I was asked once again to speak to High School Sophomores who were visiting the local Community College for a career day, organized by AmeriCorps.
This time I spoke with 3 classes, in the capacity of a published author.
I brought in copies of my books: my illustrated children’s book “Cannelle in Her New Home” and “On Becoming a Lemonade Maker” which I passed around the class.
Having been published by both a ‘bricks and mortar publisher’ and by self-publishing, I was able to talk about the advantages and the disadvantages of both.
I explained how I had come to write the books, what my process was and how they could start writing if they were interested to do so.
The big hurdle many people have is not putting their minds to writing when they are inspired to do so, since inspiration can strike at inopportune moments! Carrying a notebook around to jot down thoughts, make notes of certain scenes or unique personality types one encounters or snippets of conversations one could imagine their characters saying, is a critical part of the writing process.
Many people are afraid of looking foolish scribbling or sketching in notebooks while they are in public places; likewise many people are afraid of taking photos of the odd and random things which capture their eye, so they promise themselves that they will do these things at a future time!
I told the kids that many people I knew fell into those patterns, and when they had gotten older, they had found that the fascination they had felt with all those weird and quirky moments had all but left them. They had spent many years promising themselves they were going to write in their future and so had missed out on living the joy which had called to them… the emptiness they felt wasn’t being fed and nourished by DOING.
Some of the kids looked like they’d prefer to be anywhere else except in that room, but most of them were very interested in talking with an author who had written and published more than one book.
The questions they asked me showed they had not only listened, but were mentally taking note of the suggestions I was giving them. I made a point of telling them to keep an open mind about where life will take them, that they may end up doing jobs completely different from what they were imagining for themselves right now.
Above all I said, “Follow your joy!”
…I was ecstatic when I later heard that a few students had said to the organizers that they wanted to become writers!
Oct. 30, 2013
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to speak to a class full of High School Sophomores who were visiting the local Community College for a career day, all organized by AmeriCorps. I was asked to speak in the capacity of a professional artist, who has had an illustrated children’s book published, who has exhibited in a few cities, with New York City being probably top of the list, and who has taught private art classes for many years.
I came into the class a few minutes early, stood to the side quietly waiting and observing the students giving a soon to be graduate a difficult time as she spoke about her experiences at the community college. I was a little nervous to speak to them, since the heckling got a little out of hand at one point, and she had difficulty speaking over their noise volume.
When my turn came, my voice crackled and was breaking with my nerves. After I introduced myself and told them briefly of my background, I passed around a copy of the children’s book, as well as a brag book I had prepared which had photos of some of my art work and original photos, then I spoke more in depth what it takes to be an artist.
I mentioned that if they were thinking of getting into art because they thought it would be an easy profession to do, a way to earn a living with little effort involved, I told them they might want to rethink their choice!
As I elaborated more on my experiences of reinventing myself from being a draftsman in the engineering field when all the drawings were done by hand, to learning the computer to become a graphic artist, a fashion illustrator, a medical illustrator, I found the entire room was silent and listening to every word. My voice became stronger as I realized they might be hearing me!
I wasn’t sure if I was boring them into silence, or if they were truly captivated, so I broke off into a Q&A asking them if there were any questions at this point. I was astonished to see a few politely raised hands, and very pleased with the thoughtful questions, which prompted me to give them more information about my life and experiences and got us into more of a give and take exchange.
I was able to let them know that I had never gone to college, and the difficulties I’d had in not having that magic certificate. It wasn’t what I felt to be a run of the mill pep talk, “Stay in school, go to college”, but rather I was able to give them concrete examples of how a lack of a University degree had affected my life.
Yes, I was able to make a living for myself, but I regretted being passed over for some jobs I already had experience doing, was good at, but because of a lack of a paper, wasn’t considered for.
I explained that when I first started out, I was apprenticed into my field, but the world has changed so much now that it’s very important to get that higher education in order to find a decent job to support themselves with. I mentioned some companies had passed over hiring me because I didn’t have a bachelor’s degree, and that was just to be a secretary!
All in all, I really enjoyed speaking to what I feared might be a tough crowd! (…and I walked away feeling that I could be a motivational speaker… possibly!)
I feel speaking to youth relates to part of the task we all have before us, which is to pass on our knowledge to other people, to motivate, to coach, to help and to provide support.
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Here’s a little except from the Lemonade book
which I feel relates to this article:
“Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.” – Buddha
There are many things that many religions barely touch on, many things about the world and the spirit world, how they are all interconnected. When we can open up and come to understand these natural things, we can come to a greater understanding and acceptance of each other and ourselves.
We all go through difficult times in our lives, some more tragic and prolonged than others. Yet, if I understand the message the 4 psychics were telling me, we all signed up for this before we were born. Why? I am very sure that we are to pull much more out of it than pain, fear or anger.
We are all to learn, to become stronger, and then ultimately able to give; to be able to give from a depth of understanding; to be able to give, not because it all came easily, but to give from the depth of our souls.
By helping each other, we not only bring a lot of satisfaction into our own souls, knowing that our hard won lessons haven’t been for nothing, but it also brings us closer to other people, for in having gotten to know another person’s suffering, we rejoice in their victories as well as our own. We become community by caring and by helping, and this closeness brings us together, so any successes are sweeter. This is the meaning of “a burden shared is easier to bear”.
“Life is not meaningful… unless it is serving an end beyond itself;
unless it is of value to someone else.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel
“For a deed to be totally pure, it must be done without any thought of reward,
whether worldly or divine.” – Thich Thien-An
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