What color is Texas?

October 23, 2010


“You look like an artistic person.” That is what he said to me last night. And that is what’s been ringing in my ears all day today.

I went to Chris Guillebeau’s book signing last night. He wrote The Art of Non-Conformity and has a terrific blog – the best things I’ve read since I started my quest for a new career.

In his self-funded “Unconventional Book Tour,” he is hitting all 50 states and Canadian provinces. One of his props was a line drawing of the US on which each of the states he previously visited was colored in with marker in some funky way. It caught my eye.

Before he started his talk, there was a meet-n-greet when he introduced himself to me. Just a regular thirtysomething guy but with a calm confidence. So we’re chatting and, after he thinks me artistic, he asks me to be the ONE to color in Texas. I started sweating. He went on to say that the colorer comes up to the front and does the coloring during his presentation.  I had a “Why didn’t I wear a turtleneck?” moment because I knew a flush was coming over my neck and chest.  I considered running away. Instead, with fake confidence and a fake smile, I told him I would be honored.

I spent the next 15 minutes totally preoccupied with my assignment and needing to do it “right.” Fifty strangers will be watching and judging.  But there was no time for planning. When he called me up there, I had to wing it. I put a hot pink star over DFW and filled in the rest with turquoise and green and yellow wavy lines. It was me. I received a few hoots and claps and eventually the sweating stopped.

Making art means taking risks. If it’s yours and it’s unique, a lot of people won’t like it. Get comfortable with that. I’m working on it.

I do have an artistic person in me. But she has been squished down by the safe, rule-following, take-the-middle-way good girl. Little steps like this give me confidence that I can find my right livelihood and my authentic self.

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5 Comments on “What color is Texas?”

  1. Shayna Says:

    “Making art means taking risks. If it’s yours and it’s unique, a lot of people won’t like it. Get comfortable with that.” This is a wonderful, perfectly written metaphor for what I’d like my life to be: Something unique and beautiful, filled with risks that cause others to think, respond and react. And I, too, I’m trying to get comfortable with the truth that not everyone will like it, but it is mine nonetheless. Great blog!


  2. Chris Guillebeau Says:

    You did such a great job! Northern Texas will forever be proud. 🙂

    Thanks for the nice writeup and I’ll look forward to seeing you again sometime.

    Yours in World Domination,



  3. Nick Says:




  1. Time to do something remarkable | All Fives - July 16, 2012

    […] written before about Chris Guillebeau (What color is Texas? and most recently Give them the fish). His blog and his first book, The Art of Non-Conformity, […]

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