Thursday, March 15, 2012

Inspiring Women: Andrea Olson: Possibilities

On my bulletin board is a poster with phrases in black and blue letters, words I use to remind me of what to be grateful of right now and what is possible for me, words like “This life is a gift,” “embrace the possibilities,” “choose the path of joy,” “trust yourself- you know what you know,” “it’s OK to love a multitude of things & Want to Do Them All.” Andrea made it and her work is an invitation to possibility thinking and practice.

From the multitudes Andrea creates and includes on her web site, these are inspiring me today.

Reflecting on a recent journey, Andrea writes, “Travel replenishes the well of possibility,” and comments that she spent most of her trip noticing:

How the vibrant colors of the landscape were so different from those at home.

Daily meals can be transformed into rituals of beauty and community by using fine china and candles.

Lives and livelihoods do not necessarily need to be separated – just ask the many craftspeople and shopkeepers who live above their places of business.

The power of place can turn an ordinary experience into an extraordinary one – for example, taking in a symphony in centuries old ruin on top of hill.

Work-life balance seems to be a priority as many shops close early enough to allow workers time at home with their families (and some even continue the tradition of closing at mid-day for a few hours to allow a healthy mid-day break).”

And that these phenomena prompt her to consider possibilities in her own life, and she urges the reader: “Take a trip. Look at your life as if you were seeing it for the first time, through the eyes of a tourist. What would you observe?”

Cultivating curiosity and writing things down is another practice Andrea praises as a way to discover your multitudes. Recording a conversation with her mother during which Andrea described all of the activities she is engaged in and her mother’s response was “Wouldn’t it be better to find a job? Just one job?” Andrea’s answer is:

When you embrace that you like a lot of different things – and have a multitude of interests – you get to place of knowing. Knowing who you really are. Knowing that you are OK just the way you are. Knowing that you may not be able to do everything all at once but that you just might get to do some of it.”

Possibility thinking gives Andrea the freedom to change: “Quitting something because you got what you came for is different than quitting because you are afraid – afraid that you can’t do it, that you don’t have the skills or the knowledge, or that you are otherwise lacking.” When something in our life no longer serves the same purpose, it is all right to move on.

And possibility thinking enables one to challenge negative thoughts with contrary thoughts: “We have allowed words to be the “truth” about ourselves when the real truth lies elsewhere – namely, in our experience.” It reminds me of William Blake in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell,"without contraries there is no progression ..." and "Contraries are positives. A negation is not a contrary." (in Milton). It’s possible to hold competing thoughts and it is possible not to believe either one of them, not to be caught on the pendulum.

Andrea rocks.

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