Sunday, November 18, 2012

Don’t be Afraid to Let Your Dream Evolve

One of the most popular posts I’ve written on the blog was Following Your Dream. Many of us hunger to fulfill a dream, a burning desire, but face many obstacles, not the least of which is staring down those who would dissuade us.

So, it’s important, we all know, to hang on to a dream, tightly. But sometimes that dream needs to shift, change, breath or simply evolve, and it’s essential to recognize when that is the case. Dreams grow up and age just as we do.

An easy example of this would be for writers who held on to their dreams of being traditionally published for years, to no avail, and then finally decided to expand their horizons by self-publishing. For so many, this was and is the answer. Dream fulfilled.

But so often, our tendency is to clutch too tightly at the exactitude of our vision that we may look past a version of the dream that is more fitting or doable than the original.

I just watched a film version of Willa Cather’s story Song of the Lark, in which this tendency was so clearly drawn. The heroine, Thea, wants to pursue her drive to become a famous pianist. She struggles with her studies because she's good but not great, until finally her instructor hears her sing and identifies her true gift – her voice. She's initially distraught by this discovery, but once she is able to accept her own talent and realize that her pursuit of music is still within her reach, she becomes fulfilled.

I once had a friend who was a wonderful cartoonist, completely without training. But, no matter how hard I tried to convince him of his talent, he brushed it off as amateurish. I even sent a couple of his cartoons to Gary Trudeau of Doonesbury, who actually took the time to send me back a note saying that my friend did have talent, but if he didn’t believe it then he would never reach for success in that field.

My recent foray into making a vision into a reality is constantly evolving. I had decided that I really wanted to create something physical rather just writing. I’ve always been attracted to sculpture, dolls and various forms of needlecraft – knitting and sewing in particular. So, I started an Etsy store, with a focus on making items that promoted the dreams of others – primarily dolls. I quickly realized that making most types of dolls was too time-consuming for me, so that I didn’t enjoy it.  So, I’ve worked at developing simpler types of dolls. I’ve also tried a few other items, and will continue to experiment.  I had also hoped that I would sell lots of stuff and thereby support myself, at least in part, through this endeavor. That has not happened yet. As always, making something is easier than selling it. 

However, this is a great example of a dream changing for the better. First, I discovered how much I enjoy the making of simple, pretty things. Second, the goal I began with has shifted from making money and dolls, to making things that give me joy and hopefully selling some of them.  I’m holding onto the beauty of my fantasy, just by allowing it to evolve and survive.

And that last phrase is the true key to what I’m saying – evolve and survive.  Dreams can so easily be snuffed. Don’t let yours turn out that way – give it time, energy and the ability to morph into something you can achieve and treasure.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Update for October’s Wounded Warrior Drive

Just a quick update on this year’s Wounded Warrior fund drive, which I kicked off on October 1. The total amount I will be sending to The Wounded Warrior Project is $50.07, from both book sales and Avon orders.

It was a bit of a disappointment honestly. It’s very hard to actually SELL ebooks now, with all the free books available, even for a good cause. Because the book sale response was so low on October 14th, when drive officially ended, I decided to extend it to all books bought and borrowed throughout October. 

The contribution from three Avon orders actually exceeded the book sales. Thank you, ladies. You know who you are. 

Thanks to all who supported this drive. I really do appreciate you and your efforts. We’ll try again next year. Who knows – by then perhaps I’ll have a really big book to promote this with!

Orders on my Avon site will continue to accumulate for The Wounded Warriors through the end of the year. Here’s the link Kathy Hall Wounded Warrior Drive and please don’t forget to use this promotion code MYWWPROJECT.

Let’s remember to always keep our returning soldiers in our thoughts.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Put it in Writing!

It would seem to be an easy thing to get a writer to put down on paper (or computer file) the things that matter to them. However, you’d be surprised.

Because we are often involved in creating fiction – a story that isn’t really true – we use our real life experiences and feelings to lend truth to an otherwise made-up tale. Therefore, we often neglect the most obvious type of writing, autobiographical.

There are some really important types of writing everyone should do or at least try to do. Here they are:

  • Personal History – This is probably the most important thing you can leave to your family.  What seems unimportant to you can easily fascinate your descendants or even your siblings and parents. Also, in the process, you may develop an appreciation for your own accomplishments and experiences.
  •  Clearing the Air - Work out anger and frustrations by writing about them.  This has a wonderful benefit for both you and those who live or work with you. Have you ever experienced relief by typing or scribbling out your annoyance? It allows you to detail every little thing that bothered you about some event or interaction.  You don’t have to edit yourself in writing and you don’t have to be reasonable or grownup about it. No one else is ever going to see what you write unless that’s your choice.  Try this, if you haven’t before. I promise you that you’ll feel better afterwards. Then give it some time and see if the whole thing doesn’t just go away. It often does for me, IF I remember to write about it.
  • Expressing Gratitude – If you’re  too embarrassed to share with someone how much they or something they did means to you, write a note. I’ve often been very thankful for the presence or support of a friend or loved one, but knew that one or the other of us would be embarrassed by my saying so in person. I have written notes and poems to convey my feelings and highly recommend it to you. Additionally, just noting somewhere how wonderful life it on the days that you notice can lift your spirits and result in increased good feelings. Try it!
  •  Ideas – How often are our creative impulses lost to memory? All the time. I tend to scribble notes and occasionally write out my ideas more formally. I’m amazed at the number of times I’ve reconnected with ideas from years ago as I read a journal or tucked away notebook. I’ve even opened word docs on my computer, with a title I didn’t recognize, and found wonderful ideas I had long forgotten about. 
  • Lists – I’m currently compiling a list of my personal fears. Why? So, I can recognize and then eliminate them. Sometimes things are floating around in our brain without even being acknowledged. One of the best lists I ever started was one of all the things I’d done in my life – everything from being a mother to homesteading in Alaska. It made me feel so good about my life. Again, see if this isn’t a tool that works for you.

Write, people! Write. It’s a good for you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Swinging Bobby Darin

I have just finished watching a DVD about Bobby Darin for the second time in two days. Boy that man could sing - and dance, by the way.  Why did I watch it twice in 24 hours? Because it made me happy. So happy I felt like singing and dancing. Red got into the act and we sang Beyond the Sea together on the Veranda with the neighbors staring – just at me, of course, because she’s actually my invisible friend/main character – but we didn’t care. Here’s what went down afterwards:

Kathy: Wow, I feel so good after that!

Red: That’s a great song and watching Bobby dance must have turned something loose in you, girlfriend. You were really swinging. I didn’t know you had moves like that.

Kathy:  What can I say? That music moves me in ways I can’t describe. What about Mack the Knife? You weren’t exactly sitting still on that one.

Red: (turning a shade to match her name) Yeah, well, that beat just gets to me. Did you see Bobby’s smile on the DVD when the audience caught on that he was going to sing Mack the Knife?

Kathy: Yes! I thought it was so sweet. He was actually surprised at their enthusiasm. A little boy grin, if I ever saw one.

Red: Damn that man was a fireball.

Kathy: And brave, too. He overheard a doctor tell his mom that he wouldn’t live to 21, then went out and lived every minute of his life like he had to do everything in double time. I guess he did.

Red: Well, he made it to 37 and packed a hell of a lot into that time. He played 5 instruments, wrote songs, sang in multiple genres and all with gusto and joy. I found myself feeling very proud of him.

Kathy: I know. Me, too.  Inspired, actually. Made me want to make sure I make the most out of whatever time I’ve got left.

Red:  Yep, now how about we sing Splish Splash before I mix us up a couple of Bloody Marys?

Kathy: Do you think the neighbors can take it?

Red: Not our problem! I suggest they join us.

Kathy & Red: Here’s to you, Bobby! (and we sang it like Bobby would have – with feeling)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Rules - Revisited

I recently re-read the 1995 book The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right, by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider as research for one of my works in progress. It was an eye-opener. Released just as online dating was becoming a trend, this book seemed so wrong, so sexist and so manipulative at the time that it was scorned and spurned by many readers.

It’s a guide to capturing and marrying the absolute right guy and frankly, the rules that are explained to the reader – obviously meant for women looking for a husband – ARE indeed all those things. At the same time, after two marriages, several years of dating and a bunch of years of just living, the girls are right about much of what they say.

The basic premise is that men must be challenged, it’s in their nature, so the best thing a woman can do is remain aloof, allusive and mysterious. The mystery is created and maintained by not revealing anything about themselves, until the time is right and even then, don’t reveal unattractive things – until you have a ring on your finger.

I broke every one of their rules. Just take a gander at the first 5 and you’ll see why my dating history is spotty at best:

#1 Be a “Creature Unlike Any Other” – Seriously? I love the concept but the execution is a little difficult. You must BELIEVE you are a creature unlike any other or be a damn good actress. However, if you can pull this off – I’m sure it has value.

#2 Don’t Talk to a Man First (and Don’t Ask Him to Dance) – Are they kidding? No, they are not and they do have point here, but I hadn’t read the rules and did both of these things whenever I spotted someone I didn’t want other women to snag first. Their take on it is that you may get the guy, but only for the one time. In the long run, men don’t like it to be easy to capture your heart. I have to agree.

#3 Don’t Stare at Men or Talk Too Much – Guilty on both counts. I always look directly at someone when I’m talking to them, male or female. This can be off-putting for some people, but men interpret this as overt interest. I’ve had men assume I was interested just because I looked at them when I spoke to them. Whoa! And telling me not to talk too much – well, you may as well ask me to wear a muzzle, because that’s what it would take. I love to explore a new person or situation, and have a tendency to ask a lot of questions. Sure, I can tamp that down a little, but I’m sure I’ll still be the more talkative of the two in any coupling.

#4 Don’t Meet Him Halfway or Go Dutch on a Date – I was famous for this, but my motivation was mostly to be safe and not to owe the gentleman anything. The authors contend that you don’t owe him anything but the pleasure of their company, and they are right. Also, being too accommodating IS a mistake. You are quickly taken for a pushover. Sad, but true.

#5 Don’t Call Him and Rarely Return His Calls – Okay, this is great advice. I wish I had read it when I was dating. I never assume there is going to be any game playing in a relationship, but Fein and Schneider say it’s to be expected and phone gamesmanship is essential. Again, appearing to be unattainable is the goal.

Okay, a quick breakdown is required here.  In my opinion, it is true that men are hardwired to want to pursue their mate and any other goal that crosses their paths. There are some exceptions, but as a rule, it’s a pretty correct assumption. I’ve been amazed in my life at the women who have attracted devoted mates and how often that woman is a complete and utter ice queen, unable to be satisfied with life, their mate and any other circumstance. The more difficult to please, the harder some men try to win the approval of that woman.

So, I conclude that as much as I’d like for The Rules to be wrong-minded, much of what the book professes is true and right. As much as we’ve progressed as a society, we still program women to be giving and men to be achievers.  Until that changes, if it ever does, then most of The Rules will still apply.

If you get a chance, read or re-read The Rules and see what you think nearly 17 years later.