Excerpt from the rough draft of my memoir. Please read and drop me a note to let me know what you think. Thanks:
Words matter. Teachers matter. The words that teachers say matter. Her nine words managed to quietly sustain me during the later, darker years after I left the comfort of her third grade classroom.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do,” Mrs. Nancy Bazemore clutched my trembling eight-year old shoulders, leaned down beside me and into my ears she whispered those amazing words. I had told her that I had asthma and my parents had said that I couldn’t run.
My class was playing a game of baseball and it was my turn to bat and I was afraid to run around the field.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Now run!” She had told me.
I can still feel the sticky sting of tears course down my cheeks; I can still feel the exhilaration of running around that ball field in spite of parents’ warnings. I can still see Mrs. Nancy Bazemore, her brown 1960’s era flip curls, her pretty hands shoving me forward. Into that Georgia afternoon, on that playground, I had defied those words of caution that had debilitated me.
I am sure my parents only had my best interest in mind, but the truth was that it was my sister who had had the asthma and I was therefore assumed to have it, too.
That day, I somehow managed to survive my run around the bases. I didn’t die of an asthma attack as I had feared. In fact, all through my childhood I had been warned by my parents that I couldn’t participate in physical education class because I might have an asthma attack.
Well, Mrs. Nancy Bazemore took a chance and I did, too.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.” She spoke those few words, seemingly insignificant to her probably, but to a little eight year old girl for whom encouragement was something rarely received, her words made an enormous impact.
Decades later, my heart remembers.
Thank you, Mrs. Bazemore. I am eternally grateful.
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”-Suzy Kassem (Brainyquote.org)
Today, I was teaching English to a classroom of English as Second Language students. These students are often riddled with self-doubt about communicating in English. They share with me their reasons for wanting to learn English. Their dreams are as diverse as they are. The desire to reach dreams/personal goals is a universal desire that springs from the depths of the human spirit.
One particular student this morning really got me to thinking about the negative, soul-crushing impact of self-doubt. She was so afraid that she couldn’t complete the activity sheet that she just sat at her desk and stared at it, lost. I sat next to her and asked her quietly to just simply do as best she could, that it was okay if she didn’t know everything, that she should at least give it a try. Well, she mustered up the courage and ended up shocking herself when she completed the activity sheet and scored high on it. The expression on her face was one of joy and surprise. I could see her confidence build as she realized that by trying she had succeeded. If she had not challenged herself and moved through her self-doubt she would never have known that she was capable of success.
Yes, doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will because if you are riddled with self-doubt you simply are too afraid to try.
Whatever my student’s personal dreams are, hopefully her experience today in my classroom will serve as a reminder that by moving past self-doubt and taking a chance she can succeed if she perseveres.
Whatever your dreams are, do not give into self-doubt. Of course, we all fail from time to time, but never stop trying to move forward. Life is a journey. Be hopeful, be confident, persevere. God is with you; you cannot fail. You can learn and move forward. Always move forward.
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”- Benjamin Franklin (Brainyquote.org)
It has been said that life is an adventure. I truly believe that. We limit ourselves by our own negative self-talk. We procrastinate and put off what we should be doing to move ourselves forward toward the fulfillment of our hopes, goals and dreams. If we don’t take the first step then nothing will ever change in our lives.
Tonight, I submitted a poem to a magazine. Last night, I did the same. I am doing something to move myself toward my goal as a writer. I want to be published and I am taking actionable steps to fulfill my goal. There is a certain risk that I might fail; there is also the possibility that I will succeed. Doing nothing is a definite way not to succeed so I have chosen to do something tangible in order to succeed. I am working toward my goal each and every day now.
If there is something that you want to accomplish, set aside at minimum an hour a day to accomplish your goals. Make time for your goals. Write them down in a journal and check them off. Do not be discouraged; do not worry about whether you will fail. Consider that you will succeed only if you persevere and do not give into the negative self-talk that holds you back.
Do something! Time is precious. Cherish it.
May God bless you and keep you and give you courage to reach your full potential.
“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”- Beverly Sills (BrainyQuote.org)
This year I have been thinking a lot about what it means for me personally to be successful. Where do I truly find happiness and fulfillment? Writing and expressing myself through positive messages is one place where I find happiness. I find happiness in creating poetry and fiction. I write because I love it. I want to share my writing with others. Hopefully, my words will inspire others. Each week I plan to submit my writing-poetry and short stories to contests, magazines, etc. A few minutes ago I submitted a poem to a literary magazine. You know what? I am not worried about whether or not it gets accepted and published. I have tried. I have taken a step forward. I have not hidden my writing away for fear of rejection and fear of failure. I don’t want to doom myself by my own inaction. Like Beverly Sills has so eloquently put it, if a person doesn’t at least try, he or she is doomed.
If you are afraid of rejection; if you are afraid of disappointment, just remember these words that Beverly Sills has spoken. Don’t doom yourself; at least try. This is a brand new decade. Go ahead and challenge yourself to make it the start of your most successful decade.
May God bless each and everyone of you with His love, peace, and protection always.
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears-” Les Brown (Brainyquote.com)
I saw this quote in a 2020 journal I purchased a few weeks ago. It got me to thinking about all the opportunities that I have personally not taken because of fear of failure, fear of rejection, undefined fear, fear that I was not capable enough to actually succeed if I attempted to take action on something I truly wanted to accomplish; fearful living is not living at all.
2020 is a fresh start and I have challenged myself to dedicate at least two hours daily to my writing. So far, so good. I refuse to listen to that negative voice that tells me all the reasons I shouldn’t even try; I refuse to give into fear of failure and fear of rejection.
Truth is that in this life we are all limited editions with limited time in this space. Think about it-no one will ever in the history of this universe ever be exactly like we are as individuals. There will never be an exact replica of you or me. We are each unique with our own passions and dreams; we are incredibly precious souls who are here for such a short time when we consider the millennium that has come and gone, and is yet to come.
Lately, I have been looking back over old family photos. Some of the photos date back nearly a hundred years. I look at my grandmother’s face from so long ago and wonder what her joys were, as well as what her fears were. I have a photo of my father when he was in his early twenties. His face was tense and there was a haunting sadness in his large dark eyes; I wonder what was the source of that palpable sorrow. What did he fear at that moment? The year was during the early days of the The Great Depression. Had he been afraid of hunger? What fears had dogged him? How had those fears impacted his future?
Fear robs us of our future; it robs us of our potential. Fear paralyzes us with its worst case scenarios and catastrophic imaginings. Nothing is ever as bad as we imagine. We do not realize just how much power we do possess within our own spirits to accomplish great things for ourselves, as well as for others.
II Timothy 1:7 says: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Psalm 27:1 says: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
The Lord is with us in our sorrows; He is with us when we are afraid, as well.
A strategy I have implemented in 2020 is to fight back against those fears by reminding myself that God has given me a spirit of power, not a spirit of fear. When I am not strong enough (which is often), I remind myself that the Lord is my strength.
It is my total reliance on the Lord’s strength that gives me the courage to live fearlessly even when negative thoughts try to tell me otherwise.
“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.”- Vince Lombardi
Life has it’s ups and downs. In my last blog, I wrote about my cousin Betty and her passing from this earthly existence to her eternal home.
Nothing in this life stays the same. We are all moving forward on our journey. At times, it is easy to give into despair and anxiety. It is difficult to accept this life’s twists and turns, but we must accept these changes whether we feel like it or not.
Like Lombardi implied, it is getting back up that truly matters.
These last few days I have prayed and read scripture, shared my feelings with my best friend, and released my sadness at the loss of my cousin Betty. Life is about changes, nothing remains the same. We have to grieve; we have to also honor this precious, fragile existence and not give into the abyss of despair.
This morning as I was eating breakfast I looked out the window at the majestic oaks in my back yard, and I watched hawks gracefully soar across the light blue sky. The sun peaked through the branches of the cherry laurels. Squirrels darted from branches high above oaks. The world in the early morning hour was truly beautiful.
I am thankful to God for this life that He has blessed me with. It isn’t always easy, but I know that He is with me just as He promised. God keeps His promises and I know that I am not alone. God gives me the strength to get back up even when I don’t think that I have any strength left.
On January 21st, my cousin Betty died of cancer. Her last days were spent with family. Hospice provided the necessary in-home care with a morphine drip. Cancer is excruciatingly painful and nasty. She was down to only fifty-nine pounds when she died.
On my cousin Libby’s last visit with Betty, she told Betty that she loved her so much; Betty, although weakened, sat up and said “I love you more” with emphasis on the word “more.”
On this cold, rainy, and dreary Saturday night in the midst of winter and sorrow I ponder the meaning of this life, of the space of years that Betty lived, that I have lived, that we all have lived. What is the sum total of our days from the hour of a birth until our final breath? What have we all done here on this earth in that space allotted to us between our first breath and our last? Did we say “I love you” enough? Did we spend enough time with those who meant the most to us? Did we share the treasures that Our Lord blessed us with? Were we petty and cruel? Were we apathetic and unforgiving? Did we waste our hours in front of a computer screen or television screen when we could have been sitting across a table drinking coffee and laughing with that person we loved most in the entire world? Did we lend a hand to the lonely and lost? Did we share? Did we love? What are the sum of our days?
I cannot go back and relive one lost second of my life. If I could, I would gather all my cousins around me and we would spend endless hours just laughing and talking and drinking sweet tea and eating pecan pie way into the late hours of the night.
It is said that time waits for nobody. This is true. You nor I can stop its passage. You nor I have the power to go back and spend one more second with those whom we loved. Once time passes, it is gone forever.
I plan to call my cousin Libby tonight and make plans to spend a week with her in the spring. This life is so precious and fragile; none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.
Libby and I talked earlier about how Betty is home with Our Lord and that she is no longer suffering. I truly believe this to be the case. God created us and we return to Him. I truly believe that one day I will have a homecoming and I will see my Lord face to face and that I will see Betty and I will see all those whom I have loved in this life.
This life is not the end; death is not the end. Our spirits are eternal.
For now, I say Good night Betty, but I know that at the end of these earthly days, I will be reunited with her and all those whom I have loved.