July: Wild Card

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This month’s topic seems a little different to me than the others. Probably by definition, order and logic are the opposite of dynamism and fun, often thought of as the antitheses of creativity, innovation, and artistic expression. Wait, Beth, why did you pick Gabe and me for this month again? Never mind, I have heard you say that you could use more order and logic in your life, but I’ve been wondering what you really want them to do for you.

For the record, what I said about order and logic being the opposite of innovation and creativity is not true. Creativity usually happens when someone has deep knowledge of her subject and combines ideas (particularly from different disciplines) in novel ways. If you didn’t have your background in community organizing, art programs, multimedia, and storytelling, it is hard to imagine you could have dreamt up this project. So it makes sense to include logic and order as a chapter in a project that is at least in part about creative purpose, your purpose. Using the tool of reflection, logic and order can play a role in helping you get at that purpose. Whereas Gabe has instructed you to bring some logic and order to your vita of experiences by organizing, evaluating, and communicating about your past, I will ask you to do some orderly reflection to create a logical framework that can inform your future.

Before I give you the wild card, though, let me just say that I know you are struggling on some level with the very heart of this project, which is complete transparency with whoever happens upon the pages you post. I think any sane person would. This project is a tremendous commitment in time, energy, and exposure. You are being more vulnerable than most of us would dare to be. But this is, I hope, part of the essence of why you are doing the project. It is only in honest, deep reflection that we are able to connect with ourselves and perhaps even with others. It is also my sense that reflection is where you are able to give back to the community that is supporting you in this process. To witness how you are growing, changing, and struggling makes this a human project worth sharing.

If you find yourself in need of inspiration regarding the power of vulnerability, watch this talk by storyteller-researcher Brené Brown. For even more inspiration, watch how conductor Benjamin Zander advises throwing up our hands when we stumble and shouting, “How fascinating!”

And so your wild card:

  1. First, reflect on your life experiences by answering the following questions (I credit my friend Vanessa Harris with devising these questions):
    1. Notice the patterns, what stands out loud and clear from all of your experiences? Not only what you did, but why you did it; what value(s) come through all of your choices/experiences?
    2. If you had to give up one of your past experiences, which would be the hardest to let go of and why?
    3. Who have been your mentors? What have they taught you?
    4. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have given yourself five years ago? Can you imagine what type of advice you will wish that your future self would give you today?
    5. If you could try any other type of work for a month (assuming training and opportunity were present), what would it be?
    6. Then, take the following actions:
      1. Based on this reflection, choose a few symbols that could represent you and your portfolio.
      2. Create a poll using the free version of the software Poll Everywhere to allow the community to vote on the symbols you have chosen.
      3. After receiving this input, choose the symbol that you will add to your portfolio. Explain why you selected or rejected the symbol the community recommended for you.

Your culminating reflection on Living Chapters should include a beginning sketch of your vision for what you want to commit your energies to next. I ask that you pick something meaningful and concrete, even if it is a stretch. Following Ben Zander’s logic, if the big thing you are going for is your vision, then you can always move the goal posts closer together or further apart as needed.

This vision can relate to home or housing, relationships (person, plant, or animal), learning, projects, work, travel, health, or whatever. In other words, what can your past tell you (and us) about your future?  You’ve asked us to write twelve months for you, but that means you will be writing the thirteenth, right?

7/15/13

Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about.

Check out the Living Chapters facebook page to follow the growing pains and progress of the evolving online portfolio.

Visit the June Gallery for images and videos from the Body and Kinesthetic chapter.

One thought on “July: Wild Card

  1. Pingback: past, present, purpose | Living Chapters

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