How to figure out a selfish desire vs a true calling.

Spring trees in bloom during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada. Part of - How to figure out a selfish desire vs. a true calling. Click to read the story.

As most of you know by now, I frequent the nearby trails via bike rides nearly on a daily basis.

For the most part, it’s a way to get close to nature. I mean… it’s pretty! And then there’s the exercise bonus of course. While I’m not one of those trainer types, I do work up just enough sweat to hopefully do something good for my health.

But there’s something more that rose to the top this past bike ride.

And I will admit, it frightens me.

A babbling wetlands creek during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada. Part of - How to figure out a selfish desire vs. a true calling. Click to read the story.

When I’m busy working at home, I have all the perfect distractions. I start the day with my to-do journal I shared HERE, then it’s pretty to dig into all the things that I’d like to get done for the day.

Now know, there’s also a dream section in that journal. And lately, I’ve been avoiding it.

I suppose I’ve been testing myself. What do I want vs. what am I meant to have?

It’s hard to tell at times whether I’m feeling selfish or deserving. How does one even know?

Wooden bridges across creeks and the river during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada. Part of - How to figure out a selfish desire vs. a true calling. Click to read the story.

My brother called a couple days ago to wish me a happy (57th!) birthday.

We hit on the topic of travel, and he asked me if I had any plans for this year.

I enthusiastically said, “YES! I’ve gifted myself a trip in early summer to Maui, and new-to-me Molokai for the first time!”

Oh yes I have. I’ve desired my tropical fix for a while now. I’ve even checked several times over for condo availability earlier in the year in which there were none.

I just finally booked it in when it worked.

However as I was booking, I had to ask myself a lot of HARD questions.

Was I ready for something bigger than my safe-zone Hawaii?

Would I ever be brave enough to fly across the pond to places foreign and unknown to me?

New spring growth beside a wooden bridge during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada. Part of - How to figure out a selfish desire vs. a true calling. Click to read the story.

New spring growth beside a wooden bridge during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada. Part of - How to figure out a selfish desire vs. a true calling. Click to read the story.

I wrestled with it big time.

Ultimately, I decided no matter what I planned for the future, Maui provided the epic ‘rest’ that I desired at the time, with the option for adventure should I choose it.

So I decided to push myself a little further and added the island of Molokai as well!

It’s old Hawaii with no stop lights in sight.

Adding the new island had me investigating the lay of the land, then figuring out my way around, but it didn’t frighten me. I am familiar to Hawaii’s climate, language, driving, money and safety.

However I knew the new island would help me continue to grow as a sole traveler. May as well practice in a place I’m already comfortable, right?!

Spring growth on forest trees during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada. Part of - How to figure out a selfish desire vs. a true calling. Click to read the story.

However, the conversation with my brother was yet another reminder of being called to do something braver.

The calling I knew about way back before I could even afford to travel.

The calling that was the reason I got two cats instead of 1.

The calling that keeps rising to the top with increased volume daily. DAILY. Did I say DAILY? It’s DAILY.

The calling I built my entire life and business around. That if I cannot travel while doing it, I will not take it on. Travel must be able to be a part of it.

The calling that wouldn’t always include Hawaii. That Hawaii was a mere pit stop.

The international calling is bothersome.

I try and stuff the thoughts to the bottom of the list and wish it away by getting busy with other stuff. But the same thing happens, time after time. I start to lose enthusiasm for everything I’m doing and ultimately reach the point of “What’s the point?”


I now know why I’ve been attempting to reactivate my love for everything I do.

It’s because I’m not allowing myself to add the very thing I’ve been pining to do!


I go from, “I don’t want that kind of travel”…. to dreaming I was there right now. Constantly. Every single day. It’s as if my thoughts and heart have separated. My brain is digging in its heels leaving skid marks while my heart is tugging me along inch by inch. Some days it even makes headway.

What is even WRONG with me?

Why not just book the big stuff and go?

Following the gravel trail towards the country dike during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada. Part of - How to figure out a selfish desire vs. a true calling. Click to read the story.

The topic of conversation with my brother turned to visiting England, Scotland and Ireland.


We’ve been here before. Les has been to the UK and has attempted to guide me many times over.

And of course, my excuses come out full force. From going alone to a goofy foot to toothache to driving on the left to not knowing my way around to not understanding the money to not knowing how to manage public transit to…. name it and I’ve said it!

I audibly heard the smile in my brother’s face over the phone line. He said nothing for awhile while I dumped my diva-styled third world’s issues on his gracious lap.

Then ever so wisely mused,

“You’re afraaaaid….”


Yup. I am.

A babbling wetlands creek during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada. Part of - How to figure out a selfish desire vs. a true calling. Click to read the story.

I’m so afraid to go this alone, I stopped writing about my Toronto travels I’ve already done but not shared with you yet. The pictures open up in my SD card daily as I have to bypass them to get to the new material. Why? They remind me what I will ultimately have to face.

This practice needs to stop. It’s time to get these beautiful stories out. They are now on my to-do list so I hope you’ll want to hear about my last Hawaiian trip, Niagara Falls, a story about some lovely friends where my stencils are produced, what Ontario looks like in fall and SO much more. The photos are absolutely spectacular. So much so, they overwhelm me.

They include this ravine on a cable car, a butterfly sanctuary, two quaint cottage stays and more.

Plus, I just must share the Maui happening that shook my world.

Some travel blogger, huh? I’m shaming myself here so I write about them.

I’m ignoring the obvious, friends. And the day I actually do something about this overseas travel fear, I’m going to be sprawled out on UK soil bawling my eyes out for all to witness!

Because it will be such a  relief to let this big bad fear GO.

I went through something similar last year in Maui I’ve yet to share.

It’s on my to-do list now.

A Blue Heron Reserve wetlands during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada. Part of - How to figure out a selfish desire vs. a true calling. Click to read the story.

These beautiful bike ride trails use to be my quiet zone.

But now they’ve become The Calling Zone. With no to-do lists filling my brain, the deep down guts of dream life rise to the top while I’m on these dreamy paths and quite frankly, scare the crap out of me.

So I made my brother a promise. When I’m tucked in nice and comfy in Hawaii during my downtime,  I will take the time to start planning my big, brave NEW adventure overseas.

I already have ‘travel agent’ on my to-do list to start the process rolling.

p.s. Hold me.

A spring infused babbling creek during a bike ride along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Chilliwack, BC Canada. Part of - How to figure out a selfish desire vs. a true calling. Click to read the story.

So, how does one tell the difference between a selfish desire vs. a true calling?

I think selfish desires come then go.

But I think true callings nag you endlessly until they are completed. Even when we tell ourselves we don’t want to do that thing any longer.

So, what happens if we don’t listen?

IMO we will never ultimately live our best lives because we aren’t doing what we were designed to do.

Plus… boy does it get noisy!

Let’s change that.

I promise to hold your hand back…


What are you being called to do? Why aren’t you doing it?


Another ‘brave’ post…

Learn how to build your dream job while you work your day job.

How to build a dream job while you work your day job

bike on the Vedder River rotary trail during summer

Read Travel posts HERE (with more coming soon!)

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21 thoughts on “How to figure out a selfish desire vs a true calling.

  1. Donna,

    I have the same fears you do about traveling alone. I have the opportunity to travel as my son is a pilot for a major airline. He is always pushing me to fly the world. Nope! At least you have been to Hawaii. My other son lived in Hawaii for almost two years and I would not go. Do not like to fly over the ocean. I am like you, always an excuse and I have many.

    I am proud of you and hope one of these days I will travel outside of the US before I get two old and can’t.

    That you for your inspiration to move on.

    • Oh Nancy… I really get it.

      Here’s what I suggest if travel is still something you strive towards. Go on a mini vacation near you but just far enough away that there’s a little bit of a learning curve that takes some bravery. Every single trip has taught me valuable lessons for the next.

      My next Molokai adventure was so easy to plan, thanks to all my planned Maui trips!

      Listen to me dishing out ‘brave’ advice… right now I want to remove this post so I don’t have to own this one! haha

      WHEN (egads… I rock with eyes wide open at this moment saying that) I plan my big trip, I’m going to write down exactly the steps I needed to take to make it happen.

      And I’d bet myself anything it’s probably as simple as Hawaii was. We just build it up to be this big huge scary thing.

      Just a normal part of all the unknowns I suppose.

      I hope you try a near destination to get your feet wet!

  2. The scariest part is booking the trip, making plans. After that, you just need to show up and let the adventure unfold, enjoying the moments as they happen. Foreign money isn’t a big deal, London’s subways and the UK trains and Irish buses are awesome if you aren’t up the wrong side of the road driving. You’re going to love it! When I was 35, I felt like I was afraid of so many things. But I made a promise to myself during an moment, perhaps similar to yours, to go ahead and do those things anyway. 23 years later, not a single regret. Enjoy your travels.

  3. Holding you in a circle of strength, compassion for yourself, and bravery.
    Do what makes your heart sing, even if there is a slightly scary hitch in it’s voice!
    I leave you with this wonderful quote ~ one of my favorites…

    “And the day came
    when the risk to remain
    tight in a bud
    was more painful
    that the risk it took
    to blossom.”
    Anais Nin

    Hugs ~

  4. Hi Donna,
    This is the first time I have written although I have followed funkyjunkinteriors for a long time. Just wanted to tell you about my recent experiences. I have always wanted to travel, and I was fortunate to be able to visit several countries in Western Europe before I spent six weeks at Oxford University when I was in graduate school. I loved my time in England so much that I did not want to come home when the summer session was over.

    After waiting too many years to go back to Europe, I wrote a sabbatical proposal (I teach second grade) which was accepted in 2017. My plan was to take a few classes and travel. Although I wanted my husband to join me, he only traveled with me to Boston. After that I went to England, Ireland and Italy for 3 months. Yes, it was scary at times, mostly when I got lost (at night, of course!) in London and Bologna. After taking an amazing course on William Shakespeare in Stratford-Upon -Avon in December of 2017, I made it home in time for Christmas.
    I made several more trips in 2018, once with my college roommate to Amsterdam, Brussels and London. (Can you tell that I am a bit of am Anglophile!?! ) Later I went to make a pilgrimage to Giverny, where I saw Claude Monet’s beautiful home and garden. After that I took a cooking/travel course in France’s gorgeous Loire Valley. Finally, my husband met me in Paris and we had a lovely few days there and in Venice.
    I have so enjoyed reading your blog and would like to encourage you to continue to make plans to see other parts of the world. By the way, I am also 57. Before I began my 2017 trip I had knee replacement surgery so that I would be able to walk without pain. It’s never too late to visit the places you have dreamed of, no matter how old you are! Maybe I will see you when I go to Scotland next year! In the meantime, take care and remember that you have great courage and that you inspire many of us every day. XO Christina

  5. Donna you can and will do it. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ….Laozi Over the years I’ve found that quote to be both inspiring and useful.
    Looking forward to seeing photos from your trip to Ontario – it always cool to see what other people see in your home area (I’m from Toronto)and you’re an amazing photographer.

  6. Donna, You’ve already traveled by yourself to Hawaii and other places. Overseas is the same thing. And think of all the new people and new friends you will make. I can say these things to you because I h.a.t.e. to fly. Never liked it. I’m looking forward to reading about the butterfly sanctuary and your cottage stays. Cottages are my thing 🙂 I guess I was forced to travel so much when I was working that I enjoy being in my “bubble” now!

  7. Donna, my husband recently retired and we have flown the coop as they say! We’ve flown, sailed and taken the train to new places. 2 “big” trips a year and 2-3 small ones. It has been a little scary in some places, even with my husband with me; but great fun as a whole. I highly encourage you to start with a group tour to Europe. England would be my first suggestion. My first trip oversees was there with a group from Alabama Public Television. They organized the trip while Downton Abbey was on. It was the best decision. Yes, there were bus tours, driving on the left and blisters on my feet, but it started something wonderful in my life. And I didn’t have to drive!!! Our next trip to Italy, there was driving and a flat tire. But that’s become a funny story we love to tell.

    Just do it! And if you need an extra traveler, let me know! 😉

  8. I think you are brave every time you bike on the wood paths. It appears too lonely and away from civilization. Are you ever afraid to bike alone? Do you ever see others on the paths? I guess living in a major metroplex (Dallas TX) one feels anxious to be alone outdoors where paths are sometimes hidden by trees or bushes. If the answer is no I feel brave out there by myself then I believe you could take on any excursion….anywhere in the world. I am going to Ireland this summer, accompanied by family, but it is my first overseas trip, and I am 70. Anxious? Somewhat, but that should fade away the 1st day.

    • Hi Theresa!

      Yes, I travel well populated trails so I’m rarely completely alone for long. I just wait for people to pass before taking pictures. My bike also wears a bell to scare off wildlife…. I hope! haha I’ve yet to see anything nearby yet.

      Good for you on Ireland! I think being amongst family is a great way to navigate something new! I did that with my sister the first time I drove The Road to Hana and it really helped!

  9. I am so surprised of your fear to go to another country! You do so many other brave things all by yourself. I don’t see why this is different, especially since you have traveled long distances (Hawaii & NYC, for example).

    In the Fall of 2017, I flew alone to Europe for 2 weeks. However, I did arrange to meet with a tour group. We did sight seeing together and meals together. I also had done a vacation trip to Kauai with the same tour guide company about 10 months before, so I had previous experience with that company. This way I was not completely alone. I think once I have been to some more countries, I may want to travel all by myself. That trip I went to Iceland, met with the group, and after several days there, we all went on to Scotland for some time and then to Ireland.
    Additionally, I had been to England and Ireland a few years before, with my daughter after she graduated from college. So I had a little experience with the long trip out of the country and some familiarity with the UK, which was helpful on the second trip.
    My thinking is that I am getting older, I am still able to travel, so I really should do it now. If I start to have health problems or financial problems, then I will not be able to do it and I will regret not going NOW.
    Also, I know people who say they will do X when I retire. And then they get a major health problem or a couple have died soon after or near retirement. They never got to do what they wanted.
    Make a plan, get all the info you can, talk to other people who have gone to the same places or have traveled alone, then DO IT !

    -Mary M.

    • Agree 100% Mary. I’m going to look into some mini tours while talking to a travel agent. I think that is the right kind of support that will encourage me to move forward.

      I also agree it’s time. I waited years for this and if I allow a few aches and pains to slow me down, so be it. It’s better than not being there at all! Thanks for the push!

  10. Your brother knows you very well. One can tell you are related. He knew the right words to say, just as you do. And he got you thinking. Sometimes that’s a blessing and sometimes not. I think this time it is a blessing. Courage Donna. You got this. And I look forward to learning of your journey, theoretically and actually. Thank you for sharing as it gets my wheels turning in my brain.

  11. Hi Donna,

    Here is what I figured out that worked for me as a solo, somewhat apprehensive traveler (we are of similar age)—perhaps it will for you also!

    I tend to be what I call an “all or nothing” thinker, and it took me many years to figure out that there is an “in-between.” I’ve learned to break things down into pieces that are manageable to my comfort level and work up to the “big thing/dream,” and this process also helped me with solo travel.

    My first European trip (10 days) was a guided group tour (both couples and solo travelers) where part of the day was “guided” and part of the day was “free time.” Every couple of days we visited a new region/country. This set up provided a built in support/backup system that alleviated a majority of my solo travel anxiety. The tour gave me a “taste” of different countries, allowed me to identify my favorites. It gave me practice/confidence to return on a less structured trip, to explore favorite locations in more detail. I highly recommend this approach!

    Keep pursuing your adventures…you can do it and will be glad you did! I love reading about them and enjoy your beautiful photography!

    • Oh my goodness… I really appreciate your idea! My brother said much the same thing… get there, go on a few guided tours then play around on my own too. I think this approach is a really good mix I will be looking into! Thank-you!

  12. “true callings nag you endlessly until they are completed.” I totally agree with you! When God’s got a plan for you, he’s going to keep bringing the idea around. And I think we just stand around stuttering like Moses, complaining we can’t. do. it. Thank goodness for His patience with us! Love when you write deeper posts…know I need to do the same…but I can only handle so much at a time! And it’s scary. And it needs to find it’s place. It’ll happen…eventually.

  13. Good on you Donna for listening to your heart and taking that first step to spreading your wings over the oceans. England, Ireland and, Scotland are all beautiful and safe and wonderful. All that history and culture, you’re going to love it. I do understand your fear though, but you’re a beautiful, courageous person and when your head finally decides to butt out, your heart will lead the way.

  14. Not sure I’ve ever posted before tho have followed your inspiring blog for years.

    You’ve already gotten some great advice in the comments — and it’s clear that you are courageous and unafraid of (most) new adventures. You’ll be able to conquer your anxiety about foreign travel.

    as a child, I was lucky to travel and live in Europe because of my father’s job. I studied in London during senior year in college, and loved it. In the ’80s and ’90s I traveled a lot for work, in Europe and Asia as well as domestically. And I often spent vacations at a funky health spa in Mexico, now shuttered. Sometimes the solo travel was hard and lonely; but more often, it was rewarding and enlightening.

    Have traveled much less in the last 20 years (caring for aging parents, some financial difficulties), but haven’t missed it too much. Until lately! Now that I’m in my 60s, I’m feeling the urge to get back overseas while I can still hike and climb stairs, ride horses and bicycles. Just starting to make plans for trips over the next few years.

    Don’t wait until aging keeps you from the adventures you want to take! Explore tour groups that sounds interesting, like the PBS group already mentioned, colleges and museums, National Geographic Society, Sierra Club — often offer interesting group trips. There are tours designed for single women, too. Local photography clubs often do tours (a natural for you? Seems so). Travel with your brother or a friend?
    Bon Voyage Donna, you won’t regret it when you take the plunge.

  15. I’ve read your blog for a long time and enjoy learning things. I think you forgot your beginnings, like taking a job you had little skill in, years ago. Starting Funky Junk alone. You are braver than you give yourself credit for.

    I hate flying, literally suffering with the thought of it, weeks before I step on a plane, but have been all over the world. I got lost in Poland where not many speak English. I discovered that Poland is a country I would go back to in a heart beat. Great food and smiling faces.

    What keeps me going on a plane is the bigger fear of regret when the time comes that I can no longer get around easily.

    Also, if you are truly happy with Hawaii, then go there! You’ll know when you are ready for other adventures. If the calling is getting stronger, then the first step is the hardest. Good luck and happy travels wherever you go!!!!

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