Why Calibrate?


Article by Kristina Campbell, leader of Calibrating True North.

And what if you slept, 

And what if 

In your sleep 

You dreamed 

And what if 

In your dream 

You went to Heaven 

And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower. 

And what if 

When you awoke 

You had that flower in your hand? 

Ah, what then?

-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘What If You Slept?’


For many years this poem was written on the wall, one line per step, up the staircase to my bedroom. Each night as I read these words I was reminded of the magic and power of imagination and creativity to fuel the fulfillment of my dreams.

A friend once stayed with me and needed to spend some time in my office working on a project. He came out laughing and said, “Kristina, I had no idea!” Curious, I asked him what he meant.

“How organized you are! It’s as if you have read all these self-help books, about how to set your goals and manage your time…but the difference is that you actually do the things that they suggest!”

I felt my cheeks warm with a blush, realizing that he had seen all of my plans and dreams for my life, written out complete with timelines and broken down into the small daily steps that would move me closer.

I have read an enormous number of self-help books over the last 35 years of my life. While I haven’t done everything in each book, I have certainly given many of them a try. I love daydreaming! Imagining what could be possible, and then finding ways to incorporate my desires into the reality of my everyday life. It’s not unusual for me to spend a weekend scheming, trying to figure out how to fit it all in to the woefully insufficient 24 hours that I have each day.

Swamp Year 2018 Detail - Gut.jpeg

I’m a generalist which makes the task all the more frustrating. I remember years ago wishing that I had just one thing, one clear path in my life. I imagined how peaceful it would be to be walking along through a sun ripened field. One path in front of me, with defined sides to contain my curiosity, and an inspiring vista to focus on and entice me to my destination.

My field looks very different. Crop circles, not the orderly mathematical precision kind, but rather a mess of distraction, indulgence, curiosity, wrong turns, U-turns and chaos. Paths leading willy-nilly between the circles, some going nowhere, some suffering years of neglect before suddenly I am inspired to re-visit them. I often realize that what I learned over in one circle makes it possible to re-visit and improve a circle I earlier abandoned in boredom or frustration.

If I were a bird, I could fly above and see all these beautiful interconnected and intertwined circles. I wish I were a bird.

Most of the time I am a mouse. Contentedly nibbling on the seeds of grain that have shaken loose with all of my thrashing about. I can nest in the fallen stalks, finding warmth and comfort. I can invite my mouse friends to come hang out with me in the latest clearing, marvelling at what wonders have been uncovered in my most recent exploration.

I used to think that I was working alone, I don’t think that anymore. Faith, spirit, inspiration, providence, call it what you will. W.H. Murray summarizes it beautifully in this quote which has hung in my studio for over 20 years:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

Swamp Year 2018 Detail - Right Shoulder.jpeg

I have been on the receiving end of far too many unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which I could never have dreamed would come my way… until I had the dream. Imagination and creativity are powerful tools.

Declaring my intention for the day does not guarantee that it is going to turn out that way, and often the universe has different plans than I do. I am reminded of the expression “I plan…God laughs!” I often think that when I declare my intentions God laughs with delight at the opportunity to conspire with me! I cannot ignore the number of times I awake and have the flower in my hand.

Ah, what then? 

To calibrate is to correlate the readings of an instrument with those of a standard in order to check the instrument's accuracy. We are the instrument, and we are playing our lives. Taking the time to consciously clarify what we value, what gives purpose to our days, to plan and dream, set intentions and to invocate is essential. How can the universe conspire with us otherwise?


Kristina Campbell is leading two sessions of Calibrating True North in 2019 at The Haven. Learn more below:

Calibrating True North: January 3-6, 2019

Calibrating True North:  September 20-23, 2019


The 3 mixed media collages within are part of a series Kristina created called 'Swamp Year, 2018'. Each represent a different part of the body (heart, gut, and shoulder in order of appearance) and were used as a way to map her body, her experience and her emotions as her Dad was dying with Alzheimer’s disease.