Friends, I'm about to get all transparent up in here, if you'll indulge me.
I mentioned earlier this week that the Mom 2.0 Summit always re-energizes me, and this year is no exception: since returning from this past weekend, my focus on Chookooloonks has returned, sharper than ever. Over the last few days, I've realized that it's been a little over 5 years since I quit practicing law; it seems that now is as good a time as any to review how things are going so far.
When I quit my job, I didn't have much of a plan for what Chookooloonks was going to be about (something that I feel a bit ashamed to admit, but there it is). I knew that I wanted to write and do photography, and I've always loved public speaking, but I didn't really know exactly what a career that encompassed all of those things was going to look like. So, at the end of 2008, I revamped Chookooloonks making it clear that speaking, writing and shooting was what I loved to do, and opened myself to whatever opportunities might have come my way. My rule for myself was that I would take any opportunity that would allow me to either (a) do two of my three loves (i.e., speak & write, or write & shoot, or speak & shoot), or (b) sounded like so much fun that I really didn't want to pass it up.
Although this strategy is probably not one that would be touted by any career guidance book worth its salt, I have to say that this method definitely worked for me. The last few days, I've taken a tally of what I've done over the last five years; in particular, the parts of my job that brought me great joy:
• I launched a few online workshops, that delve deeper into the concepts of The Beauty of Different, and that allow me to connect a bit closer to readers;
• I traveled both domestically and internationally -- a total of 8 different countries (some of them paid gigs, some of them on my own dime), so that I could tell some of their stories and share some of their beauty;
• I've collaborated with many amazing organizations, and booked many speaking engagements (including two TEDx talks), for associations that ranged from committed and passionate not-for-profits, to large, dynamic, multi-national corporations (and everything in-between);
• I continued to share everyday beauty here at Chookooloonks.com, and in the process, gratefully connected with thousands of amazing, generous souls (that'd be all of you).
Overall, I'm pleased with what I've accomplished over the past 5 years, particularly considering, as I mentioned above, I didn't have much of a roadmap when I started. But now that I have 5 years under my belt, and I've got more of an idea of the things I love to do, and things I'd like to experiment with doing. And so, in the interest of codifying some of these goals, I thought I'd share what I hope to both start and continue doing over the next 5 years, all of which remain true to the mission statement I wrote for myself, one that thankfully feels as core to my beliefs and values as it when I created it a few years ago.
In addition to continuing to do everything I've been doing thus far (because I really love what I do), here's what I hope the next few years looks like:
• Since I love the process of writing and shooting books, I'm hoping to create more ebooks -- most immediately on topics like photography and social media, but broader subjects as well. Stay tuned.
• It's no secret that I love travel specifically for the stories it allows me to tell. In the next 5 years, I hope my opportunity to travel increases, especially if it allows me to connect with cultures different from my own (not just race or nationality, like my trips to Kenya, Ethiopia and Australia, but similar to my experience with La Crema Winery, also opportunities to experience customs and practices that are new to me). I'd like to continue to share these stories, and do my part to help facilitate intercultural connections through my site.
• My relationship with the ONE Campaign continues to be one of the biggest joys of my work; in addition, I hope to find additional opportunities for collaborations with other great not-for-profits that help the disadvantaged in ways that I can amplify their stories through words and images.
• Although I love doing online workshops and courses, I hope to begin offering more in-person workshops, preferably around the country (and eventually international as well). This fall's LimeLight Sessions is a good first start (and if you haven't registered, please do! There are a few spots left and I'd love to have you), but I'm hoping to create even more workshops as well.
• And finally, I'd like to create products that allow people to have a tangible bit of Chookooloonks in their homes. I'm not entirely sure what that's going to look like, yet, but it's something I'd love to do.
So, thus concludes my official State of the Chookooloonks address! Over the next few years, hopefully you'll be seeing more of the above from me and from this site (and if you have any ideas of anything else you'd like to see more of, please let me know -- I'm open to all suggestions and opportunities!). And of course, I'm going to keep coming back here and sharing the light on this site -- because ultimately, deep down, that's what I'm all about.
(Thanks for letting me "think out loud," and thanks again for all your support, friends.)