Without YouTube, I never would have started teaching watercolour online. It was those awkwardly angled, crazy-kids-in-the-background, first tutorials and the comments of support I received that got me thinking “I wonder if I could make & sell classes online?” From there, I’ve been able to create 14 online courses, connect with thousands of students all over the world and have received invitations to teach workshops in many countries. What I value the most is the sense of community and friendship that I feel with so many of my online connections. Some people say, “just a Facebook friend” as though it’s somehow not “real” friendship, but in teaching and connecting with the medium of watercolour that is often very personal, I really do love and trust many people I have never met (at least not yet!).
It’s the personal connection that is so meaningful. I think we all want to live with purpose, and sometimes we get stuck in a place where we don’t think we are making a difference. When I was twenty, young and inexperienced, I worked at a local bus depot. With hundreds of people passing through every day, and a job I didn’t value or excel at, I struggled to do more than “put in time” and wasn’t always pleasant to work with, I’m afraid to say. I didn’t know what I know now; that it’s not the job that mattered, it was what I was able to contribute in my dealings with the people who came through. Just like the customers who made my day better with a friendly smile and a thoughtful word, I could have been that person to those I came in contact with, instead of waiting for someone to make my day better.
Kindness is one of the best ways to fill life with purpose. I’ve made it my principle to deal with kindness with every email and request I receive in my watercolour business, and when it is reciprocated, there’s the sense that the world is working the way it should. It’s not difficult to do so very often; I really do believe watercolour people are the best kind of people, and your emails and comments so often uplift and encourage me. Somehow, when I am having a hard time, and maybe feel like “maybe it’s time to consider stepping back from this,” there’s almost always a note that comes at just the right time that encourages me and restores my energy.
Today, will you take the time to make a difference in the world with your words? Comment thoughtfully and kindly on something on the internet that has encouraged, uplifted, inspired or just made you smile today and use the hashtag #commentkindness with your comment. I believe that when we choose to spread light in the world, the darkness gets a little smaller, and not so black.