I lost a dear friend to a stroke last week. Rod Graham first came to our home to paint our downstairs family room and a room upstairs that would become the nursery for our second child. He spent quite a lot of time in our home – he was not fast, but honest and meticulous. My son, not yet 2 years old at the time, nicknamed him “Mr. Paint” and it stuck. Over the years, he painted the office of a friend, the condo of my in-laws, and eventually when we returned to our home after two years in Los Angeles, he painted every room in our house himself so as to get us settled back in as soon as possible. He lovingly refinished our deck, complete with a furniture finish, bringing life back to the wood we weren’t sure we could save, and making this outdoor space as inviting as the indoors. I was looking forward to him being around this summer to paint the exterior of our home. His Christmas card had reassured me he would hire a crew and certainly wouldn’t attempt to paint the whole exterior of the house himself. He’d spent nearly 9 months painting the interior – have I mentioned he was meticulous? I also learned to appreciate that Mr. Paint didn’t let work consume him; he made time for people and activities that brought him joy. I remember on more than one occasion, he wrapped up for the day around 3 or 4 pm and changed to go listen to live music and enjoy a glass of wine. He was always reading something new and interesting, and never hesitated to take time to have a conversation.
Mr. Paint was far more than a house painter, he was a cherished friend and inspiration. At 71 years young, he was a curious, wise, and kind man. We not only discussed paint colors, but books, philosophy, and life. He had taken an interesting and winding path. Having studied marketing and accounting at UW before finding his way into painting, his journey was unique and I appreciated the opportunity to hear his story and his learnings, his musings and humorous contemplations. He didn’t seem to take life too seriously and seemed adept at rolling with the punches. I am grateful to have witnessed his reflections, experienced his kindness and joy, his love of books, and his friendship and support. He always took the time to comment on my latest Three Thoughts email or blog post, to share a quote, to text me a message of hello and a note for my boys. He was humble, honest, and unassuming, and I am so grateful to have known him. I dedicate this month’s Three Thoughts for Thursday to Rod Graham, our dear Mr. Paint. May you rest in peace and may we all take more time to laugh and learn, to explore with genuine curiosity, and to appreciate the beauty, creativity, and depth within ourselves, and within one another.
As I thought about this month’s post, and about my friend, Rod Graham, I thought a great deal about our unique abilities, talents, and creativity as human beings, often not apparent at first glance. Whether it is baking or painting, drawing or writing code, landscaping or poetry, knitting or building an engine, photography, making a snow angel or building a snowman, we each have an inherent need to create. We have unique and imaginative gifts and outlets, ways of filling ourselves with positive energy and sharing this positivity with others. This month, I encourage you to reflect upon and ponder your own creativity. What are your talents and abilities? What do you enjoy creating? How does creating, innovating and using your talents make you feel? How might you allow yourself more time and space to expand your ingenuity and to harness this energy? How might you inspire others to lean into their talents and abilities, and to make space to create? What if you took more time to get to know yourself and others, and the hidden creativeness within? How might creativity be the key to resourcefulness and making other aspects of your life better?
Quote(s) I am sitting with, pondering and find inspiring:
“We build up cognitive reserves that way [doing things we love], which will help us when emotional turmoil inevitably strikes.”
~ Marc Brackett, Permission to Feel (162) ~
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
~ Pablo Picasso ~
“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.”
~ John Mason ~
Podcast I’m Listening to:
Making the shift from self to service brings joy and also a deep sense of fulfillment to our jobs, relationships and the vision we create of our best life, says Oprah’s friend Gary Zukav. He says this is the moment when we discover authentic power – “when your personality comes fully to serve the energy of its soul.” Fulfilling your purpose, with meaning, is what gives you that powerful spark of energy unique only to you, he says. In this episode of Super Soul Conversations, Oprah sits down with such inspirational teachers, including Gary Zukav, Mastin Kipp, Paulo Coehlo, Sue Monk Kidd, Pastor Wintley Phipps, Nate Berkus, Diana Nyad, India Arie, Janet Mock, Jack Canfield, Daniel Pink, Daniel Goleman, Shawn Achor, Jeff Weiner, Wes Moore, Shonda Rhimes and Devon Franklin, to reveal how we can tap that source, which is our highest and truest version of ourselves. Interviews with these talented writers, speakers and thought leaders are excerpted from Oprah’s Emmy Award-winning show Super Soul Sunday. You can also find this compilation and other insightful conversations in Oprah’s best-selling book The Wisdom of Sundays.
Book I am Reading:
This month, rather than a self-development book, I am sharing a book I am listening to on Audible, not for work but for my personal enjoyment and expansion. Recommended by a friend, I was looking to experience a new author, a new story, and to expand my repertoire. I have been listening to this book to challenge my listening skills and have loved being able to listen to the story as I run, as I drive, as I sit quietly, or as I make dinner – there is always time to listen.
Winner of the NBCC’s John Leonard First Book Prize, a New York Times 2016 Notable Book, one of Oprah’s 10 Favorite Books of 2016, NPR’s Debut Novel of the Year, one of Buzzfeed’s Best Fiction Books of 2016, One of Time’s Top 10 Novels of 2016, Ta-Nehisi Coates notes “Homegoing is an inspiration.” The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and 300 years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.
Effia and Esi are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of 20th-century Harlem, right up through the present day, f makes history visceral and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed on the soul of a nation.
Please check out my blog posts on Lessons from the Run, Part 1: Mile 18 – Endurance, and Lessons from the Run, Part 2: Resilience, and Lessons of the Run, Part 3: Rest, as well as my blog post on the light at the end of the tunnel – Be and See the Light! Stay tuned for my upcoming blog posts, Are We Losing Our Humanity?, My Vision: The Power of EQ to Create Change, and my thoughts on Courage vs. Confidence! If you missed my January edition of Three Thoughts for Thursday, you can find it here, on my blog as well. As always, thank you for your continued support and readership! Stay strong, stay brave, stay true to you!