250 – 500 words

As the snow swirled in the Midwest today and I lamented having not gone to the grocery store yesterday, we hunkered down researching summer pre-college programs for our high schooler in between foraging an empty refrigerator and pantry.

Not surprisingly, each of the applications for the summer programs requires a response to a similar type statement that reads something like,

“In 250 – 500 words, tell us what you are passionate about and what you hope to learn during this summer program.”

This statement, requiring a response in application after application, got me thinking about my own work. I realized it is an excellent statement to respond to even if you’re not looking to enroll in a summer pre-college program.

FullSizeRender-43Just think, in 250 – 500 words you have the opportunity to quickly deduce if your perfectly, perfect self is passionate about the path you are on. In just 250 – 500 words you can ascertain if you are being pushed to new heights that spark new ideas, new thoughts, new learnings. In about a half-page of words typed in an 11 point Times New Roman font, you will reveal quite a bit about whether or not your path is the one that fills your heart, spirit and mind.

What will your 250 – 500 words reveal about your path?

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Undeserving

Today I experienced my second martial arts lesson. When everyone was turning right, I was turning left. When everyone was facing forward I was invariably facing backwards. When you were to have landed on your right foot I was on my left. And so it went for a full sixty minutes of martial arts disasternous.

At the end of class the instructor attached two half colored stripes to the white belt I was wearing to indicate progress. As he was placing the progress stripes onto the belt I could barely look at him. It was so clear to me that my efforts were not deserving.

And then, almost like one of those ear buds that reporters wear to hear their producers, my inner voice of reason was in my ear and my head. She, not so patiently pointed out, that the instructor had been doing this for most of his life – “you have not.” She also noted that sans any martial arts qualifications or experience I had no business telling the instructor how to do his job including who and who not to award progress stripes to.

FullSizeRender-41Deciding to look the instructor in the eye, I shared, “This isn’t easy. It’s frustrating making so many mistakes.”

Looking back he said, “Ahhh, it is through our mistakes we learn. Keep making mistakes and you will learn.”

Today’s martial arts disasternous reminded me to:

  • respect those that have skills and knowledge that are different than mine – there is much to be learned
  • respect myself and my mistakes – there is much to be learned
  • practice – a lot, as in a whole, whole lot and then a little bit more before next Saturday – there is much to be learned!

Art Kids

An objective of Voices of Pearls is to feature voices who are making a difference in the world. The perfectly, perfect brilliant voices that surround us each and every day. Sometimes we just have to take a pause, engage and listen to the voices that are right here, right now.

Tonight I did just that. As an almost weekly volunteer at a local high school’s art department, I am fortunate to be surrounded by the brilliant voices of the young women and men who identify as “art kids.”

Meet Maddie – a 17-year old artist who is brimming with wisdom and inspiration driven by her desire to use art as her voice in the world. I’m excited to share Maddie’s powerful voice with you and some of the topics we discussed this evening.

Maddie with her art

Maddie sitting amongst her art; her newest piece reflecting freedom of expression sits on the floor – très bien Molly!

Maddie’s most recent art piece

At the core of her newest piece (see photo) is the power of stories and how they are expressed. Maddie shared that the magazine wrapped pencils create stories about people – from healthcare workers battling Ebola, to marchers in Ferguson to celebrity. The pencils also represent how quickly important stories are erased from public consciousness and awareness. At the same time Maddie cautioned that we can become chained to our stories. She believes that these chained stories hold us back from reaching our greatest potential. Chained stories become the ones that define and prevent us from continually stretching ourselves to write our very own best life story.

Thoughts about her big dream

Maddie wants to inspire others through art while also teaching about the power of art. She shared that words can be hard. Art, however, provides the medium in which she can authentically express and represent her ideas, opinions and values.

Thoughts about the change she wants to be for the world

To inspire and encourage others to accept where they are in life, embrace it and understand that you don’t have to live in a box that someone else gives you.

Best advice

Don’t be impulsive. Think about your actions because they affect yourself and others.

What she’s listening to

Take Me to Church by Hozier

Maddie’s closing thought

I’m just a girl trying to find my way in the world.

 

Thank you perfectly, perfect Maddie for sharing your inspired voice. Keep on creating, keep on being you, keep on making a difference!

 

Two left feet

On New Year’s Eve I did something to take care of me that I’ve never done before – I had my first colonoscopy!

Upon arriving for the procedure the nurse handed me a gown, a robe and a pair of grippy socks. I pulled the grippy socks out of the package. The first one had a big “L” on the bottom. I instinctively placed it on my left foot. I pulled the second sock out fully expecting to see a large “R” on the bottom. Instead there was another big “L.”

Two "left" feet

Two “left” feet

So conditioned am I to think about feet as being left and right – not one shape fits both – that for a brief moment I thought there had been a packaging mistake at the grippy sock factory. Of course, the “L” indicated the size, not a prescription for which sock belonged on what foot.

Patterns, pairs and procedures are necessary and helpful. They create an ease and comfort to move about in life. They help us save time. Indeed their wonderfully prescriptive nature can make life a whole lot easier – like wearing a right shoe and a left shoe.

As you start your week, what would happen if you approached your work and your relationships with two left feet? What would feel different? How would things look different with two left feet? How would you approach tasks differently? Where might you stumble? Where might you excel? Best yet, what might you discover and learn?

I’m starting the week out on the left foot.  I hope you’ll join me.  Let the adventure begin!

Butterfly Nation

There’s definitely been a change in wanting to learn and do new things since I reached the half-century mark several years ago.  I continually look for the next “what’s next” to push me out of my comfort zone.

Women on Fire Book I

Women on Fire
Book I

Last December I submitted a “what’s next”, out-of-my-comfort-zone-proposal.  Women on Fire was accepting proposals for chapter authors for its second Women of Fire book – a collection of real stories designed to provide inspiration, strategies and support for women.  I waited until the very last minute to submit my proposal.  I was unsure about sharing my story in such a public forum.

News regarding the status of my proposal arrived via email the second week in January.  I didn’t see the email until nearly midnight as I had attended an out-of-town work event.  While perched on the side of my bathtub, contemplating whether or not to take my make-up off or just go to bed, I did a quick scan of email.  There it was.  My out-of-my-comfort-zone-proposal had been accepted!  A late night punch in the gut of excitement, fear, anxiousness, nervousness and, oh dear, what have I done?

Since  January I’ve experienced lots and lots of nervousness and excitement throughout the writing process.  My chapter – “Voice Lessons” (about finding my voice later in life) – has been through multiple rounds of edits.  I’ve fretted over certain words and then delighted in landing upon one that felt just perfect.  At times I wanted to throw my hands-up and forget about the entire project and move on.

I am happy to report that my chapter is complete.  However, I continue to have the same case of butterflies that I caught that night while perched on the side of my tub.

En route to NYC

En route to NYC

So, here I am, on a plane headed for NYC (need to work on my #selfies) to meet the twenty other chapter authors as we begin preparing for the Women on Fire Book II launch later this summer.  I don’t know what tomorrow will hold – I’m nervous and excited – it’s an extreme case of butterflies now.

Sitting here though, it dawns on me, that like a butterfly our lives are a series of metamorphoses.  As we change and grow we just keep getting better.  So rise up Butterfly Nation and help us be brilliant as we each write and experience new chapters in our lives.