Saturday, July 12, 2014

Finding Your Passion and Calling

I wish it was easy sometimes to find one's passion and calling in life. The thing is that sometimes I feel like the world is asking me to do something I really cannot do: settle on one thing and do it. What? At 35, I still have not settled on one thing. I love writing and I love teaching and the truth is that I can teach through my writing. Some of you may or may not already know I am in process of writing a book. On living with autism. And at this point it may develop based on a series of interviews that get recorded and transcribed. It will tackle questions answered by me and questions answered by mom. It will include resources and suggestions for churches, schools, and others who encounter those of us whom God has both blessed and challenged with autism, and it will be a resource in general. I have considered becoming an interpreter for the deaf. But don't get me wrong, that will be the hardest thing I strive for in my life. I love music, but I do not want to do a job being paid to do music. It might squelch my passion. I love doing puppets, but again the same fear. I only recently started doing art. I have gone loom band crazy and have already sold several of my first creations to raise money that I will later turn around and donate to autism organizations. But I have come full circle. I want to work with special needs. 

Let me give some of my background. Before I ever got my first diagnosis of anything other than mitral valve prolapse which was only arrived at after I passed out at school during my junior year and had to be rushed to the hospital for testing, the doctors thought I had had a seizure. Well, their medicines didn't help. So finally the doctor landed on testing my heart. And the home monitor showed a definite problem. I went through a lot of home monitoring - brain activity, heart activity. Let's just say that the worst part was having to note when I went number two because apparently that can make your heart go crazy. 

My senior year in high school, I was done with virtually all of my requisite classes and doing one of my classes through video homeschool to get credit for it. I ended up having three open periods but was only allowed one study hall, so I asked if I could be a teacher's aide since I was considering education as my major in college. I was assigned to K4. I loved it! But the teacher had a point of tension. She had a little boy with Down Syndrome in the class who often demanded a lot of attention which kept her on her toes while she tried to teach the others. After a little bit of time, I took a liking to him and desired to do what I could to help the teacher, so I gave him a little but of extra special attention. Sometimes it just meant me sitting in a chair and letting him sit on my lap. And he was happy like that. The other kids were happy that he was happy and the teacher couldn't seem to thank me enough. Later that year, I wrote a poem about him that we presented to his mom. I still remember that boy - Blake. A few years later, in college, I met a guy who was related to Blake and told me he remembered the poem is had written and how touched his family was by it. It really made my day. I do not know what became of Blake. But I still remember how he taught me about love and compassion. Because of Blake, I wanted to work with other special needs people. 

Here's the thing, fast forward to today. I have come full circle. Although it may not be in a classroom teaching special needs children, and although it may not be journalism like I ended up getting my degree in, I have found my true passion and calling. And it is special needs. You see, God has equipped me for it. I have special needs myself. I know what it is like to go through school and college without knowing you have something wrong but yet knowing something about you is different. Or going through life with the wrong diagnosis. Or trying to advocate for yourself only to hit brick walls (ignorance). And the thing is, it happens everywhere. Churches, schools, jobs, even programs designed to work with special needs people. Shocker on that last one, but for the sake of learning to better advocate for myself, I will withhold more specific information about that aspect. 

I have been through a rather long weekend that began yesterday. And it started on a sour note. Or rather I should say, a stinging note? I had to go the endocrinologist and on the way out the door, a wasp got caught between me and the storm door. Well, I got my first ever wasp sting. And let's just say I would rather relive appendicitis than go through what I went through. In that moment after it happened, my mom described what was the worst and most frightening meltdown she had ever seen. It was a look of pain and panic all at once. Pain because my arm had just been stung and was really hurting. Panic because my arm swelled up and we didn't know how my body would respond to the sting. Mom said if we had been outside when it occurred that I would have possibly bolted down the street trying to get away from the wasp and her worst fear might have come to pass. And yes, I do have a feeling she may be contacting the local sheriff about getting a tracking bracelet on me as a preventive measure. We instantly began treatment with Benadryl and some solutions to calm the sting. Ice for swelling. Tylenol for fever that developed overnight. Hydrocortisone for itching. We did go to the clinic after everything was wrapped up. No stinger left behind. Localized reaction. The doctor assured us that subsequent wasp stings should not be any worse. But a reaction is still a reaction and when you have history, it is always best to get checked out. I will make a confession. I am now terrified of going out of the doors anywhere for fear of a wasp lurking about waiting for its next victim. We spent a lot of time when we got back home with me cooped up inside while mom went around the doors and the windows spraying all the wasp nests that were found. Some of them had eggs. Not good. And I am so ready to paint the overhangs sky blue just to see if it will actually reduce the population. 

After the endocrinologist, we went for a free meal for cow appreciation day. Then from there went straight to what I will say was a life changing event for me. I feel more empowered now. And I feel more ready. I am starting a family social and support group for individuals and families touched by special needs. And even ones who aren't because we need all the support we can get. I got to network with others who are leading groups in other parts of the state. I got to know a few of the resources out there. And I feel like I have more direction. Now if only we can work on creating a job that pays me for the passion I have rediscovered, right? I am entering the world of becoming a resource person for churches and schools so when they have a family with special needs come along, I can help them as much as I can or even direct them to more appropriate sources. So now there is my passion or point B. Here I am at point A. And I now need to know how to get from point A to point B so I don't just run around in circles chasing my tail. 

I learned something completely by mistake though. Fire alarms in ginormous hotels are not good things. How do they get disabled people down the stairs? I have to make a point to seek more input on this matter. 

Anyway, I say all of this to encourage others out there who may also be struggling to find that passion and calling in their own lives. Oh, and don't be afraid if in the time you are seeking it, you don't have a job. You shouldn't just settle on a job just because it pays money. You shouldn't have to anyway. Keep your head up and keep praying for God to grant you wisdom and guide you down your path. He will. And ultimately, don't be afraid to take baby steps. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Oh, if you feel like I have just described, feel free to leave a comment below so people who read this can pray for you. And so I can also pray for you.

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