My office is a short commute from where I live… approximately 15 steps upstairs. It was one of the first things that drew us to this house: separate workspaces for both my husband and myself, plus extra room for guests. There are days when I stop to drink it all in. I am doing what I always wanted to do.
Even with the day-to-day flexibility to wear what I want and work on certain projects when I want, I still find myself feeling somewhat “chained” to my desk… because sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. I think everyone, regardless of industry, understands this.
When I began an intentional practice of creativity and creating tangible art again, I assumed that my projects would follow suit. And then one of our largest contracts — that had nothing to do with brushes or paint — fell in my lap.
I’m grateful for the financial security, but I’ve admittedly let fear creep in with a slew of what ifs and questionable unknowns. And yes, even the thoughts that I’m not actually qualified to do anything of this caliber. I have everyone fooled for now, but someday, they’ll all find out.
As I mentally prepare for this transition, I dedicated Saturday to physically prepare my space, as well. Armed with contractor-sized trash bags and a Marie Kondo willpower, I attacked my office and art closet — the home of every magazine, catalog, and printed piece of collateral I’d designed, old canvases, crates of high school memorabilia: photos, yearbooks, and mixtapes, and bags of random miscellany: craft supplies, 100-year old books my husband finds interesting, and a purple wig.
I don’t typically consider myself a pack rat, but the list certainly goes on.
When I picked up one of my old sketchbooks, a folded letter fell out. It was dated September 11, 1999 — only a few weeks into my freshman year of college. I recognized my dad’s handwriting instantly.
I love you! I’m proud of you! I love to hear what you are doing. It already sounds like life is exciting for you. I’m glad — really!
Just some fatherly advice:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Oh, by the way, everything is small stuff.
- When there seems that no way something will happen, and hope dims, and you have no more time or ideas, then GOD. God makes a way. I don’t know why he does it or why he chooses to do it the way he does, but he does. He really loves you.
- Cash will only last to the next payday. If you have no paydays, then it will last until you do.
- Remember that hope rides on the morning sun. 24 hours later on a “bad” situation will make a big difference. Things always look better in the morning.
- Success in what you do — whatever it is — is 10% good fortune (the break, the open door, the opportunity), and 90% perseverance. Just keep getting up and keep trying. You will be much more than you think.
- A final word, remember GOD. Acknowledge him daily — he loves your attention and love — and will guide you in the way you should go.
Next letter — less advice, I promise — more news.
All my love,
I opened the sketchbook and saw another folded letter on lined notebook paper. Another keepsake letter from my father dated seven months later in the spring of 2000. Who knows what I shared with him 19 years ago, but I must’ve been going through some stuff.
“Always remind yourself often that you are a worthwhile person and that you deserve to achieve your dreams and goals. See in your mind’s eye and know that you have what it takes, that you will persevere. Always try to retain or keep your own sense of purpose and self-worth. You are incredibly gifted. I’m proud of you! It is always with great pride that I get to introduce you as my daughter.”
As I continued to read, it hit me how applicable all of this is.
How did I not learn then? How am I just learning now?
“Let me suggest that you start today and promise yourself that you will no longer use ‘negative self-talk’ or name calling. The mind and spirit of an individual will believe as fact what you tell it. So tell it that life has bumps! You tripped over one. But you’re strong. Tell yourself that you are capable… There is a lot of long and hard work ahead, but there is a reward that’s yours.”
I took a deep breath, exhaling fear; letting go of the imposter syndrome and the worry that what I do is not near as good as what someone else is doing. I took another, inhaling gratitude for this wonderful reminder that I am loved and I have people in my corner. My forever cheerleaders!
Everyone should be so lucky.
If you, my friends, don’t have a human mirror to shout back the attributes of what makes you wonderfully unique you, I hope you’ll tell me so I can pay the cheer forward.
Life has bumps and (if you’re like me) you may trip over many, but you are brave, capable, and dearly loved. That’s a timeless cheer worth remembering.