A Glimpse of Parenthood…

Spending the weekend with my nearly one-year-old goddaughter niece was pure joy — not only because of the delight she is, but also because my two daughters helped “babysit” too. They looked forward to it for weeks ahead, my younger daughter literally counting the days. They fed their baby cousin, played with her, read to her, guided her and cleaned up after her fun whirlwinds.

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I was so proud to see them in those ‘big sister’ roles. It brought back memories of when my daughters were that age.

The whole weekend helped my girls see parenting in a whole new light. As my nine-year-old said, “Wow, Mom, babies are hard work!”

They are, indeed.

Not that she was complaining. In fact, she didn’t want to leave when the weekend was over. “How could I leave her?” the mini-adult said in the car, utterly earnest, like she had just done something tragic by going back home. She even made suggestions on how she could change her school schedule around to stay up there this week, in all seriousness. And this with her student council election tomorrow.

Although she’s babysat dear neighborhood kids before, this was obviously different for my oldest daughter. She ached for her baby cousin! My younger daughter also couldn’t stop talking about her or thinking about her, reading to her constantly and creating songs for her. Both my daughters wanted all the time they could with “the babe,” as they call her. They raced to be the first to get her this-or-that. They kept track oh-so-carefully of who was on duty for this task or that (“No, it’s my turn! – No, it’s MY turn!”). They couldn’t get enough.

Then it came.

“And just think,” my nine-year-old said to her six-year-old sister. “This is one day, or one weekend, with the baby. Mom has us all the time!”

I do, indeed.

So I told them that being a parent is one of the hardest things in this world to do — but it’s also one of the most rewarding roles they could have. And as they went to bed, I told them I was so grateful and proud to be their mom.

“So are we, Mom.”

Grateful, indeed.

Onward.

Word for 2015 – Revisited

It seemed fitting to start my blog’s second year with a closer look at the word I chose as my theme for 2015: shed.

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Since we’re nearing the end of first quarter 2015, I decided to check in quarterly about this word, this goal, of mine. Every three months seems like a decent interval to assess and recalibrate my efforts.

So far, I’m learning that the more I try to shed, the more needs shedding. Or at least, the more I realize needs shedding. On some level, like a pile of mail, or like exploratory surgery, you don’t fully realize all that there is, until you jump full in.

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Here are the areas I identified three months ago.

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Done with Year One!

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This week is the first anniversary of my blog, Musings from a Writer, Director & Encourager.

Like with most meaningful things in life, I can’t believe it went so fast and yet it seemed like forever ago when I started. Perhaps that’s because I learned so much, grew so much and found my view of the writing life expanded so much – just when I thought I had it down.

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The In-Between Places: How My Faith and Art Fit Together

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How my faith and my art fit together has been one of the great challenges — and satisfactions — of my life and writing career so far.

For years, I separated my beliefs and my creative work — writing faith-themed non-fiction (articles) for Christian publications and audiences, and fiction (plays/screenplays/novels) for mainstream audiences.

Only here and there would I create small overlaps. But recently I decided it was time to fully integrate these two ‘sides’ of who I am, with a novel series and script adaptation I will share about more when completed (soon!)  They’re not ‘sides’ really; they’re at my core. They don’t run contrary to each other.  But in this world of ours, the various parts of who we are can seem that way.

Because here’s the dilemma I’ve encountered in the writing industry, or so I’ve been told: my writing is too spiritual for mainstream publishers/producers and too worldly for Christian publishers/producers.

Translation? Too many faith professions or references to Jesus, God and the Bible for nonbelievers; too much ‘language,’ sex/intimacy or misguided behavior for believers.  (Not that there’s very much of either, outright — but even a single instance of one seems to bother somebody or other).

Why be so inclusive? Because I want to explore who people really are. How messy and imperfect we all are. I select contexts very carefully, and I strive to make all situations and choices believable for the characters in the story. Not glorified, but clarified. Even if I don’t personally agree with all that my characters do, and all that happens to them in the story, I want to show the reality of who they are and where they are at.  I want readers/viewers to understand how and why they got there.  Just like I’m called, in life, to understand and care for people who may be different from me.

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That Thing We Do

 

When I think of pure joy for our work, our art — the joy we feel when we create something good and it finds acceptance with an audience — I think of one of my favorite film scenes of the last 20 years.

 

In the 20th Century Fox film, That Thing You Do! (1996), a group of teenagers in 1964 Erie, Pennsylvania form a band, work hard to make a record and get the chance to go on tour, tasting a bit of success before conflicting dreams and personalities take them in different directions. School, jobs, military service, marriage, ego and all sorts of other things will divide them soon enough. But there’s one thing, during this one summer, that they all have in common: their music, their ‘thing.’ And as I’ve said before on this blog, we all have to have something that is ‘our thing,’ something that we love to do.

 

In this scene, the group discovers that the song they recorded (titled same as the movie) is on the radio for the first time.

 

 

 

I’d like to think that only an artist — writer, musician/composer, singer, painter, actor — can fully understand the sheer exuberance of this scene. Working and waiting and hoping for a chance. Having certain family or friends who just don’t get it. Having to work the day job while holding onto a dream. Finally getting accepted, getting noticed, getting an audience. (“I am Spartacus!” Victorious!) Despite the imperfect and blurry YouTube clip, the joy is palpable in this simple and sweet film, and I love how this scene captures it more beautifully than so many other films with the same plot (well-written and directed, Tom Hanks!)

 

Ultimately, though, the joy of this scene is not just for artists — anyone with a dream or passion deferred can relate to it.  We all desire such joy in what we do, in living out our God-given gifts.  So:

 

What would make you run down Main Street screaming with happiness?

 

What would you be willing to burst into a department store and announce to the world?

 

What victory would make you feel THAT much joy?

 

Whatever it is, do it. Create it, be an advocate for it, whatever ‘it’ is.  Even if you have to keep the day job forever, get your passion incorporated into the schedule and fabric of your life somehow, even if just in small bits at first.  If you haven’t started yet, start. If you’ve been at it for years and it’s just not getting anywhere, retool and try again. Just don’t stop that thing you do, that only you can do, that you were put on this earth to do.

 

Onward!

 

(Disclaimer: I do not own this film; Posted from YouTube Video Account 1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a dance war… )