For some of you, this title will be a bit of an exaggeration of your state of mind or where you are in your life. For others, life is in such a rapid swing of change that you’re self-editing the word “dumpster fire” into the sentence.
Wherever you are on the “How am I supposed to live my life’s purpose while all of this is going on?!” spectrum, this post is for you.
Y’all know I like to question commonly-held truths in the new age community. One of those truths is, if you’re living your life’s purpose, if you’re on track, you have a sense of peace and satiety most of the time. Many believe that if you’re feeling frustrated, limited, hampered, or sidelined in life, it’s because you are doing something wrong. That you’re not living your life’s purpose.
That’s a super-scary thought. It’s another way of saying you’re *wasting your life*.
Okay, sometimes when I’m cleaning house for the millionth time, I may mutter to myself, “I cannot be meant to be scrubbing this toilet right now.”
We all have that relationship with chores. If you enjoy scrubbing your toilet, please email me with your toilet-scrubbing mantra, so that I too can enjoy the zen bliss of a creating a fresh and sanitary vessel for my family’s bodily waste. I have *tried* toilet scrubbing meditations – I do not, thus far, recommend folding spiritual practice into a dirty chore. I have also yet to see an online course on self-hypnosis to love daily drudgeries. There’s a market niche for you there! Go for it! I will learn from you!!!
More than the daily maintenance of our physical bodies – the feeding and caring of these vessels that can be enjoyable, but can also feel burdensome, life sometimes throws us events that completely separate us from the track we have laid out for ourselves. Or maybe we’ve had to abandon that path because we have family to care for, or bills to pay, or medical mysteries to investigate.
When life throws us a curve ball, we want to ask “What the HELL is that all about!?” and we want to ground that event in a deep spiritual meaning for our overall life.
We want to incorporate it into our Life’s Purpose.
Here’s the thing.
Incarnation is complex. We are given these marvellous bodies, created from organic elements of the earth, and occupied by our spiritual consciousness, our energetic selves. When we take the leap into a lifetime, when we (re)incarnate into a body, most of us have SOME idea of what we want to accomplish.
As I discussed in the podcast episode on Planners, Wingers and Rafters, that life plans can vary from a detailed script of life events, to a loose outline or checklist that leaves a lot of room for exploring and adaptation, or a single line, motto or word.
What we can’t plan for is what is going to actually happen once we’re locked into these fabulous biological miracles we call bodies.
Everyone, no matter how detailed the life plan, is subject to the random and rapid change that happens here on earth. We can’t just snap ourselves out of it, either, like we can in spirit. That’s actually WHY we incarnate, because the stakes are so high here. We’re invested. We *have to* live through it.
Honestly, that’s why incarnating here on earth isn’t a popular choice. There are many other planets and life forms out there – my conversation with Pinky is one of my favourites. I only have to *glance* at that blog post to remember the vividness of that conversation – the largeness of Pinky’s hands, the slow deliberation of his/her movements, the communion s/he experiences with other life on the planet, the sheer massiveness and density of life on that planet compared to here.
There are life forms where incarnation does not feel as isolating, where we don’t forget as much about our spiritual selves and our past lives. Earth is one of the few crazy planets where we can actually *forget* who we are.
So those of us incarnated here, now, who have an awareness that we go on after life, and who, like me, spend time thinking about, focusing upon, and working towards fulfillment of their life plan, it’s beyond frustrating when life throws you a curve ball that restricts your abilities! But it happens to ALL of us, and it happens in different ways to different people. Accidents, misfortune, bad luck.
We can feel “held back”. It can inspire anxiety if you start thinking, “Oh my god, am I just treading water here? Am I wasting my life?”
No you’re not. Here’s the thing:
The problem with life plans is we can never fully plan or anticipate the random effects of incarnation. I’m not just talking about free will, which does have a huge impact – I’m talking about the random life events that can delay, distract or even endanger us.
This is the whole reason we have Spirit Guides, and spirit helpers / teachers through our lifetime. We cannot make it through our lives on luck alone. We need some angels, some spirit friends pulling for us – especially while we are children!
Sometimes, something will happen in life that creates a timeline we didn’t intend to create. I see this most often with an unintended / unplanned death. This happens. We can’t control for all the random factors. When something feels so wrong, wrong on a fundamental level, wrong in a way that inspires feelings of betrayal and anger at god, well, you feel that way for a reason.
Maybe it wasn’t a part of the deal.
Life plans are often talked about as “contracts with god”. I first read about this term in one of Sylvia Browne’s books, but I’m not sure if she coined that idea. I don’t think she did, actually, but she did make it a popular idea. It’s a very useful idea, too. You’ve agreed to take on these duties and challenges in your life, and to do your best, and you can’t change your contract with god, nor can god renege on providing the support you need to cope with these challenges.
There is a reason why, in the wake of a health crisis, or a great loss, we may find ourselves wrestling with anger, or an overwhelming *knowing* that this is wrong.
Sometimes things happen that weren’t planned. Sometimes it feels wrong because it is wrong.
And we have to make the best of it. They, our spirit friends, our family in spirit, and “god” helps us to move forward, when something unexpected and unplanned derails our Life Plan.
So what about our life’s purpose then?
Did you notice that “Life Plan” is different from “Life Purpose”?
We see this in the wake of a tragic, unplanned death. A few years after a high school friend of mine died in a motorcycle accident, he came to visit Sweetie and I on Christmas day. We had a lovely conversation with him. He showed me his spirit standing over his body where it had been thrown after his bike hit an oncoming truck – because he’d fallen asleep. His spirit, standing over his dead body, was expressing “Oh no! Oh shit! What happened! I’m dead! Oh no!!!”
All those who knew him felt the wrong-ness of his death. It was wrong. It was an accident.
Well, our friend’s spirit grandmother took him by the hand, let him have his processing time, and then helped guide him into his next incarnation – on a spiritual level, his own sister – her higher self – agreed to have one additional child. She would raise two children, instead of one. And the one child who was waiting to incarnate as the sister’s first and only child, agreed to wait another couple of years so that our friend could step in and become the first child, so he could take his life plan into a new lifetime, as his own nephew.
This is how we adapt, spiritually. Maybe things aren’t meant to happen, but they do happen, and retroactively, our spirit friends and the universe at large, helps us to form a new timeline, helps us to make it “meant to be” retroactively.
Bearing that in mind…
I think that ALL of us run into unexpected and unplanned challenges in life. We hit against restrictions our higher self, our spirit self, could not conceive of as being a problem. This is *why* we incarnate, because as spirits, we love to forget how random life can be!
In spirit, we simply create what we need, instantly. That’s why a lot of us call it Heaven. Want to visit your great aunt Ruth? BANG! You’re there! And you’ve gone back in time to visit ancient Rome, just because it’s a fun spirit vacation!
What we can’t create in spirit is exactly this – the things we struggle with and against in physical bodies. Our limitations, our vulnerability, our very mortality.
This very struggle is an important part of our Life’s Purpose.
It may not be what you planned, but it is in the user agreement.
If we have expansive spirits, if we have enthusiastic and ambitious spirits, we tend to set up and PLAN very challenging lives! We sometimes forget to allow for the limitations that come with mortality!
That’s why we can feel so impatient with ourselves. Sometimes our life plans, our ambitious ideas of what we wanted to accomplish while we are incarnated, are not always lived out exactly in the way we planned or intended. I think that the more ambitious we are in spirit – the more likely we are to bump up against our restrictions!
Sometimes – if our spirit is truly masochistic (not in a self-hating way, in a shoot for the stars deal with the consequences as we go kind of way) we will come in programmed for *incredible* ambition that is *constantly* driving us! Remember that ambition may not be specific! You might just have planned to travel as far / fast as possible in whichever direction you choose! You may be a Winger who is insanely enthusiastic and optimistic in spirit!
And that’s good! It can bite you in the butt sometimes, but it’s still good!
That’s also why we feel so deeply, spiritually, conflicted when it seems our reality has thrown a wrench into our plans!
But, I’m supposed to be doing deep huge massive changing helping transformative work! Why the heck am I stuck here? What good is this? What is the point of this? What am I supposed to be learning that I’m not getting? How can I move PAST this already!? Why am I cleaning this toilet AGAIN!?
Do you understand what I’m saying here?
Did you ever have a conversation with your own higher self, or with god, that went something like this:
WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING!!!??? WWWWHHYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!??????? ADRIAAAAAANNNN!!! (Erik popped in for that Rocky quote – I had to go read the context of it and WOW is it appropriate! Thanks E!)
Yeah, me too! And maybe, like me, you like to try and create elaborate plans for your future – because planning helps to control the crazy randomness of this incarnation ride!
Here’s the thing: Even if you are not exactly where you thought you’d be in the map of your life plan, you can still, and you can *always* live your Life’s Purpose.
After all, part of the whole point of life, part of our very purpose in incarnation is to actually figure out HOW to cope with physical life as we live it!
Never forget, especially if you feel life is especially hard in this moment, that not only is life supposed to be hard sometimes, and we signed up to deal with the unexpected, but we are supposed to adapt, refocus and get creative with our resources where we are – wherever we find ourselves. Whatever hardship, whatever pain, whatever frustration – we still have purpose, we always have something to offer.
So how do you re-center yourself when you feel like you’ve been knocked off track?
First, and most importantly: forgiveness.
This is not easy. It can take years! Don’t worry, you can work on forgiveness *while* you work on the next steps too. Just understand that forgiveness is often done in stages, over many years, sometimes over lifetimes. You may need to forgive someone who betrayed or hurt you, you may even need to forgive yourself! Anger and grief can be all-consuming – they can steal far too much of your energy – energy you could be directing at something positive, something that will make you happier, something that will uplift others and yourself. Don’t let judgement, or a grudge, occupy any more of your life than is reasonable. Feel your feelings like crazy – and then gently, over time, work on forgiving.
Here’s another sneaky thing that happens: if you have a lot of emotion that’s racketing around your body like a squirrel in a cage, that emotion will find outlets in anger, resentment, judgment and frustration. If there’s some forgiving you need to be doing, avoiding looking at those issues that require your attention and forgiveness will cause your emotions to lash out in other parts of your like. Family stress could turn into anger towards coworkers. Judgment against yourself might lead to resentment of your own friends!
For so many of us, we need to forgive ourselves our own mortality. Our own physical limitations. Do you know how many times over the years I’ve heard from people – blog friends, clients, friends and family members – that if only they could – if only they needed less sleep, if only they could resolve this chronic illness, if only this injury would heal, if only this PTSD would relent – if only we weren’t so darn HUMAN we could finally go about our life plan full-throttle!
Mortality is not easy. The stakes are very high, and our world is hazardous. Coping with reality is part of our work! We get injuries and illnesses which *we did not plan for*. Yeah, that’s a controversial statement in the new age / spiritualist community. I’m saying it, though! A lot of things happen for a reason, but not *everything* happens for a reason. I just don’t think so. I’m open to discussion on this point, though, if you’d like to comment.
Our bodies are beautiful, fragile, and prone to error! Our genes carry the memories and traumas of our ancestors. Our food carries the chemical and energetic signature of our culture. All this adds up – we need rest, we get injured – or we just get *tired*.
I burned out three times before I was 30 years old. I get *tired*, man! I drive myself! My spirit is ambitious, I am blessed with the support of loving friends and family. But yeah, I struggle. I’m always trying to be better, to do more.
That is part of the point!
If you scroll back through the blog entries since I started writing here in 2012, you’ll see me chronical all sorts of challenges, and you’ll see me document all the ways I hit up against my limits. Financial limits. Physical limits.
There is only so much we are capable of doing, our limits are unique to ourselves, and how we calibrate ourselves physically is not *entirely* within our own control.
If I had complete control over the physical manifestation of my body, there are a few choice physical things I’d change – but mostly I would change my energy, my need for rest. My spirit just wants to be *doing something spiritually productive* all the time!
But my physical body needs a clean toilet. It needs to be fed and rested. Sheets need changing, food needs cooking, and I my soul needs downtime to connect with my Sweetie and my friends here in town. My consciousness needs respite from my physical body too – honestly, I think that’s why I sleep so much! (And by “so much” I mean an average of 9 hours a night, more than the average adult, but consistent since my teens. If I could choose, I’d sleep maybe an hour a day. A nap.)
I find that on my personal forgiveness list, I have to consistently work on the judgments I make of myself. It’s a side-effect of having high expectations of yourself.
You know that phrase, “Shoot for the moon – if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”? Well some of us keep on rocketing frantically around the cosmic map of our life plans, forever striving to thread the needle of hitting that one tiny moon amidst this whole glorious wonder of a universe!
And so many of us try to do it alone.
There’s where our Life’s Purpose comes in.
We may have life plans – whether that plan is a 50lb atlas of a mission, a page-long manifesto, or a single motto of spiritual truth, we all have something we’re trying to do here.
And we all have opportunities around us to adapt and shift. We aren’t alone, spazzing around in the stars. Take a look around you. Take a look at your internet community, (I love you guys!) and your physical community (I love my home!) You will find ENDLESS opportunities to adapt your life plan.
Sometimes, your opportunity is to simply face your challenges with as much determination and grace as you can muster. Sometimes, you’re meant to reach out for help, to build connections you will understand better as the years pass. Sometimes, you’re meant to answer a call for help – you’ll feel that impulse.
Sometimes, you’re meant to be brave, and live through something you never thought you’d have to deal with.
Your life plan sometimes ends up in your back pocket – and that’s okay – because your life’s PURPOSE is all around you, it’s just outside, it’s in your friendships – current and future – it’s in your community – it’s in that day job – it’s even found at the bottom of a clean toilet. In the dirty dish you managed to wash. In the eyes of your pet. In the words of a text sent to a friend or stranger.
Your life plan is *waiting for you to adapt*. If you’re in a boat and you’ve been blown off course, you have to keep moving forward anyway. Even in uncharted waters, you have the choice to float or to direct your motion. Your spirit friends will help you figure it out – but you have to get on with living your life’s purpose – which is to live your life! Your precious, limited, fragile, mortal life!
We spiritualists, us new age-y folks, we can get so focused upon our life plan that we find ourselves questioning the spiritual value of activities which truly fill our lives with joy. Family traditions. Entertainment (like the choir Sweetie and I attended! HOLY COW it was amazing!) Doctor’s appointments. (My own went fine, thanks to those who have asked. No answers yet, I’ve been referred to the next specialist down the line.)
We re-discover our life’s purpose in this: Happiness.
Allow yourself to be gently guided by happiness. Question the urgency offered to you by others. Question spiritual ultimatums which ask for payment (in work or money) in exchange for fulfillment – unless the payment truly brings you happiness.
We can’t do *everything* because, you know, we’re incarnated. We have freaking limits! That is part of the point! So we *have to make choices.*
Spiritually, every choice we make ripples outward. It affects other people. We get to see those affects in our life review! But you don’t have to spend too much time worrying about that right now. Your life review is not *only* about your contribution to a worldwide momentum. Generally, it’s about incorporation of the entire experience into our energetic / spiritual consciousness. Often, it’s used as motivation for your NEXT life plan! Incarnation can be quite a rabbit-hole.
There is a reason our life includes paying bills, sleeping, and scrubbing toilets. All of those activities are just as much a part of your life, whether you’re in survival mode – or thrive mode.
I’m totally in thrive mode, you guys. I’m doing this psychic thing, and I’m also working at the hospital doing a good job there. I’m also helping people as much as I can through the union. I’m also visiting with friends pretty regularly, and calling my Dad as often as possible.
If I were to pick just one thing to focus on in my life, if I quit my job and my union, if I hired a housekeeper and stopped scrubbing my toilets, if I did *nothing else* but blog and teach and provide sessions and promote myself – well my business would grow for sure, but I don’t think I’d be living my life’s purpose any more.
I actually think I’d be living it a bit less. I’d be narrowing my life, limiting my routine. I don’t think I’d be taking advantage of the full spectrum of my life.
Even if you’re a planner, you have to learn to wing it a bit.
Here are some Foundations for Living your Life’s Purpose, regardless of the flaming tatters your life plan may be in:
1. Stabilize yourself with routine. It’s grounding! I have so much to say about routines. This might seem counter-intuitive, but hear me out.
Your routine can be flexible, but the idea is to make some decisions about daily activities just once, and then stick to that, instead of using energy to make the same decisions every day. Even people at war can find strength and comfort in the routine of meals, of comradeship, of letters from home. If you have a waking up and going to bed routine, a cleaning routine, a socialization routine, an annual routine of traditions that brings you opportunities to look forward to life, hold on to and nurture the routines that serve you. Routine helps you to cope with adversity, and help you to conserve energy that might be better employed directed at your life’s purpose, rather than solving the myriad of little life logistics that pop up and need managing. The *idea* of routines may seem restrictive, but really, routines let you be proactive about your needs, which frees up a lot of energy. It’s the energetic equivalent of “a stitch in time, saves nine.”
Personally, I try to do an evening cleaning routine, lay out my clothes for the next day, set my coffee in the evening, and set reminders for tasks I need to do in the morning, which I’m likely to forget in the fog of waking up. All these little things bring me peace of mind, conserves my energy, and ultimately gives me more opportunities to help others because my routine actually gives me freedom. I don’t run out of food because I food prep routine makes sure I have some meal flexibility, so I am able to impulsively help a friend without sacrificing healthy eating for the week.
So much of my routine includes the background beauty of where I life, and the people I work with. My commute to the hospital is through a freaking national park! My gardening routine involves regular encounters with deer. This is so very different from my Toronto routine that involved a lot of stress, long hours, and crowds.
If you *hate* your current routine, like I did in Toronto, then focus your energy on your long-term goals. More on that later. I really need to do a blog post about how moving can shift your whole life, I’ll make a quick mention of it now: You don’t even have to move out of town to get the shift you need. If you feel stuck, consider how moving house, moving in with a roommate or out on your own, to a new town or a new country – how moving can bring the changes you need to your routine. This is rooted in energy work and I’m actually covering a lot of it in the class / course material I’ve been working on for three years (sheesh!)
2. Explore new things. Even if you love every aspect of your life, we have a fundamental need to learn and explore. Growth brings ENDLESS opportunities to live your life’s purpose. No matter what is going on, there is nearly always an opportunity to learn something new. New things bring you in contact with new people, too! One of the most enjoyable things about my routine, aside from the sanity and comfort it brings to my life, is the opportunity to break with routine once in a while, which is invigorating!
3. Take care of your body. This folds into your routine. If you neglect yourself, if you regularly wear the same washed-out hoodie that you slept in the night before, if you never change your sheets, scrub your toilet or prepare nourishing food, you simply cannot live your life’s purpose. At the very least you’ll put a ticking clock on your abilities to do so, before you burn out just like I did! Do everything you reasonably can to take care of yourself. Be honest about and accepting of your body’s needs.
4. Take care of your spirit and your state of mind. Pessimism is a warning sign. We feel pessimistic about our future and other people when we’re burnt out, or we have neglected our spiritual or emotional needs. Sometimes we’re in survival mode, but even then we can try to take care of our spirits. I often think of Nelson Mandela. If he could take care of his own spirit and state of mind for THIRTY YEARS, I can cultivate my own optimism and strength of spirit too, no matter what. I almost made this point #1, however I’ve found that if I address my routine, my need for new experiences and my the needs of my physical body, my spiritual care and my state of mind becomes a LOT easier.
5. Set goals. Nothing will help you ground into your life’s purpose than setting a series of goals. Some goals may be lofty and long-term, but be sure you set some that are enjoyable and easy to achieve. My short-term goals have been as simple reviewing a list of things I want to accomplish in the week, and mentally going over a day’s to do list in the morning as I wake up. This helps ground me into the fulfillment of living my actual day to day life! I like to use a bullet journal to keep tabs on all the moving parts of my routine (ensuring I go to the dentist, the optometrist – and that Sweetie goes as well!) as well as my long-term goals. My short-term goals may be easy, but tracking them allows me to *feel* the accomplishment.
The Bullet Journal also helps me to plan out my life up to a year in advance, so I can make progress on the book / class I’ve been writing, and so that I actually get to take time off to visit with friends, family, and enjoy the summer. I *love* the bullet journal method for helping me make decisions on how I’m going to spend my time, while managing my responsibilities. It helps me to pull all the threads into one place and decide how and when I’m going to put energy into what is important to me, where I am in life. I find that I almost never accomplish a goal within my ambitious timelines, but as long as I continue to track it, I DO get things done!
6. Enjoy yourself. As much as I’m a fan of self-discipline and routine, I like to take advantage of impulse too. Maybe I drop in on a friend for a visit instead of cooking that dinner I planned. Maybe Sweetie and I decide to go to Nanaimo for a change of scene instead of cleaning the house. Maybe I choose to enjoy my food, instead of worrying or judging myself if I don’t eat “clean” all the time. One year, I stuck to a diet so restrictive I achieved an “off the rack” body – meaning I could literally look fantastic in almost anything for sale in stores. I remember it as the year of endless compliments that felt strange and unfamiliar, but mostly I remember it as the year I had no chocolate around Christmas, no Turkey for thanksgiving, and no ice cream that summer. Life is short. I could do a lot more sessions in a year if I never took time off to enjoy myself. I could accomplish a lot more for the hospital and the union if I didn’t prioritize time with my Sweetie, or commit to my self-care routine. But these are the things which revitalize me.
7. Release perfection.
My goodness, I do go on, don’t I? Thank you for sticking with it. I truly hope this has been helpful to you.