As my fellowship journey comes to an end, I feel that I've grown in so many unexpected ways. I'm happy that I had no idea of what to expect when I started my two-year experience, as I find now that I'm pleasantly surprised with how its set to conclude. I viewed the Bush Fellowship as the answer to help me achieve my goal to devote time to a life project that was near and dear to my heart, one that I didn't have the time to develop while working for someone else. The project is called Turtle Medicine. Somehow, and to little surprise to me, I failed to devote much time, if any, to developing my workshop or completing the four Turtle Stories. In my heart, this is the material that I wanted to prioritize and failed to see that doing so could have impacted my leadership on a much larger level then overcomplicating my life by trying to Do It All and Be All For Everybody and Nonessentializing my Life. Instead, I focused energy and time on false mastery of overdoing everything. Once I left a government job where my options for growth were almost none, to simultaneously embarking on the new business development and fellowship experience that would overwhelm me with an abundance of options, I said Yes to nearly everything that I could. I started to see the reality of just how many opportunities are available to us when we are in charge of how we want to market ourselves. If you're valuable, productive, and innovative, most people may want you to be part of a project they've started, or they want you to help them begin a project. I wasn't prepared to set boundaries, although, I had good intentions by declaring that repeatedly throughout my journey. If opening a private practice and managing a massive contract with a school for services, I developed and opened GenerationArt, a community art organization, as part of the fellowship. This allowed for even more incredible opportunities to come my way and from different disciplines, and I felt the need to say yes to everything, despite my overbooked life. I felt the need to Do It All because somehow, it appeared to others as I was getting it all done. I allowed to see myself as super successful like I was honestly a rare breed, yet, internally, I was overwhelmed, out of control, and not doing anything to the best of my ability. The main thing I realized towards the end of my fellowship was that I put off the most important things that I had so desperately wanted to buy myself time to work on, which was my Turtle Medicine workshop and Turtle Stories. I planned yet did attend several weekends and writing seminars. I refrained from doing any speaking engagements related to Turtle Medicine. I wrote when I had time, which was usually in the middle of the night and I crawled through my next day due to fatigue. Finally, as fate would have it, there was an option to attend a writing retreat, and I saw this as my opportunity. Although brief, the workshop was eye-opening. The author, Rosemary Daniell, asked us to write. If we couldn't, she asked us to describe why were unable to write. I told her I felt guilty. It didn't it make sense to her, and the guilt I felt didn't make sense to me, not anymore. It sounded like I was making an excuse to avoid an intense urge to do something that I've always had an intense desire to do. I started to guilt myself, fill my head with so much guilt that I overdid everything else in life to justify that I was leading in s servant style consistent with the rigid way my mind defined it.
Since that moment, I've been writing more and more. I tell the Guilt sabotage voice that's in my head to Shut The Hell Up, and then I write some more. Rosemary forwarded my name to Bruce Feiler, a New York Times bestselling author, Bruce Feiler. While I was in NY for a Women's in leadership conference earlier this month, I was able to meet Bruce, who interviewed me. I shared stories about Turtle Medicine. He encouraged me to keep writing and working on the story as he was intrigued.
Today, I returned home from my travels to Clayton, GA. I spent a wonderful weekend with Rosemary Daniell at The Parker Ranch for a writing retreat. It was the first time an established author read my work, and I could feel my heart soar as the creative energy I've bottled up inside of me finally had permission to unleash. It was amazing.
I wish I would have known that focusing on my writing may have been the essential part of my leadership journey and that writing, public speaking, and sharing my story may allow me to help more than my community and my people. I may be able to be part of something larger than I imagined when I started this journey.
I am grateful for having lived it all!