Thursday, November 19, 2009

Like a Laser through a Prism, or I was in training for my Job!

I've written before about the bizarre and interesting careers I've bopped around in my life, from writing, to photography, painting, sculpture, live theater, a stint in LA chasing TV and movies, rock climbing coach, gym owner, personal trainer, figure skater, I dipped my toe in the catering pool, I owned a business called Prellaser where I drew your bath for you in your home, I made designer cloth diapers, I was a lighting and scenic designer, counselor, performance coach, massage therapist, not to mention... MOM! ... it goes on and on.

I remember once sitting on the edge of the stage in acting class, my teacher was Jeffrey Tambor, a man I adored, respected, admired, WHAT A TEACHER this guy was. Like the parent you always hoped you could be. Firm, no bullshit, but loving. So caring. He wanted you to succeed, and to make sure you did, he wasn't going to sugar coat it. I remember one day after I worked so hard on a scene that I had wanted to do, but fallen short in execution, he said to me: Kate, you are talented. So talented. But you are like a laser beam through a prism. You are refracted everywhere. You are a poet. You are a painter. You teach rollerblading. What else do you do?

I was flattered that he saw me as something of a Renascence woman. I congratulated myself on being able to try new things. Then, he looked at me. "What do you think would happen if you took all that energy you have, and took the prism out? How strong of a beam of light would you be then?"

I left the session feeling both empowered and a little deflated. Was he calling me a dilettante? Was I unable to commit? I knew what he was talking about. He gave me one note: "Finish". Finish what you are doing.

I've carried this note through my life, and its a challenge for me. My sketchbook is filled with things I want to invent, my desk and computer are full of half finished novels, screen plays, there are unpainted paintings and unmade sculptures.

This is one reason I was so thrilled when I managed to pass my full cert last year and graduate from massage therapy school. I was finally finishing. But I now have a different definition of finishing.

I think that you can't take something to its end point in this life. I think that "it" is always evolving. I think that finish means "continue on the path".

When I was younger, I was worried that I'd miss out on something if I chose something. How could I know that I'd chosen the right thing? What if I dedicated all my energy toward succeeding in one area of my life only to NOT know that I was missing out on what my true calling was?

Today, it occurred to me again, with a little more clarity, that I wasn't being a dilettante. I was searching... let me see if I can explain what I realized. Its a bit esoteric, hang in with me here.

I was searching for the THING that lit me up and made me feel like I'd found my calling. Like Agnes of God, I wanted words from on high: THIS is what you are meant to do. THIS is what you are meant to be.

And I was looking at it from a very linear perspective. You can be a painter. You can be an accountant (Alright, you can, but I couldn't. But you get my point.) You need to go to the guidance counselor, and look at the List of Jobs and pick one. Like reading the Richard Scarry book, "What do People do all Day?" (which was one of my favorite books as a child, I was obsessed with reading the labels and seeing how many different things you could BE!)

That never sat well with me. I always felt like I was trying to fit into a hole that someone else had made. But still, I searched.

What I have come to realize over the last few years, is that the point of "it all" (for me anyway), is not to find THE THING, and then make a contribution. But to find THE WAY (for now) that you can make the best, most fulfilling contribution, and THE THING will reveal itself to you.

That's why I didn't fit into the hole. I'm not a ski instructor. I'm not a writer, I'm not a performance coach, I'm not a massage therapist, I'm not a motivational speaker. I do all of those things, but that's not what I AM.

To borrow a phrase from my dear friend, I'm a human being. (He is a Professional Human Being, you can find his blog HERE.)

What I've seen is that I couldn't coalesce into a focused laser beam, because I had some lessons to learn first. I needed to find myself a bit more, heal myself a bit more, and search for what it was in life that I could give BACK, rather than BE. Because I can't be anything else but me.

So my job, of sorts, created itself, revealed itself, after I walked around in life and shifted my thinking from "How can I become successful? The most successful? How can I find the thing in life that I can be the most successful at?" to "What is my purpose here? How can I feel fulfilled as a person?"

And that answer is that I am energized, I feel my worth as a human, when I interact with other people and help them make positive changes in their lives. But I also found out that the most exciting way to do that is to introduce people to their adventurous side.

I remember taking my mom rock climbing once, and watching her overcome her fear as she reached the top. I remember taking my mom SCUBA diving and sitting underwater with her and watching her take her first breath. After I shared those experiences with her... and really, what my role was in those instances was to hold a gentle caring space for her so she could step outside her comfort zone and become... I realized as I watched her swim with sea turtles in the Cayman Islands (this, a woman who six months before had been terrified of water and couldn't swim at ALL), I realized that I felt fulfilled in my life when I could act as a bridge or a catalyst that allowed other people to make change in THEIR OWN lives.

Its not something that I do. I facilitate the energy, the belief that THEY can do it, and then I get the amazing and unique pleasure of watching them continue to unfold and become in their lives, just as I am becoming in my life.

And to do that, I need a huge tool bag. And that's why I think I tried sooo many different things in my life before my meaning exposed itself to me.

I'm me, and my office is the mountain. On the mountain, I get to help you see that you can become more of you. I get to use the landscape of the outdoors to do it. I borrow lessons I learned in acting, skating, painting, psychology, meditation, massage, cooking... and on and on. I'm a late bloomer because I had a long long long training session I had to go through before my tool bag was big enough to have enough tools in it to fit enough people that I could really begin to build a bridge for almost anyone that I met. And everyone is different, so everyone needs their own unique bridge.

I still have the tendency to be a laser through a prism, I find myself occasionally with a finger in too many pots, but now the difference is that I see my path clearly. As I fill my life, I'm able to reel myself back in and ask, is this on my path? Is this something that can help me teach other people to take a risk and step outside of the norm, to become themselves, undefined and unique? Or is this just a shiny distraction that seems interesting?

(Sometimes, even when the answer is yes to that last question, I can't help myself, because I want to experience something new. I guess an example of that would be changing my starter out myself. It was SO fun and so satisfying, in the past, I probably would have volunteered to work as a mechanic on the ranch I'm at, or gone to CMC to take an auto shop class. But that would over commit me and pull me off my path, so now I'm able to enjoy the unique experience, but let go of needing to know EVERYTHING there is to know about it. I'm finally able to dabble.)

Things are really rolling now, I'm excited to see opportunities opening around me that feel right, that point to me being able to be a bridge for more people, but in an arena that is uniquely fulfilling to me; to my need to be outside, to be athletic, to be challenged. I'm so grateful for the journey!

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