I came home with a feeling of contentment I haven't felt in awhile. I can take deep breaths and they don't catch somewhere in my chest, even for a second. The funny thing is that nothing has changed externally. No circumstances have necessarily improved; I'm just not responding to them the same way. I'm pretty sure that's what vacations are supposed to do. Even though this was not a 'vacation' per se, it was still a change of scenery, and sometimes that is all it takes to develop a new perspective or to learn to breathe again.
I came away from the writing conference with one major life lesson -- I want to be known as an encourager. I want people to see me as someone who builds up others, in a completely non-competitive way. I want to model myself after others I know who do exactly that.
|Hank Phillippi Ryan and the lovely little Lady L|
Based on her 'status,' Hank could easily be aloof and conceited. After all, she's earned that right. But when you meet Hank, you quickly discover she's neither of those things. Hank is accessible, gracious, classy, kind, talented, and giving. And after knowing her for two years, I'm honored to say she is also my friend.
When my mother died, she cared. When I shared good news, she celebrated with me. When I took my granddaughter to meet her at a book signing, she lifted the lovely little Lady L onto her lap. When my husband finally met her on Friday, she cozied up to him for a picture.
|Hank Phillippi Ryan and my husband, Bill|
This past weekend, as I struggled through ideas of where to go with a novel I'm writing, Hank graciously spent time discussing it with me. That is the kind of person I want to be. Gracious, giving, accessible.
Another member of the conference faculty took the time to discuss my novel and lend her ideas and thoughts. Karen E. Quinones Miller is the most vibrant, full-of-life woman I've ever met. She refuses to let MS steal her joy, even as it saps her energy. She is ALIVE! When she told me she can't wait to read my finished manuscript, I believed her. Those weren't just words.
I was in a workshop with another member of the "Giving Club," the marvelous Kathryn Craft. She asked the question, "What do you want your fans to say when they're gathered around your casket [or something to that effect]?" My answer was immediate -- "She cared."
That's what I want people to say about me. And I feel honored to have writer friends who model that for me.
I learned much from the talks and workshops these women presented. But it was 'off-the-clock' when I learned even more.
Life lessons. They're all around us. We just have to open our hearts to receive them.