Lately I have been working on the new look and feel for Appatomy and what it all means to me. It has forced to me to become really reflective about my life and who I am. This is not something I have done in a long time. I have been too busy working, raising babies and getting over an illness. Appatomy started for me as a way to keep busy and learn while my boys napped and I recovered. I meant it as a means do something I love, to create something, to share something that I thought or felt with the world and it is slowly morphing into more.
I really don’t have many tangible talents. Sure I can write ok, I am a greatly organized project manager and team leader, I learn easily, but when I walk away from projects there is not much left to remember me by. I always feel uncomfortable putting the projects I have worked on in my portfolio because I wasn’t the designer, the developer, or the musician. Those are the people I admire, the people I have always counted on and the people who deserve all the credit. The muses of my life.
I have never been a great graphic designer. Sure I can spot and appreciate good design, but creating it from scratch eludes me. I just can’t articulate the visual part of my soul. It is a good thing I live in Portland because there are so many amazing people with these talents and I get to share in their DNA.
I also am horrible at coding. I can read code and understand it and I can put up a simple web page, write user stories, communicate what it is to code, but I cannot sit down and write it. Sorry. To think in terms of logic, and algorithms, syntax, objects, queries, blah blah blah. It is just not me, but I obviously respect the hell out of it and what it can do for the world or I wouldn’t be in this industry.
I also can’t sing or play an instrument, but I love music and musicians. My grandfather was an amazing musician and could play so many instruments. As a little girl I wanted so badly to have that in my DNA. I tried to sing in music class, to play the clarinet, or strum my brothers guitar, but that gene skipped me entirely. I lost my grandpa Gus really young, but I can still see every line on his face if I think of him really hard. As I gaze at my boys, I pray that a small part of his musicality passed to them. I think I see it from time to time as they bounce and rock to the music I play for them. Since I cannot teach them music, I made sure that they have their own iPod in their room and it is loaded with Bluegrass, Jam Bands, Rock, Country, Pop, and Hip Hop. Songs I love and Songs I hate. I put it on random and let them listen as they fall asleep. I let them choose which ones they love. They often ask me to sing (horrible voice and all) and they ask me to hold them and dance around the room. So I do. It is the only way I can articulate the musical part of my soul.
This week I realized there is something I am really good at. Communicating to people. Now some of you that know me personally may disagree. You may say I talk too much or out of turn or about the wrong things, but it is the only “talent” that comes naturally to me. It was the gift I was given. Ever since I was a little girl I can remember being told to “stop talking in classs’ to “shh! be quiet in church”. I was the youngest of five kids and I had to be loud to be heard.
I could always walk up to a perfect stranger and just start talking. I have had some of the most meaningful conversations of my life that way. I am not afraid to approach anyone and often I find my openness, for better or worse, can disarm a lot of people. I have met so many amazing people this way. People that are still a huge part of my life today. For every person who has told me I talk to much or that my talking makes me self-centered, I have had at least two others that tell me that I put them at ease and make it easier for them to open up. So I will take the negative, the rejection, and the annoyed glances as long as I know I am helping at least a handful of people open up. I think this is why developers and I often get along. Developers are typically introverts so when this uber extrovert bounces into the room it can be overwhelming, but when they realize I am genuinely there to help and more importantly to be taught by them, the annoyed glances melt away.
In a nutshell, I LOVE people and I LOVE talking. I love hearing different life stories about people’s joys, triumphs, heart aches, lost loves, found loves, even secret loves and even though I talk a ton, I can keep the deepest of secrets. I think that is why I admire creative people, the artists and musicians so much, because their words and their art are their way of expressing the same things I try to do through talking and writing.
I know that I am so drawn to social media and mobile technology because I feel it allows everyone to share in the gift I have always had. To speak to the world, to walk up to a stranger, to have a conversation with no regrets and to make new friends. Just as I hope my kids got a little bit of my grandpa Gus’s musicality, I hope that I can share my social DNA, my gift of gab, with them and at the same time maybe help some of you to gain social media confidence and even a little confidence in the real world.
My one word of caution…with all the moth to a flame buzz around social media and mobile technology you still need to remember to find that balance between your online persona and your real life. Don’t let it swallow you up entirely because the real relationships you make in-person are the ones that are there for you when your baby ends up in the hospital at 4 weeks old with meningitis, or you get a rare lung infection, or when you need help figuring out who you are. The ones you can touch, hold, hug, share a beer with, cry with and pick up off the floor when it is their turn to be a mess. The ones you Love.
I myself made four new in-person friends the past few weeks and whether they like it or not they are officially aboard my love train. How about you?