NOTE: This was my entry for a contest at The Art of Non-Conformity in which Chris G was offering a free copy of his “Empire Building Kit.” After I wrote this, I found out that there was a limit of 1200 characters, not words! So I had to submit a synopsis. Well, I didn’t win. But that’s okay. I still like my original entry. Here it is…..
The summer I turned 45, I celebrated by leaping, 45 times, the 30 feet from Red Bridge into the chilly, glacier-fed waters of the Similkameen River. That was ten years ago. Today, my 5 kids are grown, my clan is exploding (6 grandkids in 2 years), I got laid off my day job exactly a week ago … and I figure it is high time to turn my eclectic, convoluted, mostly small-town, personal lifetime adventures into – yes! – a sustainable lifestyle business.
Before I even read your offer of the Empire Building Kit, I had determined to plunge into an adventure that will not only pull together my own dreams and my multitude of varied experiences, so that I, personally, will never have to retire; but will also provide a platform, like that 2×8 board precariously hanging out over the swirling waters of the river, for others to tip-toe out, take a deep breath, and leap into their own personal dreams.
I swam in the relatively safe pools of teaching in public schools and private schools – and then I leapt with my children into the uncharted waters of eclectic, unschooling, life-long learning; and of tutoring adults who’ve come to a new land and are struggling to learn a new language and culture; and helping young people to overcome the labels of learning disabilities and mental illness.
I worked as an executive secretary for a major Canadian corporation – and then volunteered for small-town organizations, and prepared business proposals for folks with big dreams and very small businesses. I tutored and taught other people’s children, and thought myself an expert on raising children – and then I bore 5 children of my own in 8 years, and have now spent 30 years becoming humbler and wiser!
I went to university and maintained first class marks in all my courses – writing, literature, history, librarianship – and then struggled to teach young teenagers, who had already spent 9 or 10 years in school, to finally learn to read and write. And I had the joy of seeing their eyes light up, and confidence replace self-doubt and shame, as they were finally able to delve into a world of wonder available to those who can read widely, and who can express themselves, who can communicate clearly.
I grew up in a safe, middle-class, educated, majority culture background. Then I married into another culture, a once-proud, strong, artistic culture worn down by invasion, government-forced assimilation policies, devastating population loss due to introduced diseases, and on-going prejudice. And through the years I’ve witnessed a change in the tides, with heads lifting, and pride coming back into long-dulled eyes. And I saw that pride growing in our children, even as they struggled to find a place of their own, sometimes caught between the two worlds of their parents.
And so I was drawn to explore other cultures, other peoples, and to engage in their worlds, too. This chilly spring morning, as with many other mornings in the past couple years, I spent the first hours of my day with people who, for a myriad of reasons, spent the night huddled under a bush or in a cement corner next to a heat duct, or just walking the streets trying to keep warm. We ate the sandwiches and home-made cookies and boiled eggs that I brought along, and I marveled at the joy I’ve gained as we’ve walked together with each other and Creator.
I don’t have a profitable business, though over the years I’ve had a series of small ones – some professional writing (and a lot of website writing and blogging), and providing secretarial and bookkeeping services for very small businesses, and doing some direct sales, and even operating my own catering business called “Childhood Celebrations.” But always it has seemed that somehow, between unexpected twists and turns in the adventures life has brought, and a certain lack of confidence and self-employed-business know-how, I’ve kept going back to those rather dull, but seemingly safe and dependable, day jobs.
I’ve had it! It’s time to really take the leap, once and for all! I want to write – really write, professionally, successfully. And I want to share that writing ability with others, offering them the opportunity to see the world with new eyes, to see life as the adventure it can be, and to in turn be able to share that with others. I am not talking about simply “writing classes” – there are plenty of those out there. But I am looking into the joy of writing and communicating as part of the whole adventure of life. The ability to share one’s excitement and joy about the passions and struggles of one’s own life. To lift one’s head high, and proudly communicate one’s beliefs, values, cultural identity. To help others understand what an amazingly varied and colorful world we live in, and lift them out of their preconceptions and prejudices. To learn to walk together.
Yes, I know. It sounds, perhaps, like I’m looking at the world through rosy-tinted glasses. But I’ve seen it happen, over and over, in small ways. And I want it to grow, and expand – into an empire of people who can communicate their lives and in the process enrich the lives of others with whom they share. I have a 3 month severance package from the job I just lost (the “safe” company suddenly closed its doors). And I decided to “go for it!” In three months! Crazy? Maybe! Maybe a year to build this empire is crazy too – but perhaps, with the help of your Empire Building Kit, I might actually be able to make it happen. Big time!
You are offering two free kits, one of them to a person without a profitable business, but serious about building it over the next year.
Yes, it should be me!
Date March 25 2010