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July 2, 2008

My relationship with my father was a stereotypical ‘love and hate.’ He had very high expectations for those around him, and I, being the first child, received the focus of those expectations. And I never felt I met them. Now, this may be on me. I have no idea, because he died when I reached adulthood, so we were never able to discuss it. I do know that he never told me I did well, looked good, tried hard enough, or congratulations on a job well done. (My mom told me all of those things, so I didn’t grow up totally warped!) In retrospect, I suspect a disappointment in his own accomplishments fueled his drive to drive me.

I did not gain a level of confidence in myself until long after he was gone, and I was in the process of nurturing the egos of my own children. It was at that point my self-esteem took off, and I haven’t looked back since. There were various building blocks along the way, and it was with very conscious effort and plan that I built that confidence.

So here we are at the Write on Wednesday prompt for the week:

Are you ever assailed with self-doubt about your writing ability, or about the reasons for writing at all? Do you “follow yourself around nagging and suggesting and complaining”? What are some of the negative things your Editor tells you? What could your Editor say to be more encouraging? How do you encourage yourself to keep practicing the craft of writing?

There are quite a few questions you asked us, Becca!

Which brings me back to my father, and why I mentioned him in the first place. He said many things to me, at the most appropriate times. One piece of advice he gave me was, “You can do anything you want.” Wow. For someone who never said, “nice job,” that sure was a vote of confidence! But I took the advice to heart, and went with it. And I have done pretty much everything I wanted to do, once I truly made the decision to do it. That was the key, I found. You can’t just say, I want to be the mayor, and then sit back and wait for it to happen. But if you say that, come up with a plan for doing it, enlist the people you need to help you, set to work, and work really, really hard at it, anything is possible. And in the long run, maybe you won’t be elected mayor, but what you learn, the people you meet, the things you accomplish on the way, might just turn out to be the goal you were reaching for, to begin with.

I started out, as a child, thinking I would grow up to be a writer and an artist. A bunch of people told me my work was crap on the way to being an adult, and I believed them. Once I found myself, however, I realized it didn’t matter what they said, and I decided I could do anything I wanted. So if you ask me today, and what do you do? Writer and artist will be in the list.

Queries for the first book I wrote have come back rejected, but I am undaunted. I just need to work harder, practice more, and get some advice. I love writing. When I am not writing on paper, I am writing in my mind. I could write all day. I could write for a job, if someone would pay me! I don’t need prompting because I enjoy the process and that is reason enough to continue. I think that is the best reason to continue.

For encouragement, I try to stay focused on positive thought, and just have fun. I try to look at the positives and not the negatives. My son sometimes points out that I am positive almost to the point of being a little crazy. His grandma always told him not to expect much, because then you won’t be disappointed. I laugh at that. If I expect a lot, I enjoy myself along the way, and very often find that what I wish for or expect is what I get! My cup isn’t just half-full, it is overflowing!

In Cheryl Richardson’s newsletter, Coach on Call, she posts a mid-year, June 30th life review. I think these are some fabulous questions to help keep me focused on my skills, talents, blessings, friends, and good-luck:

1.What hidden part of you have you awakened this year?
2. What positive changes have you made to your home or office?
3. Are you getting your creative needs met? How?
4. What changes have you made to better honor your integrity?
5. Have you added any small pleasures to your life? If so, what are they?
6. Have you forgiven yourself for something you did that’s been bugging you?
7. How have you taken better care of your body, your mind, or your heart?
8. How have you been a better partner, spouse, friend, or co-worker?
9. What have you done to help others improve the quality of their lives?
10. Are you letting things be easy?

While answering these questions, Cheryl suggests that you focus on the positive, not the negative. What is working? Acknowledge your successes to build your self-esteem. She says,

The greatest gift we give to humanity is our commitment to constantly raise our level of consciousness. Each week, as you take one simple step to live a healthier, more creative life, you do just that. This is important work and you deserve to celebrate your success.

Cheryl also has a Take Action Challenge which I wholeheartedly encourage every one to take part in:

Make a list of at least five positive changes you’ve made so far this year. Open a file on your computer right now labeled “My Success List” and put the five items on the list (add it to a prior list if you’ve done this before :). It’s extremely important to put this list in writing. By doing so, you send a message to yourself that you’re worth the time and energy. And, when your self-worth increases, the world responds accordingly. You become a magnet for better life experiences.

I am going to sit down and make my list right now, along with answering those mid-year, ten questions for myself. I am sure my dad is watching, and nodding his head right now, saying, “You did well. I am proud.”

What would you put on your list? Go ahead, share your success with us!

And while you think about it, take a look at my garden today.

Sorry. Got a little carried away! I hope you have a great – Write On Wednesday – day!

P.S.  I have been so, so, remiss.  I was thinking about this on the way home, and I have to add something.  On the one hand, I think one has to have self confidence to perservere.  It also helps to have a great support system that bolsters my self confidence, and I should have mentioned that.  So, thanks to neighbors, friends, and family, for supporting me so well!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2008 4:30 am

    “What you learn, the people you meet, the things you accomplish on the way, might just turn out to be the goal you were reaching for, to begin with.”

    Yes! What wonderful advice and encouragement to follow our dreams, whatever they might be. I was so moved reading this, and so inspired to keep on with my writing and music. For truly the destination sometimes is the journey itself.

    Thanks for posting the link to Cheryl Richardson, and for including her mid-year inventory. Those questions have me thinking very hard tonight, and will definitely be putting my thoughts on paper (or screen) sometime very soon.

    And your garden photos were the icing on the cake – a beautiful post!

    I’m so pleased you shared this with Write On Wendesday! Thank you.

  2. July 3, 2008 5:25 am

    I am so glad that you began the WOW posting, Becca. It is great to have a prompt that really makes one think, on top of writing about something. I am looking forward to going back to WOW and reading the responses of other participants.

    Thanks for commenting here, and enjoying the garden!

  3. July 3, 2008 9:14 am

    Lovely posting. It’s true that sometimes we are much more focused on encouraging others and, while that is certainly important, we all need to remember to encourage and congratulate ourselves as well. Very thought provoking. Thank you.
    Also, that pink rose is simply perfection!

  4. July 3, 2008 6:23 pm

    Thanks, Pamela.
    The roses are two different bushes. They are both antique roses, but I would have to look to find the name. They are incredibly fragrant, and bloom pretty much all summer if I deadhead religiously. I love roses!

  5. July 4, 2008 12:30 am

    I love the positive energy here. A very wise writer that dad would be proud of. I live each day counting my blessings and keep a list in my head. Your garden is beautiful,thank you for sharing it. I have a beautiful garden on my slide in my sidebar. I just discovered a Chilean Jasmine that I added to an arbor. It’s amazing but I need a picture.

  6. July 4, 2008 1:41 am

    Hi Tammy – Chilean Jasmine sounds delightful. I bet I can’t grow it here because of the winter… oh well. I would guess it is fragrant. I love fragrant flowers, and try to plant as many as possible. Thanks for your positive comments. I will visit your garden this evening, when it is cooler out!

  7. July 4, 2008 7:17 pm

    Your post is beautiful in many ways. Have you tried to stop listening to the voices around you and listen more to your inner voice. People’s opinions are only their opinion which usually is better if they’d kept it to themselves. Hope the take action challenge works for you 🙂 Your blog is beautifully presented 😉

  8. July 4, 2008 7:48 pm

    Hi Redness, thanks for the comment. I guess my post wasn’t very clear. I absolutely do listen to my inner voice: I stopped listening to the nay-sayers some years ago. The Take Action Challenge is just going to be my pat on the back – which is more important for me to do for myself, than for someone else to do for me!

  9. July 5, 2008 3:43 am

    I’m in love with your garden!!

  10. July 5, 2008 7:37 am

    I am very careful when I take photographs… you would be surprised to see my garden is quite small – maybe 30 x 30 feet. There is a lot squished in a small space! Thanks for the compliment, Deslily.

  11. July 9, 2008 9:52 pm

    I quite like your positive attitude. Your garden looks lovely, too.

  12. July 10, 2008 4:38 am

    Thanks, High Desert Diva. If the positive attitude starts to flag, I just eat some chocolate!

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