Listening to Your Parachute

In Kathryn Stockett’s popular novel The Help, Skeeter, a young Mississippi woman fresh out of college and looking to break into a career as a writer, catches the eye of a New York publisher, Elaine Stein, who tells Skeeter to write about what scares her. Skeeter goes on to do just that, and in doing so turns the town of Jackson upside down. It’s worth a read if you’ve not picked it up yet. I still haven’t seen the movie, but that’s beside the point.

What scares me now, and why I am writing, is that I’ve been more and more on this path of really listening to myself and paying attention to the areas that need attention. Always considering myself a work in progress and working to dispel the power that self-doubt, regret (about career choices), and blows to my self-esteem, I’ve been evaluating how I’m feeling about life at present. Hold that thought, I will return to it.

Last month, one of the most precious married couples I’ve ever known had a very special baby shower. R and B are having a baby boy in January. R and I were college roommates, and she met B our freshman year. Getting to the point of being able to have a baby has come with lots of sacrifice and clearing hurdles, so a celebration was certainly in order! Nothing was going to keep Josef and me away from the baby shower last month, and I knew I needed to do something to express just how happy I am for them. R told me what her nursery pattern was, and I took my cue from that to create a drawing for their nursery.  I really enjoyed creating this artwork for them, and it was so awesome to see the looks on their faces when they opened their present from us. I’ve done drawings for them in the past, so I knew it was the right direction to go for a personalized gift. They seemed to love it! Mission accomplished!

I had hoped that R and B would like the drawing, and was pleased that they did, but I wasn’t expecting what came next. Several people who were also at the shower asked to see the drawing, which I had framed. It was flattering to get this attention for something I made, as I hadn’t gotten that kind of attention for some time. I haven’t been creating like I wanted to.  One college friend in attendance, N, who is well on her way to becoming a young adult novelist, spoke to Josef and me and encouraged me to try to become a freelance illustrator. She even recommended a professional group to join to help me learn the industry, as she has on the writing side. This was super-flattering coming from her, and what meant the most to me was that Josef also was encouraging me. I felt my heart burst with joy and my eyes fill with tears when he said, “What can we do to encourage this? We can redo the guest room and make it more of a studio for you.” He said some other things, too, which overjoyed me.

This past weekend, Josef and I had a Christmas Drop In party. Josef goes all out for Christmas. The decorations warrant a party!

Here’s a pic of the outside of our house that our neighbor took last night. 🙂

I’ll have to take some pictures of the inside of the house, as that’s another post entirely!  I decided it would be a good opportunity for some self-promotion of my artwork. I thought it would be fun to create some Christmas-themed drawings to use to decorate the house some more. In the course of two hours, I had four drawings. I framed them and we set them around the house for the party (and for the rest of the season).

The tree says, “May Your Days Be Merry and Bright!”  I think they turned out well. It was fun at the Christmas party to see guests reactions. It validated me that several friends on Facebook and in person said they’d love for me to draw them something!

Now, backing up to what I said earlier about working to dispel the power that self-doubt, regret (about career choices), and blows to my self-esteem. A lot of times I have feelings about my talents through the vein that there are people out there who are better than I am and who are better at promoting themselves. There are better singers, better artists, better what-have-you, so why bother?

Because I matter, and so do you.

Hiding our talents is a mistake. I told people when I was five that I wanted to be an artist, and I have spent a majority of my life thinking I wasn’t good enough and that I ought to be doing something else professionally. I barely have studied art, aside from two courses in college, so I thought I wasn’t trained enough. Then I came across some artwork I did when I was ten:

I can’t believe I could do this when I was ten and eleven. Now I’m 31, almost 32. It’s definitely time to stop listening to my fears and just go for it.  In January, I’m going to pay the nominal fee to join the professional group my college friend recommended at R and B’s baby shower.

Now on to the parachute part of my post. And another book reference: What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles. I bought this book a while back when I was feeling depressed about my job prospects, and only recently picked it up. I’m about halfway through, and have started on the parts of the book that require homework. I don’t know what color my parachute is, but it feels great to have a different perspective about myself as someone who is seeking the most suitable work experiences. The questions it asks have lead me to some realizations, so I look forward to discovering what else this book will help me do. Not surprisingly, the author spends a great deal of time focusing on having a positive attitude. That’s something I’ve struggled with continually and that was a major reason why I started this blog.

My parting thoughts for this post is that I keep thinking more and more about how I want to spend my time. I hear so clearly time and time again from various people how important it is to honor what’s in your heart when thinking of how to spend this gift we call our life. So, a month early, I am vowing to keep up with the momentum I started last year during Lent to listen to my life and honor what feels wrong and try to fix it. Also, I want to honor what feels right. I want to say Yes to things I want to do, without feeling guilty about what I’ll have to let go. I want to say No to things I know will waste my time. I want to continue to have wonderful time with my wonderful husband – after all, we spent the first years of our relationship long distance, waiting for this time in our lives that we could be together all the time. I’m paying close attention to my everyday happiness. I want to add a regular service commitment to my new year, so I’m seeking that out. I want to do all this with gentleness, forgiveness, and kindness in mind — for others, but also for myself.  Because I’ve been way too tough on myself. Which causes me to be tough on others.

I say all this in hopes that by writing it, I’ll be held to it. Also, I hope that if someone out there struggles similarly that my words will be helpful. I keeping thinking of what Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t — you’re right.”  I want to think I can. I want to believe I can.

Thanks for reading! Hope your holiday season is off to a good start!

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2 thoughts on “Listening to Your Parachute

  1. Oh my gosh, that artwork from when you were 10 is amazing!! And I definitely love the snowman you made for your party. That’s so great you are pursuing art! My husband loved to draw when he was younger and gave it up until just a couple years ago when he started going back to school for animation and graphic design, so I’m all about that if you’ve got it! Good for you!

  2. I think you should definitely go for it. You’re fantastically talented at art- and I bet you could sell things on Etsy or at art shows or do freelance illustration…. I know how hard it is though to put yourself out there like that but know that people are behind you!!!

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