Success & an Adult Coloring Contest

21 02 2017

article-2572641-1c05879800000578-969_634x832We live in a society with wildly mixed messages about success. On the one hand, we read about unique and amazing individuals who defied all odds, followed their passions, broke the mold, and became wildly successful billionaires.


On the other hand, we are raised in a culture that teaches us to color inside the lines. Do as you’re told. Follow instructions. March down a well-worn career path, check the right boxes, get the right promotions, and you’ll be made in the shade. If you work hard and focus on retirement, you will live a long and healthy life, and be well-prepared for retirement.


That’s seriously the goal. Spend your life preparing to die with enough money to avoid going into a cheap retirement home. Sounds fulfilling, right?0bfe9d4c-f4b2-4f7b-8a38-aa2d53a4f479_560_420


Even though Millenials are now the largest portion of our workforce, the antiquated mantra still holds true.  While management positions are largely held by GenXers, who are the ones making the rules now, we are repeating the same messages we were taught when we were young. Play it safe. Color inside the lines. 


rainbow-cake-web-300x300Ah-HAH! You almost got us! But we are not so easily fooled. I’ve seen another future, and I refuse to ignore it. I want it all, just like my parents got their slice of the pie… but my pie is more like a multi-layer rainbow cake! Every delectable bite is well-balanced with a myriad of flavors, so I don’t have to wait until the end to enjoy each flavor!


I don’t want to wait until I retire to see the world. And you know what? I am a better employee because of it. I’ve experienced numerous other cultures, and have perspective, which allows me to truly appreciate the quality of life that I have here in the Unites States. I’ve learned from other cultures too, and developed aspirations and guidance on ways to improve my own life.

On my honeymoon in Thailand, I met an older American couple, Jan and Bill. They were taking the same 2-day slow boat down the Mekong river as us, and we had hours to get to know each other. We were proud of being able to take a full ‘honey-moon,’ 28 days to relish in our newfound status as a married couple. All the Europeans, of course, looked at us in pity and said, “why so short??” as they shared their travel plans for the next 2 months. Bill and Jan, however, took the cake. a10956943346a8006ac6b45e696e528fEvery 5 years, this couple sets sail for international waters, docks their boat someplace foreign, and begins a year-long journey of exploration. I call this a ‘mini-retirement.’ After a year is up, they return back to the U.S. and resume their normal lives, saving up enough money to resume their mini-retirement 5 years later. Jan & Bill are my new heroes.


This fervor for life, for experiences instead of things, is deep in my DNA. It is also shaped by my own life experiences.


I was always an artistic child. I still have some of my childhood drawings, including an annual colored pencil portrait of a fictional girl every year from the age of 7. I drew these just because I loved to, as any artist does. Ironically, I never liked coloring books, choosing a blank sheet of paper every time, and turning my nose up at the glossy wrapped books that my family liked to buy me.


seaway_food_town_plusOne March afternoon, I was at the Food Town grocery store with my mom, in Oxford, Michigan. As we were checking out, there was a large table decorated with St. Patrick’s Day decor, and a banner. It was for a Food Town Coloring Contest. Sitting atop the table was a stack of grey colored sheets with identical scenes a pot of gold sitting on the ground, with a stiflingly stereotypical leprechaun. I read through the contest instructions, and the list of exciting prizes, and decided that I was IN!


st-patricks-coloring-pages-23285-for-st-patricks-day-coloring-pages-high-resolutionI knew that I could color the best darn St. Patty’s day drawing in the world, and I immediately sat down to devote my life to this endeavor. I started with a black pen. Without hesitation, I started changing the drawing, to improve upon the outline I was given! I added rolling hills in the background, with mischievous leprechauns hiding in the background. And, of course, a giant rainbow! I gave it everything I had, and then some. When I got to coloring, I used 3 shades of green, to depict shadows on the hills, for depth. I was SO proud, and made my mom drive me back to the FoodTown store the very next day so that I could submit my award-destined-entry.


Agonizing weeks went by. I began to wonder what other kids might have drawn, and if I had missed something big. My mom reminded me that the odds were that other kids might win, and not to get my hopes up. Then, the phone rang. I rushed to answer it.

“Yes, this is Kelly.”

“Yes, I entered the coloring contest.”

“What??? I DID???”


I not only won something… I won the GRAND PRIZE!! A brand new bike!!! I still remember the sense of pride and accomplishment on that day, and every day after when I rode that bike down my dirt road. You know what this taught me? Not only is it okay to color outside the lines, but sometimes your own lines can be EVEN BETTER. 


So, I challenge you.

I challenge you to an adult coloring contest.

Go find a blank piece of paper, grab something to mark with, and draw. Draw your heart out! Don’t lift the tip off the page for at least 60 seconds- just GO! Sketch a loose picture of your hopes, your dreams, your wildest version of reality!! Don’t hold back, and find that inner child without limitations to express what you really desire in life! Send me a photo of your artwork and I’ll share in a future post to celebrate the courage of you and all our peers.



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