Crafting a Calling

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of these links, I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. You can read more about my advertising policy here.

How do you know who you are, what you’re all about, what your talents are, your passions, your purpose? Some people can answer these questions easily, with barely a moment’s thought. Others, like myself, have a harder time. Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about these questions a lot. I don’t think we have one single grand Life Purpose, but we do have smaller purposes or callings. Things we feel we are meant to do. Things that just feel right. They don’t have to be huge, world-changing things. They just have to be meaningful to us. They also don’t have to be a lifelong endeavor. We can have multiple callings, multiple passions, throughout our lives.

Maybe your calling is to be a doula, or a school teacher. Maybe it’s to open a coffee bar. If we’re lucky, we can turn our passion into a career, but that’s not the case for many of us. We need to pay the rent, and often that means that we follow our passions outside of working hours. Maybe you volunteer at a non-profit on the weekends, helping a cause you believe in. Maybe you get up early to write fiction, or do yoga, or go for a run before hitting the office. Me, I don’t know what my passion is. I’m finding that after almost eighteen years as a stay-at-home-mom, I’m not even sure what my talents or interests are outside of parenting. I’ve heard the advice to ask myself questions such as “What do people ask me for advice on?” and “What could I give a 30-minute talk on without preparation?” My answers to those questions are all parenting-related. For years, people have asked me about breastfeeding and homeschooling. I could talk about either of those at length. I’m the friend that people tag on Facebook when they post an article about breastfeeding or homeschooling. I’m also often asked about babywearing, discipline, and other things relating to being a mom. For a while, I even ran an online forum for local, non-mainstream parents. That was rewarding and fun at the time, but now I’m trying to get back to who I am as an individual, as myself, not as someone’s mom. I love to read, do crosswords, and drink coffee, but I wouldn’t call any of those a passion for me. They’re definitely not something I want to blog about or turn into a job or career.

I do love to do crafts and DIY projects. I don’t have a whole lot of talent in this area, but I have heaps of interest. I just need to learn, to try new things, to practice. I love being creative. It’s fulfilling and a fantastic stress reliever. Maybe, if I try enough things, I’ll find an area that captivates me, and I’ll want to pursue it more deeply. Maybe I’ll be able to turn it into a career. In any case, I’ll have fun, I’ll learn new skills, I’ll make stuff. And maybe I’ll learn something about myself.

Follow along on the blog as I try new things. Right now I’m in the middle of knitting a dishcloth. I’ve been knitting for years, but sporadically, and I’m somewhere between a beginner and an intermediate. I’m committing right now to knitting much more often. I’m also currently taking an online course from Sketchbook Skool called Drawing Without Talent. It’s taught by Danny Gregory, who is disarming and encouraging and makes me believe I can actually become an artist. I’ve also started listening to his new podcast, Art For All, and I’m going to check out some of his books. I have been voraciously consuming books, websites, and podcasts that discuss creativity, especially in terms of how to find and nurture the creativity within you, how to make time for creativity, and how to stop listening to and believing those voices that say “You’re no good! Who the hell do you think you are, calling yourself creative?” So these books seem right up my alley.

I’ve been wanting to learn cross-stitch or embroidery for a while, so I think that will be my next endeavor. There are several Etsy shops that sell kits for beginners. I’m going to buy one of those and get started.

Cutting Myself Some Slack

Today I was going to get up at nine, start writing at ten, work on reading with Luz at around eleven-thirty, and then make some very overdue phone calls. I’ve been having trouble keeping up with everyday life tasks such as paying bills, making various appointments, homeschooling my daughter, keeping the house semi-clean… you know, the kind of things that everyone else seems to do without even thinking about it. I decided my problem was that I didn’t have a specific time set aside each day for any of these tasks. When I set up my planner for this week (yesterday, because that’s another thing I have trouble keeping up with), I scheduled these tasks, and last night I made sure to set my alarm.

After waking repeatedly through the night, I pressed snooze for a whole hour this morning and woke up at ten. Sometime after eleven, I realized I desperately needed to grocery shop, but I knew there was no way I was going to make it to the store. I ordered groceries online for Publix to deliver. By the time I was done, it was past noon and I hadn’t eaten anything. I started making some food, which of course prompted two of my kids to ask me to make food for them, too. Finally, after a brief stint as a short-order cook, I ate my first meal of the day. This happens much more often than it should. I actually have a reminder set on my phone for 1pm every day to tell me to eat, because I tend to get busy and forget to eat until mid-afternoon.

After I ate, I did manage to make one phone call before realizing how much pain I was in. I mean absolutely severe physical pain. And that’s when I had to remind myself that sure, scheduling time for certain tasks would probably be helpful, but my trouble goes deeper than that.

See, I suffer from chronic pain and exhaustion that I’m pretty sure are due to fibromyalgia. I haven’t yet gotten a diagnosis (remember those appointments that I still have to make?), but I tick off most of the red flags and my primary care doctor thinks it’s likely. I also suffer from depression and anxiety, and over the past month or so I’ve weaned off one antidepressant and started another. Not only has this been absolute hell psychologically, but my physical pain has increased immensely. So today, my entire body is aching and my head is about to explode. You know how you feel when you have the flu? That achiness you feel throughout your bones and even your skin? Add a strained lower back, and that’s how I feel now.

I was feeling guilty for not sticking to my schedule, for not doing the things that appear to be so easy for everyone else. I had to stop and consciously adjust my thinking. I had to remind myself that I actually did accomplish things today. I bought groceries (they were delivered as I wrote this post). I made lunch for two of the kids. I made an appointment for my daughter to get a haircut. I took care of myself: I showered, dressed, ate, and took my medication. This is important; it’s not something I can always do. And now I’m lying in bed. I have my coffee, my sketchbook, and my knitting next to my bed on my Räskog cart. I took some ibuprofen. And I’m not going to feel guilty for having reached my limit.

Rock Painting

Two things Luz, my ten-year-old, absolutely adores are art and nature, so I’m trying to fill our summer days with lots of both. A few weeks ago I was in a Hallmark store, and I saw a selection of painted stones for sale. What a great project idea, I thought. This was an art activity that would incorporate nature, and would be more exciting than Luz’s everyday pencil or pen drawings on paper.

Luz couldn’t wait to get started rock painting. She immediately ran outside and gathered a few rocks from the backyard, trying to stick to ones with a smoother surface. She washed them with soap and water and let them dry, which really didn’t take long. We didn’t have a great selection of paints, and I thought a paintbrush would be tricky to use on rocks, so we used some Bic permanent markers I had on hand. These are similar to Sharpies, and I think the quality is comparable.

She colored a few rocks, and was surprised and impressed when I showed her that one of them looked very similar to paintings by Joan Miró.

Meanwhile, I’d been frantically googling rock painting, and I read over and over again that the best paints to use were UniPosca paint markers. I told Luz that I was going to buy those, and she decided to hold off on painting more rocks until we had them.

The UniPosca markers arrived the other day, and they are fantastic. Not that the permanent markers weren’t great; they were. But using paint instead of ink gave us more vibrant colors, and allowed us to use light colors, even on darker colored rocks.

My 14-year-old, Zeke, joined in, and he and Luz spent hours painting all kinds of pictures and designs on rocks of all sizes. Llani, my 17-year-old, joined them for a bit, and turned a large rock into some sort of reptilian creature. I even got in on the fun and painted a little rainbow against a blue sky.

We still have over a dozen rocks left to paint, and the kids keep coming up with ideas. I’m going to spray a sealer onto our finished rocks so they’ll last longer and be weatherproof, and then we’ll have to decide what to do with them all!

Am I There Yet? Not Quite.

I’m forty-seven and I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. It used to be cute, saying, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up,” as an adult. It used to be reassuring, even. I’d heard other adults say the same thing. We were all in the same boat. If only I were the first one to put “Adulting is hard!” on a t-shirt, I could have made a fortune (and maybe started a t-shirt-making empire and solved much of my problem). It’s true, many people, probably most people, don’t have it all figured out by the time they graduate, or even by 30 or so. Maaaybe even 40.
But 47? Almost 50? Let’s face it, unless I am extremely lucky, my life is more than half over. It’s scary to think about. And when I think about how far I still am from knowing what the hell I’m even doing, from even knowing how to adult, it can be downright terrifying. So I’m trying to resist that fear. Instead of getting under the covers and curling into the fetal position, which is very tempting at times, I’m learning new things, hoping to discover my passion, and trying to make my life less dysfunctional and more joyful in ways both big and small. Come along and join me on my journey!