OK – its time to answer the question I hear most often asked of me. ‘What do you do?’ My answer is sometimes, ‘I am retired’. To that, I get a round of laughs. Surely that cannot be true, I am too young for that, etc. Recently, this very thing happened to me, upon meeting a bunch of people at a lunch. I am not making this up, this question still gets asked.
I guess the reason this question persists is, people are looking for a way to classify each other. Or in the my case, the question came up because what I used to do for a living, was referenced. Still, I think the investigation would have ended in the same spot. Once this reference point is established, it is clear sailing, for most people. A line of follow-up questions, shared experiences and a general convenience of knowing which box to put someone in.
Beyond the convenience of having an answer to this perennial favourite question, at the ready, I think it gives me guidance on a daily basis. I do best when I have an over arching idea of what I am working towards. I have a 70 page document of what my eventual business will look like, but that doesn’t give me a north star to reference, in the moment.
The exercise of creating this 2 sentence idea has haunted me, since I left my career of 25 years. I’ve tried out so many ideas, moving words around until I’m blue in the face. I just can’t seem to cluster the right phrases, in order to deliver this elusive elevator speech. Something quick, succinct, easy to say, that rolls of the tongue. I’ve just not been able to get it right.
Of course, the problem here is fear. I’m scared to try this out. I don’t feel at ease because I’ve never done this before. I have literally had a job, of some kind, for most of my life. Saying I’m retired, gets me off the hook. But I want to connect with people in a meaningful way. I won’t know who might resonate with the message I am trying to get out into the world, if I don’t give this a go.
So here it is. I think I might be able to stop at the color purple, depending on the situation. If the person wants to know more, I can keep going. I might only be brave enough to get to that point, in the beginning.
My thinking behind this comes from my personal experience, friends and family, as well as the people who responded to my creativity survey. In addition, I have been part of so many conversations with women, (and sometimes men), who are fed up with the status quo, whatever that is in their case. Often, the frustrations are with corporate work, rules and regulations over their time and a general lack of freedom to be creative.
My thoughts boil down to these 10 phrases:
- Women – stand up for what makes you feel great, don’t be ashamed of it, whatever it is
- Pursue the feelings or ideas which light you up
- Be unique, instead of sheep
- Determine your best life as a non-negotiable, not a nice to have
- We will not be small, quiet, polite or behaved – we are fierce, passionate, driven and determined
- It’s not OK to wait for someday, maybe, we’ll see – it’s time to act
- How do we want our daughters to remember us?
- Share a creative idea or thought – don’t keep the ah-ha moments in the dark
- Don’t leave anyone behind, socialize your creativity
- Take a chance on yourself by showing what you are working on – pin it, like it, share it
Of course, this list is for my benefit, as much as it is for anyone else. It contains quite a few calls to action, which I can answer and I think others might like to, as well. I think it will evolve over time and I hope many people give their input. I think the power of a group is a force to be reckoned with. I am hoping there are like-minded people who want to rise up for something positive, rather than beat the drum of negativity, which is all too common.
Join me in this creative journey. I think it will be worth your time. I look forward to hearing from you! Use any form of communication which feels comfortable. Email, social media or even, if you want to give me a call, I can reached at cwestermark on Skype. Together, let us see where we can take this.
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: : “Fruitless at 40: Rediscovering My Creative Power”
: : Turning a midlife crisis into a creative manifesto
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: : After 25 years, Why I walked away from my beloved career
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: : Dad is working in Europe and Asia, Teens are doing distance education for grades 11 and 9, Mom is keeping it all together, writing, taking photos and making videos.
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