The Process of Figuring Out What You Want Out of Life

be as you are

What Does Life Have In Store For You?

Do you ever wonder what life has in store for you? You think you have everything laid out: the direction you might go in, what you’re going to do and you even make plans.

This last week was one of those kinds of weeks. The kind where you wonder what life really has in store for you. And what, exactly, are we all striving for?

Some things started happening regarding my working life and I’ll admit: I’ve been a little bewildered and hurt by it. My heart was already looking out the door, but…when stuff started happening all in a row and things started tumbling together to make one big cloud about to burst with rain, you know you gotta make some decisions.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll know that I’m a clark: I’m sensitive, creative and I often wonder what it is that I’m really supposed to do with my life. You’d think, ah yeah, that kid (which I’m not so much anymore), she knows her stuff. She teaches. She studies. She goes to school.

On the surface, I look the part of the girl who’s got it together…maybe. (You didn’t see how I was dressed like a militia girl, looking like she was ready to race dogs in the Yukon Territory the other day when it was so cold out. I just needed a pair of mukluks and they would have entered me in the Iditarod just for my looks. Laugh if you will: I live in the South.)

I’ve been wondering what to do with myself since I developed the ability to wonder.

It’s one of my life’s great struggles.

Below the surface, I yearn to be free. The kind of free that doesn’t have someone watching the clock to make sure I keep a schedule. The kind of free where I’m not accountable to anyone but myself (and maybe my loved ones). The kind of free where you make the shots and you live life on your own terms.

Humans Are Supposed to Be Free

So often I think, yes. Life wants this for all of us.

I’ve always thought that life is supposed to carry with it the whole spectrum of emotion: happiness, sadness, frustration, elation, joy, peace, even anger. When these emotions hold each other in balance, life can be an adventure that pushes us to where we never thought we’d go.

Without anger, how would we know to act when we see an injustice?

Without happiness, how will we appreciate it when we feel sadness?

Without love, how will our lonely hearts be filled?

But when one emotion dominates – frustration – you know that life’s lemons are urging you to make the proverbial lemonade, as I alluded to in my last post.

If you’re reading this, maybe you want to be a writer. I’ve dedicated a chunk of my life to this endeavor since 2011…and even before that if you count all the short stories, journal entries, grants and papers I wrote before that.

Before that it was art. Hundreds of images created in a quirky southwest style? Check.

Before that it was teaching. Because I wanted to make a difference.

Ring, Ring. Autonomy is Calling.

That urge to be autonomous just keeps pulling my hair, making my head turn at every corner. And the journey to autonomy is happening so slowly, that my friend Molasses is winning the race.

I know this all seems abstract, but bear with me, I’m getting to the point. Before I do that, let me tell you a story.

It’s the story of a 17 year old girl, the middle child of thirteen siblings. She met a military guy; they married. By the time she was 18, she had her first child. She went on to have four more, adopt another and help care for countless other children. You’d think she would have opened a day care center. Never having worked, she decided to go out to a nice resort hotel, and apply to be a waitress. She was 40 years old. She wanted her kids to go to good schools. She worked her way up, eventually even being entrusted with the responsibilities to cater to two different presidents of the United States. The owners of this hotel resort took notice and invited her into their home to help care for them as they aged. 

Five years later, when she was 55, she started a business for the very first time, using her contacts from the owners of the hotel. She opened a nursing home in her home. I was only 9 at the time, because I was that child that my mother adopted. She wanted to send me to good schools. She worked extremely hard to send me to private schools. To this day she says she never regrets it. 

And wouldn’t you know, she’s had a learning disability this whole time? My mother, who understands people better than they understand themselves, figured out a way to educate herself – not through college – and with only a high school education, still managed to create a business that helped support her family. Eventually, it grew enough that she has 10 employees and have two of her children work there with her. When her husband – my dad – retired, he went to work as the office manager for the business. 

They still, even in their mid 70s, are working and maintaining this business. They are also approaching 57 years of marriage. They’re a little like oil and water, those two, but there still is a lot of love. 

Do you think that when my mom was 40 years old that she knew she’d eventually open a business? She always liked the elderly but she was much more likely to work with children?

That wasn’t in the cards for her. I don’t know if she was passionate about caring for elderly folks until she really got started with helping to care for them. It’s definitely not glamorous work.

She was also able to care for her father before he passed away. Over the years, she’s been able to take in friends and other family members and nurse them until they either got better or until they returned to the earth.

I relate this story because I sort of wonder if something like this might happen to me. I have been bound and determined to be a creative. But what if the creative part is supposed to be a by-product of what I’m really here for?

If I knew that, I would probably be doing something very different with this post.

Is It Really Passion?

So many people talk about passion. Loving what they do. Never working again a day in their lives as long as they’re doing what they love.

Maybe it’s not about that. Maybe it’s more about answering the call for what you’re good at. Then, little by little, you build something that you can be proud of. Like a business that helps people learn to better themselves somehow. This is noble, yes?

However, over the past few weeks, I’ve really been working on this question. I created a vision board, and I’ve been doing a guided meditation to help a person understand their destiny. It’s the kind of thing where you really just work to clear the mind so that messages can get through.

I’m still not sure. Sometimes any message I get really does feel like I’m reading Gaelic and all I’m thinking, oooh, look at all the pretty shapes!

But there is a seed that is coming through. I know it’s teaching, and I know it involves writing. But what if it’s different than even I think? What if it involves going out on my own to do what I need and want to do?

So, going with that, I was over at a site called MicroMentor that, if you need business advice, it will pair you up with a volunteer mentor. I just met someone who lives across the country who has a successful business who is willing to mentor me.

I have a feeling that this is just what I needed. I will say LOUDLY AND CLEARLY that I’m a little dense when it comes to business. When I need to sell myself – that is, my Spanish knowledge in tutoring – my voice starts to get really small and my eyes look at the floor and you can barely hear me whisper….

But, I’m amping up my tutoring website, I’m going to do a lot of soul-searching and the whole business of this day job just might translate into a dream job.

I’m Grateful…

So, I’m grateful for garbled cosmic messages, micro-mentors, my Spanish knowledge and the power of technology…to bring friends and community together. I’m grateful for knowing how to speak Spanish and my willingness to teach others.

I know this: whatever my life entails, I know writing and speaking Spanish are going to be a part of it. I should go write a Spanish article over at that other site, huh?


Thankful – The Visionary Edition

hold the vision

I used to own a pear (haha, get it?)  of rose-colored glasses. And though those fun frames have long since disappeared into oblivion, I still don the imaginary pair.

[Tweet “When life throws lemons, I make furniture polish. And use strawberries to make moonshine! “]

Just kidding, I really just sit down and make lists of things to be grateful for.

Here is this week’s list.

It was Friday: cloudy, kind of cold. Didn’t get some great news at work. So, I get home and I get The Phone Call. This random person calls me to tutor her in Spanish. Maybe it was a sign. You know there are a lot of people out there who totally believe in signs. Remember that line from the movie, “Fools Rush In” and the priest tells the girl, “There are signs everywhere.” Yes, well, I think I’m slightly illiterate when it comes to interpreting life’s signs. Like I need to be beat over the head with them. And how shall I interpret that?

Tutoring. Outside of work, I tutor people in Spanish. (This is also one reason I have trouble with signs: how do you reconcile your identity as a Spanish teacher and possibly wanting to launch a tutoring business for real with this crazy desire to write, write, write?) I’m grateful that even though I haven’t promoted myself at all lately, I still get people who inquire and call. So…that must mean there are people who do want to learn Spanish. Tutoring online is a possibility…that is as long as my satellite internet doesn’t have a cloud over it…

My ancestors. Really. Besides the obvious fact that I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for the family tree, I am grateful to them. They’re the angels that look over your shoulder and do the gentle tap, tap, tap to remind you that you really are important. They know how to help. So, I ask them to beat me over the head with signs. That I can actually understand. Because they should also know that I’m challenged when it comes to signs (see above).

For vision boards. I watched The Secret. To tell you the truth, it’s not really different than other inspiring videos, books and blogs that I’ve read. In fact, I think the creator of The Secret read The Magic of Believing, but you didn’t hear that from me. Don’t get me wrong: it’s good in that it spreads a positive message. It’s got some good tips. My two favorites are “visualize” and “be grateful.” Sure, I’m grateful. I got a whole list here. But, I’m a believer in visualization, too. There was one good tip I walked away with: create a Vision Board. I spent the better part of New Year’s Day creating one.

How do you make one, you ask? Well, you think about the end-product of what you want in life, but the key is to think about it a little differently than just “get out of debt,” for example. See, if you use the word debt, even though your goal is to “get out of debt,” theoretically you’re still putting “debt” energy out there. So you never really get out of debt. Positive or negative, if there is something you want to avoid, just don’t use that concept. Instead, take something like a pay stub, add a zero or two to the amount, and visualize that in your bank account…so, you know, you can pay your debts.

You want to travel? Print, draw or write those place out and post them on the vision board.

Of course I believe in the power of abundance – responsible abundance. I admit that having a $47 million dollar house on a hundred acres is not my idea of responsibility. You know? Visualizations of a completely carbon-neutral solar-powered house? Okay, yes, that is one of my ideas of using the earth’s resources responsibly.

For birthdays. Yesterday, I had a chance to celebrate two birthdays: my husby and my sister-in-law. Another journey around the sun, taking in life and living another day to make a difference, have more experiences, accomplish greater things. Indeed, I’m very grateful.

For 43,600 words. I’m working on a fiction novel. Yes, another one. I’m compelled to write…but I’ve been having a “finishing” problem (shhh, we’ll not talk about those four other novels I have in various stages of first drafts that may or may not ever see the light of day…). Can you imagine what might be on my Vision Board with regards to this? But this one could be the one. It’s a ghost story. And I’m on that shitty first draft, working through all those doubts you get as a writer, but you force yourself to plow through in the hope that your friends will still consider you a quality human being after reading what you wrote.

For The Doctrine. The other night, as we were preparing dinner, we discussed some of the issues regarding different people in our lives who are rogers, scotts and clarks. And those hard-to-identify people that usually end up being rogers. And if roger-roger relationships are feasible. It’s just so fascinating to determine what worldview a person has because then you understand where they’re coming from and why they may do what they do. It’s a key to understanding people and relationships. I find it indispensable, really.

Brown Mountain Lights. There’s this place called Brown Mountain near where I live that reportedly has all these lights that vary in color that show up in the night landscape. People have reported seeing these for over 800 years and the US government even launched an investigation as to what they are. Locals think they are the spirits of Native Americans who used to live in the area. I haven’t been there to see them – I only just discovered that this is a possible haunted place near me.

But haunted places? Ohmigosh – I’m so into that! I’ve always loved ghost stories and mysteries like that. Part of why I think I was compelled to write my own imaginary story.

Have you ever seen a ghost? You know, I haven’t. But I have experienced unexplainable things in my life for sure. I definitely believe.

I feel a budding interest coming on…I might end up talking about ghost stories here more and more…OOOooooOOOOooooOOOOooOOooooOOo.

Chris at Iworkofftheclock. We started these conversations last week about cranking out ebooks: both fiction and non-fiction. And, I want to try my hand at it, especially after reading, “Writing a Kindle Book a Week” by Alex Foster. So…I’m not that inclined to write 25-30K words a week to crank out book after book – although that is what he recommends. I’m afraid my eyes recommend stepping away from the computer after an hour or two of solid writing. And working on a computer at work for most of the day. So maybe I’ll go for the “Writing a Kindle Book a Month” club.

Workout videos. Because after a rough day, there’s nothing quite so therapeutic as a kickboxing session where you imagine pummeling hidden enemies and kicking them out figuratively and literally. I got the idea from Melanie’s ebook and have been hooked ever since.