December 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
In the past month, I’ve re-read book passages that have spoken to me. Things that encourage me and lifted me up. In Victoria Forester’s THE GIRL WHO COULD FLY, Piper McCloud is a special little girl – she can fly. Her parents don’t entirely approve of her flying so when a woman offers to take her to a school that will “help her,” off she goes. What Piper realizes after being there a while is that this school only wants to BEAT THEM into normalcy. She gathers all the other gifted students and tries to talk them into escaping with her.
She dug deep and tried again. “My ma told me that there isn’t anything in this life worth having that comes easy. She told me that every road I walk down’s gonna have a price. But what she didn’t tell me and what I learned since I’ve been here is that if you don’t choose the road you’re gonna walk, sooner or later someone else’ll do that choosing for you. Now maybe Myrtle’s right and there’s nothing wrong with being normal like everyone else. But the truth is that we aren’t like everyone else. We’re like the way the good Lord made us and wouldn’t that be a terrible thing to turn our backs on? I can’t promise you that everything on this road is gonna be okay ’cause sure enough every road I’ve ever been on has got a bend or two and a few hills and valleys besides. I do know this, though — I know that I was meant to fly and I’m not gonna walk out of here. I’m going to fly. And I know what road I belong on ’cause I feel it here.” Piper pointed to her heart. “So you gotta choose your road right now. And you’ll know which one it is ’cause you’ll feel it here too.”
If you haven’t read this book, I seriously suggest you do. It is full of goodness. I bought it to read to my children, but kept it at my bedside table to read ahead. Seriously, do it. Peer pressure.
Later on, Piper says this to another student, who can’t seem to accept her forgiveness.
“Think you’re the only fool who ever made a mistake?” Piper looked at Conrad as if he was crazy. “Phhhh! Talk about delusions of grandeur. One mistake isn’t nothing. Heck I’ve made more than that before I even get up in the morning. Can’t learn nothing worth knowing without makin’ a few mistakes first!”
Oh…I like Piper. In short, bring me your freaks and gifts, your loners and misfit toys. YOU PEOPLE WHO AREN’T PERFECT AND MAKE MISTAKES. We should ALL OF US work harder at loving those for who they are and where they’re at.
I didn’t always feel this way.
In short, be who you are, treat others the way you want to be treated. GIVE the kind of GRACE you want to receive.
And read this book.
November 29, 2012 § 5 Comments
“We love those who see the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away.” – Walker Percy
I dig that man and his words.
But what of those who do see the worst of us and want no part of who we are?
It’s one thing for a person to say, “I don’t find my worth and validation in other people’s opinions.” It’s a completely different thing to say, “I don’t care anything about what other people think.”
To be honest, I think it’s a little arrogant and self-absorbed to think the latter. The person puts themselves above all others, implying their opinions don’t matter. Ideally, I shouldn’t even care what I think about myself. My Judge and Jury are elsewhere.
There once was a woman, a painter. She’d been painting since she was a little girl. Like anyone who ever tries to be anything, she wasn’t great at first. The more she painted, the better she got. As a young woman, she explored different and darker themes. Painted things that some people found offensive, but they reflected a moment in her life. She explored the process. The offensive things received some recognition, but mostly she painted them to learn from it, and she moved on.
She grew and her work changed. Different people bought her work, displaying it around town. She was proud of what she’d accomplished and thankful for the process that brought her to that point. She realized you have to get all the ugly out to find the beauty. So even the ugliness has value. Has importance. Ugliness and Beauty go hand in hand. Even bad art days were part of the process. She wanted to go further. To grow and learn.
A few of those she worked with found her most offensive paintings. And they really were grotesque. They did not care for any of it. They did not ask her to explain. They did not want to understand. They did little to hide their anger and disgust. They asked her to leave. She felt worthless. Undeserving of love or grace. Beat down and shattered. She didn’t understand how they could look at the expanse of her art and only see the worst, most evil. There was so much they did not like, but she was so much more than the ugly, even though it was a part of her.
It broke her.
All she could do was hold a hand over her heart and cry out.
After a time, she picked her paint brush back up. Doing so, she was afraid. Like if she started to paint again, she would open herself back up to pain, to hurt, to disgust from others. But she was a painter. She pushed that vulnerability aside, knowing rejection might come again, and began to draw a single line across her canvass.
It started smooth and fine, but went jagged and wrong. Moments curved, making lovely shapes. Breaks returned, but never in the same way twice.
It would be a long time before the line was finished, but the hurt and darkness in her heart eventually faded.
She felt hope again.
November 10, 2012 § 7 Comments
The Winter Wonders Anthology is available for pre-order. That’s…crazy. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that I am in a book with other talented (READ: WAAAAAY BIGGER AND MORE ACCOMPLISHED THAN I AM) writers and you can order it off the internet with a mere CLICK OF THE CURSOR. You should click it. I did. It felt nice. Pre-order here.
I’ve had a few life changes in the past several weeks. My family is safe and healthy. We will be okay. I live by the school of thought that you put one foot in front of the other and you keep on going. Everything happens for a reason.
There’s certainly a time for grief and anger, but I don’t want to hang out there. Even in the worst of circumstances, there is always something to be thankful for. So I’m doing that a lot – listing things that are wonderful and lovely.
I want to find joy where I am, even while traveling through dark places. Some of you might think eternal optimism is annoying and a few of my friends have nicknamed me Suzy Sunshine. I’M PERFECTLY OKAY WITH THAT. Would you like a hug? Here are a few of my joyful things:
1.) I do not have the nickname “Honey Badger.” (win)
2.) Battlestar Gallactica exists on Netflix. I can watch it whenever I want. So Say We All.
3.) My Husband Rocks. In every sense of the word. (wink)
4.) I have eyes that see, ears that hear, and legs that walk. Too often we take the very basic functions of life for granted.
5.) We own both of our family cars outright. They run. They get us from point A to point B. One even has an automatic door opening button thing. Fancy.
6.) My children do things that make me laugh every single day. I would like to think I make them happy too.
7.) The fall leaves are achingly beautiful right now. When I watch the way the setting sun filters through the gold, oranges, and reds, it is so breathtaking, so stunning, it makes me want to cry.
8.) There’s food in my pantry and refridgerator. Some of it tastes delicious and is really, really bad for me.
9.) I know how to read. It’s wonderful.
10.) My mind is fierce, my body is strong, and my heart is huge. This is not the end of me. There is something greater at work here. I don’t understand it right now, but it’s making me who I’m supposed to be. I’m still writing, still learning, still going. Watch.
What are you thankful for? I would love to hear.
October 15, 2012 § 1 Comment
Readers, thank you for giving me such juicy travel stories. Oh, I how I lived vicariously through you all. Thank you for entering this contest. Sadly, only one of you can hold “Beautiful Sorrows” in your hands. I wrote all your names down on piece of paper and assigned you a number according to when you commented. Like so:
Then I put all of the numbers into RANDOM.ORG and it gave me the magical number of 6!
STETSON! You are the winner! Congratulations! You won’t be disappointed. And for those of you who did not win, here is a photo of a kitten. All better? Thought so.
October 5, 2012 § 11 Comments
Mercedes Yardley was one of the first writers I “met” on twitter. She is a kindred soul and we became fast friends. A few years later, her family took a trip to Disney World. At the time, I only lived an hour away, so I packed up my family, and drove out to meet her. We recognized each other right away. Our daughters pointed out that they owned the dress the other was wearing. Her son immediately sat down in our double stroller and HAD AT a bag of Cheese Nips (my kind of kid). Good times were had, especially under a quirky arch.
Our time together was dear and a little strange. Yes, Mercedes and I have both fallen off the Tree of Crazy and Odd and hit every branch on the way down. But I say “strange” because up until that point, we’d only been our public online selves. Yes, we’d had private conversations about real, every day life, but online, Mercedes and I (along with other crazy twitter friends) talked of swords, ninja fights, high kicks, and karaoke battles.
In person, we were mothers, trying to talk to each other while keeping sharp objects away from our children. Our kindred selves, but tamer versions. Our time under this arch is special to me. We wrote our names somewhere on the walls.
I asked Mercedes a about special trip she’s taken, a place or experience that would stick with her. She said there were many places:
I went to Paris as a teenager and saw Romeo and Juliette’s veranda. There’s a place called Adam-Ondi-Ahman out in Missouri. It really has a special spirit there. I went to the hiding place of Anne Frank in Amsterdam. That might be the answer. It was one of the most amazing experiences I ever had. Also, once when we were flying to Finland, I felt this sort of…it was almost a physical tug on the plane. I wanted to hop out and go to wherever we were flying over. It was crazy; I went to the back of the plane and paced around a bit because I had this nervous energy. Turned out we were flying over Scotland, where my family roots are. I wanted to go there so badly! I felt like the land itself was calling me.
She has the most incredible heart, amazing writing talent, conviction and character beyond belief (dear readers, if you knew what I did you would cry in the best possible way). I admire her and have loved seeing her writing career take off. Her book of short stories from Shock Totem is out now and it is breath-taking. She’s given me a paper back copy of Beautiful Sorrows to give away.
She writes with hope, strength, and clarity, but in this lovely lyrical way. If you’d like a sample of her writing, one of my favorite very short pieces she’s written is Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie. First line: “We invited my dad’s killer over to dinner once.”
To win this book, leave a travel experience of your own in the comments section. Is there a place or person you visited that meant something special? Entries will close Thursday, October 11, at midnight (central). The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Friday the 12th. Can’t wait to read them!
If you simply cannot wait and want to order it from Shock Totem, please go here.
September 7, 2012 § 3 Comments