Finding the Joy in Whatever You Do. Part 2

So, that’s the way she started with a new client, Barbara Kaiser, 42, then a stay-at-home mom living in a rural Texas setting, but one who was yearning for something more. When Kaiser’s discomfort reached a level she could no longer endure, she reached out to Luther and together they embarked on a mission to ferret out the kind of work that would make her feel alive, while at the same time allow her ample family time. Kaiser, a registered nurse, nixed the idea of returning to nursing. But with a little prodding, she decided she had a strong desire to help patients navigate the complex, bureaucratic medical system — a line of work called health advocacy.

Even though dreaming is the first facet of any search for meaningful work, reality must play a role, too. So Kaiser dipped some toes into the health-advocacy world by acting as advocate for a pregnant friend. And, while she enjoyed the empowerment part of the work, she found she was bummed out by the negativity of the endeavor. “I felt like a salmon going upstream,” says Kaiser. But she learned something important too, and that was: “I am no Ralph Nader.”

Far from giving up, she returned to the idea-generation phase, this time armed with more information about herself and her work needs. By eliminating various lines of work in this fashion, you start developing clarity around the kind of work that will be the right fit.

With more coaching, she came to realize that what would fit her own needs was helping people get proactive with their health issues. So, when an opportunity came along to get involved with network marketing of vitamin supplements, she took it. This calls into play her nursing background — “I listen to people and do a lot of talking to them about their health problems, says Kaiser. Besides her work with Luther, she credits her success to what she learned in a book by Laurie Beth Jones, “The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life.”

Sometimes a person’s passion is buried so deep that it takes a real job of excavation to get to it. I found writing to be my own best digging method. And Elizabeth Ayres, an author and writing teacher in New York — who is planning a move to New Mexico — has seen it work for others, too. In the course of her workshops, she’s seen any number of people plumb their depths to an extent that eventually led to their re-careering. Some moved into the writing field — but she tells of one woman who had been a corporate administrator only to turn herself into a yoga teacher specializing in helping pregnant women.

Ayres says there’s a real power to writing, a power that you don’t get from just thinking. Why? Because it helps us push away the clouded thinking and zap the falsehoods that have crept in through the years. “Just as we can’t see our own faces, we can’t really see our own souls. ? The words you put down on paper become a mirror that allows you to see yourself,” says the author of “Writing the Wave — Inspired Rides for Aspiring Writers.” And — “It’s just plain hard to write and tell lies to yourself.”

Ayres suggests a writing exercise in which you finish this statement. “I know this to be true. I’m here on earth for only one purpose and that is to ?” You write not only what comes to mind the first time, but repeat the exercise for several days in a row, unearthing more and more buried longings.

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