2016-09-11-10-46-34About a month ago, I attended a day-long training at one of my part-time jobs. I had the distinct impression that I would not get a lot out of the time I was certain would be better spent doing my tasks back at the office. I wish I could be more go with the flow, able to remember that I am often surprised by what happens when I stay open to things. I’m not big on group dynamic activities. Whether it’s because of my hearing loss, or my personality, or a mixture of factors, it’s hard to say. I find many of the get-to-know-you activities tedious and somewhat forced and superficial. But I was going to be there all day, so I decided I would make the best of it.

Several of the participants brought activities to share with the group that they have used in their work in substance abuse prevention to engage others in dialogue.

They all had some measure of meaning to me, and I could see how many could be utilized in different settings.

During one activity, we formed a standing circle, and each of us was given a sheet of paper and pen or pencil.

The activity went as follows:

-Write down six things that are exceedingly important to you. Do not include your family or your spiritual or religious beliefs.

-Cross out three you could let go of before the others.

-Pass your paper to the next person, and that person shall cross out one of the remaining items from your list and return your list to you. You now have two items remaining on your list.

-Cross out one item, leaving one remaining item on your list. The thing that is most important to you after you’ve made your list of six, crossed out three, dealt with someone else crossing out one item.

My list started out with:

-Independence

-Friends

-Camera

-Passionate nature

-Food

-Car

I removed, initially, food, friends, and camera. The person next to me removed my Independence, leaving me to choose between my car and my passionate nature.

It was clear to me that the car would have to go.

When all was said and done, I found my passionate nature to be so important that I would do without all the people and things that make life rich. I understood in that moment how my sense of self is tied up in that quality.

What is a passionate nature? For me, it is the life spark, the reason for being and caring and hoping and working and making every sort of move in life. When it is flagging, when the flame feels suffocated, I am not well. My mood is irritable, I retreat, and I struggle with caring about…everything.

A few people expressed how it made them feel to work through such a priority list. I stayed silent. When the leader of that activity started collecting the papers from everyone (to throw away) I told her that I wanted to keep mine.

I got a high five. J I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Last fall, I quit my full-time job and spent two months traveling around the country, seeing old friends, meeting new ones, spending time in nature, in the country, in the towns. Seeing sights, enjoying delicious food, eating over a small camp stove when I spend nights under the stars. I returned home with a drive to create a life space that made sense to me at this stage of my life. I struggle financially, but it’s more important to be able to continue to create that space than to be “secure”. I have been busy with a couple of jobs, one I really enjoy, the other has proved not to be a good fit and I will need to make some changes around that. Overall, it is good and right to stay focused on creating a life that is in alignment with what matters most, what feeds the flames of the passionate nature. That is how I can be at my best to myself and to my community.

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