Enlarge Your Vision

An inspiring father-daughter creative team surprised me with a timely reminder about my own assumptions, and this is it – they’re ALL imaginary.

Change On Purpose - Tim McDonnell - Enlarge Your Vision

Photo by Peter O’Neil, courtesy of Coastal Inspirations

Over the past few months I’ve been reconsidering a lot of the assumptions I’ve made about work, life, love and relationships. It turns out that most of the perceived limitations, obstacles or disappointments I’ve encountered had a lot more to do with the labels I attached to them than with any objective reality.

Until a couple weeks ago, I had never met Marissa and Peter O’Neil. They came my way through a very indirect Facebook connection and within a matter of hours had left a profound and positive imprint in my life. First, here are just a few of the priceless lessons they taught me – then I’ll tell you how they did it.

  • Well managed conflict can actually deepen personal and professional relationships
  • Having a shared creative goal can be enough to bridge all sorts of perceived gaps
  • We have more in common with others than we think, in spite of external differences
  • Other people’s rules, definitions and expectations only have the power we give them
  • It is never, ever too late to take any step toward the life you really want to live

For many years, Marissa O’Neil excelled as a corporate wellness manager. Even though she was really good at what she did, and was rewarded and respected for it, something was missing. The expectations of her employers were completely out of alignment with her personal goals, but she didn’t know how to leave. One day she had an awakening and realized there was no good reason to continue defining her life path by a job description. She wanted to change lives and empower others to re-discover their passions too.

Same conflict – different resolution.

Marissa’s father Peter O’Neil experienced a similar disconnect between his career path and his creative calling, but his transformation played out in a different way. For decades he soldiered on as a highly accomplished high performance networking research engineer, but his unfulfilled dream was to pursue his love of photography. Where Peter took a more methodical and analytical approach, Marissa chose to resolve the dissonance more intuitively and spontaneously.

Somehow, they ended up at the same joyful destination.

Was it “better” to throw caution to the wind and choose fulfillment over job security, or to put creativity on hold and pursue career and family first? The end result seems to matter more than finding a “right” answer. Peter received a photography class as a gift from his family and fell in love with a signature artistic process that produces images of incredible beauty. On pure intuition, Marissa started creating collateral materials to support her nutritional vision and paired one of her father’s photographs with an inspirational quote.

Change On Purpose - Tim McDonnell - Coastal Inspirations

“Coastal Inspirations” co-creators Marissa O’Neil & Peter O’Neil

One thing led to another… sparks flew, ideas grew… and the next thing they knew, Peter and Marissa had pooled their vision to co-create a book project called Coastal Inspirations. Right now they’re about a week away from reaching their crowd funding goal to complete the first printing and inspire countless readers to pursue dreams of their own. The book combines Peter’s painstakingly crafted images with thought-provoking quotes curated by Marissa. Using the essence of their family’s personal impressions from summers on Martha’s Vineyard, they hope to encourage everyone to give themselves permission to pursue the things that make them feel fully alive.

Here are some of the lessons they took away from this project that have encouraged me to recommit to my own creative vision:

  • Few of the labels we attach to ourselves or our experiences are true or useful
  • Words like job descriptions or titles don’t have to define us as individuals
  • We won’t always agree with our collaborators on every detail, and that’s okay
  • Working through conflicts can lead us to bigger, better results than we first imagined
  • Most barriers to creativity are self-imposed – no permission is required
  • We can take the first step without knowing how we’ll accomplish the whole thing
  • The seeds of something wonderful can appear (and sprout!) in the most mundane and unexpected surroundings

If you’d like to get involved in Peter and Marissa’s crowd funding campaign, I know they’d appreciate it, even if it’s just to help spread the word. Peter’s photography website offers a lot of inspiring background on how the book project came about, as well as images that will delight you.

Your thoughts matter and comments are encouraged: Have you been waiting for permission to pursue an artistic dream? When have you challenged an outdated assumption in your life and how did it pay off?

Change On Purpose - Tim McDonnell - Coastal Inspirations

Cover for “Coastal Inspirations” by Marissa O’Neil & Peter O’Neil