One of my favorite people, writer and Comfort Queen Jennifer Louden, wrote this article, that I find stimulating for each and everyone of us.
I believe we can all ask ourselves the same questions, and find different answers coming out, or very similar ones, at that. Believe me when I say that my answers, when they are put to paper, very often surprise me when they compare to what I expected myself to answer.
Jennifer's questions follow (go here to read her answers)
What helps me in my business?
What helps me in my business isn’t any different than what helps me in my life. I’m sure the same is true for you. Like:
:: who do you grow with? my husband and our family. I believe that if you are inclined to married life, choosing/picking/ following, whatever leads you to sharing your life with the person who is your life companion is key to finding your life's purpose, to chase your deamons or making peace with them.
* what do you excel for? Being a good example for my kids is motivating me to be a better person. I can see patterns in my behavior from my experience as a child, that I put aside, and reach for ways to be closer to my children, being more open, more supportive, more present for them.
:: who do you allow to support you even when it’s messy – really messy. Realtives have traditionally been a safety net for Greek families. Not all are blessed with loving relatives, but C's family is blessed with some loving, caring relatives. I admire my mil' sfamily for their close knit ties, and I want my children to grow to be tight together like a fist.
* more of letting that messy support in. Asking for help has been for me an exercise to humility. I am a shy person, and this is often mistaken for pride or distance. I need my time to feel comfortable in the presence of people. I have been through the letting too much out after keeping too much in. Finding this balance has been a challenging and yet rewarding part of my life.
:: Pleasing myself first and then asking “How can this serve the people I love to inspire?” This is very hard for me but I’m clear it’s the only way I will have the energy to continue to create. Serve yourself first.(Jen's words). That was one of Jennifer's lessons that I found hard to follow, yet in a way freed me
* who guides you beyond your limits? Oh, it will have to be life. I have shifted from a place of seclusion, what seemed like a destiny to academia, to retail sales which is the exact opposite, in terms of introvert-extrovert.
:: do you allow yourself to be a learner? name where and when. That's tough, isn't it, saying "I don't know how to do it', when you are pressured to save face in business at all costs. And yet, I find saying "I don't know" a relief and a beginning, beggining a healthier relationship with a customer, dealing with coworkers, even dealing with my own kids. I have read alot, I ahve tried some more. Most of all, I remain a learner in front of God. I have learned to say, "Show me the way, cause you are the way, the light and the life."
* how do you grow in awareness? Learning to take a break. Stop and think about what I'm doing. I have always loved having penpals from different places of the globe, and that hasn't changed since I was a teenager. It evolved into blogging, and I am thankful for that. Opening up to the best possibilities, opening up to beauty makes me aware of the beauty I am capable of.
:: who do you want to create with? have you asked? Hard one. Funny as it is, I can see women getting together to knit and craft in the States or the UK, and here simply isn't done. Unless one is my mil' s age, when women used to get together with their cross-stitching for morning coffee, it just isn't part of the culture anymore. There are places in Athens that younger women get together and sew. They are young, have lived abroad, and kind of link their two experiences together. Our company does workshops and we only recently hosted one. So yes, baby steps...But right now, I am encouraged to create by my children. They way they approach making things as a natural part of their lives. They don't research that much or collect patterns. They pick their tools and go for it. And if they are not Ok with the result, they do again. I think this is a quality one loses through formal education, work and control in general. So, i love creating with my kids around, because they take me out of my "should" corner and into their "can" place.
* Blog posts like this on knowing what you want (you cannot please yourself if you don’t know what you want.) More of that, in a next post.
:: Owning my gifts. (be brave: own yours.) Ha! Such puritans, we learn to hide our gifts instead of using them to their full potential. The concept of our talents being God's gifts to me is relatively new to me and I discovered it through blogging friends. I am encouraging my kids to go for what they like. Acknowledging that my talents are God given is one sure path to happiness.
* how do you stay on your own side especially when despair and fear come a calling?
Prayer. How can I stress this highly enough. To remain on your side, to remain connected to your true self, you must be connected to your power source. God is the ultimate power source that works for each one and all of us. Because He is Love, He knows how to adapt His attention to our needs, let us swim and throw a life boat in when we need it most.Ultimate self-care is key to being present for others, too. So yes, I now take that catnap, stop to hug my cats, eat black eyed beans wven when no one else wants them, and hve a banana for breakfast when it feels right. Stay tuned to the Source.
:: where does love hold you to your best self and where does self-hatred bend you to improve? Being accepted by yourself for all your weaknesses and dark corners, your lies and secrets is a big first step. Know thyself for who you are. Get cleaning and arranging your soul without blame. Loving after thyself like you do a little baby. Important. Self-hatred has kicked in more than once in my life, but, apart from some venting, it only did me harm. So do what you have to do with love.
* what are you devoted to? This is the essence, really, where do our loyalties rest, where does it all come to. I believe for me it all rests in my love for Greece, the spirit of freedom and independence it stands for in the entire world, the unsubmissiveness, the raw edge. SO I'd say, all in all for me, life is about being free to live your life. I am devoted to Freedom.
I learn so much about myself with the help of Jennifer's questions.
I encourage you to visit Jennifer Louden and bet you to be inspired to a more loving, inspired, kind life.