on finding my purpose {may you learn from my story}

“Pursue your passion!”
Which one?
I know I’ve been paralyzed by that question in the past.

I have so many interests - things I love to do, things people tell me I’m good at, and things that I can’t let go of, even if I try. How’s a girl to decide where her true passion lies?

I set aside a month to rest and reflect. A whole 31 days without actively pursuing any passion, but rather considering the things that I love, the things that drive me, and the things that have shaped who I am. I journaled, talked with close friends, and restrained myself from choosing any one thing and running with it. The last was harder than you might think! Any time I came up with an idea, I wanted to jump straight into it, sure that this was the next big thing I was to pursue. I’m really glad I didn’t.

As the end of the month drew closer, I had lots of ideas - an overwhelming number of ideas! - and still no clear direction. Until a friend exposed me to this simple concept from Tom Ziglar. He outlines a way to discover what he calls your “purpose," defining this purpose as the place where your passions, giftings, and scars converge.


Is there a time when you didn’t need an alarm clock to wake you?
When you were working (or playing) at something that brought you so much life, that you didn’t have to think twice about rolling out of bed? The things that get you up in the morning, these are your passions.


What problems do people bring to you?
Think of a time when someone has asked you for help. You may not think of yourself as an expert in this area, because it comes so naturally to you, but other people do. The perspective of another person looking in can help you determine your giftings.


What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome?
The making of a scar is a painful process, but once it is healed, it becomes the evidence of triumph. If you’re anything like me, you likely want to forget that the scars (and the things that caused them) were ever a part of your life, but you earned them. Even the most difficult things in your past have prepared you for your present and will propel you into your future.

As I began to explore this idea, I was sorely tempted to focus only on the area where my passions and gifting overlapped. I didn’t want my scars to have a say in determining my purpose. But I made myself do the full exercise anyway.

I began slowly and asked myself what people say I’m good at. When do people look to me to solve their problems? For over a decade now, people have come to me to solve their sewing problems. I wrote down Costuming and Fiber Arts in the part of the diagram where “Giftings” and “Passions” overlapped because those sorts of things also excite me enough to get me up in the morning. They don’t get to go in the center of the diagram, though, because they don’t have anything to do with my Scars. Alterations landed in the lonely space reserved for “Giftings" that I’m not passionate about.

I broadened my considerations from there. Public Speaking landed in the space between "Scars" and "Giftings," but Teaching landed squarely in the middle, where “Passions,” “Giftings,” and “Scars” all meet.

As the diagram filled up, the things settling into the center nestled together into a beautiful picture of what I am uniquely suited to do and be. Looking at the words there grounds me. I feel like I know what I am created for when I look at it.

The things that hover around this center - things like Public Speaking, Fiber Arts, and Alterations - these are things I feel I should do, for one reason or another, but seeing that they are not centered gives me the freedom to let them go so that I can focus on the things that I can do better. Let someone who finds those things at their own center do them. They’ll execute them better than you would anyway. As for me, I have limited time, money, and energy; let me focus on what I’ve been created to do. I may dabble in these fringe passions as hobbies, but they cannot be my focus if I want to actually make a difference in the world and find fulfillment.

Over the coming weeks and months, you will see a shift in my brand that will reflect what I’ve learned about my purpose. I share even more behind-the-scenes glimpses on social media, specifically Instagram and Twitter. Watch my Instagram story to hear about my process, visit my Instagram feed to see what I’m working on, and stop by my Twitter for quips and contemplations.

What is your purpose?

Does reflecting on your passions, giftings, and scars help your purpose settle into place?

taking a month off of work

July 2016

On the first of the month, I published the {classic wrap skirt} book,
and then the sabbatical began.
A whole month set aside to step away from the work of establishing the jordan elisheva brand.

There are multiple reasons for this choice,
and the most important reason is also probably the strangest-sounding:
my God asked me to do it.

And so, I have set aside this seventh month of 2016
to step away from brand-building
in order to focus on building relationships.

It has been a beautiful month of unexpected opportunities.
The freedom I have allowed myself has inpired interactions with people I would have never met,
as well as the deepening of relationships already established

I have done just enough for the jordan elisheva brand to keep it running,
including these weekly blog posts,
but have chosen not to stress over any of it (so my schedule has been less rigid).

On top of this,
I am using this time of stepping away to give me room to reflect
and determine the future direction of j.e.

More writing, more sewing, something new entirely...
I am exploring many possibilities
and am excited to share them in the coming months!

"how am I supposed to find time to sew?"

answer: you’re not. in fact, you can’t.

You can’t find extra minutes like you can find spare change in your couch cushions;
everyone has the same 24 hours every day.

You can’t really make time, either,
for the same reason.

you have three choices: waste, spend, or invest

wasting time is easy

Any time that you simply let pass…
any minute empty of purpose…
this is wasted time.

hanging out with friends
listening to music
social media

Yes, I included “sewing” in the list of time-wasters.

See, anything can be a time-waster.
Wasted time is time empty of purpose,
so if these things simply fill the void,
they are time-wasters.

But if there is a purpose mixed in,
then you haven’t wasted time,
you’ve spent it.

spending time requires being purposeful

Filling your time with any of these things
may be spending time purposefully.

Sleep re-charges and refreshes.
Daydreams may lead to epiphanies.
Amusements can bring joy and relaxation.
Hanging out with friends is important for community.
Listening to music is invigorating and life-giving.
Social media can be a great way to connect.
Doodling may help bring clarity.
Sewing is a creative outlet.

The important factor is knowing
why you are spending your time
on any given thing.

investing time requires wisdom

Filling your time with any of these things
may even be investing time wisely!

If you are not simply being purposeful with the present moment,
but also considering how it will affect the future for good,
then you are investing your time.

Consider how the way you are spending your moments
will affect and fit into the bigger picture
of how you are spending your life.

Invest wisely;
build something bigger
than your present.

Think of the people your life touches
and invest in them
as well as yourself.

Mostly, be aware,
be mindful,
and be wise.

learn to say “no”

In order to purposefully spend and wisely invest time
in the things that matter,
you have to learn to say “no” to the things that don’t.

Learning to say “no” to wasting time is hard enough,
but saying “no” to spending time
in order to better invest time is even harder.

The fact that you only have so many hours in a day
means that you have to say “no” to many things.
Will you be purposeful and wise about what you say “no” to?
Or will you simply let your time slip by?

Be purposeful, and decide what is worth saying “no” for.
If you want to spend time sewing,
you have to spend that time not doing other things.

You spend your time doing what is important to you;
Decide what is important to you, and do it.
Say no to other things.

That’s the only way to find time for anything.

rediscover the joy of childlike exploration

give yourself freedom to explore

Do you remember when you were a child
and were given free reign to explore?

Maybe it was out behind grandma’s house
or the nooks and crannies of a library.

Can you remember how it felt?
How free you were?

What if you could feel that way again?
What if you decided to go exploring?

get rid of the pressure to be productive

The pressure to be productive
is all too prevalent in this culture.

The pressure to accomplish something
makes us forget that we need peace
more than productivity.

We are humans beings,
not humans doings,
so why this pressure to perform?

Shake it off.
Slip out of the chains of productivity
and step into the freedom of creative exploration.

Begin a new project
and let yourself be completely free
to enjoy the process.

Let go of the pressure
to produce a beautiful finished product
and step into a beautiful process.

set a clear goal for yourself

Decide what you want out of this adventure.
Perhaps you want to explore a new stitch
or to use a new material or tool.

Set a clear goal to help you focus
and judge whether you’ve done
what you set out to do.

Perhaps you will try some new technique,
giving yourself freedom to fail as you move toward
successfully learning the new skill.

Or maybe you will try using a new tool,
allowing yourself the freedom to take it slowly
and learn all the quirks of this new thing.

Maybe you will try a new fabric,
something completely different from what you typically use,
that will make for an adventure.

Or perhaps you’ll come up with something else entirely.
What is it that would being you the most joy in the journey?
What would you try if you had complete freedom to not finish?

Don’t take this step lightly -
establish for yourself exactly what it would look like
to accomplish your goal.

Keep your goal process-oriented,
and not about the finished object.

Perhaps in the midst of exploring, you will create something.
But that is a byproduct, not an accurate measure of success or failure.

If you choose to try a new fabric, for example,
give yourself the goal of simply learning how to handle it
and don’t worry about whether or not you end up with something wearable.
Even if you only learn that you hate working with this type of fabric,
the journey has been successful - you learned something!

consistency is key

Set aside time each day
when you can focus,
leaving behind pressures
and setting aside distractions.

Consistency is key.
Let it not be a question of whether or not you will do it.
Add it to your schedule.

Once the time is set,
it is your responsibility to fill it with exploration.
This is your time to play.

Remember that this journey
is not about the destination.
When you set your time schedule, don’t set a deadline.

A deadline implies pressure to produce something,
and within a limited time period.
But your intended goal is exploration,
which is never quite over.

Even if it’s simply fifteen minutes before bed,
give yourself a regular time to relax
and lean into the process of creativity.

love the process

Since it is playtime, treat it as such.
Enjoy the process and love the moment.

Set aside everything else.
Leave it all behind and lean in
to the moment.

Engage in the present
letting yourself forget the past
and the future.

Invest yourself completely in the single step in front of you,
whether it be a specific stitch, a careful cut,
or a precisely-placed pin.

Eliminate distractions
so that you may engage fully
in the experience.

Shut yourself up in a room with your phone turned off.
Or go outside, leaving digital devices behind.
Choose a place of peace.

Who wants to have his attention torn between two things,
especially when there are discoveries to be made?

If you were exploring a wood,
you would not be checking social media
while dashing among the trees with your friends and comrades.

Speaking of friends…

share your joy

Exploration is more fun
when you share it with others.

Whether or not you invite a friend
to join you in the exploration,
tell someone about it.

Social media
is the first place we often go
when it comes to sharing something.

So yes, when I encourage you to share your joy,
I could mean taking it online,
but try to think beyond that.

Since the whole focus of this exercise
is to lean into the present moment,
and to be present in it,
it follows that in order to really share this sort of thing,
it is most natural to share it with someone
who can be present there with you.

So think of one person “in real life”
who you might tell about the adventure
you’re about to embark upon.

Now, go tell them.
Face-to-face, if you can.

Share the joy you are setting out to discover on this journey,
and tell them of your commitment to explore daily,
so that they can keep you accountable to actually do it.

Mostly, I ask you to share
because too often, people are afraid to go exploring.
If you do it, and share it, you may inspire someone else
to courageously go where their heart has been pulling them.