Moving Forward — By Asking Questions
May 25, 2014
If you’re on Facebook at all regularly, you’ll no doubt have seen more than one of the plethora of quizzes and questionnaires that are so popular there. I admit I have fun with them. You may be interested to know that if I were a children’s book character, I’d be Max from Where the Wild Things Are; the classic author who is my soulmate is Henry David Thoreau; and the Broadway musical that best describes my life is The Sound of Music (I kid you not).
Such quizzes are fun, but they’re not the sort of questions I want to talk about in terms of moving forward in my life.
When I turned 50, I sensed that I was on the brink of a time of growth and possibilities. I began seeking out ways of discovering more about myself, and about how I could express that self in various facets of my life and being. I asked myself questions, I filled out questionnaires and pondered the answers. I looked back at a couple of those questionnaires recently, and they are proving to be a good catalyst in moving forward in this phase of my life as well.
In 2008, a book called Style Statement by Carrie McCarthy & Danielle LaPorte was published. It is designed to help people discover their true inner self and express that inner being in how they dress, what they surround themselves with, etc. To do this, Carrie and Danielle lead the reader through many thoughtful questionnaires on “Spirit & Learning,” “Service & Wealth,” “Creativity & Celebration,” and other topics. All the answers become a toolkit through which one determines one’s style statement — two words that describe one’s basic style/way of being. The first word expresses 80% of what one is, the second word is the 20% icing on the cake, so to speak.
In 2008, when I went through the book, I determined that my two words were Elegant Creative. I wasn’t ready to embrace more than 20% Creative (although “Elegant” seems a bit of a creative stretch, if you ask me! 😉 ) Recently, I went through the book again, simply because I wanted to see how I would respond to the questions given the gap in years and experiences.
It was interesting (and gratifying) to see how differently I answered many of the questions and how much I have changed over the intervening years. Now, I’m more inclined to choose Creative as my 80% word, although I haven’t settled on a 20% icing on the creative cake word as yet. It helped me see how I want to live the next decades of my life — in a creative, open, vital way.
Although I don’t think Carrie and Danielle are still collaborating, the Carrie and Danielle website is still online, and you can find some interesting questions to ask yourself (not the questionnaire of the book) at this link.
As I thought about creativity, I thought about another life-encourager, writer, artist, and deep thinker who exudes creativity. She’s known as SARK, and her website, “Great Life Letter” weekly emails, and her books — such as Make Your Creative Dreams Real — provide fun and thoughtful exercises to get in touch with one’s creativity. I can confidently predict that SARK’s books will be coming off my shelf again this summer.
Another book, and another questionnaire that I’ve revisited is — on the surface, at least — about transforming one’s home into a place that reflects one’s inner self, Apartment Therapy by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan. My answers to Maxwell’s questionnaire were different this time, as well. I noticed particularly that the role models I mentioned were chosen because of being older but still vital, vibrant, active and creative. Do we see a theme developing here? My home will be benefiting from this as I move forward. AT also has a website, by the way.
One final book that I want to mention is another that meant a great deal to me in that transition time as I moved into my 50s, and I suspect I will be revisiting it as well. Live A Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You by Dr. Susan Biali is a fabulous guide to doing exactly what the title says. Her questionnaire isn’t contained within the book, but instead is a 52 page e-workbook that one downloads after purchasing the book. I haven’t ferreted out where I’ve filed my original workbook, but when I find it, I will go through the questions and exercises again. I expect I will again find that I am moving forward.
What books, exercises and role models are catalysts for you in the moving-forward process?