Instructions to Self

 

Have you ever gotten frustrated when a yoga teacher, a spiritual book or a song tells you to “find your way home”? I have been there many many times!  The message seems to be a crucial learning point, a big revelation, a destination toward which one grows after a long, soul-searching, self-improving process, and there might be some kind of nirvana waiting at home.  Yet, I didn’t have a clue what that meant or what to do to figure out the meaning, not until a reminder fell on my lap, literally.

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Do You Know the Way Home?

 

I recently trained a group of early childhood professionals on new standards designed to raise the quality of early childhood education.  At the start of the session I asked the attendees why they thought lawmakers were enacting these new standards or rules and someone quickly shouted out, “to drive us crazy!”   There was a knowing laugh among her colleagues, which led to a very passionate discussion about the divide between those who make the rules and those who are hired to follow them. Continue reading

Defined by Absence

 

“Go back to the definition,” my mom said to me.

That probably doesn’t sound like a typical instruction from a mother to her child, so here is the context. My mom was not only a high-school math teacher, but also a math education professor. She inspired generations of engineers, doctors, scientists, financial whizzes, and, of course, math teachers while I just tolerated math. So, you would think I was one of the luckiest kids in the world to have a math expert at my disposal. Nope. When I got stuck, my mom would send me back to the definition, and from there, we would solve the problem together. Continue reading

Overlook the Diamonds: Learning to Stay Focused from Two Guys Who Like Chocolate Milk, Animal Cookies and Something Spectacular

The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.

~ William James

I came across an article about a 10-year-old musical prodigy named Ethan Loch from Bonnybridge, Scotland. Ethan had been admitted to St. Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh, and to go to school, Ethan would need to board a train and cross two main roads. The commute to school would be more challenging for Ethan than for most children his age. Why? You see, Ethan is blind. Ethan would have to master echolocation in order to go to school. Continue reading

First the Leader

I experienced a profound leadership moment at community band rehearsal last night. The conductor stood at the podium, baton in hand, setting the time and tempo of the piece we were playing. We all knew our parts, yet together we were not quite achieving our goal of making music. The conductor stopped and started a few times, but he still wasn’t hearing music. He said his baton felt heavy with trying to pull together each of our parts. So he stopped and put down his baton. Then, Continue reading

Between Goal and Process

So-and-so is goal oriented.  So-and-so is results driven.  We have heard those statements, often as compliments.  So-and-so is detail oriented.  So-and-so focuses on processes.  We have also heard of those statements, often as criticism.  The general wisdom is that focusing on the detail and the process comes at a cost of losing sight of the goal or not getting to a goal fast enough.  Is that true?

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Year of the Mole

I’d like to declare 2016 the “Year of the Mole.”   No, this is not some new Chinese zodiac animal or a profound desire to hole up for the winter now that I’m living in freezing temperatures.  This declaration is my desire to celebrate those who dream, act, attend, practice, learn and perform, regardless of the size of the audience. The mole I’m talking about is one I discovered in David McPhail’s book, “Mole Music.”

Mole lived all alone underground, digging tunnels. In the evenings he would relax and eat dinner in front of the TV, then to bed. He had the feeling something was missing and one night he heard a man on television play the violin, making the most beautiful music. He decided he wanted to make beautiful music too. He sent away for a violin and everyday he checked his mailbox, waiting, until finally after nearly three weeks, it arrived. He picked up the bow and drew it across the strings, but instead of beautiful music, he just made horrible screeching sounds.

Molepracticing

The illustrations begin to show the reaction above the ground as the sounds from below the ground waft through. As mole tries again, the birds recoil and fly away and the tree branches sulk with the horrible vibrations. But mole kept at it. He played one note, then another and after a month an entire scale. The birds are then seen flying back and the young sapling standing upright. As mole practiced, the birds are now feeding their baby as a bunny looks on. As years go by, the music continues, the tree grows strong, and mole got better and better.

Mole was happier than he’d ever been, he dug during the day and played music at night and was even better than the man he saw before.   He wonders what it would be like to play his music for people. As he plays and wonders, above the ground you see the tree lined with different kinds of birds and the ground surrounded by different kinds of people. As he imagines playing for presidents and queens, he also imagines his music could reach into people’s hearts and melt away their anger and sadness.

As he reaches for his violin that evening there are two warring armies gathering on the hilltops above the mole’s home.  They are pointing their weapons at one another, ready to charge.  The armies set off on horseback, dust billowing and birds scattering, but as they approached the tree and hear the music, they toss their weapons aside. As mole continues to play, the warring men are seen greeting one another by handshake instead of weapons, embracing one another as mole thinks how silly he is for thinking his music could change the world when no one has ever heard it. “Mole played one more song, then put down his violin and went to sleep. And dreamed beautiful, peaceful dreams.”

This beautifully simple story is about the universal language and power of music, but for leaders, this story can serve as a reminder of the power of listening.  Leaders have extraordinary power and responsibility to inspire others, to look for the way forward toward accomplishing goals and objectives. But in addition to looking, mole’s story serves as a reminder about the potential impacts of listening.

In a Harvard Business Review article titled, Three Ways Leaders Can Listen with More Empathy by Christine Riordan, she writes, “Slowing down, engaging with others rather than endlessly debating, taking the time to hear and learn from others, and asking brilliant questions are ultimately the keys to success.”  But there are numerous books, articles, and research about this power. So why is it so difficult for many leaders? In part, because listening takes time and the impacts are hard, if not impossible, to measure. We are living in extraordinarily fast paced times and most new leaders want to impact their organization in a positive fashion at breakneck speed in order to demonstrate value. In our era of big data and proven, measurable results, taking time to listen can feel hard to justify. Mole Music is a beautiful reminder that the impact of listening may not always be known or measurable, but the potential impact of listening can be profound, allowing for meaningful change.

Listen for the moles among us, they are there, they are working hard, they are practicing, playing, making music in their own way. If we choose to honor their vibrations, their practice, who knows, the many discordant vibrations of ugliness, cruelty, and callousness might just be interrupted enough so that beautiful vibrations can be heard.   At the end of the year a friend sent me a beautiful visual of the many moles among us. Be a leader who values the moles and the music they make.

  • Find resources for those looking to grow, to learn, to practice;
  • Make space for practice, be tolerant of mistakes, of horrible screeching sounds. Allow for correction, protect for correction, give time for each note to be practiced and put together.
  • Then stop and listen…

Imagine creating a better world, imagine creating a kinder world, imagine melting away anger and sadness.   If you have the power to celebrate the accomplishments of the moles in your midst, then gather an audience and listen, so 2016 can truly be the Year of the Mole.

 

 

 

Show Me Your Inner Little Mermaid

I am going to write about The Little Mermaid,

I told my friend on the phone.  “I’m talking about the Disney version, not the …,” and before I could finish the sentence with “not the Hans Christian Andersen version,” my friend groaned.  Many of the adults I know would groan, roll their eyes or sigh in exasperation at a mere mention of Disney princesses.  Don’t you?  Be honest.  I do.  I am a proud uncle who proactively “de-pinks” our nieces and introduces them to books like Jane Yolen’s Not All Princesses Dress in Pink, which ended up sitting on the bookshelf, collecting dust and being ignored by the little girls dressed in pink.  I don’t know what it is about the Disney princesses that make some of us squirm.  Yet, we all like Disney animations.  Admit it, you have your favorites, and so do I.  But maybe after hearing Let It Go a hundred times and seeing the princesses in unexpected places, like in the aisles at your grocery store, drugstore, and shopping mall, the magic wears off.  While we can debate the strengths and flaws of these princess characters, many actually portray admirable qualities and values.  What values do we find within these characters if we see beyond commercialization and let go of our judgment?  An event in my professional life gave me a chance to reexamine one of these princesses through one of my favorite songs, “Part of Your World,” from the Disney The Little Mermaid (1989).  After reading and rereading the lyrics a few times, I saw a new light in Ariel, the Little Mermaid.  I didn’t see her as a princess.  I saw her as leadership potential.

It all started with a thick binder that I had to read and lug around on my long subway commute.  I was invited to be on the selection committee for the high potential leadership program at a large organization.  The program attracted a lot of applicants, as evidenced by the thick binder with more than a few dozens of applications inside.  It was our job as the selection committee to read the resumes, essays, and letters of recommendations, score the applications, debate and select those we thought were leadership potential to participate in the program.

The applications came in a wide variety.  Many shined with stories of accomplishments, visions and aspirations, and moved me to be their advocate, while others left me unconvinced or even frustrated.  What is it that made some applications stronger than others?  How would an applicant signal to the decision makers that he or she was a potential leader?  In this case, I was a decision maker, so what moved me?  I didn’t realize that I had been mulling over these questions for so many days that they had seeped into my brain.

After another morning of reading applications on the subway, I started humming “Part of Your World” in my head.  The song stuck, and I decided to look up the lyrics online.  Reading a song gave a different perspective from singing it or listening to it.  Without the melody, I focused on the words themselves, and that was when I realized that the song was my answer to the questions about leadership potential.  In that song, Ariel describes a world beyond and her desire to get there.  The words read like a resume and a cover letter.  In my mind, really good ones.  If she had been in my binder, I would have picked her.

The song opens with Ariel’s description of her treasures, or, if you will, her assets, her human capital, her skills and experience.  Even though her human vocabulary is limited, she gives you specific details of what she has to offer, “gadgets,” “gizmos,” “whozits,” “whatzits,” and “thingamabobs.”  She also quantifies them like the twenty thingamabobs she has.  If you have done recruiting,  I’m sure you share my appreciation when reading a resume that gets specific with actions and impacts and does its best to quantify those achievements.

Then, she asks us a rhetorical but leading question:

Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?
Wouldn’t you think I am the girl
The girl who has everything?

She makes you think that she has got it all as she asks “how many wonders can one cavern hold?”  Then, she reveals her drive as she bursts out,

But who cares? No big deal. I want more.

She proceeds to lay out her vision, what wanting more entails.  Her desired goals are specific.  She doesn’t tell us that she just wants to get out of the ocean to go somewhere vaguely defined as better or more exciting.  Instead, she helps us visualize specifically the end state: where she wants to go and what she will do when she gets there.  She wants to be where the people are and wants to see them dancing.  Her statement might sound simple to us humans, but for someone who hasn’t met a person or knows what a dance is, this vision is outside the box and yet specific at the same time.  For those of us who have written college or graduate school applications or read ones, how many of us have struggled answering essay questions like: Describe your career goals in 500 words.  Or, what do you want to get out of this program?  Save the world, you say.  But how strong is that statement if another applicant says, “I want to save the world, and here is how I envision the new world to look like and how I plan to get there”?

While Ariel’s vision is outside the box, it is grounded on reality.  Her exposure to the world above comes from trinkets and objects that her seagull friend has brought her.  They make her ask questions and spur her vision.  Ariel reminds me of some of the potential leaders that I have encountered in my life.  They might be young and inexperienced, but they have been exposed to other leaders, mentors or role models who have given them specific examples of what they want to have or whom they want to be in the future.

While her song is about aspiration, Ariel is humble and demonstrates her ability to self-reflect and identify skill gaps that she has yet to learn to fill.  She recognizes her own limitation where she is and the potential of doing more if she has an opportunity to be up on land.  She identifies what else she needs to accomplish what she wants to do:

Flippin’ your fins, you don’t get too far
Legs are required for jumping, dancing

She also recognizes that there are words and concepts she doesn’t know like street and legs.  She wants to ask questions, learn and know.  Her questions are specific like, “What is a fire and why does it … burn?”

She is saying: if I am given this opportunity, this is what I want to learn and this is what I can do.

Ariel sings this song with a tone of joy and hope.  Such a tone draws in listeners.  For those of us who know her story, she has just been reprimanded by her father right before she sings this song.  While she is frustrated, she only briefly verbalizes her frustration.  She does not linger on it, and turns that frustration into her positive driving force.  She moves on by saying:

       Bright young women sick of swimmin’
Ready to stand

This positive attitude reminds me of a piece of advice that someone shared with me.  She said that when you want to do something, do it from a position of assets and not deficits.  In other words, do not apply for a new job, a graduate school, or a training program because you are resentful with the status quo and want to get away.  Do it because you want it given what you have.  That is what Ariel is doing here.  She turns her frustration, her knowledge and her desire into a vision with positive forces behind her.

That is how I rediscovered Ariel – the Disney version – in a new light, with newfound respect.  If I had magical powers, I would give her legs, send her up to the shore, and even give her money for matches and dance lessons.  Even though I don’t have magical powers in the realm of merfolk, I still have non-magical influences in the realm of humans. I can be a strong advocate to those who convince me of their accomplishments, visions and aspirations and help them to a path to realize their dreams, as I did with those strong applicants.  And I can also say this: Girls (and boys and adults), wear pink if you want to.  What is more important is to show the world your inner Little Mermaid.  Paint a vision, be specific, be curious, dream big and be real, start your journey from a place of have and not a place of lack, and chase your dream with joy.

Thus and So…

Wakes and ripples continue to emit from the New York Times article, “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace” by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld, and some of those ripples came my way, rocking me this way and that, pondering thus and so.

I began my career with, what was then called, a “Big 8” public accounting firm. It was 1989 and the “old boy’s club” manners were dying out and new hires were trying to decide for themselves which side of history they wanted to be on, as they determined how loud to laugh when a legendary, grey-haired partner told an off-color joke about women or whether to join a lunch time meeting with a long standing client at the local strip club.

As I gained experience and times changed, I have been lulled into thinking more progress has been made than might be so. Perhaps each generation can only go through the process of finding a place to match their ambitions, challenge their intellect, and decide for themselves how much they are willing to bargain for, in order to, hopefully, figure out what they seemingly want.

I began in an era where there were still leaders who sent me for coffee because I was the only woman on the team. I also remember the feeling of shock at being asked to leave a board meeting, even after I had been invited by the CFO. (I admired that CFO for his truth telling after this incident, admitting the reasons were both because of my sex and age.)  I am thankful I was on the right side of this history, and as young leaders began to rise and old leaders felt their time had come or their missteps caused too much risk, I began to have experiences where my knowledge, skills and abilities, as they say, were championed and promoted.

After letting the article ruminate a bit, the emotions that stayed with me were primarily ones of sadness and guilt. Sadness for the slow pace of change at a highly respected, top performing company and guilt for the connivance of my consumer ways that seem to be driving the culture and choices of those building our new world.

While it’s great to see that women are hired for their unique talents at Amazon, it felt as though they were being invited aboard the cruise ship “success-at-all-costs” which doesn’t allow for the mere mention of families, illnesses, or any expression of female strengths, i.e. nurturing, collaboration, rendering women, or men who express feminine characteristics, to be data driven back to port.

As I sit here today, raising a born-digital daughter, I was saddened to see there was much I recognized in the workplace the article described: 80 hour work weeks- check, relentless culling of employees – check, belittling new ideas – check, albeit, there seems to have been progress made since the belittling is now happening without disguise.

Now, while I’m proud to call myself a feminist and I “leaned in” at the tables I was invited to, the children’s story that resonated the loudest in support of my thoughts is a story about beauty, attention, love and marriage.   I hope you’ll allow me a bit of latitude to use this gorgeous story, written and illustrated by Evaline Ness, as my way of making sense.

Evaline Ness, an American artist who illustrated over 30 children’s books, passed away in 1986, around the same time I entered the workforce. Her 1970 book titled, “The Girl and the Goatherd Or This and That and Thus and So” came to mind as I thought about today’s workplace and wondered…

ThusandSo

The story opens with a girl. A very ugly girl. A girl who could think of nought else except to be beautiful. Now, before getting into the story too far, I’d like to assign the part of “the girl” to Amazon. For, with their values worn so unabashedly and proudly, they could think of nought else except to be great.

Now, even though the girl got uglier as she got older, one man, a goatherd, looked at her and asked her for her hand. The part of “the goatherd” I will assign to “a leader”.

As the girl sat a-moping a witch appeared. The witch makes a bargain, “I’ll make you the most beautiful of all if you do as I bid.” The girl asks, “Ooooooo?” “Yes,” said the witch. The witch then gives her an impossible demand, to roof her house with oak saplings, by dawn.

Now, there is one last part to assign, the witch.   I shall assign the part of “the witch” to be “a customer”.  Yes, me.  Dare I say, us?  Aren’t we the ones with these demands? – Find me an Elsa doll, even though not one vendor in all of New York City can do it, Amazon, you must! “Do you want to be great, Amazon?” I ask in my consumer witch form, “I will make you great, but these are my demands!”

Back to the story…Well now, the only place to find the oak saplings was on top of the highest hill. The girl went up and down, up and down, until she floundered and come midnight, she still didn’t have enough saplings, so she stood and boo-hooed. The NYT article similarly mentioned a lot of boo-hooing at Amazon in order to meet consumer demands, and by dawn!

Then, along came the goatherd. The goatherd liked the girl’s looks the way they be, telling her, “don’t fret yourself, I’ll help you.”  For you see, there is much to like about the girl (Amazon), even if she seeks beauty without paying mind to those helping her get there. For once she accomplished the witch’s (consumer’s) demands, with the help of the goatherd (a leader), she was all smiles and hardly a thank-you.

Now, you can ask yourself, would a leader help the girl? Why would a leader help someone achieve an unhealthy vision?  Upon first glance, the goatherd can be seen as a simpleton, an enabler solely focused on his own goal, marriage, but my experience tells me leadership is not so simple, not so black and white.  While he has his own goals, he decides to help the girl, without asking for anything in return, for now.

Well, as you might guess, the witch made her better to look at than before, but beautiful she was still not. You see, customer demands are never fully met, each iteration will bring about a new demand, stating we need this and that, done thus and so…

The witch goes on to demand a hundred yards of cobwebs for curtains so the girl will realize more beauty, and then steal a thousand birds’ eggs, and only then, will she be the most beautiful girl of all.   Each time, with a moment of boo-hooing and then help from the goatherd, who liked her the way she be, all of the witch’s demands were met.

As the girl “hummed and fluttered and twittered and wiggled, she was that a-gog to be the most beautiful of all.” And, sure enough, Amazon has gotten its wish, to be the greatest retailer of all! How glorious to achieve what one wishes, to have set your sights on something so grand. To have followed your 14 leadership principals to greatness!

Most grand of all most grand of all most grand of all most grant of all most grand of all most grand of all most grand of all

The news of their greatness flew around the land and they were showered with gems and treasures in the form of rising stock prices and knights and lords and princes and kings came from far and wide in the form of the best and the brightest workers, lining up at their doors.   But not one spoke to her or touched her or even smiled on her. They thought, you know, she was more gold than girl. Ness creates this amazing two-page spread of the beautiful girl being looked upon by all of her admirers, just the way Amazon must feel.

And this is where my Amazon comparison ends, for we do not know what the very next thing will be for Amazon as we do for the girl. For she began to snuffle and sigh once again, even more so than before, realizing, “To be the most beautiful of all’s not the first and last to be happy. I’d sooner be ugly.”

Then the goatherd, once again, agreed to help the girl, but this time only if she would stop her nattering and marry him.  The girl agreed, and with this and that and thus and so, betwixt them together they worked the night through.

Leaders, at all levels, know there is much to like about Amazon, but would you continue to want their hand or would you search elsewhere after giving so much?  For now I wonder whether Amazon, in light of all the gawking at their greatness, will realize they are more gold than girl and decide to stop meeting the demands of consumers at all costs, and listen to their goatherds, to those who have helped them, to those who are kind and have worked hard, and to realize seeking ones goals at all costs is not the first and last to be happy. The article spoke of many a goatherd, who simply got tired of helping, tired of hostile language, tired of not being thanked and went away, to find another, not worrying about being the first or the last.

The leaders I have admired over the years, some of which I’m afraid don’t get much attention or thanks in our culture, are the ones who quietly take action, persevere, listen, act, compromise and ultimately know when and for what to ask, both of themselves and of those around them.

For now, I wonder whether I can change my witch ways, reigning in my own demands for timely products and services, thinking twice about whether I really need another Eveline Ness book by tomorrow morning. Perhaps I will, perhaps I won’t. With this and that and thus and so, only time will tell how much we change.

Looking for Beekle

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

That is a dreaded question for me, and the older I get, the more dreaded I become. It felt easier, as I recall, to answer the question as a kid. “A doctor,” I would have said in a heartbeat. There was no fear. There were no consequences. It was the answer that came to mind because that was what I wanted to be. It just felt right.

Then, life got complicated. It is easy to blame external factors. My parents and their belief systems, their own experiences, their tendency to be protective, or their well-intended concern that might not have been expressed in a way that supported my best interests. “That’s going to be competitive and difficult.” “You are not going to make as much money as a businessman.” “Smart kids go into accounting or engineering these days.”

Or my teachers and their assessing, evaluating minds. “You are not the top of the class. You need to be smarter to get into a medical program.” “Your math and physics are not good enough for medical schools.” “Are you sure you don’t want to be a scientist, instead? We need more basic research scientists.” “What about becoming an economist? We need more economists to help the country.”

Or my friends, my parents’ friends, acquaintances, or society at large. The questions might have sounded different, but most of them came down to people’s opinions, informed by their own beliefs, values, and experiences. To be fair, it was not all like that. Some did offer hope and validation. “Go and follow your dream,” they said. But for a young person with an innate pragmatic mind and a heart full of dreams, they didn’t help answer questions like, “How am I going to pay bills if I study literature?”

As I said, it is easy to blame external factors. I am not. Those were just the external factors that I faced and came to realize in retrospect. I grew, I changed. I learned more about my own preferences, not only about what I liked, but also what I didn’t like. I liked reading books and learning about literature. I worried about savings. I liked some branches of science, but was not comfortable with others. I no longer wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be a biologist, a horticulturist, a diplomat, a chef, a yoga teacher. I knew what I wanted, and I didn’t know what I wanted. All of those ideas, hopes, and dreams happened inside as the external opinions brewed.

Then came my decision to go into the business world and business school. Then came the wisdom (I’m not sure whose) about knowing one’s career goals, one’s career paths, and one’s cohesive story about one’s career. I had one. It was well thought out, and it came from a sincere place in my heart. I didn’t make it up, and yet I knew that compromises were made, and something was missing.

But I had my goals.

Off I went chasing those goals. Things were checked off the list, lessons were learned, connections were made, and a career path was laid. As I crossed a milestone, I felt a sense of accomplishment, and it felt good. But I was not content or happy. The sense of discontent and lack of joy continued to mount, becoming unhealthy, physically and mentally. Challenges and hard-earned milestones do not equate to joy. It feels oft times like a Pyrrhic victory. Something is missing.

What is missing is my answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I don’t know how to answer that question any more. Over the years, my experiences, my hopes, my fears have created a thick wall. I forget what it feels like to be inspired.

A good friend of mine recommended The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. It is a story about a creature waiting to be called upon by a child, so that he could be the child’s friend. That calling never came, and he took action in his own hands and went off to find a friend in an unchartered world (to him, anyway). He was about to give up hope, when a girl found him. They didn’t know what to do with each other initially, but they knew that their encounter felt right. They knew that he was her imaginary friend, when the girl gave him a name, “Beekle.”

Beekle became her inspiration, and she became his. They played together, drew together, created together. He validated her, encouraged her, and empowered her, unconditionally. And she gave him a sense of purpose, that his brave journey to search for a friend, made total sense.

I would like to believe that we all have our own Beekle. Some of us may not have met him. Some of us may have met him and have lost him over time. If we look hard enough, we will find him, and we just need to call out his name.

Why am I so sure? In the last three days alone, examples of people who have found their Beekles have been coming to me, unsolicited. Some of the Beekles are large and life-changing. Some are small and momentary. Beekles can come in all forms. They could be a loved one, a fruit or even a typewriter. What they all have in common, however, is that they inspire.

Before yesterday, Jim Obergefell was not known to many. As of yesterday, his name went down into history. His devotion to his late husband kept him up as he fought for right for marriage for gay people in the US.

Yesterday, my partner, who loves baking and who is not a morning person, got up early in the morning to bake an egg-free cupcake for our beloved niece who is allergic to eggs. He didn’t want her to feel left us as everyone had their cupcakes for desserts at a family gathering later that day.

Also, yesterday, I was at a café named Agora, and it was showcasing photographs by an organization called Micah (“Help Micah Change Sign”) to raise awareness about homelessness. One was a series of three photos of a woman showing up a sign: “I was a lonely drunk housewife.” “I needed a purpose.” “I rediscovered who I am.” She smiled in the last photo. She had found her Beekle.

A few days ago, I read on BBC about Helton Josue Teodoro Muniz from Brazil. He was born with a motor neurone deficiency and only learned to walk as a teenager. Holding a seed in his hand can be difficult to him. Yet his childhood discovery of a fruit propelled him to become a collector of fruit, and he is now an internationally renowned fruit expert and author.

This morning, my partner sent me a YouTube video about Paul Smith, an elderly man from OH, who found a way to get around his disability and expresses himself by using a typewriter to create beautiful arts.

Also this morning, the Free Lance-Star newspaper, a local paper in Fredericksburg, Virginia, celebrated a local author Vincent Annunziato of Stafford, Virginia. Annunziato knew his Beekle was the love of writing, but he gave it up when he moved East to take an IT job and has a responsibility to provide to him family. Despite his life circumstances, he let his Beekle came back to him and found time on his long commute on the commuter train to write. He just published his second book.

Regardless of the time in their life, their circumstances or the time it took, these people found their Beekle. I am determined to find or reconnect with mine, whatever he is and wherever he is now. I know I will find him (or her).

Etched on a coffee table at the café yesterday, the carving read,

“It is never too late to become what you might have been”

~ Mary Ann Evans

I hope Mary Ann Evans is right.