A few months ago my publisher sent me an email that said something like, “Just wanted to forward this in case you missed it, I think you'd be great.” Attached to her message was an email from The National Needlearts Association inviting teachers to apply to teach at their national conference in San Diego.
I immediately thought: that's not really what I do. This isn't for me.
But I left the email in my inbox (which is uncommon – I ruthlessly delete or file or boomerang) because the idea of it appealed to me. Half my family lives in Oceanside and I visit them every year or two anyhow…wouldn't it be nice to get paid to do that?
The email sat there, waiting, until I opened it again to see if it had expired, if it was already too late to apply (I assumed and kinda hoped it was). No, I still had a week left. So even though this still seemed like absolutely the kind of thing I wouldn't do, I put it on my calendar, to remind me when applications closed, and I boomeranged the message to come back on that day.
On the very last day, both my calendar and inbox both reminded me to apply. And I thought: What's the harm? I'd already developed classes that could serve the needs of TNNA attendees (shops, designers, dyers), so I had material ready. In fact, at the last TNNA conference, several Starship Captains attended…and if I was already helping them online, why not help them live?
So I applied. And...I got accepted!
And I worked super hard rewriting the classes (and workbooks) for this particular audience.
Things went all wrong (flight delays meant I didn't land in time to print workbooks so I had sprint across town at 11pm to print + collate…) and yet, it was great.
I met smart, generous, interesting shop owners and clever, ambitious, talented designers. I got to hug two Starship Captains in person. I got recognized in an elevator, which made me feel like a rock star (it was Corrina and we had a great time hanging out…because I'm not actually a rock star.)
And it was awesome.
This morning, while I was in Introvert Recovery, I was thinking that I almost didn't do this. All because I had an image of what I do and what I'm building with my work and I wasn't open to something new.
This is something we all struggle with – so many people (perhaps well-meaning family members?) give us suggestions for what we should do with our business, that we get into a default mode of No-Saying.
“No, that's not really what I do.”
“No, I'm too busy with other projects.”
“No, I'm not that kind of X (teacher, writer, artist, maker)”
And that's smart. You don't want to do everything. Everything isn't for you. No one knows your work better than you do.
But what if you changed your default position from No to Open?
You might still say no, but you'll first take a moment to consider it. You'll be open to possibility. Open to opportunity. Open to connecting to disparate ideas into something new.
This is different from saying an indiscriminate YES to everything, because it comes from a different place. Instead of feeling desperate and needy (for approval, for validation, for acknowledgement), you're coming from a place of willingness and curiosity. What if you DID say yes? What if you took a moment to explore the idea and see if it might work?
This is exactly what I'll be asking myself this year, as I explore my new word of the year: Open.
It's about opening to opportunity, opening to ideas, opening to flow.
Being open in expression, in enthusiasm, in my own power.
What do you want to be open to?