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What is calling you in 2013?

Japanese Garden and Imnaha collage 003 - Copy

“Hair Raising” ~ Mixed Media Collage by Betsy Lewis

Do you know what you are called to do or be? Have you always known? Have you had several different callings or just one? Do you have a calling on the “back burner”?

Some people seem to know their calling at birth. They make a beeline straight toward their destiny. I ran across an old friend like this on Facebook. I remember him from high school as being a super smart, likeable and devout young man from a military family. I see that he became a chaplain at West Point!

If you’d met me in high school, there would have been no way to divine my future path.

Japanese Garden and Imnaha collage 021Most of my life I have zigged and zagged this way and that, distracted by the many shiny things of the world. I have let my ego and other people’s visions for me lead the way. They say there is a consistent unifying thread that runs through each of our lives. If that is true, mine must be in a tangled mess by now.

Part of it is that I have an inability to “settle” on anything, which isn’t all bad. I am always open to new adventures and creative projects. On the downside, I have lacked boundaries. My tendency has been to merge with others and not stay in an awareness of  important parts of myself — parts which might have helped me discover my calling earlier in the game.

But always I have been asking, “What are you here for? What do you want to do with your life, Betsy? Who are you really? Why is this so hard??!!”

Although I am traveling light, I do have a few books with me all the time. One of them is by Gregg Levoy and is titled, “Callings: Living the Authentic Life.”  My copy is dog-eared and heavily underlined. He says, “You just need to figure out what decisions will assure that when your life flashes before your eyes, it will hold your interest.”

Chinese Gardens Portland Jan. 2013 037Now on my walkabout, with time and solitude to be with myself, I have discovered my calling. It happened just the other day, and it was if my vision cleared suddenly — less of an “Ah Ha”, and more of an “Oh yeah . . . that makes sense.”

So what is my calling?

In one way or another, I am called to help people find their “voice” and be “seen and heard”– by the whole wide world, or by their community, or by their family or maybe just by themselves for themselves.

By “voice” I mean the expression of a person’s true inner self, through speech, action, vocation, avocation or any of the art forms. By “seen and heard” I mean to be acknowledged, validated and valued. To use your voice and be seen and heard is deeply and powerfully healing, and the world needs more of this. Many women, children and 99% of the world’s people don’t have a voice and are not seen and heard.

My calling has been a shadowy shapeless force informing and shaping my life – the elusive “thread” that has led me from social work to (of all things) marketing — as the most expedient medium for carrying out my calling.

This is not pure selfless altruism. I am very aware that this calling is also a way of validating my own voice and meeting my own yearning to be seen and heard.

Answers come in their own sweet time – sometimes late in life. But thankfully they do come, and I have my walkabout to thank for this one.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Katey Simetra #

    I love what you’ve written… my path has had both a clarity and foggy, mystical beckoning, which I’m in now. Sometimes, it’s more by looking back that I see the thread that connects (technical writing, adult workplace training, community development, and teaching English). Now, I’m in a place of question. Through an involuntary transfer, I ended up in a job that is a tough fit and I’m eager to leave. I look for jobs but so far have hit a “thud” feeling in my spirit. What captivates me is this mystical longing that is only clear when I take the next step. I wonder about early retirement (and worry about enough money, given other decisions I’ve made in my life–and I still have energy to work). I want, though, to work straight from my heart, whether paid or unpaid. I have a similar life’s vision as yours in my wanting to help folks empower themselves through knowing and believing in themselves, their stories, their voice, their expressions. So, in reading your blog, I felt a strong connection w/ you… again.

    On your other thoughts, I think sometimes our strengths are flanked by our shadows–along a continuum, at least that’s been my experience. My own examples. I care deeply for people and nature– I love that. I can be codependent through action and financial support in both areas, and I want to balance that, spending less time in the shadowy side. I am positive and a dreamer, which I love. Sometimes I don’t see what is actual–important reality, and I want to balance that.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us! Your spirit is lovely, I think!
    Blessings to you!

    January 19, 2013
    • Hi Katey,

      Thank you for your good wishes and your thoughtful reply. Yes, I think we share many things too. It is hard to know what to do — since we can’t foresee the future. I have some decisions coming up in the next few months too. I try to stay in the present as much as possible and have faith that the answers will come. There is no guarantee that if we follow our callings or longings that all will be well, or that we will be financially secure. There is only the call, taking the first step and what happens next, which isn’t very comforting! Many blessing to you too Katey. Keep in touch. I would like to follow your journey too.

      Take care – Betsy

      January 19, 2013
      • Katey Simetra #

        I will! 🙂

        March 4, 2013
  2. I was one of the lucky ones – with a calling to be a ballet dancer. That was all I wanted to do from about 7th grade, and I did. But that career ends in your 30’s. Then what? I think I am now called to write. Tune in…

    January 16, 2013
  3. Deb #


    January 16, 2013
  4. I am SO glad you found your calling…because I’ve been one of the lucky recipients of your gifts! You’ve encouraged me both personally and professionally with deepening and broadening my voice and getting it out there!

    January 15, 2013
    • Wow Marla! I think I know someone who says, “I can die happy now.” That’s what I am saying too. Betsy

      January 16, 2013
  5. I can only offer these words: Better late than never! 🙂

    January 15, 2013
  6. Gosh Betsy you’ve been reading my mind!……I hope it wasn’t too painful!
    Those sentiments you have expressed in this piece are so similar to mine. The ‘wandering, wandering in hopeless night’ (Jim Morrison quote), always seeming to be bouncing around life like a rubber ball, often thrown by other people and being fearful when younger of expressing opinions for fear they were wrong, stupid, incoherent or misunderstood and so we go into a shell, and many people do not emerge from this state, only until perhaps life ‘shocks’ them into it. (See ‘The Golden Buddha’ story) and often when you are young you have feelings and know you have a contribution to make but lack the ‘voice’ and the courage to express yourself. (Isn’t that encapsulated by the Marianne Williamson quote; ‘Our greatest fear’?)
    And of course we are far from being alone, there are many people like us. Short (honest!) true story.
    Many years ago there was a young girl who, in class, fidgeted a lot, distracted herself and those around her. She day-dreamed, her work was late, her classwork was poor. The school, being so concerned, contacted her mother and arranged for a counselor. The young girl knew the man she was seeing was important to her in this, so she sat on her hands! They talked for 30 minutes (with her mother) then the man stepped outside to talk with mother, leaving her alone with a radio on. They watched, unknown to her.
    She began to dance.
    The man said to her mother, ‘Your daughter isn’t ill. She’s a dancer, she needs to move to think’.’Take her to dancing lessons’. She did.
    She progressed quickly, she felt she was at home, she found her ‘tribe’.
    She qualified, she learnt, she became a teacher, she became known and one day at a party a man said ‘I like your work, I’ve just written a musical, i would like you to choreography it’
    The man was Andrew Lloyd Webber, the musical was ‘Cats’. Her name is Gillian Lynne.
    I guess what I am saying (You’ll find this and other stories in Sir Ken Robinsons book ‘The Element’) is that there is often something there in childhood that we show a ‘tendency’ to do, it may not be obvious, may not be complete, it may only be a small ‘cell’ of ideas, literally our imagination at work (how many of us were told off for being dreamers?) it may not be in the curriculum, but it is burning away and I think many neuroses can develope later from this inability to have fulfilled what lay inside us all this time, I think its actually quite damaging to our health and well being. Our calling went unheard. Our voice was drowned out. (Susan Cains book ‘Quiet’ – The Power of Introverts’ published recently is very powerful on this too…I believe shes doing a book tour about now as well).
    These processes are so like the butterfly/chrysalis metamorphosis (not literally, only insects ‘die’ and get reborn), but our brains too can ‘die’ and like the phoenix, rise up, we sometimes do have to die a little to be reborn. More here;
    Please take time to spend an hour watching this documentary. It is about finding your voice and its never too late!
    (After a writing course I wrote about 60 pages of ‘memoirs’ expressing my own desire to find my voice and the forms it took and its taken 50 years to get to this point, and it’s ongoing, but I consider myself fortunate to have found anything at all…many do not.)
    Thank you for allowing me to concur with your thoughts somewhat, Betsy….

    January 15, 2013

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