Let Your Life Speak

I’ve been listening to a book on CD by Parker J. Palmer called, Let Your Life Speak. Listening for the Voice of Vocation.  This is what the back cover says:

“Finding one’s calling is not just about finding something we can do – it is about finding what we can’t not do.  “Let your life speak” is a time-honored Quaker admonition to live one’s life as witness to the deepest truths one knows. But as Parker Palmer explains, those words can also mean, “listen to your life, and let it tell you what your truth is.”  Vocation, he writes, comes not from external demands but from listening to the true self, a listening that will always call us into some form of service to others.”

Something Palmer said that has stayed with me is that burn out occurs when you give what is not in you to give. That you are going against your true nature in giving or doing that which is now burning you out.  I definitely feel burnt out.  And now I know why.

In my contemplative walk through the woods today, I realized that my true nature seeks  harmony and peace, not discord and competition.  I realized that the work I do as a municipal prosecutor inherently goes against my true nature (duh!).  I think I’ve been feeling it for a long time but haven’t fully understood it intellectually until now.  It’s clear that I can put on the clothes and the face to do the job,and do it well, I think, but that doesn’t mean that I should be doing it, that it’s what I’m called to do, or in my best interests or best life to do.

Wow!  It’s so deeply rewarding when the light of clarity dawns on you. I feel somehow liberated by that realization; like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  It’s just not me at the core of my being and the reason I’m so drained is that I’ve been forcing myself to do it, because, let’s face it, I need a pay cheque, it’s a “good job” and one that many strive for.

But in addition to all of that, the reason I’ve done this work as long as I have is that there are aspects to it that make it bearable: the independence, the words, written and oral, and dealing with the occasional person who needs what I personally bring to the table:  my ability to be deeply empathetic and help people who are struggling.  Maybe that makes me in the business of bringing Grace into people’s lives?

Finding my vocation has been a long standing question mark for me and Palmer’s book together with Danielle LaPorte‘s The Fire Starter Sessions, are helping me to home in on what my core values and innate nature want me to do with my life.

In the next post, I will share some of the things I’ve learned from LaPorte’s book. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Being the Calm

Today I had a taste of myself “being the calm”. I got up before everyone and read some of Danielle Laporte’s The Fire Starter Sessions (which is so inspiring!), enjoyed my coffee and wrote in my journal.  Heaven.  Then I bundled up and took the dog for a walk on this wintry day.  By the time I got back i was so mellow and filled up.  It was a good morning.

Be the Calm

I was having a quiet moment a couple of weeks ago, sitting in an easy chair in what I call our “Muskoka room”.  It has a big picture window and looks out onto the back yard and the trees beyond.  It is probably my favorite room in the house for this reason and for the sunshine that streams in.  Sitting there on a day off from work, surrounded by nothing but quiet, I heard the phrase, “Be the Calm for yourself and for your children.  They need that from you.”

I wrote it down in my journal and found it again today.  I love that phrase:  “Be the Calm.”  It reminds of “Be the change you wish to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi.

On a daily basis, I am reminded how much patience, unconditional love, perseverance and  taking of deep breaths before responding, is required in raising children.  When I can “Be the Calm” in the midst of the madness, it feels so good.  The opposite, which happens sometimes in varying degrees (i.e. losing my patience, raising my voice, shaking my head wondering how much longer before the kids can move out, feeling exasperated etc. etc.) leaves me feeling tense, frustrated, angry and let’s face it, like I’m failing at this most important of jobs.

But those occasions, when you say just the right thing to quiet a child’s worry, or make it o.k. to share the worry in the first place, are golden. And listening to a child’s laughter is bliss.

So I thought about what it means or what it would take to Be the Calm for myself and others in my life.  I think it means coming at life from a strong, healthy centre so that you can “hold” the space for others to be who they are. It means being able to respond from a place of patience and wisdom rather than reacting from a place of turmoil.

How do we do that?  For me, I know that having quiet time alone to sit, read, rest and write are crucial to how “filled up” I am.  This is so basic to my health really and yet such an occasional luxury.  I think that it also involves doing whatever gives you a sense of being connected to the mystical, the essence of All That Is, God or whatever you want to call it. Re-connecting with nature, meditation, or whatever gives one a sense of spirituality and the true essence of who one is, are things we can do to refuel our souls.  I find that sometimes cooking on the weekend, when I’m not rushing, can do this for me too.  It is in creating something that we often find the bliss we’re  looking for.

So, I think what I’m trying to say is that looking after my needs is a priority if I want to Be the Calm for others.  I guess I have to Be the Calm for myself first.  I need to prioritize myself back into my daily life.  Writing that makes me laugh at how pathetic it sounds! I realize that I’ve got it backwards and yet it seems so hard to right the ship because there are only so many hours in the day and so much of most days are already accounted for.

The small voice inside me right now is telling me to quit my job, or take a leave of absence, so that I can re-invent my life, wipe the slate clean and put back what really matters to me and what I really want to do with my time. I’ve been thinking of this for quite some time and I know something has to change.  And I recognize that it’s a process and  I’m opening up to how it might unfold.  That’s the first step, I think.

Right now, it’s the little steps that I need to take.  Like including something small in my daily life that’s just for me and that pays me big dividends in terms of replenishment and joy.  Maybe for now, I can start each day with 10 – 15 minutes of sitting in the quiet when all are still asleep, to just breathe or read or write.  This can be, for now, my daily vitamin for my soul.

Do you do anything purposeful in your daily life to replenish your soul?  I’d love to hear what works for you!