1/14/10

Redefining Success




I have had several conversations with close friends lately about this topic. This photo was taken in Charleston, SC on a recent trip there. I love how these air plants choose life in such an unlikely place, a cracked brick wall in a darkish alley. Not only surviving, despite the odds, but thriving.

I relate to these plants and feel their struggle and success just looking at them. Yet they are designed for such conditions and adapt to them as well, with grace and style and little complaint.

One can learn something from a plant. We all have our stories, obstacles, hardships, challenges, whatever you want to call them. And we all have our goals and our desires. We live in such a success oriented society where what is accomplished is more important than how. I like to think of the how a bit more - I think it deserves some applause. We succeed everyday when we show up, when we lend a hand, offer a smile, listen to a friend.

When I was in my early thirties and a young mom, I had to battle a diagnosis of Hodgkins Disease and all that goes with that (all is fine now). I was so frustrated at the time with all the things I had to put on hold and felt like I was watching everyone else get a shot at life while I only prayed for mine to continue. I remember my dad saying to me that if I didn't accomplish anything else in my life that I had already done so much at 32 years of age. What a gift that was!! He settled me down and I started to slow the engines, take stock, and appreciate the littlest things. I learned so much at such a young age and sometimes I look back and think I was wiser then than I am now. I hope I have used what I learned.

I can't speak for others, but I can share that one of the biggest things that I learned is that it is not the destination itself, but the getting there that holds the most importance. None of us know how much time we really have to get there anyway, so it is always wise to take a good look at the now.

Like the air plants, we are finding our way - thriving - adapting - and succeeding each and every day.


22 comments:

Amanda M. said...

Amy, what a beautiful sentiment. Thank you so much for sharing this, for sharing your wisdom. It is so touching, too, for the fact that this is the second time in 24 hours I have heard the same message from the big wide universe: Enjoy the Journey. It's incredible and timely advice that I needed to hear now.
Thank you for sharing your art, your wisdom, and your words with us all. You and it are beautiful and inspiring and help us listen and be connected not only to ourselves, but to something much larger than us too. :)

Red Fish Circle said...

Thanks so much Amanda, your comment means the world to me.

Rosy Lady said...

This post really spoke to me. First of all, hope you're now well. My Hubby had Hodgkins Disease almost 2 years ago, it was a difficult time in our lives when we felt that we could only live one day at a time while others got on with theirs. I am happy to say that there is no sign of the cancer returning and we are off to Hawaii on the 2 year celebration. But, what I really wanted to say was that your post spoke to me because I have this inner battle about giving up my high paying job (which makes me ill from stress) or to stay with it to enable us to buy a house, have security etc. However, all I can think about is being a textile and surface pattern designer but with no idea how that is going to 'pay the bills. But then, what an amazing journey that would be as opposed to the journey that I am currently on. Anyway, I'm rambling on. Thanks for the food for thought. x

Red Fish Circle said...

Wow, you just never know who you reach when you sit down to share your thoughts online. I am so glad your hubby hit the two year mark. Have a great celebration. I might have a solution for your dilemna and that is to get a job working in house doing textile design. Then you can pull a salary and security - and learn about the business. Or you can moonlight working with an agency. Print and Pattern blog has a listing of UK jobs.
Good luck whichever way you go.

Rosy Lady said...

Thank you for taking the time to respond Amy, I really appreciate your advice. I will definitely consider my options this year. It is definitely time for a change.

My name is Wendy . . . said...

Hi Amy ... I love reading your blog ... Thanks for sharing as always ... enJOY the journey ... I agree ... the journey forms us into who we are!
Cheers
Wendy

Red Fish Circle said...

Thanks Wendy, love the heartfelt comments. Good to hear from you.

Jan said...

I had a great Dad, too. Your post set me to remembering him, of course I think of him daily, because he was such a great influence.

Red Fish Circle said...

Yes, I did have a great dad and he is always with me.

Carla Sonheim said...

Amy, thank you for this heartfelt post. You are so right on!!

Red Fish Circle said...

Thanks Carla! How are you doing? Good to hear from you.

Jannie aka Chickengirl said...

Just reading your post made me breath a little bit more slowly :-) Enjoyed the post and a good reminder of whats really important. We are in a society that is always thinking whats next!?! Whats the next success? I'm slowing down a little and enjoying the journey. Thanks.

Red Fish Circle said...

Thanks Jannie, glad it resonated.

coloredsock said...

you sure shared just what i needed to hear. i have some of those same thoughts, being a new mama and feeling like i'm maybe falling behind at times, not "successful" -- even though i fully realize this IS where i want to be and what i want to be doing. nothing has ever been as amazing, and yet silly pangs still creep into my days. it seems silly, i know. i'm not even fighting for my life. i'm not really finding the right words here. i keep trying, consciously, to be in every moment and try to be more gentle with myself, and hearing your story again, (and other reminders), helps put things into perspective. i am grateful, and enjoying each moment and relationship along the way is way bigger than a list of achievements in the end. thank you. i'm so happy you are my friend! xo

Jeanette said...

Thank you Amy, a thought provoking post. I've been taking life one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time since my daughter died last July.
Your post seemed to help steady my breathing. Thank you.

Red Fish Circle said...

Jeanette, I am so sorry for your loss and grateful my post could give you a moment of peace. Thanks so much for sharing. xoxo

Red Fish Circle said...

Jenny, me to (happy to be your friend) - you are wiser than your years and I will say to you what my dad said, you already have done SO much. When I first saw your work when I was getting back into illustration I gasped and said that is where I want to go - you shine a light for many inspiring artists. Life is long - you will have many opportunities to do what you need to.
hugs.

Jamie Kalvestran said...

"Not only surviving, despite the odds, but thriving." Love that phrase. Thanks for such an inspiring post. I applies not only to health issues but today's economy and the recent disaster in Haiti. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Red Fish Circle said...

Thanks Jamie. I agree, lots of challenges we face, not only health issues. Thanks for your comment.

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Amy, I lost my 90 year old father the day you wrote this and just now have been able to come back and check your blog. First the connection that my only daughter lives in Charleston and me trying to remember Dad's journey rather that the last days - I was holding his hand when he died. You have so many talents Amy - thanks for sharing them.

Red Fish Circle said...

Mary, so sorry for your loss, you are the third person this week I know who lost an aged parent. So glad you could be with him.

duckyhouse said...

I really love this post. I find myself so often grappling with the success issue. I'm in my early 40's with 4 children between 5 & 12 yrs. I am home educating them and though it is a value for me, I at times find myself wondering if there will be a day for just me. To pursue all those dreams and goals I think I have...and then I snap out of it and realize that I do what I do to savor this short years. My sister died at 50 from BC, she left behind two kids 13 & 18 (at the time) and I realize that if I had only until I was 50 I would want each moment to be spent with my kids pretty much doing what we are doing each day. Bless you Amy :)