Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A" Must Read" Manifesto by Jeff Goins

"I’m a writer.
I could say that I love to write.
But really, I like to be read.
A lot."   (Jeff Goins, The Writer's Manifesto, pg. 4)

From the first page to the last, The Writers Manifesto grabbed my soul and held on tight.  As a new writer who "likes to be read...a lot" I constantly waver, arms stretched out, on the tightrope between "creativity and congratulations.." (page 9).  If you feel the same, don't miss this book.

Jeff Goins packs oceans of inspiration into an ebook that can be read in the amount of time it takes to drink a glass of water.  When finished reading, you'll want to drink it again...you'll have to... if you want to truly soak it in.   

The Writer's Manifesto speaks to every writer, whether famous or unknown, confident or insecure, experienced or new to their craft.  It exposes the battle that rages within each of us...the desire for applause vs. the need follow our own creative instincts.  

If you really are a writer...if it is who you are, not just something you do... this Manifesto will resonate with you, and you need to read it.  You really do. 
You can get the FREE ebook here: The Writer's Manifesto
Also, check out Jeff's blog here:  Jeff Goins Writer
And join the discussion about The Writer's Manifesto here: The Writer's Manifesto on Facebook

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Special Girl

I have a daughter with special needs.  She’s 12 years old…her name is Lizzy…here she is…

She has a rare form of Down Syndrome called Mosaicism or Mosaic Down Syndrome.  I know, I know, you weren’t aware that there are any ‘forms’ of Downs, but there is this one.  It means that only some of her cells are Trisomy-21 (which causes Downs) instead of all of them. 

She’s an amazing girl.  She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s outgoing and friendly.  She loves horses and she is an amazing vaulter (a special kind of riding where they do artistic routines while riding on the back of a moving horse)  Here are some pics to help you understand...

Adults LOVE her.  Kids are mean to her.  It’s very sad.  She has one really good friend, and that’s good.  There are a couple of kids at school that will be kind of nice to her, but most just ignore her.  They don’t understand her.  She’s so high functioning that, instead of being obviously Downs, she comes off as just awkward and weird. 

She bites her nails until they are too low to bite.  She also bites her lips so she gets sores that make her mouth hurt.  She has a lisp, she wears glasses and she doesn’t care much about social ‘graces’.  None of these things are great for a 12 year old girl, about to enter Middle School. 

I worry about her a lot.  And, to be honest…bluntly honest…I feel ‘heavy’ for her and, selfishly, for me too.  I sometimes forget how heavy I feel….I get used to it I guess.  Until something reminds me. 

Lizzy went to camp with the middle school youth group from our church this week.  She was gone for 5 days.  I missed her and worried about her a bit, but I knew she’d find an adult leader that would love on her, so I knew she’d be fine. 

When I picked her up today, she walked off the bus, and my first thought was ‘she is a total mess’.  She was filthy (she had only showered once all week because the water was cold).  She looked exhausted.  She had a big scab on her chin (looked like she fell on gravel), but she said she has no idea how she got it.  I saw her trying to talk to a few different girls, and I saw them completely ignoring her.  She gathered her stuff…her backpack, duffle bag, sleeping bag…and I gathered up my ‘heaviness’ and we got into the car. 

She had a great time at camp.  She, of course, met a leader who she loved and who loved her back.  She hung out with a couple of girls from school, and “they ignored me sometimes, but mostly they were nice.” 

And I’m heavy again.  I hadn’t realized the lightness of the week, but I realize the weight when it returns.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my Lizzy with all my heart and soul, and it’s because of that love that there is also a tension…a weight…that I live with.  I want others to see in her what I see.  I want her to “fit in”…not in an unhealthy way, but just in a happy, friendly way.  I want to teach her certain, appropriate ‘social graces’ without belittling who she is, or making her feel like I don’t think she’s good enough.  I just want to help her.  

So, no big revelations…no big spiritual insights in this post today.  Just my thoughts about my lovely girl. 

If you have a special needs family member or friend, tell me if you connect with this post at all. 

If you don’t, please don’t tell me…
“God loves her more than you do” or
“You should give all your worries to God” or
“It’s better if she doesn’t fit in because fitting in isn’t what’s really important” or
“Some people go through life with only one or two friends and that’s okay”. 

I know all those things already…I really do…and I believe them.  But my heart breaks for her none-the-less. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Where My Passion Intersects A Need (maybe?)

Back in April, on the Re:Create Cruise, someone said (I believe it was Randy Elrod) to find your vocation “where your passion intersects a need.”   Then last week I went to the Storyline Conference and was inspired and convicted by Don Miller to get off my butt and start doing the things I need to do to create the story I want to live.  I think I might have found a way to do just that, and I want YOUR opinion.

As I said in my last post, “The Secret to Learning Others’ Stories”, if I could do anything right now, I would listen to people’s stories then write about them.  I LOVE to sit with another person and hear his story,  I mean the story of his life…stories of events that shaped him…stories of his greatest joys and deepest tragedies…stories that give insight into the person he is today. 

I also love to write.  I love to re-tell stories.  I love to use words to create emotion and spark imagination.

So, how do I intersect these passions with a need?

Here’s my idea…it’s still very rough, with a lot of details to figure out, so be honest, but no TOO rough with me!!! 

I’ve seen A LOT of books out there filled with life story questions.  You’re supposed to buy the book, answer the questions, then give the book to your children or grandchildren.  I’ve also seen some “story” websites where you can go online and write your story for family and friends to read (seems pretty much like a blog).  The problem is, many people can tell their story if asked the right questions, but will NEVER take the time to sit and write it out.    If you are one of those people, let ME write your story for you… 

Here’s how it would work…
  • We would meet for a videotaped chat…about 2 hours in length
  • I would basically interview you about your story…we’d have a casual chat over coffee, or something similar…easy, unassuming, informal.
  • I would use my creative talent to write your story in a way that fits with your personality and tastes.  If I find you to be very serious, the story may take that tone.  If you’re a joker, the story will have humor…etc…This would be partly based on my own intuitive “feel” of the situation, and partly on the purpose of the story.
  • That story can then be presented in different forms (printed and framed, in a book form, in a book form with pictures that you give me, in a book form with stock photos that relate to your story, maybe also in an e-book form)
  • You can also purchase a DVD of the interview (edited or un-edited)
Here are some possible uses…
  • For the elderly to leave their life story behind for their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc…
  • As a wedding gift…I would interview the engaged couple, then write the story of how they met, fell in love, got engaged.
  • Wedding anniversary…”The story of our first year" or “The story of our first 20 years”. You get the point.
  • High School graduation… “My life story so far” or “My high school story”.  This could be written from the student’s point of view, or the parents’ point of view, or both. 
  • Others??
So, here’s where I need your help!
  • Do you think this is a good idea or not?
  • Would you ever consider using it? 
  • What issues immediately come to mind that I might not think of? 
  • Anything else you wanna say!!!
I would greatly appreciate your time in giving me some feedback to help me get started!

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    The Secret To Learning Others' Stories

    I love to hear people’s stories.  If I could do anything right now I think I would sit down with people from all different backgrounds, listen to their stories, then write about them. 

    Every person has a story.  Everyone. 

    The cashier at the grocery store…the man sitting across from you on the subway…the homeless woman at the corner…the wealthy businessman who won’t give you the time of day.  The famous…the infamous…the unknown.  They each have a story.    

    Some filled with pain, some filled with joy, most with a certain amount of both. 

    And one thing that I know for sure is that almost everyone wants to share their story.  Everyone wants to be known…everyone wants to be heard.  Some share their story with the world, some with only a cherished few. 

    So how do I get people, sometimes virtual strangers, to tell me their stories?  Well, it’s a pretty big deal…quite a secret.  It takes great talent and finesse.  A skill that requires much practice. 

    Re you ready?  Here it is….

    I ASK.

    Amazing huh? 

    I ask.  I ask about their family.  I ask about their job.  I ask why they chose their job.  I ask where they are from.  I ask why they moved where they are now.  I ask.  Just ask.    Usually within 2-3 questions, I get to hear a story.  

    Meet Joe. 
    Joe and I worked for 2 hours together at an aid station at a charity bicycle ride.  Here’s some of what I learned about Joe…
    He has 2 living children, ages 8 and 17.  They live in California with their mom.  He has another daughter that committed suicide last year.  His ex-wife knew that his daughter was in crisis, but she didn’t talk to him about it.  He holds a lot of anger about that.  He works with at-risk teens, and his eyes light up when he talks about them.  (By the way, when someone is telling you their story, and their eyes light up, you’ve hit on their passion.  They’ll talk about that all night if you will listen.  And you will learn more about the person while listening to them talking about their passion any other topic. )  I learned all about Joe’s philosophy of working with troubled kids, as well as his hopes and dreams for the kids he works with.
    Joe is a big man with a big heart for kids, and I can now pray for him more specifically because I have heard his heart. 

    Meet Gerald.
    Gerald sat behind me on an airplane trip to Portland. I didn’t actually talk to Gerald myself.  Gerald was about 90 years old, and he was sitting next to a kid of about 10.  The kid was flying alone, and he and Gerald became fast friends.  Gerald was annoying to most of the passengers in a 5 row radius.  He talked too loud for an airplane and he laughed a lot, with a big guffaw kind of laugh.  But, guess what?  The 10 year old asked him a couple of questions, and what came next was a plethora of stories from a life well-lived, some a bit inappropriate for 10 year old ears, actually.  You know what, though?  These two people who live across the county and 80 years from each other bonded on that airplane.  They heard each other’s hearts.  They connected as only humans can do.  They connected as God intended us to do.  Simply because the boy took the time to ask. 

    And that’s the point, right?  Our stories bring us together.  Our stories give us a glimpse into each other’s hearts, passions, dreams, pains, joys, fears.  When we ask someone else, with genuine interest, about their story, we let them know that we care about these things.  We let them know that we want to know them…to hear them.  And we are blessed.  We are blessed in an intangible way…a spiritual way.  We can’t put it into words, but it changes us for the better.  

    So here’s my challenge to you.  Just ASK.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Just Another Night...

    I spend another night
    Lying in our bed
    Looking out the window
    Pondering our story

    Wondering what’s happened
    How did we ever get here?
    We had such different plans
    For where we would be now

    Tears fall down my cheek
    Although I try to stop them
    Cannot stuff the heartache
    Deep inside my soul

    You lie in bed sleeping
    It comes so easy for you
    The fear and pain don’t haunt you
    Once your head hits the pillow

    While I spend another night
    Lying in our bed
    Looking out the window
    Pondering our story

    Wondering what’s happened
    How did we ever get here?
    We had such different plans
    For where we would be now

    Tears fall down my cheek
    Although I try to stop them
    Cannot stuff the heartache
    Deep inside my soul