Finding My Calling; Thoughts From a Year of Searching

One year ago.

One year ago this week I left security.

One year ago this week I took a path over a cliff.

And so much has happened.

trees in the woods
A walk in my backyard…and touched up with some underpainting.

If I liken my journey to starting out on a hiking trail (we all know that I LOVE to hike) it’s gone something like this:

I packed my bags and I was ready for whatever came at me.  I had enough food, clothes on my back, good shoes and I was standing at the trailhead.  I didn’t have a map, though.  I just figured I had this idea of wanting to go on a hike and I was going to take all the provisions I could to ensure a good journey.

Somewhere along the way I ran out of food.  So, I learned about what plants to eat and I was still enjoying the scenery.

Farther down the path my shoes started wearing out and I patched them together with duct tape.  I had to stop periodically to repair the repairs.

I had a three-season sleeping bag; I was REALLY glad I had extra layers of clothing when it snowed a bunch for a whole week straight.  Or a rain jacket when it rained so hard my shoes and backpack became water buckets.

I had a canine companion with me, but along the way he crossed a special bridge.  I think they call it Rainbow Bridge.

My soulmate went on this journey with me.  There were moments our closeness felt incredibly intense and profound.  Other times, I think I wanted to swat him with my backpack.

I got blisters on my feet, occasional headaches, and experienced heartache.

But then I heard The Wind.

Atop a ridge top.

The Wind whispered.  He spoke in a language that I wasn’t sure I could understand but somehow I knew it was a message crafted only for my heart.

I knew I had to listen.

He even spoke to my soulmate, too.  He spoke another language to him, so that he would be the only one to understand that message, meant for him; destined for his life.

I learned that my spirit could grow with the wind and expand to the sunset, or it could shrink to stay in my shadow.

Now, I cannot look at a mountain vista or an ancient boulder in the same way because I hear the voices of their history and the whispers of their joys and tragedies of their stories.

And in those silent words that filled my head in jumbled excerpts, they suddenly fell into place and SHOUTED, “YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!”

This is an abstracted version of my year-long journey.  A journey where I questioned what I was doing with my life, yet I knew I needed this experience.

It was a nebulous adventure.  When I left my stable job last year, I knew I wanted to set out to lead a creative, autonomous life.  I knew that I needed to call my own shots and develop my own schedule.

And I was hell-bent on this journey being about writing and creating art.

Mid-year, when I hit a brick wall, the bills were due and I had no income to please the corporate gods, I secured a part-time teaching position at a school that was spiritually-based.

black line

Do you ever feel like everything happens for a reason?

That’s the way I’m feeling right now.  I needed to find this school, though I didn’t know it at the time.

I was too busy being annoyed that I found myself teaching again.  I thought I’d left it behind forever.

I had been so scarred from teaching: at one point I was used as bait to get three teachers fired (the school admitted to doing this); a second school used me as a glorified babysitter – I wasn’t a classroom teacher; standardized testing was more important than anything.  ANYTHING.  I was just the Spanish teacher.  They hardly ever used my name.  The Spanish Teacher.

Did they not realize that I was more than just what I did for eight hours a day?  That I had a name, hopes, aspirations?  That I was sensitive and wanted so much to be the best Spanish teacher to ever grace a classroom?

I don’t think they did.

My colleagues did – they nominated me Teacher of the Year.

But it wasn’t enough.  I wasn’t Somebody.  I still felt like a babysitter.

I had to prove that I was more than that.

I spent the year writing and creating and taking photographs.

was happy.

Or so I thought.

I typed and created, sometimes going days without seeing another soul.  Sure, I would see my Love, but sometimes I’d go a week at a time without leaving the house.

And I started thinking these thoughts.  Ugly thoughts.

Ones like:

I’m not making a difference. 

Would anyone care if I faded into oblivion?

Is this how I want to be remembered?

I was still resentful having to get a job outside the house, though.  I wanted to create.

Is it possible to want something that deep-down you know is probably not that good for you?

As I settled into teaching little souls – in the middle of the school year, no less – my heart began to flutter.

I was having fun.

Suddenly, I felt loved and wanted and appreciated by my colleagues and valued in the teaching I was doing.

I began creating dynamic, visually appealing units.  I sang off key crazy songs in Spanish and danced like I knew the tango.  I ate like I was eating tacos for the first time.

When the end of the school year approached, I had not one, not five, but classrooms full of parents coming up to me, telling me what a difference I’d made in their child’s life.  I received requests to work with them over the summer.

And so, in retrospect, I found my calling.  It’s something I’ve been doing the past seven years, but hadn’t quite been in the environment that would help me flourish with the gifts I have to bring the world.

black line

So If You’re Wanting To Create and Shape Your Own Life…

My best advice is go for it:

  • Even if you don’t know exactly what it is: keep going.  I didn’t know, but I plodded ahead anyways.
  • Give yourself permission to experiment.  To change.  To try new things.  I have three websites as evidence of me trying different things.
  • Listen to what “everyone” tells you.  They might be on to something.  All my life “everyone” has been telling me that I need to teach.  For awhile I ignored them while I tried different things.  That’s okay – it made me come full circle to realize they were right.
  • You won’t always know your path, but when you look back, it’ll tell you where you were going.  And use that to move ahead.

 

black line

Here’s a quote from the Daily Guru:

If you see your path laid out in front of you — Step one, Step two, Step three — you only know one thing… it is not your path. Your path is created in the moment of action. If you can see it laid out in front of you, you can be sure it is someone else’s path. That is why you see it so clearly.

— Joseph Campbell

Oh and if you’re thinking that I might be giving up blogging: fat chance.  This has become part of who I am.

My outlet, my release.

I initially went into this to make a little money, realized that I’m not (it’s the niche blogs that do, and I so can’t do that), but found far-better benefits to blogging than just some sort of monetary thing.

  • I’d like to think I was making a difference somehow…
  • I’ve met people from all over the world
  • Writing is cathartic
  • The things I read on other blogs inspire me, too
  • I use this as a record of my journey
  • I can’t wait to see where I’ll go…teaching, blogging and otherwise…
  • I still create and expand my mind

And I stepped out in search of an autonomous, creative life.  

You know what?  I found it.  

In the form of teaching and bringing my gifts into focus with my students. I found it in this blog, interacting with beautiful, wonderful souls from all over the world.  

This is not to say that my journey won’t continue changing.  I give myself permission to grow, to change and to have the grace to go where I’m needed and accept my challenges with dignity and humility.

Do you give yourself permission to do the same?

I hope so.

And before I sign off, please, if you haven’t done so, enter my artwork giveaway.  It ends tomorrow.

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40 thoughts on “Finding My Calling; Thoughts From a Year of Searching

  1. I am so thrilled for you! I know the journey you’ve had lately and the trying new things…I’m in the same boat as you know, and I’m ecstatic that you’ve found your true calling. Congrats! Changing the lives of children/teens…that is incredible. And still being able to write and create art. Wow. Dream job and life changing. You go you Dangerous Minds woman you 😉

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    1. Melanie – yes, I love the boat we’re on. I promise to bail water if it gets too stormy. Otherwise, the water is great, go for a swim, paddle around a bit and enjoy it. 🙂 I am composing my dream job as I type. LOL… PS – I LOVE that movie!

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  2. Fantastic post…and I feel connected to your journey. I too, have fought against my calling– wanting to branch out…only to come back to it later. I think people think- boy you could have saved yourself a lot of trouble! but it’s necessary.

    Loved it!

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  3. You’ve had quite a journey and how great that you’ve found a way to make a difference and to feel fulfilled and fired up by it. And so great that you are appreciated for what you do. Congrats on such a successful year.
    It’s funny how we can feel so sure that we need to go in a certain direction and then it turns out another way is the one for us. Yet, we need to trust our intuition – had you stayed in the job where you felt unappreciated you might not be where you are now. Life is such a wonderful mystery full of surprises.

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    1. Yvonne – I just love your comment. 🙂 Intuition is key and I really think this journey groomed me to appreciate and love what I’m doing now. 🙂 I love how life does that, even if I didn’t appreciate certain aspects of my journey.

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  4. I’m so happy for you Cyndi! It can be so hard to choose a path when you’re not quite sure what lies ahead. It’s sure a lot more fun and exciting to do your own thing…the thing you love and are so good at!!

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    1. Kelly – haha, I love all the things I’m doing now for sure. I’m glad to be getting a little more focused, but yes, it’s truly wonderful. 🙂

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  5. I love that you found your way and learned so much from the journey. And I’m glad that you won’t be giving up blogging, because you have made a difference by sharing your work, spirit and light with the rest of us. 🙂
    I’m so happy for you that you have found such a wonderful place to teach. It sounds like a beautiful place.

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    1. Amy – thank you so much! Yes, I need to keep blogging – this “personal blog” is more of my corner of the internetverse and if I can inspire in the process, then I am happy. 🙂

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  6. Love this post and I too am so happy for you. I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason, all the paths we take, all the steps we make to get to where we’re going, and all the people we meet along the way. I could go on and on but I’ll stop for now. Have a wonderful Sunday and a fantastic week!

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    1. Susan – thank you so much. Yes, I think all the paths, all the decisions lead up to this moment, right here, right now. 🙂 Have a fantastic week, too. 🙂

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  7. It took a lot of courage to do what you did, Cyndi. I did “it” too. The system was killing me, and I had worked like a Trojan for my Master’s. I am SOOO much happier. But my good luck is a pension to help me through it all. I am betting that you are too young to have that. It all boils down to doing what God intended for you the whole time. You answered a calling, fulfilled a roll. Now it is YOUR time. Go for it!

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    1. Rebecca – that pension is awesome. Alas, I had nothing to fall back on and in some ways, it lights a fire under you and in other ways, it will stop many people in their tracks and not do what they want to do. It’s never an easy road deciding to go for broke following your dreams, but then again, nothing worth having isn’t worth fighting for. Thank you so much for your kindness and words. xo

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  8. Your words go on to inspire other people and it is a wonderful effect. We change, continuously, as we figure out more pieces of ourselves. I am glad for your evolution as it is unraveling just as I see the higher powers wanting – you are destined for great things, my dear friend.

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    1. Christy – yes, indeed! I’m still figuring things out, but this last year has been an eye-opening experience. I wouldn’t take it back, but golly, if I had know then what I know now, I might have done a couple things differently. But, eh, here we are and I’m loving it. 🙂

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  9. It’s funny how we think we’re on one path, but we end up somewhere else. Or, just in a different spot. You sound like an amazing teacher, Cyndi! So happy to hear you have found where you need to be.

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    1. Jennifer – so true! Yes, I’m so happy doing the teaching and for variety’s sake, I get to blog, too. I have the best of all worlds. 🙂

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  10. I love that you took the leap and did what you needed to do (in every case). I’m glad you started blogging too, you bring so much of your personality into what you create and write that it feels like your readers know you, and we do I think, a small piece of you anyway. And it’s nice! 🙂

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    1. Rosey – thank you and I’m glad I found your blog! PS – yes, I recently changed my twitter handle and haven’t updated it everywhere, yet. Thank you for letting me know. I hope you have a wonderful day!

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  11. I am glad you found your niche and even though you go back and forth; you come back to it.

    As they say that grass is always green on the other side…man ought to explore all his dimensions and then trod along the chosen path which could be his destiny 🙂

    You are doing an amazing job by touching many souls, Cyndi.

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    1. Kathryn – I know, right? It’s funny how we think we’re on one road, then all of a sudden, we realize we’re one another road entirely. Life is fun like that. 🙂

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  12. I know what you feel like! I’ve been trying to write and make things for about a year now, but I got serious about it when I stopped working full time back in March. I’m still finishing my masters in the fall, but I really just want to keep writing and making things!

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  13. In response to your comment on my blog: My daughter actually lives in Asheville, but is renting a cabin in Cashiers currently. Her work is in and around that area and it’s seasonal.
    Asheville and Cashiers are beautiful parts of the world!

    interesting quote from Joseph Campbell.
    I’ve found that life leads in interesting directions, not always the ones planned. in fact, probably not those most of the time. It’s really rather fun that I can start out along a path which intersects with another path which intersects with another. I often take those other paths when all along I thought I’d be on the first one for quite a while.

    This is a wonderful post! Keep dreaming! Keep walking!

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    1. Splendid Little Stars – it is a freakin’ small world! That’s awesome!
      I also love your Joseph Campbell quote. It’s SO fitting.
      Thank you so much for your kindness 🙂

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  14. I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and in a sense am very much like you….one year ago too, I took a leap of faith and left the teaching service, and while there have been tough times ( who hasn’t) there have been rewarding ones too. Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Thank you Cyndi. Beautifully said and lived. I’m doing a bit of what you’re doing. I’m an artist who decided to blog. I have no idea where it will take me but I’m on a journey. I love the way your journey turned out. Bravo to you and how lucky your students are to have you.

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