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A Guest Blog with Dori Lawrence
Do you know that warm, excited feeling that comes over you when you meet somebody for the first time but absolutely know you’re at the beginning of a beautiful friendship? That’s how I felt when I met Dori Lawrence in January at the Road To California quilt show and learned how she found purpose in life after fifty.
Dori is vibrant, bubbly, and bursting with energy and passion, especially when it comes to topics that are dear to both our hearts – creativity and crafting. Dori and her daughter, Katie, run a terrific blog and podcast, Hobbies Up To Here, where they document their adventures into all things crafty. This mother-daughter duo has a terrific dynamic and a wonderfully honest approach to their creative pursuits. If you haven’t checked out Hobbies Up To Here, you should! Stories like hers are so inspiring when we are searching for our purpose in life.
In addition to a delightful personality, Dori has an amazing and inspiring personal story to share. She is living proof that it’s never too late to live your dream – and sometimes more than one!
Dori’s Story of Finding Purpose in Life, Chasing Your Dreams, and Trusting Your Heart
Shortly after my fiftieth birthday, I was sitting at our dining room table with a family friend, trying to figure out my purpose in life. As a formerly full-time stay-at-home mom who was now faced with an empty nest, I had no clue and was feeling truly adrift.
Then my friend asked a question that would change my life, “What did you enjoy doing between the ages of eight and eleven?”
Memories immediately flooded my mind: images of happy hours spent at my mother’s sewing machine, of snapping photos on the Instamatic camera that went everywhere I did, of countless hand stitching and needlework projects, and compulsively writing story after story. My heart rate quickened as I recalled how creative pursuits had enriched my youth and realized that I now had the time and means to pursue those lovely hobbies.
Because I’d always had a deep-seated fear of success as well as performance anxiety, I generally kept my creative gifts to myself. But that started to change in 2009, when a friend invited me to view photographs of bands he had taken as an amateur “gig photographer.” His work was amazing! And I remember thinking I could never do something like that, but soooo wishing I could!
A year later, I got my chance.
Pursuing My Purpose in Life (On Purpose)
While attending a performance by a friend’s band in a dimly lit hall, I nervously pulled out my camera and began taking pictures. It was more difficult than anything I had ever attempted before. The low light, constant movement of the crowd, and unpredictability of the performers themselves, was a challenge. But an exciting one!
After I posted those first photographs on Facebook, opportunity came knocking. I was invited to shoot the same band when they played at the Viper Room on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. Hoping to calm my nerves and get a feel for the stage, I spent time shooting all the bands performing that night.
It was fun but my critical eye told me I had a lot to learn, both in the craft and in proper editing. I began to study, driving to Hollywood as often as I could to practice and hone my skills.
Eighteen months later, at the age of fifty-three, I found myself part of the music scene on the Boulevard. I was one of seven photographers to be invited to show my work during the 2011 Sunset Strip Music Festival. I worked as a staff photographer as well.
My dreams had come true – at least for a season.
Dreams That Fall Short
The greatest gift of that amazing season of my life was the talented and lovely people I met during shoots. My nickname became “Mama Dori” and rather than compliments on my work that gave me validation, I found it was conversations with the kids who were dreaming of becoming full fledged artists that filled me to the brim with purpose.
But before long, I was spending so much time shooting, editing, posting and promoting my bands that my personal life began to suffer. Photography no longer brought me joy, even when my shoots produced a paycheck. There was a major imbalance in my life, so I made the difficult choice to retire and work on repairing my tattered relationships.
Once again, I was adrift. I no longer felt I had a purpose in life, or an identity of my own. I gained thirty pounds, watched more T.V. than I care to admit, and sunk into depression.
In 2015, my life took yet another and far more positive turn. My oldest daughter, Katie, asked me to be a guest on her podcast to chat about our favorite books.
That was such a good day! We had so much fun that Katie suggested we start a blog and podcast together, featuring our love for hobbies.
I jumped at the chance to spend time with my daughter and resurrect my long dormant love of handwork. It was the easiest and best decision I’ve ever made. Once again, I am living my dream but in a more balanced and even more satisfying way.
This March, Katie and I will celebrate three years under the Hobbies Up To Here umbrella. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned, how much I love what we do, and how good it feels to be 30 pounds lighter!
Listen to your Heart and Live Your Dream
Stepping away from a dream job that had begun to tarnish my life and relationships wasn’t easy. The thing that helped me make the final decision? My inner voice screamed that I had lost my joy. I needed to find peace again. If that meant leaving this season of my life completely behind, then so be it. I am the only human who knows the whispers of my heart. The decision had to be mine and mine alone. I suspected that I would lose friendships and the good opinion of people I respected. But living in my skin, in harmony, was much more important to me.
That small inner voice has never let me down. It’s that same voice that inspires me whenever my daughter and I sit down to chat about our lives and hobbies on our podcast, Hobbies Up To Here. I feel that joy, that centered fullness that we are sharing something special, as well as creating community together. We both enjoy learning how to make lovely quilts. We are also passionate about knitting, crocheting, stitching, painting, hand lettering…you name it! We are so different, she and I, but that makes this wonderful journey even more adventurous!
This gift, so late in life, has combined everything I could ask for. It gave me a heightened relationship with my daughter and family, creativity, and community. It gives me that simple joy of spending every day doing something I love.
At the end of January, I turned a very happy and vibrant sixty years young. I can’t wait to see what THIS decade holds!