Kind Words and Crappy Grammar in a Quest for Joy

A few years back I received an email from an individual who had some very hurtful and harsh things to say about everything I was doing. She did not hold back pointing out the countless errors I had made in my first ebook Blueprint : JOYS and in my website postings among other things. Going on to say that I should seek other work or hire an editor and web master full time. It hurt. But, I read it and responded as gracefully and as grammatically correct as I could. Then I tossed the email in the trash. Hoping that action would help banish the insecurities the email reinforced.

Yes, my spelling and grammar is less than scholarly. I tend to talk in run on sentences. Words challenge me. I transpose letters and numbers. These things have been true for me all my life. Getting through complicated text has always been difficult. That’s likely why I always look for ways to simplify information. All that said, I am determined to get my ideas out.

That email crosses my mind more than I would like to admit. Most often on the challenging book writing days or during the conversations I have with my guy when he becomes frustrated with my adventures in entrepreneurship. My guy often questions the choice I have made to continue to follow my JOYS. He didn’t always feel that way. It’s just now he believes I should be taking full advantage of my skills and strengths as a graphic designer.

Don’t get me wrong. I like design work. A lot. I have been doing it for 20 plus years and it has always been enjoyable. But design work has rarely brought me to the feeling I felt today—a feeling of being understood, appreciated and truly helpful, a joyful feeling.

You may know that Danielle LaPorte is a great source of grounding for me. Currently I am struggling through her Desire Map. I say struggle because I have discovered I have a problem putting specific labels on my feelings. Ironic for a girl who understands that labels simplify. Labels bring clarity.  However, putting a label on a feelings is not so simple. It’s hard to articulate how I feel outside of the basic comfortable, happy, and grateful. 

But today, I feel joy.

I wanted to retrace my steps, to find the joy source and identify everything that contributed to it. And, it all began with an email.

I received an email requesting a bit more information about my JOYS home filing system and home notebook. Without going into compete details—the jist of the question was "For getting started, would you recommend the filing system first or the home notebook? I have both now in my "own system," but neither seems to be complete or very helpful."

I receive this question often. Nine times out of ten my response suggests starting with Filing JOYS and I always attempt to address all concerns noted the email. The replies generally include simple words and likely simpleminded grammar, but they are always personal and to the point. I really did not expect a response to my reply, as none was necessary. But a response I got and joy I felt!

Wow! Thanks so much for getting back to me. (My husband wanted to see the movie MAN OF STEEL, and when I got home and checked my email there was your reply!!) I was so excited, I had to share it with someone--which happened to be my husband. I told him that when I asked for your advice about your products, you even recommended one of your less expensive items!! I am eager to take the plunge, and I've read so many positive comments about your products.

One thing I did want to say to you concerns the negative comments you have apparently received about your writing/grammar. For nine years I was a high school English teacher. After that I stayed home for seven years with my children, then taught pre-school, and now I am an assistant at an elementary school. I often put my ideas, thoughts, and feelings on paper and find that when I'm passionate about a topic, my mind will outrace my hand. Sometimes, when I go back and read what I've written, I have to chuckle. There are usually quite a few indicators of how deeply I was affected by what I was writing. Here's the thing: (as I used to tell my high school students and even my elementary-aged writers) writing/grammatical errors are easily fixed, it's the information imparted that's most important. It seems to me that you have a wealth of knowledge to share that can transform peoples' lives, and THAT FACT ALONE should take precedence. That being said--I am going to order the filing system, and I would love to read your chapter, typos and all!!

Barbara M

I asked the author if she minded if I shared her note. I wanted to share it because I think we can often overlook the power of our words. The example I began with outlined words that focused on the idea of perfection and it diminished joy. Barbara’s response is an example of how embracing imperfection and being compassionate provides a sense of purpose to our work or the work of others. Make no mistake about it, we all seek a sense of purpose—even the people who seem to have it. A sense of purpose brings joy.

I am certain there are countless errors throughout my site, with fresh ones added with this post. But thanks to kind words it’s much easier to focus on the purpose and not the perfection of it all. It’s much easier to feel the joy. For that, I am grateful.

Now go and spread a little  joy.

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