Guiding Values

I’ve struggled to find my right path for a long time. I’m pretty good at recognizing paths that are laid out for us- first do x, then y, then you’ll get z.

I’m also pretty good at recognizing when something doesn’t feel right or when I don’t enjoy something I’m doing. The piece I’ve been missing is what I want to be doing.

It’s really tough to feel like you’re wandering around without a purpose. How do you know if you are on the right path?

With some help from Jamie, I now know how to recognize if I’m on the right path. She encouraged me to come up with a list of my 10 most important values and even helped get me started by giving me a nice long list of words that were coming to mind as she listened to me.

From there I whittled down the list, added, subtracted, and massaged until I came up with words that felt right. They are:

  1. Life
  2. Genuineness (or authenticity, as some would say)
  3. Ease
  4. Positive energy
  5. Comfort
  6. Creativity
  7. Connection
  8. Understanding
  9. Action
  10. Kindness

I’ve let these values sit with me for a month now, checking them from time to time, reminding myself what’s on the list, and paying attention to how I feel when I think about my values.

This list is my compass. I now use it as sort of an answer sheet to compare my daily activities. How many of my values are present in my work? Have I employed these values in my home and family? Which values do I feel are most lacking? Which ones are right on target?

Then the big question: can I make any adjustments in my life to better align with my values?

All of these years I’ve felt like I lacked direction because I couldn’t say with certainty what career trajectory to follow. Now I still can’t say I have a career trajectory, yet I have a path. Besides, careers are just a part of life, not all of it.

Now I have a direction because I’m moving toward my values. I’m moving toward kindness, comfort, connection, and understanding. I’m staying genuine to myself, creating my own positive energy, and enjoying life.

I’m walking in the dark with a flashlight, but I have a flashlight and it shows me just what I need to see right now.

What are your core values? Are you living them?

Happy Post – April 23, 2010

Happy Book BadgeIn honor of The Next Chapter’s ongoing work in The Happy Book, I’ve been taking some time each Friday to reflect on what is making me happy. It’s great to focus on what is going right since we sometimes get bogged down in what is going wrong.

Some of the things making me happy this week are:

  • Thriller. That song came on while I was at the bookstore last night and I know I was smiling goofily because I was laughing in my head. That song always makes me laugh. I love the guy that talks at the end. “No mere mortal can resist, the evil of the thriller.” Indeed, this mere mortal can’t resist.
  • My stepson’s interest in a philanthropy book I was reading the other night. He asked what philanthropy meant, then went on to find a few ideas in the book of things he wanted to do.
  • Free-writing. I love to free-write. To just open my journal or my computer and write whatever comes to my mind no matter how absurd, minimal, or crazy it might be. I can simply conjecture, make observations, jump from topic to topic, or ramble. It’s freeing.
  • Strawberry shortcake. My mother-in-law made strawberry shortcake for dessert the other night. I love that dessert (it is one of my mom’s specialties), yet I hardly ever have it. More please.

What is making you happy this week? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Friday!

Wishcasting Wednesday: Daring

Wishcasting badgeIt is Wishcasting Wednesday, a wonderful day when we can cast our wishes out in the world and support everyone else’s wishes with positive energy.

This week Jamie asks: “What do you wish to dare?”

I got such a rush when I read this question because it so perfectly aligned with a message I received loud and clear this morning.

As I made my way out of NY Penn Station this morning, I passed by a section of the station that is always plastered with giant ads for one company. These ads are adhered to the floor, wrapped around columns, and on the faces of the stairs that lead out of the station.

I’ve often seen ads for an airline or a mattress company. You can’t help but notice them because of their large sizes and unusual placements.

Before I say why the ads struck me today, let me back up and say that I had a morning filled with thoughts about humanitarianism- serving the world and those in need. I’m not sure what to do with that just yet, but it’s an idea that has suddenly been appearing to me from many angles over the last week, so I’m certain it’s important.

I was thinking about that during my commute today and as I walked through the train station, I saw giant letters that said, “Dare to join forces with nature.”

Dare to join forces.

Dare.

That message struck me because of how apropos of my own inner brain swirlings it was. As if that wasn’t enough, now I see that Jamie is asking us what we wish to dare.

Me? I wish to dare to serve a greater good.

I’m not certain what form this takes just yet, but I am certain it is what I need to do right now in some way.

Being Genuine

Throughout my life I’ve wished I were like other people I knew. Sometimes I wanted to be that girl in school who knew how to dress cool, or the one who could find the symbolism in the book from English class.

Later I would want to be the one who could dance gracefully. Then I’d want to be those people who knew exactly what path to follow in college to get to their already selected ideal career.

In the work world I wanted to be the marketing manager I knew, followed by the professional corporate climber, followed by the geeky web guru, and then the online editor who knew how to talk to anyone and everyone and make an impressive job come out of those conversations.

In the blog world, I wanted to be a joy rebel like Brandi, a silly but smart business woman like Havi, an exuberant artist like Connie, or any of the other wonderful bloggesses I’ve encountered who have a topic and know how to rock it.

The thing is, I’ve learned that I never actually wanted to be any of these people. What I wanted was to be as genuine as they were. I wanted to know what my topic was and be as passionate about my own thing as they were about theirs.

I wanted to feel as secure in myself as all of them appeared to be. I wanted to say, “This is me! This is how I roll. Take it or leave it!”

Which is really hard to do when you haven’t identified your Thing (with a capital T, because Things are big).

Over the past year or so, I’ve settled in to the notion of my own authenticity. I’m certain I’ve stifled my genuine self because of my insecurities and my people-pleasing tendencies.

I may not have determined a Thing that is my subject of choice, but here is what I know for sure. I know that I am passionate about getting the most out of life. I know that I am amazingly selfish in wanting to spend my time doing what I want, when I want, and I don’t want to be constrained by “rules” about how I’m supposed to live.

I know I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes, big and small. I know that I want my goodness, not my mistakes (real or perceived) to define me.

And I know that above all else, I believe in kindness and I wish there were more of it in this world. I seek it out. I feed off of the good feelings that come from doing good deeds or hearing about others’ good deeds.

I don’t know yet where this all leads me, other than it leads me to live with my guiding values at my core. If I let myself go after life and kindness, everything will be as it is meant to be.

In case you missed it, Victoria wrote about Thing-finding on her blog last week. In it she says,

Finding your Thing is like walking at night with a flashlight. You can see only so far ahead of you. If you want to see farther away, you have to take at least one step forward. In other words, you’re going to have to step into something that interests you before you really know if it’s your Thing.

That was an aha! statement for me because that is what I am doing right now- walking at night with a flashlight. I can’t see what is on the long road ahead or where it ends, but I can see what is around me right now (my core values) and I will keep stepping into the light.

Happy Post – April 16, 2010

Happy Book BadgeIn honor of The Next Chapter’s ongoing work in The Happy Book, I’ve been taking some time each Friday to reflect on what is making me happy. It’s great to focus on what is going right since we sometimes get bogged down in what is going wrong.

Today, I’m including a collage of my happy. The things that are making me happy this week are:

collage-happy pics

  • The wood floor that my husband and I just finished laying in our living room last night. I’m so excited to start bringing furniture back in. I’m also ecstatic about the faux metal work we did on the step up into the kitchen.
  • Flowers!  The trees along our street were in full bloom for Easter and I took that opportunity to play with my camera.  This week the petals are beginning to flutter off like snow to make way for fresh, green leaves.
  • My new Converse sneakers.  This is my very first pair of Converse and I don’t know how I’ve gone this long without them.  I love them.  Their comfy and sparkly and inspired my husband to nickname me Stardust.  Lovely!
  • Bubbles!  Blowing bubbles is whimsical.  I took the above photo and it’s now my desktop image on  my computer.  Everytime I sit down to work, I feel like I’m looking at a crystal ball. 

All in all, I found a lot of magic this week. 

What is making you happy this week?

Update: Be sure to visit The Next Chapter’s post to watch the puppy video. So adorable!

Wishcasting Wednesday: Gentleness

Wishcasting badgeIt is Wishcasting Wednesday, a wonderful day when we can cast our wishes out in the world and support all everyone else’s wishes with positive energy.

This week Jamie asks: “What do you wish to be gentle with?”

Instantly, I came up with two things.

My stepson – He is in that going-on-13 place where he is stuck between wanting to be a kid yet wanting to be big and strong. There are days when he is so loving and others when his attitude is less than delightful. I wish to be gentle with him as he figures out who he is in this world.

My living room – This week my husband and I are replacing the floor in our living room, which means Sunday we emptied the room and ripped up carpet, Monday night we set down the underlayment, and last night we started laying down wood planks.

During the process we have talked about what we want to do with the living room when it’s time to bring everything back in and the answer is we want to be very selective about what comes back. We want the room to be free of clutter with plenty of room for positive, loving energy.

Now I’m sending happy, gentle, wish-fulfilling thoughts to the universe for everyone’s wishes.

The Happy Post – April 2, 2010

It’s Friday! Hooray! Yippee! Another work week survived. It’s also a great time to think about what went right this week.

Happy Book BadgeIn honor of The Next Chapter’s ongoing work in The Happy Book, here are the things that are making me happy this week:

  • The sunny weather of today and yesterday. It feels like spring and the birds are chirping.
  • The rain earlier this week. It was dreary for a couple of days, but the rain seemed to wash off all the winter yuck and cleanse my yard, my driveway, and even my car.
  • The enthusiasm of little kids, namely a sweet little boy who I got to see this morning. He was excited about EVERYTHING, which made me smile uncontrollably.
  • Chocolate chunk cookies. Need I say more?

What is making you happy this week? Feel free to list your happy in the comments.