Everything in my life is connected.


One event, good or bad, leads to another, and every step in the right direction gets me closer to where I want to be. I have also learned that every step in the wrong direction doesn't necessarily take me off course.   Those steps bring me closer to the reason why I am on this path to begin with. A journey off course means I needed to reconnect with the spirit of my mission in life.


My writing is a reflection of the many turns in my life.


This one started with one word,and the world created the opportunity to share it with someone along the way.


In my travels, I hardly ever listen to the radio. I always carry CDs so I can learn while I drive. One of my favorite authors is Robert Fulghum. Since my all-time favorite author Og Mandino passed away, I started collecting everything I could find by Fulghum. I enjoy his voice and appreciate his wit. Both he and Og are great story tellers.


In "Words I Wish I Wrote," Fulghum explains what artists refer to as "pentimento."


Sometimes after a work of art is finished, the artist will repaint a section, covering up something he doesn't like. After years of exposure the original will sometimes show through. Being able to see the creation underneath is referred to as "pentimento." The process is compared to repenting.


I must have replayed that part of the CD four or five times. I thought about how many times in my life I tried to cover up something. Perhaps a flaw in my personality, or even a habit that I would like to change, only to find it showing through at a very inappropriate time. But sometimes what we cover up is something authentic, something we need.


Excited about this new revelation, I automatically expected to find a reason to share it.


After speaking at a recent conference, I met Cathy. She approached me, saying, "I found myself the other day."


"Why? Were you missing?" I replied.


"No. I guess I was just hiding." she said.


She went on to tell me that, when she was younger, she was full of dreams and hopes of a life of happiness ever after. As she grew up, the world changed and so did she. The dreams seemed to fade. The hopes died away. Life buried them underneath piles of reality and darkened disappointments.


But now in these newfound years of maturing and wisdom gained, she has discovered that they were still there all along. Dreaming out loud one day while visiting her family, she heard her mother say, "The real you is showing through."


It was then she realized that just below the surface of her recreated life, all of the "original" Cathy was still there.


"Wow!" I said. "Pentimento!"


"What?" she asked.


"It is said that our lives start out like a blank canvas. As we grow through life we create our masterpiece. But sometimes, like the true artist, we return to paint over the original. One day, after much exposure to a life well worn, the real you comes shining through," I told her.


Then I ran out to my car and gave her the CD as a gift.


There it was. On a journey to another place in my life, I learned something new.


When this happens, I believe I am obligated to pass it on. Maybe that information wasn't really for me. Maybe it was intended for Cathy all along.


Still, that one word explained so much for my own life. I am where I started, but better for the journey. As I look in the mirror now, the paint may be cracked a bit and a few lines have appeared on the surface. But when the time comes, I will proudly sign my work of art and hang it in the museum of life--next to yours.

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