“The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into the pulse." – Annie Dillard
What work calls to you as your own at this point in your life? How can you develop a livelihood -- or transform your current livelihood -- with your deepest vision, values, and voice?
Developing a vision, business plan, networking and marking strategies, and all the expected nuts and bolts intrinsic to a livelihood in a way that does no harm and respects all beings is the Buddhist precept of Right Livelihood. It also, along with other traditions (such as Yoga's Yamas and Niyamas that extend the ethical code of how to live with strength, awareness, and discipline) speaks more broadly to forging work that serves your learning edges and community, and draws on and grows your gifts and callings. In short, such a work-life can help you grow your courage, wisdom, and presence, and open your heart toward yourself and others. Such a journey is entwined with crafting and practicing your best self-care to sustain your work, self, and relationships with others.
In this class, you'll explore long-term conversations with your callings (in your art, work, and life), approaches for exploring and revising myths and messages about who you should be, cultivating spaciousness for your deepest work, hunting and gathering sources and supports, making the work you love come true, and staying engaged with your life's work as your life shifts and unfolds.
Drawing from mythology, spiritual traditions, ethics and business practices, and more, this class includes writing and other arts to bring more of your dreams to the surface as well as soulful planning tools. By the end of the class, you will have a body of writing, plans and maps, and other arts and tools to guide your life from the heart of your callings.
“If I wear a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.” -- Chinese proverb
Above photo credit: Stephen Locke.
Week One — Call and Response: Conversing With Your Callings
Through practice, attention, and intention, we can learn how to engage our callings regularly, like sitting down with an old friend to catch up. Such listening and also speaking or writing what comes to us in those conversations attune us to opportunities and openings around us, as well as resistance and yearnings within us. Most of all, it gives us better guidance as to what we really want and need to do (as well as how to do it). This week, we'll sidle up to our callings, and deepen that conversation.
It's almost impossible to be an artist, musician, writer, dancer, or other person led by their creativity in America (and many other western countries) without being hurt, discouraged, or dampened down by destructive myths about the arts (always suffering, poor, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or worse). We also carry our own personal myths -- reinforced by family, community, even ourselves – about what we can and can't do. This week focuses on unearthing and working with the long-term project of revising those myths or throwing them out altogether. We'll also look toward cleaning up our myths and messages about money and worth.
Week Three — Cultivating Spaciousness: Making Room for Your Deepest Work
How many times have you thought or said, “If I only had the time, I would....” and ended up putting off giving yourself over to your deepest desires? Life has a way of filling itself up and, particularly with 24/7 distractions aplenty on screens all around us, keeping us from getting at what we want to do. This week offers many ways to clear the space so we can begin and/or continue our real work.
Week Four — Hunting & Gathering: Inviting In Sources & Resources
There's lots of ways to find resources (tools, approaches, nuts and bolts) as well as sources that sustain us in the work. This week looks at how we can invite in the calling itself, and use our lives to hunt and gather more information about it; how we develop this calling into our life’s work, and hunt and gather support, tools, and approaches for this work.
Week Five — Making the Work You Love Come True
From business planning to clarifying what to name and claim as our work, we need to take our integration of callings, livelihood, and life further. Such reflection and action helps us understand how to effectively put our work out there. This week focuses on how to name our work more precisely, make connections with venues and organizations, and market our work without selling our soul.
Week Six — The Ethics and Practice of Sustaining Your Work and Self
Right Livelihood in balance with our callings and lives means continually learning more about sustaining ethical business practices, plus of course, ourselves – financially, creatively, and in concert with our families, friends, and community. This week we'll look at big picture and long-term practices, artistic and otherwise, to keep in conversation with our souls, communities, and evolving work.
This is a generative class for all people who do, love, or want to discover more about creative, reflective, artistic, analytic, and research-based practices involved with making a living doing what we love, and keeping on keeping on at it. Particularly if you're interested in facilitation, coaching, consulting, community teaching, collaborative community arts or social change projects, TLA archival work, or anything related, this class can help you find many approaches and practices, plus put you in touch with a great community of other participants.
This is an online class, yet we strive to come together in council, reaching across the miles to hold one another's words and reflect deeply on what we discover individually and together. Each week includes creative exercises drawing on poetry, prose, videos (music, talks), collage and more; short essays and/or video talks with Caryn; resources for further information; and a discussion question to ponder.
Expect to spend a minimum of 4-5 hours per week, and more hours if you're so inclined (generally you're required to answer the discussion question, and do 2-3 of the palette of prompts, choosing what speaks to you most). Participants are also asked to respond to at least three other participants' work each week, deepening our dialogue altogether. Most of the exercises will give participants options to write in the genre of their choice.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., is passionate about chatting with our callings and listening for the calling in every relationship, opportunity, and moment when possible. She was the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate and is author of 19 books, including The Divorce Girl, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet, a bioregional memoir on cancer and community; and five poetry collections, including the award-winning Chasing Weather: Tornadoes, Tempests, and Thunderous Skies in Word and Image with weather chase/photographer Stephen Locke.
Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely, particularly for people living with serious illness and their caregivers. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats. Caryn is a long-time organizer of the bioregional movement, and helped found the Kansas Area Watershed Council, a Continental Bioregional Congress. She's also co-founder of the TLA Network and serves on the TLAN council. She lives just south of Lawrence with various humans and animals, in love with her people, place, community, and the big, wild sky. More at www.CarynMirriamGoldberg.com.
"The Transformative Language Arts Network" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. P.O. Box 779 Eureka Springs, AR 72632 USA