call me crazy

One never goes so far as when one doesn’t know where one is going.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I seem to be making a habit of coming up with a crazy audacious idea and just going ahead with it even if I am not really sure how I am going to do it.

That’s how my career came to be.

Five years post-university and at the age of 25, I had become very discouraged and sick. A rheumatologist examined my blood work, and told me that I had lupus. He also said that I would never be off of medication and that I would continue to get worse. I had left my job because of debilitating arthritis and fatigue, and I could barely walk a couple of blocks without getting exhausted. So, I took some time off and tried to get to know myself. When I changed the circumstances of my life that were causing me stress, did a lot of talking to a therapist, writing and praying, and got some doses of Vitamin B into me, I started to improve. I began to breathe easier and sleep better. Despite the blood test that showed lupus as a big probability for the rest of my life, the symptoms disappeared–never to be seen again. It turns out that not being who you were meant to be can make you sick.

So, when I was ready to go back to work, I set only one goal for myself: “The next job I have can be anything, as long as it has some creative aspect to it. I have to be able to use my creativity at work, every day, in some way.” I had no idea what that meant. I was prepared for framing pictures, arranging flowers, anything. Then I saw it: “Creative Assistant for a rapidly growing haircare products manufacturer in Vancouver,” just blocks from where we were living. I had no actual qualifications to work in marketing and I didn’t know how I was going to be someone’s Creative Assistant, but that ended up being my next  job title. With a heading like that, could it have screamed at me any louder from the classifieds, I’m wondering? Do you think that perhaps God was at work?

That was the first step toward a professional life I deeply love.

When the opportunities appeared, there was no way to prepare myself for the next level of responsibility, so I knew I would have to fake the confidence to learn as I went along: This is how I created the company’s first ever national PR program and became their PR Director. After Jesse was born, I was recruited by a gifts product company here in Minnesota to be their Marketing Director. I knew nothing about the gifts market per se and had never lived in the US, but I figured it out, step by step. Soon I was in charge of art direction for a large catalog project twice a year, flying to NYC to meet with a Manhattan display designer and overseeing our presence at the National Stationery Show.  In 2000, I made an intentional move to non-profit work as a Communications Director, and took the equivalent of “Fundraising and Grantwriting 101” on the job when circumstances required that I take over the organization’s fundraising duties as well. At the same time, I decided to take a few classes so that I could do my own design work in Adobe Creative Suite. And then in 2004, I started my own consulting firm.

I have a degree in modern languages and yet, here I am. That’s why, when people try to tell me about all kinds of obstacles they face and how impossible it would be to do what they would really like to do, I empathize, but I don’t listen for very long. Because I know that anything is possible.

I exercise a lot of faith and optimism these days, mostly because I have repeatedly experienced that when I make risky moves, it usually works out pretty well. Not because I am brilliant or particularly talented. It’s because I am not afraid to share freely what I am not good at, to surround myself with exceptional people and to ask for their resources and expertise. I’ve learned to follow my instincts. And I dream. Big. I get swept up in an idea and watch in amazement as it unfolds, step by step.

Call me crazy, but I believe that there is something going on supernaturally that makes incredibly beautiful things happen when we take a risky step. Once an honorable intention is spoken aloud, it has power. God swoops in to be present, to grant super powers to our faith. I know that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything works out exactly the way we would expect. But the result is still breathtakingly beautiful.

And what’s the worst thing that could happen? Failure? Pfft. That doesn’t scare me anymore. What does that word even mean, anyway? Nothing is truly a failure, because nothing authentic is without value.

So here I go again. With this Rachel’s Holiday Shopping Boutique thing.

This idea came to me because of how much I admire and love rubbing elbows with the entrepreneurs and creative people I meet every day. I wanted them to have an opportunity to shine. To share their gifts and interests with others.

Volunteers and vendors, sponsors and donors and shoppers: I love seeing people using their gifts. Contributing in a way that only they can. That, for me, is beautiful.

I love a celebration. This will definitely be a big party, for new friends and old, for people who find joy in giving and wonder in discovering, for people who love to be around people, and for people who don’t love that so much, but who need a cheery, welcoming place to be and a reason to smile.

And of course I love that this is for my beloved Michelle Project! More awareness and support for the Michelle Project means that we can add more struggling families to our loving community.

It is all coming together just as it should. In a supernatural, crazy sort of way.

And I’m grateful.


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Rachel’s Holiday Shopping Boutique

Saturday, November 13th, 2010  10 am to 4 pm

Mt. Zion Lutheran Church, 5645 Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis, 55417

Free and open to the public, with fun activities for the whole family!

Proceeds to benefit The Michelle Project.

Holiday Shopping Boutique