Are You Living Your Purpose?

18 02 2012
Photo Credit: antibarbie

Three deaths in the past month has made for a rough start to the year. Two were expected; both family members were older and had health problems, and in some ways it was a blessing. But we still miss them and weren’t ready to see them leave this earth.

The third death was totally unexpected. A neighbor  and friend died of a sudden heart attack. Because she was close to my age, her death affected me the most.

When things like this happen, it makes you re-evaluate your life. If it had been me rather than her, what would I regret leaving undone?

I read recently that most people in nursing homes say they wish they’d taken more risks. It would be sad to get to the end of life and realize that while you were busy with mundane tasks, the important things of life passed you by.

What words or acts have you avoided saying or doing that you might someday regret? What dreams have you been putting off?

What were you put here on earth to do? Make that your first priority.

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Why Do Artists Live Longer than Politicians?

30 11 2010

Recently, I’ve been working on an assignment that requires a series of bios of famous and semi-famous people from around the world throughout history, and I discovered something interesting. Almost invariably, the artists, composers, moviemakers, and writers lived well into their 90s; an amazing number even made it past 100. Many politicians, kings, and government leaders died young.  Of course, coups and assassinations cut some of their lives short, but even those who died of natural causes lived a much shorter time than those who were involved in the arts. Even during eras when living to 40 was considered normal, artists generally outlived their contemporaries by 20-30 years. When artists died young, it was often because they took their own lives, so it’s hard to know how long they would have lived, if they’d given themselves a chance.

So what it is about the arts that leads to longeviety? I’ve pondered this and wonder if it’s because artists approach life differently. Politicians often have driving needs to compete, to be first, to get to the top of the heap. Once there, they have additional stresses heaped on them. Artists spend their time creating more often than competing. That’s not to say there isn’t competition in the arts, but given a choice between winning or creating, most artists choose the latter.

I suspect, too, that artists’ angst and stress often get expressed through creative work, so although many artists struggle to make a living, they transform their problems into something outside themselves. When they lose themselves in their work, many of those stresses disappear, even if only temporarily.

Creativity may also give artists an edge in solving problems; they’re usually willing to think outside the box. And the act of creation is life-giving and energetic, so perhaps artists benefit internally as they share their gifts.  Art renews the mind and the spirit. So every day artists may be renewing themselves as they work.

But I think the real secret is the childlike wonder and unique approach to life that many artists have. Most keep their youthful and innocent eye as they age, so their internal age is much younger and more vibrant than their external age. Have you ever noticed that many artists have an aliveness and a sparkle to their eyes, their features? They think and speak excitedly about their next projects. Perhaps they’re less likely to give up on life because they have another project they’re just dying  to do. (or maybe not…perhaps it’s a project they’re just living to do.)





Hope in the Face of Darkness

3 05 2010

Has life slapped you in the face? Are you struggling to survive an emotional or financial hit? Are you facing major roadblocks on your life journey?

If everything looks bleak and you aren’t sure you’ll ever recover, here’s a message of hope  from the wonderful inspirational speaker Corrie ten Boom, who survived living in a concentration camp and watching her sister die. The tragedies of my life pale when compared to hers, but as I’m going through them, my own trials loom large. If I let them, they can overwhelm me and block out everything but the pain. This wise lady helped me look at the larger picture.

She compared life to a tapestry. We see the underside with its tangle of threads and knots, and have no idea why so many threads are dangling or why our lives have so many dark patches, but God, the master weaver, looking down from above sees the beautiful picture that is our lives. Each thread–dark or light–has its perfect place in the finished work of art.

So when dark times come, I try to remember that God sees what I cannot, and I know on the other side lies a work of great beauty.

Life Is But a Weaving
by Corrie ten Boom

My life is but a weaving between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors; He works so steadily.
Oft times He weaves in sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and me the underside.
Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the weavers skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.





Secret to Overcoming Obstacles

24 04 2010

Life throws you roadblocks all the time. Losing a promotion, a job, a spouse, a limb, your reputation… No one ever knows what they might be called on to face, but you have two choices:

You either let it throw you into despair and paralyze you OR you move on. Sure, I hear you saying, easy for you to say. You have no idea the horrible situation I’m facing right now.

And you’re right. I don’t. But my inspiration comes from Corrie ten Boom, who lived through the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp and watched her sister die. She lost her parents, relatives, and home. Yet she went on to become a motivational speaker. What made her story even more compelling is that she forgave her jailer–in person.

Many people move on from situations where they’ve been wronged or hurt, but they carry bitterness with them–a poison that eats at their hearts and ruins their present. To get beyond it, takes a new mindset. Reframe the situation until you can thank the person who caused it. Many times that can’t be done with human strength; it requires moving beyond yourself to the realm of the supernatural. Believing that a higher power knows what you are going throught and has a plan for your life is often the key to reframing situations.