Category: Self-Improvement

Reinventing Myself

breakfast2I have spent these last few weeks busy with graduation activities. My son just graduated from Early College High School which means that we had double ceremonies and more events than the average high school graduate. A Senior Honors breakfast, Senior Walk, High School Graduation Ceremony, College Graduation Ceremony, Church Youth Group Recognition Dinner, and a graduation party for family and friends that I planned and hosted, kept me very busy. This morning I accompanied our son to the second day of freshman orientation where he registered for his Fall classes and is officially a University student. I have barely had time to absorb the fact that my main priority for the last eighteen years, caring for my son and raising him to be a successful young adult, has taken a dramatic change. While hubby and I will always be there for love, support and encouragement, it is time for him to grow into his independence and to be his own person. If I had any illusions otherwise, the college freshman orientation experience makes it abundantly clear – while parents are welcome for the various informational sessions, they are not allowed to accompany their student to registration. My baby boy is now responsible for making his own decisions.

joshbuzz2I have had a lot of varied emotions about all of this. On one hand I must admit I am a little sad – it’s hard to let go of the little guy that I have spent so many years nurturing. It feels like just yesterday he was pretending to be Buzz Light Year, talking into his report recorder and using his laser. It seems I was just planning his “dinosaur dig” 6th birthday party, yet we just finished his high school graduation party. Precious memories are mixed up with anticipation for his future…but through all of that emotion comes another realization. I now have more time to devote to my own dreams – the ones that had to be put on the back burner while I took on the more important role of Mom. There is a freedom in my son’s graduation – not just for him but for me and hubby too. I feel like I am getting to reinvent myself. I spent most of my adult professional life as an engineer and I loved it. Engineering has it’s own kind of creativity but is also a very technical discipline. But what I really hope to do now that our son has graduated high school and is pursuing his academic career as a young adult, is to devote time to my creative side with much more focus.

shootingstarAs a teenager I wanted to be an actress or a songwriter – I had creative ideas bursting out of me in all directions. I wrote a book when I was in my early twenties. I took courses in film and photography. But life happened and I never was able to pursue any of those interests. I have been writing for years (mostly technical articles) and I have a story inside that I can’t wait to tell. It’s science fiction filled with action, adventure, humor, and universal themes that I hope have an emotional impact on my audience. It’s been in my head a long time but now, I am able to focus and let all those ideas out. Now – I get to reinvent myself. I have accomplished my task of raising my child and helping him to have the tools he needs to be successful (and I can’t wait to see where his journey takes him!) but I am starting a new journey too. I have come to understand the value of entertainment in a very personal way as I dealt with some losses in our family and I have realized that entertainment in all its different mediums is a gift, a way to relieve the stress and burdens of life at least for a little while – making them easier to endure. How wonderful to laugh out loud at a comedic moment in a television show or movie or to immerse ourselves in a book that captivates us to take a break from the troubles of life.

So today I am announcing to the world – I am reinventing myself. I will focus on my current work in progress as a daily endeavor, rather than just snatching bits of disjointed time blocks that hinder the creative process. I will continually study my craft, and I have an additional goal of learning how to write a screenplay. I will shoot for the stars. I will reinvent myself.

[Image courtesy of xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Cam Newton: Casting a Better Vision

superbowl50Okay, first of all I want to say that I called it. If you read my “about” page you will know I liked the Broncos for the Super Bowl when everyone around me said Panthers. I just had to get that out there…Von Miller and the Bronco defense were amazing, as I am sure we would all agree. It was nice to see Peyton end with a pass on the two point conversion.

At children’s church during our regular church service a couple of weeks ago, the pastor asked the kids who they would most like to be like. Being church, the correct answer for kids is typically, “God, Jesus or the Bible.” After several answers of God and Jesus, the pastor asked, “Okay besides God and Jesus, who else?” A little boy shouted out “Cam Newton!”

I think we can all agree that being a celebrity, whether it is an athlete or an entertainer, carries with it a heightened awareness by the public of their existence and in conjunction with that, a perception of who they are. Regardless of how close to reality that perception is, they are stuck with it. Some feel obligated to work at a perception that is not really them, because their fans expect it. That isn’t always easy. Others obviously don’t care and that is not necessarily a good thing either. Whether they like it or not, they are also role models, and I think that is a responsibility that goes along with celebrity status. The little boy that shouted out Cam Newton’s name is obviously looking up at him as a role model.

By reaching celebrity status, they are also forced to give up their “normal” lives. The onus of not being able to go anywhere without being recognized and approached by fans may sound attractive at first, but I am guessing it gets old pretty quick. While being a celebrity carries lots of perks and is often the result of very hard work and dedication towards a goal, when they achieve celebrity status it brings its own stresses. Cam found out in a big way what that means during and after the Super Bowl. He has not learned yet how to accept all situations on camera with grace. It’s a tough lesson but considering the stakes that were involved, I think we should cut the guy some slack.

It is easy to be gracious in victory, the truer measure of a man (or woman) is how they respond in defeat. But that also comes with maturity. Cam has a lot of great years ahead in the NFL. Everyone around me thought Carolina was a sure thing. It’s hard to keep your head on straight when you are a central target of Super Bowl hype. Yes, we all wished Cam would have done better in how he conducted himself. But he is human, like the rest of us – everyone of us falls short. Unfortunately for a celebrity, when they fall short it happens for the world to see. I think the best measure of Cam Newton will come in the months ahead as he responds to what happened. Grace and humility are a life-long process. I think we need to step back and let Cam learn the lessons of Super Bowl 50 with an expectation that he will. People respond to the vision others cast for them. Rather than focus on his failings at just one game, let’s respond with grace and cast a better vision for Cam and give him a chance. The rest will be up to him.

[image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

A New Beginning

newbeginThis morning has been rather exciting. Yesterday I had an epiphany regarding my struggles with the opening chapter to my MG fantasy novel Sword of Fate: If I want it to be good, I must not settle. Just because the words flowed easily when I first wrote them, doesn’t necessarily mean they belong there. I read a description of what makes an MG novel yesterday, “Fantasy books for kids are often ‘first time’ books for their young readers–the first time visiting a world that’s truly strange, the first time meeting the talking animals who come to the aid of the hero, the first time the magic sword is found, or the monster slain” and I said to myself, “Yes! That is Sword of Fate!” Like the article says, my protagonist Rugal is “faced with new, strange challenges that rock the foundations of their worlds, and their stories involve growing up, figuring out who they are, and how to be strong and keep going when hope seems far away.”

Then I reread my first chapter and faced the cold hard truth. While I have a solid manuscript, the first chapter doesn’t do the rest of the book justice. I have read over and over how agents hate getting a manuscript where the author points out that it gets better after the first 10-20-30 pages. So why did I have such a hard time applying this knowledge to myself? To be honest, it was because I was determined to make what I had already written work. I finally realized that by holding onto that attitude like a dog on a bone can be detrimental to the entire project. Sometimes you have to let something go in order to make something better. Actually, this is a much better situation than the first chapter being great but the rest of the book not doing it justice, because it means most of my revision will take place in the first chapter while tweaking the manuscript to accommodate any newly revealed information that may need adjusting.

So I am all about a new beginning today. The ideas started percolating in my head last night and became a hastily typed paragraph. I’m already up to 1200 words, I’m having a lot of fun, and best of all, I already can see improvement. I wonder why I hung on so long but I think that is our tendency as human beings. It’s hard to let go of the familiar and try something different. But if we can bring ourselves to let go and try, amazing things can happen. That applies to life in general too…sometimes we need to let go and try something new. God may have something much better for us ahead that we can’t see from our vantage point, but it requires us being willing to try something different in order to get there.

[image courtesy of paladin13 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

It’s Gonna Be Okay!

It’s a new day with new possibilities! You know you are a writer doing what God made you to do when you wake up in the morning and can’t wait to start writing. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, today is a fresh start with boundless potential. Last night I finished my latest Design News article which included a tribute to a dear friend, one of the many people who have played a part in my success as an engineer by their willingness to mentor me. Jay was a test equipment sales rep. He was also a very smart guy and would share his knowledge to help solve problems, even if it wasn’t related to the sale. He was generous with his time and he celebrated with us when we did well and when we weren’t doing so good, he did everything that he could from his end to help things improve.

JayJayThe last year and a half my husband and I have been in much more frequent touch, walking alongside Jay and his lovely wife as he battled pancreatic cancer. Being able to laugh with him, cry with him, and pray with him, was a privilege of our friendship that started so many years ago, when he was a salesman and I was a test engineer. Jay is with the Lord now and isn’t suffering any more. The last time I saw Jay, I told him that I was really glad that God had brought us together. I would not have traded our friendship for anything. I miss him a lot and in times of trouble I can still hear him say as he frequently did, “It’s gonna be okay.” And so I look to this day and realize that each day is a gift. We don’t know how long we will be here and we have many ways we can spend our time – it is up to us to choose wisely. As for me, I am working on my next project as I await responses from the queries I have sent out. I’ll take some time out to spend with people I love, doing things I love. And I will make sure to do something nice for someone else. As for yesterday’s rejections – “It’s gonna be okay.” Because it is a new day, a precious day full of possibilities!

Around the Corner

rejection3Well, I was going to wait until tomorrow to post this, but having just received two rejections five minutes apart, even though both agents were very kind in their responses, I decided I needed to post this now, to remind myself of what I already know…

I understand that rejection is inevitable when one writes – part of what makes life so interesting is that we are all very different, but that makes our perception of what is publishable correspondingly different as well. Regarding the writing life, I really appreciate something Victoria Marini, a literary agent for Gelfman Schneider / ICM Partners, said when asked what advice or encouragement she would give to aspiring writers. She responded, “Practice resilience, patience, and generosity of spirit. Practice being happy for others. Keep going. And going.”

I think that is a great philosophy, not only for writing, but for life in general…

It’s hard not to take rejection personally because we are exposing ourselves, we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable when we offer the results of our hard work to a stranger and await their response. But isn’t that what we do when we offer ourselves in friendship to others? Our most satisfying relationships started in the realm of the unknown, and I think that is a little about how it is when offering your writing to someone. You are taking a chance, but it may just end up to be one of the most satisfying relationships in your life. And if it ends up in a rejection, than just like those folks that you didn’t strike a chord with when you were testing the friendship waters, it simply wasn’t meant to be and something much better for your specific manuscript may be waiting around the corner.

So while I am momentarily discouraged, I will refuse to stay there and instead I will choose to follow Ms. Marini’s advice, “Practice resilience, patience, and generosity of spirit. Practice being happy for others. Keep going. And going.” If I can do that, it changes everything.

[image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]