We attended an open house in our neighborhood with Representative John Ward for our district in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Our host also invited Paul to speak about his ideas as a candidate for the Brainerd City Council. The small size of the group led us to some real discussions about the societal challenges we face and possible solutions to those challenges.
Education rose to the top as a primary solution to ensure that the next generation is literate, responsible and prepared. We all came to the conclusion, as well, of a cultural shift away from the same parental expectations that were once instilled in young people at home.
Someone remarked that in the group that was gathered, we appeared to set those expectations, and as a result, have well-adjusted children but what about all those in our society today that don’t. What do we do for them and about them?
The pause in the room felt as if even the candidates were overwhelmed by the enormity of what lies ahead for our society. I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I opened my mouth into a passionate plea and spoke from my mother heart.
We Strengthen Our Society When We Strengthen Our Circles
We Can Model. We can invite people to share our good habits and traditions. We had a library habit from the time my kids could walk. Every week we went to the library on a certain day and time. We’d come home, I’d read a story and we’d nap with books next to us. In this short span of our life, my children not only became literate readers, they learned how to take this same habit and apply it once we outgrew naps and life circumstances change.
We Can Encourage. We can praise mothers and fathers for the good things they do. We can encourage those mothers in the grocery store who remain firm even when confronted with a temper tantrum or validate a mother who’s made a hard choice and needs a little affirmation. We can honor the stalwarts of years past by listening to their advice and considering how it might fit today. We can thank our own family members for simple menial tasks that always have to be completed.
We Can Support. We can read to anyone, young or old—whether its is a one-liner or a whole story. We can listen and respond. Most of the people within our circle don’t want us to solve their problems, they just want to be heard and then solve them on their own. We can smile. And when the day is done and we have little left in us, we can always pray.
When we are faced with a problem and identify a solution, even a good solution that seems like a good choice for all involved, we have a tendency to want to make everyone follow suit. But we cannot force, coerce, and compel to change our society. We cannot just regulate our way to the good. We can encourage, model, support, and even persuade. And if I did that in my circle and you did that in yours, positive changes would ripple through our homes, communities and country.Read More
“I can relate to her.”
That’s an important response I received about my writing. Even more important, those were the first words of feedback I received from my first reader of the first 100 pages of my novel.
Two weeks ago I decided I’d held onto my story long enough without sharing it. I wanted to broaden my reality of what I’d actually written by inviting someone to read it. Make it real so the story would become real.
Sharing my work was a big step—one that could motivate me to finish, revise, edit and submit it for publication, or the opposite.
Fortunately, I picked the right reader. She reads like I do. She identifies with the characters, asks questions, wonders, ponders and relates the story to her own world.
Needless to say, when she said she could relate to my main character, I cheered inside myself. I can write.
So, today, I don’t have pictures, and I don’t big inspirations. I just have a few hours to myself. And I need to get some words out. The fiction variety.Read More
No two buildings have the same purpose. The purpose, the site, the material determine the shape. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one simple theme, and to serve its own single purpose. A man doesn’t borrow pieces of his body. A building doesn’t borrow hunks of its soul. It’s maker gives it the soul and every wall, window and stairway to express it.
- Howard Roark, The Fountainhead
How does what you read, listen to or watch influence your creative process?
Participating in a blogging community expands my thinking and creative capacity, but only so much. During those weeks when I only read blogs, current news, status updates, and Tweets mingled with the scriptures and lesson material for my religion class, my focus narrows as much as when I am reading nothing at all.
On the other hand, when I read a monthly book form my lifetime pursuit of literature list or something written in a different setting than the current media, my vision broadens. I learn about circumstances outside of the issues at hand and connect or apply the things I learn to my current context.
This opens my eyes to not only understand; it opens my spirit to create.
In the past, I’ve invited my blog readers to read with me in an online book group and discussion. My Try-It-With-Me-Tuesday challenges—books or other challenges—brought inspiration to me. Some readers have expressed the same.
Now, however, I’m refining my blog approach and want to dispense with any pressures for people to contribute. I’m still reading and seeking truth, from sources outside the current events stream, including a monthly book from my list. And I’ll still share the truths and connections I find. If you want to comment, I welcome the discussion. Otherwise, just enjoy the light I’m hoping to reflect here.
My February selection from my lifetime pursuit literature reading list is The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I see evidence of our current culture in the characters of Peter Keating, Dominique Francon, Ellsworth Toohey, Gail Wynand. The leaders and the followers. So many leaders who are seeking power in their own way—some with a mask of altruism, others with money. And then there are so many followers who are just following to follow. The story brings out the worst in most, and the best in a few with themes of creativity, integrity and free will.
Howard Roark, the architect protagonist, whose creativity builds from a purpose, reminds me of the times when that creative spirit has grown in me. Even more broadly, he represents the creative spirit within each of us.
Roark is the only one, in the end, that stays true to this spirit. We’d like to hope we were all Roark, but in reality, we’re each a little bit like every other character. We need approval. We imitate. We follow. We deny the source of creativity.
I love to create and offer my writing to readers. Lately, thought, I sense that the blogging community, like any other, is just a microcosm of the world Rand described. And I’m torn in my participation. I want to draw wisdom and inspiration from other writers, but the light of my creativity comes from above. When I become too involved, my ability to create wanes. Still, I want to share that light within me and receive the offerings of others, but I do not want to become Keating-like and adorn my writing and website to gain acceptance.
Roark gives his best at a very high cost. In our culture, even with the proliferation of media, we still do not value creation or respect the costs paid in its offering. Will the best of our age be lost in the muddle of mediocrity? If so, maybe it will be safer there, away from the ever-changing top layer, until another generation can dig it up and connect it to their own.Read More
I felt like a dangerous intruder at our elementary school when I walked in the front door and the lock-down alarm sounded. They even sent me to the Principal’s office. Read the story in my guest post at Oktober5.Read More
Try-It With-Me Tuesday, an interactive weekly time and place to foster connections that challenge and encourage the process to become a well-rounded person.
Feeling busy enough yet this month? I finished my Christmas shopping, though the countdown may still turn into chaos. I’d like to be curled up reading, but I’m carefully marking off my “To Do” list. So, I’m forgoing a new book in December for the TIWMT Book Club.
But wait . . . That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be reading. I’ve chosen two new books for January and February book club choices. I’m also reading Abby Takes a Stand for my daughter’s elementary school reading groups. My participation in her goal last year started my own reading challenges, which have evolved into the online Try-It-With-Me Tuesday monthly book club. We read books from our lifetime pursuit of literature lists.
For the new year ahead, I will choose one book per month, but I will announce it in the previous month. You can find the current and coming month’s book choices on the Try-It-With-Me Tuesday page at the top of my home page. And here there are . . .
February’s Book Choice:
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Discussion on February 24
Do you want to Try It With Me in 2009?
Here’s how to participate:
First – Find a copy of the book.
Second – Read it by the last Monday of the month, keeping track of lines you like with sticky notes or a running list of page numbers.
Third – Share your impressions in an online discussion here on the last Tuesday of each month. Here’s two ways to join the discussion:
1. Leave your thoughts in the comments.
2. Write a post on your own website.
If you do write a post, I want to publish your link so we can visit your website and see what you have to say. Please email your permalink to tj (at) tjhirst (dot) com no later than the last Monday of the month by 12 a.m. (Central Time). Feel free to use the TIWMT image in your post.
If your want to write a post but don’t make the deadline, just leave the link in your comments on the Tuesday post.
As this book club grows beyond just a few people, I will add an automatic link up, but I want to maintain an environment that encourages readers of all varieties, whether they are blog authors or not.Read More