Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"What saves a man is to take a step, and another step." C.S. Lewis

I absolutely love the movie, The Princess Diaries. At a very critical point in the movie Mia finds a letter from her deceased father. He offers her some really great words of advice. This advice helps her to make the decision that will ultimately affect the lives of millions of people. (At least in the fictional country of Genovia.)

"The brave might not live long, but the cautious do not live at all. . . .
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the acceptance that there is something more important than fear."

Great advice right? We can allow physical ailments, or disabilities, or imagined slights, or real offenses, or discouragement, or disappointment, or failure, or fear of failure, to keep us from truly living our gift of life. We tell ourselves we're not really missing anything as we hide behind our wall of excuses and self-pity. But the painful truth is . . . we're being cautious instead of brave, and in the process . . . we are not really living at all.

"Men are that they might have joy." If we are wallowing in self-pity and excuses we will never truly find or experience real joy.

Those who truly live life are the ones who go out and find it.

Do something today you were too scared to do yesterday.

Take a step.

Be brave.

Live.

Live for those who have lost their lives to senseless violence. Live for those who no longer have the choice. Live for those you love. Live for yourself!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

There is no try...

My thirteen-year-old is a HUGE Star Wars fan. I've always liked the movies, but I never memorized names, places, Jedi terms etc. My son has. He knows so much Star Wars trivia it's amazing. Well, we've once again completed another Star Wars movie marathon and can I just say, Yoda is the coolest dude ever!!

I love in Empire Strikes Back when Luke goes to Dagobah to be trained by that super cool little green man! Watching it with my boys I suddenly had new insight into that creature's incredibly deep words. Only Yoda can use horrible grammar, and sentence structure, and still get a really good point across. Luke thinks Yoda is crazy. He just can't believe that he actually has the power to lift his ship out of the swamp using the Force. With no faith behind his words he tells Yoda he'll "try".

Yoda says. "Do, or do not. There is no try."

For some reason this time with that sentence I was completely sucked into the moment. I watched with new eyes as, after Luke gave up and stormed off, Yoda squared his little bent shoulders and using the Force, lifted the ship out of the water.

Luke was confronted with the blatant truth. "Size matters not."

He had to realize that the problem wasn't with the task before him, it was with himself. His lack of faith in a power greater than himself, his lack of faith in his gift to wield that power, and overall his lack of faith in himself determined his failure, NOT the task.

In my last post I talked about how doubt has a way of crushing our dreams. How often do we look at ourselves and the tasks we face and say we'll "try", but in the back of our mind we have no real faith behind the "try". We may put in a little effort, but give up before we actually can see ourselves fail--because if we can convince ourselves the task is impossible, we don't have to try and take the chance of failure. We can justify to ourselves that the task was too great, the mountain too high, the goal unattainable, and then we can walk away.

Author Dan Wells in his Seven Points class talks about try/fail cycles. He says that in order to keep a book interesting and keep the reader engaged your protagonist must try and fail at least twice, otherwise it isn't believable or relatable. So, if we need to read about our heroes trying and failing at least twice in order to believe their story, isn't it safe to say that its okay to try something and not succeed the first time? Or even the second or third time?

President Lincoln ran for president at least three times before he was elected. A good friend of mine told me Brandon Sanderson wrote thirty novels before he published his first book. Beethoven composed his greatest works after he lost his hearing. There are countless stories about people who have done great things only after failing numerous times.

My nine-year-old asked me yesterday if writing my book was fun. It made me pause. It was fun, at least it used to be. I told him it wasn't as fun as it used to be. Ever since I started worrying about trying to get it published its become less fun and more of a worry and a stress to create something perfect. Each rejected query has felt like a small failure. He smiled and said he was glad that it at least used to be fun. I love nine-year-old logic, as long as it was at least fun once its still okay.

I have to thank my awesome boys for making me reevaluate and get back on track. I want to have fun again. I still want to share my writing with anyone who wants to read it, but I'm going to stop worrying about it. I'm going to write because I love it. This might mean my posts become fewer and far between as I stop trying to write and just do it . . . write. Whether my books ever get published or not is no longer the goal. To create works I am proud of, to fail at times--but not give up, to live my life--not just watch it go by, to cherish each and every minute with the incredible people in my life . . . that is my goal.

So in the words of Yoda, I'm going to "Do, or do not. There is no try."

Let's all get out there and DO a little more. We might just amaze ourselves at what we are truly capable of once we stop trying and start doing:).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Doubt... Or what I call, The Prison of Dreams

How often does doubt become a prison for our dreams?

Shakespeare said, "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."

I have had this quote hanging on my desk ever since I started writing for more than just myself. It is so true!

How often do we allow our doubts, whether of ourselves or our abilities, to dictate our dreams? How often do we give up before we've really even started, because of fear and doubt?

One of my favorite poems of all time is Invictus by William Ernest Henley. (And what better example of pursuing your dreams, beyond mountains of obstacles, than Nelson Mandela, right?)

For those of you drowning in doubt and fear here are some words of comfort from an incredibly intuitive writer.
INVICTUS By William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole.
I thank whatever gods may be.
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the horror of the shade.
Yet the menace of the years,
Finds and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul. 

Do not doubt. Just do! Even if you can't change your circumstances, you can change how you deal with them.