Category Archives: Encouragement

Last Day of Class, and P.S. I Love You

I just got back from the last session of my Writing for the Web class at CSU and I am completely exhausted, but I have committed to posting every day this month, so what I’ll do is share with you some of what I shared with them as part of my “good-bye speech,” (it is very important to acknowledge endings, to say good-bye). On our course blog, I posted this:

It is the last day, the final class session!!!

Congratulations! You were awesome!

I was watching this video yesterday, and it made me think of what I would want to tell you on the last day, what I would want you to take away from this class.

Dallas Clayton is a person who wrote a book for his kid, and it ended up starting a revolution of sorts, certainly led to a career where he got to work doing what he loved. He says, in an interview with Brene’ Brown (the same place I got the above picture of awesome kids):

“Do what makes you happy. Use that to make other people happy.”

And when she asks him “Do you have a mantra or manifesto for living and loving with your whole heart?,” his response is “We’re all going to die.”

This is similar to the message of Chris Guillebeau, who wrote the book “The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World“: make your life better by doing what you love and in turn make the life of others better as well, and don’t wait, start now!

And then there’s Austin Kleon’s “How to Steal Like an Artist,” where he reminds us:

  1. Steal like an artist.
  2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
  3. Write the book you want to read.
  4. Use your hands.
  5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
  6. The secret: do good work and share it with people.
  7. Geography is no longer our master.
  8. Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
  9. Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
  10. Creativity is subtraction.

So what I would want you to take away from this class, take into your life:

  • Trust yourself
  • Take care of yourself
  • BE yourself
  • Get to know what things make you happy
  • Pay attention
  • Notice the little things because they might turn out to be what’s important
  • Expect to work hard at what you love
  • Be nice, or in other words, don’t be a jerk

I told them that magic happens to people when they do what interests them, what they love, and even if they don’t end up getting paid for it, it will make them a happy life. And every once in a while, some people do get lucky and get paid for the thing they love, and they are having a blast, so there’s always the chance that the next one will be you.

I told them to trust themselves, and even if other people didn’t understand, to do what felt right to them. If something doesn’t feel right, trust yourself. Have faith in your gut instinct, your intuition, your basic wisdom. Follow your own heart, even if no one else seems to be going that way.

I told them that you can’t always plan how your life will go. I’m a great example: it took 12 years and three different colleges to finish my degree, and what led to where I am now isn’t so much my education as the fact that every time I got the opportunity to do something that sounded interesting or fun, I said “yes,” and looking back, it might make sense how I got here, but there’s no way I could have planned it. As Dallas Clayton would say:

art by Dallas Clayton

I told them that so many people’s big idea, great work, came out of something that they didn’t think was important or that big of a deal at the time. Artists who thought they were only doodling, writers who were just writing a book for their own kid, people helping out on a project or playing around and it sparked an idea that led to their life’s work that turned out to be totally unrelated to their degree or any dream they’d ever had for themselves.

I told them that when they are doing what they love, they will happily work hard, that on the weekends, I can easily work 10-12 hour days, and the only reason I stop is because I physically can’t do more.  If my body would let me, I’d keep going.

I told them that none of this necessarily had anything to do with writing for the web, but it was what I wanted them to know.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Some issues cannot be solved through abstinence. I offer up myself and my “life-rehab” as a specific example of this.  The difficulties I am currently working with are that I have been in a long term abusive relationship, with myself, and need to learn how to relate to myself differently, to heal that relationship.  Also, as I mentioned just the other day, I have a damaged and distorted relationship with food.  In both cases, I cannot simply abstain.  I can’t abstain from eating or relating to myself. I would die.

by Hugh MacLeod

2. Truth: Difficulties such as these require continued effort and sustained practice. You have to keep trying, keep showing up and doing the work, practice, and even start over when necessary, stay with it, and ask for help. “To stay, you have to believe there is something worth staying for…and then you have to bring yourself back, again and again,” Geneen Roth.

by Hugh MacLeod

3. Truth: Things are workable, and you already have what it will take to succeed. You have basic, innate kindness and wisdom.  You know who you are.

“In Buddhist teachings, as well as in the teachings of many other contemplative or mystical traditions, the basic view is that people are fundamentally good and healthy. It’s as if everyone who has ever been born has the same birthright, which is enormous potential of warm heart and clear mind. The ground of renunciation is realizing that we already have exactly what we need, that what we have already is good. Every moment of time has enormous energy in it, and we could connect with that.” ~Pema Chödrön

by Hugh MacLeod

One wish: I wish you, all of us, the joy that comes with this hard work, of being who we are, of loving who we are, all the messy and stinky and beautiful bits. Our difficulties aren’t something to rush through or get over or past, but rather they are our life, they are living. Despair and even happiness are simply the weather and our basic goodness the sun, always there even when we can’t see it.

“It doesn’t matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn’t matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week, or ten thousand years — we turn on the light and it is illuminated. Once we control our capacity for love and happiness, the light has been turned on.” ~Sharon Salzberg

by Hugh MacLeod

  • Okay, it’s your turn. Speak your truths and make a wish.