Monthly Archives: May 2014

point or purpose?

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“What’s the point?  Is there meaning behind what we are doing?”

My cousin Dena opens the eleventh chapter by asking direct questions.  She brings me back to examine the theme of “Purpose” for the second time in the Living Chapters project and I am ready to dive back in.

What is my point in writing Living Chapters these past eleven months? What is my purpose with this project or in life? Is personal purpose found in my career or my relationships? Does it live in my actions, my words, in my doings or in my non-doings?  Is purpose something that directs and guides my life or is it something I created myself to bring the meaning I sometimes hope and search for?  Good questions eh?

Six months ago in Chapter 5, writer Emily Wheat and Wild Card Doug Sadler dug in deep and picked this theme apart in great detail. They gave me incredible guidance and initially engaged me with both provocative questions and action oriented steps. Emily tapped into my tendencies to create and connect with others while Doug asked me to look at the bigger picture and define my individual role in it. This month my cousin Dena challenges me to do the follow-up work that I just couldn’t finish in the mere four weeks last October.

I discovered a lot about myself that month and am happy to pick up on this much-needed  exploration and try to learn from last year’s lessons. Revisiting this theme at this particular time in my life  is fortunate. In between homes, relationships and career choices, I am on the precipice of making what could be some very exciting life changes.  Where will I end up after I am finished helping my mother make her transition? What will I choose to do? And who might I choose to be with when making those decisions?  How could I actually make these decisions if I do not hold a focused purpose or intent?

I feel happy and lucky to be guided this month by this particular family member who has not only acted as a caring and loving cousin, but also has been a great friend my entire life! Although Dena is only a few years younger than I am, she has always been someone who I have looked up to and admired for leading a purpose-driven and meaningful life. Dena plays the role in the family that keeps everyone in check – always sending supportive cards in hard times, inspirational quotes for random occasions and news on relatives that I didn’t even know I had. “Great Aunt Delores just turned 90! Drop her line!” … I didn’t even know I had a great Aunt Delores! She remembers everything about our childhood (even the things I’d rather forget!) and thinks about everyone, making sure they know they are in her thoughts. Growing up with Dena taught me to be thankful for the people in my life and also has reminded me consistently to keep up my correspondence and connection with others. In many ways I think Dena helped shape my idea of what purpose in my life means to me today. I am thrilled to have her support in this further exploration this May.

The month of April (Chapter 10) had me physically moving and grooving – taking action in addition to my intensive internal reflection times. I welcomed this awakening change from my winter contemplative reverie. Although Dena says this month’s work will “be a bit more on the reflective side than the actual get out there and go do side” I beg to differ.  I need some action this month too! I think that along with sorting out what my purpose is internally, it’s also time to figure out how to put that purpose into external action and to form a plan of meaningful intent.  These 12 chapters are nearing their close and I am determined to jump into action soon and write the next 12 myself with purpose and meaning in mind.

Thank you Dena for getting me started.

5/3/2014

Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.

 

chapter 11

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Beth,

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a year since you began the Living Chapters Project.  What do you think so far?  How have you changed?  Have you changed for the good?  Has the project served its purpose?

Purpose is our theme for this month of Living Chapters and for sure it is going to be a bit more on the reflective side than the actual get out there and go do side.   So, let’s talk about this.  What’s the point anyway, right?   When we start asking ourselves these questions, we begin to find meaning behind what are we doing.   Meaning might be as simple as defining our wants, desires, and needs.

Do you think about why you do the things that you do?  The big things, or even the little things!

Why in the world did I just eat an individual size bag of peanut m and m’s as a midmorning snack?   After further reflection, here is what I discovered: My decision for eating them is quite affirmed.  Lunch was a few hours away! But simply, I like them.  Also to mention that they were my mom’s favorite: I always love thinking about how when I was a kid, I always snuck a few when I found the left over ones in the bright yellow twisted bag that she earlier tossed in her purse to save for later.
So, how do you make your big time, bigger than what kind of tasty snack you will have, kind of decisions?

Maybe there were some jobs that you didn’t apply for because you were afraid the company or organization might not hire you? Maybe you broke off a relationship because you were afraid of getting too emotionally involved?  Maybe you got rid of stuff because it served no purpose in your life any more? Maybe you didn’t call someone because you were afraid of what could happen?  Maybe you didn’t run that 5K because you didn’t think that you would make it.

Personally, I haven’t run any 5K races because I think I would be last!  But more importantly, I almost didn’t take a job because I was afraid.  I thought Oh, what if this would happen and I would need to resign.  What if I didn’t get hired?  Alas!  What if I did get hired and fell in love with a job because FINALLY I am able to do something that I love!   Can I tell you how I came to the decision for applying for the job that I am quite passionate about?  It’s because of you!   You taught me to not worry about the “what if” questions.  You taught me to forget about what my resume read (i.e. hanging on to a position for tenure or not applying would be a waste in particular if I didn’t get hired).  You reminded me that a new opportunity might not work out…or better yet, maybe it would!

Have you ever made a decision because you knew that, while feeling a little anxious about the unknown, you were meant to do something really great?   Everything up to this point has absolutely made you ready for the next step.

Some tips for self exploration…

1. What will happen this month as you reflect?

2.  What will happen when the Living Chapters Project is concluded?

3.  Who do you need to call whom you haven’t spoken with in quite some time?

4.  Who do you need to send a letter to?  When you think about that person, ask yourself why you are doing it and find meaning, or purpose, or reason for doing it.  I think (and hope) that this might deepen your relationships with others.

5.  Dish yourself some of your own advice.  Write yourself a letter if you have to.  Write one to your former self 10 yrs ago.  Write one to yourself for when this project is over.  Why?  To help you discover your purpose and find meaning!
These questions might not be just for your career, but I also encourage you to consider the details of your relationships.   When you start exploring the purpose of some of your behaviors/actions, relationships, and other areas in your life, you may begin to find a deeper level of meaning.  This might help us to live more intentionally.  Thoughtfully.  Reflectively.  One would hope that when someone else recognizes this in you that they might want to explore the same possibilities….Of finding purpose in their life too!  Who knows?  You never know who might grow because of you!

So, grow on.  Grab your favorite candy bar.  Discover why you chose that one.  Take the stairs a few times this month and really think about why you would ever do that when there is an elevator button calling your name.  Think about your health.  Think about your career.   Enrich your personal relationships.   Reach in.  Dig Deep and promise that you won’t ever stop looking for it.

Cheers to purpose!

5/1/14

Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.