Blog Archives

The Difference Between Goals and Purpose

Most of us are busy. “Busy” means different things to different people, but by this I mean that a lot of us are operating at full capacity most of the time.

Do you ever feel like you’re just spinning your wheels, or is your busyness moving you in a clear direction? Is that direction somewhere you want to go? Did you choose it? Do you know why you want to go there?

The other day, I noticed that I felt off. It wasn’t quite sadness, so I wrote in my journal to try and sort it out. I realized that I was feeling a bit lost and disoriented, and it was really uncomfortable.

How could I feel lost? I’m very ambitious, I have lots of goals mapped out, and I know the basic steps to accomplishing those goals. I sat with the feeling a little longer and realized something that I’ve never thought of before.

Goals are nothing without purpose. I have goals, but that’s not the same as having direction. Goals are what we want to accomplish, but purpose is why we want to accomplish it.

I believe we all have a purpose in this life, and that mine is to have joy and share it with others so that they might have joy too. That’s what I try to do with my art and writing. I’m not talking about the joy you feel when you watch a funny movie, but the joy you have to work for and that comes when you know yourself and learn hard lessons and develop a deeper understanding of your own purpose.

When we have purpose, we can align ourselves with that and work toward our goals much more efficiently and mindfully. When we forget our purpose, our actions feel empty.

Finding your purpose is a deep life question, but I’ve found that with some observation of your actions and desires, your talents and interests, it’s actually fairly simple. I’ll leave that question for you.

I’m curious. What are your goals? Are they part of a deeper purpose, or are you still figuring that one out?

Wise Words: We are Meant to Shine

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson (emphasis added)

Big Scary Monster Series: The Fear of our own Potential

"Mental Claustrophobia" sculpture by McKella Sawyer, 1,000 fabric swatches and insecurities

Let’s start off with this pearl of wisdom:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson (emphasis my own)

I think one of the saddest things in the world is to see potential go to waste.  We all have missions in life, gifts we have to offer the world, but many of us shrink back instead of rising to the calling.


Well, we’re scared. Scared that we won’t make it, that no one wants what we have to give, that we have nothing original to offer, or we’re just afraid of taking the risks that come with being great.

On the other hand, a lot of us are unconsciously terrified of actually succeeding. We’re afraid to be seen, or to have the openness required to become truly inspiring. We’re afraid that by breaking social norms or class restrictions that we’re “getting above ourselves”, somehow betraying our own.

In our society with it’s Puritanical ethics, we feel that acknowledging our gifts and potential, we’re being prideful or that by taking the time to develop those gifts, we’re being selfish. We’re making others uncomfortable. We feel that by stepping into our greatness, we are somehow wrong.

No wonder we’re so terrified of our own light.

And it’s totally ok to be  afraid. Give your big scary monster a hug and tell him this:

  • It is my responsibility as a human being to share my light with the world.
  • Taking the time and space to develop my gifts and realize my purpose isn’t selfish. Not reaching out to those who need me, hiding my gifts, not leaving my handprint on this world…now that would be selfish.
  • Pride and confidence in my abilities are not the same thing.
  • Everyone has a purpose, and so do I.
  • I can succeed. I will succeed.
Yes, you will.
PS: Don’t forget to submit your posts for the Big Scary Monster series! The goal of this series is to talk about and face our Big Scary Monsters and ultimately make friends with them, because monsters need friends too. 
You can email them to me to be featured on Handprint Soul, write them on your own blog and send me the link, or simply leave your thoughts in the comments. I’ll include links to all submissions in a roundup post at the end of the month. Thanks!

The Bravest Thing: Self-Discovery Word-by-Word

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Skydiving? Freestyle rock climbing? Saving a baby from a burning building?

Joining the military to defend our country? Quitting a stable job to stay at home with your kids?

Giving unrealistic expectations and social norms the middle finger and living your own life?

Bravery comes in different forms, but sometimes the scariest things in this world have nothing to do with physical danger.

Instead of fighting dragons, we might be standing up for ourselves and what we believe in, choosing to love ourselves the way we are, or deciding to live according to our own values despite society’s relentless messages that we are not good enough, that we always have to change, buy something, or do something to make us worthwhile.

I used to think I was a ‘fraidy cat because I’m afraid of doing anything that involves being towed behind a speedboat, or because I’ve crossed skydiving off my Handprint List, or because I dated some guys or had friends who were really bad for me because I didn’t think I could get anything better.

I feared rejection, failure and most of all, hurting other people’s feelings and being a “bad person”. Over the last few months though, I’ve learned that sometimes, you have to be willing to disappoint someone, or get rejected, or even piss someone off.  Sometimes you have to just accept that some people will think badly of you, that you’re a wingnut or too outspoken or even selfish. While you don’t want everyone to think of you this way, do the right thing.

Leave. Or stay.

Do it. Or don’t.

Make a decision. Change your mind. Even if someone disapproves. You know what’s right. Do it.

Say no. Take time to think about it.

Listen to your body.

Wear the damn swimsuit.

I think one of our deepest fears is the disapproval of others, but this fear is rooted in the deepest fear of all: That without the approval of our peers, we are nothing. We are only worthwhile if everyone else things we are.

This is the biggest lie we tell ourselves. Deep in our hearts, in our very souls, we know who we are, what we were sent here to do and what is right for us. We might forget this sometimes, but we know our own worth. Living authentically means eliminating the sway of “What will everyone else think?” and accepting our own worth and uniqueness.

Accepting our worth takes courage. Living our purpose takes courage. We can never accomplish these things we feel we need to look, act, or be a certain way.

Be brave. Be yourself.

This post is part of Self-Discovery Word-by-Word. This month’s host is Dr. Dana Udall-Weiner at The Body and the Brood. The word for June 2011 is “Bravery”. 


How to Share your Awesome


Here’s something I truly believe:

As human beings, it is our duty to share our gifts with the world. 

Yet a lot of us don’t. Why is that?

  • Sometimes we don’t recognize our inherent gifts and talents
  • In an effort to be humble and to avoid rocking the boat, we deny our talents.
  • We feel that others don’t want what we have to offer.
  • We fear that what we have to offer isn’t valuable. 
  • We feel that we aren’t valuable.
I’m just going to be straight-up with you: Hiding our awesomeness from the world is irresponsible and selfish. We might not have selfish motives, but when we don’t share our talents, we are denying the world something that it was meant to have. It’s like refusing to pay your taxes on a spiritual level.
We’re all here to help each other and we’ve been given tools to do that in our own unique way.  Some of us are create things that inspire others. Others are brave and strong and can physically protect others. Still others are curious and discover things that can improve our lives like medicines and electricity. Everyone has at least one incredible gift, even if it’s a subtle one like the gift of appreciation. Everyone wants to be appreciated, and you’d be amazed how far a thank you or a nice little “Hey, that’s really cool!”  boost will go.
What’s stopping you from fully sharing your gifts? 
We hide our light for all kinds of reasons, and sometimes that reason is that it hasn’t been tested yet. Everything grows stronger through opposition, it’s like working a muscle with weights. Until we’ve had to struggle to use our gift, we haven’t learned to really grasp it’s value to us. This struggle finds everyone at some point. Don’t fear it; it’s a vital part to your personal development. It ain’t fun, but it needs to happen.
Here are some tips for breaking through your blocks and springing your full-fledged amazingness into the world:
  • Know what your gifts are. What do you like to do? What do others tell you you’re good at? What did you enjoy as a child? Do whatever you need to do to find our what you’re good at.
  • Develop those gifts. Practice, read books, take classes, do whatever it takes to get good at those gifts and feel confident sharing them.
  • Trust your gifts. You have them for a reason. They’re meant to help you and others. Allow them to do that.
  • Stop being shy about it. Cockiness is one thing, but being aware of your talents and refusing to feel sheepish is one of the most powerful ways  to share. Take opportunities to share. Make opportunities. If someone asks you if you’re good at (insert amazing gift here) say “Yes!”.
  • Find your purpose and how your gifts play into that. I feel silly sticking this in a little bullet-point, but your purpose is the mother ship of all your gifts. Your talents support your purpose. Do some work, find out what you want to do and what you’re meant to do, then figure out how your talents can accomplish that.  Need help getting started? Try this exercise by Steve Pavlina. It’ll at least get you thinking.
  • Know that you and your gifts are valuable. Nothing kills a sense of purpose like low-self esteem. Do some  work, realize how valuable you are to the world just by being yourself. And being yourself doesn’t mean feeling like a loser and doing nothing, though we all do that sometimes. Being yourself means striving, evolving and living as your best self, which is what this blog is all about.
  • Find others who want what you have to offer. When you’ve discovered your gifts, do a little marketing research. Where can you apply yourself? Can you help a worthy cause? Should you start a business? Think now. Research.
We all have incredible strength and capacity for growth and giving, most of us just don’t know it yet. If you haven’t embarked on this journey yet, grab knapsack, ’cause it’s a biggun. Good luck!
What are your gifts? How are you living and sharing them?

Sylvia Plath and Learning to Trust Your Gifts

I’ve been meaning to read “Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams” by Sylvia Plath for years and last night, I finally did and I loved it. I love Sylvia Plath because something about her life and work draws me in. She’s one of those writers I feel like I know somehow because I relate to her so well.

I have no intention of offing myself, but the connection between creativity and depression fascinates me. The thing I think I relate to the most though, is her struggle to own her writing. To trust it. 

You see, Sylvia wanted to be a highly-paid travel journalist and to publish short stories in popular journals. Poetry was just a release for her and sadly, she didn’ t become famous until after her death. She agonized over every word, she doubted herself even though she was a fabulous writer of prose and poetry. She married a successful poet and felt that she lived in his shadow because her career never took off in her lifetime. She waited for that validation from other people-the publicity, the paycheck- to be happy and acknowledge her gifts. She didn’t trust herself at all, and I think it was that turmoil that finally killed her.

I know what it’s like to be depressed, to agonize every every word and feel like I’m dragging the prose out of myself because I can’t reach that place where it flows naturally, to fear and yearn and strive but feel like I always fall short.

Sylvia, why didn’t you see how amazing you were?

After reading Johnny Panic, I realized how important it is to trust our gifts. We need to trust our creativity, recognize our talents and put them to work. Enjoy them whether we’re making money from them of if we’re not quite there yet.

I know I’ve doubted myself. All my life I’ve wanted to be an artist and writer, but after a few years of a near creative paralysis, I actually considered that maybe that wasn’t my calling. Maybe I should give it up, go back to school and get a real job. Now, I realize what a heinous thought that was.

You have gifts. We all do. They’re meant to take care of us and to make the world better.  Hiding them is irresponsible. Here’s a few tips for trusting your gifts and bringing them out into the world.

  1. Develop self-love- In order to trust yourself and recognize your gifts, you have to love yourself. When you love someone, you see their strengths. When you don’t like someone, you only see their weaknesses. Make friends with yourself.
  2. Take care of yourself- if your emotional, physical or spiritual channels are plugged up, your creativity won’t flow. Take care of your body, express your emotions, give yourself the emotional space you need to have stillness so you can really think and ponder about things. Keep everything open; the flow of emotions, your bodily systems, and your mind.
  3. Find a safe place to play- if you don’t feel safe to experiment, express and even fail, you’ll always be stuck in some serious creative muck. Find a safe place, whether it’s a physical place or a  mental state that allows you to open up and let things pour out. Don’t worry about making money yet. Don’t worry about anyone seeing what you’re doing. Let go of the urgency. Once you’re comfortable doing  this in your safe place, practice moving it out into the world.
  4. Be like a child- Do children doubt themselves? Do children worry about what other’s think? Do children ever worry about failure, or that their scribbles aren’t good enough to adorn Mommy’s fridge? Play. Make a mess. Paint with your fingers if you want.
  5. Keep your mind open and be optimistic- Don’t be afraid to try new things if you  discover one thing doesn’t work for you. Instead of putting a price tag on your satisfaction, invent your own definition of success. Enjoy doing what you’re doing just because you love doing it. Find the good in struggle, because struggle is all about learning.
  6. Be grateful for your gifts-You say “thank you” when someone gives a gift, so be grateful for  your talents. They’re there for a reason; to make you happy, just like a gift that comes wrapped up with a bow.
  7. Know your purpose- Know what these gifts can do for you, your loved ones and the world. Even if you’re not sure, just understand their value. If this is hard, make a list of all the things you can do with your gifts and your life, then go back and read it and see which ones hit home with you. Keep refining this list and pondering it until you get it.
Trust is key to relaxing and letting your gifts blossom, but mastering trust is a process and something that needs to be maintained over a lifetime. Start building your trust right now. Know how amazing you are.
Now go create something.