Finding A Calling And Seeing It Through

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” A calling is what you have when you look back at your life and make sense of what it’s been trying to teach you …”    Geoff Goines


IMG_0013I am called to put my thoughts down on paper every day.  But it’s not always easy. Sometimes life gets in the way, leaving little time to focus and keep myself inspired. Other times my inner critic sounds off, telling me that what I’ve just written is crap and I ought to find something else to do with my life.

In the process of writing my memoir there were a number of times I almost quit altogether. It was difficult, intense work and I often didn’t want to face or write about some of the grimmest days of my life. Yet I wanted to share my story as a way to help others who were considering being caretakers to their parents. With the help of a writing coach and encouragement from other writers, I kept going and finished it. In mid-September my book will be a reality and the dream I had of bringing it into the world will be accomplished.

These days when it’s hard to fit writing time into my overloaded schedule or I simply don’t feel like sitting down in front of my computer and getting to work, I think of two individuals I recently met who work day jobs, write at the same time, and feel that what they are doing will bring them to a more satisfying place in there lives. They have their own dreams. They also have the courage and hutzpah to keep at it without knowing whether or not their dreams will become reality.

I met the first one, a cab driver, in May during my visit to Chicago. When I hopped into his cab in front of the hotel I was staying in, he immediately asked if I was going to the airport. He sounded somewhat disappointed when I told him I needed to go to McCormick Place, the city’s huge convention center only a twenty minute ride away. He knew that Book Expo America was going on there, and asked if I was a writer. When I said yes, he said that he too is a writer and began telling me a little bit about the book he is working on. When I asked him how he found time to write, he told me that when he can take passengers to the airport and drops them off, he goes to the end of the taxi line and waits for his next fare. It could sometimes be up to an hour of uninterrupted time. That is when he pulls out his notebook and begins work on his book, a philosophical self-help treatise filled with ways to live a happy life directed at young people. I was impressed and inspired by this gray-haired, African-American man, originally from the Sudan, who needs to work, but also has dreams of publishing his book. I was especially impressed that he called himself a writer, when many of us don’t, unless we’ve officially published a book. As he did twenty years ago when he decided to come to America for a better life, he has taken action in an effort to bring his calling to fruition.

The second writer, a stewardess on a recent flight I was on is also working toward putting a book together. She was at the end of an exhausting four day stint up and down the east coast taking care of and serving passengers. She was anxious to get home where she would have the next five days off to clean house, shop, and do laundry. As I listened to her story of what she and the rest of the flight crew had been through during the past few days, I felt glad that I had never considered that line of work. I thought back to the times I watched myself and other passengers take out our frustrations on flight crew members because we had been delayed and would miss our next connections. This flight was no exception, since we were an hour late getting off the ground.

Once in the air and after the passengers had been served, she sat down and pulled out a red spiral bound notebook. She closed her eyes for a moment and then began writing. She wrote for about twenty minutes before she tucked the notebook back into her bag in order to get us ready to land. Once on the ground as we waited for the doors to open, I asked her if she was a writer. “Yes,” she responded with a smile and told me she had three notebooks filled with stories that she hoped one day would become a book. And,”Yes,” many of them had been written during those fleeting moments when she was on the job. I didn’t have time to ask her any more questions before I left the plane, but I was impressed by the way she was moving forward to hopefully bring her dream to reality.

I just finished reading, The Art of Work, A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do, by Jeff Goins. The cab driver and the stewardess could have stepped out of the pages of this inspiring book which explores the ideas of calling, vocation, and the challenges we all face as we search for a way to live a more purposeful and authentic life.

The description on the back cover of this book states: “Life seldom unfolds the way we hope or plan. The twists, surprises, and setbacks leave us feeling stuck with no option left but to play it safe—to conform to what’s expected of us. But what if theres was more to life than this?”

When we are called to plant a garden how can we make it flourish?

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  1. Great post, Joan! Your writing just gets better and better! I needed some perspective today. Thanks, for that.

    • Joan Rough says:

      I’m glad you like it, Dorothy, and that it gave you some perspective today. Sometimes we get so tied up in our own world and don’t see what others are doing to find their way.

  2. Joan — I love the two ACTION examples you shared here. Clearly, the cab driver and the flight attendant both use their time wisely — even in snippets — to accomplish what’s important to them.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Laurie, thanks. Using time wisely is huge when it comes to finding space in one’s life to do what we’re called to do. Just like in the garden we need to allow space between the plants so that they each can thrive.

  3. These are inspiring examples. Many people today are using their smart phones in these little fragments of time. These two people are doing something more productive.

    Is Geoff Goines (in the first quote) the same person as Jeff Goins later in the essay? I like the realistic way of defining calling.

    And I’m glad you persisted through the hard times of writing your book, Joan. I know it will bless many people.

    • Thanks, Shirley. I didn’t catch the two spellings, Geoff and Jeff. But since both quotes came from the same book I would assume they are. He goes by Jeff on the his blog. I’ll have to check that out. I so enjoyed our lunch together today, Shirley and hope we’ll do it again soon one of these days!

  4. I have read about authors, some renowned mind you, who can write during snippets of time – at the airport, in the grocery line, at the doctor’s office. I am simply not one of those people. I require solitude and a block of undisturbed time.

    Like you, I have thought about pushing aside my memoir, but it insists on exerting its voice, so I will persist. After the move, of course.

    I am just getting starting reading your memoir. It’s polished to a shine, but I know it didn’t start out that way. You inspire me as does your neat garden in the photo above.

    • Marian, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m with you when it comes to solitude and undisturbed time. But I imagine that if I didn’t have those things and was really called to write, I’d find a way. I know your move is difficult. But once it’s done, I expect the move will bring new perspective to how you see your life. Can’t wait to read your story!!

  5. I love this thought-provoking post, Joan, a great reminder for “where there is a will, there’s a way”. Your writing is powerful as you bring these two inspirational people and the valuable lessons they share to life. And your garden metaphor is spot-on. Our gardens require and deserve a faithful gardener to thrive. Thank you!

  6. Thank you, Kathy. I so appreciate your words. All of the things we consider important require our attention and care, including our families and ourselves.