Throwing Caution, Paths and Purpose to the Wind

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I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination – Jimmy Dean

Today, as I write this, the wind is blowing ferociously, the remnants of a tropical cyclone. The wind also acts as a great metaphor for this post because, today, I have let go of the need for a path or purpose, of a mind constantly searching, and instead have thrown myself at the mercy of the wind, allowing it to guide me. It’s a leap of faith.

In today’s world, not seeking direction sounds like madness. How can one be happy about not finding their purpose? Isn’t it the holy grail, the thing that will make us happy?” Well, yes and no.

Yes, we all like to know why we’re here, how we are to use the gifts we are given, and not waste time going down multiple “wrong” roads.

No, because seeking “the” path and purpose is not only exhausting, it can actually throw us off track, off our path. Confused? So was I, which is why it has taken me over a decade and a battle with poor health to get a handle on this.

Here’s what I’ve learnt. Years ago, a wise teacher told me that as a perfectionist, I wanted to know “every damned step” before I made a move. At the time I thought, well yeah, of course I do, otherwise how can I know which way to go, right? She also said, “The steps only appear, once you make the first move.” At the time, this made no sense. How can I step forward if I can’t see where I’m supposed to step?

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Well the secret is in stepping where there is no step. Sounds crazy but stay with me. I’ve learnt that we often don’t get a billboard with arrows saying “Go this way”. Instead, we have to make the first move in whatever direction “feels” right and then the next step appears.

This is where intuition comes in. It’s that gentle sensation, like butterfly wings that flutter around your heart, hinting that you’re onto something. It doesn’t give exact instructions, just a feeling, a hint to use our soul as a weather vane, see which way it’s pointing, then head in that direction, no instructions, just follow the breeze. When we take the first step, if it’s in alignment with our soul’s desire, and not just our head, then the universe will reveal the next step. It’s our reward for being brave, trusting and using “feeling” as a compass, not just logic.

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Intuitive Processes and Creativity

Here’s how this intuitive process worked for me. Regular readers know that 10 years of poor health forced me to examine how my thoughts were impacting my life and health. Perfectionism is bad for your health and your career. I could no longer work in my field of marketing communications, or do much else. On the advise of a stranger, I took up a creative pursuit. Mine was sewing. The stranger also suggested not doing it as a career or creating a business, but simply as an exploratory process. I had no idea what she meant. Perfectionists only do things that have useful outcomes, but being unwell, I had no choice but to do art for art’s sake.

Stepping into the creative unknown, I had no idea how or why it would help, just that I should trust my gut and follow this lead. Creativity restored my connection to my intuition, calmed my mind and allowed new insights to emerge. My health improved enough for me to consider my other passion, protecting our beautiful planet. But in what capacity? The next invisible step was about to emerge.

Recently I saw a story on the environmental impact of plastic bags, and decided to stop moaning, take action and find an organisation I could help lobby for a ban plastic bags. My search led me to the website of not-for-profit group, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. They help protect wildlife, their habitats and campaigned against plastic bags. Something about their website attracted me, like a hidden force. It was a heart flutter moment that prompted me to call and see if they needed a volunteer. I spoke to the lovely manager who gratefully accepted my help. I felt an instant connection.

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Image: Wildlife Preservation Society Queensland

Remember, if we take the first intuitive step, the universe will reveal the next. It did for me. The manager said they welcomed all help, but desperately needed someone with marketing communications skills. Bingo! When I surrendered the need to know the path, magic happened. I was happy to help make coffee but instead, the universe gifted me the chance to use my work experience and do something purposeful. As an added bonus, and to confirm I was in the right place, I discovered that the manager and I both share a love of sewing.

While I still have poor health days, challenges managing teenagers and juggling the needs of a family, relinquishing the search for a purpose has led to internal peace. When I gave up the need to know, a purpose found me. And it’s not to say that this is “the purpose”, it’s what is right for me right now. It’s all about letting go, and letting be(come).

Intuition is your greatest gift. If you can’t feel guidance, make time to be still for at least 5-10 minutes every day, whatever time you can spare. Don’t discount the advice of family and friends and your own mind, but always check in with your internal compass and see which way it’s pointing, because your heart and soul will always be your best guides towards your next step.

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Have you felt any flutters that might be trying to guide you?

The not so hidden Christmas gift


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Christmas has come and gone again, leaving in it’s wake a temporary happiness that comes with giving shiny new things, until they fall out of favour and end up in landfill, only to do it all again next year. For me, each passing Christmas has evoked a gentler longing for a simpler gift, like a scented candle, some wool to crochet with or just a sense of peace.  This year however has borne it’s own unique and surprising gift, and not the kind you’ll find in any store.

Like many people, 2015 for me, came with health challenges, ongoing Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the kind that you hope will be resolved with a magical Christmas wish, like the gifting of that elusive key that will unlock the mystery cure .  This year my unique gift wasn’t from a medical diagnosis but from a sudden knowing and insight into what might be the actual cause, and surprisingly, it’s not a physical malfunction, but more of a spiritual and emotional one.

Image courtesy: egoopportunity.net
Image courtesy: egoopportunity.net

You see for the past two years, I’ve been studying a post graduate course that has felt less like I was learning something worthwhile, and more like I was bashing my head against a brick wall. It’s not that some of the material isn’t interesting, but it’s deeply theoretical with few ‘real life skills’ that I really want and need as a spiritual mentor and counsellor. To make things worse, the course is now only available online, with a measly two day workshop mid semester, not ideal when studying counselling, which is all about human interaction and communication.

So, if this course ticked  none of my heart’s boxes why was I doing it? Well because I’d fallen into the “Title” trap and therefore, the only box it ticked was my head’s box, the home of our ego, that insatiable and dominating part of me that said, “Don’t do the holistic diploma course your heart really wants, do the higher level degree instead, because more people will be impressed by this one, and if they’re impressed, you’ll feel special!”

Image courtesy: quotessays.com
Image courtesy: quotessays.com

And I fell for it.  Ego convinced me to trudge my way through this course because it convinced me that when I finished it, I’d feel more important, more “special”, all those sneaky little tricks it uses to make us feel less than.  It didn’t matter that I’d already been working successfully as a counsellor and that my clients were happy to refer their family and friends to me. No, for ego it wasn’t enough, and despite me often telling my clients about the ego trap, I myself had fallen in, hook, line and sinker.

Don’t get me wrong, I love studying and formal qualifications of all kinds have their place, as long as we do them for the right reasons.  If spending all that time and effort brings us a sense of joy and accomplishment and satisfies higher goals, then we know it’s the right path, but if it’s filled with dread and resentment, and importantly starts to affect our mental, physical and spiritual health, then we really need to examine our motivations.

Image courtesy: leadchangegroup.com
Image courtesy: leadchangegroup.com

And so my Christmas gift this year was the gift of clarity, the ability to see that I’d been putting my heart’s desire aside, because my head made it all about perceived ego value, not heart value.  And, whereas my old course took so much time because my heart wasn’t in it and therefore resulted in chronic procrastination, doing a course I love will be it’s own motivator, helping me complete the course quickly, giving me another gift, the precious gift of time, time to pursue my other creative interests like writing, crochet and design.

The silly thing is, I really don’t “need” any more formal qualification because my clients always leave feeling better than when they arrived and that is aim of successful counselling and mentoring.  Plus, not once have they asked about my academic credentials, it was my own ego trying to sabotage my hard-won sense of self worth.

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Sadly in our culture, it’s too often about BIG trophies and about having the most impressive qualifications, the biggest office and pay packet etc. and less about truly loving what you do, even if it comes with a smaller, quieter office, and a more modest pay packet.

Image courtesy: forumbodybuilding.com
Image courtesy: forumbodybuilding.com

So my Christmas gift this year was the magical key of clarity, helping me see that rather than pursue the ego path that has been toxic to my health, I can choose the heart-path.  As a bonus, it frees me to pursue my creative interests, those that nourish me and help foster good health.  So if you are grappling with a battle between your head and your heart, take a moment to breath and see which option feels like you are losing oxygen, and which one fills your lungs with joy and a sense of lightness.

Image courtesy: puputnopitasari.blogspot.com.au
Image courtesy: puputnopitasari.blogspot.com.au

Like me, you may discover that the magical key you were hoping to find to solve your dilemma was in your pocket the whole time.

Image courttesy litaburke.com
Image courttesy litaburke.com