Dixie Darr

Archive for the ‘Finding Your Calling’ Category

Perchance to Dream (Gratitude Day 2)

In Finding Your Calling, Learning on November 21, 2017 at 6:22 am

In a parallel universe, I like to think, lives a Dixie who spent her life studying dreams because that would be a fascinating life. Maybe in another place, she can fly as I do in my favorite dreams. And in another, she lives in a house with many undiscovered rooms. I’d just as soon forgo the one where her car gets stolen, which has thankfully never occurred in my real life but seems to happen frequently in my dreams.

Why do we dream? What do our dreams mean? Do we leave our bodies as we sleep and visit those strange universes as some cultures believe? Why do we have so much trouble remembering our dreams?

Why do we dream? No one really knows, but researchers have determined that people who are not allowed to dream experience problems ranging from depression and weight gain to hallucinations.

What do our dreams mean? People interpret dreams differently, of course, but many common dreams have generally agreed upon meanings. My flying dream, for example, indicates feeling confident and in control of my life. I’d like to have more of these, please. Undiscovered rooms signal new or neglected talents and interests. The stolen car probably means a lack of knowing how to make a transition or get to my destination.

I don’t remember ever having a true nightmare. The closest I come is the one about being at school with a test to take and realizing that I have neither attended the class or studied, can’t find my clothes, and don’t know where the classroom is. This one is very common even among people (like me!) who finished school decades ago. It shows that we have a lesson we need to learn from the past.

And then we have erotic dreams. Oops! I’m out of space. Have to get back to that another time.

Waking up without an alarm, telling yourself to remember your dreams, and keeping a dream diary on your nightstand are ways to help remember your dreams.

I think more songs have been written about dreams than any other topic except love, from the Everly Brothers’ All I Have to Do is Dream to Aerosmith’s Dream On. Roy Orbison alone has at least four.

I’ll conclude with Sweet Dreams. You get to choose between Patsy Cline and the Eurythmics.


What the Heart Wants

In creativity, Finding Your Calling, Learning, music, solitude on October 5, 2017 at 7:23 am

Some words of wisdom on work, solitude, and love.
by Wendell Berry
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

How to Find Your Mission in Life by Dick Bolles
Rule #3. to exercise that talent which you particularly came to earth to use — your greatest gift, which you most delight to use, in the places or settings which God has caused to appeal to you the most, and for those purposes which god most needs to have done in the world.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

“For many people, being alone with their thoughts puts them in enemy territory.” Barbara Winter

“The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.” Thomas A. Edison

“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” Rollo May

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein

“If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.” Kurt Vonnegut, Man Without a Country

“Someday, someone is going to look at you with a light in their eyes you’ve never seen, they’ll look at you like you’re everything they’ve been looking for their entire lives. Wait for it.” Author unknown

On Call

In Finding Your Calling, spirituality on June 27, 2017 at 5:14 am









You might think that by age 69, I would have either discovered my mission in life or given up searching. Nope, I’m still trying to figure it out. Over the years, I’ve read dozens of books on the subject and even took an online course that promised results.
I may have gotten better results from that tee-shirt that says, “That’s what I do. I read and I know things.”
An old friend from high school once asked me if I wished I had studied something instead of sociology in college. “Not instead of,” I replied. “In addition to. I want to know everything.”
She turned to her husband and raised an eyebrow saying, “See? That’s why we’re friends.”
I identify with another popular meme, too: “A day without reading is . . . just kidding. I have no idea.”
Last week I reread for the Nth time, How to Find Your Mission In Life by Richard N. Bolles. He outlines three steps to finding your calling.
1. love God
2. choose good
3. develop your talent
I don’t talk much about God because that seems pretty private to me. I will say that I don’t believe God is some old white guy with a long beard sitting on a cloud somewhere. In fact, the God I believe in isn’t separate from us earthly creatures at all.
Bolles, who was an Episcopal minister, points out that if you believe you have a mission, a calling, a vocation, there must be somebody doing the calling. Makes sense.
The second step is that with every small choice we make each day, we choose the option that brings “more gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, honesty, and love into the world.” I admit that when I read this, I think, “You must have me confused with someone else.” I’m more a screaming obscenities at people who annoy me kind of person. Maybe I can work on that.
We tend to think of our mission as one big answer that comes to us on a highway billboard like in L.A. Story or in the booming voice of James Earl Jones or even on a tee shirt. Bolles suggests instead that it’s a series of small steps we take each day to bring more good into the world.
The final step is simply to develop whatever talent God gave us. As my pastor, Brad Laurvick said, “who you are is God’s greatest gift to you.” Ultimately, it’s also our greatest gift to the world.
We cannot retire from this and go sit on a beach or play Bingo to while away our days. As Richard Bach said, “Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.”

The Dinner Party

In creativity, Finding Your Calling, spirituality on May 22, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Name three people, alive or dead, that you’d like to have dinner with and why. This classic ice breaker is as revealing as it is delicious to contemplate. Here are my selections.

Studs Terkel wrote my all-time favorite book, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. This book influenced me more than all the sociology of work classes I took in college. One quotation, Most of us are looking for a calling, not a job. Most of us have jobs that are too small for our spirit. Jobs are not big enough for people” set me on a lifelong quest to find my calling (still searching) and probably made me reject the idea of having only one job. Originally published in 1974, the bestselling book examined people from all walks of life who were, according to the author, working “for daily meaning as well as daily bread.”

A Chicago broadcaster, Terkel listened to America and allowed us to listen, too. Five decades of interviews with ordinary and remarkable people will soon be available here. Meanwhile, you can listen to a few hundred of them here. You might want to choose his interview with my next dinner companion, Maya Angelou.

That Voice and the intellect and compassion behind it would be plenty to include her in my fantasy dinner party, but there’s so much more.

Bill Gallo of Westword had this to say about her:

The talents of Maya Angelou – she is or has been a teacher, memoirist, prize-winning poet, actress, civil-rights activist, editor, playwright, composer, dancer, producer, theater and TV director, and advisor to three presidents – range so far and deep that no feat she accomplishes could come as a surprise.”

Her dizzying list of achievements guarantees that she would be a fascinating conversationalist. I’d be happy just to sit back and let that voice wash over me. She’s all over the internet, but I recommend that you watch her read her poem, “Still I Rise.” 

My final companion would be my dear friend Reverend Sheila Johnson. Some people you just resonate with. You know the moment you meet that you’re going to be friends. It was that way with Sheila when we briefly worked together for a training company more than twenty years ago. Like the other two, she is versatile, gregarious, and real. In addition to her work as a hospital chaplain, she writes, paints, teaches and sews.

She makes me feel grounded and would keep me from going all fan girl with the other two, either babbling or struck dumb.

Plus, if I had dinner with Maya Angelou and didn’t invite her, Sheila would kill me.

You Are What You Read

In Books, Finding Your Calling, Lent - Season of Change, Uncategorized on April 10, 2017 at 10:00 am

night bookmobile

Lent – Season of Change, Day 35

I’m not generally a fan of graphic novels, but I pick one up every once in a while because they’re wildly popular, and I think I ought to give them another try. The title of The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger made it a natural for me. I love libraries (it’s National Library Week!), especially bookmobiles. I’ve enjoyed several books about people running bookmobiles and this one would seem to kill two birds with one stone – I’d get to read another book about bookmobiles and also assuage my prejudice against graphic novels.

It wasn’t what I was expecting and it had a bizarre ending, which I won’t go into here. It’s about a young woman, Alexandra, who happens upon a bookmobile while she’s out walking in Chicago late one night. She begins to browse only to discover that she has read every book there. It is, in fact, a collection of every book, indeed, every written word she’s ever read, including cereal boxes. She was charmed. “In the same way that perfume captures the essence of a flower, these shelves of books were a distillation of my life,” she thinks.

I want to stay here,” she tells the librarian. “I want to come with you. I could be your assistant.”

That isn’t possible,” he says and tells her he has to leave.

Over the years, she searches futilely for the bookmobile and completely changes her life, going to library school, so she can work in the night bookmobile and be united with her lifetime of reading.

It occurs to me that, while I don’t have a library of all the books (let alone cereal boxes) I’ve ever read, I do have a sort of card catalog of the past 30-40 years of them. That’s how long I’ve kept a diary listing every book I read.

I have often wondered why I never became a librarian. It seems like a natural for someone who loves books as much as I do although my friend Pat, who teaches seminars for librarians all over the country, tells me that librarians don’t really read as much as you’d think. They’re too busy.

George R.R. Martin once said, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” Ignoring the sexism, I’m sure that in at least one of those alternate lives I’ve lived I was a librarian.

The Next Mission

In Finding Your Calling, Lent - Season of Change on April 5, 2017 at 8:09 pm

Lent – Season of Change, Day 31

Why do veterans have such a hard time re-integrating into civilian life? They have notoriously high rates of alcoholism, addiction, homelessness, unemployment and suicide, and we see constant hand wringing and blaming over how to solve these huge problems.

Roadtrip Nation on PBS takes a very personal look at three transitioning vets in “The Next Mission.”

For years, the show has selected three young people who are trying to figure out what to do with their lives, put them on a tricked-out green RV and sent them across the nation to interview successful people who faced and conquered those same questions.

The participants this time are a bit older, 28 – 35, facing unique issues. Bernard is trying to start a nonprofit to help other veterans, but “I feel like an alien”; Helen, a single mom forced by an injury to retire after serving 15 years is struggling to find a new identity when “being out is not in my element”; and Sam who joined the Army at 17 and lost both legs in Afghanistan and now fights depression and tries to focus on what he can do instead of what he can no longer do.

In this one-hour special, they visit retired vets who give them advice and tell their own stories about discovering the opportunities of post-military life. “Don’t think of it as military life and civilian life; it’s life,” says a motivational speaker who came very close to suicide.

Yesterday is yesterday. Do something today.” “Use your military discipline and training.” “Find your purpose.” “Help other people.” “Talk about the things we learned that we are capable of.” “Go to school,” offered other vets who had made it out of the “Bat Cave” of depression, confusion and despair.

I’ve always liked this show and wished it had been available when I was young. I also wish that about computers and the internet. Now, though, I wish every struggling veteran could have a chance to take this trip.