I love telling this story.
Five years ago, I was working a very stressful job in the mental health field, putting in an average of 50+ hours a week, 2 teenagers still at home, sporting activities every evening, all the high school-going into college events and pressures, and if that wasn’t enough I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
I had been visiting a local church in which a group of ladies were getting together to study a book written by our pastor’s wife. I joined the group and on the first night we were asked a thought provoking question, “If money, time, family and job responsibilities were not a factor, what is the one thing you would want to do or be?”
I think I was the first person to be asked. At least that’s how it felt, because I blurted out what came to my mind. “I’d be an illustrator for a children’s book”. Yikes, what just came out of my mouth and where did THAT come from? I felt warm and sweaty. Did anyone think it was stupid? Were the women laughing at me? Of course not, the LIES of the enemy poured over me and embarrassment consumed me. As the presenter went around from person to person, I couldn’t hear what anyone else said because I was so consumed over the crazy, ridiculous answer I gave!
Thankfully, that first group session ended without any further embarrassing moments. It was over. Done. Thank goodness.
A few days later I received an email from one of the ladies. “Hi, the other night you said you wanted to illustrate a children’s book. There’s a local lady publishing her own book and she’s looking for an illustrator. If you’re interested, here’s her contact information.”
Oh dear lord, here goes … enemy enters my head again. I politely thanked her and possibly out of obligation, I accepted the offer for the information with no intention of following through. What was I thinking?
You see, my dreams of attending art school were shattered (story for another blog) and I hadn’t used my creative abilities in over 30 years. OVER 30 YEARS!
I think it was out of obligation because of someone’s kindness and effort to reach out to me, I sent an email to the author who was looking for an illustrator.
“Hi, I was referred to you by Michelle. Are you still looking for an illustrator?”
Whew. Ok, that part was over and now I could relax. Who would want me as an illustrator anyway?
A few days later an email response arrives. “Yes I am looking for an illustrator. I have enclosed some of the ideas from the book. Can you send me some samples and your pricing?”
WHAT??? I didn’t even own a sketch pad!! And pricing??!!
At 9:00pm at night, I hopped in the car and ran to a local store and purchased a pad of sketch paper along with colored pencils. Once I returned home, I started sketching up my “little people” I loved to draw as a child. It came back to me easily and I drew up illustrations that correlated with the story samples.
Ok … deep breath. I procrastinated. The enemy continued to beat inside my head. “Are you crazy? No one would want your drawings! Other people are way better so why YOU?” With anxiety, after 5days, I scanned and emailed the pictures. DONE. Whew. I told myself, “Of course she’s not going to like them so you don’t have to worry about pricing. No worries.”
I laid in bed that night tossing and turning. My restless brain tossed the thoughts of possibly illustrating a book rolled and my head like a runaway roller coaster. The highs of excitement and drawing again to the lows of not believing I was worthy or good enough. I sat up in bed and opened my laptop. There glaring at me in the dark of the night was a reply from the author in my in box!! I felt like I was going to hyper-ventilate but quickly my thoughts went to “ok, this is it. This is the “no thanks” you have been expecting. I clicked open and read the email. “I LOVE your illustrations! They are prefect! Please send me your pricing!” I’m sure I read the email a few more times. Where was the “but, I’m not interested?” Did I miss it? NOPE.
Fast forward. I illustrated the book. This dream of mine that was stuffed down deep for over 30 years came into fruition. This was the pivotal moment in time that changed the course of my life and I began MY journey of healing and loving myself. I can’t imagine life without painting, drawing or doodling now and I use my creativity and art as a healing tool for others. I am so thankful I was obedient to the open door God was placing in front of me.
Think about it. WHAT IF I LET FEAR WIN?