Friday, October 30, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Shifting Ground

"A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory." ~ Arthur Golden, from Memoirs of a Geisha

Lately, my life seems to be a little like an earthquake. I feel like I am always standing on shifting ground. Just when I think I get one part of my life settled, an aftershock throws me off balance. There are some amazing lessons to be learned when we are standing on uncertain ground. And while working through these circumstances is difficult, I am certain that once the dust settles I will be a far better person in every respect.

With shifting ground:

1.) You learn what you want, and what you don't want.
Things I want: a career that contributes to building a better world, freedom to use my time with more flexibility, to be out and about in the world as much as possible, a close family, close friends, a feeling of connection to my community.

Things I don't want: to wake up in the middle of my years and find that I didn't do something because I was scared or because I was worried it would take too long to complete, to "dream" more than I "do"

2.) You learn who you want, and who you don't want in your life.
People I want: those with commitment and determination. Those who do what they say and say what they do. People who show up, and love fiercely and fearlessly, and take big chances on big dreams. Those who hold at their core honesty, bravery, and empathy. People who know what they want and have the confidence to go for it. People who change the direction of the wind. Kind and generous and those who want to be at cause with the world. People who listen more than they talk.

People I don't want: those who can't make up their minds. People who are inconsistent. People who constantly look at what others can get or do for them. People who lack follow-through and commitment. "Idea people" who don't have the ability or inclination to bring those ideas to life through the honest work of their own two hands. Those who spend an hour with me talking about themselves for 59 minutes and asking me how I'm doing for 1 minute.

3.) You learn to live with less material wealth, and greater purpose.
Last night I spoke to my dear friend, Amy, who is my inspiration when it comes to creating a purposeful life. She told me about a book called The Soul Of Money by Lynne Twist. It's helping Amy to make the transition from the career she has, which carries a big paycheck and is not what she wants to do, to the career she wants, which has a less certain income stream and a tremendous amount of satisfaction. Twist advocates for our ability to build a meaningful, satisfying life with our own inner resources. It's an idea we can all get behind - to be motivated by a personal mission, a reason for being, and not a bonus and an annual performance review rating. She shows us that wealth of the heart and mind is at least as importance as the wealth in our bank accounts.

Shifting ground is treacherous. It is filled with doubt and uncertainty. It shakes us to our core, and in the process we find out what sustains us, what makes us glad that we woke up today, what motivates us to build a better tomorrow for ourselves and for others. This is uncomfortable work, though it's the only way I can see to make the valleys of this journey through life worthwhile.

Disappointment is going to show up at our door at one time or another. People are going to let us down. And how we handle these disappointments, and what we learn from them, in many ways helps us to define who are and who we mean to be. They are teachers, twisted and odd as they may be. The way to learn from the disappointments is to hang on to those who build us up, the circumstances that make us strong, those who can support us in our darkest hour. They make all the difference, and help us climb back to those peaks.

This uncertain ground will pass. The aftershocks eventually die down. Life does get back to normal. And when it does, I know I'll find that my ground has shifted in a favorable direction.

The image above is not my own. It can be found here.

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