What’s the active ingredient of success?

resilience17

I discovered a “new” word today—resilience. This morning before school, I read Rachelle Gardner’s blog post about resilience, and the word slammed my brain. I can’t stop it from resonating.

Resilience. Merriam-Webster tells me resilience refers to a strained body’s ability to recover after being compressed by stress.

A walk on the Wikipedia wild side says resilience refers, psychologically, to an individual’s ability to cope with stress, to “bounce back.”

Resilience isn’t just for writers, you know. I shared the word with my students as we discussed qualities that might make them stand out among the applicants competing for college admission or scholarship money.

Many students are hard workers, overachievers, and smart. But not everyone has suffered tremendous adversity. Those who do don’t always rise above it. Resilience is a quality that screams while other positive qualities nod and wave–at least on some scholarship applications.

But students can’t just say they’re resilient. They have to prove it, show it. The only way to provide evidence is to have lived it.

I challenged my student to take their readers into their heads and to show them the video of their obstacle so readers could feel their emotions. Hundreds of essays vie for limited money, The essay that makes the reader feel nothing usually ends  up in File C, as in C for can.

In real life, I need students to show me their resilience. Resilience is, as a matter of fact, the active ingredient in success.

Throughout the year, my students will battle obstacles—failure, broken relationships, financial trials, loss, fear of the unknown, fatigue, etc. Despite their problems, I need them to get out of bed, to get dressed, to arrive to school on time, to keep their heads up, to pay attention, to attempt the task, and to try again when they stumble–no matter how they FEEL.

As soon as I mouthed the word resilience, I knew I was talking to myself, more so than to my students.

They can’t succeed if they give up. Neither can I. Neither can you. Resilience is the ACTIVE ingredient in success because it requires us to DO something.

I’ve been talking about writing for a long time. In fact, one of my former students called me on it the other day. “This book, this book,” she said. “What is this book you keep talking about? Where is it?”

Yeah, where is “this book”?

It has been written, proofed, critiqued multiple times, been recognized in multiple competitions. What now?

I need to administer a dose of resilience. Two years ago I hit the pause button on life. It’s time for me to hit play and to finish the game.

Instead of looking at the time I lost, I can turn a negative into a positive. I plan on going back and looking at my manuscript with fresh eyes from a marketing standpoint, not a writing standpoint.

I can write. I don’t have much confidence in anything else about me, but one thing I know is that I can write. Now I need to find my selling point.

I believe I’m bouncing back. Is it weird that I woke up one morning with a new elevator pitch for the book?

Nope. I think the writer in me has finally found the resilience. I’ve always felt as though I have a good story, but I haven’t had a good marketing plan. I’m the first person who has to sell it, to an agent or editor, who then will rely on me to sell it to readers, so I need to I need to believe in it so others will believe in it too.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE
Now it’s your turn to examine yourself and your situation. What’s keeping you down? I challenge you to seek good medicine for what ails you, positive words and a good measure of resilience.

WORDS OF WISDOM
“No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.”  ~  Greg Kincaid

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord, your God, who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”  ~  Deut. 31:6

MUSIC NOTES
But the good news / Is there’s angels everywhere out on the street / Holding out a hand to pull you back up on your feet / The one’s that you’ve been dragging for so long / You’re on your knees / You might as well be praying  ~ Dave Berg, “If You’re Going Through Hell,” recorded by Rodney Atkins

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE

http://www.booksandsuch.biz/blog/do-you-have-resilience/

FINAL THOUGHT

reblog

I appreciate your help. Would you please copy and paste the URL on your Facebook page? I will be glad to help you promote your writing too. Feel free to leave a link to your blog in the comments section.
Stay positive. Don’t give up!

Midnight in your imagination

Admit it. Don’t you wish you could escape reality, just for a moment?

I have. This weekend I faced returning to school, cleaning out my parents’ house, reorganizing my house, and making some other important decisions.

I felt as if my brain were spinning like a cage on one of the old Zipper rides at the carnival.

So I escaped…vicariously, of course, through a romantic comedy, my all-time favorite genre of movies.

I blame my movie adventure on one of my newspaper editors. We were planning the February issue of The Edge and found ourselves making a list of our top romantic movies. We both agreed on Leap Year, and I was determined to watch it this past weekend.

The luck of the Irish was not shining on me though. I couldn’t find Leap Year on any of my movie channels. But I serendipitously discovered another movie called Midnight in Paris that could possibly rank second in my all-time favorite movie list, falling close behind my top choice Serendipity, of course, and giving Leap Year a tight battle for the number two slot.

Midnight in Paris may be the most romantic movie I’ve ever seen. It’s as if someone tore a page out of my journal, tweaked a few details, and turned my thoughts into a motion picture.

Owen Wilson takes the lead role of Gil, a hopeless romantic writer, who pays the bills by turning out lucrative Hollywood screen plays. But he wants to write a novel. He’s written a manuscript, but he has shown it to no one, primarily because his finance Inez (Rachel McAdams) belittles him and doesn’t support his dream.

He wants to move to Paris and walk in the rain and reminisce about the past. Inez finds herself attracted to a pompous know-it-all pseudo expert in everything from wine tasting to art. As Gil grows closer to his dream city, he moves further away from Inez. Their ideas of romance don’t mesh. His imagination fuels his passion. She can’t see beyond dollar signs and prestige.

When Gil takes a midnight walk, his life changes forever. A strange car pulls up beside him, and the driver offers him a ride. He finds himself transported magically back to the Golden Age of the 1920s, where he meets a host of creative artists who re-ignite his own passion—F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Dali, Gertrude Stein, Cole Porter, to name a few.

Gil must decide whether to live in the past, to stick with the status quo, or to change his present.

Admit it. If you had the chance, wouldn’t it be great to step back in time to meet the artists who fuel your passion for literature, music, or art? Wouldn’t it be great if that one moment breathed new life into your dreams?

I actually had the chance to do that once, well, kind of. I took a creative nonfiction class for my master’s degree in journalism education through the University of Missouri, and my professor asked us to incorporate all five of our senses as we wrote a piece about a specific place. Back then I hadn’t started my novel, and I was still doing quite a few celebrity interviews. My favorite band was the Eagles, and my chance of interviewing one of the original members was approximately one in a million. But what if I did interview one of them? Where would we meet? What would I say?

I threw caution to the wind and imagined myself in The Troubadour on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Why? Because that’s where members of the Eagles band used to hang out when they first got their start in the music business.

I didn’t have the money to fly to California, and I certainly couldn’t go back in time. But that’s what I what I wanted to write about, and somehow I needed to get there. I researched the place and its surroundings, including the Italian restaurant next door, and somehow I found myself sitting next to Glenn Frey and Don Henley in The Troubadour, watching Steve Martin on stage, and drooling over the aroma of pasta dishes wafting in from next door.

It was one the best experiences in my life that never really happened, and I remember every little detail, despite none of them being true. That’s why I find it so ironic that a few years later Eagle guitarist Joe Walsh did call me, and we did have a real one-on-one conversation. This little incident just reaffirms my belief that ANYTHING can happen. Dreams do come true.

So if you had a chance to step back in time to meet someone who inspired you? Who would you meet? Where would you go? To what era would you travel?

I’ve occasionally written about creative escapes in my blogs. I’ve spent quite a few weekends in Franklin, perusing the Henpeck Market and eating at McCreary’s. As often as I can, I go to Memphis and hang out in Handy Park and the Memphis Music store.

But when I can’t travel very far away, I find myself in one of the quaint railroad towns like Normandy, Wartrace, or Bell Buckle—Bell Buckle, especially. There’s just something magical about that little town.

I have several readers from all across the nation. If you ever find yourself traveling down Interstate 24 toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, you MUST take a short detour to Bell Buckle. I’ve never had the pleasure of staying in one of the several bed and breakfast homes, but, hey, what a GREAT place for a writer’s retreat. Someone needs to organize it. It might just have to be me.

There’s one particular antique store in Bell Buckle that takes me back to the 30s and 40s every time I walk in. I can’t explain it, but I can feel it. I also like visiting the ice cream shop.

Now that I’m committed to a diet, I probably won’t see another ice cream soda until this spring, but every time I step foot in this parlor I feel as though I’m ready to order a strawberry phosphate or an ice cream soda with Emily and George from Our Town.

To me, Bell Buckle is enchanted. Of course, I’m a tourist, not a local. But you can find me there almost every week, strolling through the town, visiting the boutiques, or simply going for a ride through the country side. It is my escape.

So far I haven’t “met” any of my favorite writers in Bell Buckle although I wouldn’t be surprised in Edgar Allan Poe were to show up. I imagine he and I might speculate about the Victorian houses that appear to be haunted and the graveyard that sits in the middle of town.

Do you need an escape as badly as I do? Where would you go? Who would you meet? Why? When? Give me all the five w’s and throw in the h.

I really want to know.

Full moon crazy

Full moon tonight. The crazies come out.

I’m not sure what that means, but I think I like it. It’s been a long winter full of trouble, and I’m ready for the thaw. I need more crazy, the good crazy, the kind of crazy that brings out the kind of harmless mischief that ignites my creative spirit.

Writers thrive on crazy. Crazy schedules. Crazy thoughts. Crazy characters. And drama. Of course, it’s easy to deal with the drama when you can close the laptop and take a break. And the crazy characters? We can make ‘em do whatever we want. (Don’t you wish we had the power in real life? Maybe some of us do; maybe some of us don’t. Who pulls the puppet strings in your life? Just a side thought.)

Creative people need crazy.

Take American Idol for example. In my opinion, producers can thank Steven Tyler for breathing new life to a dying show. He adds just the right amount of crazy. He is a connoisseur of crazy. Steven refers to it as “goop,” the “stuff you get when you’re creative to get the job done.” But he’s right. James Durbin and Casey Abrams bring the crazy to every performance, and that’s why they make their fans go crazy.

All right, naysayers, chastising me for speaking so lightly about such a serious topic. I hear you. “How dare she be so flippant about the full moon? Hasn’t she heard that more accidents, more murders, and more crime occur during the full moon phase?”

Scientists tell us the moon has an effect on the oceans’ tides, and the Average Joe makes the assumption that if the moon has an effect on the large bodies of water, it probably affects small bodies too. We humans consist primarily of water—about 80%, right? Crazy thought, isn’t it?

I believe people do act a little more strangely during a full moon, maybe even a little meaner. But authorities haven’t agreed whether there is any scientific proof that the lunar phase has any real effect on a person’s emotions. Of course, the debate has gone on for years. Where do you think we get the words lunatic and looney? Full moon crazy.

Pagans have their own beliefs, but I am steadfast Christian. I don’t think full moon crazy stems from religion or science. I think we writers are responsible.

No, there’s not much scientific proof that weird things happen during a full moon, just writer conjecture. Songwriters, screenwriters, novelists, and journalists, we all perpetuate the myth. Thank you, Stephenie Myer for tweeking the moon myth with New Moon. And Warren Zevon, you incited terror in the heart of a teenage girl who listened to your vinyl 45 almost every night, worrying about poor Jim getting his lungs ripped out and feeling sorry for the “little old lady [that] got mutilated last night.”

Full moon crazy. Makes me want to take my new green journal to a picnic bench in the park and write tonight.

By the way, tonight’s full moon is what is referred to as a “super full moon” or a “perigee moon,” noted for its rare size and beauty. The last time we had one of these was back in 1993. Even if you’re more the analytical type with little time for my creative tom foolery, you should take time to see the show God’s putting on tonight. You’ll want to get there just after sunset for the best seats.

And by the way…..

FULL MOON CRAZY CONTEST

I need a little crazy, so in the words of Steven Tyler, give me the “goop.” What’s your best full moon crazy story? What are you going to do tonight? If you’re reading this after March 19, you can tell me what you did. Or just tell me your best full moon myth or trivia. I don’t care. I just need some full moon crazy. I need you.

I’ll randomly pick a comment and treat the writer to a cup of coffee. Don’t worry if you’re across the world. I’ll send you a Starbucks card. (Deadline is midnight, Monday, March 21.)

Congratulations Herb Crowder for winning the Starbucks card. (You should receive it soon.) I’m sorry for the delay in posting. Due to the death in my family, I have not been able to work with the blog for a short while. Thanks to all of you who have prayed for my mother and my family. She is resting now. Please remember my father in your prayers.