November 4, 2016
This is the fifth post in a series on vocation, marriage, and work.
Me, searching for an understanding of my vocation and specifically, vision in that vocation.
When we moved back to Canada in 2011 I was so gung-ho and determined to become a creative mompreneur.
In my desire to be a part of something, in my desire to do something "significant", in my desire to contribute financially to our household economy, in my desire to produce something other than children and meals, and in my desire to serve and help people outside my family, I started to turn homemaking and homeschooling into an entrepreurial venture.
In the same way we encourage our kids to experience new things, "just try it and see, you won't know until you try", I tried many things.
Sometimes I pushed against my natural inclinations, following expert advice and opinions that didn't feel quite right for me.
If I wanted to be successful I needed to advertise, publish on a schedule, market, build a platform, write bullet point posts, etc... I learned new skills, met new people, read marketing books, traveled to a blog conference, made partnerships and participated in collaborations.
Some of these felt like a good fit for me, and others didn’t.
I've learned that I don't identify as a business-woman, or an entrepreneur. As a writer, I don't like deadlines, and I generally don't need them to be motivated to accomplish tasks. I'm internally driven. I don't like the "give us your email, get a free gift" bait and hook marketing technique, or many other marketing techniques for that matter.
Over the years I've tried different ideas and some of them made me feel icky, others made me feel defective. When things didn't work for me I wondered, what's wrong with me? Why can't I embrace this technique or strategy?
Each of us arrive here with a nature, which means both limits and potentials. We can learn as much about our nature by running into our limits as experiencing our potentials.
~ Parker Palmer
Sometimes by pushing up against who we aren't we realize more clearly who we are. Sometimes we don't know if our aversion to something is because it truly doesn't line up with who we are or simply because we haven't tried it before. But one thing I know and believe to be true: you learn best through trial and error. And many of us don't like this reality, because we're afraid of failure, afraid of being wrong.
One of the things I've struggled with most in the past few years in working online is a lack of vision. Or I'd have a micro-vision, like a product I wanted to produce and for various reasons was not able to follow through on my ideas. Both circumstances were discouraging.
In 2013 I decided to invest my efforts into Damien's vision, together we embarked on the most ambitious work/life project I may ever do - thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and documenting it with a video series. That project required everything I had, and more.
I made the best decision I knew to make at the time; our family couldn't have done the trail without giving it everything we had. The problem, as I explained in a previous post, is that I wasn't walking as an equal partner in Damien's vision because I was deeply insecure and I was overwhelmed by the complexity, and all the unknowns (the ocean waves, to return to the ship metaphor). As I had come to do in our life in general, I relied more and more on Damien's leading. And not just his leading, but that he, personally, would make sure everything was alright. In my insecurity, not remembering the true source of my identity, I relied way too much on my relationship with Damien for my sense of identity and purpose, in life and in my work.
In the absence of my own strong vision for my work, in an absence of understanding and being at peace with my calling and vocation, and true self, I came to over-depend on Damien's vision, his perspective, and his skills.
I remember thinking specifically that Damien would be my secret sauce in this world of online work.
Average Sixes are frequently worried about the future. Because they have serious doubts about themselves and the world, they start to look for a "sure thing" that will guarantee their security - anything from a marriage to a job to a belief system to a network of friends to a self-help book.... Simply put, Sixes are seeking assurance and insurance, trying to hedge their bets. They feel that life is fraught with dangers and uncertainties so it must be approached with caution and limited expectations. Sixes have personal wishes and dreams, of course, by they are afraid to take actions that might undermine their security. They become more concerned with establishing and maintaining their safety nets than with pursuing their true goals and aspirations. ... With other people or with tradition behind them, they feel they have the backup they need to move ahead.
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
There was a mental shift for me from a healthy dependence on "us" and the strength we get by mutually supporting each other to a dependence on Damien and his gifts, abilities, vision, and experience.
Following is not the problem. Leading is not the problem. It's not these actions that trip us up so much as the attitudes and motivations of our hearts.
The biggest problems for sixes is that they try to build safety in the environment without resolving their own emotional insecurities.
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
This was not Damien's desire for our working relationship, that my support and buy-in would be driven by insecurity, that I would always be looking outside myself, and to him, for guidance, confidence, vision, firm ground, and an overall sense that everything would be ok. All of which only served to increase my insecurity and opened the floodgates to anxiety. And so it's no wonder that working together wasn't working for us.
The winter of 2015, we returned to our original division of labor, and I drew inward. I brought my world in as tight as I could. I didn't want to dream. I didn't want to look for vision. It was a time to rest from dreaming and scheming. It was a time to heal and find my center. I didn't want to figure out a post-homeschool career or a while-homeschooling-career. I didn't want to figure out what it looked like for me to work online.
I had a job, a calling, a mission right in front of me. A vocation I chose many years ago, to take care of our home and raise our children. Work that was satisfying, meaningful and fulfilling to me. And I had writing. This was enough. More than enough.
But it's lovely when you find someone at work who's doing exactly what they dreamed they should be doing and whose work is an expression of their inner gift. And in witnessing to that gift and bringing it out they actually provide an incredible service to us all. And I think you see that the gifts that are given to us as individuals are not for us alone, or for our own self-improvement, but they are actually for the community and to be offered.
~ John O'Donohue
And I found healing, in making home and living in Montreal. I found healing in Christian community and friendship. I found healing in going to church. I found healing in Personal Retreat Days and morning mediation, CBT, and supplements. I found healing in reading good books and listening to thoughtful podcasts. I found healing in friendship with Damien. I found healing in being with my people. I found healing in Jesus.
When their minds become quiet, Sixes experience an inner spaciousness that is the Ground of Being. They realize that Essence is real and is not simply an idea; in fact, it is the thing that is most real in existence, the very foundation of existence itself. People have associated this inner peace with the presence of God, which is manifesting itself at every moment, and which is available at every moment. When (Renee) experiences this truth, (she) feels solid, steady, and supported, as if (she) were standing on a massive bed of granite. She realizes that this ground is the only real security in life, and it is what gives her immense courage.
~ Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson
So much healing happened (Hallelujah!) in 2015 and through this year also. But one of the four parts of Project Home & Healing was to Craft a Vision, and that piece has remained elusive for me.
Last year I didn't even bother thinking about it because I wanted to build this vision from a solid foundation, but first of all I had to work on that foundation. I knew it had to be a vision for me, not for Us, but of course it had to fit into Us. And I wanted it to be a vocation-related vision.
This year I felt it was time to step back into online work to see if I could figure that out. I didn't have a clear vision but maybe vision is overrated, and it was more important to just "do stuff", or maybe I would find one through bumbling around. Hey, anything's possible, right?
Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.
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