Last week Christianne of Bookwifery hosted an Instagram challenge related to visibility and vulnerability. You can see the many posts by using this hashtag: #bookwiferyvisibilitychallenge. She hosted this challenge because of her own work on becoming more visible about the work she does in helping people discern whether they are ready to write a book, and if so, helping them through the process. In sharing more openly on Instagram, she began to see that others might need a push to open up and share their work more widely too.
Although I’m not overly concerned about visibility in my work right now, I felt drawn to participate. And I’m glad I did! I realized I have a few different messages that I’m working on right now, so for the sake of the challenge I focused on one.
Day 1: Name your message.
Several months ago I discovered my mission statement: I pay attention to the ordinary and discover the extraordinary. That manifests itself in several ways: quilting, music, relationships and writing.
I started a blog a little over two years ago as I was beginning a sabbatical. What I expected to be life-giving became heartbreaking as I was diagnosed with infertility a month before I was supposed to return to work. My writing has been a place for healing.
Someday, when more of my story unfolds, I want to write the book that I was looking for during the early days of my diagnosis. By sharing my story, I hope that I can offer a safe place to land.
I’ve chosen a picture of a wasp nest that I took the other day. Several weeks ago I was walking my dogs in the early morning before sunrise and was stung on the arm without warning or provocation. As I passed by the same spot in the daylight, I discovered why I was stung. It didn’t take the pain away from the incident but seeing it in the daylight helped me to understand. I think the same is true for most pain we feel.
Day 2: Why my message matters.
After thinking about yesterday’s prompt and response a bit more, I think I have a primary message about paying attention and a secondary one related to my infertility journey. I’ll focus on the primary one for the remainder of this challenge.
Why does it matter? We live in a culture focuses on surfaces — the clothes, the shoes, the make up, the house, the job, the relationships, the kids… all these things we see on the surface. I want more than that for me and for you. I want us to go deeper and one way to do that is to pay attention.
By paying attention and looking deeper, I see extraordinary things every single day. Mundane experiences become miracles. Annoyances become humorous. Grief becomes growth. I don’t sugarcoat it but I do peel back a layer or two to discover the hidden gems. I think we need more of that. Maybe my observations shared on my blog will lead another person to pause a bit longer to notice and pay attention. Less surface, more depth.
Day 3: Who is this for?
I’m not as clear on this prompt.
For those who are searching for something more.
For those who feel lost and need some grounding.
For those who are busy and need a place to rest.
For those who are longing but aren’t sure for what.
For those who need a reminder that life can be simple.
The photo is of flowers my brother and sister-in-law grew this year. Aren’t they intricately beautiful?
Day 4: What do you wish they knew?
How amazing it is to be above the clouds. What a gift we have in each day. How extraordinary it is that we breathe and laugh and cry and gasp. How we are all much more alike than we are different. What a difference it makes when we slow down and look closer. How listening, truly listening, is a gift.
How much you are loved. I hope you know that too.
Day 5: How can I help?
This might be the most vulnerable post, which has been the point of this challenge. Why? A selfie — I like taking them and having them on my phone, but it’s harder for me to post them. That’s why I chose this one with my niece Maggie — her arm is around me, which I love. And her face! Also, this post is about “how I can help” which implies I can help…
How can I help you pay attention to the ordinary and discover the extraordinary? I’m a retreat facilitator. I’ve written and facilitated retreat since 2001. In the 90s I had opportunities to lead retreats for younger students and I was a camp counselor. So, I’ve been facilitating groups for over two decades!
I started my blog over two years ago and I use that platform to help point out the extraordinary in the ordinary things, like taking a walk or sitting still or going to yoga or playing with kids or dogs or nature… people seem to find value in my writing and it comes naturally to me.
I started my business Quilting Moonbeams six years ago (wow!). I take old shirts and give them new life. I take clothes that belonged to a loved one and create quilts that heal broken hearts. I find beauty in the old and tattered. I also love new fabric and finding ways to blend them together to create art that I can snuggle up with anytime of the year!
In each medium, I pay attention to the ordinary and discover the extraordinary. You can learn about each of these on my website.
So that was the challenge! I think I’m going to write another post with these same prompts but focusing on another message that is developing within me.
What’s your message for the world?