Friday, January 23, 2015

The calling


I've never actually thought of myself as a writer per se.   Several years ago, my friend encouraged me to start a blog about what it's like to be an autism mama.  She thought maybe some people might like to hear what I had to say about my journey, my walk, with autism.  And so I did.

I'm an avid reader, but that doesn't make me qualified to write.  I've always loved writing, I was the editor of our yearbook in high school, wrote for the school paper, etc.  Essays were my favorite kind of tests.  I excel with words.  I think it has something to do with talking so much.  But I've never taken a class on writing, on grammar, on where punctuation should go and stuff.  As a substitute teacher I have found myself googling the most basic of grammar questions because I just forgot all of those endless rules.  I always tell the students, "Listen, it's been about 100 years since I was in 4th grade."  And sometimes it feels like just that long.

So who in the sam hell am I to think *I* can write a book?

Well who am I not to?

I have always, always, always known there was a story inside of me.  I have always known "this book" was in me.  I just never knew what it looked like.  And every time I sat down to write it, it was painful.  It was forced, it wasn't natural.  Over the course of the last several years,  I've been really trying to come up with  THE GRAND IDEA. And it seems like the harder I try, the farther away THE GRAND IDEA becomes.

So I gave up.

Like, a whole bunch of times.

You know, some people are into Elizabeth Gilbert not because of her story, but because of her writing.  She is, after all, a "real" bona fide WRITER.  An author.  The real deal.  Like she's been published.  And not only has she been published but she's been crazy successful.  And some people want to know how to get a piece of that.  I'm not really one of those people, but thankfully when I went to meet my bestie, someone asked her about, you know, actually writing.

And I'm grossly paraphrasing but I can tell you that I sat utterly enraptured to hear Liz talk about her process.  It's simple.  She talked about God giving you a gift, and you "just know" when you have it.  You know because it calls you.  Not  - - you call it.  It calls you. This could be writing, singing, dancing, building, creating, operating... whatever your gift happens to be.    She talked about her books being in her veins.  She talked about how to ignore that call is to ignore God.  And that really sat with me.

So I tried again to come up with THE GRAND IDEA.  It's hard not to get discouraged because it seems like the market is inundated by the type of book I want to write.  I got downright CRUSHED when momastery.com blew up and Carry On, Warrior made it huge.  Excuse me Glennon Doyle, you stole my idea, my life, and my success.  (Not really Glennon, I love you dearly, you are a huge inspiration to me and many)  And thank God for my BFF Renae who reads EVERYTHING and I do mean EVERYTHING and she had the sense to me to say, "Hey you know what, not everyone likes her voice.  Some people might like your voice better."   Best friends are great at stroking egos, right?

So I go back to it.  Where oh where is THE GRAND IDEA? Now I'm getting really serious about finding it.  I read books about writing books.  I read blogs about writing blogs.  I read books that might be kinda sorta like the book I want to write and I make notes of what I like and what I don't like.

I publicly commit, on this very blog to write a chapter by November 1.  I surround myself with people who encourage me daily to JUST WRITE ALREADY.

And nothing comes.

So I gave up.

Again.

Guess what I did?  I handed it over to God.  I let it go.  I surrendered it.  I said a prayer that went something really eloquent like this--

"God use me.  Thy will be done.  Not MY will be done.  When it's time, show me.  But please make me ready to see it.  Please God help me get out of my own way.  Help me to let it go.  I trust you.  I trust your plan.  I know you've got this, because I sure as heck don't (I try not to swear when I'm actually talking TO the big G).  When it's time, make me ready."

And then I just put it down.  I actually stopped thinking about it.  I stopped obsessing about it.  I just -- put it down and went on with my life and focused on the things I need to focus on.  I worked on me and I continued to pray (I say that as if it's past tense, I assure you it is not).  I didn't pray about the book ever again.  I said it once.  God heard me.  And besides He already has a master plan anyway so why am I worried about the timing of it?  None of this is up to me.  I need constant reminders of that.
Maybe my book will be titled "Confessions of a control freak."

So what happened when I surrendered?

Something came alive in my veins.  A spark was ignited.  I heard the call.

THE GRAND IDEA had arrived.

Only it wasn't quite like that.  It was more like a seed.

I had to be ready to see the seed for what it was.
Right now I am nurturing the seed in the best ways I know how in order to make it grow and take root.  

But it's calling me.  Day and night, whatever I'm doing, wherever I am, I hear its quiet whisper.  And I'm listening.

And I'm writing. 

Even if I'm not "a writer."

So I'm going to write this book.  It may not be pretty and the punctuation may be all off and there may not be a single person on this earth who ever reads it or even WANTS to read it other than my mom.... but I will answer the call.  Because as Liz says, to NOT answer the call is to not accept a gift that God has given you.  And God has given me an abundance of gifts for which I am thankful.  I know this will be one as well.... even if it's just a gift to me.


Editor's Note: To those people in my life who have encouraged me over and over and over again to just write something, anything... but just write already! I thank you.  It was through writing this blog that the grand idea came, even though I wasn't looking for it, or even trying to find it anymore.  I was just listening, to you.... to your hearts, encouraging me to find my gift. Thank you.  And yes I'll acknowledge each of you by name when my book gets published!  Yes!




Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Today's word is dignity.


Sometimes I have so much to write about, I end up not writing at all.  Kind of like this.





A few weeks ago, I was talking with a dear friend about some extremely odd behavior of a grown man and she said, "I mean really, have some dignity"

Dignity.

And that got me REALLY thinking about that word.  

I have a thing with words, maybe you've noticed?  Anyway, Merriam-Webster defines dignity as....
: a way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control
: the quality of being worthy of honor or respect

I'm not so sure about the "seriousness" part but self-control?  Yes.  Being worthy of honor and respect? Sign me up please. 

I define dignity as



Or some sort of version of that. 

Dignity for me is really that thing buried deep inside of you, likely entangled with your soul and your self worth and things like pride and inner strength that tell you, "I'm better than this."

Dignity is that thing that tells you that you don't need to gossip.  Dignity is also that thing that tells you that creeping your ex on facebook is just so beneath you. Dignity is that thing that allows you to let go of the things that no longer serve you.   Dignity is that thing that makes you proud, makes you hold your head high. Dignity is that thing that says ....



 It's ALSO that thing inside of you that says 


This might be my favorite meme of all time. 

....and yet enough of us forget we have dignity.  We get caught in these traps.  Social media encourages us to put ALL, and I do mean ALL of our junk out there for the universe to see and in the process of that, I think as a whole we are becoming .... undignified.  

It's OK to be an open book but it's also OK to keep a few things close to the chest, too.  We talk about stepping into the arena a'la Brene Brown.  YES, step into the arena, but remember that one of the most important principles Brene talks about in living a whole hearted life is to share your story with those who have EARNED the right to hear it.

There is no dignity is sharing your story with anyone and everyone.  If you do that, aren't you, um, a Kardashian?  

And while the Kardashians have  A LOT of things, I dare say, dignity isn't really one of them.

So this week I am reminding myself to walk with dignity.  To share my story with those who have earned the right to hear it.  To feed my soul with those things that are positive.  To act in a a way that shines a light not just on me but on those around me.   Not in a way that dims that light or puts me in a shadow.  To talk in a way that makes me proud.  Better yet, to listen in a way that makes me proud. 

I need to live my life, no-- I owe it to myself to live a life that is worthy of honor and respect. I will create a life that is worthy of honor and respect. I will handle myself with dignity because I know that I am worthy. 

And you know what? I'll handle myself with dignity because my kids are watching. And the most important thing I will ever do in my life is show them the way. 

I may as well at least attempt to get it right. 

It seems like the dignified thing to do.