We Make What Matters, Matter

This is the tagline for my company. Why? To remind me of what’s important and to ensure that I never take a single step forward in my life or business unless that step really matters.

The line is a quote from Mildred Shearer, one of the women I interviewed for my book Dancing in Combat Boots. Mildred’s contribution to the war effort during World War II continues to inspire me. She quit a lucrative job to sketch wounded soldiers in their hospital beds and at USO events. She sketched over 3,000 men! For many, it was the last likeness made of them before they died in the war. Mildred sent the originals to the soldiers or their families and kept the copies for herself.

In my interview with Mildred, she told me that her mother used to say, “We make the things that matter, matter.” What Mildred did during the war mattered a lot to the men who carried her sketches into battle, to the families who framed her drawings of their sons and husbands, to the exhausted nurses and doctors who welcomed her visits with their patients.

It was a short term job in a war long over, but today, her work still matters. Why? Well partly because I decided that it would, and so would the other stories I wanted to tell. Partly it matters because tonight, once again, I’m thinking of Mildred and honoring her memory. And partly because the legacy of her gift still lingers in this world in ways we may never see or recognize.

We tend to think that what matters is decided by society or culture or religion or our peers, but no one can say what truly matters except us. You may feel passionate about preserving the rain forest and your friend may see no point in that. Who is right? Him or you? We make the things that matter, matter. We decide.

So what matters to you? And what do you plan to do about it in 2015? Change your job? Change your art? Change your attitude? Change your destiny?

What will you do that matters?