For her 13th birthday on the 12 of June 1942, Anne Frank received a book she had shown her father in a shop window a few days earlier. Although it was an autograph book, bound with red-and-white checkered cloth and with a small lock on the front, Frank decided she would use it as a diary, and began writing in it almost immediately. I never knew of Ann Frank’s intentions. I assumed that she wrote in her diary for her own benefit and eventually we all benefited from The Diary of Anne Frank quite by accident. An entry dated Wednesday, 5 April 1944 showed me otherwise:
I finally realised that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that’s what I want! I know I can write …, but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent …And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! …I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me! When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?”
I believe we all find ourselves contemplating as Anne did…whether we will ever be able to do something great. I think we all yearn to live lives of meaning, of significance, to feel worthy and know on some level that we’re doing something good.
Anne influenced this column’s title. She says “Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”
If you haven’t yet tapped into your potential, if you’re feeling as if perhaps there’s something more that you still need to do in your life, if you’re at a crossroads after a life event threw you off course – what’s holding you back? Is it perhaps you think it’s too late to START OVER?
At a crossroads after a divorce and unsure of which path to pursue, Kathy Davis knew she wanted a career that would give her…and others…joy. Embracing her lifelong dream for a career with creative freedom, Kathy launched her company in 1990. Today, the former teacher turned artist and entrepreneur manages an extensive portfolio of more than 35,000 images, acting as chief visionary of the company that bears her name. She has become America’s number one greeting card designer, as her cards sell over 100 million cards a year!
In the introduction of her book Simple Secrets’ she shares “Change is a part of our world. You have to learn to roll with it, to paint in bold strokes…to create a life you love. I’m a late bloomer; I started my business at the age of 38. I was at a crossroads, and I knew I needed to take a different direction, but I wasn’t sure what that was. I think we all feel that uncertainty when facing new challenges. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted a career that would give me joy.”
Now if we look at Kathy where she is today, we will be inclined to think that we don’t have the wherewithal to start a company and sell over 100 million of anything; that we don’t have the energy to start anything new. We don’t have the money, the time, the creativity or the power. Blogger James Clear injects this sobering observation “Claiming that you need to learn more or get all of your ducks in a row can often be a crutch that prevents you from moving forward on the stuff that actually matters.”
What are the things that matter to you? I don’t want to hear that it’s stupid, or that at your age you shouldn’t be contemplating doing “that”! What are they? You know them. Why are you ignoring your own needs? When we disrespect our own selves, what have we given others permission to do? We need to trust ourselves more. We need to hold the attitude that even if what we set out to do does not work out that we can always start over. Begin again anew…and press on. This is what life is about. It is messy. This revelation coming from someone who loves to see things in place; who yearns for order and perfection in her life. But beneath that facade is simply that part of me asking “will I be enough? Is what I’m doing good enough and will people like me?” And so I spend hours in hiding, perfecting my craft to make it acceptable to people who really don’t care about it as much as I do. I think we MISS the point as we seek perfection in our lives. I think that our lives are imperfectly perfect and for good reason.
Like the once successful defense attorney in New York who was also a drug addict and an alcoholic; whose demons caused her to lose her license to practice law; who, clean and sober for almost a decade, became the director of a homeless shelter – using her history to grow her soul and help others. This was her gift.
Sometimes our gifts are obvious like Anne’s for writing. Other times our very lives, the mistakes we make, the self-destructive actions we take put us in places to eventually help others like ourselves.
Author MJ Ryan says in her book Trusting Yourself that we don’t have to be perfect to begin to trust ourselves. Rest assured we can and WILL screw up. But moment to moment if we will remember Anne Franks’ good news and return to our faith in the light within us, the light that NEVER goes out, no matter how much it is dimmed, with help if need be, we can ALWAYS start again. Never forget – “We all have a piece of GOOD NEWS inside us.”