Growth is Beautiful
Updated: Nov 2
Last night a friend sent me a picture of us from eight years ago. While looking at my then-youthful face and super lean figure, my daughter said, "you look so different now."
Wow. OK. (Should I ground her for pointing out the obvious??)
At first, I took offense, but then I started thinking about change. We all change - in fact, my middle school daughter, who so kindly pointed out my change, was only four when that picture was taken. Change is a part of life, and being a product of change can be a very good thing. I certainly am not the person in that picture from eight years ago. While I wouldn't mind the luscious locks and tighter skin back, I am thankful for change because I have grown emotionally, spiritually, and professionally.
As I woke up this morning, I continued to think about change, and a fellow author friend messaged me. She shared a video diary of her journey as a children's author. I instantly related to it, and as we started talking about the process of writing books and sharing our stories, I realized that Be the Sparkle was released on the second anniversary of my living in Indonesia and the start of my deconstruction. I immediately connected her words to the past two years of change in my life.
Here is what she had to say:
Throw perfection out the window
Be willing to make mistakes
Be open to learn
Know when to stop
Advocate for yourself
Let go of what you can't change
Trust the process
Her words came at the perfect time. The past two years have been a tug-of-war between hanging on and letting go. I have been learning, growing, and evolving. My relationships, my mindset, and my life has changed - I have changed - for the better. It hasn't been easy. It's been extremely hard but so worth it. Be the Sparkle is an analogy and product of that growth.
On the same days I was learning to let go of what I thought was a perfect religion and a perfect evangelical image; I was learning to let go of creating the perfect product. I could search the world over and over and never find perfection. The truth is, there is no such thing as perfect because perfect is different for everyone.
On the nights I regretted my past, I stared at red marks and changes that needed to be made to my manuscript. I accepted that mistakes are how we learn because learning is how we grow. Without growth, there is no change. Without change, things don't get better.
During times of constant research and validation of my new view on life, I was constantly editing and adjusting the layout of my book. I learned to be still and when to stop. Peace and perspective came when I took the time to be still.
At the same time friends and family were telling me how they thought I should live or what I should believe; I had editors and fellow creators telling me how my book should be. I learned not to fold into others' expectations of me. Instead, I learned to advocate for what I wanted, needed and believed. Advocating gave me a voice and helped me set boundaries. Advocating for myself gave me confidence.
During the process, I realized that there were some things I could never change, like people's opinions of me or illustrations once they were printed on paper. Letting go of what I couldn't change helped me focus on what I could change and what needed to change.
Moving across the world, deconstructing, and writing a book are quite similar. They all involve patience, lessons, wrestling, editing, letting go, adjusting, and creating something amazing. Trusting the process allowed me to practice patience and find the message in the mess. Life is messy - period. There isn't a single one of us that doesn't have a messy part of our life. Trusting the process instead of trying to control it is where I found my sweet spot.
Be the Sparkle went from a few words on a blank manuscript to vibrant pages with a universal message to share, and so have I.
Eight years ago, I was naive and fearful. Today, I am aware and brave. I am not the same person I was eight years ago or even two years ago, but that's the beauty of it, right? I am evolving, I am changing, and being a product of change means growth, and growth is a beautiful thing.