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Inspiration | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother
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Get on that I Think I Can Mountain

“I think I can, I think I can,” says the little engine that could as it chugs up the mountain.

Sometimes we all face the tall mountain and don’t know whether to chug or fail.

Notice the engine that could was not surrounded by other engines who chanted, “No, you can’t, No, you can’t.”

If you face a tall mountain and have a great idea, surround yourself with great people who will cheer you and encourage you to take your ideas up the mountain, to the next level. If you find yourself surrounded by a No You Can’t crowd of detractors, stop sharing your Can-Do dream and reserve it for other Can-Do Encouragers.

Sometimes, when I offer a new idea that is ignored or laughed at by others, I grow discouraged.

One of the best places I can go to get inspired and out of that dark spot is an art museum. For centuries, artists have seen a vision in their imagination and then transformed that into a physical object. Lots of them were laughed at, misunderstood, or unappreciated. Yet, they continued. When Michelangelo saw the angel in a slab of marble, he chiseled until others could see it too. It wasn’t always easy, and it took lots of sacrifice and time – like when he spent 3 years on his back painting the Sistine Chapel.

So when I walk into that museum, discouraged that my next great vision isn’t appreciated by those I risked sharing it with, I can take heart and get back on the “I Think I Can” train tracks which will chug me up the mountain.

When you have a great idea and look to have others appreciate it, what do you do to re-energize yourself?

Walk Your Wire and Why Wallenda Matters


“The impossible is actually possible,” Nik Wallenda reminded us.

I was a reluctant viewer of the Niagara Falls walk at first. Then I saw him crossing the wire and heard the commentary. Besides being a brilliant showman and remarkably talented, Wallenda was exactly what our whole world needs right now.

We can get sucked into the black hole of bad news and potential problems. They aren’t just in our own back yard but are looming around the planet. The more we get sucked into the bad news, the more likely we are to lose hope and give up.

As Wallenda walked the wire, placing one foot in front of the other, he showed us how we can walk out of that dark pit into something better.  They had a microphone on him to talk with him during the walk, and in those most intense parts he was quietly praying, showing that when the wind’s swirling around us – sometimes from all directions, and the path is slippery, and we can’t see our way, we can succeed.

Wallenda explains,

“When I’m on that wire it’s a mind game more than anything. It’s important to stay focused on the goal, on the prize that’s on the other side.”

Then he adds that we can all do that with whatever battles or challenges we face.

After he reached the other side, he was asked why he did it. His answer?

“To inspire people around the world”

Wallenda reminds us to reach for the impossible and gives us hope.

He reminds me of Shirley Temple during the Great Depression. Her movies were popular in a bleak world because of her “can do” attitude.

In a new century, we have Wallenda. We need others to do the same.

The best way we can get those others is if we all decide right now, that we’ll take our shot and walk our own wire. What are you waiting for?

A Spirit-Filled Dance on Pentecost

As I walked into Mass with my family to celebrate Pentecost, the Holy Spirit invited me to dance with Jesus.

“Me? You’ve got to be kidding.”

“You – I’m calling you.”

“But I’m not one of the pious. Often when I walk in the door I feel like a modern Samaritan woman walking into a room of Pharisees.”

“I didn’t call you to dance with them. I called you to dance with Jesus.”

“But I get so frustrated….”

“Don’t focus on them. Watch me.”

“Why would He want to dance with Me? I make more mistakes than I do things right.”

“Dance with Him.”

“I’m scared. If I start dancing, I don’t know what will happen next.”

“Make that first step. Walk by faith, not by sight.”

I start to inch my foot forward but feel the chains of the past holding me back.

“Doesn’t He know where I’ve been?”

“Of course He does. And He’s asking you to dance with Him.”

“This wasn’t in my plans today.”

“Your plans. Not His. Dance with Him.”

The bits of our conversation took place in between Mass readings about the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. On that first Pentecost, they spoke in many tongues.

On this Pentecost, the Holy Spirit inspired me to sing. With each line I sang, the chains of the past loosened, and I felt my foot again inching forward for that first step.

Near the end of the Mass, I joined the congregation as we said,

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

And with that, I again went forward and joined the dance with Jesus on the vigil of Pentecost.

My prayer is that in future days, if I grow discouraged, that I remember this night and the dance of a lifetime that changes everything.

 

Both Sides of the Confidence Building Coin

Effective managers know there are two sides to the confidence building coin.

  1. The first side has a head on it and it says, “Yes, you can.” This is what effective managers say as they work to inspire those who work around them. Then the manager gets the right heads on the right coins and makes sure those around them are sufficiently prepared and have necessary tools. Those are tools to not only do jobs but measure their results and evaluate their effectiveness.
  2. The other side of the coin doesn’t have tails on it. It has wings. The effective manager stays out of the way and offers room for those around them to think through their ideas, don their wings, and soar to greater success.

When an effective manager has sufficiently prepared both sides of the confidence building coin,  regardless of whether the coin lands on  the head or the wings – everyone wins.

A friend of mine (who happens to be an outstanding manager) recently put my head on one of her coins and inspired me again last night to try my wings. Her confidence in me reminded me to tackle challenges and aim higher.

This morning, I realized that’s my job now as the mother of teens about to try their own wings. The first part is preparing them and the second part is then staying out of their way.

So here’s my challenge to you: look at the coins you already have.

Are you making best use of them and inspiring them to do more, grow more, and be more?

Savoring Life as a Samaritan Mother

Mary Biever, International Woman of Mystery

As a middle-aged mother about to have an empty nest, the best part is:

Recognition that it’s my empty nest, and I can decorate or dance in it as I please.

For a lifetime, I’ve been a Samaritan Mother. My background’s a little different, and so is my perspective in life. In teens or early adulthood, there is more pressure to fit the mold.

There have been times I shut my mouth, stifled my humor, and tried to sit still. It wasn’t pleasant for me or those around for me. But I tried to do it so I could be more than the Samaritan Mama.

I pressed my nose against the glass of “Normal” World, hoping the glass would evaporate and I could have a seat at the respectable table.

It ain’t gonna happen. I wasn’t wired to be quiet and demure. Instead, I was made to seek and seize joy wherever I can find it. Fun makes the tough stuff easier to handle.

  • If my kids put oversized pink sunglasses in my Easter basket as a prank, I will probably wear them. And I might forget I have them on when we go out for donuts.
  • If we switch drivers on a long trip, I might suggest a <insert politically incorrect adjective> fire drill to race around the car.
  • Whenever there’s an opportunity, I’ll find a song to sing and encourage those around me to sing along. Even if it’s a bus of strangers at the airport, and I get some to join me in singing “Wheels on the Bus.”

When channeled, the personality traits that make me an outsider Samaritan Mother become strengths, both personally and professionally:

  • I know what it’s like to feel the role of outsider and constantly seek ways to help others feel included.
  • Humor can make my workshops, classes, and speaking engagements more interesting. Audience members may wonder what will come out of my mouth next. Well, so do I.
  • The passion and excitement I feel when seizing every moment of every day to live to the fullest helps me be a better writer.
  • A blowing up the box perspective, instead of thinking inside the box, helps me find creative solutions for my clients and their public relations strategies.

Bottom line: I was made a Samaritan Mother. Those differences can become my greatest weaknesses or strengths. It’s how I use those traits that makes the difference. Bloom where you are appreciated. If your surroundings don’t support who you really are, then transplant yourself to a new place where you can bloom and flourish.

Who are you at your core? Are you making the most of that which is uniquely you, which no one else on the planet can be?

Don’t waste your life with your nose pressed against the glass, hoping for your place at the table. Find good friends who will support you and inspire you to not only be who you are but to be the best you possible.

 

 

Why I Wear Jeans to Church

Getting ready for church was a major event at the tail end of the 1960’s. I often went to bed on Saturday night with a head full of foam rollers, ready to dress up Sunday morning in my dress, anklets, patent shoes, and gloves.

A lifetime later, as the mother of teens, we had set a tradition of wearing nice clothes on Sunday to church. Gone were the gloves, hats, skirts, and stockings. But we still tried to dress nicely and never let our kids wear jeans to church.

A couple of years ago, one Sunday morning, I felt terrible. I barely made it into church and was wearing jeans because I just didn’t feel up to changing into something nicer. They weren’t dirty or torn. But when we walked into church, there was a Church Lady who looked me up and down and glared at me with the Death Stare.

Woah.

As she stared at me with disapproval, I thought back to a lifetime ago, when I was in a community theatre production of Godspell at the age of 18. Godspell‘s author had struggled with addiction issues, found Jesus, and stumbled into church one Sunday (wearing jeans and looking scruffy) and also got the Death Glare. He was then inspired to write Godspell, a contemporary musical of the life of Jesus, based on the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Yes, it was very 1970’s.

Then I thought back to my own days as a struggling college student when I was lost and hurting, and the occasional Sundays when I would quietly slip into the back pew of a church, desperately hoping for something that could fill the gap in my heart. As I sat anonymously in those back pews, had I gotten a Death Glare for wearing jeans, I might not have returned. I might not have realized that we go to church to worship God, not to seek the approval of other people.

That resulted in my change of Sunday clothes.  My family is dressed well, and I usually wear jeans – coordinated with an outfit, but jeans.  If my clothes offend someone, I would rather get the dirty look than risk someone lost and hurting in the back pew gets it instead.

As a Catholic, Christian believer, I know my job is to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus – to reach out to those who are lost and hurting and show them someone cares. I know how they feel because I was once one of them. Sometimes I achieve that goal better than others and merely hope each day I can do a better job at it than the day before.

Paul said he would be all things to reach all people.

For me, in this season, that means I wear my mom jeans to church.

Amazing Star-Spangled Grace

American Flagphoto © 2009 Tom Thai | more info (via: WylioMy business mornings for clients and teaching have a strict routine: in my car, on the way there, I sing, first “Amazing Grace” (the first verse and a later one added), followed by the “Star Spangled Banner.” Part of my routine is a transition and the other part is a sung prayer, as I thank God for where I’ve been, how I’m free, and for my freedoms.

Look out if you travel with me because I may well begin singing even if you’re there. When I skip my routine, my outlook and energy level declines, and I don’t produce as well.

Why these 2 songs? I identify with John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace.” Though he had some religious training as a boy, he had a troubled beginning and became the captain of a slave ship. One night, during a terrible storm when he was certain they would sink, he asked God for help. They survived the night, and his conversion began. He changed his whole life and wrote “Amazing Grace” about the process.

His conversion began with a single night. Paul’s took 3 days of blindness. My own took 4 weeks of bedrest during a high risk pregnancy, alone in a hospital 100 miles from home. I write of it in He Uses It For Good. I was just a little bit stubborn. (My husband suggests I still am.) My world changed when I was humbled.

Then I sing a verse later added by Harriett Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It’s a verse originally sung by African American slaves, passed from one generation to the next. They inspire me, and I sing that verse because of its message that we can be set free from the chains of generations past that bind us.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun.

And with that freedom, I can then sing the “Star Spangled Banner” and remind myself that no matter what happens – rockets red glare or bombs bursting in air – my flag will be there.

I grew up on the other side of the mountain and climbed a long way to see this side – a good side. Those songs remind me to savor the joys of the world around me and make the most of them. There are other mountains to climb, but I’m not alone.  Amazing Grace has carried me this far and will continue to do so.

So if you’re driving in rush hour some morning, and you see a middle aged Plato-packin’ Mama singing while she drives, it might be me.

I’m thanking God for the opportunity to build a new world and raise my family in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

How to Rebuild Your House?

If you grow up with less than perfect beginnings, and you want to make a better life for yourself, how do you get started? In my book He Uses It For Good, I described how God used various bad beginnings in my life for good purpose later. Changing my mindset and the direction of my life, so my kids have a strong foundation, has required hard work, lots of faith, and the support of good friends.

It’s a total life makeover, a rebuilding of your interior house. You clear out the old and build anew.

It’s hard to create healthy when you don’t know what healthy looks or feels like. I remember not realizing that healthy people make mistakes, have bad days, get into disagreements, and later work them out – and that that is normal. A blow up today does not mean I’ve put on the dark magic transporter ring that shoves my family into the Bizarro world of my own childhood. Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day, and tomorrow will be better. It’s taken me years to recognize that not only in my head but in my heart.

I realized after writing my book that I needed a follow up on what to do for someone with a similar background to mine who wants to create a better life. Here’s my next book I plan to write this year:

Rebuild Your House: How to Create a Great Life After Bad Beginnings

It will include strategies to create second chances and new beginnings.

And here’s where you can help. I have friends and know other people who have flipped their life script for a new beginning. If you’ve done so and would like to share your strategies for the book, let me know. I would love to include different perspectives and ideas.

And finally, I would ask for prayers. Mother Theresa often said she was God’s pencil, and I identify with that.  My hope and prayer is my next book will be divinely inspired and will help me help others, to offer hope for the future.

Dressing Room Privacy Renewed

Good things can come from bad experiences. After a terrible shopping experience last week, I wrote a blog, Dressing Room Dangers. The following has happened since that blog was written:

  1. That blog shattered my analytic records in the number of hits in a single day and on a single blog. It was shared widely.
  2. Stefanie Martinez aired a segment on Local 7 News Lifestyles, where the Evansville Police Department’s Chief Public Information Officer, Jason Collmon discussed safety tips women can follow when changing clothes in dressing rooms. Local public awareness of dressing room dangers was raised.
  3. The department store in question investigated the incident. A regional vice president from their corporate office visited the local franchise, reviewed my blog with them, and found ways to better ensure the privacy of women in their women-only dressing rooms. If those ways work in our local store, they will recommend the changes be made in other franchises as well. Further, they have made design recommendations that new franchises have taller dressing room doors.
  4. My husband got a chance to tell me “I told you so” but chose not to. He discouraged me from naming the store in the first blog because he said they needed a chance to rectify the situation.

A generation ago, when I was younger, this many constructive changes would not have happened in a week.

Social media and blogging, when done well, can shed light on problems that once would have been swept under the rug. It can be used for good.  Stand up for what’s right.

And for my daughter and young professional women, who are living in a new century:

  • Take classes in self defense and find other ways to equip yourself to handle unpleasant situations.
  • If someone tries to steal your dignity or take advantage of you, get help.
  • Know that there are good people who will stand with you. You are not alone.

 

Plan Your New Year’s Challenge

If you break resolutions as soon as you make them, perhaps you’ll want to join me this year in a New Year’s Challenge. I was inspired this morning by Susan Oglesby Hyatt as she spoke about making real lifestyle changes in the new year on Local 7 News Lifestyles.

Susan hit home ways to make real changes and how to look at change from a deeper, big picture perspective.  Following her advice, I’ve chosen my word for 2012 – plan. I hope to be more intentional and do a better job of planning my life choices.

Another item she hit on on making real change is to write down a resolution and to share it with someone. So…I’m going to share it with more than someone – with my blog.  This year, I hope to better plan:

  • Incorporating exercise into my daily lifestyle by scheduling it on my calendar
  • Making better food choices for my family.

Following Susan’s suggestion, I’m looking for an inspirational song that will bring to mind the word plan, and I am soon going to have little plan cues around my home and car to keep me on focus.

A plan takes action, so I did 2 things this morning:

  1. Put exercise onto my calendar for the week and then rode an exercise bike for 30 minutes.
  2. Enrolled in the President’s Active Lifestyle program (free online). Many years ago, I did this with my children. Now, I’m back in the game, whose rules have changed a little. Five days a week, I’ll exercise at least 30 minutes and log the exercise in their program. Each week, I’ll choose 1 of 8 different nutritional goals and work to incorporate it into our food choices. If I complete 6 weeks of this challenge, then I’ll have earned the first level of an active lifestyle award. It’s time for me to take care of me because it’s the right thing to do – not just because I’m helping my kids develop their own fitness habits.

Maybe if I take a risk and blog this, I’ll be more likely to stick with it. You’re welcome to join me on this new year’s challenge.

My bigger goal is that making this change to plan will trickle into other areas of my life – to help me better focus and have the energy to complete at least 1 of the next 3 books I want to write. If I plan my work, and work my plan, I hope my plan will work.

Thanks to Susan Hyatt and your TV appearance this morning – I think you’re about to make a major, positive difference in my life in 2012.

What’s your goal, your challenge, or your resolution for 2012?

 

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