Archive for December, 2008

Be real, not perfect

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

When I was 15 years old, an outspoken young friend of mine said to me, “Not everyone is going to like you. no matter how nice you are.” I was shocked. How could it be that no matter how hard I tried and no matter what I did to achieve what I thought was perfection, it might not assure my approval rating?

If you apply that lesson to success in the social arena at large–not just friendships, but also ventures undertaken alone, or business and career pursuits–success is not necessarily determined by whether you do more, better.

We have become conditioned to condemn ourselves and blame “failure” on our not doing or being enough, so It would be wise to take my friend’s insight to heart. Not everyone will be pleased with who you are and how you show up in the world, but the truly great ones–the ones we remember and admire most–show up real, like it or not.

How hate manifests when we’re afraid

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

My niece witnessed an older woman in the supermarket checkout line deliberately turning a magazine to hide the cover photo of President-elect Obama. The woman who flipped the magazine around said nothing to explain her strange behavior. Was it a silent protest against a Democrat winning the election? An African-American?

I found this story very disturbing: there are undoubtedly many more people secretly harboring resentment over the results of our recent Presidential election. What happens when you can’t talk about feelings, when you are afraid your feelings are unpopular or put you in danger? Some of us have known that fear for the past eight years. Now we have the opportunity to once again speak freely, but how comfortable can we really feel expressing ourselves when there are plenty of people like the woman in the checkout line getting angrier in silence day by day?

The story of the lady in the checkout line was disturbing, yes. It reminded me that I, you, we — all of us need to examine our fears. Don’t silence them so they grow insidiously. Give them a voice and listen to how ridiculous our own fears sound. Then give them up, lest they destroy us all.

Pushing words up the anthill

Monday, December 1st, 2008

After writing for 28 days, at least 3 hours every day, I am wrung out, but thrilled to have created a novel out of thin air.

As I think back over the story I see how each of the plot lines and characters contain elements of myself. All of the issues I’ve tackled are fragments of thoughts that have been busy little ants building hills for years in my head. Like the football-sized anthills forming a path across the dry lake bed I pass on my daily walks, these themes teeming with my own thoughts arrange themselves like giant footprints across the pages I have just written.

Once I sit down to read, analyze and ultimately revise my 52,000+ words, I will be looking at each anthill under a microscope, looking for the trails and the tunnels my thoughts have created and then followed line by line, paragraph by paragraph and page by page until the final words, The End.

My mind, like a community of industrious ants, has gathered and sorted and built from tiny grains of sand, and like those itty-bitty, but productive ants, I know now that I can start with the smallest idea, just a word really, and create a structure with purpose and direction.