M Wood Pen

have pen, will travel

i’d like to think i’ve planned out everything.  and then i take a look at any of my 39 years worth of diaries, and realize that whatever plans i may have conjured up, they’ve all gone whistling in the wind.

i do, however, feel, just like the gang sings in ‘west side story’, that something’s coming…something good.

not that i don’t have plenty of good over in my neck in the woods…but there’s definitely a shift in energy & focus (sounding all free and easy california right about now…) that’s hovering and swirling around me these days.

i don’t know if the planets have shifted (more guru talk), or if my focus has tightened after the years, but i feel like i’m hitting a plateau of creativity that has spiraled into a nonstop frenzy of constant inspiration.

to creative folks like me, this is really good news.

we may make it look easy…but you can’t conjure up all of this stuff.  i imagine writers have that thing that they call a ‘block’.  i know that turf well.  the old brain whips this stuff out of nothing or it’s refracted from some prismatic bouncing of ideas and inspiration that isn’t planned.  (now i sound like something else altogether).  maybe it’s more like finally finding my groove.

i didn’t set out to be an artist.  i had other plans.  (see first sentence above, documentation available upon request).  quick, i have to say that i just had an epiphany the other day: i realized that i actually may not always (or often) know what’s best for me!

here are the paths i had planned to travel: hollywood big wig, producer, writer, director, casting agent, all that stuff.  in a bungalow of course. okay, then i was going to be a major magazine editor with an outrageously gorgeous office in new york, predominant color: white. walking distance to the village.  then i almost set off to an archaeological dig in cairo, thought that sounded fun.  tried to land a job in advertising, i was way more interested in them then they were in me.  but i knew i’d have a super cool office with a view of the chicago river.  i fancied myself a novelist, envisioned the whole thing, but could never figure out what to write (though i had sketched up several great cover designs).  the novelist job also had me living on a cool european barge/houseboat sort of a rig.  actually, maybe the novelist job was set in italy…or france…or the english countryside.  now i can’t remember!  setting the stage was always a part of all of my professional aspirations.

which then, of course, rocketed me into getting a graduate degree in interior design.  in all of this career confusion, i may as well design gorgeous spaces for all of the lucky ones who landed the jobs that i longed for!  somehow the connection made sense, and as i’ve evolved from one place to the next, the itchy fingers just started spending more time sketching.  and it turned out, i was pretty good at it. who knew?

this stuff i do now?  totally unplanned, it sort of snuck up on me.  happenstance, compromise, a baby, a couple more, some pin money while raising the cutie pies, and the next thing i knew, i owned a note card company that really caught on.

a note card company?  when did that come into my plans?  like, if i dug open my 8th grade diary, would there be a notation that read, “dear diary.  today i had my first ‘aha’ moment:  when i grow up, i’m 100% convinced that i want to design a line of notecards, set up a warehouse in my basement, and greet the nice ups man every day at 2:30 when he’d come by to pick up scads of outgoing orders.”  not a chance.  and yet, there it was, right in front of me and a part of every day for the next 18 years.  that plus navigating three terrific kids from infancy to high school and then college.  it’s all a blur, and somehow, the creative gig and running a business out of my house fit into a cozy life for our little family.

well, what happened next?  a few years ago, i realized that i really liked to draw,  as in, the only part of that whole business that gave me any pleasure was just: drawing. that’s pretty much all i wanted to do. it made sense to just knock off the note card part, and draw for other people.  omg!  i had a plan.  and that’s actually the first plan that i really made. and it appears to be working.

so about this new plateau.  now that i’ve ironed out the clinks, which i realize is not an expression that even fits into this sentence, i have hit that special curl of the wave (surfers, please help: what is that called?).  i’m on a roll, i’ve found my niche, i’ve landed i believe, exactly where i was supposed to, all of those unplanned years (or should i say, decades?) of meandering about, following a step in one direction which lead to the next place, so out of sight from earlier lives that i had envisioned but frankly, didn’t pursue with much effort.

the path that did hold my interest, and the one that gives me a heart so big it could just burst wide open, is this gig of raising those amazing kids.  not that they’re perfect (sorry, guys, if you’re reading this…sometimes there’s a snafu!), but it’s such a privilege watching them form their own personalities, their own passions, and their own paths.  and with that choice, i made other choices.  oh, i forgot: i also really wanted to audition for saturday night live, i’m a natural improv…..!  but, that’s the thing: my kids come first and with absolute satisfaction i know that for me, i’m doing exactly what makes me happiest.

and, as with each year, they step a bit more outside of my constant orbit, as those crazy teens+ will do, i find that i’m filling the time with this zestful energized creative burst that shows no sign of slowing down.  it’s incredibly satisfying, all of it, and as i said earlier in this blather-fest, there’s no formula for making yourself be inspired.  it is or it isn’t going to happen.

i tell them all the time: pick a life, pick a career, one that makes you happy.  look at each part of your day, and pay attention to what your gut is telling you. passion matters.  the things that matter the most to you now, the things that make your spirit sour: pay attention.  then aim yourself in that very direction.  make a career out of it. wake up each day grateful and soaring because you know you get to do the thing that puts a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

yes, something’s coming.  something good.

Penny for your thoughts.

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