15 December, 2014

Hello Monday

Happy Monday to you! I hope you had a great weekend. Ours was busy with my grad school graduation on Saturday (woo hoo!) and a Christmas party Sunday afternoon.

I have to admit I was kind of in the doldrums on Saturday morning. I was using superficial means to look at my life and measure its worth. My husband tried and tried to get me out of it, but I was in full-fledged pity party mode and was not going to be dissuaded.

I got to my graduation in a huff because we couldn't find where to park. We were late. I was nervous and just mad at how the day had come together. I got my stuff and walked away, leaving my husband to find a place to park. I was mad, grumbling under my breath – ready for this stupid event to just be over. 

I got to the room where we checked in. Got my card, put my gown on, got someone to help me with my hood and then it hit me – two years of hard work had led me to this moment. Two years of classes online or driving three hours round-trip after working all day to attend class in-seat. Two years of wrestling with what it means to run a nonprofit well, studying finance, fundraising, HR issues, ideas of justice, measurability and what the future holds for this shifting sector. Two years of time, energy, sweat and growth – and now I was there.

I got over myself. I got over my ideas for how the day should be, who should be there, what this moment ought to look like and let myself feel what those two years, and all that effort, had led to.

Then I wanted to cry.

I texted an apology to husband. I took a moment to feel the day and let the joy settle on me. Overall, the event was bittersweet. 

Walking across the stage was incredible. It is so much waiting for thirty seconds – but those thirty seconds were worth everything leading up to it. Then it was over. We got some photos and went out to dinner. I have the case for my diploma and a moment captured in time. A rite of passage that now allows me to put letters after my name and become an alumnus of a second institution.

The moments in our lives are what we make them. We can choose to let disappointment, pain, regret or those unrealistic Hallmark expectations cloud everything. Or we can reflect on the simple, the steadfast, the everyday blessings we too easily overlook, and focus on that.

If we let the pressures of what ‘should be’ go, what is often left behind is something so much better.

Our articles today deal with courage and being true to who you are.

Ursula K. Le Guin was recently honored at The National Book Awards. Her speech stole the event! In it, she slams the idea that writing is all about turning our stories into the next blockbuster. It has become harder and harder to get published if someone doesn’t see box office potential. It’s wrong and Le Guin calls for writers to stand against this pressure and to remember that often times writing goes against what is cultural or main stream. Writing is a reflection of where a society truly is or where it ought to go.

But to be that bold takes a lot of courage. Brandy Vallance blogs about the courage to write.
“When what you’re writing starts to scare you, it’s usually a sign that you’re being real. When you start to worry about what others will think, that is the writing that will affect people the most. You’ve finally tapped into raw emotion and that’s a really good thing in fiction.”

You cannot write for the crowds. You cannot write for what the puppet master might want. There is no formula for the bestseller. In the end, be true to your voice, recognize there is fear in every step of the process but keep going, you never know what will happen.

Yet the ability to be real in our stories (to have courage!), comes from knowing thyself. Being able to pinpoint your sweet spot comes from knowing what makes you tick – the get out of bed, do this all day, it’s part of my heartbeat, this is who I am, feeling! Whether it’s what genre to choose as a writer, or what career to pursue in general, the process to figure out what makes you come alive starts by asking the right question.

Good has some questions to aid in this endeavor:

1. What reflects who you are?

2. What reflects your interest?

3. What allows you to share your gifts?

4. What allows you to help others?

5. What allows you to be “financially viable given your desired lifestyle?”

The article has follow-ups for each of these questions. Good positions these questions in relation to meaningful work, but I think the same questions ring true when it comes to finding your voice, being real as an artists, and trying to pinpoint what will help you feel fulfilled and thereby be able to help others.

Have courage dear friends! Be who you were made to be and find the small joys in today.

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© Amanda Lunday