Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How to Tell It's Your True Calling

Wondering what to look for in a True Calling? 
Here’s a primer...

I used to do a lot of stone sculpting, and when you want to find out whether a stone is “true,” you bang on it with a hammer. If it gives off a dull tone, that means the stone has faults running through it that are likely to crack it apart when you work on it. But if it gives off a clear ring, one that hangs in the air for a moment, that means the stone is “true,” has “integrity,” and most importantly, will hold up under repeated blows.
This is exactly the information you need to know about your callings. You need to know it rings true, has integrity, and is going to hold up under repeated blows—the kind the world specializes in, the kind you’re going to encounter the moment you take your callings and convictions out into the world, where they’re going to get banged on.
One of the best ways to find out whether they’re “true” is to get into the habit of continually tapping in and listening to yourself with what Saint Benedict called “the ear of the heart.” It’s the core of what we’ll be exploring in the Callings workshop at CSLCV on Sunday, June 25, and the heart of what spiritual traditions refer to as discernment, of clarifying your calls. And it sometimes requires not just pick-and-shovel work, but patience on the order of years.
It also helps if you know what to look for—what characterizes “integrity” in a calling.
It’s one of the questions I routinely asked the people I interviewed for the Callings book: How did you know it was a true call? How did you figure out you were on the right path, or that you were the right person? How did you know whether the call came from soul/God/passion, or whether it came from ego/wishful thinking/the desire for financial security/the desire to show the bastards?
The responses people gave me were so consistent, I can list them for you. Here are six signs that a calling is “true”:

1) It keeps coming back, no matter how much you ignore it. A poet named Francis Thompson once wrote a poem called Hound of Heaven, which is about God. He referred to God as a hound-dog because of what hound dogs are famous for, which is tracking people down. They can get one whiff of you and follow you for a hundred miles. In other words, our callings may be “still small voices,” but the true ones have staying power. It’s the blessing and the curse of them—the search party doesn’t retire.

2) The true calls tend to come at you from multiple directions—gifts, talents, dreams both day and night, body symptoms, synchronicities, the books that mysteriously make their way onto your night-table, the way events and opportunities unfold in your life. In other words, there’s a clustering effect, and you’ve got to connect the dots.

3) There’s a feeling of rightness about it. It just feels right. You may not be able to explain it, but you can’t deny it either.

4) Your enthusiasm for it tends to sustain itself over time, and doesn’t just peter out after a few weeks or months or semesters. You even feel a kind of affinity or affection for all the mundane tasks involved in bringing these calls to fruition, and they all have them. No matter how exalted, every calling has its version of licking stamps and stuffing envelopes, making cold calls and tacking posters up on telephone poles.
Author Malcolm Gladwell calculates that mastery in most endeavors requires at least 10,000 hours of dedicated practice—the math: 90 minutes a day for 20 years—and anyone who’s ever been in a play or a band knows that the amount of time they spend rehearsing compared to performing is something like 90-10. But it’s passion that largely explains people’s willingness to put up with that equation. To practice the same lines or lyrics for thousands of hours for the chance to go public with it barely a tenth of the time.

5) It will scare you. Some people even told me that they figured if a call felt safe, it probably wasn’t the right path, but if it scared them, it probably was, because it meant they were close to something vital.
I’m always amused by a bumper sticker campaign I see all around the country on my travels. I think it’s for a clothing company, but it says, “No Fear.” And I don’t buy it. Fear is a biological imperative—it’s hardwired in us. The fight-or-flight mechanism is a perfect example. I think what can happen sometimes is that something else becomes more important to you than the fear you feel, and then you act with real courage and conviction. But no fear? I don’t think so. In fact, I saw one of these bumper stickers in Arizona a few years back. Same sticker, but with a slight alteration made in it, I think in the name of credibility. It said, “Some Fear.”

6) The truth or falseness of a calling is ultimately in the results. In other words, you’ve got to be willing to try it out, to experiment, to go down the path a little ways—even if you’re not sure it’s the path—and take field notes.
What you do is take a step toward a call and look at the feedback your life gives you. Take a step and see if your energy expands or contracts. Take another step and see if you feel more awake or more asleep. Another step—what do your dreams at night tell you? Another step—what does your body tell you? Another step—what do your friends tell you? It’s the old gospel criteria: by their fruits you shall know them.

Gregg Levoy is the author of the bestseller Callings: Finding and Following An Authentic Life (Random House)—rated among the "Top 20 Career Publications" by the Workforce Information Group—and Vital Signs: Discovering and Sustaining Your Passion for Life (Penguin). He has keynoted at the CSL Asilomar Conference, Smithsonian Institution, Environmental Protection Agency, National Conference on Positive Aging, Microsoft, American Counseling Association, National Career Development Association, and others, and been a frequent guest of the media, including ABC-TV, CNN, NPR and PBS.
A former adjunct professor of journalism at the University of New Mexico, former columnist and reporter for USA Today and the Cincinnati Enquirer, he has written about callings for the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, Omni, Psychology Today, Reader’s Digest, and many others. His website is   

** This blog post is adapted from Gregg Levoy’s book Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life (Random House). 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

LEAP--From Planning To Action, Sunday Service

I am filled with the Spirit of Joy. I am filled with the Spirit of Peace. I am filled with Happiness. I radiate Life, I am Alive, I smile. And So It Is!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Timidity or Perfectionism

In David and Tom Kelley's book Creative Confidence,David writes: "We recently talked with two employees at IDEO from very different backgrounds. Yet both had the same fear of approaching the white board in a business meeting. One was an industrial design intern with sophisticated drawing skills who had studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasedena. The other was a business designer with a Harvard MBA and  a bright and analytical mind who didn't think of himself as artistic at all. The business guy didn't want to look silly trying to visually express an idea with a whiteboard sketch. And the skilled artist didn't want to be judged by the kind of drawing he could create in thirty seconds in front of an impatient audience. One was hemmed in by timidity, the other by perfectionism. But the end result was the same. Each preferred to sit in his chair rather than risk being judged by his peers."

This really struck me as true for many kinds of risk-taking situations.

I know I have let both extremes influence my choices or lack of them over the years.

As a former teacher, it has been hard to give up perfectionism. And to purposely do something that I already know I am not good at, gives me stomach flutters. (And not the good kind.)

So I have started to look at the things I have attempted and failed and then gave up on.

The first thing occurred twenty years or so ago. I wanted to learn to play syncopation. I had an excellent teacher. I just couldn't get my fingers to move the way they were supposed to. But instead of  doing what I could have done, practiced and played imperfectly, I stopped practicing altogether. I couldn't do it perfectly, then I wasn't going to do it all.

Now the truth is that Divine mind knows no limits. If I had continued to practice and to think optimistically I might have been able to play some of those funky songs now. I would still need to practice and do it imperfectly .

How many ideas have you scrapped because you were too timid or too much of a perfectionist?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

God's Highest Idea of Itself as Me

Have you ever been off-course? Adrift in the stuff of the world? feeling disconnected? separate and lonely? One of the most certain ways to get back on course is to listen to the voice of God within. We call the process Visioning. It is a process that came out of the Agape International Center in Los Angeles. I am very grateful for Rev. Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, the founder of Agape and the originator of this process.

Visioning basically takes the manifestation process out of the hands of the ego and puts it in the hands of Spirit. Not that manifesting through visualization, intention-setting and imagination is wrong. It is a powerful tool.

Depending where we are on our spiritual path of awakening, we will be drawn to different techniques and tools. Basically there are four kingdoms of consciousness or stages of spiritual development. In the first kingdom, life happens to me. It is not my fault; things happen and seem to be completely beyond my control. Life is happening to me. If this is the level of consciousness you find yourself in, then manifesting through using basic spiritual techniques is very good. It actually takes  a person out of victim-hood and into the second kingdom.

In the second kingdom, life happens by me. No longer a victim, we start taking responsibility for our thinking, our choices, our decisions and we start to create what we do want. Still in this level of consciousness there is a great deal of effort, constant vigilance to see what we have been thinking about. There is a point in which we let go of control.

This is the third level of consciousness where life happens through me. I have learned to establish dominion over my life. I now realize that there is more to life than stuff. I surrender to the Spirit and let It use me. Visioning is natural at this level of consciousness.

The fourth level of consciousness is life happens as me. It is then when we realize complete identification with God. "I and my Father are one."

It is such a powerful practice and we are going to practice together on Sundays beginning June 4.
God is. I am. And So It Is!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

DARE---Fear to Courage, Sunday Service

I decide to be true to my creative nature and let it lead the way to a richer, more rewarding life experience. And So It Is!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mothers Day Thoughts

This Sunday, May 14, is Mothers' Day. It is a day set aside to express gratitude for the women who gave us birth, and the men and women who were our first care-givers. Each of us has her own story of how successfully our mothers gave us models for raising our own children. In my opinion, motherhood can be the most thankless job; yet it is the most important one for living a life that is healthy-minded.  Our mothers are our first gods. They held the power of life and death over us. They were responsible for our physical and emotional care. They fed us, clothed us and by their words and  example showed us what love is;our understanding of the nature of love paved the way for all our relationships.

There is a powerful quote that is attributed to many people including Jonas Salk,
"Good parents give their children roots and wings. Roots to know where home is, wings to fly away and exercise what's been taught them."
My parents gave me roots and wings. I am living in Southern California, my parents, who had both been born and raised in the Canadian prairies, still lived within one hundred miles of their places of birth at the time of their passing. 

Two years ago, when my mom had a stroke and while she was still in the hospital she was struggling to ask me something. The stroke had left her weak. She finally managed to say,
"Why do you live so far away?"
I was very sad and did not have an answer. My inner answer seemed to be selfish and shallow. I was living my dream of being a New Thought minister in paradise. I was living where I wanted to be.

Lela Eugenia Clark, my mother, made her transition on June 23, 2016. She was not a woman without flaws. She had her own insecurities as well as an abundance of strengths: she modeled creativity, commitment, leadership and fierce independence. I am very grateful that she was my mother. Some traditions say I chose her. 

I talk to her when I see butterflies when I am out walking. I talk to her when I see a pair of doves building a nest, knowing she is now with my dad again.

And now, I can answer the question:
"Mom, I am living so far away because you did such an amazing job in giving me roots and wings."
Of the three daughters in the photo below, my oldest sister, Kathy stayed close to home, my baby sister Cheryl has lived in Calgary for thirty years, about nine hours away, and I have lived here in paradise for 24 years. Good job, Mom. 

Happy Mothers Day to all mothers. 

Lela Clark and daughters Kathy, Cheryl & Heather

Sunday, May 7, 2017

'FLIP-Creative Confidence

I am the powerful and potent presence of Love in the world. I find new creative ways to express this Love in everything that I do because I am inspired by the Divine Truth, that we are all One. And So It Is!

Friday, May 5, 2017

More Helpful Than Harmful

We are all on a spiritual path whether we know it or not. Before I knew that there was a spiritual path to be on, I would often get stuck in ideas that would not let go of me. They stuck to me and I stuck to them. Most of them were not for my highest good. I practiced the blame game with alacrity. There was always something to fear, and then there was always someone to blame for that fear. (Believe me, I rarely considered that I could be the cause of my unhappiness.) I  was probably typical for women of my age -- there were so many things wrong with life -- there was the government, my spouse, low wages, parents of the children I taught, the children themselves, and the weather. Just to begin. It was not uncommon for me to declare that the weather was just miserable. And it may have been stormy, or cold, or icy, or too hot, but none of those conditions makes weather miserable. Feeling that there was someone or something to blame made me feel righteous. I was filled with righteous indignation. Imagine what charming company I would have been! Haha. Nothing was my fault. But I was playing the victim.  Of course, I would have railed against the idea that I was a victim. Through my eyes, I was simply describing what was so.

Later in my thirties, when I awakened to the awareness of divine presence, I was fascinated by God. I spent hours in meditations and contemplation. I wrote volumes about the nature of God. Most of what I thought I knew, I have now changed my mind about. But still it was a great change of direction to be contemplating something eternal, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent whose nature is love. I spent a great deal of time wondering about my purpose. What was God calling me to do or be specifically? That was not very productive as far as directing divine mind, but it was much better than the first two decades. It was healthier.

When I started understanding New Thought, I still contemplated God, but now as me. The Divine Presence that fascinates me is in me as me! During one of the first classes I took, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the vastness of subconscious mind, and how impossible it felt to change my entire way of thinking. I would often catch myself in negative thinking and often felt discouraged. Fortunately, we don't really have to erase every negative thought we have had, we simply need to keep filling up with positive ideas and hopefulness until the tendency of our thought is more helpful than harmful. 

Gradually, almost imperceptibly, I  started noticing that the tendency of my thoughts were positive, hopeful and life-affirming. I noticed that there is always so much for which to be grateful. I notice that more and more things for which to be grateful come into my life. (Were they always there, and I just couldn't see them because my filter was so negative? Or did my change in thinking actually change my life?)

I like to think it is the latter. Since then I did discover my true purpose which is to assist others in seeing their divinity. I feel thankful every day for my wonderful life!

Remember, it is  a wonderful life and all the better because you are in it.
A Gift From Some Students