To achieve my goal, I devoted my life to prayer and contemplation. I wanted to become a cloistered nun but in America, there are almost no monasteries that accept women over the age of 35 or 40. Also, I did not know if they would take me with my autism and also student loan debt. Almost certainly, they would not. So, I had to come to terms with how it could be that I did not have a vocation as a contemplative nun when that is what I wanted.
I started attending meetings of Carmelite Seculars, however, and found that the Secular Carmelites have the same level of dedication and commitment that the nuns and friars do, and that they are considered equal members of the Carmelite Order. The only major difference is that we live out in the world and can be married.
As time passed over the past year, I drifted further and further away from my original goal. I became caught up in the affairs of the world. In November, I received grant funding to begin my own business, and getting everything going took my full concentration. I had to learn how to use new professional software- everything from new graphic design programs to Quickbooks. The original goal in my business plan, to re-publish my books, became delayed because others were interested in what I can do. I had to start figuring out how to go about working with clients- developing rate sheets and publishing contracts. I didn't have time to volunteer for 1st Way anymore, but my company was able to offer professional services to help them instead. Client after client came my way and doing it all became impossible.
My life felt overwhelming until a couple of weeks ago. Before then, I hardly came up for air. I started wondering, "What happened to that girl who only wanted to live her life in contemplation of the Lord?" I had been doing most of the Carmelite Secular requirements- daily mass, liturgy of the hours, spiritual reading, answering my assigned questions for aspirancy, frequent confession, and at least thirty minutes of contemplative prayer whenever I could fit it in. In two years, when I profess promises, contemplative prayer will the highest priority I have. No "maybe I can fit it in" allowed. Even now, I realize how I'm shooting myself in the foot when I don't do it- but I can only integrate so much "newness" at one time. All I can say is, without trying to move towards my original goal of union with God, moving through my daily Carmelite spiritual practices has helped me begin integration of my life with God- and that was not intentional.
A year ago today, it never would have occurred to me that I would be shoving aside contemplative prayer time. It would be absolutely unheard of. All the spiritual disciplines I have learned to integrate into my life have been teaching me to be faithful, and wow, I still have so much more to learn.
The pace of my life has slowed down because I am able now to focus more on one project at a time. I've defined my job roles more clearly with clients and I've learned that my friend Mark is a top-notch editor, far better than I am, and so now we can split a lot of work. I've finally reached my original goals. I can breathe. I can ask myself again how to go about growing closer to God. It feels really good.