Reflecting back to the “Why”

Reflecting back to the “Why”

I believe that there is an intimate relationship between thoughts, words, and action. But my words haven’t always flowed freely as I seek to express what presses against the walls of my mind. They halt against dams and stutter into deltas, resulting in incoherence and confusion — not only for my listeners, but for my own mind as well. I question the validity of my own contributions, and often relegate my words to the safety of silence.

This blog has been a haphazard (at best) attempt to reflect on the power of expression, and how it is developed over time. Sometimes expression is in words, sometimes in images. Sometimes it is clear and to the point, sometimes it is abstract but nonetheless rich in those truths that cannot always be best explored in precise language. Sometimes expression is meant to communicate a point, sometimes it is meant to share a human moment or inner reflection.

Purge thou thy heart that We may cause fountains of wisdom and utterance to gush out therefrom, thus enabling thee to raise thy voice among all mankind.
– Baha’u’llah

I hope to connect with others who are learning, reflecting, speaking and writing, that we may share such insights with one another. I hope that if I were to pursue this blog, to develop my writing in quality, ability, style, and quantity. This is not a task to be done only on one’s own. Thus, I come here to express, to reflect, and ultimately to learn.

Inevitable September

I always have polar-opposite feelings about this time of year in Canada – the end of summer and beginning of fall. Let’s just say that I am not a fan of cold weather. At all. I start wearing sweaters as soon as the thermometer is below 24 degrees Celsius.

So to feel the ten-degree drop around the first week of September and knowing it is only getting colder from here, plunging us into a long dark winter that will make us forget summer even happened, is like a prison sentence.

Summer glory - who wants to see this covered in snow?!

Summer glory in my parents’ raspberry patch – who wants to see this covered in snow?!

But at the same time, I am a geek, and I love getting back on track with life after a refreshing and invigorating summer packed full of adventures and activities. And what a summer it was! I spent four weeks teaching in Rwanda, three travelling in Jordan, left my old job and launched a new freelance career. I come to September eager and refreshed to get my hands dirty.

So now for my news – I got a great project last spring writing content for the website of an amazing young design and media company that friends of mine started a couple of years ago. They gave me the license to experiment and try whatever I wanted on them, so I took full advantage to get to the heart of their vision for their company and how they wanted to present themselves to their audience.

With a beautiful website now polished and in the hands of our programmers (which I will link for you all once it is launched!), I felt more confident than ever about putting myself out there and taking on new assignments – until this same company again called me up and offered me a job! Two jobs actually – one potentially full time, doing both their new creative content side along with client management, or one part time focusing only on content.

I had a decision to make – take a full time job for this amazing little company and enjoy the security of not having to hunt for clients. Or, take the less-lucrative part time option focusing only on what I love and dedicating the rest of my time to developing my skills and pursuing other writing opportunities in parallel. The tricky thing for me was that I knew how closely they in fact were linked – I knew working closely with the clients and the teams would drive content and bring me deeper into the world of the company that I am writing about.

But I also didn’t want to get distracted from my goals to learn about freelance writing, and also not sure if I want to strictly limit my writing career to content marketing at this early stage. So, after weighing all the options and long consultations with my husband, I eagerly accepted the part-time content development job and haven’t looked back. They also hired an amazing manager who will be a joy to work with.

This is my first week, and there is a lot to learn. First up is to prepare for the launch of the new website, which we are hoping will come online in the next two weeks. There are social media accounts to set up, content to develop, and I prospective clients to reach out to.

I also want to keep up my dabbling in photography and coding, these little skills on the side that I feel like help enhance my work as a content developer by giving me perspective for what others bring to the table in the projects we do for our clients.

I’m curious what others think though – do you think I made the right choices for the coming months? And are you someone who dreads the end of summer or looks forward to getting back into things in the fall?

Seeing what’s ahead

There are times in life that just seem to race ahead of the others. In the past few months (almost a year, really), I have gone through a long phase of trying to figure out for myself what will be my long-term path in terms of work and a career. I am working fulltime now but know that this is just a temporary step and not a career, and have given notice to leave at the end of my contract at the end of May, so the search is on.

After applying half-heartedly to jobs I have little interest in, putting effort into starting a small business that seemed interesting but that I knew I would find little joy in the manufacturing side of, and exploring a wide range of PhD programs while feeling a growing aversion to the lifestyle of an academic, it was hard sometimes not to feel more than a little lost – something I never thought I would be grappling towards the ends of my 20s, with so much education and experience under my belt (relatively speaking of course).

And yet, for some reason I never seemed to feel that anxious – I kept telling myself and those who were closest to me that I have faith that the next step in my life will appear organically, as it always has in my life. That may sound a bit naïve (sometimes it does to me too!), but I don’t think it’s blind faith either. While I didn’t know exactly what I would decide to do, I do know what would guide my decisions, as and in general what guides my life. Through striving to identify and learn about my talents and abilities, it became a rich process of reflection and exploration of new and exciting thing. Through thinking about how what I can do will benefit others beyond myself or simply collecting a paycheck, it avoids an over-emphasis on the self and gives value to a search for meaningful and fulfilling work. And finally, by making efforts and see what doors did or didn’t open before me, try to develop my perception of what I think God wants for me or doesn’t, and where I am being confirmed – and when I am not!

I have learned a lot in the process, about all of those things, and that alone I think has value. Life is more than my career, and although my career will occupy vast amounts of my time, focus, and energy, I don’t want to lose sight of the fact of my purpose.

And so, through all of these efforts, I finally realized what was right in front of me all along – that what I love to do, and have done in every avenue of my education, work and service, is to write. The idea seemed so elusive though – what does a “writer” do every day?? Having devoted time to working on a book over the past couple of years, as well as the odd short story and one-act play every now and then, I realized the impracticality of the idea that requires vast amounts of investment with only the possibility of pay-off, quite later down the line.

But this is where doors started to open. I started to research about ways that writers can earn a living in other markets, and as soon as I started to talk to people about this idea, suddenly opportunities came out of the woodwork – Can you help me write a mission statement for my non-profit organization? Can we hire you to overhaul the content on our website? Can we recommend you as to this client who is asking for a copywriter? Can we hire you as a blogger for our design company?

And thus my career as a freelance writer was born.

My experience is still so limited, and I’m aware of that. I feel a bit like I am at the top of a roller coaster, and there is a voice in my head that is saying to me, “are you SURE this was a good idea?!” But that voice is nowhere near as present as the excitement and opportunity I feel unfolding before me.

I am not blind to the challenges either: I have had to be selective of the opportunities that I say yes to, realistic of what I do and don’t know how to do at this point, researching and teaching myself along the way, and cognizant that I still do an excellent job at my fulltime employment. But it is the glimmerings of something that I think will grow quickly as my time increases to dedicate the space to it, as I learn and make every effort.

And hence the feeling that this time of life is racing ahead of all that has been accomplished in the long months of soul-search that preceded it – and led me here.

I’ve learned to take advantage of these busy times, even if I know they are not sustainable in the long term, because within them I will often grow more quickly and in unexpected ways that will set the patterns for later on.

 

I’d love to hear from those of you who write about your thoughts on the process I’ve just described:

How did you decide that you wanted to write? What is the biggest thing that you’ve learned since you started, that you wish you’d known earlier?