Join The Magnificent Journey

Is There a Small Step You Can Take?

One time I wanted to make some improvements to my kitchen, so I bought a loaf of bread. It added quite a lot to the space, especially in my ability to make sandwiches.

I’ve been making improvements like that lately. Small steps to a better place.

I started the year with the purchase of a new welcome mat. This was a hard one because when I was reviewing my options in the store, all the choices had words like “Welcome.”

I guess that makes sense, but the writer in me wanted a message with more nuance, especially in case the person ringing the bell was selling something I wasn’t buying. I didn’t want to make a false promise that they would actually be welcome.

The other options were “hello” or some other friendly greeting that didn’t seem much better. So here I am, stuck with the word “welcome” on my front porch and anticipating the day someone I don’t know takes me up on my offer. So far, so good.

Working at home brings interruptions on occasion, where someone wants to tell me about a different security plan, a lower cost cable opportunity, or pine straw availability. There was a time when I got up from a copywriting project just long enough to say, “Yes, I do have a church home.”

My reluctance to usher in sales people and proselytizers aside, it did seem that a new welcome mat was a good way to start the year at my door. I’m ready for 2019. Ready to turn the corner. To move forward. To expand my work as a copywriter. To package my story shaping ideas in words and videos.

Are you ready for something too?

The other home improvement I made was changing light bulbs in the great room ceiling fan. I couldn’t do this without assistance, though. I needed to bring out my step ladder. Then just a couple of small steps up, and I was there. Done. Now I can see things so much more clearly.

Small steps make a difference. If you want to do something better this year, you don’t have to get it done today. Just start with a small step.

Over the fall, I updated the videos in Your Story Shaping Blueprint. In doing so, I made one more small change: I started calling the series a “mini-course.” The more I thought about it, “course” sounded too big. People might think, “I don’t have time for a course. But a mini-course… oh, that’s different.”

Taking a small step is easier than making a big change. That’s why I kept the videos to around 7 minutes. Sitting down for 30 minutes sounds like a big deal, but 7 minutes? That’s doable. So, if you want to take this kind of small step, take a look.

Enjoy your magnificent journey.

– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 3, Issue 1

Do you see the light?

One of the research studies of my childhood concerned the source of the light inside the refrigerator. I don’t know if other kids did this too, but I cannot tell you how many times I stood at the refrigerator door trying to figure out when the light turned on and when the light turned off.

I didn’t just want to know the “sort of moment” but the precise moment, and I found it in this little button on the side of the door. When the door closed to the point where it reached that button, the light turned off.

So that’s my research, freely given. You’re welcome.

My mother would tell me to close the refrigerator door and keep it closed. She didn’t understand that I was in search of the meaning behind a mystery. She thought I was interfering with the refrigeration process.

The refrigeration process, however, was really not my deal. As far as I was concerned, the condiments and dairy products could fend for themselves. I wanted to know what was happening with that light.

The study of light is a biggie. Light illuminates, shines, shares, gives, teaches. Solves mysteries. When light turns off, you stumble, fall or sense fear. When light turns on, you see. You have hope. When light turns off, something has ended. When light turns on, something has begun.

Darkness has a good side, though. In silent nights, there is deep rest and a quiet trust. Further, you can’t really understand light unless you’ve seen darkness. Or vice versa. Contrast and comparison are important in research.

This is the season, of course, where we are reminded that a light shines in the darkness.

Let’s say you rush around in mid-June or the first of March, you might not be not looking for meaning and mystery. But this season, even in the rush, you see the lights of the seasonal décor and notice there’s a message. There’s a difference. These lights aren’t shining in mid-June or the first of March.

Christmas isn’t just a moment in time, but all those moments in time from childhood to today that are wrapped in memory. You never have one Christmas without thinking about other ones.

Some are good memories, some aren’t. A lot of us think about times when the light turned on, or when the light turned off. Or who has newly arrived. Or who is missing.

Maybe there are concerns for the future. If you’re a solar lamp, you can store up light and use it later. But mostly light is for this moment.

I was thinking this morning that it’s a good idea to beware of unwise gifts… like things you bring in from the past or borrow from tomorrow that miss out on the present.

So, I would say, do not worry about the light you missed yesterday or the light you will need in the days to come. Trust the light you see today and enjoy your magnificent journey.

– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue #42

Do You Have This Kind of Courage?

I took a quick trip to Memphis a few weekends ago. I was riding with a friend on her way to see her daughter in a senior voice recital at Rhodes College. The recital was magnificent.

I’ve known the daughter, Cameron, since not long after she was born. The photo is a stock photo, but is a perfect fit for who she was.

I remember going to eat dinner with her extended family when she was 3 years old. At daycare, Cameron had learned a piece she wanted to share with the table. Rather spontaneously, she stood in her chair at the Capital City Club, started marching in place, and sang “It’s a Grand Old Flag.” She concluded by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with her hand over her heart.

Her enunciation was off in some of the words, but there was no mistake what she was singing and saying. We were captivated. The protocols of “Don’t sing ‘It’s a Grand Old Flag’ during dinner in a nice restaurant” were suspended due to sheer admiration.

Cameron always liked movie musicals. Old Hollywood musicals. There’s a story that when she was in second grade, she was attending a Brownie Scout meeting and participated in an icebreaker activity that included finding someone who liked the same movie. Cameron was upset that no one knew Brigadoon or Anchors Aweigh (Gene Kelly endeavors), and she also couldn’t figure out why Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Katherine Hepburn or Cary Grant were not recognizable names.

She attended Green Gate in her early years, and when the administrators of the school decided to institute a uniform policy, one student came to mind. They thought about Cameron and how this new rule would affect her. Indeed, when Cameron found out she was going to have to wear shirts with collars, she was devastated. But the administrators had graciously included a provision that would make this change more palatable for her: they allowed three pieces of jewelry. So, each morning Cameron and her mom counted out her bauble choices, and she made it through this period of limited accessories and collared shirts.

When Cameron was 6 years old, I sat next to her while waiting for a performance of Smoke on the Mountain at First United Methodist Church. I had a notebook in my purse, and we played Hangman. Considering her age, I picked a movie clue that I thought she could guess: Ice Age. Then she picked a clue for me to guess. After I selected a few letters, I was surprised to see what she had chosen. “Is it West Side Story?” I asked. Indeed it was.

The point is, Cameron is the evidence to me that we have a purpose interwoven within us at a young age. She really hasn’t changed that much in the last 20 years. She’s just gotten better at being Cameron.

A couple of years ago, I helped a copywriting client write a career parable, The White Shirt, which makes the point that Cameron illustrates. Some of the things you were drawn to when you were very young – if you can remember and tap into that – can help you connect with a peaceful and life-giving career today.

From an early age, I was someone who tried to make sense of things. It’s as if I dropped from heaven into an unfathomable mystery, and I was given a notebook and told, “Go make sense of this.” That’s my life plan in a nutshell. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to be me, but, as far as I know, I’m the best one for the job.

A good bit of the reporting on what I observed I incorporated into Your Story Shaping Blueprint. I’m grateful that I could connect concepts that were not too late to learn with the identity that was mine from the beginning. I’m also thankful to all of you who participated in the beta version. I’ve been making some tweaks and will relaunch the series early next year.

In the meantime, you might like to see this video of Cameron’s last song during her recital: https://youtu.be/DNCRay2zKbA

She’s improved just a wee bit since that time she sang “It’s a Grand Old Flag” while standing in a chair at the Capital City Club. But she still has the courage to be Cameron, and that’s a wonderful thing to see.

Enjoy your magnificent journey.

– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 41

Why Don’t Birds Worry?

Trixie sits in what seems to be prayerful pose as she watches the birds tend to their morning work. I’m not so sure how friendly her interests are, however. I suspect she might leap into their business in unwelcome ways, plus they might divebomb her if given half a chance.

Still, Trixie watches intently as the birds carry on unconcerned in the least about her glaring gaze. They do not seem to care at all about what we do, say or think in this house. They have their own business to tend.

I used to be afraid of birds. I am less so since I made that fear public, and a few people hit reply and said, “Don’t be afraid of birds.” Fortunately, the replies worked, and I am no longer afraid of birds (which I’m just saying so you won’t have to hit reply and say “don’t be afraid of birds.”)

The replies probably came when I told this story. Back when I was afraid of birds, I’d left my door ajar one morning as I took my garbage to the garbage can. After I dropped the bag into the receptacle, I turned around in time to see, to my horror, a little bird flap its way through the open door.

So, a bird was flying around inside my very own house (quite uninvited). I went to grab a broom or something to shoo it out, but when I was ready, I couldn’t find the bird. I walked every inch of this house trying to disturb the bird (and concerned what would happen if I did). But I never saw that bird again.

Presumably while my back was turned to pick up the broom, the little creature headed out the front door (still ajar) almost as quickly as he headed in. I kept looking for that bird for a while.

This was 10 years ago. It’d be odd indeed if I’d stayed afraid of a bird that wasn’t there (not that I couldn’t have pulled that feat off). But fears aren’t always logical. It’s not hard to be afraid of something that isn’t real – like monsters under the bed or an adult version of the same.

Worrying is such an easy thing to do. But not worrying? Well, that’s takes a little effort… because you actually have to believe a simple promise: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

You are more valuable than they. Good thing to remember. This doesn’t mean there aren’t real dangers or concerns. But my thinking is: stick to your duties. Tend to your tasks. Take care of your business. And trust God with the rest.

Enjoy your magnificent journey.

– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 40

How Do You See What You’re Missing?

 

Trixie keeps an eye on my work as a copywriter, but she’s not much of an editor or proofreader. In fact, she can create her own typos just by walking (or sleeping) on my laptop. I appreciate her watchful care while recognizing that human eyes are still better at detecting a misused word. Such as formally vs. formerly.

There’s more to editing and proofreading, though, than word choice. A creative product comes through a mental route of ideas and ends at a certain look or feel. Perhaps “ends” is not the right word. Let’s say “comes to rest.” Because until the creative product has been sent, printed or published… there may still be changes or corrections yet.

So, anyway, that route of ideas comes to rest with a certain product. You know in your head what you’re trying to say. This is the message you’ve created. You show it to someone else, and you sometimes get input you didn’t expect. That’s the point. Because if you expected this input, you didn’t need it. The other person tells you what you missed.

I remember a lesson I began learning as a young copywriter that only took hold over time. I had written a Halloween ad encouraging people to bring their children to trick or treat at the former Montgomery Mall. My headline was: Bring your little monsters to Montgomery Mall.

In my 20s, I thought my idea was great. The pun fit the occasion perfectly. A graphic designer developed a mock-up ad featuring a trick-or-treater in a monster costume, and it was presented to the client. Surprisingly (to me at least), her response was: “I don’t know… I’m not sure parents are going to want us to call their children little monsters. Should we go with something else?”

I was disappointed that the headline was rejected over a silly little thing like the fear of insulting customers. It had been such a perfect pun. But back to the drawing board (or the word processor). I came up with something less memorable (which I can verify because I don’t remember the second option).

You could probably measure my maturity as a copywriter by my acceptance over time of the client’s point of view: parents actually might not want us to call their children little monsters. Why take that risk when you can just write another headline?

As a copywriter, I try to be alert to the unexpected offense or unintended insult. In my own work, I might not see it at first (or at all), but sometimes I start to feel a kind of discomfort and can’t be at peace with the product until I make a change.

For clients, I’m often their second set of eyes. It’s my job to look out for their best interest – at least in terms of the words in their piece. I’m here to help them see what they missed. But this is important too: I try to be diplomatic in how I say to the ones who pay me, “You might want to rethink this statement …” Because, it is possible – and I really hesitate to say this, but – it is possible I could be wrong.

This reminds me that most of us are convinced that are own thinking is on point. Our thoughts seem so much like who we are they might as well be a hand or foot. But they’re not. Or they don’t have to be. Thoughts and perceptions can change. Therefore, pulling back for a clearer view – or seeing a blind spot from a different angle – can be quite helpful. Veils are lifted and hearts are changed as scales fall from our eyes and a more accurate truth emerges.

Enjoy your magnificent journey.

– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 39