Personal Legend Project: Malkah Bird, Indianapolis Cooperative Kindergarten Teacher

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

PERSONAL LEGEND PROJECT

Malkah Bird, Cooperative kindergarten teacher

Entering this project, I knew that Malkah would have to be a part of it.  Malkah Bird teaches in a Cooperative Kindergarten in Indianapolis. Her progressive approach to education earns her much respect and adoration around the city.  She subscribes to an emergent curriculum philosophy and it produces some pretty amazing results. It seems like everyone I meet who is involved in elementary education in Indy knows her.

One especially exciting aspect of Malkah’s cooperative kindergarten class is the outdoor classroom. Once a week, Malkah and her students head into the woods for forest kindergarten; a half day spent outdoors rain, snow, or shine.  Even in the winter, kids are excited to go outside, bundling up and having hot chocolate or warm bread they just baked to help stave off the cold.

The day I followed Malkah, I did my best to keep up with the kids as they scampered through the woods in search of clues on a scavenger hunt.  It was fun and more challenging than I expected!  Click here to learn more about Meridian Hills Coop. (Full disclosure: our kids attend MH. It’s an AMAZING SCHOOL.)

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I have been a teacher for almost 13 years. I love so many things about teaching, but have recently realized that the aspect that brings me the most joy is having the opportunity to make connections and build relationships with young children and their families. I am incredibly fortunate to get to teach at a school that values child-directed play, wonder, curiosity, creativity, and the natural world above all else. I get to spend my days alongside children as they discover what inspires them, where their passions lie and all of the ways that they want to be in the world and interact with their friends and communities.

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I have always loved spending time with and playing alongside young children. This year, though, for the first time, we are using the outdoors and the forest as an extension of our classroom and as a centerpiece of our curriculum. Our Forest Kindergarten time has been transformative for me as a teacher and a learner. Personally, I have always loved being outside in nature, but it has been so eye opening to realize that this can be a powerful aspect of a school and a dynamic and inspiring facet of my teaching.  

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

The school days fly by for me. When the kids are deep into their play, we lose all track of time. Everyday we have at least one uninterrupted hour of free play, often more. Some days this happens indoors and many days it happens in the forest.  During this free play time, the kids are deeply engaged and the ‘magic’ that is the childhood imagination takes over.  I could observe this for endless stretches of time.  I love watching as problems are created, discussed, solved, unsolved, and resolved right up until the next problem arises and the cycle begins again.

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Although I have no doubt that this approach to school and learning is right, these days, it is not necessarily the mainstream belief about early childhood education. It is not always easy to turn away from what is popular to do what feels right. Even when it feels really, really right.  

I do think that the winds are shifting and parents, educators and researchers are starting to embrace play as a critical aspect of any early childhood program, but we still have a long road ahead as we learn to trust our kids as our guides to how and what they need to be learning during these earliest years.

As much as I love what I am doing and see profound benefits for my students, I am always aware of the many, many kids who, for a variety of reasons, do not get to have these rich, nature-filled childhood experiences. I would love to find ways to take what we are doing and bring it to a much, much larger population.

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

I have taught in so many different schools and settings to a wide variety of kids. At every step of the way, I have been able to find joy by connecting with my kids, their families and the school communities. There is no end game here. For me teaching is a journey, an introspective process of observing, growing and learning alongside my students. The real prize for me is in being a present and active participant in that process.

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

A personal legend doesn’t have to be a grand sweeping thing. There is so much joy and meaning in small moments and connections.

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

Malkah Bird, Forest kindergarten, Indianapolis cooperative kindergarten

03_malkah_9014

(This post was originally published in April 2016 & was updated in May 2018.) 


Are you following your Personal Legend? Please share your journey in the comments below!

For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Andy Hassler

08_hassler_5858

Andy Hassler, Blue Mind Roasting

Andy Hassler and his wife Sarah own Blue Mind Roasting in Indianapolis.  Together they run the business while seeking a path of purpose in life.  Andy performs the roasting duties, which I’m featuring in this post.  I’m by no means a coffee expert, but I can tell you the cup Andy brewed for me was damn good.  It was so smooth and flavorful, I had to drink it black.  You can buy through their website or at these Indy-area markets.

12_hassler_

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

For us, there is not a perfect, straightforward answer to this question. Coffee roasting is definitely part of our calling, but we have only learned this in the past few years. After some twists and turns, we have begun to view our calling as more of an umbrella under which several things fit. I guess that umbrella would be living a life characterized by slowing down, being present, and cultivating beauty and life in a specific place. We are involved with a few different things that fall under this, but coffee roasting has been one of the largest parts of it for us, especially lately.

03_hassler_

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

It’s interesting because for a long time I thought my one true calling was writing and teaching, and Sarah thought hers was to be a mother. We have only begun roasting coffee in the past few years. As my view of what I thought I would do with writing and teaching began to change, I started to develop a passion for roasting coffee. And as our kids have gotten older, Sarah has been longing for something different as well. So you could say this aspect of our calling only became clear three years ago. At the same time, if we step back and look at the bigger picture, coffee roasting falls under that umbrella that we now see has always defined our lives. It is just now becoming more clear.

11_hassler_2

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I am in the zone when I am thinking about how to roast a new coffee, tasting a new coffee, or talking about and educating people about coffee. Sarah experiences this when she is doing anything related to the artistic side of the business.

06_hassler_5838

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

There was a point where we hit a road block in what we felt like we were doing with our lives, and we sort of had to recalibrate everything. This is actually when we began roasting coffee and started to develop a different vision for our life. This has been very painful, and in some ways we are still working through it. At the same time, things are clearer now than they have been in a while, and the whole process has actually broken up a lot of ground in our lives, making way for new growth.

05_hassler_5808

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

The world both does and does not really need us. There are much larger realities in this world than our dreams. And these realities can be very harsh at times. An overly ambitious ego and unrealistic goals often create a bubble waiting to burst. At the same time, dreams do matter, and pursuing something with passion and the intention to serve other people can change lives, including your own. For us, slowing down and learning to be present and considerate of small things has been critical. Our pursuit is teaching us contentment, gratitude, and attentiveness to the moment.  

11_hassler_7330

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Make sure your true calling is actually true to who you are. Losing something you have hoped for can be very painful, but if the hope was false, you will eventually be better off without it. If you can find what is true about your hope, you can still hold on to that and move forward. Then you have to live it out however you can, even if it’s not full-time. I would say to think small at first, and be careful not to let others manipulate it or rob you of it. Looking too far ahead or comparing yourself to others tends only to set you back and never moves you forward.

04_hassler_579809_hassler_7279


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Adam Germany

02_adam_

Adam Germany, Fu5ion Personal Chef & Catering Services

I first met Adam over the holidays and immediately realized we share similar perspectives on entrepreneurship and following a true calling.  It was inspiring to hear how his business has taken off since moving to Indy in 2014 and starting Fu5ion that fall.  Adam doesn’t like to drop names, but I don’t mind letting you know he can list a few Pacers players as regular clients.  His new delivery service just started in February and already has clients from Greenwood to Zionsville.

Check out www.fu5ionpcs.com for more details about his services.

01_adam_5648

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I’ve discovered through my passion for food and creating memorable experiences, that my true calling is helping others to realize and achieve their greatest potential.  I’ve come to understand that my career passion as a personal chef provides me with an opportunity to connect with people in a very special way and help them to inspire, create and realize their truest self, while feeding them delicious food.  

03_adam_7049

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

My first glimpse of my true calling came one day while helping my father plan financially for his business, providing him perspectives from my own business experiences.  I had been in my career as a chef for nearly a decade at the time and he asked me if I had ever considered becoming a consultant .  He noted that the way that I was able to speak to people and provide them with a space to truly be themselves and discover their own way by asking “the right” questions was remarkable.  I did not think much of it at the time, but over the next several years I relived similar experiences with many other people while providing them with food through my passion as a chef.  My calling was clear. 

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I most often find myself “in the zone” when I think of the results and difference that my work will make in the lives of others.  Those thoughts provide me with an unwavering drive and determination to achieve my goals.

04_adam_

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

The greatest challenge I’ve faced in my pursuit of my life’s work has been learning to consistently take action in the face of fear.  My passion for what I do keeps me focused and driven, however fear challenges that on a daily basis: fear of making the wrong decision, fear of failing, fear of loss, fear of fear itself.  I have come to a place in my life now where I understand that fear will only be an obstacle until I face it.  Whenever I have a feeling of fear while making decisions with regards to my life’s work, I ask myself, “Why am I fearful?”   Most times I discover that this is the action I most need to to take in order to achieve my goals.  This realization provides me with the power and courage to take the needed steps to move forward.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Pursuing my own Personal Legend has taught me many things.  I have found that there are not any direct paths or specific road maps that you must follow to your life’s purpose.  You are exactly where you are “supposed” to be on your journey right now.  Stay present and embrace every moment of your journey, and your “way” will unfold, almost magically.   Also, managing and controlling fear when it enters your life is a major key.  Fear is one of the strongest emotions.  It has the power to paralyze and keep us from achieving our truest potential.  Once we clearly identify fear when it enters our psyche, and take action in spite of it, we will discover another realm of living and the possibilities that are available to us.  

05_adam_7080

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Follow your heart!  When you’ve found your true calling, you won’t be able to deny the feeling.  


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Betsy Callahan

01_betsy_6782

Betsy Callahan, Ballroom Dancer

When I first started taking Betsy’s photos for this project, I sensed she was a little nervous.  Later she told me that I was the first in the family to be invited into the studio.  Betsy is my wife’s sister.  A number of people in the family said she’d be a great fit for this project.  I agreed.

Something inspiring about Betsy’s dancing is that its goal is one of personal growth.  It’s not a path to make money or gain outside recognition.  The pursuit itself is the reward.

02_betsy_6849

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

My passion is competitive ballroom dancing. I love the training, learning the techniques and exploring how to express music with a partner. In short, I love the process.

03_betsy_5491

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

 

I have always done some form of dance since I was a little girl. When I went back to college at the age of 32 my school was offering a minor in ballroom dancing. I enrolled in my first class and a new door was opened up to me. I found my “home”. My soul sang. I have been studying it ever since. Right now I have an instructor who is so talented and has a wealth of knowledge that he is willing to share. Learning the art is an ongoing process. I have been doing it now for 20 years.

04_betsy_6868

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

Every day that I walk through the studio door I try to leave my other self behind. This 3-4 hours is my time. The ritual I follow to get ready for a lesson helps prepare me to focus. Sometimes it works better than others but most of the time I’m in the zone until I change clothes and head back home. I’m working on being in the zone during competitions. I get sooo nervous.

05_betsy_6946

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

My biggest challenge is accepting my limitations. I have asthma so sometimes my body will not do what I want it to.

06_betsy_6974

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

It has taught me that I’m stronger than I thought I was, that my mind can be my enemy or my friend, and that battling the nay-sayers is a battle worth fighting. I’ve learned to be brave and step out of my safety zone. I’m constantly saying to myself, “Face the fear and walk into it”.

07_betsy_5540

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

I encourage everyone to discover their gifts and not to give up until they do. Following “the path of the heart” isn’t easy but living your passion makes you see and experience life differently.


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Sarah Moshe

02_moshe_5376

Sarah Moshe, Immigration Law, Lewis & Kappes

My wife has been close friends with Sarah for over 25 years.  In the time I have known her, her passion for immigration law has always been apparent.  Immigration is an issue that is frequently politicized and spoken about in sweeping generalizations.  But the reality is that behind the numbers and rhetoric, there are individuals who have a broad range of circumstances.  Sarah has a great deal of compassion for immigrants and seeks to help them achieve their American dream.

I photographed Sarah at the Lewis & Kappes offices in downtown Indy as she met with clients.  Her assistant, Daisy Davila-Dollard, who Sarah states is essential to her ability to get things done, is with her in the image below.

07_moshe_5440

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I eat, sleep, breathe, sweat, and cry immigration. Literally. You can find me ordering tacos at Carnicería Guanajuato. My bedroom wall is decorated with a mural depicting El Día de los Muertos, handcrafted by a close friend from Mexico. I dedicate countless hours to researching our country’s ever-changing laws, traipsing back and forth across Capitol Hill to discuss policy with members of Congress, and rocking clients’ newborn babies while deciphering their histories and crafting case management plans. I weep reading books like The Devil’s Highway (Luis Alberto Urrea), The Tortilla Curtain (T.C. Boyle), and Prayers for the Stolen (Jennifer Clement). Tears stream down my face when a trial concludes, when my clients are unshackled and reunited with their families outside a courtroom.

Immigration is my life’s work. Immigration is my Personal Legend, and I have the incredible fortune to earn a living doing precisely what I love. I am an immigration defense attorney.

04_moshe_5392

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I feel like I’ve known my entire life this is my calling.

My mom used to tell a story about losing me in the 130,000 ft2 Kittle’s showroom when I was four or five years old. She realized I had wandered off from her, which was highly unusual, and frantically searched the store. When she spotted me, I was following behind a Spanish-speaking family – my eyes as wide as saucers with wonder at the sounds and lively gesticulations.

I was fluent in Spanish before high school graduation, and earned honors after documenting my own pilgrimage, on foot, through Mexico City to La Basilica de Santa María de Guadalupe. I majored in Latin American Studies in college, and wrote my law school application essays about migrant farmworkers’ rights.

Being immersed in other cultures, even in my very own city, and helping families pursue their dreams while simultaneously enrichening Indianapolis with their native languages, cuisine, music, literature, and film is what I have always, always wanted to do.

01_moshe_6711

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

Every. Single. Day. The world could be crumbling around me while I am meeting with a potential client for the very first time, and I would be blissfully unaware. There is something ethereal about listening intently to an immigrant’s story.

A 15-year-old Honduran girl who journeyed alone, crouched for days in the shipping container connected to a semi, who hopes to enroll at Speedway High School. A 45-year-old Colombian man who fled when the guerrilla forces infiltrated his village, and is now dying of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, who wants to make sure his undocumented wife has a valid driver’s license so she can transport him to medical appointments. A 19-year-old boy from South Sudan who can run a four-minute mile, who overstayed his student visa because civil war broke out in his home country days after his arrival in the United States, and he has not been able to locate his family (who he last heard was in a refugee camp in a neighboring African nation) in over two years.

Hanging on every word uttered, every memory behind eyes that have seen far more than I could ever imagine, I listen. Then, I probe every statute, regulation, and precedential case in search of a way to help. I would go to the ends of the earth, even while the world is crumbling, for these precious people.

05_moshe_5432

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Triplets! I’m certain I love my children more than any other mother has ever loved a child (all mothers say that, don’t we?!), and everything from the mundane – reviewing homework, ironing uniforms, and packing lunches – to the spectacular – spontaneous snuggles on the sofa, sharing my wanderlust with them while their minds and souls are still sponges, and conversations with them about anything and everything – brings me great joy. I’d be lying, though, if I professed to be able to draft a killer brief or, honestly, to be able to even think about clients and cases, while I am mothering three eight-year-olds.

Life is a magnificent balance. My kiddos and their needs force me to rest my constantly-churning mind. Doing arts and crafts with them, going on a scavenger hunt in our neighborhood, and shooting baskets at dusk is the best kind of break. If it weren’t for Noah, Aila, and Gabriel, I might never leave my office! I would lose out on so much beauty outside of my niche!

03_moshe_6731

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Patience. Compassion. Open-mindedness. Cultural sensitivity. Foreign languages! Respect – for my co-workers, clients, opposing counsel, judges, and government. Humility. Gratitude.

06_moshe_5454

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Well, the best piece of advice I received was from Jay Foonberg, in his book, How to Start and Build a Law Practice. He writes, “To succeed in the practice of law over a period of years requires a deep and sincere desire to help people. If you are looking upon your license to practice law simply as a ticket to making money, or as a one-way ticket out of the ghetto or barrio, then you are making a serious mistake… If you are entering the legal profession solely to make money, you are making a serious mistake… With proper management and proper client relations skills, the economic rewards will follow the rendering of high-quality legal services.”

Identify what you love. Think of nothing but that, and go for it. Do it. Do it as well as possible, giving it every ounce of your essence. The money, which we all need to survive, will come. I promise.


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: GK Rowe

01_gk_

GK Rowe, Business Design Principal, Q7 Associates

GK has a uniquely creative mind, and I’ve regularly called him up over the years to discuss ideas over drinks or lunch.  It’s nice to talk with someone who gets it.  He’s also one of the best connectors I know, hosting regular gatherings for creatives of all types.  Logically, once I came up with the idea of this project, he was my first call.  In addition to being a great fit for this project himself, he referred me to at least three other subjects in this series.

I caught up with GK at one of his weekly creative meetings at Palomino, where as you’ll see, he’s earned himself a permanent spot at the bar.  Next I followed him over to Spoke & Steele, a sleek new spot in Le Meridien hotel for another meeting of minds.

Check out Q7 Associates online to learn about the awesomeness that is experienced-based design.

 04_gk_4832

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

I always wanted to be an educator and initially went to school to be a teacher.  I was one of those kids who would put together a classroom in my bedroom.  I eventually changed my mind after getting my bachelors in art education and found a career in business that helped me to better refine other talents.  I really enjoyed the business culture when I first started and quickly moved up to various positions where I supervised several people, districts and had a company car most of my business life and a well paid salary position.  

Time went on and the business world left my soul feeling very dark. There was lots of travel and I practically lived out of a suitcase and on airlines for some time, the business world became cutthroat and manipulating.  What started out as being an ideal career turned sour.  I watched my coworkers get divorce, become alcoholics, and cheat on their spouses.  It became a manipulation game with our clients and I was wearing thin – physically and emotionally.  One day I quit my job.  I’d had enough and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do; however, I knew clearly what I was no longer going to do.  

I went to work as a security guard at an art museum making minimum wage and had time to write a business plan.  I wanted to do something creative and back to filling my soul.  While I very much enjoy painting and being an artist, the struggles seemed high and the pay seemed dim so I worked to combine my creative talents with my business background and education/teaching knowledge.  This helped me form Q7 Assocaiates.  

Today, I work with clients to provide them with honest services that I can proudly put my name on, I work with people and clients who I enjoy and challenge me so my work never gets stale.  I am in a position to help people and businesses grow and that is what excites me about my work.  I have helped start-ups move to large companies and I have had the opportunity to work with some very well named brands providing a wide variety of services.  I’ve done everything from picking out salt and pepper shakers for clients to naming their business to designing their corporate offices.

02_gk_6014

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

Once I left corporate culture I was sitting in my home office plugging away at whatever I could do to get work.  I received an email from the Arts Council of Indianapolis that was a call for artist.  The call was for the Conrad, a new hotel going in downtown Indianapolis.  I thought, dreamed, fantasized about what it would be like to have my artwork in a place as prestigious as the Conrad.  I submitted my portfolio .  

Three years passed and I didn’t hear any more about the call – no response to yes or no and I became so occupied on other projects that I simply forgot about the submission.  One of those distractions was putting together a magazine.  I had just launched the first issue of a magazine that highlighted creative projects, people in business in the Indiana area.  About a month after the magazine was out I got a call from one of the ladies that was interviewed that worked for Kite Reality.  She said that the VP for Marketing of the Conrad had picked up our magazine at a wine bar, contacted her to put him in touch with me.  

The next week I was in a board room with three Conrad executives.  I was eventually hired to do marketing and various design initiatives.  One day they called me and said the interior designer did not spec artwork for the space and they needed my help placing work.  I added that to my service list and found three original Picasso works to put behind the front desk.  The day they were being installed with security arriving to unload them I realized how whole I felt and that I had once dreamed of having my artwork in that hotel; however, ended up being the person that placed the artwork.  I love seeing projects that are “raw” come to a “polished” finish – it’s a lot like painting to me.

07_gk_6197

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

I typically reserve my home office space for creative thinking and my work office space for production and task oriented projects.  This sounds odd, but most of my creative thinking comes while driving and in the shower.  Some of the best problem solvers know how to get in to this zone – some do things like take a walk, do cross-stitch or a remedial task that has rhythm.   I sometimes will go to a symphony or rehearsal and simply meditate or think through a project.  I find that most of the time I come out of that space racing to find a bar napkin to capture ideas.  These normally become developed concepts.  At Q7, we now have creative meetings at Palomino so we can get out of our office space, relax with a glass of wine and casually discuss ideas.

05_gk_4836

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

My biggest challenge is staying relevant. I sell creative ideas and style and these two items are something everyone has to offer.  Even my clients come up with their own ideas.  I practice being a responsible creative where the ideas and concepts have to some way benefit the client’s organizational needs or their client’s needs so it isn’t always just about a creative idea, but it’s practical application and benefit.  

The other challenge is time.  Creativity takes time and the world we live in is very demanding and we sometimes have very limited time to create and this limits the production of what can be accomplished.  We also have to work within budgets so not every idea is affordable.

03_gk_6072

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

Perseverance, courage and strength.  For me, practicing my true calling did not come easy and required lots of emotional and physical strength.  I had to push myself when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, I had to focus on me and not allow people to pull me down.  It’s surprising the number of people that won’t mind watching you fail.  It also taught me to listen to my inner whisper, my inner voice.  I find that my intuition is very strong when I’m working and going that path seems to always be the right one.  

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Learn to listen with a critical ear.  I looked for a received lots of advice; however, at the end of the day, I was the one that had to do something about it and it is easy to get caught up in other peoples ideas when you are desperately looking for something to work.  Staying true to my own self was the strength that got me into my true calling.  And, I always embrace new challenges and look for the opportunity to learn from others and continue to grow in my work.  Make friends with fear.  It will be the fuel to motivation and growth.  If I was paralyzed by the fears I have encountered, I’m almost certain I would not have experienced my true calling.

06_gk_6158


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Penelope Dullaghan

Penelope Dullaghan, Illustrator & Designer

Penelope’s work is primarily influenced by nature, and she takes daily walks along the river behind her home.  Frequently she paints or sketches what she finds.  Her work is used both commercially and editorially and credits include Crate & Barrel, The New York Times, Starbucks, O Magazine and Target.  Be sure to check out her work on her website: penelopeillustration.com or follow her on Instagram.

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Making art is my true calling. It’s been the thing that’s kept my attention since I was little. And it helps me look at the world more closely and possibly make some sort of sense of it. Several times I’ve tried to leave it to do something else (temporary insanity), but I always come back. It’s just part of me.

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I’ve been making art since I could hold a crayon, but I think I realized it was my calling when I was working as an art director in advertising. I was always drawn to the more creative aspects of that job and eventually left to make it my focus. I’ve been freelancing as an illustrator since then and feel like I’m in the right place.

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

When I’m in my studio working on a new piece, I often lose track of time… forget to eat… realize hours later that I’ve been sitting in silence working for hours without looking up.

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

My greatest challenge has been being ok with the natural, slow evolution of my work. I tend to be competitive and gung ho, and my work in tandem with my life circumstance has taught me to slow down and accept a more meditative pace.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

To be here and now.

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Find some way to pursue it. Whether that means just in your free time as a hobby, or something more dedicated. What matters is to listen to it and take a step.


Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Personal Legend Project: Frank Basile

Frank Basile, Philanthropist

Frank Basile, Heartland Film Festival, Interim President

I first met Frank and his wife Katrina in 2010 when Frank was in need of some portraits for a column he writes.  A friendly and unassuming couple, I was unaware of the significant impact they had on the local arts scene.  Not only has their generosity landed their names on various theaters around town, but Frank uses his “retirement” running not-for-profits on an interim basis and serving on multiple boards.

Be sure to check out the Heartland Film Festival this fall, October 20-30, in various locations around Indianapolis

Frank Basile, Philanthropist

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Doing something that serves a mission that I believe in – whether working at the Gene B. Glick Company as I did for 33 years, serving on a board of a not-for-profit organization, doing volunteer work or, as I am doing now, serving as interim president of the Heartland Film Festival.  Four years ago, I served as interim president and CEO of the Center for the Performing Arts and also loved that challenge and felt fulfilled by accomplishing the job. 

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

In the early 1980s when I joined the board of the Indianapolis Art League.  

Frank Basile, Philanthropist

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

When I am facing a difficult challenge while working at something I love and enjoy.  This happens often when I take over the top job for a not-for-profit on an emergency basis because there is generally a tough situation to deal with.  

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

Obstacles over which I have little or no control frustrate me and cause the greatest challenge.  

Frank Basile, Philanthropist

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

To help others discover their Personal Legend, something that also falls into the category of one aspect of my calling.  My personal mission has always been to help others reach their potential by using their God-given talents to the greatest extent possible in pursuing their dreams, whatever they are.  In the 1980s and 1990s I did this primarily through my motivational speaking and writing of columns and books and in the 2000s through my philanthropy and organizational work through not-for-profits.  

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Do personal introspection to determine what turns them on, what makes them excited to get up in the morning and start the day and then go do that.  As Will Rogers said, “To be successful in life or work, you need to know what you’re doing, love what you’re doing and believe in what you’re doing.” 

Frank Basile, Philanthropist

Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.