With all of the changes and different things that have unfolded in our life lately, I have been thinking a lot about the road that brought us here-- to a place where, at least for now, Donnie and I are both blogging full time. This is something that, up until about a year ago, we had never even considered or dreamed of doing, but now that we're here, not only do we feel like we're getting to live our dream jobs, but the path we took to get here all of the sudden makes so much sense.
When I was younger and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said, "A teacher." I didn't really know what I wanted to teach, just that teaching sounded fun and I liked the idea of helping others in that way. So I went to college, earned my teaching degree (in secondary education, English and communication), and began to teach. Honestly, my time teaching at a high school was one of the hardest times of my life. I worked 24/7 trying to create amazing lessons for my students and come up with strategies that would help them all master the concepts to the best of their ability. Very, very quickly, I got burnt out, and I was almost relieved when I had to leave teaching as Donnie started a job with the border patrol and we moved out to Arizona.
Donnie and I during our time living in Arizona.
Still feeling sort of "shell shocked" from my first teaching experience and not really knowing how long we would stay out west, I took a job as a nanny and tried to figure out "what I wanted to be when I grew up." 🙂 Teaching was all I ever planned on doing. I had never come up with a backup plan for if that didn't work out. Though nannying, I figured out, wasn't something I wanted to do forever, I am so grateful for all of the things I learned while I was caring for an infant and a kindergartner. I felt like it gave me a little head start for when I had my own kids, something else I always dreamed of doing.
Though we really did love our time in Arizona, all of our family was back in Pennsylvania, so after a year, we moved home. Still not knowing "what I wanted to be when I grew up" and still not ready to return to teaching, I began working at a bank. I knew that this wasn't my "calling" either, but Donnie was in finance at the time, so I thought I could learn some things and maybe help him with his business sometime down the road.
I got pregnant with Connor soon after I started working at the bank, and after he was born I continued to work there two days a week. It was an easy job and allowed me to get out of the house and interact with adults a little bit, I made a little bit of extra money and still got to spend most of my time with Connor, and when I wasn't with him, family members watched him. Even though I didn't feel like I was doing life-altering work at the bank or pursuing something I was passionate about, the setup was a good one for that time in my life, and I am thankful for it.
Baby Connor "helping" me do the laundry. 🙂
It was also at the bank that I discovered blogging. I worked at a small town branch that would have periods of down time here and there, and since I could only organize my cash drawer so many times, I would read the news or find interesting articles on the web. Then one day I stumbled upon I Heart Organizing. I sort of knew what blogs were before that, but I never knew they could be so helpful or so addicting! I started reading more and more of Jen's posts and even trying out some of her ideas at our house. At one point, I think I even made a Facebook photo album of my organization projects. I didn't know it at the time, but I was pre-blogging. 🙂
I had Caleb and when he was a year old, I left the bank and became a full time stay-at-home mom. Connor was going to be going to preschool several days a week, and I wanted to be the one to take him. The timing seemed right and we could swing it financially, so I started spending every day with my 2 little Cs. And I loved it. We definitely had our rough moments, but I was glad for the opportunity to be able to be the one who was caring for them all the time. It didn't take long, though, for me to start searching for some sort of project or hobby that I could do for me. I was focusing on the Cs 24/7 and while I loved being with them, I felt like I needed something to challenge me and stimulate my brain a little bit more. (Not that parenting isn't a challenge-- it totally is, just in a different way.)
With my Cs!
So in January of 2013, Just a Girl and Her Blog was born. I never thought anyone would read it. I thought it would just be my secret little project that I worked on in my free time for fun... and then I caught the blogging bug. I started reading and learning everything I could about blogging and trying out different strategies. To my surprise, they actually worked and the blog started to grow.
One day my mom sent me an article about Jason and Lisa of 100 Days of Real Food and how they had grown their blog and were both doing it full time. I immediately sent it to Donnie and said, "THIS COULD BE US!!!! We are the perfect team! Everything I lack, you are amazing at!!!" He was hesitant at first-- his full time job in oil and gas was pretty demanding and he didn't have a lot of free time-- but he started doing more, little by little.
Then about a year ago, Donnie wrote his first paperless post on the blog, and as a result of affiliate sales from that post, we began to realize that this little hobby I had might actually become our business. He was all in. Our plan was to build it up until we were comfortable enough that Donnie could leave his job and we could both do this thing full time. In like a year. When the blog was a lot bigger than it is now.
But did you know that God doesn't go by our plans but instead has a much greater, big-picture, master plan of His own? I don't know why I still continue to be shocked every time I learn that lesson, but it's true. So before we were ready, before we were comfortable, Donnie was laid off and we were both thrown into full-time blogging. The longer we're at it, the longer we feel like we're really in our element and maybe, just maybe that "calling" we have been looking for might actually be revealing itself bit by bit.
Our family this past weekend
You see, whenever people talk about finding their purpose, it always seems like it's this thing that you're supposed to "just know" or happen upon one day. But what if purpose is less about the destination and more about everything we learn along the way? It's so interesting to look back on all of the different events that happened in our lives and see how they've all led up to what we're doing now. I studied English and communication, which helped me really hone my writing skills. I took education classes and taught, which showed me how to take a concept and break it down in a way that people could understand. Nannying allowed me to "practice" for my most important job, being a mom. My time at the bank led me to discover a hobby that I really loved. And that hobby turned into this blog, the business that was there to support our family when we unexpectedly needed it. I could go through Donnie's story and point out the same types of things, but this post is already waaaaaay too long. 🙂
In no way do I think we have "arrived." In fact, I think that the place we're in now is just the very beginning, the tip of the iceberg. I don't think this road will always be a smooth one-- I'm sure we'll experience disappointments and setbacks along the way-- but I'm so excited to see where it leads.
I recently read Jeff Goins' new book, The Art of Work: The Proven Path to Discovering what You Were Meant to Do, and it was like a lightbulb went on for me. As I read it (all in one night because I couldn't
put it down close my laptop), I'm sure a goofy smile was plastered on my face the whole time because I felt like he was telling our story. Through the stories of others who went through unexpected twists and turns that eventually led them to discover their "calling" or "life's work," I saw that God had been using things in my past that seemed completely irrelevant to what I'm doing now to prepare me for what was ahead. I'm sure the place He has us in now is preparing us for whatever is to come in the future.
If you've ever struggled with finding your calling or purpose or if you feel like you've been searching for the "right fit" somewhere, I understand. I have totally been there, so I am very excited be an affiliate partner of Jeff's as he does something incredible-- he's giving away his book The Art of Work for free, just asking readers to pay shipping. (NOTE: Offer expired 03/23/15) When you sign up to receive the book, you also get access to some great bonuses: a PDF of the book so you can start reading immediately (like I did), a video mini-course about finding your calling, a workbook to walk you through the process, and more. This book truly helped me to put a lot of things into perspective, and I hope it will do the same for you.
If you came looking for DIY projects and decorating tips today, I apologize for the over-abundance of mushy, personal stuff you received instead. 🙂 I just know that I was that girl who was looking, searching for that "thing" that was a fit for me, for a way I could help my family while still being at home with my sweet little Cs. And while the story will play out differently for everyone, I encourage you that it's possible. YOU can do it. You never know what God has in store or how he'll use the things you're doing right now to prepare you for the future. It's not all about the destination; it's the journey that is incredibly, incredibly important. HUGS!!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.