Tag Archives: inspiration

Cheers and Jeers: the dichotomy within us all

A cool breeze blew across the track, scattering the boisterous laughter of our middle school runners. Eight fifth-grade girls settled into their lanes for the fifty meter dash. Behind them, another eight girls awaited their heat. Milling around were about twenty-five fifth grade boys, stretching their muscles for their upcoming race.

Two of the girls at the line were special education students.

As the runners prepared for the starting gun shot, a cheer cut through the other noises of this middle school track and field day. The fifth grade boys had raised their voices as one, chanting in unison, “Let’s go, Katy, let’s go!”

Listening to those boys honestly and openly cheer on two of their classmates who would typically get made fun of in most other public schools brought tears to my eyes and a hitch in my chest.

Later that night I confronted three of the boys who had been there. I told them I was proud of them and that what they had done was amazing. They shrugged nonchalantly, as if this public show of support was nothing. “We love Katy. She’s everyone’s best friend.”

That sentiment was not the case for a group of sixth grade boys. Earlier, I’d had the unfortunate experience of standing within ear shot of them. Instead of supporting the fifty meter dash runners, they were placing bets on whom would lose each heat.

“She’s too fat to run.”

“He’s so stupid. What a loser.”

“INSERT EVEN WORSE COMMENTARY HERE.”

Sadly, a few adults were sitting with the boys. Even more disturbing was the fact that some of them laughed along with the preteens and their completely unacceptable behavior. Heck, they may as well have been jeering right along with the kids.

This dichotomy reminded me of the keynote speaker at our Dear Daughter’s induction into Honor Society the week before. Highly paraphrased by me, the retired principal told the story of a Native American chief discussing the two types of wolves within us–the good ones and the bad ones.

When asked which wolf would win, the chief replied, “The one you feed.”

And so, you must ask yourself, which wolf do you feed?

Curious minds want to know.

Writing Is Exactly Like Heart Disease

My Dear Hubby has a heart defect. All his life, he’s known something wasn’t quite right with his heart–“he’ll never play sports,” said one doctor–“you have no superior vena cava,” said another–“a heart murmur, that’s what he has,” was a sentiment echoed by several other professionals.

Yet, no real diagnosis was ever provided, nor was any believable prognosis ever made. Despite being told he’d never play sports, DH vigorously competed all through high school and works out nearly every day as an adult.

He was never limited physically, though the emotional toll has grown over the years. You can’t hear, “We have no idea what the long-term effects of your condition may mean,” without stressing over your future just a little bit.

Writing carries it’s share of stress, too.

  • Who will love my writing?
  • Who will hate it?
  • What if nobody publishes it?
  • What if somebody publishes it?
  • I can’t self-promote. It’s too scary.
  • I’m afraid to query.
  • I’m afraid not to query.
  • I have writer’s block.
  • I sent my query yesterday and haven’t heard back. Now what do I do?
  • I can’t stand waiting.
  • I. Can’t. Stand. Waiting!

Writers can nearly cripple themselves with fear of the unknown. Like DH’s medical problem, writing has no clear diagnosis or prognosis.

Just because you find an agent doesn’t mean you will get published. And even if you publish one novel, it doesn’t mean you’ll hit the best sellers list. Heck, it doesn’t even mean you’ll be able to complete a second, cohesive manuscript. There are no guarantees in writing.

None.

But there is one certainty.

If you let fear rule your writing, you will never get published.

DH went to the Mayo Clinic this week. After getting checked out by a cardiologist, he finally has a clear diagnosis. He has a rare heart condition that affects roughly .4% of the population. In a way, one of the doctors was right. DH didn’t have a superior vena cava. He had two of them. He’s also 100% healthy and doesn’t have to worry about his ticker unless he undergoes heart surgery for something else altogether.

Imagine if DH’s mom let fear change the course of his life. If she had refused to let him play sports, his heart would have weakened from inactivity. He would have failed physically without even trying.

How do you stay inspired to write? In what ways do you let fear rule your writing? Has anyone ever told you your heart was too weak for writing? How did you prove them wrong?

Curious minds want to know?

Writing and Real Life Inspiration: One Leg at a Time

Another successful marching band season has closed for Dear Daughter. Likewise Middle Son’s football team finished the year with 1 loss. (Don’t tell anyone, but it might help that he has an ex-pro-football player as a coach.) Regardless, it was a busy Saturday for our little fam.

But it wasn’t the wins that inspired me. What impacted me far more than Dear Daughter catching her rifle after five mid-air rotations or Middle’s touch down on the last drive of the game was a young gal from another band.

She had a prosthetic leg from the knee down. And yet, she was out there on the field dancing, tossing flags and marching to the beat of the drums. All with a smile on her face.

Wow!

Remind me as a mom never to let my kids take the easy way out when they are pouting about someone getting more football passes than they got. Remind me as a writer never to let another person’s success get in the way of my own ability.

Writer’s block be damned. If a young lady can learn to toss a flag on one foot, I sure as heck can pen a few hundred words. And then a few hundred more.

Ohhhh, how easy it is to bemoan our writing rejections or to blame the wind for missing a tossed flag. Better that we give up and quit trying than to complain incessantly. Seriously, it gets old after a while.

Better yet that we should buckle down and move toward our dreams one step at a time.

I thank this young lady for silently reminding me of my blessings and my short-comings. May I do her justice in my daily writing life.

How about you? What events have inspired you over the years to be something or someone better? Please share your tales of standing tall despite the odds.

Curious minds want to know.

Successes Not Our Own

Finalist SpeechiesIn the past few weeks, sub sections and then sections culled our speech team from twenty-eight to twelve to one.  Two of our speechies missed joining our sole, state-bound winner (at the top of the dog pile) by one place.

(As an aside, my DD is on the left.  She placed fourth last week with her persuasive speech on homosexual bullying within the school setting.  I’ve never been so proud of her and her absoulute confidence as I was watching her in final rounds.  She rocks my socks off and has way more courage than I ever had!  If you want to read her speech, you can find it under It’s Not about Sex on the Inspirations tab.)

At the tender ages of 13-17, those students who missed advancement to the next level already exhibit tremendous poise and grace.  They didn’t cry, spout angry expletives or pout.  Rather, they shook the hands of the winners and walked away vowing to try harder next year.  They cheered on the remaining speechies, wishing them luck and honestly celebrating their successes.

Speech is very personal. It challenges one’s abilities and confidence.  It builds character and hones life-long skills.  It can also be brutal, as contestants are critiqued and judged.  They are told each and every meet what they do right and what they do wrong.  They receive comments on anything from dress to poise, articulation to body language, pronunciation to speed, oral fluidity to memorization, and audience connection to their depth of emotion.

These kids have thick skin.

Remind you of anyone you know?

How do you handle the success of those who achieve your dreams?  Do you have the grace to honestly congratulate them and cheer them on, or do you feel compelled to complain and compare, wallowing in your unfair failures and their unfair success? 

 Do you have the thick skin it takes to be critiqued and judged and deemed less than worthy of a medal and advancement?  If not, why are you writing?  If so, what tips do you have to pursue this passionate, yet highly competitive, dream of publication? 

Curious minds want to know.

PS~ Keep your fingers crossed for our extemporaneous speaker.  He has 30 minutes to prepare a seven minute speech and then present it to a panel of judges.  The topics are current events, and with this being an election year, they are highly political.  Good training for future presidency!

Got Blog Bling? Awards and Inspiration

So many things inspire me: personally and professionally.  I take something away from every blog post I read or every comment in AQC’s forums.  Sometimes I feel challenged, and sometimes I feel contented.  Almost always, I feel inspired.

The writing community as a whole is expressive, supportive and inspiring in their perseverence and dedication.  In that respect, I hope you take something away from this post as I accept The Versatile Blogger award.

The Rules

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated me: Dean C. Rich over at The Write Time, Brittany Roshelle at The Write Stuff and A Story Every Day.  You three are awesome and I really appreciate that you thought of me–especially when I consider the other inspiring nominations listed at each of your sites.
2. Share seven random facts about myself.  May they inspire you to remember good times in your life.
3. Pass the award along to 5 new-found blogging buddies.

Random Facts: As a child, I spent countless hours running wild on our farm with my sister.  We indulged in many games of make-believe, utilized our farm’s nooks and crannies in their totality and created a whole ‘nother life for ourselves outside the confines of our house.

During the summers, we lived in a tree in the pasture.  We called this “home” and created rooms within the monstrous canopy.  While hiding out there, we could spy on see the entire farmstead.  This tree house prompted us to find creative suites for our sleepovers rather than simply hosting pajama parties in our bedrooms.

Once we slept on the roof of the horse barn.  We tied our blankets so we wouldn’t slide down in the middle of the night.  Another time, we carved out a home in the wood pile.  I think we slept five in our rustic log cabin.  But for the life of me, I can’t remember if we built that before or after we made an entire hotel out of wooden pallets.  Our unique sleeping arrangements were always decked out to the fullest and came with room service…er, at least it did when someone drew the short end of the straw bale and had to run in and scavenge snacks for the rest of us.

When we really felt like roughing it–because those abodes were obviously palatial–we would hike through the neighbor’s woods to our parent’s property (Little Woods) and camp out in the ice house despite the lack of plumbing and electricity.  After telling ghost stories all night, we would rise with the sun and cook corn meal mush over the campfire, Little House on the Prairie style.

Those middle grade years were the best times of my entire childhood.  In many ways, I credit our unique adventures for my passion of all things juvenile.   Thanks, Big Sis!

Other peeps who have inspired me:  check my blog roll (which is in the process of getting updated) and SKELETON KEY authors, as well as AqentQuery Connect to meet scads of writers whom I admire for their support, dedication, energy and jovial attitudes in the face of the ever-changing publishing world.

Peeps you may not already know who inspire me greatly:

  1. Gene Lempp.  Not only does he write a vastly informative blog, he also took me under his marketing wing.  Thanks to him, my blog subscriptions have doubled and my daily hits have sky-rocketed.  He inspires me to take myself seriously.
  2. Sakura over at Keeping it in Canon.  I met Sakura on AQC when she joined my critique group.  This gal takes poetic prose to a whole new level.  Every time I read a passage  of hers, I feel humbled–and inspired to be a better writer.
  3. Indigo over at Shattered Prose.  Indigo makes me examine myself and my world in new ways.  Her words inspire me to to feel passionately when it can be so dang easy to take things for granted.
  4. Victoria Dixon at The Ron Empress.  Victoria is super supportive and highly intuitive.  She writes with a passion that reflects the kind of soul she is in real life.  Victoria inspires me to reach for my goals and never give up.
  5. Yvonne Osborne at The Organic Writer.  Yvonne’s writing should grace those daily, desktop calendars.  Her insightful flash fiction inspires me to be a better person.

So, there you go.  Besides learning about my wild-child years, you’ve been exposed to a few of the writers who inspire and support me in my daily writing endeavors.

Who inspires you on a personal or professional level?  How do your past experiences play into your present life as a writer?  Who lent you a helping hand at a time when they had nothing to gain?  Why do you do the same for others?

Curious minds want to know.

Housekeeping

On the blog, not at home.

I finally summarized my projects, talked about a few of my favorite books and updated the list of blogs I follow.  In addition, I added a page of inspiring stories.  If interested, you can find this info under my tabs or on my sidebar. 

In the process of blog keeping, I found some new artwork to decorate my post.

I’m going to hang my Happy 101 Sweet Friends Award from Laura Marcella here.

Laura writes a wonderful blog.  Her posts are well thought out, well written and beautifully illustrated.  If you’re in the market for a good writing prompt, a motivational quote or an informative article on the creative process, you better leave here and head over to Wavy Lines

Next, I’ll hang my Awesome Sauce Award over here.

Fellow writer, AQ buddy, blogger, friend, beta reader and sweetheart, Lisa Gibson is a staple in my writing life.  When I was in a panic the other day, Lisa texted me.  Then called.  She calmed me down, gave me perspective and sent me on my way with a long distance hug.  All this from someone I’ve never met.  Does life get any better than that?

So I say, Lisa, you are more deserving of the award you created than I will ever be.  For great book reviews and gentle encouragement, check out Random Thoughts To String Together

Thank you, Laura and Lisa, for the wonderful mentions. 

As always, I point to my links for my faithful readers to find their own bloggers to click with.  Everyone on my blogroll is someone who inspires me, humors me or has touched my life in some way.  They are all worthy of being checked out.

Other housekeeping I did was to remove the tweets from my sidebar.  That’s not to say you can’t follow me on twitter: I left the link there if you would like to pop over.  I do tweet a few times a week and love catching up with the writing life in twitter land.  However, I’m just removing some clutter from my sidebar.

Now, I must go forth and get some real house cleaning done before DH and Eldest return from fishing opener up north.

hugs~ cat