When I Am Lost, Remind Me Of What I Am Good At

Facebook post: 30 June 2016

My new baby! An early birthday present from my family! 

I have been barely physically able to handle my ‘big’ camera over the last year and have resigned to the fact that I won’t be using it for at least another 6 months. I was ok with this choice, my health is first and foremost. 

However, we have a duty to follow our passions and to discover what we are capable of creating. More importantly, which I was reminded of by this act of generosity, we must support and enable others to pursue their passions especially when they are uncertain or limited in any way. Usually it seems that when the time to give it up is approaching, that is when the biggest breakthroughs happen. 

Your art, whatever it is, is important. It’s magic that only you can give. We don’t know who will need it and we all need the joy we can get in this world, either by creating or consuming.

Thank you to all my photographer friends that I have vicariously lived through lately. I need your art; it has kept me sane, creatively intrigued and has reminded me every day to be patient. You have taken me to places my physical body can’t go yet and explore with my camera in hand. I’m incredibly grateful. 
[Image Description: small retro style black and silver camera on a timber surface with small green pot plants and white picture frames in the background.]
[Image Description: small retro style black and silver camera on a timber surface with small green pot plants and white picture frames in the background.]

Every time this post shows up in my Facebook Memories, I notice something profound written in it that wasn’t obvious at the time. Now, 6 years later, I see that this post was the short version of a future Lady In The Lighthouse blog post. There are a lot of parts of this post that I could go into more detail. But today, I feel that with everything that is going on in the world lately, that most of us are feeling a little lost or not sure what to do next. Something is shifting in our foundations and it makes us question everything.  

When I wrote this post on Facebook, I was going into a stage of my life where I was in survival mode and my capacity to do things was shrinking. My chronic conditions were all consuming, I wasn’t able to do the things I enjoyed because I had no energy or it was too painful, and I didn’t feel connected with anything that made me who I was. The best support while I was going through this time was people telling me what I was good at, that it would still be there when I got back to it and I will be just as good, and in the meantime, I’ll find a way to still be involved. In other words, they said “you are not going to lose it and we will make sure you don’t”.

The essence of these supportive messages is hope. And what a gift that is to give someone during a difficult time. Messages of hope don’t have to be about the circumstances that they are going through. It can be about reminding them who they are at their core, what their talents are and how the world needs that. It can be finding ways to enable them to do what they are great at and what the world needs. 

Ruthie Lindsey is someone I’ve been following for a long time – she has been through a journey of medical trials too. What follows is a story from her that has stuck with me and in some way, it inspired my Facebook post above. When Ruthie was emerging after a long period of chronic pain, depression and a whole range of medical issues, she needed to start supporting herself by working again but didn’t know how or what to do. She asked her friends and loved ones what she could do, and who pointed her in the direction of the things she is so good at – decorating, making spaces feel beautiful, and bringing people together. This support of reminding her of what she is good at from the people around her, got her back out into the world after years in living in her bed, and doing what she loves, combined with what she has learnt through her experiences and has led her to greater opportunities. 

Lately, while I’ve been starting a new business and finding myself in a whole new world, I have been wondering about my capability to work after many years of not being able to at all (or very inconsistent work). The doubts started to kick in very quickly – Do I still have the skills? How long will it take to become familiar with these tasks again? Do I remember anything at all? What am I actually good at doing these days? 

The surprising thing, or maybe it is not surprising at all, is that it was all still there. All those skills, knowledge, everything. Just dormant. I compartmentalised my work life separate from my medical life. It had just been put away in a box on a shelf in my brain to open up when it was needed again. It wasn’t lost forever or needed to be trained again from scratch. I just needed someone to remind me it was still there, give it a big dust off and open up the box to remember what was in there.      

We usually receive the recognition of a job well done and told we are good at it after we have completed the task. But sometimes it is needed beforehand, we need someone to point us towards our north star – of what we are good at and enjoy – when we can’t see it through our own darkness. 

I had a lot of people in the last few months remind me of what I am good at and that those skills, knowledge and experience will make me emerge from my shrunken world and expand into a full life again. They enabled me to rediscover and feel more confident about what I could do and where my gifts were needed in the world. 

So if it is needed and appropriate, consider gifting this ray of hope to someone: 

“When they are lost, remind them of what they are good at.

Remind them of their skills, knowledge and qualities.

Remind them of what they contribute to the world.

Remind them that their gifts are needed.” 

Take good care, Readers. I’ll keep the light on. 

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