hate with love and revenge with compassion. I sing to the beast because I know that capacity exists inside of everyone.

It rears its head when we are not watching. It happens when we are thinking I could never do something awful to someone else. That's when it happens.

It happens when we are in our car stopped at a stop light and someone rear-ends us. We jump out of our car yelling at the other person, or quietly cursing them. It happens when we squeeze as much out of their insurance company as we possibly can, whether we deserve or need it or not. It happens when we blame the other driver, thinking of them as stupid or incompetent.

It happens when our unwed child comes home and tells us she is pregnant and we chastise her for allowing herself to get into this condition. It happens when we condemn her for choosing to have an abortion, keep the child, or give the child up for adoption, It happens when we choose to critisize her choice rather than walk with her compassionately through her challenges.

It happens when we complain about our boss, but never talk directly with him or her directly about our frustrations. It happens when we gossip about someoneat work. It happens when we rake our employee over the coals, whether privately or publicly. It happens when we sue another person or business.

It happens when we assume we would make better choices than someone else has made; when we assume we are better.

It happens every time we punish our children in anger. It happens every time we make a condescending remark to our spouse. It happens every time we make someone feel bad about themselves.

It happens every time we judge another through the eyes of superiority, anger, hatred or revenge.

Terrorism is what we do to ourselves and each other. Terrorism is "I'm right. You are wrong." Terrorim is "I'm going to make you pay." Terrorism is "I don't care how badly I hurt you, I'm going to make you see my way."

Terrorism is the beast that lives inside us all. That is why I sing. I sing to calm the beast in me - in all of us. I sing for love, compassion, and understanding because when the beast is calm, terrorism will die.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Is Love Your Soul Purpose?

In numerous classes, I have asked my students, "What is your unique purpose here on earth?" Without fail, their first response is "To love."

"How wonderful!" I respond, "I believe to love is everyone's mission here on earth and what flavor of love are you here to experience?"

Love is like ice-cream. It comes in a lot of different flavors. You can get different textures of ice-cream, created from different kinds of ingredients. You can get gourmet, designer combinations or plain vanilla. You can get a simple single scoop ice cream cone or order a super delux sundae. So what flavor, what style, what uniquely you ice-cream combo gets you jazzed?

Are you a go out and change your counrty by becoming a politician who believes in preserving the earth and the family kind of ice-cream person? Or are you a dedicate my life to home-schooling my children to be caring, responsible, intelligent people kind of ice-cream person?

Are you a counsel underprivileged folks to break through barriers to create satisfying, meaningful lives for themselves kind of ice-cream person? Or are you a create a multi-million dollar business promoting technological advancements to improve planetary quality of life kind of ice-cream person?

The way you most enjoy being of service to others is a big key to discovering more about your soul purpose. It is in giving and receiving our love that we experience the greatest satisfaction and one of the best ways to give and receive is through our service.

Notice that none of the examples I have mentioned above are just about a job - they reflect a quality of life we are imbuing on the planet through our service work.

If the way in which we are providing service to others is not satisfying to us, then we are not in our best alignment with our purpose. Maybe we are in the wrong type of job completely. Maybe we need a new environment in which to work. Maybe we need to look at the lessons our work is asking us to learn about ourselves. Or maybe we just need to become clearer about the quality of life we wish to create and then determine the job, career, or means through which we want to instill that quality or flavor of love.

Finding our flavor(s) can be a lot of fun. You might be able to describe it in a few words. It might be more like a feeling than a thought. Best of all, it is a way we live when we just can help ourselves. We simply have to live the love that is within us.

When I say Martin Luther King, do you get a sense of his mission? How about Mother Teresa? Peace Pilgrim? Mahatma Ghandi? The Dalai Lama? Erma Bombeck? John F. Kennedy?

When we look at people who have a strong sense of purpose, their love and spirit seem to flow from the pours of their soul. Each of the above individuals did their work differently, yet each of them lived from the very center of their being, using the best of their skills, giving the best they had to give.

Our soul purpose transcends religion, cultural barriers, and race. When living our soul purpose we are coming from a core that resonates for many other people as well as ourselves. It sits in the center of the best humanity has to offer.

In living out our soul purpose, we get to ask ourselves, where and how we most feel alive in our acts of service. Do we love to teach, heal, care for, debate, parent, arbitrate, discover, write, dramatize, organize, conceptualize, paint, supervise, calculate, minister, enhance, etc.

Most of us are multi-talented, so determining one flavor of love is likely to be a waste of time. But discovering which of our talents we enjoy the most and seem to make the biggest difference give us indicators about how we can best spread love around the world. Knowing what we are passionate about, compelled to talk about, and even more importantly - compelled to do something about give us clues about what we are here to express and accomplish - our unique, significant contribution.

Are we here to love? Well, I like to think so. What flavor of love are you?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Do We Define Our Purpose By What We Resist?

Chatting with a couple of friends today, it occurred to me that one of the ways we find meaning and define our lives is to live in resistance to something we don't like. In other words it could look something like, "I'm not sure what I stand for, but I sure as heck know what I stand against."

I'm not convinced this is the best perspective from which to live one's life. If we choose to live from this stance, we will always be at war with someone or something. However, recognizing what we won't and don't stand for can provide a platform from which to discover what we do indeed find meaningful and significant.

For example, if I know I do not believe I need Big Brother watching over me, then I might also know I value personal freedom more than the restrictions of an ever-watchful government. Now I can ask myself, is my value of personal freedom core to my purpose here on earth?

If my resistance to the concept of Big Brother is intense, it might well be an indicator that becoming a champion of personal freedom may indeed play a role in my soul purpose. If my resistance is minimal, this core issue may be important, but is probably not fundamental to my mission.

Of course, being passionate about a concept like personal freedom does not necessarily mean that the foundation of my purpose is absolutely built on this premise, but it could. At the very least it deserves consideration.

More than once I have consulted with clients about the direction of their personal journey, only to discover what they were resisting the most provided a key to their true work. In my own life I have become quite upset when I hear someone claiming a title or credentials I know they have not earned. It grated on me, until I realized I have greater respect for myself and others when we actually deliver more than we claim - when we walk our talk, with the emphasis on the walking.

In time, this concept became fundamental to the premise of Soul Purpose. If we are living our purpose, we are making a difference in the world that is visible and credible. We have no need to exaggerate or brag because our actions speak loud and clear. In examining my resistance, I was able to uncover a value that was foundational to my soul purpose.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Have You Discovered Your Soul Purpose?

A few months ago, I had what I guess you could call a near-death experience. When I realized I might not be returning to life on planet earth, I had a crystal clear realization about my life. In an instant I was aware that I had chosen to come to earth to complete two significant tasks. Behind these choices I felt a deep commitment to my purpose and I knew I was not ready to leave. I wanted desperately to complete my missions.

When I opened my eyes, I was lying in bed with my arms around my husband, breathing, seeing, smelling, hearing - my body and mind fully present and alive. I was still here. Though shaken and deeply moved by the experience, I was relieved to know I was still in my human form - still had the opportunity to do what I came here to do.

Since then, I have gone through personal moments of resistance and denial in which I did little to nothing to shape my life in the direction of my purpose. Somehow, I thought I could go on just like before, assuming these chosen tasks would somehow happen on their own. It took me a while to realize that taking responsibility for creating my destiny was, at least in significant part, what the journey was all about.

Such profound experiences as near-death simply cannot be denied. The awakened knowledge about my purpose continued to tap on my conscious awareness until I finally surrendered to the greater plan. Surrendering meant commiting to my purpose, asking for help, noticing who Spirit sent to me - fully receiving their help and advice - and finally putting the knowledge that would guide me toward my purpose into application.

Funny, the awareness of my missions had been there all along, but clouded by all the talents I had and choices availalbe to me. I kept waiting for some unknown something to help me identify my purpose and motivate me enough to fully embrace it. Frequently, I thougth I knew my purpose, only to discover it was part of my journey, but not the purpose itself. Occassionally, I actually commited to some aspect of my chosen missions and moved toward them. Now, I affirm my purpose each and every day - the completion of one task and then the other.

With great joy and a full heart, I am now slipping into what I call the golden path that is uniquely mine. It was always there. And today, I notice more of the gifts that are there to assit me in achieving my heart's deepest desire - my destiny.

If for some reason, I am not able to fulfill these chosen tasks, I can be at peace because I have chosen to live each day dedicated to their completion. And if indeed the journey is more important than the destination - well, I'm on the journey I dreamed into being.