My friend Joalida Smit moved to Chicagoland from her home country of South Africa in early 2020. She had been a pediatric neuropsychologist for decades, but even with two masters degrees, licensing in the US would have taken too many years and lots of money.
Can you imagine moving to a new country where your certifications don’t transfer, in the middle of isolating lockdowns, with two young children and school closures?
Joalida was close to crumpling into a sad ball of sorrow. But, stuck in her house with her family working through screens, she had what she calls a primitive instinct to “make her hand print on the cave wall” to say she was there, that she mattered, that she existed. She hadn’t painted for 30 years, but in a very bleak moment of uncertainty she decided to pick up her brush again.
Since then, Joalida has opened an art studio, teaches class to all ages, and joined the boards of two art leagues. Her art has been displayed in galleries and she has been featured throughout Chicagoland in several top publications.
In a recent interview in
Sheridan Road magazine, Joalida was asked what she is most proud of doing. This was her response, my emphasis added: “I didn’t study art, so being able to have a second career in a new country with the innate skills I bring to the world has taught me that I am enough exactly as I am.”
Joalida’s words struck me deeply.
What if we all knew we were enough exactly as we are?
What if we all expressed and employed our innate skills, including skills we have learned through interest- and curiosity-driven practice?
Think about this for a moment. If you were to show up in a place where your professional qualifications did not apply, what “innate skills” would you employ?
Now think a little further: Would it have to take a new country and a bleak situation for you to move in this direction?
Finally, a challenge: What innate or interest-driven skills do you have that you’d like to use more?
Well, what are you waiting for?
Dip your toe in . . .
*Photo above is Joalida Smit’s oil on canvas painting entitled “Finding Stillness in Beauty.” Image is used with artist’s permission. To see more of Joalida’s art, connect here.