I’m not gonna lie. This post is a pinball machine, a “throat clearing” where I can unload the thoughts pinging in my head. It started where I wanted to write a clothing capsule post, and it ended up being about our inherent talents and our willingness to focus and strengthen them. I tried to glue both ideas together, into some wisdom about clothing, and that shite went splat. Not that it won’t appear later. Gems, such as: always have a pair of rain boots at the ready for a graveside funeral.

I’m drawn to learning. It excites me to delve into new areas. I was born with an inherent love of learning. I’m fascinated by learning new things. I want to learn to play the piano and play a song that sings to my soul and learn to use messy chalk pastels to recreate a photograph. I want to take a botanical watercolor class. Another writing class. I’m everywhere, a dabbler—which by the way, used to be called a Renaissance Woman. Juliet Gordon Low, the woman who founded the Girl Scouts of America at the age of, oh yes, fifty-one, was a dabbler. In her earliest days, she wrote plays and poetry, newspaper articles, did needlework and landscape painting. She was an everything woman, full of passion, like me.

I’m everywhere. Writing and painting and cooking and parenting, relationships, diet, film deconstruction, curly hair products, the art of story, research, self-help, beauty products, outfits, gift guides, handwriting and calligraphy, Christmas traditions, home decor, recipes, inventive flavor profiles. Everywhere! And nowhere. Am I going nowhere with all these curiosities? Ping, ping.

The other day, I was hoping to get some clarity of my “calling.” What exactly am I meant to do, now? I tried to figure out how to leverage my strengths: my god-given gift of enthusiasm, a real zest for life and learning.

I value wisdom because it’s a lesson that makes you grow. I love that wisdom can be applied to everything: cooking, painting, dating, parenting, relationships, friendships, self-worth, how you choose to live, and yes, how to shop. I’m not going there today.

I’ve always been a sucker for those lists from mothers to daughters, where you learn life lessons about how to deal with a husband and a hemline. Maybe there’s something there. A master of wisdom that comes from all these different areas. A universal kernel that can be applied to it all. Maybe I’ll try it.

I feel like I can master anything I put my mind and passion into. Where I want to be. But then what? What’s next? After you’ve accomplished the thing you wanted? You need to pick your next goal, know what to visualize, where to concentrate your energy, narrow your focus. I’m still trying to find that clarity and vision. Where should I focus? No one tells you that part. You have to feel it. Or start by picking something and seeing if it sticks.

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”~Tony Robbins


Joan Mitchell Painting


  1. Ok, I’m a dabbler too. Maybe it was the liberal arts college education that taught me to look for possibility and learning in everything. Maybe it was my wonderful, conservative parents who didn’t teach me to grab the brass ring. I’m not sure but from Tony Robbins quote, he wants me to feel bad about being a dabbler and I’m perfectly happy and content dabbling in my little piece of the world.

    1. Author

      YES! Is it really so bad to be a dabbler? I can’t help it. I’m just naturally interested in so many artistic pursuits. When my kids practice piano, I make them teach me (you retain info far better when you can teach it, anyhow). I want to play with watercolors, which bring me joy. I want to fill my family with nutritious and delicious homemade meals that take… work! Creating new traditions, carving out family reading time. It’s all a balance. But have I delved deep into ONE PURSUIT lately? No. And maybe that’s the “problem.” I need convincing that one style is better than the other.

  2. I’m probably hugely missing the point.

    But I feel compelled to answer: it doesn’t really matter if you enjoy being a dabbler if you can afford to be.

    I think most people focus on something not because they want to or because they feel a calling, but because they are forced to by limited resources. If you only have 2 hours of free time a day, what you really want to spend it on will become clear.

    I would love to have the life of a student where I could learn and grow and focus on a bunch of stuff all at once. But doing that with a full time job just isn’t possible for me, so it’s narrowed by necessity.

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