Monday, January 25, 2010

For the New Year, Live Your Own Life

This is one in a series for a column I am writing for our local newspaper, the Hendersonville Times-News.

“Every human being is unique and special unlike any who has ever existed before or will ever exist again. But when we become captives of culturally defined roles and behaviors – stereotypes – we interfere with becoming all that we can be. We must learn to draw on our inner resources, to define ourselves in terms of our own internal valuing system, rather than trying to fit into some stereotyped role.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Death: The Final Stage of Growth

Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in death and dying, yet here she is advocating living our lives: an authentic life, one in tune with “our own internal valuing system”.

That’s a large part of our individuality, our discovering how to create and live a hand-crafted life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about core values recently. The first time I was aware of focusing on defining my core values was in my mid-20s when a business acquaintance told me I’d need to clarify my personal values before I could determine my professional goals. At the time I thought he was nuts. How could I know what I wanted until I knew what I could afford? Today, I am amazed at that naiveté. How consumer driven I was! Our culture encourages that mentality: earn and spend, borrow and spend, desire and spend. While chasing the money trail, we really forget to walk our own path.

Since then, I’ve passed that advice along to others. And I’ve noticed that when I am happy with my life, I seem to choose to buy less. It is as though when I’m unhappy or frustrated with life, I buy more things, as if I am trying to fill some kind of hole inside. When I’m content with my life, I am filling my inner well on my own through my choices and actions.

One of my favorite books (and movies) is Out of Africa. Karen Blixen (author Isak Dinesen) was a courageous woman who, when asked on which side of World War I Denmark would stand, she responded, “On our own, I think. We have a history of that.” Blixen was Danish through and through and stood on her own for her lifetime. While she dearly longed for a happy marriage, someone she could “call my own”, she never attained that. This was in direct contrast to the independence that her lover, Englishman Denys Finch-Hatton, desired just as fervently. Their insecurities clashed against each other, and were cause for many conflicts. Finch-Hatton once said to Blixen, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I’ve lived someone else’s.”

Isn’t that true of all of us? When we get to the end of our lives, no one regrets that they didn’t work more weekends. They regret not following their heart, spending more time with loved ones, listening to their Muse, or slowing down to smell the flowers along the way.

It is a new year, a new decade. How about celebrating it by taking the time to think about what part of yourself you would like to express, explore, or create. That’s what a hand-crafted life is: something we make of ourselves, for ourselves.

What might your hand-crafted life look like?

I hope you have a day filled with a vision of living your own life.



All rights reserved, 2010 Hendersonville Times-News

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New View

I, a universe of atoms, an atom in the universe.
-- Richard P. Feynman

Happy New Year!

Happy New Decade. It's hard to believe we're 10 years past Y2K.

One of my intentions for the new year is to write more, both for myself as well as thoughts to be read by others. I am proud to have a new column running in the local newspaper entitled Living a Hand-Crafted Life which revolves around how important it is to each of us to rediscover our passions and to follow our hearts. I will publish these columns in this blog after it is printed in the paper. Living a Hand-Crafted Life expresses how important each person's unique self-expression is in the scheme of things.

Martha Graham wrote:

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with expression. It is your business to keep the channel open.

So this year, I am challenging myself to keep that channel open.

This past fall, I took a class called Foundations of Business through a local non-profit Mountain Bizworks whose mission it is to support entrepreneurs starting their own small businesses. The first 4 weeks were all about financial info and planning. The second 4 weeks were about marketing. I thought I knew a bit about running a business and about marketing, but I really learned a lot! Not only about "break even point" and "gross profit" and business planning but also about marketing and what's underneath it all.

The marketing discussion began with "what emotion are you appealing to with your business?" and then proceeded to creating a mission statement for our businesses. I've created and worked with mission statements for non-profits for years... but for my business? Of course! (Imagine me slapping my forehead as if I coulda hada V-8...) But how would I create a mission statement for my business, which has several different components? Jewelry, journals and books and cards, writing and design, teaching, and facilitating... they all seemed so different!

It took me a few days... and some serendipitous conversations and readings... for me to realize that my business mission revolved around the importance of self-expression -- for anyone, not just me. So here it is (after much word-smithing):

The mission of The Cre8tive Flow is two-fold: to pursue my own passions for creating, and to encourage others to comfortably and self-confidently express themselves and their uniqueness. I aspire to provide high quality services and products that honor and respect the integrity of each individual and which offer opportunity for sincere connection within oneself and/or with others.

I also receive a daily message from Daily Good (also check Karma Tube and Charity Focus) and today's message was a video called The Known Universe. It is all about mathematical equations translated into images depicting what we know about the universe. It is absolutely mind blowing. BAM!

But what is even more phenomenal than The Known Universe is the internal knowing that in all of creation there will be no one else exactly like each of us, creating the same energy, holding the same passions, offering the same connections as we do. And -- and this is really IT -- Spirit (however you define It), knows and permeates each of us... EACH OF US... and imbues us with blessings and grace.

So, here is a new year's suggestion: Watch the video. Feel small. Then think about how Spirit knows YOU and connects individually with YOU. And how important you are.

Now THAT's a Big Bang! BAM!

Wishing all of us a new year of honored self-expression.

Peace AND Prosperity,