Every single being has an amazing unfathomable gift that only meeting life head on will reveal… Follow the aliveness.
- Mark Nepo, Oprah’s Supersoul Conversations
Last Monday I did my first Facebook Live. It was about three of my favorite ways to figure out what’s next for you. If you missed it you can catch the replay here.
I think of the tools I shared as ways to find clues that you can follow. Clues to where you will find that amazing combination of your incredible joy meeting the world’s incredible need. Clues that show you the way to your own special version of being alive.
Often we want to see the whole way mapped out for us. But it’s pretty rare that life works that way. More often we just get the next little hint – and we need to follow it to get to the one after that.
It reminds me of the amazing Easter basket hunt my dad used to create for me and my siblings when I was a kid – a tradition I continued with my kids, complete with rhyming clues and always, at some point, a map that included embarrassing instructions like go out in the front yard and run around the car yelling “Go Giants” as well as some kind of instruction that requires the basket hunter to say something along the lines of “my dad/mom is the most amazing person in the world.”
In this Easter basket hunt, we didn’t get a map at the beginning that already had the answer on it. The little map was just one clue among many.
We got one clue to start, a riddle usually and we had to follow it to the next clue… and the next. Sometimes we thought we’d figured out the riddle, but when we got the spot where we thought the next clue would be it wasn’t there. So, we had to try again.
I think often that’s what it’s like with finding our way to joy and impact – or, to say it another way, finding our way to our own personal version of ALIVENESS.
You have to follow one little clue to get to the next one.
You have to take a guess at what the answer to the riddle might be. Then you go there and if the next clue is there you follow it. If not, you try another idea. No big deal.
You don’t stop. After all, if the Easter basket hunt metaphor is working for us there’s a big hunk of chocolate at the end!
In life, one of the signs that you’re on the right path is a felt sense of joy.
It might just be a hint. But if you start to practice noticing where that joy is and following it, you’ll get another hint. Then you follow that one. And soon it seems as if the hints start shimmering a little more brightly.
And so does your life.
At various points in my life I’ve literally tracked my joy in what I call a time/joy diary. I talked about it in the Facebook Live and in this older blog post.
But you don’t even have to be that formal or systematic.
You can just do that one tiny thing that’s been nudging at you and then notice what happens.
Here’s an example: One of my recent steps was to take over the weekend dog-walking. Not very big or exciting right? You could even say it’s a chore. But I had to do it one day when my husband was out of town and I found that it gave me a little hint of joy – because it got me out of my bed and connected with nature in the early morning when the world is still pretty quiet. There was some ALIVENESS there for me.
So, I committed to doing it regularly.
Just to see where it leads me.
And, honestly, I don’t know if it’s connected at all, but now I’m headed to France for a leadership conference that I just found out about a few days ago.
Some hints call for tiny action.
Some hints call for big craziness – like heading to France with less than 2 weeks notice and at the same time when your husband is also at a conference and you have a kid etc. But somehow I know I need to go.
I’ve learned to trust that knowing. But it didn’t start with France.
It started with paying attention to tiny, tiny clues. And following them.
One clue leads to the next. And at the end, who knows? There might be chocolate – or something even better.
Follow the joy. Follow the ALIVENESS. One clue at a time. I’d love to hear where it leads you!
You can check in with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or catch up with what’s happening on my new facebook business page! I’ll be on a plane next week when you get my next blog post in your mailbox, but I’ll be heading over to the Facebook page to give you some live updates and show you what Julia Child’s former summer home looks like.
Because that’s where I’m headed.
Here’s to thriving - and equity.
Also, it's still Black History month - and historical research is all about following clues - especially when you care about justice and equity and want to reveal what has been hidden, the voices that have been silenced. Artist Titus Kaphar does that in his paintings - in which he often takes a well known portrait and "brings black figures out of the shadows and literally into the picture." Learn more about his work here in this article and/or check out his website.
And by the way. He had a .65 GPA in high school. He followed a girl (clue) to an art history class (clue) and now he's got an exhibit in the Smithsonian.