Creative Yes! and Zeal

from my Blog at New Thought Families. For an illustrated version, click here. Nicely layed out by publisher/editor Laurie Story, with eye candy by me:

Creative Yes! and Zeal
by Rev. Kanta Bosniak

Minister Moment: This month, we explore zeal: how we can get it, keep it going and support it in others. May we all feel the joy and excitement of finding what we love and living it, through self-discovery, positive-mindedness, practice, and follow-through. And may we celebrate the successes of others as we celebrate our own.

At last, it’s Autumn, my favorite time of year! The trees put on fancy clothes, mums pop out, and pumpkin everything returns to stores and restaurants. Students and teachers go back to school and even those of us who have graduated tackle endeavors with renewed passion. So, it seems appropriate for zeal to be our focus this month. I cannot hear or read the word “zeal” without thinking of that quote by Unity co-Founder Charles Fillmore, “I fairly sizzle with zeal and enthusiasm and spring forth with a mighty faith to do those things that ought to be done by me!”

How wonderful it is that Fillmore said these words at age 93! He also wrote, in The Revealing Word, “Zeal is the mighty force that incites the winds, the tides, the storms; it urges the planet on its course, and spurs the ant to greater exertion. It is the urge behind all things. Zeal is the affirmative impulse of existence, its command is ‘Go forward!’”

One might also say that “urge behind all things” is that what feeds us and powers us. It’s energy that comes from our Divine Source and that is supplied to us to offer the gifts that come through us.

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
-John 4:34

The question “What are ‘the things to be done by me’?” can be most easily answered by asking more questions: “What do I love to do? What makes me feel excited and relaxed at the same time? What, when I do it, makes time drop away?”

Steve Jobs advised, “You’ve got to find what you love.” But what if you know what you love to do, but you feel discouraged or burnt out? To get your mojo back requires moving from resentment to a sense of happy anticipation, adventurousness, and gratitude in advance. Remember that delays are not denials. Let go of previous disappointments, discouragement and preconceived notions about how things should has gone for you, or how it “should” be right now. This includes frozen wishes about how people “should” have recognized your talent, how you “should” have been rewarded and your exact timetable for those rewards.

In an episode of “The Good Wife,” when Alicia Florrick is offered a partnership at Lockhart/Gardner, she feels happy and excited, until she learns that she is one of six lawyers who have simultaneously received partnership offers. She feels belittled, even betrayed as she realizes that her invitation is coming at a time when the firm needs the cash influx it will receive when the new partners pony up their equity investments. So, even though she’s wished and worked for this promotion, the fact that it meets her bosses’ needs and that she has to share the honor with five other colleagues takes the “specialness” out of it for her.

While her co-workers celebrate a case win, Alicia’s sulking in her office, until Senior Partner Diane Lockhart finds her. Her mentor suggests that she get over her unbecoming pique, get her gratitude on, and points out to her offers come and offers can go away as quickly as they come. Lockhart suggests that she go out and thank the partners for the opportunity, regardless of how and why it came. Lockhart shares that her big break also came because it served her boss’s agenda. And so, Alicia makes an attitude adjustment, joins the party and the partnership.

In order to pursue our good, and live lives that support passion and enthusiasm, we must recognize opportunities and act on them. As Clive Davis (former head of Columbia, Arista and J Records, now chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment) said, “You’ve got to seize the opportunity if it is presented to you.”

Then what? Practice, practice, practice. Michael Jackson exemplified zeal. Record producer, songwriter and founder of the Motown Record Corporation said about Jackson, “He was driven by his longing to learn, to constantly top himself, to be the best. He was the consummate student. He studied the greats and became greater. He raised the bar and broke the bar.”

Then, follow through. Keep at whatever it is until that inner voice says, “This project is done. Start a new project that will take you further. Keep going!” Sometimes as in a timed test, if you don’t have an answer right away, don’t belabor it; move on to the next questions and come back to it when you’ve can see it freshly. I’ll share with you a recent example of how this this phenomenon showed up on my life.

Among other things, I’m a painter of Modern Folk Art Primitives (or Outsider artist, which really means that I paint the inside of things, rather than exact replications of what they look like on the outside!). About fifteen years ago, I began a series of sixty paintings of inspiring people, leaders and out-of-the box thinkers, who represent particular archetypal qualities that we may draw on from within ourselves. I chose Clive Davis to represent the way zeal within us can work. That part of us that says “Yes!” to opportunities to do what is authentically ours to do.

I chose Bob Dylan to represent authenticity. I was happy with how the border around Dylan’s painting revealed how I saw him, as a publically fierce guy with a secret sweetness I imagined might only be known to his friends and family. However, the one painting of all sixty that I never resolved (or haven’t yet) was Davis, whose aura I painted with a kind of frothy lavender, as if to soften, even deny the very yang quality I was trying to depict. I knew there was something off about the painting. I even knew it was the aura, but I just wasn’t ready to fix it or see it in my mind’s eye as it should be. Because I wasn’t ready to seize my own opportunities with that level of gusto. Last week, I took another look and knew exactly what to do. I’m showing you the old “cotton candy” version, soon to be repainted into all its power.

Finally, what separates zeal from zealotry? The discovery, practice and follow-through on what is authentically ours to do, while allowing others to express their gifts in their own way. That’s the difference between someone people will cross the street to avoid and someone who inspires others to be themselves! And that’s the difference between an idol and an icon.

Feel & Write: Take a few moments to tune into your feeling self. Breathe down into your lower abdomen and let your attention rest there. Now ask those questions and be open to noticing the answers that come out of your pen. What’s most exciting for you? What can you clear away to let the excitement grow? What can you forgive? What new opportunities do you recognize? What actions can you take? How can you follow through? How can you respect and support others in their processes?

Share your findings in a supportive group.

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