I struggle with the “you’re so incredible!” sentiment I often hear. I’m not all that different from anyone else. I asked my mother once if she saw anything in me that would have given her an indication about the woman I’ve become, and she smiled and said, not really but you asked a lot of questions and always had a bright idea you were dragging your younger brothers into! My family likes to joke that my tombstone will one day read, “Jess had an idea.” It would be accurate, to say the least.
In all honesty, I’m simply a mom who was determined to make the world a little bit more accommodating and aware for herself, her child, and her family, and in that determination, I moved toward change. Nothing I’ve created or accomplished happened overnight. NOTHING. I’ve slowly trudged through the muck for everything I’ve seen turn to gold. Getting my Bachelor’s Degree took 5 years. My Masters, 10! My first book, 12 years, and the second, 4. The Unseen Documentary also took 4 years to complete and for The Lucas Project, it was during the fifth year (2023!) that things finally took off, and we received the funding needed to be a “legit” nonprofit.
Anything worthwhile takes time, but in the meantime, if you’re not moving and grooving, your “thing” isn’t either. In my humble opinion, it doesn’t even take much intelligence. I’m not all that smart (B student through undergrad), but I am extremely curious and consistent. I consistently work toward progress, and when I get stuck, I curiously seek out answers or solutions. I’m also a huge believer in throwing darts at the board. Gosh, for every dart that has stuck, I’ve probably witnessed 50 fall to the ground! But – you don’t ever receive the joy from the one that sticks if you don’t throw a few. You gotta try, right?
And you absolutely must become okay with the word “NO”.
No is not personal. No is simply, “this is not for you right now or maybe ever.” No can be a massive layer of protection against something that would not be good for you when viewed through the rearview mirror. I had lots of no’s in my early years that turned to yes’s later on. Yes’s, that if they had been granted early on, might have been extremely detrimental to my new fragile family that was struggling with blending, adoption, special needs, and grief; however, many of those no’s later turned to yes. Yes’s when those in authority witnessed my consistent determination which led to progress which led to whatever the thing might be: book, film, nonprofit, or podcast. People change their minds all the time and are drawn to those who don’t give up easily. The darts that do stick sometimes open big doors like the dart I threw at the board in 2018 when I broadcasted my big idea for a documentary on Facebook. That dart not only stuck but provided an opportunity to throw a bunch of darts at close range which has led to many recent yes’s which will lead to awareness and change for caregivers.
I want to encourage you today to throw a dart. Release an arrow into the world and be completely ok with the response. And in the meantime, do the next right thing towards progress, and do it every day. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your dart board begins to fill up.
Just keep livin.