Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
-Martin Luther King Jr.
This year I decided to volunteer to be a part of a program that helps individuals returning to society from prison transition back into the community. Being a former convict is a persistent stigma in our society, making it doubly hard to reset and to try to change the course of one's life in a new direction. To me, Dr. King's quote speaks volumes. Even single steps can be hard.
The program is called Concordance Academy of Leadership. It's a program designed to address the obstacles that stand in the way of an individual being able to identify a path to move forward. Barriers such as joblessness, health, family problems, safe housing and others are addressed. Building on the success of faith-based programs it also connects each individual with a group of people that commit to loving support and regular communication.
This is where I've seen those "first steps." And how it can be hard to continue to climb.
Our partner “Joe” is 20-years-old and served two years' time for robbery. Out since January he’s had good days and bad. He lost his wallet, has to rely on mind-numbingly time-consuming public transportation, and has family members leaning on him for more than his fair share of financial support. He's listening, gradually establishing trust with us, and other times stops communicating for a while. We are trying to be consistent for him and have struggled to get better organized as a group. First steps.
Earlier this year I came across a speech by Denzel Washington that's stuck with me. In part, he said: "Never give up. Without commitmentyou'll never start, but more importantly, without consistency you'll never finish. It's not easy.... Fall down seven times, get up eight." And then, he pauses, "Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship. Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship...keep moving!"
When things feel comfortable, it can be so hard to take another step.
Update on exploring steps to write a book:
Writing 30 minutes/day: Still at it! Today is Day 43.
Research similar authors: I just finished The Abandoned Heart by Laura Benedict. It was captivatingly spooky. I’d forgotten how fun it is as a reader to know that something supernatural can spring up any moment! And the tension kept me speeding through the pages. This is not the historical fiction that I’m interested in writing but I liked the suspense in the storytelling because as a reader you’re in on the secret while the poor characters are not. I've made a mental note that this could be fun to incorporate in the future. Next up: Sue Monk Kidd's Secret Life of Bees.
Mastermind 3-month creativity course: Last week was about identifying a theme or narrative that has thread its way through my life. It could include clues to the answer of what to write about. I have a few mission statement DRAFTS that I believe my writing could reflect: "In everything I do I believe in pushing through the edges of limitation. In everything I do I believe in making connections with others." More on this later.
Do you have a mission statement?
Let me end with a final message. This is from the mastermind class coach, Dan Blank, who wrote in an email about writing to me, "The first (or next step) doesn't have to be perfect. It simply needs to be a step. It can be an experiment. It doesn't have to be a commitment you never back away from. Take small steps each week."
Small steps each week. You, too!