Learning to be Grateful for What You Didn’t Want to Happen

In the news this week was a poignant quote by Stephen Colbert. He said he has learned to “love the thing that I most wish had not happened.”

Colbert was talking about grief and loss but it applies to other things. How profound and full of hope! The things that may have meant to harm us can really turn out for good in our lives. An example happened to me this summer.

On a social media group where I have been a long time “regular,” I published a whimsical painting of Andi for fun, laughs, and to lighten the group’s mood. In spite of a lot of “likes,” comments, and requests for more (which I attempted to take in the private realm) the administrators totally shut me down and blocked me due to their “no enterprise” rules an an assumption of my desire for sales. I must have struck quite a nerve because the response was unlike similar situations occurring just months before. And, I am still blocked even though I provided a polite explanation.

While this was quite hurtful to me and blatantly unfair, history shows many creative individuals, instead of throwing in the towel, becoming highly energized by critics or bad press. That is what happened to me. The accusations have given me great momentum to be myself, knowing my true intent, and to plow forward with creative projects. Since this episode I have developed and published The Adventures of Andi the Adorable Cardigan Welsh Corgi! I’m getting great feedback, have shipped them internationally, and I was offered a retail outlet for sales. I have been invited to story times with Andi and to exhibit in an upcoming show.

So, let’s keep looking for the “turn” in the thing we wish hadn’t happened and be grateful for the hurts in life that are really helpful. Just push past them and GO ON!!

Grace Under Pressure

I’ve been having a memory lately from over 20 years ago. I was visiting with a family who had just lost a beloved adult daughter long before anyone could believe. It was not unexpected as she had been battling cancer, but still stunning and very sad.

While I sat with them in the living room the phone rang. This was before caller ID or mobile phones or screening! The man who had just seen his daughter die answered the phone. He had an official, city position at the time and the caller was complaining (obviously from overhearing) about something maybe related to sidewalks or street lighting – and it was not a quick call and it was really, really bad timing.

As I sat there, I waited for him to tell the caller, “Look lady, can’t this wait? I just lost my daughter and have a room full of company!” He could have made her feel small… but he didn’t. He just compassionately listened to her, addressed her concerns, and then politely hung up. I was amazed at his restraint. If anyone was entitled to blow his top, he was. But he didn’t. He put it on hold to do his business.

This was in a small town and the lady realized what she had done and called later to apologize for her timing, so all was well.

But, what an example and a man of integrity that I remember and admire to this day!

Inspiration from odd sources

I am not a Joan Rivers fan or follower. But, she died today and  believe it or not, she has been an inspiration to me. You know how people have said things to you in the past that you remember over and over? It may have been a passing comment or something overheard  and unintentional, but it set an example to follow or became an inspiration to live by.

I’ve  used a quote by Joan for many years — from the looks of Google, about 27 years. Right at the time of my self-employment beginnings, Joan lost her husband to a suicide.  I remember seeing her doing an interview on TV afterward and she was saying that she was panicked because she had no source of income and was really strung out. She determined this course of action: she got out her sizable Rolodex (young folks can Google that) and started at the beginning phoning her contacts.  One by one, she talked to people about her future, gleaning ideas and suggestions from her contacts. She said that when she got through the Rolodex, she started over again at the beginning. At the suggestion of one of those contacts, I believe she started a cosmetic jewelry line and maybe other things. But, she worked it out and became successful again.

So very simple and yet fantastic! This was before Facebook, LinkedIn and probably even email. But the bottom line is, your best resources are your personal connections. Thanks, Joan.

Everything I Needed to Teach, I Learned in Real Life

Isn’t there a book called “Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten?” I hope so because that is where I am going with this post.

I had the opportunity to teach at Franklin University as an adjunct professor for about 5 years. I found teaching to be more rewarding than I could ever have imagined. For an intuitive , internal processor, putting my thoughts into intelligible  words – well, let’s just say I learned more than my students did.

With a finite amount of time to spend together, what I felt was I really need to convey to the students was what most significant for their careers – in any communications field. Of course design principles, typography, photography and layout are all topics that can be learned from a textbook and hands-on experience. Those topics are a passion of mine. But, what I found intrigued the students most were real-life stories and business experiences and my conclusions from those experiences – and I shared them often off-the-cuff.

Here is one topic I remember addressing:

“Creativity is GREAT! Being a brilliantly-talented designer is wonderful. But, if you can’t meet deadlines, or do honest billing, or finish projects, or return phone calls, all that talent is,  as my mom would say, ‘not worth a hill of beans.’  What matters, in any field you go into, is how you treat people.

  • Tell the truth (if something goes wrong or you make a mistake, tell it like it is)
  • Keep promises (meet deadlines and don’t over commit)
  • Be someone your clients/boss/co-workers can count on

And, that is what really matters. I really believe it and needed to teach it.

Self-employment – not for the faint of heart

Taking the plunge. Walking off the cliff. Cutting the cord. “Are you sure you know what you are doing?”

Ah… self-employment. For a 26 year-old with a new mortgage, it was all of the above. But, the calling was there and a client was already lined up and so it was a logical next step.

When I studied graphics in college, I never really considered self-employment. Now I would not consider anything else. Are there trade-offs? Sure! Let’s consider those.

1. There’s isolation. For those of us who are creative introverts, it’s a bit easier. Still, regular lunches out and activities with people keep us from being eccentric nuts — although some of us probably still qualify. Part-time teaching helped me greatly with this. I’ll go into that on another post.

2. There’s a need for discipline.  No one is looking over your shoulder (except clients) to plan your day, prioritize or give you feedback. Setting your own goals and sticking to them helps. Also, financial discipline is needed. When there’s no steady pay check, you need to be your own bank. Bank it when you have it. Dip into it when you hit a dry patch. Replenish and repeat. And — save early for retirement. That will also be another post down the road.

3. Health care benefits. It’s all changed now, but health care alone has kept a lot of entrepreneurs working for other companies over the years. Now we have options so it’s not so much of an issue.

Those are a few of the downsides. But, the benefits — well, that is for another day!