“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” ~Jack Kerouac
In a fine moment of synchronicity last week, a post came out on Zen Habit’s called Simple Daily Habits to Ignite Your Passion and I received an email from someone talking about the benefit that comes from having a Happiness Tribe. I wound up reading them back-to-back.
“Coach Bob Proctor says, “If you know what to do to reach your goal, it’s not a big enough goal.” Big dreams don’t have easy paint by number action plans. Big dreams involve listening to the new frequency of your soul, not the repetitive guidance of ordinary advice. It’s uncomfortable not to know. But, remember, it can be so much more painful to be in a life where every square inch is known.” ~Tama J. Kieves
As I begin this process of setting up my own business and (gradually) becoming self-employed, I feel like I need to remind myself of this a hundred times a day. The part of me that craves safety and security is panicking at the idea that I am doing something this big without really knowing all the steps it’s going to take to get there.
“Go jump off a cliff. Don’t go near the cliff and contemplate jumping off. Don’t read a book about jumping off. Don’t study the art and science of jumping off. Don’t join a support group for jumping off. Don’t write poems about jumping off. Don’t kiss the ass of someone else who jumped off. Just jump.” ~Jed McKenna
I took jump off an enormous cliff about six months ago now when I quit my full-time job. I’ve been remarkably blessed with the way that has turned out. I jumped, and a net appeared in the form of the part-time position I currently have, which is better than anything I could have dreamed up for my present situation. It’s taught me a lot about trusting the universe.
Now I find myself ready to jump off a cliff again, and I feel like I’m back to square one. When I jumped off a few months ago, I was jumping away from something into the unknown. Now I’m jumping toward something (the beginnings of self-employment), and even though it is still in many ways jumping into the unknown, it feels completely different.
“Every end is a new beginning” ~anonymous (proverb)
I am amazed to consider that tonight is my last yoga teacher training class. This program, which seemed so long when it started five months ago, has flown by. This time next week (after our graduation ceremony), I will officially be a certified yoga teacher. Wow.
This program has changed me in many ways. I’ve learned so much about yoga and, perhaps even more significantly, have realized how very little I know. It’s been a lot of hard work. At times, it’s boosted my confidence that I have something to offer the world; at other times, it’s made me doubt that I can ever have anything worth giving. It’s challenged me, it’s made me question, it’s frustrated me, it’s brought me great delight.
I can’t wait to not have any more homework or assignments for a little while. (Yay! Time to catch up on all of the other things I haven’t been doing for months!) I am ready for a little downtime to let it all soak in.
On the other hand, I’ve spent so much time with this group of fellow students that it’s the closest I’ve come to feeling part of a community in the years that I’ve lived here. I’m going to really miss that even though we will (hopefully) keep in touch on Facebook.
Tonight is an ending, but it is also a beginning.
“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you. If you don’t have that kind of feeling for what it is you are doing, you’ll stop at the first giant hurdle.” ~George Lucas
I think he’s got the right idea. The path to any dream is filled with hurdles and challenges, and unless I love that dream enough to take whatever risks are necessary to make the dream a reality, I will never make it past the challenges in the way.
My challenge has always been trying to clarify which dreams I love enough to have that kind of passion for following. It seems like those should be easy to identify, but I find that (at least for me) the biggest dreams also seem to provoke the biggest fears. Fear then has this way of masking the dream even from my own view, so I can’t always tell which dreams spark the deepest love in me.
“I would prefer a thousand mistakes in extravagance of love to any paralysis in wariness of fear.” ~Gerald C. May (from The Awakened Heart)
I have several areas of my life where I am struggling to make decisions about where to focus my energy and attention and my inability to make a clear decision about any of these is causing me a good deal of frustration and paralysis. One of the biggest areas where I’ve been struggling is in trying to decide exactly how to focus my efforts to develop a clear path to be able to make a living on my own by the time my current grant-funded job ends in 18 months.
“Someday there will be a story you want to tell for no better reason than because it matters to you more than any other…You’ll stop looking over your shoulder to make sure you are keeping everyone happy, and you’ll simply write what’s real and true…That’s when you’ll finally produce the work you’re really capable of.” ~J.D. Salinger to Joyce Maynard
As I have continued to ponder the ways that I self-sabotage by refusing to choose, it is very clear to me that I am doing this in large part to avoid tackling my “big” career dream. At the deepest level, beneath all of my other interests and talents and dreams, I want to be an author. I long to write stories. This is the one thing I long for more than any other.
It is also the one thing, out of all my interests, that I spend the least time trying to bring into being.
“But eventually I had to choose if I hoped to enjoy any success. If I didn’t choose, then it would have been impossible for me to focus my energy. Lack of focus is a huge reason that too many talented writers never make it. They have chosen a plan that has very high odds of failure.” ~Kristen Lamb
I’ve been spending a lot of time pondering the whole “what do I want to do with the rest of my life” question lately—particularly with respect to how I want to make a living once my grant-funded job runs out at the end of next year. The time to start building that business is now while I still have other income, so I’m feeling the urge to get moving in that direction.
I am fully committed to creating a life and a way of making a living that encompasses my various passions in a Joyfully Jobless kind of way. I want to combine multiple money-making activities in such a way that I create a life of variety of tasks, a chance to explore multiple passions and talents, and financial security through diversification.
“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.” ~Greek historian Thucydides
I recently followed a Facebook conversation in which people were asked to supply a word that meant success to them. Of all the words mentioned, I discovered that freedom was the one that resonated most with me. For me, being successful means that I have the freedom to do the work that I believe I am called to do and to live life in such a way that it will feed my soul in order to give vitality to my work.
As I continue to ponder what my career future will look like, I repeatedly find that the ideas that draw me most are those that offer this kind of freedom to walk my own path. I know that this kind of life will be challenging and uncertain. I’m not altogether confident all the time that I can find a way to make it work. But I am becoming increasingly certain that any options I consider absolutely must meet that basic criterion for me to be comfortable moving forward with them.
In one of my recent yoga teacher training classes, we talked about the way that our families of origin defined success and how that definition had affected our lives over the years. The conversation got me thinking about the ways that I currently define success. That is one of the many things that has shifted—and continues to shift—during this journey.
Part of my definition of success would now be living the kind of life where I can’t tell the difference between my work and my play. Part of my definition would now involve living a contemplative life as Elizabeth Janeway describes it below. Continue reading