April 2, 2017
Years ago I read an article that offered five questions that made a difference in my life. Career and family were great, but I was sort of drifting in other areas. I wasn’t taking vacations or meeting new people, other than clients.
I update it every few years. My answers have reflected greater maturity, but also less judgment and fewer “shoulds.”
I’m hoping that the questions will stimulate you to do a bit of your own soul searching.
1. What makes you come alive?
What makes me come alive today is not what I thought would make me come alive when I dreamed about being a grown-up. Back then I wanted to fit in but stand out at the same time, and I wanted people to like me. Truth? I wanted to be Miss America!
Back then, I would be or do whatever I thought was necessary to make that happen, because the alternative, being alone, felt like death.
Turns out, what makes me come alive is being emotionally connected with another human being while at the same time being as fully myself, as real, as I can possibly be.
2. What is your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration has been the idea that I am limited, in large part, only by my ability to imagine. I always suspected the idea that our brains are unchangeable after early childhood was bunk. The idea of neuroplasticity and our brain’s capacity to change and grow throughout our lifetime has validated my suspicion and inspired me to explore and learn. Just the thought of all I don’t know or understand pushes me to go outside my comfort zone; to take risks even when I don’t know what the outcome will be. Failure doesn’t matter the way it once did. Today, what matters is how far and wide I can go.
3. An act of kindness you’ll never forget?
A friend was kind enough, loved me enough, to tell me something I’d said long ago was keeping her from fully trusting me. That prompted my awareness that apologizing to her might be only the first in a line of apologies to others in my past who I had discounted with my opinions. It was a recent kindness, and it was a game-changer.
4. One Thing On Your Bucket List?
For the longest time, having an unbroken string of 365 daily meditations seemed like an achievable goal. It’s not. I told myself I wanted to see who I’d be if I gave myself that experience. I’ve changed my mind. That goal feels way too ego-driven. I think it was less about benefitting from consistent meditation and more about telling people I did it.
The only thing on my bucket list at the moment is getting a publisher interested in a book of my Seedlings, my bi-weekly blog posts that represent pretty much everything I know about anything.
5. One-line Message for the World?
You can’t know what you don’t know before you know it, so give yourself a break.
Many of us struggle with the idea that we should have known better, sooner, more fully, believing we shouldn’t have made the mistakes we made. But that’s how we learn! Try something, it doesn’t quite work, adjust and try again.
Not being able to let go of past mistakes, or the mistakes of others is a toxic waste of time. Life becomes an endless saga of blame and “if-only’s.” You can’t know what you don’t know before you know it has let me off the hook more times than I can count.
I would love to hear your answers to any or all of the questions! Please comment or email, and share this if you know anyone who might get a kick out of digging a little deeper than usual.