I consume media of the “self help” genre as if it’s an essential component of my existence. I wish I could explain exactly why but I don’t have a 100% certain answer – it could be that one day I want to be a life coach, or that I’m still lost on the search to find my purpose, or I’m driven to know EVERYTHING, or just because I’m fixated on bettering myself (then sometimes trying to push it on others – oops).
Current Read: Wishcraft
My livre du jour is Wishcraft by Barbara Sher and Annie Gottlieb from the late 70’s. So far I’m only 80 pages in (out of about 250) which equates to having completed 6 “exercises”. The book is split in two parts, the first being a focus on learning your strengths and skills, and the second is supposed to show you the strategies to put your dreams to work for you so that you can live them.
Exercise 2: Your Original Self – This one was fun! You were supposed to remember back when you were super young, up to 5 years old, and write out everything that you loved, daydreamed about, wanted to grow up to be, fantasized about, or were just absolutely fascinated with. I could not for the life of me remember anything outside of two facts; 1. I broke my arm “couch dancing”, and 2. I remember getting in trouble for putting stickers on EVERYTHING. So I enlisted the help of my ma and asked her what she remembers me doing all the time, getting in trouble for, having a penchant for, or saying I really wanted to be. Below are the points she made:
When I Grow Up
According to my mom: Young Jessie. . . put stickers on EVERYTHING, made friends very easily, was VERY persistent (apparently convincing McDonald’s employees to go through Happy Meal toy bins to find the toy I didn’t have yet – and frequently imploring my parents to take me to the mall for My Littlest Pet Shops with some “tiny people logical” points), broke my arm couch dancing but then was found on the monkey bars hanging from my good arm the next day, had a fear of sleeping by myself, always adventurous, was “messy Jessie”, very artistic – finger painting-play doh-craft kits-cutting and pasting-and this weird worm mom and baby worm eggs sitting on a bench with a tree statue thing that my mom still gushes was super advanced for my age, had a good way of looking at things (told a story of how I said that trees were dancing on a windy day), had a way of taking what I saw in my head and making it real, and was very social/chatty.
At this point, I’m only 80 pages into Wishcraft, I’m assuming eventually the book is going to tell me to take all of the exercises and somehow come up with what I should be doing. With that stream of consciousness list above I’ve thought of a few possible outcomes but I’m not jumping ahead yet. I’ve still got more homework yet to do before the figuring out really starts.
But. . .
Recently I’ve had two A-HA moments completely unrelated to these exercises but could possibly provide some form of life purpose fulfillment because I actually got excited when I thought of them.
Remember When You Used To. . . ?
I can’t recall any solid memories of acting as a young child but during high school I started to try my hand at it. As a child the only thing I vaguely remember is my brother getting me to help him perform “magic tricks” (stop motion filming where we disappeared behind a shower curtain – ooooooo special effects of the early 90’s!) that we recorded on our hefty VHS tape recorder, I don’t think that counts. In middle school I worked on the morning news which, when I just typed that out sounds pretty hilarious. In high school I did speech and drama, the drama club, and started the Mojo Show (the first talent show at my high school) as I got my feet wet in the world of being someone other than myself.
In college I was part of a sorority and loved doing the Greek Week and Homecoming skits so I usually volunteered for those. During my last year in college I met a super creative and fun dude who made comedic Youtube sketches and we ended up dating for a few years and moving to Denver together. I got roped into acting small parts sometimes, then started helping to write skits, and then eventually wrote my own character. It was really enjoyable and completely outside of my comfort zone. I MISS that.
I recently watched the skit of the character I created and I remembered how fun it was to BE that character, to not be myself for those 30 minutes of filming. It was ridiculously awful and I will never claim to be a good actor – the skit was terrible, I’m not saying it was a masterpiece or anything. I just got that flood of feelings of nostalgia. So. In my Toastmasters groups one of the members teaches imrov classes so I’m thinking I’m gonna try one of them – just to stretch that creative muscle again. See if maybe there’s a career calling there, or just a new hobby that makes my heart happy – both are equally important for the soul!
During Table Topics (impromptu speaking portion of Toastmasters meetings) sometime a couple of months ago I was asked “If I could go back in my life and change one thing, what would it be?” I took that to mean “What’s your biggest regret?” At the time I couldn’t think of any REAL Life Thing that I regretted so I spoke for 2 minutes about how I’d relive my run for national office of the business women’s group and go in with more confidence. Just this last week I found old pictures from college that I shared on the Facebooks for the TBT jazz where I was wearing a Mates of State shirt. Mates of State is the husband-wife band who’ve been making delightful indie-pop jams together for over a decade. I saw them play live a bunch of times while I was in college and the way they both look at each other as they play (he was on drums and she was on keyboard-organ) is the most endearing interaction between two people that I have ever seen. I would leave every show swooning from witnessing that kind of adorable, creative connection between two people, and then sweaty from dancing to their super fun tunes.
Ok, so take that little example of Mates of State floating around in my head and – remember the “super creative and fun dude” from above – and picture a time when said dude asks me to sing with him while he plays drums or guitar or bass. Then picture him asking me again and again and again. And me shying away from it EVERY TIME. Now, I’m not a good singer, I’ve got no training in any form of music whatsoever, but that’s why I SHOULD HAVE tried my hand at it with someone I considered a “safe zone” in a practice space where skill level didn’t matter. So this combination of remembering Mates of State and the small potential that I could have at least TRIED my hand at having something like that, gave me a moment of inspiration. You know what? It’s never too late to try. This here Self Help Savant is going to take some music lessons and take a stab at this ish – because, WHY NOT???
Apparently I’ve got my schedule pretty well booked up for the next few months, helping myself explore potential areas of happiness in life. And I haven’t even gotten half-way through that damn book! It’s ok, I’m up for the challenge.