Test Drive

“Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don’t do that by sitting around wondering about yourself.”

Katherine Hepburn

Once upon a time I worked as an instructional designer for a company that employed more instructional designers than any other company in the United States. We sat in a sea of cubicles.

One of my fellow designers decided that he was not being his True Self. He quit his job and moved his wife and their baby to Florida so that he could live his life as a writer.

You know how this turns out, right?

The moral of the story is that although it is insufficient to have an idea and not act on it, it is also excessive to go all-in on an idea without first taking a test drive.

If my colleague, instead of selling his home in Illinois and buying one in Florida, had instead taken a two-week vacation, in August, in an inland Florida community, and if he had sat in a room every day of those two weeks and tried to write, he would have discovered that what worked for Ernest Hemingway did not work so well for him. Or his family.

After I gave up my idea of becoming an interior designer, I thought I might like to be a landscape designer. I took classes at the Morton Arboretum and earned my home landscape design certificate. And then a wonderful thing happened—a friend asked if I would make a landscape design for a couple that she was friends with.

I met with the couple and we talked about what they needed and wanted from their expansive backyard. I drew a design that reflected what they told me. I presented it to them. They paid me. And I hated almost every minute of it.

It wasn’t because the couple was on the verge of divorce (they were, and the design I created, which split the backyard into two separate but equal spaces, made it obvious). It was because I didn’t want to make landscape designs for other people. I wanted to make a landscape design for me.

I didn’t want to be an interior designer for other people. I wanted to design an interior for me.

If you’ve been doing these finding our True Selves exercises, you may have discovered that there are aspects of yourself that are currently unexpressed or under-expressed.

It’s time—now—to pull these aspects of yourself out of the dark and bring them into the light.

What is one thing you can do to bring out that part of you that wants to play? Only when you do your test drive will you learn how well this works for you.

When—this week—will you do it?


headshots of 25 Black celebrities, CNN reporters and anchors, and others

If you’re like me, the majority of voices you hear (in life, on the phone, in the books you read), are voices of those who look a lot like you. I’m using this Resource section to provide a connection to Black voices.

Listen to celebrities, CNN anchors and reporters, and others describe “the first time I realized I was Black.”

Chewing the Cud of Good

Shadow of a greyhound on green grass

This morning when Leda and I were walking, she paused to sniff a tree. I looked up at the half moon high in the bright blue sky and while I was looking, a yellow-bellied goldfinch flew just above my head.

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