As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote that calls to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For September 2023, my quote was “You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously.”
September marks a new year for me. Even now, I cannot shake the back-to-school, new season vibe. There is the call of the Siren for new office supplies … oh how I love new notebooks and pens, and long to wrap my books in paper bag covers that I doodle on all year long. There is getting “back to it” after the calm, playfulness of summer. There is an energetic shift felt as the crisp air whispers, “quick, winter is on its way.”
Yet, I found myself lingering a bit this September. Hesitant to jump all in. Savoring the last of the extended sunny days and laziness of vacation. It was this juxtaposition between “go, go, go” and “be, be, be” that I found myself throughout the month. I moved through it in a whirlwind interrupted by sporadic, abrupt pauses. Here are the quotes, lyrics, and phrases that caught my attention along the way:
- Don’t ever let them tell you who you are
- Before 50, you’re paid for what you do; after 50 for what you know
- Volcanic clarity that comes when you speak from the absolute center of your being
- Whenever I surrender, everything expands
- Discomfort is a teacher
- Every process differs, trust yours
- Communal energy
- No amount of worry will give you back even 2 hours
- My validation came from inside
- You take what you have and you march it forward
- I had to become more comfortably afraid
- Rest in it
- Change is made of miracles in the mundane
- Do it like your hair is on fire
- Collude against illusion
- The only thing different between crazy and courage is a plan
- Take time to absorb
My “masterpiece” moments showed up when I facilitated a dynamic client meeting that generated client accolades; released a new blog to which a reader shared, “I love it when another golden acorn drops;” coached someone who wrote, “I really appreciate you helping me… You’re so, so good at this;” delivered a prayer at a complex church meeting and afterward a pastor said it was an “art form;” and when I opened my network to a co-worker for help she emailed me, “you are the beset and always seem to make things perfect in the world. Thank you.”
My “work in progress” kept me in a frantic state spinning. Mistakes made. Calls missed. Fitness skipped. Connection overlooked. Fun delayed. Sugar eaten. Veggies missed. To do’s not done. Absently present.
Most people only share their or see other’s curated masterpieces. For me, the work in progress – while often done privately and in intimate ways – is most meaningful when shared.
I got empathy from a new client when I revealed a private stressor in my life. I got access to an expert when I expressed my confusion on a project. I got a much needed hug at 8pm one night from a life-long friend who worked around my crazy calendar to see me. I got to participate in a class with a thought leader when I shared a personal career goal – for free! I got unexpected medical care for a loved one when I shared we had hit a wall. I got a new walking buddy when I re-connected with a neighbor.
Each time I revealed my works in progress (struggles, insecurities, concerns) … a masterpiece of support appeared. All of which made the issue easier to handle and work on together. My works in progress were someone else’s masterpiece moments, and I’m grateful they shared them with me.
Here’s to creating together.