Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


On the Ledge, Together in 2014!

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I hadn't planned on writing anything so close to the New Year, but inspiration came and I followed.

Today, I had the pleasure of listening to half an hour of Tess Vigeland's ongoing story of re-invention, which began the morning of July 7 when she gave an inspiring speech about leaving her "dream job" on Marketplace Radio and how life has been since then. (If you haven't heard it, take the time to listen. I highly recommend it right before the New Year kicks in! The punchlines are great too.)

Thankfully, unlike other talks I'm often privy to, Vigeland's speech wasn't about how she found success, but about how she was making her way there. In a way, I found that even more inspiring that hearing from someone that's already made it.

Her forthright speech reminded me that the path to fulfillment won't always be filled with neat-and-tidy happy endings. (Spoiler alert: Vigeland thought her departure for Marketplace opened her to the opportunity to host All Things Considered: Weekend Edition, which eventually went to another candidate.) Instead, it is full of trials, some that fail, some that kind of work, and occasionally one or two that will turn out perfectly.

Vigeland's story reminded me of another me five years ago, when I somehow came to the decision to leave a corporate job in a well-respected multinational company for a more creative life. I knew I wanted to write, but I didn't think that I would end up actually getting paid to share some of the coolest things I find around the city and beyond. That was more than five years ago. (Wow!)

There are days when I am thankful to have come as far as I have. I've written for glossy magazines, national papers, and well-respected design publications; heard my voice on KCRW's Design and Architecture; and my essay was even included in The Magazine's upcoming book anthology. Life gets busy, in a good way.

But then, like Vigeland, there are still days when I wake up in the morning thinking, "H0ly f*ck! What next?!" There are nights when I find myself unable to sleep because of all the things I have no idea how to begin doing. I'm kind of glad to hear, it's not just me.

Vigeland's talk struck a chord with the crowd. It eventually landed her a book deal from someone who just happened to be in the audience. There was no big masterplan, but as you can surmise from Vigeland's speech, there was a lot of work involved. There were many mornings when you simply had to get up in the morning, take consistent steps toward something you've been wanting to do, and something will appear.

Coincidentally, I'm currently reading Tom and David Kelley's "Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All." One of the most striking quotes I found was this:
Resilience is often thought of as a solo effort—the lone hero who falls and rises up again to do battle. In reality, however, reaching out to others is usually a strategy for success. It doesn’t have to be an admission of weakness.
Yes, we all have to keep huffing and puffing our way uphill in life to conquer that proverbial mountain, but in the midst of trying to get to that magical land of Success, let's not forget that we are not alone.

As proof, I present this photo of a small temple off to the side of the bold orange Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto. (pictured at the start of this story)

No one was there when I stopped by, but the path toward the prayer area was lined with colorful garlands. I thought it was just a Hawaiian-type lei at first, but closer inspection revealed them to be thousands of meticulously folded paper cranes all strung together. Each lei was made by a hopeful soul wishing for something, a glimpse of success. Just like us.

So here's to a braver, bolder, more beautiful 2014!


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