How to Access What is Calling You

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by Karma Kitaj, PhD

Recently I interviewed Sandra Shuman (www.SandraShuman.com) for "Alivelihood: New Adventures As We Age," the show that I host on local TV. She's an artist and creativity coach. She offered me a complimentary session at her studio, where she led a small group in a visualization to relax us and then she demonstrated how to make a collage. I created my first two collages ever! I loved doing it, so I ordered lots of acrylic paint, brushes, and paper. I sent out a mailing to all my friends to contribute "junk:" old magazines, post cards, wrapping paper and I've already collected quite a heap of stuff that I look forward to using as suggestive images.

Is this my calling? I doubt it, but it's one of many things that I've become enthused about, even passionate about.

I wonder what commonalities there are in all the things I've gotten invested in lately. Here are a few of those things:

  • Learning how to create a video book trailer for my new book, Women Riders Who Could… and Did: Life Stories of Top Level Equestriennes
  • Improvisational acting
  • Journey Dance, NIA
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Increasing my effectiveness as a TV show host
  • Collage
  • And I've been learning to ride a horse now for the past 15 years, a new activity that I never did as a kid and that will take me the rest of my life

Commonalities? I guess it's learning, discovery, experimenting, experiencing new things in body, mind, and spirit.

In what has come to be called The Third Age (over age 50), the motivational speaker Gregg Levoy said at a talk at the last Positive Aging conference, that we "excel at relinquishing familiarity, of letting go of who we are for whom we will become."

Does this sound like you? It sounds very different from what we used to assume of "seniors," older people like us, right? We used to expect that we get set in our ways, fear change, or get to be more of a caricature of what we used to be when we age.

But, we're Baby Boomers. And what are boomers known for? For taking up challenges, not staying with the status quo, for questioning authority. All those qualities that are now allowing us to be that person who can "excel at relinquishing familiarity" and can embrace newness.

For me, that is my calling at the moment. Here are a few exercises that Gregg Levoy (www.GreggLevoy.com) suggested to find your calling. By the way, his book Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life is inspirational. Read it. Here are a few of the exercises:

  • What is the one problem you were born to understand?
  • If you printed affirmations to tack up in your private office, what would they say?
  • What is the 1st place you go to when you enter a bookstore (or go online)?
  • If you could test-drive another profession or line of work, what would that be?
  • "Just go for it!" What is "It?"
  • What have people been telling you your whole life about yourself?
  • You've come to a crossroads; there are 2 signs. What are they?
  • Among these different kinds of intelligences, how do you rate yourself for each one?
  • Linguistic - word smart
  • Logical/ mathematical
  • Visual - picture smart
  • Body smart
  • Musical
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal - being self reflective, contemplative
  • Naturalist - being environmentally savvy

There are many other ways that Levoy tries to help us access different parts of our mind to stretch our imaginations to be able to hear and receive what our next calling might be. After you've answered all these questions for yourself, and written about it in your journal, go back and highlight with a bright marker all the things that poke out at you as being compelling. This will lead you toward your calling(s).

When I coach people to find their callings, I use many of Levoy's ideas. But, now that I've become personally acquainted with using all different parts of my mind/brain with dance, yoga, art, singing, acting, computer creations, horseback riding, I really see the value in doing things. In stretching. In trying out. Not just talking about it or reading about it. Even though I might not be good at it or want to continue doing it, or want to create a next career by doing it, I get invaluable information for myself about what is my calling.

Stay tuned. I think I like this subject and will return with more.