Monthly Archives: April 2015

Calling and Choice: A Reflection

I’m going a bit more philosophical today, inspired by the sermon I just heard at church. I do have some life updates to share at the end, though, so bear with me.

The idea of “calling” is often considered in a religious context, and I do think of it that way, as I am a Christian. But I think there’s more to it. Christians may say that God is calling them to do something, thinking of what to do for their careers, or where to live, or whether to get married or have children or not, and things of that nature. People also use the term “vocation” for this. The point is, because one’s calling comes from God, it has less to do with personal choice and more from a force outside of you. That’s not to say that you can’t figure out your calling from looking within you, because God speaks within us as He shows us who we are in the world, and as we discover that, we discover our callings too. But there doesn’t seem to be much free will in here. One key political idea in the United States is that everyone should be able to choose what they do, without the government standing in the way. But what is choice? And how is it related to calling?

That’s where I’m going outside of the Christian box a little bit. We make choices based on, more often than not, what we WANT to do. We want food, we go to the store. We want to take a nap, we lay down and sleep for awhile. Those are simple choices. I’m thinking more of big choices, though, the ones you might conflate with calling. Like, where you end up with your life, and the career you spend it doing. Of course, this is personal to me, as I’ve just made a big choice to move across the country. You could say I’ve made that choice twice now, since I did it when I decided to attend Luther College. But the reason I made these choices wasn’t clear-cut, like the more simple choices in life are. I made these choices because they felt right, like they were my true callings. When I was 18, I was very much in the process of figuring out who I was (not that I’m not still). I’d spent time at Luther for LSM and loved it. It wasn’t my first choice school when I started senior year, but by March, it was so clear to me that I was meant to be there. Not only did it fit my college priority checklist, but it was the right place intangibly. Yes, I had another reason at that time that encouraged me to go there… but soon after I began school, I realized that the choice had been mine all along, which became especially important when that reason disappeared. (Which related to another calling-choice. But I won’t get into that right now.)

My second move was an even bigger calling-choice. I interviewed for the job at Ashdown not knowing a lot, other than that I needed a job for after Farmers. Plus, I knew, deep within myself, that I wanted to move back to the Midwest, even after just a few months in Seattle. I fostered a love for this region during my teens and was already looking out for opportunities here. Then Ashdown came to me. I flew out for the interview back in November and, like at Luther, I felt this intangible need to be here. I still do. I believe I’m living out my true self, my calling, the calling that led me to make these choices. Too frequently do people dismiss these intangible feelings of a sense of vocation, or the sense is just plain unclear. But it becomes clearer over time, or in hindsight. Our callings are who we are, whether you think God is part of that or not. I believe ignoring that is self-destructive. Fortunately in our formative years, we have opportunities to figure out what our callings are, or are not, like short-term internships and classes. Just know that it’s not 100% clear, but it takes thought and intuition. And then you can make the big choices and feel right about them.

The sermon I referenced was the one my pastor gave this morning, and she talked about a couple moments in her life when she felt God was speaking to her about what kind of person she should be. I can think of moments like that for myself, too, even if I didn’t know that’s what was happening at the time. My concluding thought is, your intuition doesn’t always match up with what makes “logical” sense… but then again, is it logical to brush off your intuition? Think about why you want to do something, what’s at the core of that emotion. Nurture the core of yourself. Then all of the logic will fall into place. Plus, it will help you stay positive. 🙂

I’ve had a pretty solid few weeks here. I’m about to put out another issue of Bead Me and have finished ahead of schedule! Yay! Things just keep moving forward at work. I’m about to head out to go to the gym for a bit, then go to orchestra rehearsal. We have our concert a week from today, titled “Beyond Imagination.” If you’re in the Rochester area, I highly recommend coming to hear it! And of course I’m going on with church music.

I went to a bridal shower yesterday for my good friend from Luther, Sara. She lives in northern Iowa now and is getting married in June near Decorah. So it means getting to spend more time with my friends at our alma mater. 🙂 The shower was really nice too! The drive took a couple hours, and I got hit in a rain squall on the way back – one of those classic Midwest storms. The weather has been amazing overall recently, though. I’m hoping it’ll be good on Tuesday night, when I head down to Decorah again to hear the Luther Collegiate Chorale sing their tour homecoming concert! I can’t wait!

Lastly, my most important bit: I’m moving again in less than two weeks. But it’s only a five-minute jaunt over to my new one-bedroom apartment. My ZIP code isn’t even changing. It does mean much more freedom in what I can do with my space, which I’m of course happy about. My address will change officially on May 1. Please let me know if you would like to have it. 🙂 And, I’m going back to Seattle for the first time at the end of May, for Memorial Day weekend. I’ve already got some fun stuff planned, including (but not limited to) eating an inordinate amount of sushi.

Well, I’ve still got a busy evening ahead, so I’ll sign off here. Please let me know if you have any comments on my musings about vocation – I’d love to keep discussing it. There’s so much to chew on. But it’s still the weekend, so don’t fry your brain just yet if you don’t want to.

Peace,

Brita

No fooling here, just some good stories

I’m home. In Minnesota, that is. I could say this about several places, either my parents’ home in Seattle, or Luther College, or my British home in West Sussex. But for now, it’s in the city where I live and work most of the time. I’ve been back for six days, still a bit weary from the trip and missing Europe very much, but on the grind with Bead Me and Holy Week music at church.

A couple weeks ago, Lauren and I were getting ready to go work at the Big Bead Show in Surrey, UK. It went quite well, I would say, and I was happy to meet some awesome British beaders and promote Bead Me. We worked at the Bead Magazine stand (Bead Me’s sister publication in the UK) and helped answer questions for attendees (mostly giving out the Wi-Fi password). I had some difficulty understanding them sometimes, although that may be due to the climate control machine being so loud. The only incident that occurred was on the day before, when we were setting up – my boss’s wife (who runs the show) had ordered a company to bring tables for us to use during the show. When we arrived, we soon learned that the tables had been put downstairs, in the wrong hall. So, the four of us who’d come to set up, plus some of the event center staff, had to walk the tables all upstairs. Made me thankful for my personal trainer! Fortunately, we came home to a delicious dinner and cherry port for dessert (you should try it, it’s delectable). The ordeal wore us all out, but everything else went fine. It was a true team effort. It still amazes me how seamlessly we at Ashdown work together, even from across the pond. Granted, we do have to chase down information sometimes, which is a struggle, but now that I’ve gotten to know the team over there, my patience and understanding has grown. I miss being able to communicate with them as we could over there – it made such a difference. Fortunately, we should be going back before too long.

The day after the bead show, we took a rest and walked the dogs in South Downs National Park, which is just a couple minutes from David and Elizabeth’s home, then spent the afternoon in Chichester, one of the larger towns in West Sussex. We saw the Chichester Cathedral and ate at their favorite French restaurant (so much food, but delicious). I posted some photos from there on my Instagram page. Then in the morning, we took off for our big city adventures – Lauren to London, and I to Berlin.

I flew from London Gatwick Airport to Berlin Schönefeld Airport, then took the S-Bahn and U-Bahn to my hotel. From there, I was alone. And I mean really alone. I thought I was alone in Rochester, but in this big city where I only kinda-sorta spoke the language… that’s what alone truly is. I’d known this would be true when I planned the trip, but I knew I needed to do it. Now that I have, I’m all the more grateful I did, because I believe I can accomplish anything. I walked around the city and took public transport on my own with no messes, blending into Berlin just fine. Since people spoke to me in German when I entered places, I’m guessing I didn’t have the “American” label across my forehead, which is good. The only time I really used German was in a bar, asking for a glass of red wine. (Ha!) On the first night I went to the Brandenburg Gate, walking there from my hotel through the Tiergarten, and found the political center of Germany there. The next day I went to the Berlin Wall Memorial, the TV Tower, the Berlin Cathedral, and the city library. The cathedral is a Lutheran church, the largest one of those I’ve ever been in. In the evening, I went to a contemporary string quartet concert in the Neukölln district, which was was thought-provoking in the sense that it made me think about what music is for us today, and why it’s composed the way it is. I can’t say I came up with any great insights, though.

The third day, I went to a coffee shop that I’d read about in a New York Times article on how to spend 36 hours in Berlin, part of a series the paper runs about international travel. It was a random quick adventure before I checked out and flew back to Gatwick, spending the night in London before meeting up with Lauren again and flying back from Heathrow. We both felt the energy burden of travel after that. We returned to the office the next day loopy from jet lag. I’m still exhausted, although I might also be feeling the decrease in caffeine I’ve enforced upon myself since returning. I drank so much coffee throughout the trip that I feel like I should detox from it so I don’t develop an addiction. But I also haven’t had too many moments to rest since I got home, and I won’t for awhile.

The night after we got home, Lauren and I both attended a performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah oratorio at Luther. I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with it! I loved it so much that I wrote a letter to the editor of Chips. Being loopy with jet lag made it interesting to see everyone, which is exciting in itself. I talked to pretty much everyone I wanted to afterwards, and I stayed overnight with my friend Brett. From there, it’s been a lot of work, picking up where we left off before we traveled, and playing cello at church for Holy Week services and Easter. I’ve fallen in love with this song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJWHZnZ9E6k) that I’m playing with the worship band on Saturday for the Great Vigil of Easter. The great thing about Gloria Dei is that it holds a party after the Easter Vigil service to celebrate Jesus’s resurrection, making it worth all the doom and gloom. Then we come to worship on Sunday morning with brass fanfare! Should be an excellent time. Then I get Monday off from work (the UK rests on Easter Monday), but I’ll keep busy that day, looking at new apartments! Feeling inspired by my solo travels, I’ve decided to move, knowing that I’m solidly part of this community now. I’m ready to get a place that’s truly my own.

I’m still every bit as happy as I said I was in my last blog post, and I hope to keep sharing that joy and positivity with others. Every day I grow more confident and independent. And when I fully immerse myself again in the social media world on Easter, I won’t let that bring me down as I have in the past. Deactivating my Facebook was a good idea – combined with travelling overseas, it was a true separation from the things that may have been dragging on me. But I’m free of them now and am ready to return. So, here’s to spring, new life, and continued positivity, and may you all find many places you can call home.

Peace,

Brita