• Alicia Assad

Never Say Never

Choice #7: I follow my Calling

I once said,

“I’ll NEVER have a blog.”

The idea of sharing my writing so freely terrified me and I assumed,

“I’ll never be brave enough.”

But today, you are reading my words on a blog, because I’m following my calling to be a storyteller.

I don’t feel particularly brave, because this whole blog thing still scares me. I share anyway, because the message in my heart aches to be heard.

I’ve learned to lean into vulnerability, because that’s been my birthplace of growth:

I started writing regularly when motherhood knocked the wind out of my perfection sails, and sharing at my son’s bedside in an ICU Burn Unit.

Ironically, everything I wanted to avoid (imperfection, pain, struggle…) is where I found my calling.

This is the long and short of why I say,

“You can survive, and you can thrive.”

I believe we all can become STRONG ENOUGH to endure whatever it is tomorrow is going to bring, and BRAVE ENOUGH to do the things we are meant to do in this life.

Listen, I never thought resilience would be the heart of my message.

But it is.

I’m learning to embrace the things I did not expect, because I’ve noticed that way too often “life happens” when I’m busy making "other plans." Sometimes these unexpected things far exceed my expectations, so I try to go with the flow….

Take for example, this plan:

“I won’t have kids until I am at least 30, have accomplished X, Y, Z, and figured myself out.”

I first saw two blue lines on a stick when I was 24, the same afternoon I finished graduate school. Needless to say, I was busy making A LOT of OTHER plans. I also had very little figured out.

But the greatest lesson I’ve learned in surrender and sacrifice is:

My calling was not lost.

In fact, that’s exactly where I found it.

So often we assume challenge and responsibility holds us back from what we were meant to do and be.

I simply don’t believe that anymore.

I’m fully immersed in this motherhood thing, AND I’m following my calling.

I've also learned that we can be scared and imperfect, even unskilled, and still succeed. I mean, do any of us REALLY know how to be a mom before we become a mom?

My kids are just fine even though I have no idea what I'm doing MOST of the time....

What about yours?

Today, I feel called to tell you that if you assume something is holding you back, it’s not.

Any obstacle you think crushed your dream…it didn’t.

That dream is very much still alive (if you want it to be).

Whatever it is you were meant to do in this world, you can do it.

Now, I'm going to tell you HOW.

This Is How To Follow Your Calling:

1. Find flow.

What are you doing when time slips by and you didn’t notice?

(No…not perusing social media, or binge watching Netflix…)

When you engage with the real world and find flow—that’s your secret to happiness —AND how you will discover your calling.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studies the psychology of optimal experience and best explains how flow is the root of happiness. You can watch this TED Talk here, and check out this book.

But as moms, we must find flow, period....even if it's only ten stolen minutes a day.

2. Be flexible.

Yes, in motherhood, finding flow can be challenging...

For example, dance was once my “flow” activity. Yet I could not dance postpartum (when I most needed flow), because my body was still healing from a cesarean delivery.

That’s why I picked up a pen and paper in early motherhood when I realized I was unhappy.

These days, I write like my happiness depends on it...

Point being, there are many ways to engage in flow, but sometimes you need to be a little flexible and open to finding it differently.

3. Keep a journal.

Long before I called myself a writer, I noticed the benefits of putting my thoughts down on paper.

If you are aching in anyway to DO SOMETHING (other than what you are doing now), start journaling...and do it regularly.

Julia Cameron tells us about the importance of morning pages to creativity in Artist's Way, and I highly recommend her books.

When I found myself in a regular routine of rising early to journal, my writing "dream" started transforming into reality.

4. Be grateful.

Don’t forget to include gratitude in that journal sometimes! The "Three Good Things" exercise never lets me down.

Practice gratitude, even when things aren't going your way. On your hardest day, be grateful for your life or the food on your plate, because the act of searching for gratitude alone is powerful (more about that here).

The book, Simple Abundance never fails to inspire me to notice how abundant my life is right now, today.

5. Dream big.

Why not? What do you have to lose? You only live once.

What do you REALLY want to do in this life? It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn't need to be practical....

Just dream, and dream big!

6. Set goals.

When you're finished dreaming away, set small, realistic goals to start moving towards it.

Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide by Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP & Dr. Michael B. Frisch is a fabulous guide that explores the scientific research of the role of life lists in attaining happiness.

This book will tell you all you need to know about setting the right goals and seeing them through to the finish line.

7. Don't wait for perfection.

It will NEVER be perfect.......

But most importantly, it doesn't have to be perfect. Just go DO IT....

8. Take risks.

Do the things you don't want to do. Yes, the things that make you squirm...

Every time I load my blog editor to create a post, I remember how resistant I was to blogging, because it scared me...

...here we are. The reward of connecting with you is well worth the risk I took.

9. Be mindful.

If you get too wrapped up in your goals, you will miss out on the inspiration you need to chase them. Sometimes you need to just stop "doing" to start living.

Be present!

I work hard on being mindful myself, and you can read more on that here.

While I sometimes long to haul up in a hotel room for a weekend to just write.....I'm beginning to think I wouldn't be productive. Life continues to give me inspiration:

The more mindful I become, the easier my words flow in the stolen moments I find to write....

10. Be Inspired

I obsessively buy inspiring books, because when I am finished reading, I place them on my bookshelf. Then, I am surrounded by stories that remind me to think,

Why not me?

No, I don't think, Why her/him!?, because that jealousy-rooted thought is negative, and constricts my creativity.

Instead, I think,

Wow! This person has an amazing story/product. It all started with a dream and the courage to chase it. WHY NOT ME, too?

So start looking around at what others are doing. Celebrate for them, then learn about what they are doing to succeed and go do it yourself!

11. Do what you love.

My shelves are lined with an eclectic collection of books, but I notice their authors have one thing in common:

They are either writing about what they love to do, or writing is their passion.

These books inspire me to believe I can manifest my dreams if I keep doing what I love, and loving what I do.

12. Take it one day at a time.

I frequently remind myself, "Rome wasn’t built in a day." I also repeat, "Happiness is work."

When I blend the meaning of these statements together, I am reminded that the small things I do every day bring me closer to my goal of publishing a book.

This thought is perhaps more eloquently relayed in Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

Word-by-word, day-by-day, I move forward in the direction I want to go.

I've found happiness by following my calling.

The Takeaway:

Don’t wait around for your calling to happen: set your intentions and take action!