Passion

I went walking with a friend today, telling her about the print shop I happened to stop into yesterday. They do all commercial work on offset presses these days–

But I asked if they had any old letterpress equipment. (I’m always on the lookout for a new press.) They had a huge Kluge, way too big for me. But they also had type. Cabinets and cases of type.

My friend asked if seeing it made my heart beat a little faster. “Yes,” I laughed.

“Then you know it’s a passion, don’t you?” she said.

I can’t stop thinking about it. And I’m wondering…well, let’s just say I have a few ideas to run by them.

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The Waiting

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One of the benefits of getting older is realizing that one has less time ahead than behind. I am beginning to come to terms with that.

The other realization is we can’t wait to “be picked.” Actually I learned this almost 12 years ago, when I first began finding and then creating community online. Nearly every opportunity I’ve had– professionally and personally– has been because I reached out and said “why not?”

Whether it was starting my running blog in 2004 and finding myself in a solid community of supportive runners, or reaching out to an online teaching community and spending years learning and growing together, these moments when I say “pick me” usually result in a fantastic experience. Most recently I made a connection with Mary Anne Radmacher, and we are going to partner on a small project. As Mary Anne says, “everything is possible.”

Not every opportunity comes to fruition. But that’s ok, too. Because if we never try, we may wait forever.

I’ve not always been the first to put my hand up. As an introvert, my tendency is to hold back and hope someone finds my work. But over the years, I’ve been able to put my discomfort with being discovered aside. Rejection isn’t easy, for sure. Nor is failure. But I know if I want to move in a certain direction, the only one who can get me there– is me.

It’s a cultural instinct to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission and authority that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, “I pick you.” Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you–that Prince Charming has chosen another house–then you can actually get to work. ~Seth Godin

 

Pushing On

I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.

Marissa Mayer

I am not sure I always did this. But at some point in my life, I wanted to figure things out. Printer broken? Take it apart. Need a room networked? Run the cables.
So I am trying to do this with my printing as well. But, wow, does it take time. There are so many variables that can go wrong- ink, lock up, type, pressure, humidity in the air. Each time I get ready to print, I check the packing, the placement of the base or the type, and even the different paper styles I use.

People wonder why I even bother to do this. “You can print whatever you want digitally now,” they say. “This looks like too much work.”

Yes, but it’s fun work. It’s the figuring it out that I love. And when I get a print that is nearly perfect (because nothing in letterpress is perfect), I smile with satisfaction.

Finding Yourself, Losing Yourself, and Finding Yourself Again

Finding Yourself, Losing Yourself, and Finding Yourself Again

 

It’s the end of the year, and I get introspective around this time.

I also get sad, but that’s another story.

When I was younger, I refused to get sad. I was a Pollyanna girl, sure that everything would turn out all right in the end. “I’m fine,” is our family mantra, and I lived that way a long, long time.

But I’ve been in a lost period for the last few years, trying to figure out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up. In the process, I’ve changed from Pollyanna to Eeyore. I’ve been whiny, critical, and gloomy, sure the next plane will crash or my business will fail.

Sometimes we’ll never figure out what sends us spiraling. But now, five years later,  I’m grateful to be seeing the light. I love working on my presses, sharing time with my young students, and helping to run Water Street Studio. The other day, one of my students stopped by with a gift (pictured above). I was touched he thought to create a framed set of type, including the word “write” and my initials. Seriously, touched.

These days, I’ve learned how little I really can control in my life. But giving in to that helps me appreciate everything else so much more.  Now I say, “What’s the worst that can happen?” And the answer is usually something I can live with.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be a Pollyanna again. Wedged where I am feels like a good fit-a little vulnerable, a little realistic, and a lot hopeful.

All righty, then. I have some wood type waiting for me, and my hands are too clean. Back to work.