Confession: Over the past 6 years, I've had 9 or so different business card and/or website identities, each designed to capture the “new me” that was ready to emerge in the world. I wish I had saved all those cards... fashionable relics of all the twists and turns of my becoming. It's a funny thing we do in this culture, call ourselves the things that we are doing.
Some of the things I've called myself in recent history are:
- a photographer
- a writer
- a body worker
- an abstract painter
- an arts educator
- a jewelry maker
- a creative arts healer
- a resident service specialist for elders
- a reader of oracles
- an interviewer
Not a bad potpourri for half a decade's work. Some of these things are more past than present, though I still do a lot of them--at different times, and in different ways. They are pretty fluid in how they melt into and inform one another, yet I've felt a lot of shame over the years for starting and pausing on so many paths. I've felt many times like I had serious issues, swimming against the pressures of commitment, focus, and mastery.
It's just that... there's so much wonder to try on in this incredibly time-sensitive experience called life.
When I asked my girl Lano, my radically creative Tucson soul sista, if she'd design the latest version of me in the form of yet another business card -- she made a very wise suggestion. “What if this time, you put only your info and omit the title?”
Um, duh! Why didn't I think of that 6 business cards ago?
Between each of my identity shifts is this familiar yet dreadfully uncomfortable space where I realize that something feels incomplete or not quite right about what I've been doing and enthusiastically claiming, and that something else is vying for my attention. This space feels as exhilarating as it does excruciating, knowing the winds of change are upon me, yet not having a clear vision as to what’s happening next. It's also pretty embarrassing announcing to my friends and family that I'm changing up the life plan again.
Currently flowing through one of these periods, I’ve started a professional brainstorming partnership with a power sister, Jeanne. She has a similarly diverse array of interests and offerings-- she teaches yoga and body rolling, is an HR specialist, a community organizer, an attorney, writer, musician, and probably other things she hasn’t mentioned yet. At our first meeting, the very first topic that naturally rose to the surface for a couple of girls like us, was this baffling question around identity.
We sat on the floor on zafu cushions across from one another, totally bewildered. Eyes wide open, we pondered... "well, who the f*ck are we though, really?"
I'm more curious lately, not so much in trying to figure out what I oughtta do next, but in becoming intimately aware and connected to how all of the things I do and have done capture the essence of who I am. So that when I show up in the world, it's as authentic and true as I can muster.
I’ve also been working on un-believing that being multi-passionate and wildly curious about my full-range of capabilities (what some may refer to as commitment issues) is eventually going to ruin my life. Instead of dialing into that preprogramed mental fear station, which paralyzes magical manifestation, I’m instead giving myself more solid ground to trust on through processes of self-inquiry and investigation.
Currently, the inquiry centers on this question of work identity, and all that it entails.
Is it the combination of our greatest gifts and strengths?
Is it what we’ve studied the most faithfully?
Is it how we make money?
Is it how we effect others with our presence/products/services?
Is it what makes our heart sing the most consistently?
Is it the hardest stuff we've been through, becoming our greatest opportunity for helping others?
Is it what we ultimately have the most faith in?
Is it what we’re the most curious about in the moment?
As I swim through another welcomed yet terrifying transition period, I’m finding it relevant to dive deep into questions like these that help clarify what it is I'm actually here intending to do. If you find yourself in a similar quandary, I invite you to join me in the process of creating an IDENTITY Map.
A simple process that when made space for, can bring a whole lot up and out, allowing room for the purpose path to expand and blossom.
Some guidance on how to get started:
- Get yourself a piece of paper. I like it big, but any size will do. I have a large drawing pad, 11x14 in. that I use for brainstorming. There’s something about the bigness that gives me more capacity to think expansively.
- Gather some colors. The medium isn't important. Crayons, markers, colored pencils, highlighters, whatevs you got going on in the junk drawer.
- Position yourself in a place that feels comforting. My choice today is outside of a coffee shop, because 1) coffee, 2) natural light and fresh air, and 3) that buzz of anonymous stimulation.
- Write "IDENTITY" in BIG letters anywhere on the page.
- From there, explore the questions listed above, and/or anything else that comes up for you.
- Get messy, get colorful, get weird, explore connections.
And by all means, if you feel inspired to share when you’re done, post a picture of your map on the Process Art and Oracles Facebook Page, or share with me privately, as I’d love to see what evolves for you.
And if there are any identity questions that prove helpful for your process, offer them up! We can all benefit from your breakthroughs.
Here's what came up for me today//
And truly, thank you for being here. It's your presence that brings me the greatest sense and understanding of who I am and what I'm here to do.
in love and support,