|You can do it, Tilly. You're not to old to learn to swim.|
A few weeks ago fellow blogger, Kara Cerise, let me know I’d be blogging on the National Day of Encouragement. So I had to think about what to write. Everyone needs encouragement sometimes. That’s true. So where and when did I get it in my life? Going back to my childhood as the oldest of six siblings, I don’t remember being encouraged to do anything in particular. My parents were good parents, but they expected us to do our best and behave well. They didn’t feel the need to encourage us to act appropriately. We were told to do our chores and not coaxed to do them. Not that we were perfect, by any means, but we were pretty good kids. Of course, there were those times when my brother told to help me with dishes ended up snapping me with a dish towel. Or the time when he locked the screen door and pretended to read stuff from my diary to the neighborhood boy I kind of liked. It was all made up stuff, and I was pounding on the door screaming for my mom to stop him while the boy was laughing hysterically.
|Mom, Dad, Jerry and Me|
When I was six, I told my first grade teacher I wanted to be a teacher and a mother when I grew up, but once I started to read, I devoured every horse book in the library and my dream changed to having a horse ranch out west with two hundred horses and marry someone like Roy Rogers – the love of my life then - and have ten children. I seldom walked in those years. Instead I galloped everywhere on my imaginary horses hitting my thigh as I leaped over logs or sidewalks. My parents didn’t encourage me to follow that dream although for almost every Christmas and birthday, I did get a new horse book. By high school my goals were rather vague more along the lines of love and marriage. College wasn’t an option because as the oldest of five siblings – another brother was born after I married – my parents only managed to save enough to send one of us for their first year, and that was my brother, sixteen months younger. He’d worked summers on our grandfather’s farm and saved his money for college. My income from working part time in a clothing store - less than six dollars a week – went towards paying for the clothes I put in layaway. However, in high school I took typing and short hand to prepare for a job after school. In those long ago days, not many in our class went to college and fewer of them were girls. My best friend went but only lasted a month before getting homesick and quitting.
|John at his senior prom after cancer surgery.|
When I decided to start college as an older non-traditional student, my husband and parents were pleased and very supportive, but it was my choice and decision to go. I was the last of my six siblings to go to college. During that first year, my first English professor encouraged me to submit an essay I’d written about my son’s death to Icon, Kent’s Trumbull Campus’s literary magazine. I did and when it was published, I continued submitting poetry for every issue after that. Several professors over the years encouraged me to get a masters (which I did) and a doctorate (which I saw no need for) so I could become a college professor or at least a high school English teacher, but I always knew where I’d fit the best and that was at the middle-grade level. I had several professors encourage me to try to get research papers I’d written published, but I didn’t follow through on that, either, because it wasn’t my goal in life. However, all these words of encouragement and praise for my work did set me on the path to eventually becoming a writer. If they thought what I wrote was good, maybe I could write, although it was many years before I started writing anything but poetry except for a short story in my freshman year that won an award.
Still all this didn’t seem to be enough for this important day I’d never heard of before. So last week while camping with two sisters, as we were sitting around the campfire, I asked for their input. Maybe I shouldn’t have, because calling to mind that Garrison Keillor character, (Evelyn Lundberg maybe?) who tells it like it is, or at least from her perspective, they shot out the same kind of advice especially geared for writers since all too often they’ve heard my complaints. One said, “If you’re suffering from writer’s block, just give it up because obviously you don’t have ideas so get another profession.” The other sister said, “Quit complaining about not enough time. We’re tired of hearing it. If you want to write enough, you need to let everything else go.” Since writer’s block and too little time seems to be a common blog theme, I decided that might not be the right way to go, but their comments, along with others they threw out had me laughing so I was hoping no one would be offended by what they said in fun.
As for the encouragement I get now, it mostly comes from the writing communities I belong to like Sisters in Crime and the Guppy chapter including their subgroups, Press Quest and STORY SUCCESS, plus my fellow bloggers, and a few other places including my critique partners, my local writers group and the many online friends I’ve made from belonging to these writing groups.
As a teacher and a parent, I’d like to think I’ve encouraged my students and my children, and I hope I still encourage others to obtain their dreams. And I have to admit, it was my parents love of learning and support that set the groundwork for a lifelong love of learning. Sometimes encouragement doesn’t just come from words but from examples set.
So who has encouraged you and in what way? And how have you encouraged others?