Visionary Jess Lively’s prompt asks us to dig deep and listen to what our intuition is saying about our next moves.

Jess is the creator and host of The Lively Show, a podcast designed to uplift, inspire, and help you add a little extra intention to your every day. You can find her on Twitter at @JessCLively

Her prompt:

What is your intuition calling you towards next?

Exploring My Intuition’s Call

To explore what my intuition is calling me towards, I used VisualsSpeaks’ Exploring New Options image deck.  The VisualsSpeak cards are a great tool, carefully tested and developed to tap into our creative and integrative thinking. I find, and my clients find, that the process of creating and exploring collages informs our logical and analytical thinking in new ways. It opens the door to understandings that were previously out of reach, and leads to new ways of thinking about and planning for the future.

I developed the collage pictured above by holding the prompt in mind while quickly going through the deck, selecting the cards the felt right, and then arranging them into a pattern that made sense, without analyzing what I was doing.The entire process of took about five minutes – you don’t want to overthink it. The thinking comes in as you seek out the story the cards are telling.

To uncover that story, I explored the collage from a number of perspectives. I read and wrote about the collage from left to right, top to bottom, bottom to top, looked around it as if it were a circle, starting from the top and going clockwise, and then going counter-clockwise.  Finally, I looked for themes, for what stood out as most important.

The results of this work filled several pages in my notebook. I’ll summarize what I learned, and share the message I found about what my intuition is calling me to next.

This collage tells the story of two different challenges I faced in 2016, and where I’m called to go with these challenges in 2017. One challenge is personal. The other is political. They are linked by the circumstance of having occurred in the same calendar year. And they are linked because the personal is political; the political is personal.

The personal challenge: ln July of 2016, I learned I have Type 2 breast cancer.

The political challenge: In November of 2016, Donald Trump won the electoral college and became our president-elect.

While profoundly different, I find that there is a lot of thematic similarity in what it takes to cope these two challenges.

First, there was an initial response of shock, fear and despair with each of these. While that subsided, it by no means disappeared. The threats posed by both are real and must be faced and addressed. Yet, they must not be exaggerated, for that leads to paralysis. I have read what poet and teacher David Whyte says about despair in his book, Consolations. Here’s what I took from his writing. Despair is a natural response to the losses we face in life. It is not place to get stuck. Despair is a place to retreat to, a season to be honored, a place for healing. But staying in despair leads to depression and inaction. By nature it is a place to move forward from, when the time is right, into a season for action.

Despair, strangely, is the last bastion of hope…. ~ David Whyte, Consolations, 2014

In both cases, the personal and political, moving from despair to hope, followed a similar path. The path starts with despair, with accepting fear, pain, and loss. With wanting none of this to be true, and feeling overwhelmed by a sense of threat. The way is steep, and in fact I cannot see where it goes as it breaches the horizon. I have to trust that it continues, and that I can navigate the portion that I cannot see. It is filled with switchbacks and detours into which I go along the way. One of the key themes I found in the collage is the need for self-compassion and acceptance in negotiating this sometimes uncertain and unclear path.

From Despair to Hope

Moving from despair, when I was ready, when the time was right, to action and hope required:

  • Awareness that the time to move forward had come.
  • Information.
  • Time to think.
  • Companionship from supportive others.
  • Help, both practical and emotional.
  • Facing realistic risks and threats, and developing plans for handling them.
  • Holding onto a positive vision for the future.
  • Finding courage to take a stand and if needed to fight for my beliefs and convictions.
  • Recognition that hope leads to action and action builds hope.

While the specifics of dealing with cancer differ from the specifics of dealing with world and domestic politics, the principles and practices are similar.

Moving Forward

Moving forward with both of these challenges, my intuition tells me to use my time and energies in ways that:

  • Promote my own health and well-being.
  • Use my energies to strengthen hope, resilience and coping in others.
  • Take actions based on realistic hope – that is, hope that is not of the blandly optimistic “everything will be okay variety,” but rather faces and addresses the risks that are present.
  • Strengthen my own hope and resilience through these actions and through connections with others.

Health

In terms of my health, this has meant assembling an integrative health care team that includes a surgeon, an oncologist, nurses and a social worker, as well as an herbalist, acupuncturist and a personal trainer. It has meant reaching out to friends and family for help and learning to trust that feeling my own vulnerability does not mean my strength is lost to me. It has meant standing up for what I need in order to end up with the quality of life that makes it worthwhile to endure the treatment I’m experiencing. And it has meant facing the not-so-fine sides of myself, the self that gets narrowly focused and sometimes loses site of how I might be impacting others who are close to me.

While there is much struggle in all of this, I have the assurance of having a readily treatable form of cancer, a very positive prognosis and every reason to expect a life that will include both some unwanted changes and some exciting new possibilities.

My intuition calls me to follow up on the invitations I’ve received to help bring hope to others who find themselves confronted with the struggle, uncertainty, and change that cancer brings to their lives. Being able to help in this way will be a gift to others, and to myself.

Political Changes

The political changes loom as more unsettling, uncertain, and dangerous than the personal ones. The treatment plan is unclear and the near-term prognosis appears grim. Moving forward from a place of post-election despair and fear has meant gathering information to understand what likely lies ahead, taking stock of specific threats I expect will face us all and risks that may be specific to my own situation, and developing plans accordingly. It has meant connecting with others, including as much as possible, those who don’t share my perspective. It has meant deciding to be more visible, raising my voice and speaking out for my beliefs and values. There is some risk involved in doing this, but no more risk, I have realized, than in remaining silent. I have decided that I have something to offer and to offer it I need to step forward from the simplicity I have craved and created. I have been taking steps to launch the Department of Hope. There is much more to do, and I am committed to doing it.

Possibility lives in the darkness we now face.

Taking these steps requires and strengthens hope and courage. Possibility lives in the darkness we now face, and that possibility will be lived out as we each work individually and collectively, with commitment, compassion, perseverance and courage. My intuition calls me to be part of that effort.