Page from Enormous Smallness by Matthew Burgess


by Ruth Schimel, Career & Life Management Consultant, Author 

© 2022 (Do not use for commercial purposes or distribute widely without author’s permission)

Purpose and benefits of this article for you

This article aims to engage your senses, imagination and mind to help you clarify and express your passion, mission and/or vision. They all interact and reinforce opportunities to keep learning, growing and enjoying what life offers. They can also add depth and breadth to how you earn your living. See them all as interacting processes for becoming your stronger, better and more satisfying self.

Consider and adjust the following definitions to your liking:

  • Passion relates to anything that generates excitement from its meaning, purpose and actions.
  • Mission is about aim or desired result.
  • Vision expresses current and future objectives.

Combined with your own range of capacities, experience and encouraging stories, they all support action to benefit yourself and others.

Ways to step into a motivating matter with true meaning to you

When I sustain a consistent interest that has significance for me, I have found something almost magical evolves. My readiness and commitment starts to inch forward and stitch together. As you’ll see later in my nonlinear story of stops, starts and detours, synchronicity bloomed with the incremental steps and related communication that took me forward, however haltingly.

In retrospect, I have also found that one not so simple catalyst is to draft in a few lines what truly appeals, but has not yet emerged concretely. I’m not talking about
requirements. There are plenty of those in lists of chores and the administration of living.

To assist your experimenting with your own description, here’s an example that integrates my vision, mission and passion. I call it arting or a range of inspiring arts-related activities that engage my mind, imagination and senses: To convert my longstanding interest in art to authentic actions. This includes self-
expression and collaborating to benefit others’ self-appreciation, exploration and growth.

To limit any frustration or blocks you may have related to your own situation, I suggest you let go of assumptions or hopes that something that intrigues you and is
useful for others will flow smoothly or easily. In fact, the derivation of the word passion is to suffer. Nevertheless, the process can be invigorating, deepening and expanding, if you are patient (which has the same derivation!) The adventure or process of becoming is worthwhile in itself. It helps even more when you take small steps to see what evolves rather than overthink or intimidate yourself with what ifs, I want to avoids, or other detours.

Use or adapt my story to awaken yours

As you’ll see in my story and as you unfold and attend to your own, you’ll clarify that your topic is a keeper, that it comes from within yourself and avoids being trapped in “shoulds.” As film director Sidney Lumet said, “All good work requires self-revelation.”

Maybe you’ve been tiptoeing around a dream, passion, vision and/or mission for years, even had some inconclusive but concrete starts. Someone else’s example is
captured in How My Father and I Drew a New Life (Anything starting to germinate with one of your family members or friends?)
My story started long ago with an interest in art from an enriched program in elementary school. It continued over the years with exploring and conversing in
museums and art galleries. Eventually, I purchased some original art based on budding confidence in my “eye.” But personal expression didn’t start until mid-life.
As the due date for finally writing my dissertation loomed, I found another way to procrastinate by taking a course at the Children’s Museum with Mona Brookes on
drawing with children (about where I was in confidence). My rationale for this creative postponement was to become inspired to write the dissertation.

What an unexpected release! Mona started her process of learning by addressing emotions first with a generic phrase for letting go. When she said “there’s no right or wrong way to draw,” two fat tears rolled down my cheeks. That exposed emotional and experiential barriers, possibly an imprint from negative feedback on my drawing from second-grade teacher, Miss Bonner.

After Mona’s two-day course, I continued drawing, also sharing the process with several intergenerational groups; that teaching helped me learn and become more
confident. Mostly copying images from nature, it gave me free rein to express my love of color using less conventional varieties of magic markers. I collected a range of books on art, including collage, cartooning and drawing and took a cartooning class at the Smithsonian.

That gave me the experience and playfulness to include an original cartoon later in my first book based on my dissertation on how people can access and express their capacity for courage. But settling into the writing and editing took years, including trying unsuccessfully to attract an agent and publisher. I persisted, though, because I was working to share a practical passion from my heart that would have meaning and use for others. My one sentence definition is: Becoming courageous is a process of becoming that involves the willingness to go through discomfort, anxiety, fear or suffering and taking wholehearted responsible action.

Then, another fallow period for arting followed. I focused on earning my living with my career and life management consulting practice, writing articles and guides,
university teaching and marketing my books.

The quiet, disconnected time of the pandemic inspired me and my long-time friend Shari to pursue our interests in art. We “visited” online art museum exhibits all over the country and abroad, discussing our ideas and impressions. We did this weekly for about two years until we ran out of sources.

Then, Shari suggested we do art mashups using PowerPoint. We juxtaposed each of our three choices for weekly online conversations, continuing them for about a year or so. Shari mentioned that we add related snippets of poetry to our art choices, including some I’ve been writing since I was 21.

Now, into our fourth year, the most juicy part of the weekly process is the quality of our flowing conversations on the art itself and the personal associations it stimulates. To us, it reflects James Baldwin’s quote: The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.

Yet another serendipitous opportunity landed last year when my community Village matched me with a volunteer completing an art therapy Master’s program.
Another collaboration led to enjoyable, productive cross-fertilization in our weekly meetings. That resulted in a range of encouraging excursions for me into collage and beyond, revisiting my portfolio of drawings and untouched books collected after Mona’s course. The nonlinear process of following this vital, but often dormant interest continues.

I answered the Village invitation to members to show their art, providing three collages with themes that unsurprisingly related to my consulting work, as you’ll see

My first collage: Belly Button Blues related to navel gazing/overthinking

Consider the meaning of your passion, vision and/or mission to you
I hope this following uncovering of the layers of meaning, learning and self-expression that supports my attraction to arting will spark ideas for your own senses,
imagination and mind. Following are phrases capturing the meaning and chemistry of art for me, as I teeter into self-expression, my way:

The processes of arting integrate and elicit for me:

  • a range of stimulating, creative capacities, activities, conversations and collaborations
  • visual thinking
  • aesthetic interests, especially color, texture and design
  • sensual instincts and expression
  • intuitive understanding and responses
  • associations with experiences from past and present
  • emotions that do not preclude using words
  • insights into myself and others
  • excitement and surprises from emerging and completed images and sharing

Sparking your senses, imagination and mind

Perhaps after you read the following article about mental images, you’ll notice further how powerfully images and your imagination can open wider, even healing,
worlds for you.

Arting continues part of my image-making, looking, noticing and seeing. It’s immediately available for excursions and adventures such as discussing art, returning to drawing, reading and learning from such weekly rich reporting as Post journalist/art historian/critic, Sebastian Smee’s.

What are your possible adventures that relate to any yearned for mission, vision and/or passion? If nothing clear or concrete comes to mind immediately, jot down all key words and phrases that emerge when you answer any of the following:

  1. What do you never tire of doing, learning about, observing or discussing?
  2. What have you been longing to do for a while, but dismissed for lack of time and resources, challenges, disdain from others and/or perceived incapacity?
  3. What are the qualities, skills or talents you wish you had?
  4. If you were reincarnated, what or who would you chose to be?
  5. What activities feel playful, stimulating or adventurous for you most of the time?
  6. What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? (attributed to Carl Jung)
  7. Add your own questions to avoid missing something important:

Now, consider your responses. Cull themes to synthesize for articulating your own passion, mission and/or vision. Discuss them with someone you trust and enjoy,
perhaps exploring that person’s interests as well.

For further inspiration about how play shapes the brain, opens imagination and invigorates the soul: here is a 26-minute video:

Move from I can’t to I will take some small steps even thought I’m not sure of where I’m going.

What’s behind the “I can’t” or similar barrier that holds you back? Do you mean that you’re not capable, don’t know how or really don’t want to do something enough?

Actually, the realities can be more complicated than this trinity of barriers. They may include any of the following interactive aspects as well as a web of your own and others’ expectations in which you may get caught. One example from the Alexander Technique is called end gaining. That’s when focus on the end result grabs attention and energy away from the pleasure and value of the process or how you will encourage something to occur.

Which of any of the following examples reminds you of a barrier or block you may have?

  • Emotional (fear of failure or rejection, lack of confidence)
  • Societal (pressure to succeed, disdain of your interests or efforts)
  • Experiential (previous negative experience or difficulty with the effort)
  • Intellectual (lack of practice, attention to or understanding of the how-to process)
  • Physical (body awareness and expression and knowledge or limitations on use)
  • Technological (inexperience or frustration with relevant technology)

Other barriers also involve resources such as time, money and assistance, including reassurance and encouragement.

However seemingly firm, such barriers are adjustable enough that you can ignore, let go of parts and find creative work arounds. Any sincere effort will support
confidence building and free your emerging vision, mission and passion for imaginative trial and error as well as creative updating to reflect your own dynamism and what’s emerging around you.

Your small steps and actions will suffice to get ready, elicit helpful responses and attract opportunities. So, attend to what’s related and possibly unfolding within and outside yourself to nourish and sustain progress, however nonlinear, dynamic and indefinite. Find and engage collaborators who would be stimulating and fun.

Here’s your call to action to adjust in any way that works for you

As mentioned at the start of this article, describe in writing your passion, vision and/or mission now while your ideas and this article are fresh in mind!
If that does not flow forth, what entrenched habit or thought do you need to put aside, unpack or unravel to free yourself to move forward in your favor? If it smacks of perfectionism, loosen that chain a little. To help, name three specific gifts of time, resources and/or activities you will give yourself for opening a door and taking next steps into your progress and adventure.

Even overwrought Hamlet said, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” (Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2) And, though he may have been alluding to death, “If it be now, ’tis not to come: if it be not to come, it will be now: if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.” (Hamlet, Act 5 Scene 2)

To keep it simpler, Hamlet’s ghost and you may benefit from American singer Janis Joplin’s guidance: “You gotta be able to act a little, feel a little, think a little.”

Sustain hope by thwarting stasis, regression or discouragement

To help with such times when you courage and capacities need revisiting, here are some nudges to use and adapt to your liking. Maybe the following will be catalytic.

This video relates to what, why (purpose) and how you can activate your passion, mission and/or vision. Use twelve of your precious minutes to listen for and capture ideas from concrete steps and stories to express your convictions as you take action:

And if that does not move you, here’s another collaborative, nonlinear story of one young woman’s odyssey through her adventure for finding her passionate focus:

As you’ve seen from the stories here, there’s no one best way to do anything. So, take what’s useful from the links and this article for moving into and through your own manageable, authentic process. Keep celebrating and rewarding yourself, preferably with others, for any progress.

Feel free to get in touch with me for a chat to explore your approach and ideas.

Ruth Schimel PhD is a career and life management consultant and author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon.  She guides clients in accessing their strengths and making their visions for current and future work viable and engaging.  Aspects of this process include clarifying meaning and purpose for motivation, pleasure, and success, as clients define them.  202.659.1772

Obtain the first chapter of Ruth’s seventh book, Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future and learn about a free consultation via her website:

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