When I was a kid growing up in rural Wisconsin, one of my "what I'll be when I grow up" wishes was to be a cartoonist like Charles Schulz. or the genius trifecta of the 80s: Berkeley Breathed, Gary Larson, and Bill Watterson. I would doodle in the margins of my notebooks at school and on every scrap of paper at home until my parents bought me my first pad of drawing paper. I couldn't wait to tear into it!
During my freshman year in high school, my best friend Brian and I sat across from each other in study hall and passed notes back and forth. We called them Memos.
Memo became a sort of language we shared filled with drawings of oddball things like a Tribble (from Star Trek) wielding a shot put or the Coneheads as super heroes. We wrote fake news scripts and made parodies of things like the school newspaper and conference brochures. Mad, Cracked, Monty Python, the art of B. Kliban, and the characters of Saturday Night Life formed our sensibilities.
One day in my Sophomore year, we decided to pitch a comic strip of our unique characters to the editor of our local weekly newspaper, The Mosinee Times. The editor liked our work, agreed to employ us, and for two years, I was a paid cartoonist. I was 15 and passing notes in study hall got me my first professional job.
Time went by and I pursued other interests, realizing during college and beyond that I had a keen ability to plan, organize, and manage.
But, like Carrie Fisher says, nothing is ever really over, it's just over there.
Earlier this year, after my Events Manager job was over, eliminated due to budget cuts, I found myself at a crossroads of personal and professional re-creation.
I went ahead and did all the usual stuff. I went on interviews, I kept up with my past vendors, I went on site visits, I joined a networking group, checked in with recruiters, and took workshops that expanded my knowledge of the events industry.
I also did some unusual stuff. I consulted with a colleague who needed help with a home renovation, I helped another colleague re-organize her professional life after some major personal setbacks, and I found myself being of comfort to a dying friend.
But, completely unexpectedly, I also re-discovered my Art.
It happened like this: after seeing an old strip I posted here on LinkedIn, my partner Matthew asked for an original drawing from me for his birthday. Even after all these years, it turned out that I didn't suffer from a lack of talent, but I did have to battle my own insecurities. They put up a fight, but, in the end, I won and created a creatively satisfying piece of work.
That would have been that if I hadn't started getting inspired and if my writing partner Brian wasn't excited about a new collaboration. I now dream about these characters. What are they doing now? I look forward to finding out. And so will you.
Just imagine, we're in high school and I'm sitting across from you in study hall. I pass over a Memo ....with a little smile.
Now, I suppose you're wondering why I'm sharing this with you.
That's easy to answer. I'm sharing because I believe that it's never too late to return to something that you love. And what we love is whatever gives us Joy.
I didn't realize how much I loved this part of my life, until I got it back and realized how much of this particular brand of Joy I had been missing.
So my wish for you is to ask yourself if there's Joy in your life that you've been missing. If so, I hope that you'll take a minute today to remember, that nothing is ever really over. It's just over there.