Browsing Category: Creativity

Can I Tell You a Story about STORY?

Basic CMYK

People ask me often how DirtyWork got started. And no matter where I start the story or how I tell it, it always involves a conversation in which Ben Arment told me I needed to start a company & call it DirtyWork because that’s what I do for people.

The only reason I know Ben is because of STORY. After hearing him share the vision for STORY briefly in a keynote at another conference in July 2009, I knew I wanted to attend the inaugural event that September.

I did. And afterward I gave Ben my card & offered to help keep STORY going in any way that I could. It had made an impact on my life, far greater than I even knew at that point, & I wanted others to have the opportunity for a similar experience.

By the following September I found myself fully involved as part of the STORY team helping coordinate our Sponsor relationships & all things operations for the event. I had also quit my job at the church & was just a few weeks into a new life in Nashville.

We all have things that mark the passing of our lives. When we’re young it’s usually the start of the school year or perhaps an annual family vacation. STORY has become one of those experiences by which I mark the passing of my life. I can’t imagine a September without it at this point.

More than that, STORY reminds me why I love what I do. There is no greater joy for me than being a part of something so much greater than myself; a vision that inspires hundreds and impacts thousands. STORY is one of those visions. It’s a labor-of-love dream like few I’ve seen. And for me, it’s more than a vision – it’s become my tribe. 

 “Each year that passes, the more I find myself in search of people who give a #%$. About ideas. About excellence. About stories. About craftsmanship. About the tactile. About dreams. And about leaving a mark on the world. There aren’t many of those people around, but the ones I know gather at STORY.” – Ben Arment, STORY Director

If you thrive on the impossible & the unconventional; if you are always searching for a better way or even just a different way; if you are inspired by dreamers, by storytellers, by artists, will you join us in September? You are part of the STORY tribe & we’d love for you to experience this year’s event with us. 

 You can find more info about this year’s event here.

Turn Off the Light

I still remember the teddy bear lamp that served as my night light when for far longer than it probably should have as a child. I was deeply afraid of the dark & refused to sleep without it.

As I got older my mom would often tell me that I needed to learn to sleep in the dark so I would get better rest. Something about the light keeping my brainwaves functioning more even while I was sleeping. As an adult I think she may have been on to something – I get better rest in the dark than in the light.

Many of us, even as we grow up, are afraid of the dark. Not the physical darkness of the night but the darkness of our world, our hearts & souls. We want to stay in the light where it’s safe & comfortable with very little mystery.

But what was true for my physical rest as a child is true for my soul’s rest as an adult. The darkness, though uncomfortable & at times even painful, is a place of necessary rest. Because in the darkness I am forced to admit that I don’t have the answers, that I’m not strong enough to find my way out on my own.

That point of surrender creates a stillness that only comes in the dark. The key is learning not to fight it trusting that from that place will come a brighter, otherwise unavailable, light.

The next time you find yourself in what feels like a starless night, welcome it as a necessary rest for your soul. Give your heart the gift of resting in it a moment holding onto the hope that it too will end.

This post was inspired by the Luminous Project. Luminous is a creative spiritual event in Nashville May 1-3, 2013. To find out more, check out You can use the promo code ‘BRINGitHERE’ to get 35% off the registration price.


Where Dreams Flourish

Home. That’s always been somewhat of an abstract, whimsical…almost fairytale-like concept for me. Something that deep down I think I longed for but didn’t ever believe I would have.

Growing up with divorced parents was a life of multiple addresses. I added another to that list when I moved away from home to go to high school. And yet another for college. At one point I think my checking account had one address, my driver’s license another, my car registration a different one yet…and none of them were the actual address of where I was living. (You might be understanding why “home” didn’t seem like a very concrete idea.)

Then I visited Nashville. 72 hours later back in Wisconsin I was homesick for this city – for the spirit of this city.

Most days this place feels so much like home I hardly know what to do with it. I can’t believe I haven’t lived here all of my life. There are days I still awake waiting to violently wake up from a dream. Life today far exceeds anything I could have ever dreamed up because it is outside the box of anything I knew for so long.

I’ve discovered in this process, that something happens to our dreams when not only our hearts but our feet find a place that feels like home – they flourish. They flourish because we’re no longer putting our hope in them to “get us somewhere.”

When we come home our dreams are free to follow. They may hand us a map but we’re free to lead them in the direction we want to go. That’s hard to do when you’re wandering around lost looking for home as you drive in circles.

Has your heart found a place that feels like home? A word to the wise – community has more to do with that than location. It’s about cultivating relationships to surround yourself with a spirit that encourages the unconventional & champions dreamers. 


My Hope for You in 2013

In 2013,
I hope you laugh louder.
That you cry harder.
Smile longer.
I hope you discover more freedom.
That you act more bravely.
Dream bigger.
Seek adventure.
Risk greater.
Fear a bit less.
I hope that you see a little deeper.
That you believe stronger.
Fight longer.
Trust easier.
Love harder.
I hope you are seen more deeply.
That you welcome the awkward.
Speak more honestly.
Practice courage.
Compromise less.
I hope you live wide awake.
That you are more fully present.
Be more.
Do less.
Imagine wildly.
I hope you live more than you exist.
Because life is too short for average.


Play Hurt

What are we trying to heal, anyway? The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free. He has to play hurt. (Steven Pressfield, The War of Art, pg. 48)

Play hurt. As long as you are living, you will be broken. Some part of you will be weak. You can’t eliminate the pain, but you can participate in the process of it being redeemed. 

That’s a daily choice for me – choosing to play hurt. But I think the opposite of it inevitably leads me to bitterness or apathy. So playing hurt may not be the easy choice. Or the comfortable choice. But, I’d rather limp along in pain than sit idle in bitterness.  

Honestly, I’m not so sure that YOU can heal you anyway. I think we’ve got to keep walking and, in doing so, participate in a process that will find us on the road to healing 6 months, 18 months, 2 years from now.

Don’t wait to be whole before walking alongside a friend who is also broken. Don’t wait to be perfect to write that book you’ve been waiting on, paint your next piece, take your next photo, write your next song. Believe that your creativity comes from a place in you deeper than your pain. And that your pain makes your creativity richer as it flows out through that place.