It all started at a workshop in 2008.
Myself, along with 10–12 other people, gathered during the spring of that year in Houston. It was what I call “soul work” of the highest regard.
One of the pieces during this “soul work” was to think of something so big, so far out of my comfort zone, that would potentially be a calling upon my life.
(At least THAT’S how I remember part of this exercise.)
We were all asked to close our eyes, take some deep breaths, and visualize what — with the help of the collective consciousness of the Universe — this might be.
Honestly, I had no fucking clue.
But I went along with the exercise.
After a few minutes, we were asked to sit up and write down what came to our minds and hearts.
I remember reaching over for a pen and piece of paper which had been placed by my side while my eyes were closed.
As a writer, things come rather easily — sometimes — to me. In this case, what the exercise brought up within me was something I had not ever really even thought of at all.
Being born with a unilateral cleft lip and cleft palate and without an uvula was something I had just accepted, along with the reparative surgeries.
There was a lot more stuff running around inside me than this … well … THIS!
Yet I wrote down “healing the emotional well-being of people with cleft lips and cleft palates” or something along those lines.
I simply didn’t know where that came from at all … yet it came from within myself.
From that point, I eventually moved back from Austin (again) to Laredo, Texas (again) and started “Heartfelt Smiles” which was a group dedicated toward this effort.
Then came along “CleftCast,” a podcast focused on the emotional parts of life for the facial difference community around the world.
Now, “CleftThoughts” is being formed into a book and I want this book to become an international best seller, translated in multiple languages, and be an instrument for healing and wholeness.
There are so many children around the world born with facial differences … and adults who still need reparative work done.
Plus, there are so, so many people living filled with shame, fear, isolation, loneliness, and being physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally abused for their looks.
It’s ridiculous … and needs to stop.
This is why I speak out. This is why I go places emotionally that so many wonderful, great organizations simply don’t go to specifically.
You may ask what this has do to with anything.
It has to do with everything in my own life.
You are along for the ride.
You can join the journey.
You can be a voice for the voiceless, too, in your own way.
Every minute counts … and you are loved.
If you don’t feel that, then it’s OK. I’ve numbed the sumbitch out so much in my life that, even at 52 years old, I still have my unconscious moments.
Yet I am alive, thankfully.
So are you.
Now you know why I do what I do.
My “Why” … Why I Do What I Do …
It all started at a workshop in 2008. Myself, along with 10-12 other people, gathered during the spring of that year in…iamjoerutland.com
Originally published at medium.com