GUEST POST BY MELANIE FRIEDERSDORF HUMPHREY
When my husband and I sold our small business, the creative me felt like a bird released from a cage. I threw a lot of figurative paint on the wall, hoping something astounding would stick. When I found myself flapping my wings without purpose, I set out on a focused journey to encourage others.
What I discovered was the open arms of a community of talented and inspiring women, and a part-time career that I hadn’t known existed.
On the first of twenty-eight days, I posted the following:
Inspired by the book, 5 Habits Of A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz, I am committing myself to Habit #4--she gives others what she needs--for 28 days. I desire a creative career in this chapter in my life, and I am not exactly sure what that looks like. I dabble and throw my results out there to some extent. It is easy to get discouraged.
But I resist discouragement with every fiber of my being because it is a waste of time. I hang on to every tiny bit of encouraging feedback and try to build on it and learn from it.
So today, I embark on a 28-day journey of encouraging others. There is so much talent out there! I don't know where I am going; I am stepping out in faith and with an expectancy of learning and of cheering. If you are a cheerleader, or if you need one, please join me.
For four weeks, I encouraged others publicly via blog, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook posts as well as in personal encounters. My audience was small, yet the first post immediately reconnected me with an old friend. Over emails, we caught up with each other and discovered similar pursuits which led to a continuing journey of sharing resources and supporting one another. She suggested I pick up a copy of a new magazine called Belong.
Some of the daily posts would shine a spotlight on a certain someone or her special business. Other posts were general in nature. An early post encouraged readers to step away from the mirror and move to the window.
Rather than focusing on yourself and your perceived faults and problems, look out and around you. Beauty and inspiration are everywhere. Look for the beauty--in nature, in others, in you. The mirror can be cruel and misleading; the window is transparent. Look through it. It’s beautiful!
Windows and doors began to open for me.
A friend placed a substantial order for notecards (drops of figurative paint I had splattered about) and books to give as gifts; two of my siblings steered me toward a podcast series for women starting their own businesses; and through Belong Magazine and the Etsy community (more metaphorical paint), my entrepreneurial network expanded. I began connecting with and following creative and faith-filled women entrepreneurs on Instagram. In the past few months, I have been inspired by these and other women countless times!
We are not alone as women seeking creative, fulfilling careers that fit our lifestyles.
AS IT TURNS OUT, WINDOWS WORK BOTH WAYS.
As I was looking out at others, people were looking at me. Perhaps, they saw something that I didn’t. My sister-in-law had been doing occasional social media research for a consulting firm for a couple of years. When she took on a large, long-term volunteer commitment, she needed to step back from the research. She reached out and asked if she could recommend me as someone to fill her role. And for some reason, they took a chance with me. In the past several months, I have had opportunities to learn and grow and also fail forward. I get to use everything I have ever learned, and learn even more. Freelance creative work is beyond what I dared to imagine for myself. The projects are singular and challenging. The research is done largely on my own schedule, which allows my husband and I to spend plenty of time together and to travel. I am able to continue working with children--a dream of mine to foster their dreams--via online classes I’ve developed.
In sports and competition, I believe definitive outcomes are healthy. In life and relationships, we can all be winners. The post from Day 17 was:
Never underestimate the power of cheering for someone else.
Are you feeling a need for encouragement in taking that first step toward a dream or goal? Look out the window for others who need the same thing. Let me know what you discover: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Instagram community of female entrepreneurs includes:
@belongmag / @_paigemeredith_ / @hnicholsillustration / @thelittlegirldesigns / @jamesandtheletters / @nickikoziarz / @sniequist / @doramaejewelry / @apenberrys / @iamdrcheryllanier / @laurakashner / @zzrios2 / @collabosaurus / @oliviasophiainc / @christybwright / @letsgetdecorative / @paperpoppiesco / @boomama205 / @shoptruly / @cwphillips00 / @lisaschusterart / @kbignon / @akrdesignstudio
Melanie Friedersdorf Humphrey partners with an innovation firm as a qualitative researcher, trend senser, and report writer. The self-published author of four picture books for children, she also helps children realize their writing and publishing dreams with personalized online classes. Melanie is passionate about her faith and family, boating and stand up paddling. She loves stripes and sunglasses; and she believes dreams are in our hearts for a purpose.
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