Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Answering your call- a guide for living your deepest purpose

What is it in the end that induces a man to go his own way and to rise out of unconscious identity with the mass as out of a swathing mist?
It is what is commonly called vocation: An irrational factor that destines a man to emancipate himself from the herd and from its well-worn paths. Anyone with a vocation hears the voice of the inner man: He is called- Carl Jung

Only by discovering and then somehow creatively deploying, our unique combination of gifts, can we ever feel the deep satisfaction of a life well-lived.
Human creativity and lasting value is possible only when individual is determined to address some problems, advance some knowledge or serve a cause or humanity in some fashion. When they do this, they are answering a call to do something that matters. They have purpose and are out to make a difference. They choose significance over success.
What is a call? Calls are invitations from life to serve, to achieve your will towards a cause worthy of you and the human family. They are purposes with a voice, visions turned into inner commands. Calls draw the specifics of a purpose and a vision. A call is the impulse to move ahead in a meaningful way, a mind-body push into the future. Answering a call takes persistence, discipline and stamina. After the initial yes, we answer the call by creating sets and subsets of long term and short term strategies, goals and tactics. Persistence needs its polar opposite: openness and willingness to stop the current plan and go in a new direction. We need to be quiet enough, long enough, often enough to heed calls which comes to us from kairotic (a time for the spirit) time. Confronting the fear of accepting a call is the best way to move into the joys that a call brings.
Having courage and belief in the numberless tasks and routines of living a life is answering a call. We assume ordinary roles. We can make them more than ordinary when we will them to a higher level.

A calling depends not on how big the actions are that we take, it is about how much love we put into those actions. For God, it is all infinite. You do what is small and you do it with love and God will make it infinite.

Hear your inner voice and believe when the evidence is sparse. The called life is not an easier life than other kinds, only a better one. It is better because attempting to what we are meant for brings the internal joy that can come with commitments that are larger than the confines of our space- bound, time- bound existence. A commitment to a call is not a guarantee of success in the usual way the term is used as in a career, but it is a guarantee of the success of the self as it decides not to waste life energies on the multiple diversions that we all encounter. Answering a call will bring mentors into your life. It will also bring tormentors. Use the saboteur to grow more deeply committed to your calling Extract value from your saboteur encounters. Learn the signs and patterns of saboteurs. They often look respectable and have authority. They speak of positive motive to couch damages. They twist reality. They are masters of power and control. They caused pains and enjoy watching others regress. They often do good in some areas of their lives. The worst saboteur in your life is you.

Pass on the Evocateur’s gift

To live content with small means
To seek elegance rather than luxury
And refinement rather than fashion
To be worthy, not respectable and wealthy not rich
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently and frankly
To listen to the stars and birds to babes and sages with open heart
To bear all cheerfully, do all bravely
Await occasions, hurry never
In a word, to let the spiritual, unconscious and unbidden grow up through the common

Evocateurs soak up reality and tell the truth
They see what others see but they think something different
They appeal to the innate human longing to be more than we are
Both find and create teachable moments, adapt their method, work at the level of the identity.
Evocateurs acknowledge

Provoke the stifling
Calling of the provocateurs
Eliminate injustice to selves, others and future generations
Exaggerate to force attention
Hold up the mirror
Pace the aggravator
Prepare for attacks and fight bitterness with good humour
Get rest and make friends
Be prepared to accept defeat
Believe in your calling
Build portfolio of calls
Means to be conscious and do well in multiple life roles
Fight off saboteurs
Strengthen response to calling
Evoke possibilities of the moment
Provoke status quo to change
Teach the self and ego to collaborate

Work the veil
Accepting limitations and weaknesses is part of getting better my calling
Look underneath the behavior to the spirit and intention
Don’t be literal. Accept nothing at face value
Always assume something deeper is going on
Stay focused for the long term to bring a life of calling well-heeded and well-lived.

Relationships- living without regrets

I was a quiet child even though I thought I feel very deeply. I remember being a lonely child as my father was often at work and Mum was usually too busy with mahjong games.
My elder brother and sister were too busy with their own affairs to have time for me. I often played with the children in my neighbourhood, but when night fell and everybody got home, I was often left alone waiting for Mum to return home from her mahjong games. How I used to hate her mahjong games which seemed like some kind of evil that took her heart and soul from me.
I know my Mum loves me, for she often sang to me and told me her sad childhood when she was not busy with her mahjong games. The bonding between us was therefore never strong. I grew up not needing her much though I know that I should provide for her.
When I visited her and dad after my marriage, I often had to sit with my bed-ridden dad while doing my own reading. Mum would be away for her mahjong games.
Was I a good daughter to my parents? Yes, I provided for them and loved both of them especially dad who had always doted on me. After Dad’s demise, I knew that I had to take care of Mum as she grew old and soon showed signs of dementia. I took her home as younger sister was in America and there was nobody else. Yet, I was often busy, with my work, my interest and my books. I just did not seem to have the time and the love for the people who should matter most to me. I realized now that perhaps I have lived a very selfish life.
I have not communicated enough with the people close to me, my dad, my mum, my elder sister and now my own children. I feel that I was indeed handicapped and unable to form deep relationships with people. I was hungry to communicate with people on a deeper level. So far, I was able to communicate on that level with only some of my friends like Beng Keow, Lai Heng and Swee Kum. Perhaps, God is trying to tell me that human relationships are imperfect just as we, mortals are imperfect and our longing can only be satisfied by His filling the vacuum in our hearts.
Well, it is pointless to regret the past for what is important is the present. With God’s guidance, I can work on my relationship with my two daughters, Lynn and Sarah as well as people who come into my life. Lord, I pray for your forgiveness in all my shortcomings. Fill me with Your love that I may love You and all the people You have sent into my life.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My relationship with my children

I have longed to have my own children when I decided to get married. In fact, one of the reasons that I want to get married is to have my own children.
On reflection, it seems a rather strange reason to want to be married. As a school teacher, I have daily contacts with children.
I remember asking a colleague who was then leaving for the United States for some maternity dress patterns. I soon learnt that everything has its seasons, as the bible says in Ecclesiastes. Three years down the road, I was still childless.
I went to the genealogists to find out why I was unable to conceive. After various procedures, I was pregnant. However, the joy was short-lived as I soon found that the pregnancy was ectopic, which means, the egg has attached itself to the wall of the fallopian tube and as it grew, the fallopian tube tore and I almost lost my life in the attempt to have a child. The doctor who attended to me informed me how lucky I was to be alive as it was indeed dangerous as the tube was bleeding internally.
With God’s grace, I survived but was told by my gynecologist that my chances of having a child are down from one percent to just 0.5.
My doctor suggested that I might want to consider adopting a child but somehow God’s answer to this option was in the negative when the plan did not materialize.
The time finally came which was seven years down the road, after a prayer from a visiting pastor, I became pregnant. When I found myself pregnant, my attending doctor went on a course in the States. God seems to tell me that I have to rely solely on Him and not on men.
Lynn was born soon and brought much joy to the family. Alas, my faith proved to be too fragile. My lack of gratitude brought me lots of pain.
Just when I hesitated to give up all that I had, God graciously gave me another child. This child Sarah has indeed come from God to mend the relationship between her parents.
Sarah has indeed been given by God. She is the one who leads me back to the church to confess my sins and once again go back to Him in repentance.
Sarah and Lynn both gave us lots of joy and also lots of heartaches as they grow in independence and waywardness as well. Not being a strict disciplinarian and not being good Christian parents, we have not guided them well other than providing them with physical needs and an education.
Praise be to God, they have grown up pretty well and with God’s mercy and blessing, we learnt to pray for wisdom and directions. With love, I learn to respect them and in turn they show their respect too. Of course, there were moments when we lose our temper with each other but I soon learnt to apologise and ask for forgiveness. Lynn has also reciprocated with gentler behavior.
As for Sarah, she has worked very hard to achieve academic success. She has obtained good results in her studies and has gone over to UK on student exchange.
Praise the Lord for His love and guidance. With Him, we have no fear or worries as we know that all things work for the good of those who love Him.

My love for reading

My interest for reading began when I often spent my time at a neighbour’s place. The family had a lot of movie magazines and various Chinese comics that the family shared. Later on, I had access to the library of a friend’s brother who too had a large collection of Chinese essays, comics, fables and other reading materials.
My love for English books actually began when I had to do Literature in secondary school. I remember having to study Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice and some anthology of poems at Secondary one.
Over the next few years, we studied Shakespeare’s plays, the most memorable of which was Macbeth. After I left secondary school, I continued my reading, particularly when I had access to my uncles’ collection of English Literature books. At Teachers’ Training College, we had to study some literature texts and some lecturers really shared their love of the classics with us.
After I started on my career, I continued to pursue various courses to improve my level of English competency. The Diploma English Studies Course required us to study various classics that included Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen etc. The A level English course too further fired my enthusiasm and interest.
Open University English and Literature required even more in depth reading of such texts.
A visit to Western Europe aroused my thirst for Greek Mythology and to know more about the great influence the Greek Culture had on the western world.
The years of reading had given me a new found interest and quest for new knowledge and I truly appreciate this opportunity to live life richly as I enter the world through the legacy of writing left behind by those who share their experiences.

The third age – six principles of growth and renewal after 40 – by William Sadler

Principle One
Balance mindful -reflection with risk taking
Step back to review, listen and visualize how you want to live
Clarify values, reflect on meaning and purpose to critique the old scripts
Find challenges and clarify expectations
Be open to creative tension and develop competencies needed
Commit to intended results

#2 Develop realistic optimism
Have a sense of humour and take charge to make choice to achieve.

#3 Create a positive third age identity
a) Listen to inner energy and identify barriers to expression
b) Leave behind and modify roles and life patterns
c) Critically assess and discard age stereotypes to break myths of aging
d) Recognize and accept mortality and affirm growth and renewal
Affirm independence and connectedness to others and a larger reality
Redefine success and develop standards to measure it

#4 Re-define our work- balance work and play
Recover a sense of meaningful work and play
Determine priorities and clarify what you love to do by following basic instincts
Enlarge scope of work to include paid work, fun work, housework, volunteer work and learning
Risk doing something new and add new values to life

#5 Balance personal freedom and intimacy
Intimate interdependence
The bond of love can liberate people and promote individuality

#6Build a more caring life
Increase our capacity to care
Care for self, care for optimal physical health
Step into more purposeful living
Create balance among multiple commitments
Shed old assumptions, expand our limits
Think creatively and live differently
Invitation of a lifetime for new growth, enrichment and purposeful living
First age- growing up
Second age – Productivity setting in
Third Age- second growth
4th age- successful aging
To counter aging, we must do more than adapt, keep fit and stay healthy. We need to initiate growth at a new level.