Finding Your Purpose

I had a rare chunk of space in my schedule on Friday, so I decided to use it wisely: I called a friend just to say hello. This friend happens to be a past accountability buddy who is building her own business, so I can’t swear we didn’t talk about work. But there’s an underlying friendship there as well and we really needed some catch up time.

She recently discovered some deep ties to the city of Los Angeles and the college she attended, learning both of her grandparents having gone there without her previously having known. The new knowledge led her to a question of purpose and whether we find it, or it finds us. (You can read her article here, which includes a quote from me.)

Her answer: her purpose found her.

My answer: I think we should stop looking so hard. For me, it’s not about my purpose finding me or me finding it; it’s a constant uncovering process. My purpose is my operating principle. It’s how I serve in this lifetime, who I am as a leader or follower. It’s not that I ever had to seek it out. It was always there, in my being.

But there’s another layer of purpose which I think is more important and it’s this: your purpose is in the moment you’re in, even if you have no idea what that is. It may at times be the comfort you give to a friend who’s struggling or grieving, or a simple skill you teach someone, or the encouragement a child needs to try again, or the laughter you share with a partner. Of course, there’s the bigger work we do and purpose we might operate with, but there are so many beautiful small moments of purpose as well, ones you don’t need to look for or define, ones you simply need to be in.

So while you may have a purpose to help people in some particular way that drives you to create and engage and show up, you also have a purpose simply in your being, in your presence, in ways you can’t fully see ripple out and touch the world.

When Your Path to Freedom is Anything But

I remember winter days at my last job. I arrived to work at 7:30am, just as the sun was really beginning to leave its mark and brighten the sky. By the time my day of work in my grey cube was over at 4:30pm, the sun had disappeared again.

That was not the life I wanted.

And so I quit and decided to be a freelancer. I had no thoughts of running a business at the time (even though that’s what I was beginning to do) — I simply wanted long lunch hours, days sitting outdoors at cafes on my computer, time to travel.

For a few months, that was my reality. I wasn’t always making enough money to pay rent, but I wasn’t trapped anymore.

Until I was…by the work. I had a good reputation and with that came more projects, more clients, more time at my computer. I felt trapped by what I had created for myself.

Luckily, I came across the right business coach at the time, who helped me maneuver and start hiring people. And the business grew. Revenue was tripling, doubling, growing and with it, I was hiring new team members. I was creating something I loved…and unexpectedly hated.

Now, truthfully, there’s so much I have to be thankful for with my business. It’s allowed me the flexibility to travel, to move, to be with my mom when she was sick.

Except, in looking back at the last year, I can see how it didn’t allow me to actually be with my mom in her final months. I was physically there, but there was always a problem to occupy my mind and time. There were meetings that I took in her kitchen and phone calls I had to make. And while we did have time together, we didn’t nearly have enough time together. Not the really good type of time. Not what I wanted.

And after she passed, my business didn’t give me the time I needed to grieve. I took the day of my mom’s funeral off but was back at it the next day and the next. I still haven’t had a break.

In December, my schedule really started to control my life: I was in 7+ hours of meetings each day, sometimes missing lunch, then had to work late to get caught up on emails and proposals and support my team. It was work-rinse-repeat, even on weekends.

And so this experiment I began in the desire to have more freedom has made me a slave. It has stripped from me the parts that make me most myself: my creativity, my hobbies, my friends, my loved ones.

I’ve spend the last week feeling the winds of a tornado inside me, one that threatens to sweep me away for good if I cannot control it. Every dissatisfaction and disappointment and hope has emerged, like giant spotlights showing me that I need to make some big changes, or risk hating my life.

And so I’ve been asking myself:

What is it that I really want for my life?
Who do I want to be?
What are the things that make me who I am?
What is non-negotiable for my life?
Who do I need to spend time with?

It starts with a word: Create.

This is the year I create and craft and build the life I truly want. I’m creating structures in my day that give me space to reflect, to breathe, to write, to be more myself.   I’m saying NO to anything that doesn’t feel aligned. I’m making shifts in my business so I’m no longer its slave — no doubt that means it will change, but it will become what I need it to be.

Will it all happen within a year? Maybe not, but it’s time I shift the path I’ve been walking on.

Unconditional Love

I’ve been working through a meditation series recorded by my friend and brilliant astrologer Jenn Racioppi, and today’s audio track asked us to focus on our fourth chakra and unconditional love.

Unconditional love is…impossible.

That’s where I went.

And it’s not that I totally believe that, since I’ve seen and felt the unconditional love between parents and children, but at that moment, I was thinking about romantic love, which always seems to come bound up with a long list of conditions. We’ll call that list the “I’ll love you as long as you…” Insert your insecurities there.

Because I simply can’t just breathe and feel unconditional love, I started thinking about what it would mean to allow myself to unconditionally love a romantic partner. Is that even possible? Could I be capable of loving someone even if he cheated on me, or yelled at me, or ignored my needs?

I don’t know that I could do it for anyone, but the guy I’m dating now is pretty special (okay, he’s exceptionally special and we’re in love) and we’ve had a rather unconventional and deeply emotional courtship. Could I do it with him?

Would I be willing to try?

Why not? Why not say yes? Why not open myself to the bigness of that love and see how it might transform me, might transform him, might transform us.

And that doesn’t mean I would stay with him if he cheated. I definitely wouldn’t stay with him if he hit me or was cruel to me. But he’s not that type of person, and even if he were, the challenge is to love him beyond being with him, even if we weren’t together, even if it didn’t work out (though I really am hoping it does).

So I’m starting with him, opening myself in an incredibly vulnerable and exciting way. Unconditional love.

Let’s see where this experiment goes.

Binary Star Systems

173116main_spitzersunset-br

In some worlds, there are two sunsets.

What stories might have been told by people watching one sun chase another in the sky? What myths would be born to explain the daily pursuit?

A hunter stalks his prey. A lover is pursued by her love.

We are binary stars.

We find ourselves circling what we want, who we want, the life we want. We can feel the gravity, the pull, the lure.

This is the dance: exquisite, perfect, epic.

Everything teaches us: the want in gravity, the thought in separation, the desire in movement.

It is the beginning of every great love story.

And while we seek to close the distance, learn first to fully embrace the moment and the dance.

(Soon two stars collide.)

My heart has been pulling me toward unexpected places lately. What are you being pulled toward?

{image from NASA JPL}

Disable Google Analytics

Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.