About a month ago, as I was launching my new audiobook “What’s Right With Me?”, my website needed an update to reflect the launch. Just a few years ago designing and creating websites was a job that supported me, along with various other graphic design work. I enjoyed the work but I was in constant inner, if not outer complaint that I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do, what I felt passionate about. One day, sitting in front of my computer full of that inner complaining turmoil, something sort of snapped awake. It was kind of a self-dare. I challenged myself to proving that I was truly passionate about inspiring people. “If I am truly passionate about inspiring people, I will do it everyday, book or not, standing in front of a roomful of people or not. I will do it in small ways and as an undertone of my life. And just like that…everything was new again… Not long afterward I was asked to do the graphic recording for a conference here in town. I had no idea what that was then. Now it is my primary work, how I make my living. It is not at first glance the kind of inspirational work I was seeking. At second glance it is inspiring to those who are experiencing it during and after a talk or a conference. My job is capturing (mostly livetime) the content of conversation through words and pictures standing in front of a roomful of people. It helps people to be creatively engaged and in the present moment. When I first started doing graphic recording, like anything new it required a good deal of nurturing. Two of my best friends offered to help me start this new business. I asked what they were passionate about to see how they could fit it into the work. Both raised their shoulders to their ears and couldn’t articulate a thing. So we conjured up a few questions and I drew out the answers on a big piece of paper taped to the dining room walls. Bam! And just like that…everything was new again! Both of my friends were so astounded and inspired with what they saw that I went home that night and extrapolated those 5 or 6 questions out to 13, drawing a thread from first joyful memories to “what are my next steps?” That was 4 years ago and I have been offering individual sessions and workshops ever since. I put it all down in book form and produced an audio version of “What’s Right With Me?”, which was launched last month. Which brings me right back to what I started to tell you about at the start of this post. I updated my blipstudio.com site and successfully uploaded…or so I thought. A week or so later when I went to my blog, it was gone and in its place was the uploaded blipstudio site. I have no idea how I did that but I did. The entire Verbal Remedies site was gone. And just like that…everything was new again. I’m pretty sure that there was a way to bring it back but I quickly looked at it as a fresh start. Time to widen my view and to recommit to those of you who are reading this, to offer my version of inspiration to make your day just a little bit brighter, life’s load just a little bit lighter. Life feels very different again. It’s been a life altering few months for the little trio who gave birth to “What’s Right With Me?” At the beginning of August, one of us shared the news that she had been diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. And just like that. One month later, I was diagnosed with stage zero melanoma. My father died from that when he was 57. And just like that. Two days after that news, I received a call from our other friend’s son that she had left this world abruptly and without warning the night before. And just like that. I do believe there are random happenings, but this one is too close. This time period is a wakeup call. Life is fast! And it ends. Even I will die one day. And I don’t want to. It scares me in a way that my stomach begins to feel like it is hollowing if I let myself go deep into the thought of not existing here. I love so much about this life and I am so far from complete. My prayer is that as long as that is true, I will stay here whole and healthy and of service and value to myself and others…being kind and having a blast along the way and inspiring you to do that too. And just like that…everything is new again.
When I was in first grade, our reading workbooks were “Think and Do” books. “Dick and Jane, we look and see, we work and play, we come and go.” I just pulled this image off the internet. Did it really look so, well, 1950-ish? And the answer is of course, as it was 1950-ish. Oye, how time flies. Why I thought about Dick and Jane is this morning as I walked around Asheville, I saw a very defined and colored inside the lines print that said “Draw outside the lines.” While my friend and I puzzled at the depiction of such a directive, I immediately went back in time to the day that Sister Alice Mary smashed my little hands with a ruler and hung a sign around my neck that said “I am a dummy”. I had tired of coloring in the multitude of little leaves on the tree hiding Dick and Jane and friends faces and taken the broad side of my crayon and simply colored the whole tree (and spaces between) green. That day I learned to color strictly inside the lines. Note my very distinct black line art style. Good things do come from kinda icky things.
Sister AM’s message had a big effect on my life. Do not think and do on your own, but follow strict rules or experience pain and be labeled a dummy. My little 6 year old self bought that, as many little 6 year old selves did and do. We give our little ones messages that being who they are is not acceptable. Conform or lose. My mission in life is to counteract that message and encourage a new message that who you are is SO much more than enough.
So please. Let your little one (and that might be you) be who they are. Support and direct them to explore what that might be, who that might be. Watch them and learn for yourself how to live life with creativity and allowance.