Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fueling the Passion: Focused on a Purpose

I couldn't sleep. Eyes shut, I shifted stomach to back and side to side. I had woken up with Camila. While she was only awake very briefly, I could not fall back to sleep. Instead, I thought and processed, ideas taking shape.

As an educator, this isn't new to me. In my dissertation I included a narrative about not being able to sleep in my hotel room following a career fair when I was in my teacher preparation program: 
The gears in my brain churned away, screaming at me to get out of bed and start documenting the flow of ideas. I tiptoed to my backpack to grab paper and a pen and sat on the floor next to the hotel window, not wanting to wake my master colleagues. A bit of sunlight was streaming through the crack in the blinds, just barely enough to see. My hand flew across the paper, and I felt the great feeling that comes with writing thoughts onto the page. 
At the education fair I had eased into a free-flowing conversation with a co-principal about how I would teach reading to high school students who were still struggling. I felt an instant connection, and though I did not even know when the interview process would begin or if I would get the job, on the inside I was already buzzing with excitement about the possibility. I relived the chance meeting the day before as my ideas spilled out. 
Once I could not think of anything else to write, I tucked my notebook back into my bag. Later I would add to the list, revise it, and eventually shape my first units. A few weeks after the education fair, I had accepted a position for the district that ignited so much passion from a single conversation. (pp. 74-75)
Now alongside my career passions, I have another fueled by a purpose that has emerged as part of my One Little Word 2015: Core. At the start of the year, I wrote the following as an intention, "Begin to live with this mission in mind: Strive to live life according to God's will by nourishing spiritual life and nurturing connections. Conscientiously focus on showing family is important, value self care, and work with joy."

If you would have asked me not too long ago what my vocation is, I would have stated being an educator. This year part of my personal development has included me being able to see the bigger picture, recognizing that my vocation from a Catholic lens is married life, which in my context includes being a wife and a mother. Being an educator is still a huge part of who I am, but I am now seeing beyond wrapping so much of my identity into being an educator alone and instead am seeing the bigger picture of my life's purpose.

One part of my journey this year that helped position me well for this shift was Tsh Oxenreider's course Upstream Fieldguide. Back at the start of the year, as I went through the process of the sessions, I drafted a purpose statement based on my intention, revised to say, "My life's purpose is to live life according to God's will, which includes courageously prioritizing breathing room in order to nourish spiritual life, nurture connections, empower others, and live with joy." Tsh prompted me to consider the larger context of my life - not just the phase in which I find myself right now, which made all the difference. 

I found that at the start of the year I was not really sure what shifting my focus to living according to God's will would mean in a specific way. I began to pray, reflect, and focus on investing in further developing my faith formation. In recent days, I have been realizing that living according to God's will is more concrete in my mind - my purpose is evangelization. Through different resources, again and again the concept of the purpose of my marriage being to help my husband get to heaven/aid in his journey to live a holy life and the concept of leading my girls to heaven as my most important role as a mother have been coming up. Stewardship beyond my immediate family also entails impacting others around me in a positive way, just as they can support my faith development in a collaborative community. Before this year, I did not view evangelization as part of my role, and it is definitely not a part of my comfort zone. However, a range of resources, including those from Dynamic Catholic, Chris Stefanick, and Redeemed Online helped me to recognize just how integral this purpose should be in my life. 

Yet, the question is still there - how can I best accomplish this at different levels in my life? With all the ideas swirling around, I know that I have personal limitations based on time, resources, and the different roles that I fill. This morning one idea emerged as a starting point, something that would be relatively small but that would push me out of my comfort zone, help me to build confidence with my emerging purpose, and hopefully set some positive change in action. I'm ready to develop that idea with the intent to implement it in September (and will provide an update with more details at that point). 

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