What Ideas Are Calling You?

What Shape Will Your Work and Life Take? 

Ideas are everywhere but what’s important are the ideas that flow from your values and life story. Here are ideas that others came upon. Consider creating your own list. Remember, many of these ideas can translate into paid work but the trick is translating them into the job titles and skill sets that embody these works.IMG_0536

I am always surprised by ideas that people come up with–ideas that help fill a void that may have been developing for years.  Often it can be a significant birthday or loss or sudden change that provides the spark to consider what we have yet to do in my life.  This question is asked in the kindest of ways and not out of some Western notion of acquiring experiences or compulsive list-making that only makes you feel guilty about not doing something.  These are experiences that add fullness to your life, help complete tasks once begun, fill a creative urge, or help complete a relationship or connection as yet unresolved.

Each of the entries below are prompts to help you think of your own version of the entry.  Perhaps you don’t want to teach Uyghur to Syrians living in New Jersey but teaching Spanish to American health care workers going to Honduras may fit your life experience and values. See what emerges and send me your ideas.

 Working where you are:

 1.     Write your life story to better understand your future

2.     Work towards making peace with your family of origin

3.     Time to deal with your fear of water

4.     Come to know your soul or a piece of it at least

5.     Finish your novel or begin it and then finish it

6.     Study Italian as part of a process of getting to know your strange ancestors

7.     Work to get open space preserved in your town

8.     Organize a family reunion that addresses the unspoken stories and history

9.     Create the foundation for police and community to

where I once lived and wish to return to

10.  Develop a poetry writing program that helps immigrants learn English

11.  Get people talking about domestic violence by using movies as conversation starters

12.  Use the design and painting of public murals as a community building process

13.  Make peace with your sister

14.  Develop a sex education curriculum for teens that has community support

15.  Become more of an expert on film history and see where it takes you

16.  Run for city council to improve education and fix the potholes

17.  Awaken your town to the need for clean energy

18.  Form a public chorale open to all with concerts and fanfare

To let go–to throw out–to not be hindered by the past

19.  Teach new parents parenting skills

20.  Study web design and blogging and teach others how to get their voices heard

21.  Learn video techniques and spotlight the good things happening in town

22.  Build community cohesion by sponsoring victory gardens

23.  Use music in provocative ways to draw attention to its absence in the schools

24.  Spread your love of good writing into the souls of others

25.  Joining others to open an organic fast food restaurant

26.  Join a movement to promote light rail transportation

27.  Make an ongoing study of socially responsible projects and post them online for others to consider pursuing

28.  Make a study of Ulysses aiming to understand at least 40% of it

29.  Work on your life lists (birds, movies, books, songs, etc) and teach from them

30.  Teach life story and political theatre techniques to the unemployed or other specific populations

To travel to unimaginable places–but to be prepared as much as possible

31.  Hold organizational meetings on co-housing and other models for cooperative living and working

Working further afield:


32.  Teach on a Navajo reservation

33.  Return to Saigon to remember and try to repair some of the damage

34.  Study folk healing in Marrakech and write about it

35.  Mobilize support for better treatment of returning veterans

36.  Produce a movie on cross-cultural attitudes towards death and dying

37.  Go behind the news: find out for yourself what the insurgents want and do they have things we need to hear

38.  Hold broad public conversations on war and peace

39.  Work to develop measures for evaluating corporate responsibility

40.  Join a health team to reduce the spread of preventable illness in East Africa

To look beyond the obvious–to not assume I know what I am looking at

41.  Teach conflict resolution techniques to peacekeepers in world hotspots

42.  Question all paradigms / look behind the news / what do “they” want us to do / whose interests are being served by obeying the rules

43.  Work on programs that introduce Americans to vastly different cultures

44.  Document your walking of the ancient pilgrimage route from Santiago and Avignon to Rome

45.  Be on-call for emergency relief work for the Red Cross

46.  Work to restore a historically significant building in your region

47.  Let your photography tell the story of children along the US-Mexican border

48.  Help publicize human trafficking and what can be done about it

49.  Let Hollywood know you’re interested and that nothing will stop you

To stay curious–stay open

50.  Work towards peace in Israel and Palestine

51.  Learn performance techniques and “become” Eleanor Roosevelt or TE Lawrence, Gandhi or Mandela

52.  Hike the peaks and valleys of America

53.  Help Lily Tomlin search for intelligent life in the universe

54.  Focus attention on the effects of big oil in Nigeria, Alaska and North Dakota

55.  Interview contemporary artists for their views on art and social change and ways to save the planet

56.  Go behind history: examine an historical event that has shaped your life and see where it takes you

57.  Use art and performance techniques to help communities cope with natural disasters

58.  Join the Peace Corps or other organization to have your mind and imagination reshaped

59.  Take up the mantle of Rosa Parks or other of your heroes and move forward

60.  Trace the route of Lewis and Clark with a friend of yours

61.  Lead trips to Morocco, Latvia or other country of specific interest of yours  for Elderhostel

62.  Spend time in the Gulf and see what that does to shape your personal mission

63.  Join an ecological study tour to Brazil to assess rainforest destruction followed by a speaking tour once you’re back


ÓArt of Retirement : What Shapes Will Your Life Take?

Kendall Dudley, MA / 50 Grafton Street Arlington 02474

artofretirement.com / lifeworksdesign@verizon.net

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