I’m in an action frame of mind today with the kiddos back to school and that buzzy “September is the new January” feeling of possibility. So today’s blog post is all about practical, actionable ways to discern and step toward the life which is called out of you. These are steps I use with clients to help them map out desires in each different area of life: body/wellness, livelihood/lifestyle, creativity/learning, spirituality/essence & relationships/community. (Desire-mapping is a wonderful resource by Danielle Laporte and a great practice to do on a regular basis.)
Make space to acknowledge what is not working.
Maybe this doesn’t seem so spiritually evolved. Sometimes we want to just be above petty complaints. But acknowledging what is not working can open the door to valuable insights. We don’t want to hang out here forever and get stuck in blaming and complaining. But nor is it helpful to push the spiritual bypass button and say “its all good” when really, it is not all good.
Maybe your work is no longer feeding you the way it once did, or your financial situation is stressful but you aren’t sure the way forward, or you are sorely in need of some time by yourself but can’t seem to locate it in your busy schedule. Maybe you want a more intimate connection with your partner, or to be a better parent, or to find a way to forgive and move on from an old wound. Or maybe things are already really pretty good, but you still feel like you miss more of the good moments than you catch. And you’d like to find a way to savor the beauty.
Whatever isn’t working– just naming it can be a huge relief. I’m a big fan of being honest with ourselves. And if something is not lining up internally, if it consistently feels off, then we do ourselves a favor by acknowledging it. Even if, and this is a big one, we don’t think we should feel that way. Reality is always a good place to start. And these experiences of inner dissonance are the breadcrumbs we follow out of the forest.
Step Two. Enter Gratitude
Where are the bright spots in your life?
What is working well?
What lights you up without you even having to try?
Even if only a tiny fraction of one day a week… notice it and cultivate gratitude for having that experience in your life. For what we pay attention to grows.
So simply notice that you light up when you spend time with a certain person, or squeeze in a yoga class, or take the time to journal or garden. Frequently our inner critic tries to shut down the process of growth before we even have a chance to explore. Critics are great at saying things like “there is no way you could make a living doing X” or “its fine that you like yoga but there isn’t really time to incorporate that in your regular routine and still get everything else done.”
It feels really good to thank the inner critic for the observation, and make space for gratitude anyway. Try it!
For me thrifting and curb cycling (as in finding treasures on the curb that folks are putting out on bulk trash day) is one simple example. How happy I am in the hunt! How grateful I feel to find a treasure! Like this vintage kitchen table I found this weekend. It reminds me of summer family reunions at a crumbly lake resort in my childhood and fills me with happy each time I sit there to drink a cup of coffee or see my children enjoy it eating ice cream after dinner.
So to review, here is the simple formula for participating in your own growth:
Noticing and Naming the Truth of What Isn’t Working + Gratitude =
The Engine for Change.
Noticing what isn’t working and what lights you up may put you on the path of making some big shifts (changing jobs, ending a relationship etc). Or big changes might not be necessary. A certain activity may just need more expression in your daily or weekly rhythm to bring the other dimensions of your life in balance.
Whether you need to make big changes or small toward your happiest authentic life, being honest with yourself about friction points and grateful for the good is always the place to start.
Where in your life do you feel most lit up without even having to try?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments below…
I’ll be teaching a workshop on Friday, September 27th at 430PM for local folks at Oil and Cotton Creative Exchange. Price $25 includes all materials (feathers, twig/wire “nest” base, leaves to to write your intentions, organic cotton and a mini-mason jar for the fresh garden bouquet of flowers/herbs.)