Saturday, April 6, 2013

Finding a path

While I wait for my children to complete the St. Francis craft, so that I can post a little description of how it went, let me include a post about what is on my mind of late.

Finding a life's path and mission.  Although it seems like a vast and unapproachable subject, I think to contemplate this seriously is actually quite practical and down to earth.  If you don't feel like what you're doing is fulfilling, then everything you do (even the small stuff) seems heavier, weightier, cumbersome.  If, on the other hand, you feel like what you are doing, in a global way, is what you were meant to do, then the little things don't matter.  You can, as they say, forgo sweating over them, since 90% of the time you're doing what fulfils your inner-most self.  In my case, sometimes that includes wiping a snotty nose, or cleaning a dirty bathroom.

What happens, then, when only part of your life is in line with your true calling, and some of it doesn't.  What to do?  I figure, the first step should be trying to see if the part of your life you're struggling with can be modified slightly so that it better represents who you are.  So, in other words, if work is your Achilles heel, then before dumping it completely, maybe a shift in focus could help.  I know that I felt much better about teaching when I began to see that I wasn't only teaching the subject matter, I was also interacting with people that I could impact positively.  With that idea in mind, even the hardships of classroom management felt better because I saw them as opportunities to show the other students how a woman can respectfully manage a group of people with humour and grace.  The students tow the line, but I am also modelling something important.  When I focus on that, I don't mind having to discipline a student because its part of the plan.

What if seeing it differently doesn't work either?  What if you realize you just like to work in a different way and your current job doesn't allow for that--you can try to dance while you work an assembly line, but it doesn't safe or practical to me.  In my case,  I like to work quietly and working in a bustling college doesn't help me do that.  What if, you can't change your job enough to make it work for you?  For me, despite the down time after class, the noise of the day and the people I interact with over the course of the day, take up so much energy (since its not in my nature to be gregarious) that I can't enjoy the quiet time I have.  What if in your down time you feel depleted and that's the feeling that you can't shake?

Then, more drastic measures are necessary; maybe a serious change of pace is in order.  This is easier when you're just starting out in your field of work, but I know that its never too late--even when schooling and years of experience seem at stake.

There is such a thing as a  mid-career shift.  I accept that reality, now that I am listening to myself more carefully.  If this sounds familiar, my next question is, what does one do as the desire to  shift gears becomes more real...wait patiently (maybe), do other stuff (and wait patiently), scrap everything and start fresh (and then panic!?).  I think a moderate emphasis on any new project or endeavour that feels more fulfilling will help, then a sincere inquiry into how much time off from work can be had is ideal (can a 4 day work week be negotiated? can some projects be given to someone else? can an extended vacation be taken?).  During that new free time, working on the things that feel 'right' is a way to see what other doors will open.  That, I think, is where the waiting comes in.  When the iron is hot, you strike out and trust that your new path will be a truer one, but the iron has to be hot.  For that, you have to wait.

Waiting, for me, is difficult.  I don't like it at all.  I am a very patient person when it comes to other people's failings, other people's habits etc,  but when it comes to things I want to do....I want to do them NOW.  I don't cut myself a lot of slack, but when you wait you have to sit with yourself and just be.  That, for me, means I have time to think of all the ways I can be better, should do better, achieve more.

I am learning that waiting can also mean taking the opportunity to look around, assess the situation fully, appreciate the beauty, laugh at the mistakes, be with myself and be well (without the pressure of having to produce anything really new or life changing).  Waiting has become, for me, a way to store up energy so that I can be ready for when I do have to strike out, hit the iron, modify it well and move forward quickly as I like to do.  I realize that I can also honour my need for speed, but not now.  I'll be fast when it's time but now it's not.

So, let me leave you with this quote that helps me focus on the fact that even if the path is winding, all roads, when you're paying attention to yourself, lead to Rome (i.e. your life's mission).  You may not know where the path is leading, but know that you're being Led and our inner compass always points toward the infinite and Divine, from whence it came.

While my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path--Psalm 142:3

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