• Dr. Jill Bakke

Courage & Change

A calling may be postponed, avoided, intermittently missed . . . but eventually it will out. – James Hillman

It takes courage to try new things, especially those things we don't know if we can succeed in or even want to do. Sometimes the ideas that draw us feel so far out of the societal norm we deliberately ignore them. The catch is, we won't know if we don't try. If you have a strong push to move in a different direction, learn a new skill, or change a habit, find the right mindset, seek the information and skills needed, and tackle it regardless of what others may think. I'll let you in on a secret. We can run from a calling, but like the story of Jonah and the whale, we end up at our Nineveh.

I knew for decades I was called to learn more about shamanism or something similar, but I ignored the messages. Eventually I got a more direct message. It was back in the 1980s in an art therapy class when we were tasked to make a plaster mask on our face. When it dried, we were told to take the mask off, live with it a week, and then create what it wanted to be. For seven days it was my constant companion, but it didn’t want to be what I wanted.

I wanted to be a Spanish-looking senorita with dark hair and diamonds (fake, of course) on my eyelashes and a rose in my teeth. The mask had other ideas and demanded to be an Indian shaman with a feather in her hair, dark tan skin, and gold glitter in her eyes. I was frightened of her and admitted it in class when we had to dedicate our masks. Then I went on and ignored it again.

Oh, off and on, I would take some shamanic classes and eventually completed The Four Winds’ Medicine Wheel curriculum and a few other classes in energy work. They improved my life, but the improvement remained far from the calling it was intended to be. Despite dragging my feet, I was continually enticed to learn more about shamanism and finally took the plunge. In June 2019, I finished the Light Body School at The Four Winds.

I had to face my reluctance and look at the thoughts that created it and other aspects of my behavior and life that kept me stagnant. I had to understand my motivations and learn to trust the universe and the work I was doing. It required hours of extensive reading and practice to learn healing techniques. It entailed mastering how to live in the present and let go of old stories that ran through my life like a chorus, creating the same issues over again and over again. It meant gaining the ability to see the divine in everything, not just in things that pleased me. It challenged me to learn discretion and patience and so very much more. It showed me how much I had to learn. And it opened the door to even more growth than I could comprehend. I am still growing and changing. I doubt that journey ever ends.

Many people have followed paths of change that others felt were foolish. Initially the change rarely makes sense to the rest of the world. If they become successful, then society looks at them and applauds. One of our Four Winds teachers left her work of over thirty years, as a federal administrative law judge practicing criminal and energy law, to become a shaman. In addition, she was a former Fulbright Scholar and a former hospital administrator with degrees in public and international affairs. Another graduate student of The Four Winds was already a competent surgeon. He took the training and now, incorporating his beliefs, he begins each surgical operation by creating sacred space even though spiritual healing and medicine is still at odds. Sam Keen, who earned graduate degrees from Harvard and Princeton, left a position as professor and Head of the School of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University in London, to wander the world and ended up publishing over a dozen books and becoming a noted American philosopher. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and created a computer empire that began in his garage.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are doing if you want to change. Teachers become hairdressers. A lawyer decides he wants to work in wood and moves to the construction industry. Whenever people step into change, the end is unknown. They often face criticism, manipulation, and efforts to keep them tied to where they are before taking the plunge. But a calling will keep nagging at you until you begin to follow its breadcrumbs to where it wants you to be. You don’t have to rush off into it, but you do need to pay attention and examine what it offers.

As to change itself, it comes regularly into our lives. Learning to be comfortable with it is important. Change–whether marriage or divorce, a new job, starting college, even the first time you stand up in class and read something you have written or sing a solo in front of an audience--takes courage, requires hard work, and creates challenges. And challenges can be fearful. But, don’t let fear rob you of the growth and happiness that can come with change nor prevent you from saying those precious words: “I did it. I succeeded!.”

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