Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Multipotentialite's Dilemma (Part One)

Hi Friends,

Thank you for the warm welcome on my return. Reading your kindness felt like a trip to the soul-spa!

As promised, this morning I intend to share a little more about multipotentiality, a concept I'm studying through a brilliant writer with multiple passions, one of which is helping people. Emilie Wapnick is the creator of puttylike : lifestyle design for multipotentialities.   I hope after reading this, you will be inspired to dive into her writing. 

Through an Etsy Success email, I encountered Wapnick's intriguing story about taking mini-risks.  From that post, I was drawn into to a liberating concept that is changing the way I feel about myself on the inside.  As you know, one of the recurring topics on Knees and Paws is my dilemma of choosing the one path that will become a career that sustains me for life.  Simply choosing and committing seemed to be the first step and a requirement for success.  Like most of us dedicated to learning and growth, I really like the idea of achieving and feeling successful. I was the kind of student with my hand raised, wanting the gold star of academic glory. 

And now, five years after graduating from college, my diploma is a piece of paper stamped with the invisible stigma of finally achieving the specialist standard and then discarding the golden ticket degree that is supposed to open a door to that professional life.

Enter Wapnick and her goal to wipe out that stigma.  I'm going to crack open the door by sharing two comments from her readers on what it means to find a community at puttylike:

     "It means to legitimize the great worth of our multipotentiality in a world that just wants us to pick something."

      "I still do not have a great understanding of how to integrate my wide and sometimes fleeting gaggle of interests into a good life."  (but that is about to change)

What do we do with all of these "fleeting gaggle of interests?"  Have you noticed how I bound from one project to the next?  The  multipotentiality concept validates  people who are project oriented.  While this is helpful for home education and not stigmatized for children, it seems impractical for an adult to sink time and resources into each new and exiting idea, especially when these projects end up unfinished by specialist standards.  For the multipotentialite, the project is a way for us to explore and get what we want out of the process.  Boredom is a signal to move on.  We are like bees, moving from one flower to the next.  And while this habit bothers the specialists in our lives, we just can't help it.  I always felt bad for Elizabeth Gilbert's first husband in Eat, Pray, Love.  While she made a successful life as a specialized, published writer of books, she didn't have respect or much understanding for her husband's ever-changing interests.  At one point in the movie, she yells in his face:  "PICK SOMETHING!"

Thank goodness my husband is compassionate and shows appreciation for my multifaceted experience.  I think he is just a little bit smitten with the fact that I can write, cook amazing Italian meals and take apart a broken toilet and put it back together from the ground up.

If right now you're having a light bulb moment, I suggest that you bookmark Wapnick's free ebook, The Undeclared for Life Manifesto.    After my first reading, I'm bursting with ideas and making exciting changes.  I plan to read it again and am putting her Renaissance Business on my list of must haves.

Four days after thinking through this kaleidescopic lens, I now have a new tagline/mission statement for my shop (as written in the header.)  My next goal is to finally change the name of Knees and Paws.  I wasn't the person who named our invention, and neither was Richard.  It's bulky to prounounce, has too many words, and is terribly generic.  I've resisted changing it because I have trouble with titles and naming, and also because it will mean starting all over again with a new licence, bank accounts, facebook page, etc.  But it is my desire to have one word or two words that captures it.

So, one of my next steps is to brainstorm every day for a few minutes...searching for words that are non- generic and words that you can see, touch and feel.  According to Wapnick, practicing brainstorming sessions will prepare the mind to receive sparks of inspiration.       And receiving sparks of inspiration is a heady part of the multipotentialist lifestyle.

I'm going to close today's post with a picture of my Knees and Paws construction space.  It's my messy corner, but it makes me intensely happy to be in the middle of it...surrounded by my children's love notes, artwork, favorite quotes and pictures.  My home is starting to have another messy corner for my latest project.  Having those two spaces, plus my writing desk means that I am gradually allowing myself the permission to relax and accept my life as a creative.  In future posts, I plan to write more about creative spaces and the multipotentialite lifestyle.   If you are bored already, don't worry! I'm like the weather in Michigan...wait five minutes and experience the change!


  1. Wow, wow, and wow---this is really amazing stuff! Although I hadn't heard of it in this terminology, it really makes sense and fills some holes, just with the little bit you've shared with us.

    Your enthusiasm is very contagious, Jenny, and I know if you are behind it, it is really good. I look forward to reading it (right after I complete my defensive driving course online!).

    I also look forward to exploring this because sometimes I wonder if I am a bit ADD with the way my mind flits from one thing to another.

    I am really excited with the new things I see coming out of your shop- I feel like you are on the brink of a big jumping off place! I'm here cheering you on, as are all your other fans!

    1. Thank you Shelly! I was thinking that educators need to have this quality of multipotentiality in order to keep the learning fresh in the classroom. So don't squash that tendency. I'm sorry you have to take an online driving class. I'm sure those truckers aren't taking any.

  2. Powerful stuff, Jenny! You had me laughing and crying at the same time as I read this. I certainly do recognize myself in your explanation of multipotentiality (except that I can't fix toilets). I maintain a messy office and a dusty desk. There are snippets of paper everywhere - notes to self, reminders and many new ideas.

    In the past ten years I have jumped into several major projects, finishing only a couple. Most were abandoned when I suddenly lost my passion for them. A couple of others are a work in progress.

    In my seminars I learned to load up, get involved in more things than I think I can handle. I learned to make lists of tasks and goals, large and small, short term and long, and to take pride in checking them off as they are completed. Completed might mean 90% completed if you feel in your gut that you are ready to move on to the next big thing. You need to stay a little hungry. If you're getting near the end of your check-off list, start adding more things to the list. You don't ever want to be finished with everything.

    Here is a quote from my favorite movie, Ruby in Paradise, starring Ashley Judd.

    Ruby Lee Gissing: I heard that Hell is when all of your dreams come true.

    1. Hi Tom,
      Thank you for sharing such an in-depth comment. It's interesting to think about multipotentiality and the concept of hunger. This world is a place of variety meant to be experienced. We might not have to experience everything to the FULLEST to have a great life. If we were at at a buffet, we wouldn't want to fill our plates with just one dish.

      I am going to put Ruby in Paradise on my list:) Have a great day, and enjoy all the variety it holds.

  3. It is so weird when you do this... Dave and I spent time this weekend discussing how I am just like this.. every time I see something I like it starts a whole new direction of projects and ideas.. chances of any of them flowing together is slim.. but I enjoy learning all the new stuff. I had been thinking I was looking for that one thing.. one thing I would be so very good at that I could do it enough to be a full time job and I would love it.... I have learned that will not happen with me.. I seem to have a need to have 5 or 6 different types of projects going on at the same time.. some of them things I have known for many years.. and some of them brand new ideas... now to learn how to make it all work together. I will be checking the book out.. thank you so much!!

    1. Hi Michelle,
      It's you whom I owe the thanks! It was you who first commented in the beginning. You are my first blogging friend! Suddenly I was not alone. You came nearly every time I wrote something, and gave me the gift of encouragement. I appreciate you more than words can say.
      You are a creative soul with so many gifts. I'm so glad that this post was helpful!

  4. I, too, am like you. I have a hard time doing just one thing at once. I'm usually doing at least 3 things simultaneously, and just when I get the hang of how to do one thing, something shinier comes along. But I can see that exciting things are ahead for you, not the least of which is a new name for your company. I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

  5. Oh always lead us in such marvelous directions. I love this new way of looking at being diverse in our talents. I am going to have to find that book and read it. You have such a wonderful zest for life and bring so much to the table as a wife, Mother, friend and professional!
    So happy to have you back...I would have commented sooner but my wi-fi is acting up so I'm off and on before I know it.
    Here's to hoping this comment makes it through!

  6. Hi Jenny,

    Thank you!! This is so cool.

    Congratulations on discovering your multipotentiality, (and welcome home. :)

    I can't wait to see what direction your work takes next. Really, keep me in the loop.

    xo Emilie


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