Last week I talked about finally admitting to my true calling. Today I’d like to talk about the process that got me to that point. It was a long, slow, at times painful process and I didn’t understand what was happening. In hindsight, I can now see how everything that happened has led me to this point in my life. And I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
The seed of my passion for writing was planted before I could even read. I learned to love books from an early age due to my Mama reading great books to me – both picture books and otherwise. Playing pretend as a kid caused that seed to germinate. It blossomed when I read my first “real” book. As in, a book with chapters and no pictures. I even remember what that book was – a biography of Helen Keller. Her story, and the way Mama was proud of seven-year-old me, sparked a fire inside that has never gone out. The gift of my first journal for my 8th birthday sealed the deal.
The path of my true calling took a dark, but necessary, turn during my early teen years. I was never the typical overtly rebellious teenager. Instead I poured the frustration and angst of those years into words on paper. I still turn to writing when I am frustrated or upset. As I came out of that phase, my writing became something more. Lighter and more optimistic, but also more real and honest. I had found my voice. I also began to delve more into writing fiction. Looking back, some of those early efforts were cringe-worthy, but I am slowly improving. I still have not created a story that is fit to publish yet. Someday perhaps.
In the meantime, writing is both my lifeline and my outlet. It is the one thing I turn to in every situation. When I’m sad or joyful, depressed or content, angry or excited, when I feel broken inside and when I am ready to take on the world. Writing is always there for me and it is always my first reaction. That is how I know that it is my true calling. And that is how I know that I will never stop writing.
Some people seem to have it all figured out. From a young age, they know exactly who and what they are going to be and by golly that’s what they do. I am jealous of those people. By the time I graduated high school, I had emphatically decided on a career 20 different times, no two choices alike. When I was five, I wanted to be a firefighter. Then a police officer. At six I was gonna run an orphanage when I grew up. Seven-year-old me was a future politician. And so on. Lawyer, bodyguard, journalist, truck driver, cowgirl made more than one appearance, restaurateur, a secret agent phase of course, DJ – and the list goes on. I never could settle on just one.
I think there are two reasons for that. The first is equal parts personality and upbringing. My dad made no fewer than 8 career changes just in my memory span. I always thought that was normal, but I guess most people stick with the same one forever. I honestly don’t know if I could do that. There is something to be said for security, I suppose. But is security worth sacrificing adventure? Should I trade an unpredictable life of freedom for safe drudgery? Yes, I know I’m oversimplifying. But do I really wanna tie myself down – even to something I love – and potentially miss the next great opportunity? I want to grab life by the tail and see where it takes me.
The other reason for my inability to pick a single career is denial. All those years and all those varied careers I said I wanted, I never once admitted what I really wanted. Even to myself. Other than as a pipe dream. An “if-a-genie-gave-me-three-wishes” kinda dream. I have finally admitted to myself and to others what I truly want to be more than anything else in the world. I want to be a writer. Actually, I am a writer – I want to be a successful, published author. I believe that writing is my true calling. Some even say I’m good at it. Whether my work will be a success or not remains to be seen. Whether I can make a living off it also remains to be seen. But whether I make millions as a writer or a few bucks or nothing at all; whether I find a successful second career or work a string of jobs or quit working altogether; whatever else I may do, wherever my life may take me, one thing I know for absolute certain. I will never stop writing.
I’ve written before about my “bucket list” – a lengthy and detailed list of things I’d like to see, do, and own during my lifetime. But there are really only three things that I want more than anything in the world. Although I am learning to be content no matter what, this is all I truly need to be happy and satisfied with my life. All the other dreams and goals would be nice but not essential. This is my life mission.
- To fall in love with the guy of my dreams. Wooed and won by my true love. Cherishing and being cherished in return. A passionate lifelong love affair. To build a life and a family with a man who I can trust implicitly and love infinitely.
- To raise children of my own. Our own, I should say. Both biological and adopted kids. Little people who need to be loved and cared for. To share with them the gift of love that was given to me.
- To have a successful career as a writer and author. One that allows me the financial freedom to quit my day job and offers the flexibility to spend time with my husband and kids. To feel as though my writing is making a difference in the world.
Everyone has a life mission. No two are the same. Each is as valid and valuable as the next. What is your life mission? Do you know yet? There was a time when I did not know mine. Even today I do not have the full picture, just the bare bones. I have a glimmer of a dream that I carry in a special place in my heart. A dream of a life that overflows with love and joy and passion. A life that is my own and is what I want it to be. I don’t know how I’ll get there, but I know where I want to be. Do you? Look deep in your heart – you will find your life mission there. And once you have it, don’t ever let go.
As a kid, I was something of a tomboy. I have never been a girly girl. And for a lot of years, I couldn’t be bothered to think about trivial things like clothes or makeup. If it fit and allowed free movement, I wore it. And the only attention my face got was keeping it clean. But over the course of these past 2 or 3 years, I have finally gotten in touch with my feminine side and found my own sense of style. I guess you could say that I’m a late bloomer. Better late than never, right?
The process I went through to find my sense of style has three primary components. One is I figured out who I am. This is probably the biggest key to finding your own style. You have to know who you are to be able to express yourself eloquently through style. If you don’t know yourself, you end up following the latest trends. There’s nothing wrong with trends – unless they don’t fit with who you are. I found myself primarily through writing. Journaling, short stories, observations on the world around me – I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. But it’s only in the last few years that my writing has uncovered the essence of me. I would encourage you to write your thoughts down. Keep a journal and just write. Thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears, ideas, whatever is on your mind – just put it down on paper. It doesn’t have to make sense and you never have to show anyone else. In fact, it’s better if you don’t – I find that I am more honest in my private journal than anywhere else.
Another part of finding my sense of style is Pinterest. I admit I am a Pinterest addict. I have several boards dealing with style and fashion and clothes among many other topics. The biggest pitfall of using Pinterest to find a style is pinning anything and everything that you think is pretty. That is no help whatsoever. To get the most out of your style board(s) you have to pin only those outfits that are what you would actually wear. Outfits that suit your personality and body type. No matter how gorgeous, if an outfit doesn’t suit you, you will not be comfortable and confident in it. And comfort and confidence are the biggest part of looking good. Once you have a few (or few hundred) style pins, look for commonalities. For instance, one thing that kept appearing in the outfits I was pinning was a black and white striped long-sleeve tunic. Once I noticed that, I realized that I didn’t have any striped shirts. So I went out and bought one. And guess what? It is one of my favorite tops. I can make so many cute outfits with it.
The last part of me finding my own style was to actually go shopping. I took someone whose opinion and advice I trust (my dad) and we made a day of it. I tried on dozens of shirts, pants, skirts, and dresses. We found the things I was comfortable in and that he thought looked good and that would work in a variety of outfits and situations. And where those criteria met is where I found the clothes that are just perfect for me. And if you give it a shot, I think that it will work for you too. You’ll be amazed how rocking the right outfit can make you feel.
This is harder than I thought it would be. I mean, I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize how difficult this could actually get. I considered giving up on this blog and my writing dream when Mama died. She believed in me and my writing before anyone else did and I didn’t know if I would be able to carry on without her support. Then too, there would be the issue of trying to write without being overwhelmed with thoughts of her. I ultimately decided that continuing on with this and every other aspect of my life is what she would want me to do. But it sure hasn’t been easy.
It’s like the words are stuck. It’s weird, because writing has always been easy for me. The words would just flow with little effort. Quite often, it was a struggle to get them to stop. Mama always said that I have a gift. Now it’s like I’m groping in the dark to find what I want to say. My hope is that by putting this down in black and white, maybe I can beat this. I may not even publish this; I don’t know yet. Writing has always helped me work through problems I needed to solve or decisions I needed to make. But I’ve never had trouble writing before. How can writing save me this time, when it’s a fight to even put this on paper? I feel like I’m lost. Maybe I’ll try telling a story.
It was almost a year ago that I first started this blog. It was her idea of course. “Have you ever considered doing a blog?” Out of the blue, her question jolted me. I had never thought of blogging before. “Just something to think about,” she said and that was the end of the conversation. So I did think about it for several weeks. Even as I went about my normal life, it was always in the back of my mind. Every once in a while, I’d ask her a question. What would I write about? Would anyone read it? Who could I get to help me set it up? Could I do any good with a blog? Every step of the way, she was there to help and encourage. When I finally launched in May of ’15, I think she was more excited than I was. And when I had to give it up a few months later, she was so disappointed.
Between work, life, and taking care of her, there just wasn’t time for extras. So I did what I had to do. And I didn’t mind, not really. We would talk about it every once in a while. She encouraged me to keep writing as I had time. Even if I didn’t publish what I wrote. She didn’t want me to give up on my dream. The re-launch in January was her idea too. Life was stabilizing and she seemed to be doing okay. “New year, new start,” she told me. So I did. Three weeks later she was gone. And this blog is all I have left of her. So no matter how hard it is, I won’t let go. As long as I have this, it’s like she is still here with me. And I think I’ve worked through my writer’s block. Thanks, Mama.