My morning routine includes my coffee in hand as I read my morning quotes on my Momentum dashboard, in my Al-anon books, my horoscope, and an excerpt from Comfort Prayers. It is a quiet time in the morning when I contemplate my activities for the day ahead. I often find my inspiration here. But I didn’t this morning, it eluded me and was noticeably absent.
How queer when inspiration is often aplenty? It’s typically apparent from the moment I awake. Sometimes it comes from the interrupted dream still swirling in my head, the music or voices bellowing from the alarm clock, the way the light comes in through the windows, a dog’s wine or bark, my daughter creeping into my bed, my wool socks, my calendar, and more.
Inspiration is absolute. It often causes me to pause to fully appreciate it. Sometimes it materializes as a mental note, other times I grab a post it or a random piece of paper where I can jot it down and access it later. Other times it’s not so apparent, and it may take a morning of moments, dispersed between melodies, playing in the background before I recognize its presence.
I often look outward for inspiration but this morning I went inside. Not purposefully, thankfully my Yogi tea bag got me there. I’ve been fighting a cold, and I have put up a good fight. It’s been two weeks and the boogers and cough were successfully suppressed by vast amounts of vitamins. There was no science involved, just take one of every vitamin in the kitchen cabinet and who cares about doubling up, I’ll pee what my body doesn’t need. Yesterday, my nose started to run, and the ick – part of sick – started to settle in. I took my Alka Seltzer cold medicine and went to the first of eight classes for Advanced Improv. I successfully kept a runny nose plugged until I got home when the damn broke. I believe these symptoms, like my hernia popping out last month, are a sign of something that is working its way out, which I will figure out if I choose to listen.
I know that this ick is related to the transformation ahead. My career will take a new direction this year. I know the role is unimportant because the fit is essential. I have worked with Alison for more than two years. She is salt of the earth. She first hired me in 2000, when I left Chicago and moved to Portland, ME. I took the job with United Publications and wrote B2B for a few reasons: I needed and wanted to leave Chicago, I wanted to write business because it was the one area as a journalist I had yet to explore, and I didn’t know this until I met Alison, I wanted to work for her, learn from her, and be like her. We all need mentors, and she was and continues to be one of mine.
“The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.” —Steve Jobs
Alison loves what she does. I like it. For quite some time, she’s known that I don’t love it, and yet she worked with me, supported me, and pushed me to own that truth. She doesn’t need a person who likes the work, she deserves, needs, and wants someone who loves it. And once the words came out of my mouth, that “like is not enough” then we were able to start on working on what will be the next iteration of my career and her business.
This morning my takeaway was what Steve Jobs said, and Alison taught me. I can do most anything when I love it. I’ve made my skills applicable for companies and organizations large and small, worked in state finance and education, advocated for children’s insurance and food programs, charter schools, been a flak for an author about third-party politics and a candidate for United States Senate, written and captured multi-million grants, suppressed reputation damning stories, and more. Journalism trains you to be a quick study. Growing up the child of a Chicago firefighter and a former Catholic nun teaches you to be useful and indispensable.
This transitional space is scary and secure. Secure because I am propped up on the shoulders of friends and peers who are rooting for me. Scary because no one is indispensable. The greatest skeptic in this journey is me. I keep thinking of the first client I brought on for Alison and I. It was a lighting company. The owner dissuaded us from narrowing our targets because every business needs lighting. ‘Tis true for communications, too.
I smiled when I read “You are equally as beautiful as the universe.” this morning imprinted on the tag of my tea bag. I was inspired. I sat down and wrote a cover letter like no other. I skipped the accomplishments, and all the other typical stuff and focused simply on why choose me? It included phrases like ok with uncomfortable, plays well with others, not a yes person, is a yes person, perfect is good for Pollyanna, and curiosity kept the cat alive. I inspired me. I would hire me! Wow! That’s new.
I don’t want to work for anyone anywhere. I want it to mean something and make a difference, and while that may sound Pollyannaish, it’s true and the truth is my north star. I want to inspire and be inspired.
It’s easy to be discouraged when I’ve had a career of hills and valleys, that included acquisitions, political takeovers, loss of funding, and more. In every role, I got something from it.
I was once asked in an interview, “Why you, Karen, why should we choose you?”
“Because I have presence,” I replied. I said nothing more.
The man who presented me for the position, and reported to the man who asked the question, looked directly at me and he smiled and nodded.
I got the job.
When I am inspired, I am unstoppable. Today I appreciate what people have told me for years, that I am confident, capable, empathetic, direct, witty and more. All of which materialize in presence.
Inspiration is inside us just waiting to be released. We find it in the strangest forms, from boogers to coughs, laughs, and more. If you look and listen inspiration abounds.