Sunday, March 23, 2014

the dreamer and the realist

"I am and always will be the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes and dreamer of improbable dreams." ~Doctor Who

It's a strange thing when the two sides of your personality are diametrically opposed. Before you feel the need to call in the white coats for me, let me explain: I'm not talking about split personalities or anything like that (though when I write that may be questionable).

What I'm talking about is the Dreamer--
the one always ready for an adventure, straining to fly when she's told she can't--
in constant competition with the Realist--
the logical one, the one whose feet are planted firmly on the ground, the one who wants constancy.

The Realist is the one who got a BS in physics, taught science to 7th grade and up, and who now sits through classes in medical physics. She is the one who does homework, albeit the night before it is due. The Realist is the one who makes the "smart" choices, like grad school and sensible shoes. She is the one who argues against writing, saying it's a pipe dream
a longshot
too unreliable
and not a realistically viable option.

The Realist is the side of me who makes my hand hesitate, who makes my words unsure because she knows they can never be perfect.

Then there is the Dreamer. She is the one who can't resist a new notebook, the one who scribbles story ideas in the margins of my radiation biology notes.

The Dreamer doesn't care about probabilities, only possibilities.

The Dreamer doesn't care about the smart, responsible choice. She is the one who wants to hide out from the rest of the world with nothing more than a pen (it's the Realist who says bring an extra) and a notebook and just write. The Dreamer is the one who has shoes like these tucked away in the closet:

Can I tell you a secret?

I long for the Dreamer to take over, to silence the Realist. My heart soars when I write, out of reach of all the struggles and responsibilities  of everyday life. I dream of "making it" with my writing, of being able to pour words out onto paper everyday instead of just during stolen hours.

I guess, though, it is the juxtaposition of these two that makes me who I am. The Realist and the Dreamer feed off of one another, and neither would likely survive long on her own.

As is the case with most things in life, I'll search for some kind of balance. The Dreamer will let words stream out across the page, dancing beyond the boundaries of margins. The Realist will steady my hand and keep me grounded, something I suppose is a good thing.

So now, if you'll excuse me, the Realist and Dreamer have conspired together to tuck the kids away with a movie before bed. The homework due tomorrow has been done today, so now come the stolen hours...

Friday, March 21, 2014

20 things I know to be true

*Inspired by Sarah Kay's TED Talk

1) God is "I AM"; I am not.

2) I would give my last breath for my kids.

3) A walk through a cow pasture can make you feel better

4) can chocolate cake.

5) Life is unbelievably, painfully, beautiful.

6) Dreams are hard to catch, but they're worth chasing.

7) Love is always worth fighting for.

8) Family is a blessing

9) ...and family isn't limited to blood relations.

10) "Faith" and "religion" aren't synonyms.

11) Risks are worth taking.

12) Writing is linked to my soul.

13) Microscopes reveal amazing things.

14) A good cup of coffee calms frazzled nerves.

15) It feels good to laugh until it hurts.

16) Reading lets you escape.

17) Sometimes praying is hard.

18) Learning is more important than being well educated.

19) Being afraid and being courageous aren't mutually exclusive.

20) There is much I don't know.

***What about you? Leave me a comment telling me something you know to be true--I would love to hear it!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

old enough for fairy tales

"That's not really my thing, but it's neat that you wrote a book!"

It's always said with a smile, and I'm sure the people saying it are genuinely being nice, but every time I hear those words it stings a little. There's a tiny place in my heart that breaks just a bit more.

We start out on fairy tales--cut our teeth, so to speak, on stories of magic, sword fights, and adventure. They are the stories that fuel young imaginations, that bring a hopeful twinkle to bright, eager eyes. Tales of fantasy inspire dreams and encourage dreamers.

Why, then, do we have such an aversion to them when we "grow up"?

I know I don't help matters any. When someone asks me about my story THE PROPHECY I stammer and stutter. I mutter out something along the lines of, "Oh, it's just a fantasy--you know, kings and sword fights and magic and that sort of thing." Then I change the subject as quickly as possible.

Mostly it's because I am incredibly uncomfortable talking about myself, but part of it is because I expect whoever I'm talking to to say, "I don't read that sort of thing, but good for you for writing a book!"

I'm sure the pictures on the covers of most fantasy novels go quite a way toward driving people away from fantasy. There's only so many books with half-naked people on the front that you can comfortably display on your bookshelf, especially when the scantily-clad people are always holding weapons and facing monsters. In my experience, though, fantasy stories are definitely one place where it's true that "you can't judge a book by its cover."

Besides the covers, you usually find those unpronounceable names; names without vowels or with four vowels in a row (I'm guilty of that a bit myself with names like Paodin, Syndria, and Tundyel). Besides the superficial, I can't really say why so many people avoid reading fantasy. What I can say, though, is what I see in fantasy...

Fairy tales are the stories of dreamers. They are tales of magic, epic adventure, friendship, and loyalty. They are the tales that pull you out of this world and into another, one in which everyone has a destiny to fulfill. They are fulled with sweeping landscapes and people chasing dreams. They are stories of people learning how to become who they are supposed to be, who they need to be.

Fantasies remind us that everything always comes back to the ultimate struggle: good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. They are the stories that tell us to fight for what we believe in. In them we see flawed, imperfect people trying desperately to do what's right.

In fairy tales we see our hopes and dreams. We find encouragement to face the monsters, even when they seem impossible to face. In fantasies we find ourselves.

“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." ~C.S. Lewis, in the dedication of THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE to his goddaughter Lucy

****If you haven't gotten a chance to read it yet, THE PROPHECY will be available free for the Kindle Friday and Saturday! I would love for you to pick up a copy and let me know what you think...maybe even if it isn't really your "sort of book." :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

for when you can't see the path

"The LORD had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people, and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.'"
Genesis 12:1

I'm somebody who always wants to be able to see the path ahead of me. In fact, my prayers for years have included the plea for God to show me His plan for my life--something in the form of a roadmap, with "time of travel" and "duration of stop" clearly marked would be nice.

If I could just know where I'm headed, where I'm going to end up, it would be so much easier to make the journey.

But what about when God doesn't tell me where I'm headed? What happens when He tells me to go and follows that up with, "I'll let you know when you get there"? What happens when God tells me to leave everything I know, but He doesn't tell me what I'm going to find when I get there?

There's a quote by E.L. Doctorow that says, "Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." Lots of people say our lives are stories, so I guess it's not too big of a leap to make to say that applies pretty well to life, too.

Instead of headlights, though, we have a lamp:
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."
Psalm 119:105

I can't see the road ahead.
I don't know what God has in store for my life--and looking at what all has happened so far and all the twists and turns that have been in the road, I imagine I would run away if I did know.

But I have God's promise to guide me:
"He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way."
Psalm 25:9

And I have His promise to hold me up:
"If the LORD delights in a man's way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with His hand."
Psalm 37:24

And you know what?
I think maybe I can make the whole trip that way!

Sometimes, it's nice to be assured that when God makes a promise He has the power to see it through. I've written a short study (just 5 days a week for 4 weeks) on God's power that's available on Amazon or CreateSpace.

If you are a Kindle person, that edition will be free on Wednesday and Thursday.

Parents, step up

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