Miss You

Today’s Quest2015 prompt comes from author Seth Godin, though to call him just an author doesn’t really do his work justice. According to his bio “He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership, and most of all, changing everything.” If you haven’t read his work yet, I highly recommend it. I am looking forward to getting my hands on his new book, What to Do When  it’s Your Turn (and It’s Always Your Turn).

Who would miss you if you were gone? If you didn’t show up to work, didn’t send out that newsletter, didn’t make that sales call, didn’t tweet that tweet… who would miss it? How does your answer shape how you’ll live out 2015?

I have rewritten my response to this prompt at least three times. Once focused on the people and their words about what they would miss about me. Once turning away from the original prompt to obsess about why they would miss me and what that might reveal about the path I should be pursuing. And once about the different ways I would be missed and what it might reveal about my relationships. Sam's, Half Moon Bay, CAUntil finally, after a long lunch at the ocean with a small assortment of family members, I wrote this:

I started blogging about Seth’s prompt as soon as I read it first thing this morning, but as I wrote I seemed to get more and more lost in tangents, more and more distant from what I was trying to figure out. I got distracted not by who, but by why. What would they miss about me, as though that held some important seed of what I should be doing with my life. And maybe it does. But when I read Kate Arms-Roberts‘ response to this prompt, I realized that there is something even more important. That there are two categories of people who will miss me: the people with whom I have forged deep connections, and the people who want something from me. That second group includes the quilt guild members who “need more of my energy around them” (according to the guild president), the freelance boss who calls me only when she has a project with an impossible deadline because she knows I will always find a way to get it done in time, the neighbor who needs help with an auction site. And in the first group? My boss at the Sewing Center who loves to spend our lunch hours talking about books, creativity, dreams (who happens to be lurking somewhere out in Quest land–I’m still waiting for her to speak up). The neighbors who still thank me for the quilt I made for a neighbor who died recently of cancer–a quilt that they all signed, giving them each a way to act in the face of help- and hopelessness. The would-be writers who believed me 12 years ago when I stood up in the front of a first-time National Novel Writing Month group and told them they could write a novel, several of whom are now published authors. The ex, still in tech, who tells me he is in awe of my bravery for dropping out of corporate life to pursue simplicity, art, and poetry. And maybe in there is the why… maybe it’s not about what I do, but about standing up and being who I am. In fighting every day for this life I have chosen and in doing so, proving that they can, too. And maybe it doesn’t really matter which path I choose–quilts, poems, an apocalypse garden–so much as having the conviction to walk it, with all its pain, and beauty, and magic. Maybe it’s the being, not the doing that matters most. 

So how will this answer shape how I’ll live out 2015? By allowing me to stop wasting so much time worrying about which to-do items matter most, and start focusing instead on being who I am, in all its varied, distracted, and floundering glory. By reminding myself that it’s the process that matters, and the people you really connect with along the way, not the goal at the end. 


The Challenge of Choice

I have always envied people who grew up knowing exactly what they wanted to do with their lives. To have that kind of clarity is something I’ve only dreamed of. Me, I’m all over the map — gardening, sewing, writing, belly dance, aviation, landscaping, preparedness, interior decoration and organization, arthurian mythology, education… I’ve dabbled in all of them and more. That’s what makes this whole figuring out what I want to do with my life so hard.

Thinking it might help, I am retaking the Liberated Life Project’s Fall in Love with Your Work e-course. I figured that having gained clarity about my overall mission, it might help me narrow the field of options. So far, though, I’ve had no luck. When it comes to picking a direction (or even two or three), I’m still stuck, so I decided to do a little thinking on the keyboard — type it all out and see it that helps, sort of a pro/con list. Keep in mind, I’m unlikely to settle on just one, but it might help me narrow the field a little, and come up with a priority list and timeline for the things I decide to pursue. So here are the options in no particular order:


I am a writer. It’s who I am. I write poems, novels, essays, most of which languish in drawers and computer files. Sometimes I wonder why I write, and then I remember: because writing is like breathing. I just have to. I have something to say. Lots, apparently.

For years I thought that made writing the perfect career. And it was for a while. I can write the heck out of online banner ads, web pages, product descriptions… you name it. And over the years I have honed my editing skills to razor-sharpness. Which would be great if what I wrote for all those other companies actually mattered. Or if I was able to wield that precise editing sword to sharpen my own work. So far though, no dice.

Cons: no money, pattern of inability to finish, hate editing, hard work, frustrating, hard to get published, hard to market, hard to build an audience, takes forever, brings up tough emotional issues, sometimes I lose my words

Pros: lots to say, tons of ideas, in general, I’m a good writer, great vehicle for getting messages out there, low cost to entry, I’m going to be writing no matter what


I love making quilts — blankets, art pieces, objects. Quilts can comfort. Quilts can heal. Quilts can convey a message. The act of making a quilt is itself a form of therapy. When I find myself unable to write, making a quilt is how I work my way back to words.

Quilts are also my favorite form of service for a cause that hits close to home: helping to heal the devastation of war. I made my first Valor Quilt earlier this year and hope to make many more. What better way to raise money for that effort than by selling other sewn goods? What better way to raise awareness and inspire others to take up the cause, than by spreading the word through my work and my example?

Cons: highly time-intensive, high materials cost, seldom lucrative, can rarely charge what you put in

Pros: labor of love, believe in the power of comfort, the cause is deeply important to me, creating art changes the world for the better, can be used as a platform for important issues, i will make quilts no matter what


You know how a lot of self-help gurus these days tell you to go toward the thing that scares you? The thing that you secretly think about but are terrified of even considering. This is one of those thing for me. I have done some teaching, some mentoring, some coaching and you know what? I love it. But I’ve also seen a lot of coaches, teachers, mentors who seem to fit that old cliche “if you can’t do, teach.” I don’t want to be one of those. I don’t want to pretend I have the answers when I can’t even finish my own book. I am terrified of failing and letting people down.

Then again, I know what it’s like not to fail. To really make a difference for someone. To watch them change their lives for the better and know I helped them do that. And I know what it takes to write a book and change a life. I’ve done both. More than once. So there you go.

Cons: fear, lack of credibility/credentials, hate selling myself (and bad at it), fear it’s a shadow career

Pros: experienced writer/editor, mentor, and goals trainer, hugely satisfying/rewarding, could be lucrative, I’ve already done a lot of the work (or at least pieces of it), a lot of what I said in that cons list is crap

Veterans Projects

Here’s how I always start: My grandfather was a veteran. He never talked about the war. Maybe if he had, he wouldn’t have been devoured from the inside. Maybe if he had he would have been around longer.

War destroys lives, destroys families, destroys souls. The war machine chews people up and spits them out, shoving them back into a world where many no longer fit. No longer know how to function. They are burdened with the memories of what they saw and what they did often with little support in working through it. And so they grow silent, like my grandfather. This is not acceptable.

There are already several veterans writing projects throughout the country, one of which I have a connection to. This is the big one. The one that matters the most, matters so much that I can’t even breathe when I think about it. Yes, that’s probably a sign.

Cons: fear, lack of credentials/credibility, lack of experience with veterans, fear, too emotional around this topic, too introverted, not a veteran, fear, waited too long to get in touch with contact, overwhelming, no money, did I mention fear?

Pros: it matters, a lot, maybe more than anything else


I always throw this one in here. Partly because I’m a bit of a closet survivalist (make that a total closet survivalist. Partly because zombies are all the rage. Partly because I know I can take something scary and make it easy and fun (and maybe even help save a few lives in the process).

Cons: a little silly, would divert time, attention, and energy from more important projects

Pros: fun, easy, could make good money, important stuff for people to know, folders full of ideas, really enjoy it

So there they all are. Reading back through what I just wrote, it’s pretty clear which one tips the scales. But a girl’s gotta eat and pay the rent, so I’m thinking what I always think: maybe a mix of a few of these things is the answer. Because yes, I can always write and edit my way to a paycheck, but I’m tired of spending all my energy on others’ dreams while my own dreams languish. Especially when those others are corporations and institutions. Anyone can help them. Only I can make my own dreams come true.

Fall in Love with Your Work

As many of you know, I have been un- or marginally employed since February 2011. By choice, but still, after almost a year and a half, my savings have dwindled to the point that my need for a regular paycheck is imminent. And while it would be easy enough to go back to doing what I was doing before, the truth is, I left that career for a reason and I need to move forward, not backward.

Enter Fall in Love with Your Work: A 30 Day Adventure, a new online course from the Liberated Life Project designed to help you “take the first steps to creating a sustainable livelihood with meaning and purpose.” This course could not have come at a better time. It offers 30 days of probing questions that invite us to look deeply at our interests, our experiences, our passions, our dreams, and our histories.

We started on July 1, and within the first two days I made at least one big discovery about myself. Then came day three and with it my first road block: the perfect notebook to journal my work in. That one’s too big. That one’s too small. That one’s just right but 5/6 full… It sounds ridiculous, I know, and that’s how I know it’s not about a notebook at all. It’s about resistance.


Creating a whole new life can be scary. Believe me, I know. I still have no idea how I managed to quit my job, pack up my life and move from San Francisco to Santa Fe, leaving my family, my friends, my boyfriend, the only gardening zone I’ve ever known, and my deep, deep sense of security. But I did it — quickly, before I had the chance to let the true weight of what I’d done hit me. But that tactic isn’t going to work here. Because this is all about digging deep, and that has to be done slowly. It also means I’m going to have to just suck it up and pick a notebook. And a pen. And sit down and get to work. Maybe after breakfast, though, I’ve had ginger chicken soup percolating in the crock pot all night and the fragrance is making me very, very hungry.