Between the Lines

So here we are … trying to live with an ongoing pandemic and constantly changing world. It’s difficult to focus or feel creative. Recently, as I felt my old life slipping further from reach, I decided to remind myself of who I am and who I strive to be. I asked myself a few big questions and made a list I then turned into long, rambling paragraphs. The last step was to edit it all down and voila! I had discovered and written my Life Theme Statement and Life Ambition Statement. Sounds grandiose? It is, and it isn’t. It’s simple and it’s huge, all at the same time.

Kathy Steffen

Will my statements stay the same? Not sure. But it’s not a bad idea (especially in the whirlwind life has become) to chronicle where you are now and where you want to go. This exercise inspired me and pulled me out of my slump, quite a blessing considering everything bombarding us these days.

What is your Life Theme? It’s easy to live day-to-day without being aware of a theme, but your life has meaning running through it, through everything you do. How do you find something so elusive? Make a list of things most important to you. Brainstorm until you run out. Choose your top three and freewrite, asking yourself the following questions about each. What is important about this? How does this make you feel? What would life be like without this? Make a list of your favorite things to do. Choose your top three. Why do you love this? What does this add to your life? Hunt for clues of your theme. Look around your home. What messages/inspirations have you posted for yourself? (Hint: look at bulletin boards, your daily or wall calendar, your coffee mug, the fridge.) Do this in an hour or take a few days to brainstorm and write. You’ll end up with a big mess of writing. Highlight what jumps out. Circle keywords. As you work toward a Life Theme Statement, write a journal entry on anything and everything that surfaces. Explore and deepen. You might surprise yourself and discover something important hiding behind day-to-day life.

What is your Life Ambition? List things you want to accomplish in your life. Under each, ask yourself why you want to accomplish this. What does it mean to you? Why is it important to you? You’ll quickly see what rises to the top. Write a Life Ambition Statement. Can it change? Sure. In fact, this (just like the above Life Theme) is good to review every year.

What do you want to accomplish before the end of this year? No one will say 2020 was without challenges. When you look back on this year, what do you want to have changed and/or accomplished? Looking at your Life Theme and Life Ambition, make a list of steps to take you in the right direction, then decide what you can do in the next few months. Make a plan of attack, schedule some time, and go!

There is no wrong way to do this or answer these questions. This exercise will give you some insights. Perhaps some peace. You are in control (and doesn’t that feel good for a change?) and whatever comes of this, it’s exactly perfect for you. And that’s what truly matters.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion.” She is grateful to write from her safe-at-home in Spring Green that she shares with her husband and cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com.