The summer of 2014, I was stuck.
I knew I needed to make a change - big change.
And I knew money was getting very tight.
I had been using my mantra- I AM I CAN I WILL I DO for years. I would write it down in different font styles and shapes all the time, a writing/artistic meditation. One version resonated more strongly than the others. I decided I carved it onto a linoleum block and taught myself how to make prints of it on paper, then on T-shirts.
I carved my other empowering phrases I used, like ‘Change Your Chatter’ and ‘What if you can?’.
One day I set out to carve ‘Begin the Journey’. I got all the way through after hours of work and sat back to behold it – and realized that I had forgotten to carve the ‘g’. Instead of’ Begin the Journey’ it said ‘Be in the Journey.’
It took my breath away.
Be IN the journey.
So often we start something new- in order to gain a certain result.
We start something in order to finish it.
But what about all the in-between; the stuff that happens and the things you learn IN the journey?
This moment was a punctuation for me – to remember to be present and focus on the process and not to fight so hard for a finish line that I miss out on the life unfolding before me.
The original mantra 1.0 needed to scale - beyond the handmade block print.
I chose a font and arranged it in my way and created mantra 2.0.
This version didn’t last long, as I really did not like the limited selection of fonts.
Mantra 3.0 came about when Kara Gasbarro reached out. She had sent me a box of Tshirts she had printed with various designs. One of them was ‘ I am I can I will I do’. To be honest, my first thought was ‘how dare she?’. Then I read her note…offering to discuss printing.
This gesture inspired me to evolve the design again.
I found a font that looked like it was hand-drawn, like pencil lines on paper or chalk on a chalkboard. This was perfect and fit the nature of my work, to change our chatter. To write what we are thinking and to know that we can change it. To inspire agency in our own story telling by rewriting the stories that do not serve us.
And now, 8 years later, at 50 years old, I can look back at the accidentally lost ‘g’ that reminded me to stay IN the work, to stay IN the ‘why’, and say, I am.
I am IN the journey.
Mantra 4.0 met a little resistance from me. I was pretty fixed on 3.0, and scared of taking the big step to engage a branding firm. I asked myself, why am I scared? The cost. What if I don’t like what they present? That will be awkward. I was stuck at this question as though it was an impasse for quite some time.
But here is the thing about an impasse. It’s only an impasse if you allow it to be. I remembered something I have said to myself and out loud in classes many times…. Who are you when there’s a wall in front of you? Do you talk about how big it is? Or do you find a way to get through it? You decide who you are in these moments!.
I definitely sat and talked about how big the wall was for a while. Until I realized that was all that I was doing, and then started asking the questions: Do you want to stay where you are or do you want to grow?
If you want to grow, you have to let go.
You must ask for help, ask all the questions, allow others to help you, release total control…..TRUST. Trust that you have guided yourself to all the right people and trust yourself to speak up and say no to what doesn’t work.
And so I reached out to THINKSO and Elizabeth Amorose and her team, who are brilliant. They took the time to understand my work and dive into who I am and come up with the new speech bubble and the mantra, written in my own handwriting, to serve as the new graphic logo for christinedercole.com
It was a leap to let go of my attachment to thinking that everything about the work had to come from me. From our first meeting, the team’s enthusiasm gave me great confidence.
And now I look back on all my mantras…and all the different shapes my mantra has taken and see the journey I began, and see the journey I AM in and all I have learned along the way, to trust my instincts, to challenge myself, to find doors in walls and to keep going….
And letting go in order to allow that growth…
So where is all this leading to?
Oh I have several finish lines. And each of them evolves in time. If I have learned one thing in all of this- it is to ALLOW. Allow myself to be who I am. Give myself permission. Grant myself agency. No one else will…. Only we can do that… and that is the greatest joy for me….all the little moments of agency. Have an idea… follow it.. add it to your finish line. Got thousands of little ideas….? Write them ALL down. One day you’ll connect the dots between them and allow yourself to find the thing you want to make something wholly yours. And make yourself PROUD.