Core Values Part 1

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I sip my coffee in the cool of the air conditioning as I look out the window. The sunlight bounces off everything outside like a spot light in a house of mirrors. Today will be another hot Miami day. I take a few moments to enjoy a casual Sunday morning. I already completed two of the projects that I had on my to do list this weekend. Later, I will work on my academic article.

I pull out my Rituals for Living Planner and review the work I did, yesterday. In the section on discovering my core values, I identified 10 from the list that were most important to me. They align easily with my mission statement. Here are the first five:

Kindness: This is a trait I highly value in others as well as myself. It can also be one of the most challenging. Kindness flows easily when we feel generous or when we believe someone is worthy of kindness. Other times, kindness doesn’t flow quiet so easily. My resent post on tough love illustrates that I sometimes struggle with this concept. For me, kindness is an act of compassion that can meld with the idea of self-sacrifice. I have had to learn how to establish boundaries as well. Sometimes, kindness can also be “no.” There is no rule or formula for kindness. For me, kindness is simply taking a moment before I react and trying to decide what would be best for the other individual as well as myself.

Purpose: My bipolar disorder has taught me that this is probably the most important value for me. Without purpose, I fall into depression and lethargy. I need a reason to exist. The consumer cycle of going to work each day to make money so that I can turn around and spend the money on more things is not enough to get me out of bed in the morning. I need to be making a positive impact on the people around me in a way that supports my personal mission. That’s why I developed a personal mission statement and use it as a gauge for my actions.

Expression: As a writer and an artist expression has multiple purposes. It’s explorative, communicative, cathartic, and often helps me to connect with like minded individuals. That is why I have built a life around those core value, helping students and aspiring writers learn to express themselves through written communication.

Balance Between Individuality and Community: Although individuality and community are often represented as two separate value, I see them as intertwined like ying and yang. Asserting individuality often taxes our communal connections, and upholding community can sometimes stunt individuality. Since I feel strongly about both of these values, I simply try to keep them in balance.

Learning: This value is the core of my happiness. I have a deep need to learn new things, a drive to read and research, to take courses and acquire new skills. I am also drawn to people who like to learn. I love people who get excited by some new idea. That’s why I am involved in higher education. There is always something new to learn. Even teaching is a learning experience.

Those are the first five values on my list. I will share the other five in my evening post.

What are some of your key values? Have you actively designed your life around your key values? What stories do you tell yourself about the importance of those values in your life? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

New Business Address and Company Car

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It’s the end of another busy day. I’m typing in bed as bunny eyes me from the floor. Her fluffy feet move stealthily across the tile. I’ll be going to sleep soon, but wanted to take time to tap out my 500 words for the evening.

I didn’t get everything on my to-do list accomplished today, but I did make some important strides in the future marketing of my writing, editing and coaching services. I signed an agreement for a new business location, updated my website, reordered business cards, and ordered a new decal for the back of my car (see the image above).

I do my own graphic art for the company because I enjoy working with Adobe Illustrator. It’s one of the many ways I get to express my creativity as an entrepreneur. (It also saves me a lot of money.) The logo for my company was inspire by a painting that I did back in 2012. At the time, I did a series of seven paintings, one for each Chakra and I used two intertwined cranes to represent the throat Chakra. Since the company’s mission is “To enrich the personal and professional lives of others through quality communication,” I felt the image and its significance was appropriate.

Like the website says: “Nothing empowers, inspires, or motivates like a well-crafted message, whether it is professional, creative, or academic.”  As a writer, I value the co-creative act between the writer and the reader. A great message doesn’t merely hinge on what the writer intends to say. It also depends on how the reader interprets it.  When I work as a writing coach, I try to mediate between those two perspectives. I try to help writers see their work through the eyes of a reader.

The same is true with most interpersonal interactions. What we say and do is often subject to the interpretations of those who listen and watch. Sometimes what we intend to convey isn’t what others perceive, so I always try to be kind and patient. I don’t always succeed, but I do my best to remember everyone is seeing things through his or her own lens.

That doesn’t mean that we must always come to a consensus. Sometimes we are just going to disagree, and that’s OK, too. We would have to be brain dead zombies to all agree on everything all the time. We need our differences to challenge each other. Challenge is what makes us grow. That’s why I love what I do. I help others express themselves and their ideas with confidence.

Do you like helping others? What do you do? Why do you find it fulfilling? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Independence: An on Going Personal Mission

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I’m still a little light headed as I leave the gym. Drained and covered and sweat, I push my way through the Miami sun and humidity and collect my backpack from the trunk of my car. After 20 minutes of cardio, I spent another 25 minutes with my personal trainer. He pushes me just a little bit harder each time. Some days, when I am feeling particularly cranky, I can’t believe I am paying someone to torture me like that. I know it’s good for me, though, so I keep going back.

After grabbing my back pack, I head to the Starbucks across the parking lot for an ice-cold refresher. I have some work to do, and I want to write at least one post today. Writing keeps me grounded and connected to my purpose. As I open a word document and type “Independence” at the top, I begin to wonder what that means to me.

Financial independence is that first thing that comes to mind. I have a deep desire to maintain financial solvency. Even when I was married. I needed to have a separate bank account, not only to pay for the things I needed, but for the things I wanted without petitioning a third party for the funds.

I also need a sense of independence with my work. That is why my current employment, and self-employment, works so well for me. As an adjunct English instructor at Miami Dade College, my Department Chair presents me with available classes that I can choose to accept or not. When I accept classes, they ever lasts more than 16 weeks, so I never feel trapped. I never feel bored. As a graduate writing consultant at the Center for Excellence in Writing at Florida International University, I am able to create a work schedule that best suites my needs at the beginning of each semester. Finally, as an independent writing coach and editor, I am able to choose my clients and my projects.

Even though these two things are very important to me, I think what is most important is having the independence to decide what is important to me, to be able to build a life based on the values I feel are important. Sometimes I forget that. I am empowered to choose, to define, and to implement.  Sometimes I have to push myself a little bit harder, just like I do with my personal trainer, to manifest the reality I have envisioned for myself. Sometimes I get cranky because it feels like torture, but I know it’s good for me.

To keep myself on track, I have a mission statement. I periodically go back to it, read it, reflect on it. Independence means I am free to create the best me I possibly can:

My Personal Mission Statement

As I manifest my destiny, I weigh each decision against these guiding principles:

  • As an artist, it is my duty to be fearless in my self-expression and to discover the ancient path of the feminine narrative.
  • As a spiritual being, I take comfort in connecting with the universal whole.
  • As an individual, it is my obligation to seek new opportunities to challenge my intellect and honor my body as a sanctified temple.
  • As a mother, it is my sacred duty to cherish my daughter while facilitating her own self-discovery.
  • As a member of society, it is my task to model the benefits of cooperative coexistence.

May you enjoy the celebration of your independence.