Today’s guest blogger, Sandy Dempsey (above left with Connie Hozvicka), is one of the kindest and most gentle people I’ve met online, and she’s just as kind and gentle in person. I had the good fortune of spending time with Sandy in Cleveland and I consider her a dear friend. When she heard I was considering coming to Cleveland, but had to do it on a very tight budget, she offered to share a hotel room with me, even though it was outside of her comfort zone.
I met Heather online this past summer on Twitter. I followed her and she followed me. I was looking to connect with a group of artist when I discovered her. I loved reading about her personal journey and the many stories she posted and shared on her blog. She was creative, open, courageous and kind.
When I had the opportunity to meet her in person at the Creative Dig workshop in Cleveland in September I was even more impressed. She is a true artist. Her artist soul shines through in the way she dresses, holds herself, interacts with others, in her photography, her words and her ‘real’ art, such as painting.
When we talked I realized we were both in an ‘in-between’ place, struggling to find our own way, a way that allowed us to express ourselves more fully in our work lives while also meeting the obligations of our families and our selves. We talked about our jobs, working for ourselves and what each path meant to us.
Since September we have both gained greater clarity in our personal and professional lives. The one thing we have in common is writing about and sharing our journey and I watched as Heather’s unfolded.
As I moved away from my corporate job to begin working for myself, Heather found a new way of being in her day job and began to blossom. She is a creative, visionary leader with a heartfelt desire to make the world a better place. I’ve watched her. She does this on a small scale, with one person, one group, and on a big scale, in a large, non-profit organization that strives to bring awareness to issues and people from around the globe.
At first I though our paths had crossed and we had chosen different directions, but now I know that is not true. We are on similar paths, heading in similar directions, not opposite or opposing.
We both strive to authentically express ourselves every day, wherever we find ourselves and with whomever we are with. We care deeply about helping others and about making a difference.
I am choosing to do it by working for myself. This is the choice that works for me today, where I am. Heather is choosing to do it within the organization that she has worked for many years. It is a choice that works for her, where she is, today. Neither choice is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.
Whether you choose to work for yourself, or to work for someone else, there still remains a very big opportunity to express your unique gifts and make a difference. You can make a difference in other people’s lives just by being you, just by interacting with others from a place of authenticity, respect and honesty. It begins with you, and flows out to your co-workers, then your customers, then your community, then the world.
You may decide to go out on your own, like I have. Or, like Heather, you may decide to redefine your role in your existing organization and go after what you want and do what you think needs to be done to make it better for you and those around you. You may decide to keep a less than ideal job because for now it provides for your family and your family is your number one priority. Or, you may decide to seek new opportunities; something that more closely aligns with who you are and what you want to do.
For example, you may be a single, working Mom. Your priority today may be working your ass off in a less than ideal job so that you can provide for your children. You express yourself by authentically being who you are day in and day out, showing up and doing the best job you can and by being there for your children, providing for them, loving them and raising them.
Or, you may go to work each day, treating others with kindness and respect, but escape in the evenings to write or to paint, selling your work on Etsy.com, or sharing your journey via a blog. Either way you are expressing and sharing your gifts with the world around you.
The point is, regardless of who you are, or where you are in life today, you can make a difference. There is no one-size fits all choice for any of us. We all have to show up, do the hard work, and do what is right for us. It is that simple and that difficult at the same time.
Sandy Dempsey is the founder and creative director behind the Dreaming Café, a free online resource dedicated to providing information and inspiration for people striving to live a creative life of self-expression based on their own personal vision. You can find her online at http://thedreamingcafe.com and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.