Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflecting on "What I do"


I read a post called "A Living vs. A life" by Allison Rivers and it got me to reflect.
Yesterday, in a class I'm taking, I was asked "what do you do?" and I replied:

"I teach Kindergarten in a public school, and I coordinate professional development at a private non-profit preschool, and I work with a non-profit that helps at-risk-youth through expressive arts, and I write, I act with a community theater group, and I care for a husband and 20 year old son (and any number of other people who adopt us from time to time) and two dogs. And I am the lead singer for a rock & blues band, and I also sing in an acoustic duet group, and I do the student thing too. I wear a lot of hats"

Absolutely fascinating that the only thing I identified with in the "I am a __" was not what I make my living doing, and not what I aspire to make my living doing. Singing is something I think of differently. And, as a matter of fact, I refuse to take my cut when the band gets paid to play out - I contribute my share back to the group for maintaining equipment. And yet I list singing as if it were my identity.

Don't get me wrong, I love to teach. I love to write. I love all the things I do - or I simply wouldn't do them. I'm just that self-indulgent. But singing is different. I don't really control it, I just let it out. Teaching children I do because I love to, but I do it with forethought and deliberateness. Singing - not so much. I open my mouth and let emotion run past my vocal chords.

So, consider this chart I recently modified from the work of +Aristotle Bancale. The original conversation had to do with how to choose a career path, but three circles didn't leave room for how some choices would feel compared to others, so this became about finding your purpose and making a living at it.


I have no doubt that teaching Kindergarten is my bliss.  I think that all my work in expressive arts, from writing to drumming to acting to working with kids on any of these, is where I find fulfillment or contentment.

It seems that I identify - "I am"- with my passion. And though it could move to that area of satisfaction if I were to accept pay for it, I resist that so that I may keep it a passion. I think that somewhere, deep down, I fear that it would move from satisfaction to comfort and it would no longer be what I love. 

 If I allow "what the world will pay for" to enter the equation, I will be reduced to singing what will sell, in a way that it will sell, and I would lose what I love most about singing... that it has nothing to do with my mind or my thoughts - just with the feelings in my gut and the gift (as Pavoritti described it) of a golden throat.

I didn't realize any of that till I heard myself describe what I do. Fascinating.

What do you do?



21 comments:

  1. Dorothy, your post has all the intelligence and heart and subtlety that I've come to expect from you over the years.

    What I mean by subtlety is that, although you say the word "I" a lot in the body of your post, you end up with those four simple yet profound words, "What do you do?"

    And in so asking that of us, your readers, you turn the whole thing around and lead us to think about what we're up to, and whether we're making enough of a difference.

    Thank you!

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  2. Wow, so interesting...Now you've given me something to reflect on, too! Thanks so much for the mention - Keep on singing!

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  3. I took a liberty to take your 4 set venn diagram and translate it into Spanish. It is not a litteral translation (I changed a few things). It is a process of personal projection.

    http://tumblr.chlewey.net/tagged/venn-diagram

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  4. Hi Dorothy, I love your bliss diagram. A group of us are going to be running an informal conference in the UK to help share a and develop a way to help people find their bliss. The method is called "Core Process" http://www.nickheap.co.uk/articles_by_cat.asp?ART_CAT_ID=43 and the conference URL is here www.coreprocesslife.com. If you were in the UK on June 13 and could come, you would have a very warm welcome.

    I would love to incorporate your diagram into a brief article to send to people expressing interest in the conference. Would you be happy with that? Of course we would acknowledge you as the source.

    Best wishes,

    Nick Heap

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    1. Thanks Nick! I would be honored to be associated in any small way with your work! Thanks!

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  5. I really liked both your post and your diagram. Sorry to be challenging but i don't quite get why the overlap of what the world needs and what the world will pay for is 'charity'. Charity I understand to mean that you don't charge. Would 'opportunity' fit better here?

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  6. Great thought Peter. I like the word opportunity a lot! It has also been suggested that Vocation and Charity be switched. The diagram is certainly a work in progress. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  7. Hello Dorothy, your diagram is amazing! I am part of a men's empowerment organization that specializes in producing modern day rites of passage for adult men. We are a non-profit organization, I am a volunteer, and I would love to share your diagram in our work. Would you be open to that?

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    1. please feel free to share this diagram, and to improve it! Thanks!

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  8. This is the kind of innovation that makes me love the Internet more and more each day. I miss the old Google+ days. Have a great day, Dorothy!

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  9. Ari, this diagram has been translated into German Spanish and French, and recently someone found it in Spanish and translated it back into English - which made for some interesting changes! I'll have to write a post with all the places It has been used. cheers to you!

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  10. Hello, Dorothy! First of all, I love your post here. I'm a psychologist, and I work with many people who are finding their way to their purpose. I'm writing a book of journaling exercises, and I wonder if I might use your diagram (with permission, attribution, and a link to your site/blog) as an illustration for that prompt? I'd also be happy to share my work with you, if you're interested. It's a work in progress at the moment, but I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. My email is: thepowerofeachother@outlook.com.
    Take care, Laura

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  11. You are more than welcome! Feel free to modify it as needed - there have been some others that have improved on, or translated it. I'd love to see what you do with it & hear how it works for you! Thanks!

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  12. Hi Dorothy, I saw this diagram a few years ago and have looked at it many times since as a good reminder of merging passion, purpose, and work. I'm giving a TedX talk soon and would love to share it with the audience. Would that be ok? Thanks! -Sara

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    1. Sure thing! I'd love a link to your TedX when it is complete. Thanks!

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  13. Hello. I love this diagram! I know lots of people have asked already but I'd love to share it on my blog with a link to you of course.
    Thanks so much
    Tania

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    1. I would be honored! Thanks for checking!!

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  14. Hi Dorothy,
    I've added your diagram to a teaching booklet on sacred economics and people love exploring their way around the circles. Have you updated it at all, changed vocation and charity for instance? thanks for your work.

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  15. Hi Dorothy. I have been trying to find the author of this diagram. Seems like this post gets me pretty close. Thank you for your work. It has been copied and adapted many times over and helped a lot of people. If it is okay with you could I use the diagram (with attribution) in a chapter of a book I am writing?

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    1. Absolutely feel free to use and adapt as you think best! Can you share a link to your book when it is ready? Thanks!!

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