Are you looking for that certain something that will give your life purpose? Do you feel like if you only found the right job or career or thing to study, that everything would fall into place?
I am approached by people all the time who want to find their calling in life. They feel like something is missing and are scared to try anything because what if they fail?
Here’s the one thing I’ve noticed about our thinking when it comes to ‘finding’ your calling.
Your calling is already inside you! You won’t find it out there in the world. You already are IT!
Let me explain: Most of us think about a ‘calling’ in terms of sci-fi novel and fantasy movies we’ve seen. Luke Skywalker discovering he is the son of a Jedi. Those movies are a metaphor for the process, but we often take them too literally. We think of ‘finding our calling’ as an escape from our lives. If I only discovered I was a princess, I wouldn’t have to deal with all this shit I’ve created. Your calling is not some external factor about yourself that you will discover at some point.
It is who you are.
Sometimes it isn’t dramatic or heroic. Sometimes it’s not about being famous. It’s about knowing yourself, and loving that self enough to honor your strengths and accept your weaknesses.
You might not be the seventh son of a seventh son destined to find the key to saving the universe in one dramatic battle. But here’s what you ARE:
You are an absolutely special unique person, and there is NO ONE ELSE like you on earth. NO ONE!
You bring something unique to the world that no one else can bring. Your only job in life is to realize that about yourself and honor it. There is no FINDING it. Only accepting it. It’s not out there somewhere. It’s been in you all along.
It’s that small quiet feeling of satisfaction when you know you’ve done something well. When you are moving within your zone of strength and confidence.
But what if I hate what I am?
Most of us buy into some kind of cultural baggage about what is considered a worthwhile life. Usually it involves something created by the dominant culture. We value fame, heroics, intellectualism, and this false notion of ‘contributing’. In the light of that we search endlessly for something outside ourselves that will give us a sense that we’ve made a difference. We forget all the small opportunities we have every day to make that difference.
We tell ourselves that we aren’t adequate or special enough. We down-play the amazing hidden work we do all the time that give us joy and fulfillment. Maybe you are called to be loud and public and speak to the masses. Awesome! But no less awesome is those of us who are called to be quiet, present, and caring to the few people we see daily. Those of us who are called to practice compassion and honesty, and make amazing, soul reviving dinners for our loved ones.
And here is the secret. Ready? When you accept who you truly are, and stop trying to force yourself to ‘find’ satisfaction on the outside, you become capable of seriously epic accomplishments.
We can’t see the whole picture, so who are we to say which work is important. You never know who’s life you have touched. You never know all the differences you make every day. To discount them because they aren’t the actions that get written up in the press is missing the point. For every Nobel prize winner, there were hundreds of mothers, fathers, lovers, best friends, trusted colleagues, worthy adversaries that all contributed.
So what then is the key to realizing your fullest potential?
Love. Self love.
Anytime we don’t accept with loving compassion the truth of what we want in the world, we are actively blocking ourselves from happiness.
What is the quickest way to uncover the calling inside you?
Where do you feel most alive? Where do you feel in a zone of confidence? Where do you forget yourself? Where do you give yourself over to your work? What makes your heart sing that song of contentment that so often feels like the loosening of a vice?
If you feel like you are putting yourself in a box, or cutting off a limb to do something, it’s not your calling. Plain and simple. And that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to take a lot of hard work to realize your dreams. But you know you are following a true calling because you don’t mind the hard work, in fact you relish it.
Where do you already find joy in your life? Where do you feel in the zone of confidence and where do you feel a sense of pride in your skills? Do the answers surprise you? Leave a comment below.
Allison Carr LAc believes that healing yourself makes the world a better place. Learn more about her work and classes at www.allisoncarr.net
our own heart is our most important magical tool
I used to play this game with things that I wanted, and maybe you can relate to this. When I wanted something, I would pretend like crazy that I didn’t want it. I’d create a whole list in my head about why it wasn’t that great, or how I’d be better off with something else. I would even go as far as denying it to other people, even when they offered it, or asked directly. Why did I do this? Because somewhere deep down, I believed that if you admitted you wanted something, you would never get it. That to desire something was wrong, so the best way to get it was to pretend you didn’t, and then wait until it was close enough to grab, and snatch it up. Sounds crazy when I write it down, but I know I’m not alone.
When I played this game I often missed out on getting what I wanted, and when I did get it, I felt kinda guilty. Talk about a recipe for misery. I’m going to share with you today the one thing that helped me unlearn this pattern of guilt and denial, and what I discovered was the best tool I had for creating magic in my life.
The most important magical tool we posses
I wasn’t even aware that I had this pattern until I learned that the most important magical tool I had was my own heart. By magic I mean the ability to create and affect change in the world around me. Why the heart? Because our heart is the one organ in our body that feels that magical thing we call desire. Desire is absolutely necessary if we are going to create happiness. Here’s the key: the first step to getting what we want, is knowing that we want it! When we get real with what it is that we truly want, we become more powerful at making that truth a reality.
It sounds so simple, and it is, but it’s not always that easy. We are shouldered with so much baggage about desire that it’s hard to see past it sometimes. It’s wrong to want things, desire paves the road to hell, if you just do what you want everything will fall apart. Sound familiar? Think about it: What unspoken beliefs do you have about desire?
Whatever they are, and where ever they came from I’m here to tell you that most of them are just plain wrong, and they are keeping you locked in misery. Here are some thoughts about Heart’s Desire to counter all that cultural baggage that we carry around with us.
Our heart connects us to the Divine.
In Chinese Medicine, which I practice, the heart is understood as the seat of consciousness. It is often referred to as the emperor of the body. I like to think of it as the queen. The implication behind this is that the heart is the part of us that is closest to the divine: The part of us that has direct access to our own higher calling. The part of us that is most capable of knowing why we are here, and what we are here to do. Why would you mistrust that part of yourself?
Our heart keeps us grounded in the present:
I like to think of the heart as being the only part of us that is truly capable of being in the present moment. Our brain likes to dwell in the past or the future. Thinking ‘if only’ or ‘what if’, but the heart knows the truth of every single present moment. Have you ever made a wrong decision and just known in your heart that it was wrong? Your brain couldn’t explain why, but your heart just knew. Why? Because your heart perceived the present moment in its full truth.
The Heart is undeniable.
I think this is why it scares people so much. We can learn to change our thoughts, we can learn to change our habits, but when we try and change our desires we make ourselves sick. The longing of the heart always finds a way.
The heart always seeks the highest good.
When I hear people argue that following desire creates pain and misery I think of this: Whenever I’ve done something directly hurtful to someone else my heart did not feel good about it. The heart does not take joy in misery. But it also doesn’t sit well when I sacrifice my own desire’s for someone else’s’. Our heart challenges us to be true to ourselves, but also to serve a greater good. Sounds a lot like a queen right?
How do you know when it’s not heart’s desire?
Heart’s desire is hardly ever a physical object, a material good, a specific person or even a particular situation. Those things can all be good indicators of what lies in our hearts, but they are rarely the thing itself. There is a certain line of spiritual thinking that states that material objects are somehow lesser than spiritual riches. I disagree, but I do think we need to recognize the limited nature of material things to really satisfy our hearts. Usually the object of our desire is just a clue, a doorway into what we really truly want. So as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else, it is never wrong to want that new piece of jewelry, that fancy computer, or that vacation to Hawaii, but we must ask ourselves what lies underneath that desire or we will be missing the point. Do we want to feel beautiful? Do we need re-charge? Do we need to feel the power of being capable and having more access to the world around us? Those qualities all strike closer to our heart’s desire than the objects themselves. And by all means, go for the jewelry, take that vacation, get the computer, but also take the time to recognize the deeper desire the fuels that want, and give it some attention too.
Here is the divine paradox of the heart:
If we cannot find that which we seek inside ourselves, we will never find it without. The path of the heart is a circular one, always leading us back to ourselves. So while we see manifestations of our heart’s desire all around us, eventually we realize that what we seek is inside us all along. The desire to feel beautiful? It is ours to give ourselves, and while jewelry, a lover, great clothes, or a new haircut can help us awaken to our own beauty, if we never realize that we are already are beautiful, those external things will never be enough. In this way, our heart leads us in a dance of divine union with ourselves.
Discovering these truths about the heart, and getting real with my own desires was the single most important step I took towards creating a fulfilling life for myself. When you open to desire, always means you open yourself to disappointment too, that’s just part of life. But getting and enjoying the things you truly want, and creating a more satisfying and fulfilling life is so worth it.
Want to get real with your own desires? Leave a comment below about how cultural baggage has affected your heart’s desire.
What is the big lie?
If I could paraphrase it, I think it would go something like this:
We are all separate isolated beings,
it is our nature to destroy each other, and the planet,
we are doomed and helpless to do anything about it,
oppression is our natural state,
we need to be dominated by someone else to function as a society,
we are doomed to repeat the past.
Sound familiar? Naming the lie is less important that being able to see where and when it operates.
But here is the thing: Its just a lie.
When we tell the lie it becomes so much easier to live the lie. We are doomed we tell ourselves, what does it matter if I screw this person over, we are all doomed anyway. This lie has kept us small and complicit in a world that doesn’t serve our needs or give us joy.
We can unlearn the Big Lie, and when we do, we find that we are not isolated, we are not alone, it is our nature to be loving and kind, that we are not doomed, and that miracles happen all the time. When we unlearn the big lie we also learn that we can heal ourselves, that we have power beyond what we’ve ever imagined.
Here are some ways to recognize if the Big Lie is operating in your life:
1. You feel hopeless
2. You feel alone
3. You often feel like humanity is a mistake
4. You feel powerless
5. You feel an vague sense of doom
6. You identify what’s wrong in the world, but don’t know what to do about it.
7. You feel guilty for being happy when so much is wrong in the world.
How have you noticed the Big Lie in your life?
If you are interested in learning about reclaiming your life from the Big Lie, join me for The Enchantment Practices: Liberation through healing our connections to the land, our bodies, our communities and the spirit world. Starting August 7th.
This post represents a big step for me. I’ve been working really hard this year to really present myself as authentically as possible, and overcome my fear of really truly being myself in my work. Inevitably it has lead here. There is a big unspoken hole in my bio page, I hint at it here and there but really, I’ve been hiding it.
I’m a trained Priestess.
For four long years I trained formally with my teachers Colette Gardiner and Pomegranate Doyle at the Blue Iris Mystery School here in Portland. For the past 6 years I have been undergoing an initiation process with both of those fine women and a few other teachers as well.
Our tradition is hard to put in to words without using terminology that has gathered some icky feeling stereotypes in the media, but essentially its a tradition of magic, mysticism and shamanic practices. Sometimes we use the word witch. I like the term Priestess.
I see myself as existing in a long line of healers, visionaries, oracles, witches, and priestesses who all recognized that this earth is sacred and we are all capable of and worthy of divine love.
I was lucky that I found Five Element Acupuncture, because it is essentially a mystical practice of Chinese Medicine, and has allowed me to practice my full range of skill completely closeted for several years now.
But I’m realizing it is time to come out. Not only because the more me I am, the happier I become with my work, but also because times are changing, and I think we are ready to reclaim the word Priestess.
What I don’t mean:
If you are already getting visions of bad head-wear, and flowing robes and feather wands: just stop right now. I also won’t try and convert you to my beliefs. I won’t tell you a bunch of information about your past lives, or spirit guides, (but I can refer you to someone who will if you wish). I also won’t read your cards, your palm or your aura. While I have nothing against any of that stuff, those just aren’t my tools.
I also won’t judge you for your beliefs. I strongly believe that all paths to spirit are sacred. I am in service to the higher good and whether you call that God, Christ, Shiva or nothing at all does not concern me nearly as much as how much you see yourself as being worthy of love and goodness.
When you meet me in my office, you’ll feel like you are visiting any other acupuncturist. I wear jeans. My tools are my heart, my needles and an herbal treatment called moxa.
What I will do:
I will ask you questions about your life, and questions about what you tell me. I will inquire into who you really are, what is behind what you are presenting. I will insist we try and reach the truth, the hear of the matter, and if that means gently guiding you into more uncomfortable territory, I won’t fear to go there.
I am in service:
My essential definition of a priestess is one who is in service to the higher good and has the skill to direct situations towards that good. I call that higher good the Goddess, but I don’t need you to have a name for it, or even believe in it.
My job is to help you be in touch with your own higher goodness. My job is to be big enough to hold you through the process. And no that doesn’t mean I’ll make you hug me. But I will ask you to trust me, and let yourself be vulnerable. Just enough to let things shift.
What I believe we are doing when we work together is finding the places where your true authentic self resides, and clearing the path for that self to come forward more and more. I believe that illness occurs when we have left the path of that authentic self.
The needles that we use on acu-points are just tools to open up the places where that self resides, or to clear the blocks towards becoming that self.
It is that simple.
What does the word priestess bring up for you? What other terms do you like to use for serving the higher good? Leave me a comment below.
We hear a lot of talk about boundaries. We learn that setting boundaries is a way to not let other people walk all over us. We learn that setting them is about keeping ourselves safe. We learn that setting them is a good way to maintain self-esteem. But do you ever set boundaries only to have them not respected? Do you find that you cross your own boundaries all the time, and then feel like shit about it? Does it just seem too hard sometimes? In this article we will discuss a system for setting boundaries that people in you life will actually respect.
Your heart is a scared little animal
A boundary can be a line, a border, a wall or a cage. We all have them, some of them are unconscious, and we don’t know they are there till they get crossed. When we set a boundary we usually do it in relationship to another person. We tend to think of them as rules for other people in our lives. But here is the truth, Boundaries are agreements we make with ourselves. They really have nothing to do with other people.
Remember if you’ve been hurt before (and who hasn’t) your heart is a scared little animal. Its a feral cat. One really good way to know if you have a boundary is to listen to that scared little feral cat that is your heart. Chances are, it is screaming at you bloody murder when your boundaries are getting crossed.
First step is to listen to it, and to do that you are going to have to give it space. You have to build a trusting relationship with your heart, one step at a time. And you do that by making agreements with yourself. “I won’t make you sit through a triggering situation and not speak up” “I won’t make you hang out with drunk people any more.” In order to keep that agreement with your heart, you may need to set boundaries in situations that trigger you.
In this way, boundaries have nothing to do with other people. Fact is, we can’t control anyone else. We can only control ourselves and our reactions to things. Boundaries that are intended to control someone else are absolutely 100% going to fail eventually. Why? because it is totally impossible, not to mention unethical, to control someone’s behavior.
This leads me to step one for effective boundary setting:
1. When you set a boundary plan for it to be broken.
This sounds a little pessimistic, so let me explain myself. When we’ve been hurt, violated, broken by the actions of others, it is really easy to view all people who break our boundaries as villains. But guess what sweetheart? Most of them aren’t, they are just humans with imperfections just like us. You can strive your whole life to find someone who will never cross your boundaries, but you will most likely eventually be disappointed.
Remember what I said above: Boundaries are agreements you make with yourself. When you set a boundary, you have to be totally okay with the fact that it might not get respected. You have to be able to detach from the other person’s behavior. If you can’t, then you are using boundaries as a way to control them.
So what are you going to do when it gets broken? I suggest having a plan of action. What do you need to make yourself feel safe? Leave? Take a walk? Go in the bathroom and shut the door? Take 5 minutes? It all depends on the situation, but having a plan will make that scared little animal that is your heart, feel safer.
Lets say you have a boundary with someone about time. Say your sweetheart is always late, and you’ve finally set a boundary that you a only want to wait 15 min. for them. Having a plan means that you’ve already figured out what you are going to do if your darling violates its. The second half of having a plan is communicating that you will back up your boundary with action: “Darling-pants, love of my life, I have a boundary about being late, and if you aren’t ready in 15 minutes, I’m going to leave without you, and meet you there.” Or if your partner just won’t give you any alone time: “Sweetie pie, I need you to give me a little space, and if you don’t, I’m going to step out and take a walk.” Having a plan is having some sort of consequence in place for what happens if the boundary gets violated.
2. You are the only person responsible for upholding your own boundaries.
Its frustrating and hard when we work so long to finally make a boundary only to have it not respected. Especially when it has been a long road to finally learning that it is ok to have boundaries. But guess what? No body else is going to hold that line for you!
This is where your plan comes into play. People violate boundaries either out of ignorance or because they get something pretty valuable out of not respecting your boundary. If they are your lover, chances are even higher it is the latter. Maybe they know you will eventually cave and give them what they want. And guess what? if you don’t respect your boundary enough to up hold it, you will be proving them right.
Take some kind of small action to up hold your boundary every single time. By doing so you communicate by your actions that you are serious about changing a pattern. Chances are when the boundary crosser realizes they are getting no where, they will start respecting your boundary. If you find you can’t do this, it’s time to be really real about whether this is actually a boundary you value.
3. Never set a boundary or consequence you aren’t willing to keep.
You maybe really pissed, and want to leave them the very second they violate your boundary, but chances are you aren’t going to. In fact I would highly recommend against it. Love and relationships aren’t built on a set of hoops we make people jump through to get to us. So keep it real and keep it fluid. A boundary is never an ultimatum.
Pick something do-able for a consequence. Take a 5 min break, leave and go home if you don’t live together. If you do live together, take a walk. Pick something that gets the scared little animal that is your heart to a safer place, but don’t make pronouncements you can’t keep.
Even if you have really almost had enough, and want to bail, don’t say it unless you are really ready to do it. Instead you can say “if this keeps happening I’m really going to consider all my options, including whether I still want to be in this relationship”. But don’t bring out the big guns until you have taken some other kind of smaller action to uphold your boundary in the moment.
4. Keep the focus on yourself where it belongs.
Remember, boundaries are about you. Communicate that to your partner. It’s bewildering and hard when someone we love suddenly tells us we have crossed a boundary. The most common reaction is to feel like you did something wrong. Chances are what your partner did only felt wrong to you. Avoid getting in justice conversations about it. This is between you and yours scared little heart. Keep it focused on that. “Look this is just hard and triggering for me, it’s not personal, I just can’t be around you when you _______, I’m gonna take 5 min.”
One person may really have a hard time with yelling, whereas for someone else being loud is just how they were raised. Just because it’s wrong for you, doesn’t make it wrong. I know it’s hard to remember this when the feral cat inside your heart is going ape shit, but try, it will make everything so much easier.
5. Use your authority, but also use your manners.
This is a hard one. Especially if using your authority is not something you are used to doing. Sometimes when we first start realizing we are not powerless, we need to get really mad and anyone and everyone that has ever wronged us. Try to remember that the situation happening presently is just one incidence, not the entire history of all the times you’ve been wronged.
Use your manners. Be kind. Keep the focus on yourself, and if it is your lover that you are setting the boundary with, remind them that you love them, and you are doing this so you can be a better partner, not to punish them.
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Allison Carr LAc specializes in helping courageous but struggling individuals find their way back to a whole and vibrant life using Five Element Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. www.AllisonCarrAcupuncture.com