Compost. That’s the first word that sprang to mind when I read this challenge. Reclaiming the past to feed the future. I’ve done versions of this challenge before, but each time there is something new to learn–not the least of which is just how full of experience, knowledge, and important skills my life really is.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 6:

Cross-training is defined as how working on one project or in one field can complement your endeavors in another field. Cross-training can happen sequentially (e.g., your work in your 20s can help your work in your 40s) or simultaneously (e.g. the thinking required in your work as a lawyer can help you in your book project).

Versatile heritage is defined as the repurposing of previous experience in a current endeavor. For example, you may have previous experience in art or design. This experience can then inform your work in marketing or coaching.

What unique skills and experiences do you already possess that you can bring to your project?

List 1-5 existing skills you have developed from previous experiences and work that you are bringing forward to this project. 

First, the meditative sewing portion of the program:

  • Sewing & Quilting: I made my first quilt when I was 10, and have completed more than 40 since then, with several more in progress. What that means for this project is that deep attention is no longer required, allowing my mind to rest as I stitch.
  • Meditation practice: Although I wouldn’t say I have deep experience with meditation, I have studied both sitting meditation and writing practice with Natalie Goldberg and others, which means I have some experience and the basic skills to build on.

Then onto the book:

  • Research: Undergraduate and graduate school, writing for a museum publication and novels, and many years working in the content realm for a variety of tech companies and departments, have helped me develop some seriously kick-ass research skills–both online and in the real world. But beyond that, research is one of my great loves, so even when I’m not doing it for a project, I’m hunting down data, trends, and histories out of personal interest. Research is best when it’s full-immersion–books, movies, music, photos on the walls… I want to be able to slip completely into that other world.
  • Writing: Again, academia and my work experience have molded me into a professional writer with a wide variety of skills: I’ve written magazine articles for the Exploratorium Quarterly, crafted editorial experiences for Walmart.com, worked as a tech writer, marketing writer, advertising writer, newsletter (and e-newsletter) writer, social media writer, website copywriter, blogger, content and story editor, and proofreader. I’ve written and published poems and micro-fiction, completed drafts of 5 novels, many short stories, and two screenplays. I’ve also attended multiple writing retreats with author Natalie Goldberg. That’s more than 17 years focused on all aspects of the craft.
  • Content Architecture & Strategy: My professional writing career started with newsletter and catalog work–creating categories, writing copy, crafting flow between pages. From there I moved on to website content architecture and navigation–what appears on each page and how you move between them. These skills are essential in any written work, especially those with complex or interlaced story structures, which happen to be my favorite to write. My current project contains three distinct but connected story lines which will require unwavering attention to chronology, points of intersection, flow, and detail. Suffice it to say, there will be color and time-coded story architecture diagrams. Lots of them.

And of course, my whole #onesmallproject is a form of cross-training–sewing as a way to clear physical and mental space for the larger project I need to bring into the world.

But of course I’m going to add one more, in the form of a riddle:

What do gardening, belly dancing, learning to fly an airplane, and writing a book have in common?

Answer:

They all require mastery of a million tiny nuanced parts, profound courage, and deep faith that one small step can lead to the journey of a lifetime and with it, the opportunity to transport others into a completely different world.