Sitting in a cold Pinellas Park High School’s classroom listening to a young short skinny girl with blonde hair talking about a car crash where two best friends were killed. “Cherish the moments you have because you will never know when it will be your last,” the blonde hair girl said. That sentence made me think back to an event that change mine and my family’s life forever. It made us all cherish every moment we had with one another.
February 25th, 2006 at 3am is the day that changed my cousin’s, Jessica Rasdall, life. Jessica and her best friend Laura Gorman went out to the clubs and never made it back to Laura’s dorm room. They crashed on I-275 hitting a small tree then flipping four times hitting a big tree, killing Laura on impact. Jessica was rushed to BayFront Medical with a massive head injuring after being cut out of her small little crushed up Honda. She there received over 200 stiches to her head and ear.
“I killed her,” said Jessica after finding out that she killed her best friend in a drunk driving accident. A blood test was taken and it showed that Jessica’s blood alcohol level was four times over the legal limit. Jessica was released from the hospital on March 2nd; which was
her 19th birthday and the day of Laura’s funeral. Laura’s parent wouldn’t let their daughter’s best friend since kindergarden attend the funeral because she killed her. Jessica heart was broken.
A month after the crash that changed her life, Jessica was charged with DUI manslaughter. Laura’s parents wanted 15 years for the death of their daughter. Over the two years Jessica was on trial; she spoke at schools, churches, and community groups to talk about her life changing experience. In May 2008, Jessica accepted a plea bargain of four years in prison and two years’ probation.
“I miss Laura so much – I know she paid the ultimate price and I have the rest of my life ahead of me. But I have to wake up every morning without my best friend, and the devastating knowledge that I killed her. That’s my life sentence,” said Jessica at a school filled with juniors and seniors 3 days before their prom. Laura’s parents have yet to speak to Jessica or my family. Jessica had come to the conclusion that she will never be the same again and that we should cherish the times we have with our love ones.
“DING,” goes the school bell end the period. I walk up to the skinny blonde hair girl and said thank you for making me think back to something that changed my life forever. That night I called and talked to Jessica about everything and had a good cry with the most amazing and strong girl I know.
When I was 15 years old, I walked into English class on the first day of school of a new year. I’d been waiting through the long hours of P.E., of chemistry, of Algebra 2 to get to English class, the subject I loved most.
My teacher stood in front of us, leaned against his old metal desk, and explained what we’d be covering through the Fall. “We’ll be studying the theme of Coming of Age – the transition from childhood to adulthood. We’ll read many different novels that tell this story in diverse ways, and as we read, we’ll discover the universal themes across diverse accounts of this rite of passage.”
Then he told us about the books we were going to read – Lord of the Flies, Black Boy, A Separate Peace… I noticed something odd: none were written by women and none were about a girl coming of age. I knew that wasn’t right. I knew it wasn’t right for a classroom of girls and boys to only read stories about boys.
But what was most remarkable about that day was this: I felt a strange surge of energy. It wasn’t anger – it was more like momentum, vitality, passion. It came with a feeling of “I’m going to do something about this.”
At the time, I was a little lost – in teenage rebellion, in hating my body, in being bored with high school. Suddenly, I wasn’t bored, or lost or hating. I was excited about something. I was working toward something.
I talked to teachers and administrators, helped form a committee, raised money for new books, and a couple years later, the curriculum was changed and new books by and about women had been added. This was my first experience of what I now recognize as following a calling. It’s so damn sweet.
The Right Question
I’m not a fan of the question, “What’s my calling?” because the question is stressful, and it also implies we each only have one calling. I am, however, a fan of the question, “What’s calling me right now?”
I think we each receive many callings, that they come and go, that our goal is not to find the one right answer about our callings, but to become more responsive to the many callings we receive over a lifetime. Callings, like everything else, have a lifespan.
I also believe that callings can be big or small. Some have to do with our careers, some with helping a particular cause or even a particular person in need. Some callings are to organize a particular event, or project – they might last just a few weeks. What distinguishes a calling is not its duration or the domain of life in which it shows up. It’s the inexplicable feeling of “this work is mine to do,” and the sense of rightness, momentum and love that fills us as we do the work.
But it’s not all peace and pleasure. Most of us resist our biggest, most important callings. Our primary reaction to them is “Who me? Definitely not me. That’s too big for me.” Most of us come to our callings after years of avoiding and denying them. That’s okay.
A lot of us get caught up in, “But I have to pay the bills! I can’t follow this calling.” But I have yet to meet a woman whose calling demanded that it be the way she pay her mortgage – or her rent. Especially early on. Our callings are simply begging us for some level of expression in our lives – a few hours in the morning, a few days a week or a bit of time on the weekends – whatever it is.
Your first work is to take the simple step to make that happen, to not get distracted by questions about how you could ever do this thing full-time.
We can play big in lots of other ways, but I don’t think there is a more exciting ride than playing bigger with your callings.
P.S. If you are thinking of joining us for a course or training program this year, be sure to check out our recent post about our Playing Big programs HERE so you can plan ahead and sign up to get early information on programs you’re interested in.
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