Seems like it’s longer and longer between blog posts. Recently my head has been spinning with new ideas for card designs, schooling the kids and reconnecting with my roots in drawing, painting or whatever seems to fit the bill on any given day. When it comes to ideas for cards, sometimes they are churning out so fast, I can’t even write them all down. Mind you, they aren’t all great, but I never let an idea pass by that I don’t write down. Not anymore, at least.
I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago. As we were quickly catching up on life in general, she asked what I had been up to. Having no idea that I was homeschooling our kids, nor about the little shop I’m working on, she was interested. She talked about her family member who also had cancer and now running his own successful business in NYC. She looked at me, intrigued by all the things that those of us post-cancer are doing and asked the question, (something along the lines of) – how do you get people to know what you know, without actually having to go through what you went through? How can you explain or get people to understand your drive, without having to actually go through cancer?
Genius. And if I knew the answer, I’d be a billionaire living on my own private island somewhere.
But the hard and yet simple truth is this… We faced our own mortality. Being diagnosed with cancer forced me to look death in the face and have a conversation with it. In fact, we had a lot of conversations. And in those conversations, I came to accept death as a natural part of life. No longer fearing it, but not wanting for it either. But me and death, we went there and we talked. And if that’s not some serious perspective, I don’t know what is.
During treatment, I had no idea what “the other side” of cancer would look like. Now that I’m living it, most days it looks like a “normal” life. We wake up, eat breakfast, do some schoolwork for a few hours, then I work for a couple of hours, kids play with friends, feed the dog, cook dinner, chill for a bit, then bedtime.
But there’s something else.
Sometimes that something else eats at me in a bad way. You know, like when a random large red spot shows up under my toenail and I’m convinced that cancer is back. Until I see my brilliant oncologist who assures me it’s just trauma to my toe and not cancer. Yep, that happened a couple of weeks ago… That’s the unhealthy fear that stays with you – the fear of cancer returning.
But here’s the secret… With all the other things else in my life, I have lost my fear. My fear of failure is just plain gone. And honey, that’s no small thing, because that fear was dark and looming and controlled my life with a tight grip for a solid 40 years. Don’t get me wrong, I had some good times during the first forty years of my life. But I also spent forty years not truly letting go and believing in myself. And possibly worrying a little too much about belly fat.
And now? Well, I honestly don’t give a shit if I fail anymore. Because you know what? Even if I fail, it means I tried.
I freaking tried.
And that’s all any of us can do, right? Just try.
Like let’s say I go all-in designing these cards but it bombs and nobody purchases them. Okay, is that the end of the world? Well, no, not at all. Would I be crushed? Nope. I’d simply move on to the next thing. Like last September, I submitted an abstract to speak at a conference. Did it get accepted? Nope. Was I crushed? Nope. I was a little disappointed, but not crushed. Because that meant it wasn’t supposed to happen then. And why would I let a rejection crush me anymore. Will I submit a different one for the same conference next year? You bet your ass I will. And you know why? Because I’m going to keep trying.
But (and you may ask yourself) what if I don’t have a next thing? Friends, there it is. Right there. That’s fear talking. You don’t need a next thing. You will find a next thing, if you are looking for it. I don’t mean sit back and wait for it to fall in your lap. Look, explore, ponder, daydream, job search, try something new, sew something, listen to your gut instinct, watch a you-tube video and learn how to fix things, tinker, piddle, think – and if you do that enough, you will run across something that sparks your interest and that you enjoy.
Because part of the realization is this:
You are not your job.
You are not your successes and failures.
You are not a label someone gives you.
You are not the number of rejections you receive.
You are not the number of awards given to you.
You are simply you.
You can change you at any time.
And you learn from all of those things that you experience in your life.
So I love designing things. I’m not the greatest artist that ever lived, by far. But I don’t care about that. It’s not about being the best ever. It’s about trying and connecting. And doing something that I truly enjoy. And boy do I enjoy the creative process. Whether I’m designing, writing, drawing, generating new ideas, coloring or creating art with the kids. It’s fun and it challenges me.
You can always look at Facebook or Instagram or any social media app and see what everyone else on the freaking planet is doing. You can look at those carefully curated Instagram accounts and think, “Oh my life is so bland compared to their life.” But it’s not true. Your life is amazing. And here’s the best part, you are amazing. Each of us are, in our own ways.
So I challenge you this… Try.
You don’t have to be wildly successful, or maybe you will be. But just try. And if you fail, at least you tried. And I’ll guarantee you this, I bet you learned some hella-good life lessons along the way.
So go kick some ass, take some names, just be true to you and who you are. And try.
And I would love, really truly love, to hear what you are trying to do or going to try to do! Because I’ll be trying too. Right along beside you. With words of love and encouragement.
Much love to you all,