Friday, October 23, 2015


My 90-year-old mom tells me that when I was a young girl, I attended creative writing classes after school. I have no recollection of such classes, instruction, or assignments. I do know that writing has always come second nature to me. Whether a term paper for school, a thesis for graduate school, a short story, poem, a marketing piece, if wordsmithing was involved, I was in my element. I became an English major in college because I liked to read and I could write, and I had no interest in nursing. Where I came from, those were the two career options most young women pursued. I was an art minor in college with a concentration in photography. I penned two books of informational nonfiction during the ten years I was not drinking alcohol (between 1989 and 1999), was a columnist for a national trade magazine for two years, earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree, and did all kinds of creative things. The minute I picked up a drink in 2000, I ceased to write another word, and the camera got buried behind some cardboard boxes in a closet under the stairs. It took five years, once I got sober, to recall, to remember that I was an artist, that I had God-given talents. I get to spend a month in Arizona this fall, in this blue chair, with the light streaming in, writing, crafting another book. I don't know many of you who are reading this today, but I will tell you one thing: I am not unique. You, too, have been given gifts, talents, skills that the world needs. What are they? What's holding you back from following your heart's desire? Fear? Of what? Failure? That you're not good enough? Trust me when I tell you, you are brilliance. You are a beacon. How dare you not to shine?

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