Dad and my brother Stevie in one of my favorite family photos.
In case you were wondering about the origins of my weirdness.
Hello there, brave and beautiful weirdos!
Last night, I confided to my friend Lindsay that I do not want to work right now. “I just feel hollow. There’s nothing there. I can’t write.”
“What would Makearoo Toni tell you to do?”
“That’s a very good question.”
“I’m very good at asking those.”
Lindsay is a total keeper.
Back story: The last Makearoo Newsletter (click here to subscribe to the weekly-ish goodness) featured a recap of the incredible experience we had at the first Camp Makearoo. That weekend was the high point of my career, and I literally loved every moment. I knew that each of us who attended were exactly where we needed to be in that moment, and we each took full advantage of our time together. I took time off after camp to refill the well and hang with my kids, and my return to work included writing that recap and gearing up for the next Makearoo event. After I hit ‘send’ on that newsletter, I herded my three boys into our minivan and headed over to the hospital to visit my dad. He was having tests performed to determine the cause of some ongoing health issues that seemed to be getting worse. We had a nice visit and headed home to start dinner. About an hour later, I got a call from the head nurse asking me to return to the hospital ASAP.
When my family and I arrived, we learned my dad was gone.
His mind and spirit were sharp, ornery and weird as ever, but his body simply could not fight to stay with us any longer.
The rest is a blur of cousins and arrangements and responses and flowers and phone calls and stories and heritage and abundant measures of grace and gratitude. My family hunkered down and cried, laughed, broke bread, and shared memories. We compared bits of family history among my many cousins (Dad was the youngest of 15 kids). I actually enjoyed writing his eulogy; when you’re able to tell story after story of someone’s life and make a room full of people laugh, it says something about the person’s life. My dad lived like he meant it.
My very first memory on this earth is of my dad leaning into my crib, smiling down at me. My mom says he’d wake me–a sleeping baby–just to see me smile, then leave for work while I cried for someone to come and hang out with me. (As you may have guessed, Mom was not a fan of this particular routine.)
My last memory of my dad is of him saying “I love you too, Tone” when I left the hospital after our visit. He was happy, he looked great, he knew he was loved and well cared for.
As sad as I am at his passing, I feel blessed to have had him in my life for nearly 45 years. I’ve always been close with my parents and in-laws, and we all gather frequently to celebrate holidays and birthdays. I was lucky to have my dad walk me down the aisle at my wedding, and for my kids to get to know their grandpa (I never got to meet either of mine). Dad was the person who told me I didn’t have to practice law if I hated it–advice I eagerly heeded and never regretted. He also encouraged me to be self-employed, because I was just like him–independent-minded and disinclined to take orders (translation: ornery and weird; see the above photo if you’re not quite sure what I mean).
This week, I knew I needed to return to work. Only a fool would let all of the good will and mad momentum from Camp Makearoo slide down the drain. I’m an entrepreneur! I need to be on fire 24/7, upleveling and monetizing and prospering! So I woke at 5:45 Monday morning with a to-do list as long as my driveway, ready to conquer the world.
Instead, I sipped coffee and joked around with my kids. We made eggs. I thumbed through a stack of old magazines I’d been meaning to cull, cutting out pretty images and dreaming of a mountain getaway. I did laundry. I joked around with my kids some more. I did dishes. I sweet talked my parakeets, who are always totally on board with being wooed. I ate a bunch of junk food I don’t normally have in the house. I talked to my mom, who is hanging in there and then some (she’s even more ornery than Dad). I cried. I started this newsletter. I didn’t finish it.
So when I found myself on the phone with my friend Lindsay, confessing that the words and joy just weren’t coming–even though I needed them to–she asked what ‘Makearoo Toni’ would tell me to do.
It’s bad enough that I already talk to myself; just ask my parakeets. But I gave this some thought, and here’s what I came up with:
Don’t rush the grieving process. This is not the same as wallowing. My friend Lonna also called yesterday to see how I was doing (Lonna? Also
a total keeper). Lonna said that everyone processes grief differently and not to force things. If I didn’t feel like working, maybe I needed to listen to that, or maybe I needed to rest and work at a slower pace until I felt up to doing more. If I needed to eat for comfort, maybe I needed to do so a while longer. “The more I think about what I *shouldn’t* be doing, the more my mind wants to go there.” So what I’d tell myself is: You know all to well that when you try to force yourself to do things–whether eating healthfully, exercising, writing, or growing my business–that typically do better when fueled by joy, the process will feel like a punishment and the end results will fall flat.
Trust that you know what you need to do and that you will get where you need to be. That you know how to balance between healing and complacency, and effort and white-knuckle perfection-seeking. You know in your heart of hearts that if Dad could look back on his life and change anything, he’d give up worrying so much. Knowing this will help you release your tendency to worry and to simply keep doing and/or being as needed.
Momentum is vital, even during times like this. No matter how low you feel or crazy things get, you can make a brief to-do list every day and make sure to tackle the top three things on it. Keep on moving, even if movement is slow right now. Because anything is better than giving up. Dad wouldn’t have wanted that. He’d want you to enjoy your work like he enjoyed his.
You are the daughter of the two hardest working people you’ve ever known, and the greatest, most enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and genuine salesperson you will ever know. This is no small legacy, and you are fully capable of living up to it.
You are not here to be perfect. You are, however, here to get excited about cool stuff and share that passion with the world. You are also here to honor the imperfection and grace in all things, including the work we each know–secretly or otherwise–we were put here to do, and to help others learn to do the same. Nutshell: You are here to tell stories in your own imperfect, weird, ornery, and earnest voice, and every time you do, people will listen, they will respond, and they will join in your enthusiasm. Ripple effect, baby!
To my parents, I say: Thank you both for the very best parts of me. To you, my dear reader, I say: Thanks for supporting the Makearoo mission with every step you take toward making the cool stuff you know deep down you were born to create. Let’s work together on shouting about it to the rooftops. Let’s experience lives well lived.
What do you already know that can support you in your work and personal life right now? What dose of encouragement could you use for yourself
that you’re already giving to others? What would ‘Makearoo You’ do? Send your responses my way and I may feature them in an upcoming Makearoo Newsletter.
Hungry for more Makearoo news, insights, and healthy doses of silliness?
Here’s a handy link to all of the past Makearoo Newsletters, and here’s the Makearoo Thing channel on Vimeo.
ARE YOU READY TO MAKEAROO?
The next Camp Makearoo will be October 19-21st at The Abbey Resort!
Yep, we liked the venue so much we decided to stay. As one guest put it, “You drive up to the resort and just immediately feel relaxed.” I’ve chosen another ideal time of year for this event as the leaves are turning colors and the days are warm and sunny enough for a lakeside hike or stroll.
Are you ready to experience the power and magic that gathering with fellow creatives can bring?
Are you longing for more from your creative work and hungry to learnhow to break past your biggest barriers?
Do you like to laugh and enjoy beautiful surroundings?
Are you ready to make your uniquely cool stuff and share it with the world in ways that feel authentic to you
Do you want to help us bust the myth of the starving, solitary creative who must suffer for his/her art while waiting to be discovered?
It’s time to stop reading about Camp Makearoo and chart a course to get yourself there!
Register and grab your room, and get ready to rock your creative world!
CAMP MAKEAROO BRING-A-FRIEND DISCOUNT: If you have a friend, partner, or partner in crime you’d like to bring to Camp Makearoo, you each save $100 on registration! Contact Toni to get your twofer. And as always, email me if you have any questions.