Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Morning at the movies...

Today my parents and I took the the girls to see a movie.  This is always a highlight of the annual grandparent Christmas visit- the trip to the movies.  We do not see many first run movies in the full price theaters throughout the year as a family, just because the price for a family of five is pretty steep.  But at Christmastime we usually get in two movies at the AMC Southlands, so it is a magical time indeed.  Ainsley Kat wanted to see Alvin and the Chipmunks, Chipwrecked, but she was (unhappily) out-voted by the other animal movie, We Bought a Zoo.  By the end we all loved it, even her. 

It is not often I see a movie inspiring enough to blog about...I can think of two others in the past year.  This one was great on so many levels.  It was real- based on a true story, which always gets high points from me.  I love stories, and the ones we actually live are the best ones.  I haven't researched the story, so I do not know which parts are real and which ones were added in for extra oomph.  But it all worked beautifully.  The pain expressed in the movie was real too.  So often in "family-friendly" films, the writers, or perhaps producers, feel the need to sugar-coat the painful parts of a story.  Or worse, sermonize them.  Truth: pain doesn't always have a deeper meaning we can see instantly.  Sometimes it doesn't have a greater meaning at all.  Sure, we can learn and grow from it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that was the point of the pain, those are just after effects.  The characters in this story lived their pain daily, struggling to find hope and new beginnings.  There are awkward moments, when a character is not exactly sure what to say, just as we would all be in similar circumstances.  The movie doesn't smooth over the rough edges of life and I respected that.

Despite a few heart-wrenching moments, the movie is filled with light, joy and some great laughing moments.  What I loved most about the film was all the courage- it's stuffed full of it.  Matt Damon, who plays the lead character Benjamin Mee, says to his son:

"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."

So true, isn't it?

The ending of the movie ties everything together perfectly and truly brings a final layer of understanding to the main character.  This is a story of enduring love, hope, courage, and the the great blessing of families, related and found.  I loved it and hope it hits the Elvis so I can watch it again on the big screen.   

Peace dear readers.   

Monday, December 12, 2011

Life lessons.

If you follow me on facebook, you might have seen my post this morning about Onnie.  She auditioned for the Spring Musical on Friday afternoon and made the callback list!  The musical is Grease, and she is super excited.  I am incredibly proud of her. She taught me a valuable lesson about being brave and I would like to share it with you. 

She and I were talking a few weeks ago about my writing "career".  Nope, it isn't much right now and I couldn't even resist a chuckle as I just typed that.  I always try to be as honest as possible with my girls, in age appropriate terms, so I shared with Onnie what has been holding me back.  Those of you closest to me- and you have to be pretty close to know this one- know my writing struggles.  But just so I am being real in this blog, I will share it with ALL of you, dear readers.  Besides, fear keeps up locked up inside, while bringing truth into the light sets us free.  So here it is:

I am afraid to submit articles I have written, for publication.  I know there will be rejection, and I already feel my writing isn't good enough to be published.  It seems too hard, too intangible.  I quit daily on my personal dream of being published for pay, before I even have a chance to succeed or fail.  

Wow, that was more honest than I planned.  Feel a little crappy right now.  But that is the pitiful truth.  I told Onnie that afternoon we must face our fears, we can't give up before we start...that I am going to face my writing fears and submit articles until that fear goes away.  I am sure it will be replaced by other irrational fears in an instant, but the fear that is holding me back right this instant will no longer have power over me. 

I felt our discussion ended well.  I went on with groceries, cooking, laundry, writing, hanging out with friends...life.  Then Onnie had an upcoming audition with her Acapella group at school she was being very negative about.  She said she didn't want to audition or get the part, that it didn't matter to her.  If you know her at all, you know she sings all the time.  Adores it, turns conversations into song, and probably sings in her sleep...we haven't listened closely enough for that one.  Her behavior that day was definitely not my normal Onnie.  So I asked her to be bluntly honest with me and tell me what was really happening.  Rarely, she did.  And her words broke my heart-

"I don't want to stand up in that room in front of everyone and fail." 

Okay, that is a reasonable fear in any kind of competition, yes?  One could say it is not good to focus on possible negative outcomes, and I would agree with that.  But considering the possibility of failure is an honest emotion.  That wasn't what broke my heart.  All my words to her about not trying with my writing came flooding back to me.  I have the same fear as her, and I quit...I have been quitting every day for years! You know that feeling as a parent when you see one of your negative traits in your child, and you just want to grab them by the shoulders and say, "No!  Don't be like me!  Be BETTER than me!" ?  Yes, you know what I speak of...that feeling overwhelmed me right then. 

So, I prayed.  "God help!"...was about all I got out.  Then I told Onnie she had to try.  She would be giving up on her dreams if she didn't audition.  She said it was just one audition and just one part.  I reminded her that every time she gives up or bows out, the desire to do so again next time becomes stronger.  Then I told her the most important lesson I have learned in this area- Only she can work hard to make her dreams come true.  Others can encourage and give wisdom and insight.  God will give opportunity.  But only she can prepare, be disciplined and try. The preparation and discipline are the lead-up to the trying...they don't matter without the trying, and the trying won't do any good without them.

Onnie chose to try.  She prepared and didn't fail in front of everyone- she got a solo.  Next came the big audition, the one last Friday for Grease.  She faced all the same fears of failure again, although they weren't as strong this time.  She fought for an audition time because she had been absent on sign-up day and all the slots had been filled.  She labored over her choice of monologue for the audition, even wavering the night before between three choices.  But none of them sounded like Onnie, they sounded like what she assumed the drama teacher wanted to hear.  In the end, we were able to talk her into reciting a part from the movie Rango that she quotes all the time.  It is hilarious every time she says it and she has it memorized perfectly, even the voice.  She was nervous and didn't think the piece was right for the audition.  But we know Onnie- it was perfect for her.  It showed off her comedic timing and unique ability to mimic voices. 

She did the Rango monologue and sang the required, My Country Tis of Thee, on Friday.  She was proud of herself for trying.  She made the callback list.  She has loads of talent.  But all that talent doesn't matter if she is too afraid to try.

I have been told by teachers and other writers that I have talent.  I hope I do.  I do know with every fiber of my being I am a writer...that when God was giving out personalities and talents for us all to use in our careers here on Earth, writing is what I got.  For me, it is all those things you hear people speak of when they really love what they do- it is a major reason why they get up in the morning.   But fear has kept me from being successful all these years.  There will always be another opportunity, another day.  Until there isn't...because you are so used to quitting before you start you don't care if you get a million more chances.  Apathy takes over.

Onnie Skye rocked me out of my apathy these past weeks.  She could have given up, not even auditioned.  But she chose to face her fears and be brave.  Things could have turned out differently- she might not have gotten the solo or made the callback list.  But she still would have carried inner pride for trying.  She didn't make the callback list for America's Got Talent, but she is so glad she has the experience of auditioning.  

I am so proud of her I can't adequately put my feelings into words.  She has taught me a great lesson, and not the first of her life either.  I am going to face my stupid, irrational fear of submitting articles this week by submitting two which have been written for weeks now, and yet are still sitting in my files.  I am doing it in honor of my brave girl who didn't give up.  After they are emailed, Onnie and I are going to have ice cream together and talk about more fears we need to face.

Oh- and remember my very irrational and dumb fear of going to the doctor?  I went twice last week.  All the fears I have carried for years about doctor visits are completely gone now.  It seems so sad and strange to me that I carried that anxious junk around for so long, and let it affect my life negatively.  I think I am becoming brave after all.

So, do something brave today- for yourself or someone else.  I promise you won't regret it.
Peace dear readers.