“You are like Michelangelo, you know?”
I just stared at my sister. How could I be a master painter, a brilliant inventor?
“Well, when he carved David, it is said that he chipped away a little over here, and a little over there. And people only saw him chaotically chipping away at a rock. They thought he was insane, but Michelangelo said he could see David underneath the stone the whole time, and was just unearthing him.”
For many years, I have been chipping away at a life and skillset that I could always see existed. I didn’t always know what I’d need to go through to get to the form I’ve uncovered, but I’d always been clear about what I was doing, and why I was doing it.
My life is about ushering a sense of wonder into the world that sparks excitement and curiosity (that fuels the ether of transformation).
I’ve always been a bit of a weird kid. I was homeschooled, actually liked my siblings and parents, was fascinated with insects and dirt and volcanoes, and was (and still am) a playful, curious person. Being a playful child seems to fit in the world, but being a wonder-filled adult isn’t always so acceptable. Despite that, I worked my way around the giant, awkward block of rock which was my life – trying (and not always succeeding) in ignoring the folks who failed to understand what I was doing. I had the privilege of attending California State Polytechnic University at Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona), and graduated with my BS in Geography and Geographic Information System also known as, map making. I worked as a “shovelbum” (archaeology technician) for a season or so, took an internship with the National Park Service in Washington, DC, and eventually landed in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was here, when I finally got a chance to enter the workforce “for reals”.
That first professional position was Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Transportation Planner for the Mesilla Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization. It was at this job when I first tapped into my ability to see some form beneath the surface. And the first time, I truly honed my chiseling skills to facilitate a vision and mission statement building process, and to compose a strategic plan. However, it was also the primary place where I recognized that your exuberance and ADHD weren’t particularly welcomed. Nothing quite like being told that you need to be more professional, less friendly and less impertinent (umm… its called curiosity y’all!), While I was able to contribute an Action Plan to the program, (in which SRTS was later able to leverage in order to acquire over $500,000.00 of infrastructure funding to improve walking and bicycling conditions around K-8 schools within Las Cruces Public Schools) it was also a time when I began to hide from myself, for fear of living into my fullness. I had quickly realized that my ability to analyze systems and identify inefficient practices, coupled with my propensity to problem solve, but didn’t help me fit in or find institutional success. I was also hiding from several important things about myself: my clinical depression, my sexuality, and my deep desire to be a contributor to transform my community.
I was chipping away at the marble of my life. I didn’t realize, though, the challenges this would bring my way. I had no idea that I’d be pressing on through veins of crippling self-loathing and neglect. Nor did I recognize the weight of the shame that I had been carrying! And I was utterly unprepared when I had to completely discard my tool set and invent a new method of rock removal in order to attend to my spiritual self. Each of the obstacles (or undoing?), I have discovered, were precisely the process I needed in order to simultaneously design and uncover my call in the world.
Through everything I’ve been lucky enough to experience in my life (both the delightful and the challenging!), I believe I’ve been acquiring the words and skills I needed to clearly communicate with others, and to co-create … stuff … I have gradually learned what I want my life to be about. I want it to be about the way I am in the world – and not necessarily the product that that way of being creates. I often say, “My product is my process.”
My process? Being exuberant, opening up to get wrapped up in wonder and awe, and to allow myself to get curious and want to know more. I want to enjoy being impertinent, insatiable curious, and completely determined. And I want you to get to do and be those things too. I love guiding others into these spaces of vulnerability and wonder as well. I may be making art, teaching bicycling, doing research, or leading visioning sessions… but it’s all about that thing I do- ushering a sense of wonder into the world so that we can chip away at the excess, and reveal the form underneath just waiting to be revealed.