One of the finest moments of the annual SCBWIC conference in Charlotte, NC last week-end was the keynote address by Molly O’Neil, Children’s & Young Adult book editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books.
During Molly’s inspirational speech, “We Are All Apprentices: Learning Publishing’s Past While Writing & Illustrating for the Future“, she read to us the following passage from Bobbie Pyron’s A Dog’s Way Home.
“Just like the three wise men followed that other star to Bethlehem?” I said.
“Just like.” Daddy nodded like he was agreeing with himself. “Most folks got a north star in their life – something that gives their life extra meaning. Mine is music.”
Without even thinking, I said, “Mine is Tam.”
Tam is Abby’s Shetland sheepdog. An accident separates them and this story is about their efforts to reunite. Not only is Abby certain that Tam is her north star, she is confident that she is Tam’s. It is an excellent story, and a great example of what it means to have a “north star”. And how empty it feels to be without one.
Abby’s story stirred something in me. I realized I had lost my own north star. Certainly, I had had many connections, directions, and paths throughout my life. My star’s description had changed many times. But suddenly I felt a loss, a hole, an ache deep within me – and I knew – I didn’t have that connection, that direction, that beacon.
WHAT IS A “NORTH STAR”?
Ask people what a “north star” is and among the varied answers might be:
WHY DO YOU NEED A “NORTH STAR”?
If you find yourself way off course, lost and surprised where your life direction has taken you. If you wake up one day and realize that you aren’t where you want to be – where you thought you would be – where you were headed. If you have lost your way, strayed off your path, changed direction in midstream – you may have lost your north star.
If you feel as if your life is trapped in the eye of a hurricane, swirling in the center of a tornado, plummeting through the crevice of an earthquake. If you find that you are sometimes confused, dazed, unhappy, and lonely. If you wonder or question where is your center, your control, your balance – you may need a compass. A beacon. A navigational instrument.
For me, a north star is means of survival. It gives my life meaning, purpose, and direction.
HOW DO YOU FIND YOURS?
Do you want to change direction and don’t know how to chart your course?
First of all, keep in mind that you can have more than one north star.
For example, some define the north star as anything that guides a person’s decisions based on morals or virtues. This is the moral compass. Certainly an examination of your conscience and spirit joined with your faith will lead you to this north star.
Others, like well-known author and life coach, Martha Beck, describe the north star as the “place where the relationship exists between you and your right life, the ultimate realization of your potential for happiness.” This is the connection. This discovery is made based on a multitude of personal choices, past experiences, desires, needs, fears, ambitions, and emotions.
Still others view the north star as a guiding force that gives their life purpose, meaning, and direction. This is the beacon. This is the “star(s)” that to me is the most vital. This is the zenith of my life. What is my primary goal, my defining reason, my ultimate climax? What do I want more than anything else? Like a character in a novel: What do I want more than anything and what will I do to get it?
Second, your north star may change over time, as you grow and change direction or path. We are constantly evolving and learning new things about ourselves. We might need to reevaluate, refocus, renew.
Once you discover your north star, set your internal compass and follow. Let nothing distract you. Just like Tam and Abby in A Dog’s Way Home.
“I reckon they were all following their north star, just like Daddy.
Thinking of Daddy and his north star made me think of Tam, my north star. My heart got all heavy and sad.”
My north stars are out there in the universe waiting and shining on me guiding me home. Where is yours?
A Dog’s Way Home, Bobbie Pyron
Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live, Martha Beck
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, Rick Hanson PhD
Purpose is at the core of our lives. It is the spirit that guides us, propels us, and motivates us.
Purpose has been defined as our reason for living, the basis for which something exists, a goal, desire, or aim, an intention, decision, or resolution. For centuries, we have attempted to define purpose, find its essence, and apply it to our lives. Its true value often eludes us and seems to fall from our grasp. I think that is because as we go through life and our circumstances change, our purpose changes.
Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
My challenge is to live a life of purpose. I have decided that to accomplish this I must know what that means for me. Earlier I wrote a blog, FIND YOUR PASSION. It’s hard to know what should come first – knowing my passion or my purpose. But I have decided that for me, they go hand in hand.
You have to find your purpose, what that means for you in the here and now, then determine to follow it. Listen to your heart.
- Set aside a time and place where you can relax and think about your life
- Make a list of 5 things that you love to do, that excite and inspire you
- Make a list of 10 of your talents , skills, and abilities
- List 5 things you have done to help others
- List 5 things that you would you do if you could do anything
- Recall your passions – what excites you, sparks your creativity
- Recall what people say to you – what kinds of compliments do they give you
- What would you regret never having done with your life
Use the above reflection to decide your purpose in life. And know that as you grow, your life purpose may change.
Life is a journey and each step may lead you to a place where you need to reexamine and redefine your purpose. That’s okay. No need to worry or feel failure.
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
Helen KellerRead More
Passion plays a vital role in our lives. It invigorates us, inspires us, and identifies our goals.
Passion has been defined as a powerful emotion, a boundless enthusiasm, excitement, fervor, fire, zeal, and a boundless intensity. For centuries artists, authors, and lovers have attempted to define, diffuse, and display it. Most of us can agree on one thing – it is a driving motivation, often uncontrollable, uncontainable, and unmanageable.
Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.
You have to find your passion, and then follow it. Listen to your heart.
- Find a quiet place to slow down, relax, meditate
- Listen to your heart, focus on what touches you, excites you, inspires you
- Explore those things that interest you, drive you, stimulate you
- Think about those things that you like to do, talk about, think about
- Recall the dreams and the desires of your youth
- Make a list of 5 things that you want
- Make a list of 5 things you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail
- Make a list of 5 things you are good at
- What would you do to make a better life for yourself, for others
- What would you regret never having done, accomplished
What are the things that you can’t get out of your head? The ones that nag at you? Creep up into your subconscious and demand to be heard, recognized, and validated?
Ponder these things. Examine and explore your possibilities. Find your driving force. Your purpose. Your passion. Then go for it!
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
Nikos Kazantzakis (1885-1957) Greek writerRead More