Lessons from a workshop...

lessons for clara

Dear Clara,

Since we’ve been back in the US this past year, I have tried to remain mindful to use the time we have here for things that we wouldn’t be able to do abroad.  Part of that time has been allocated to friends and family, taking advantage of their proximity.  Part of the time has been dedicated to seeing the great United States – you’re still too young to remember your adventures here but I’ve taken lots of pictures and amassed all kinds of stories.  But part of the time I’ve stashed away for myself to get out of my shell and learn some of the things that inspire me, but that I haven’t been brave enough to learn more about in previous years.   And so, this past year has become the “year of the workshop”.

One of the things I’ve made peace with – at least for now – is that sometimes our professional lives can be rewarding in their own way.  We like well enough what we do, we have good colleagues, and it helps us to put our portion of dinner on the table.  It gives us a lifestyle, and it gives us worth in our day.  But what it might not give us is something more passionate.  And what our passions and interests give us, might not exactly fill those other qualities that our jobs provide.  So I’ve used this workshop time to help round out those creative interests that aren’t necessarily related to my professional life, but they are to my inspired life.  I’m nervous at these workshops, which are mainly related to photography or the creative aspects of my blog.  Before each one, I contemplate dropping out, and after each one, I’m always so glad I stuck it out, usually at your father’s insistence.  So after all of these workshops this year, here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned:

  • The first step is signing up: This is the most intimidating part – signing up and sending the money.  Choose wisely, after all, resources will be limited by either time, money or both, but choose bravely.  One of my managers told me once that any job should make you sweat outside your comfort zone just a little bit, and I’ve applied the same principle to choosing learning outside of the job.  Push yourself a bit and you’ll be surprised how much you can learn.
  • Be flexible: Chances are, the workshop won’t run exactly the way you expect it too.  Maybe it’s in a location you’re not used to, maybe they’re flexible on timing…just come with an open mind.  The whole point of doing something different is to do something different, right?
  • Attend all the events: Sometimes workshops have a dinner, or a get together, or some other event associated with it.  If you’re going to know a new group of people for just a short amount of time, get the most you can out of it.  Do the events and don’t be shy.  Introduce yourself and get out there.
  • Give yourself time to absorb: The great thing about workshops is that they usually fill you with lots of new and grand and big ideas.  Make sure to give yourself a little clean time after the workshop to let it all sink in.  You’re going to want to go in 34 directions all at once – don’t compromise the value of everything you learned by overloading social commitments or other things that start the minute the workshop is over.  Give yourself space to absorb the learning and plot out exactly what you’re going to do with it.  A few notes to yourself now will pay out great dividends later.
  • Translate into your own voice: Sometimes when we see something by someone we admire at a workshop, we’re tempted to go home and recreate the exact same thing.  Re-creation is great for practice.  But the workshop’s intent was to teach you a series of tools so that you can create what you want out of it.   It’s still going to be up to you to apply them in your own voice and vision.  Don’t hesitate to stretch what you’ve learned into the direction that you need it to go to work for you.

All my love,