Define Failure

I have asked myself why I have felt compelled to put my thoughts/feelings out into the world after years of hiding? Ego? Attention? Sharing? Community?

The question comes back, why have I been hiding? Unworthiness, fear, gaslighting from the tech/mgfx industry, threats, gossip, being a target, and pain are a few words that immediately come to mind. But hiding isn’t going to make any of this go away because I’ve internalized these experiences into my identity, choices and pursuits. It’s time to change my story.

For the last three years I’ve said yes to everything that terrifies me. Interviews, public speaking, speaking out about abuse in my industry…and the fact…one that I have been running from for a long time…being an artist. I didn’t want to admit this to myself because it wasn’t accepted by my upbringing, and people challenged me…I wasn’t talented, couldn’t do it, wasn’t perfect enough…or worse yet tried to convince me that what I had experience/accomplished wasn’t real…and would accuse me of lying. But I HAD been a dancer, I HAVE two degrees, I HAVE lived in multiple cities, I DID win the Adobe Award, and I AM deeply educated in fine art.

So I started reading…A LOT. Speaking with others who had similiar experiences, studying those who had gone before me…who didn’t have a mentor or roadmap. All of their lives were hard, really hard…did I have the strength? Can I endure the judgement of others? Can I learn to deal with my freakish sensitivity and uncanny ability to read a room like its running through my body seconds after walking through the door?

Each time I said yes, sat on a panel, or was interviewed or spoke with truth I gained more confidence and began to understand how deep my strength went…so deep there is no bottom. Which in itself is terrifying…because I now realize I can endure anything. This made all of my fears/excuses a flimsy barrier between myself and the truth. It’s time to stop running…it’s time to stand in the truth…it’s time to come back to where I started before the world told me who I was and designated my place in it.

At first, I spoke mostly about failure…I felt qualified to speak about the process/experience…as I did this I realized that this is an internalized judgement. “Failure” can only occur when an external goal is set and not met. The concept of failure confines goals to set parameters and rigid ideas surrounded by acceptance/approval. What if I let that go? What if I set a goal, dropped my expectations, and allowed each unique experience to shape the outcome? What if I learn to be fluid in the uncomfortable and unknown? Does that mean failure is obsolete?

Sharing my thoughts is not about being an expert in failure, or an expert in general….not about acceptance, but about a declaration. Declaring to myself publicly my intention to rewrite my story.


I’ve been doing at lot of reading/studying the writings/videos & talking w/ Chris Do, Joel Pilger,  James Victore, and Ryan Summers …it took a lot to overcome self doubt, step into the authority of what I know & give myself permission to speak up…

…I’ve been able to speak w/clients about $ in a completely different way, a miracle is happening…work is coming in, deposits are being paid on the spot, I am able to set boundaries w/scope creep & ask for payment before continuing. My clients are paying me immediately…

I am stunned & amazed at how an internal adjustment/work is changing the outcome of my life, and quickly. I realize more and more how the little decisions/thoughts have created so many obstacles for me unconsciously.

And as Gary Vaynerchuk said…you aren’t born with self doubt…self doubt is something that is projected onto you…in fact so much of my identity was wrapped in layers of external approval/disapproval that I had forgotten who I was. It took my life really falling apart to come back around and think about what I really wanted, who I am and where I want to go…

I was caught in a loop between needing to survive, wanting to stay in a creative career, fierce competition and trying to fight my way out of a downward spiral. But there was no fighting…I had to let go and rebuild from the inside out. There wasn’t any other way to build true confidence, and without that, I wasn’t going to be able to speak with authority, my clients weren’t going to trust me because I didn’t trust myself. A miracle is happening…

I am so so so grateful to the many people who extended their time and advice to help me find my way… thank you thank you thank you Chris Do, Joel Pilger, Ryan Summers, Gary Vaynerchuk,  Seth Godin,  Design Recharge, Lynda Decker,   Rebeca Méndez, ans Jim Peltier

What Happens When You Have to be the Hero of Your Own Story?

After a decade in motion and graphic design no mentor surfaced for me, I didn’t fit into cliques and battled sexism, and misogyny.

My first intern attempt right out of design school was for a company called The Orphanage. One of my professors from CCA knew the Creative Director and helped set up the interview. I was so nervous, broke and excited. I was called back for a second interview, the internship was for roto work, work I could have done with my eyes closed…after 4 men completed a intensive round of questioning/interviewing, they offered me the position of the secretary, with a possibility of moving up into an internship…

To give this some context, I graduated with honors, and my thesis won the Adobe Achievement Award. I had my work shown in the Guggenheim, and my thesis was picked up by ResFest and shown world wide…I was crestfallen.

And then it hit me, I have to be my own hero…and stop waiting for the mentor, the opened door, the opportunity…I have to create all of these things myself as someone in charge of their own life.

This was the beginning of a long and winding road of obstacles…every time I was knocked down, I got up, and went after my goals harder. I did this until I was a burnt cinder of exhaustion…no mentor showed up, no magical stroke of luck, no door opened. I read every book I could get my hands on…listened to every podcast I could find, went to meet ups, talked to people successful in my field…

And then James Victore released one of his “Dangerous Ideas” podcast “The Right Way is the Hard Way” and reminded me of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey”. When I looked at the chart that defines all of the points a hero goes through in his journey, I realized that I have been looping between points 6-8…what part of me is identifying with this part of the journey that I can’t cross over to 9?

And then it hit me, I have to be my own hero…and stop waiting for the mentor, the opened door, the opportunity…I have to create all of these things myself as someone in charge of their own life.

With so much information available I find it’s easy to get lost in a sea of how to’s and ways to make it happen. But first, I think…you have to be your own hero. Without that…no advice will move you forward.

Where are you in your journey? How did you get there?