Waiting to Fail – Advice from A GenXer

I’m a GenXer…raised in the 1980s. The generation of “Latch Key Kids.” We didn’t wear helmets when we rode our bikes, or elbow pads when we roller skated, if we had done so, our friends would have laughed at us. Our parents didn’t hover over our grades, they didn’t blame our teachers when we failed a test. We got our driver’s license the day we turned sixteen and had a part time job the very next day. We drove used cars, usually the cast-off family car, and we didn’t have GPS. We used a telephone and if we wanted to have a social life, we had to actually got OUT of the house to create one.

And we failed. A LOT.

Somewhere along the line, and I’m not really sure where, because there are still a bunch of us trying to raise our children the same way, things went haywire.

Somehow, we were convinced that our kids needed to have it easier. It started with “time out,” and making a child think about what they did wrong instead of paying a consequence.

And then we decided that if they weren’t doing well in school, it was the teacher’s fault for not teaching them. I’ve raised my kids in two different school districts, so I can attest to the fact that not every school district is created equal. Our current school district is far more superior than our previous district. But that comes with different pressures too. If you don’t fit in the “STEM” box , you’re going to have a tough time in school.

We decided that it wasn’t possible for teens to both have a job AND go to school at the same time. We made it harder for them to get real life experience. Having a job early on allows you to learn responsibility, with showing up and with your money. It’s also the ONLY time in your life you will get to PLAY with your money. You have no debt to pay off, you have no real bills. My first big purchase as a teen was a pair of black suede boots that reached just over the knee and laced all the way up the back. I still remember that they cost $135.00. I put them on lay-away at “Wild Pair” (an awesome shoe store from the 80s) and paid them off little by little until they were mine. And then I took care of them because I worked so hard to get them.

I had several jobs when I was a teen (at different times) because I could change the job when I got bored. I wasn’t locked in. If you wait until after you’ve gone through college, and trained for a career (which is a great plan), but then can’t change the job because you can’t find another one and are locked in because you owe so much on school debt, then no wonder you’re miserable. You never had the chance to PLAY with your money and fail. You can’t afford to fail now.

We had friendships and relationships and realized what it meant to have a good friend that would stand by you no matter what. That would get into trouble with you (in a good way, of course), but you knew what to expect from them, because you had created a face to face relationship. Your friendship was tried and tested. You cried through the bad times and laughed through the good. I know, I’m old and I don’t understand, but on-line relationships don’t provide that same closeness. They just don’t! I have “on-line” friends, to some extent, and they don’t measure up to the friends who have hugged me through break-ups and loss, who have celebrated births and marriages and achievements. It’s different. Read the research. This on-line generation is one of the loneliest, depressed and anxiety-ridden generation of all time. That’s not just my opinion.

“But you don’t understand,” is what I hear. You’re right. I don’t. But you also forget that we were young once too. I grew up under the fear of nuclear war. It was a real fear. But instead of withdrawing, my friends and I made a plan that in the event that they dropped “the bomb,” we would all go outside, put on our sunglasses, sit in our lawn chairs and watch the fireworks. It was how we coped…with sick and twisted humor.

And financially? We get it. My family was caught up in the Aerospace crash of the 80s. My dad was an Aerospace Engineer and had a pension plan. He was set for life…until the aerospace companies crashed and took away everyone’s pensions that they worked for their whole life. My family was devastated. I get it.

But I think the biggest lesson that GenXer’s we’re good at was “failing.” We learned skills to cope with failing. You get up, dust yourself off, and keep moving. It was just a given. Was there anxiety? Sure. Was there depression? You betcha. But that was just a diagnosis, not an excuse. We figured out how to deal with things. We didn’t have time, nor was it acceptable, to give up. “Just Do It” was what we lived by.

My advice to the younger generations?

Work now, so you can play with your money.

Get a job, so you can figure out what you like and don’t like before you get all the way through college.

Get out of the house. For goodness sake, get a gang of friends that really know you. Go to concerts (and DON’T RECORD THEM), just enjoy them. Go bowling, go hang out at a friend’s house, go to the mall, and talk to each other.

Pick up a phone…and CALL someone. Don’t just text them.

Do something for someone else…maybe even one of us “old” people. Do it for the human contact, not because you need “volunteer hours” to graduate.

Be still. Sit in awe and wonder at the world around you. Know that you can make a difference in someone else’s life.

And don’t be afraid to fail.

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Edison.

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Demotivational Speaking….

I highly recommend Insanity Bytes blog. She’s insightful and entertaining. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did.

See, there's this thing called biology...

“Someday somebody or a lot of people are going to throw their trash on you. Shake it off, stomp on it, and use it as an elevator to get out and run to the destiny God has for you. Count it all joy! (James 1:2)”

Chuckling here, but I do, I totally need a good career in demotivational speaking.  The above is yet another totally useless, completely not helpful, bit of Christian optimism. It belongs right next to, “pull yourself up by the boot straps, you can do all things through Christ, nothing is impossible with God, etc, etc.”

The truth just doesn’t sell very well, it’s painful and uncomfortable, nobody really wants to hear it. You aren’t going to sell any books, fill any conferences, or win any friends by speaking it.

Absolutely everyone wants to be a champion, more than a conquer, the hero of their own story…

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Why I Buried My Current WIP

I finished the first draft of my current WIP. Over 65,000 done…AND I HATE IT!

This idea for this manuscript came to be in a different fashion than how I normally write. Usually I start with a character, usually with a scene, and it sort of progresses from there. I’m a panster, and not an outliner. I’ve tried to outline, but I just can’t write that way. Usually my outline happens organically, as my characters are speaking to me. I know, it’s backwards, but it works for me.

But this WIP was different right from the beginning. I had a title first and wrote the forward (or the main character’s backstory) first. Then jumped ahead 10 years to begin the novel’s actual story. But it wasn’t flowing. I couldn’t get a grasp on my characters. I didn’t like them.

I usually write in a linear fashion (ie. Chapter 1, then Chapter 2, and so forth), but this manuscript wasn’t progressing. I kept thinking of all these scenes that I wanted to include, so I figured I try something different. I wrote “scene by scene” and thought I’d re-arrange and tie them all together in the editing phase. Boy, was that a mistake!

The problem? I was constantly editing and didn’t even realize it! Maybe it was because I was just getting ready to release Understanding Kasey, so editing was still fresh in my mind.

Burying a novel is always a painful decision. The printed manuscript (I always print out a hard copy) sat on my fireplace mantel for months taunting me. But, in the end, I think I made the right decision.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t destroy it. But I did put it in the box with other manuscripts that haven’t seen the light of day for a while. Maybe I’ll pick it back up one day, but it won’t be for a long time from now. Maybe a new spark will hit me in the middle of the night (that’s usually when they show up) and I’ll come up with the new idea that will tie it all together.

In the meantime, I’m working on a new Family Saga. I’m NOT editing as I go and I’m going to write my chapters in linear fashion. Let’s hope it works out better.

Fellow writers, have you ever buried a project? How did you feel? Was it freeing or depressing?

We are all “Gifted”

 

I love this video. (From YouCubed)

I live in a competitive school district. Everyone is “measured” in one way or another. Every child seems to have a stamp across their forehead and an image to live up to. A Label. What is it with this generation’s need to label everything? As if we need to compartmentalize everyone into a category to see where they fit.

Our school district has several “Advanced Learning” schools and school programs, mostly in math and science (STEM). There is one Public High School in our district so coveted that parents start training their kids to pass the admissions test when they are in elementary school. That’s crazy! Talk about pressure. When we first moved here, I asked a group of parents what the long term advantages were of that high school. For instance, was it guaranteed admission to the college of your choice? Apparently, it does look stunning on your transcript, but you still have to do the work. So, I pushed further and asked if they had ever done a survey of the kids once they got into college or even beyond college graduation. Were they far superior in some way to the kids who took the Community College route then transferred to a four year college? I looked around at the blank stares. No one seemed to know.
So, all the pressure, all the prestige was a launching pad. Okay, I get that.

But what about the creatives? What about the artists, the writers, the kids who work with their hands? Aren’t they “gifted” too? Don’t they qualify?

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to put down people for wanting their kids to have the best education possible (especially if you are lucky enough to afford it). I’m sure you’re just as proud of your kid as I am of mine. But not everyone is “gifted” in STEM. Not every child’s brain works that way.

But I think that being micro-focused on having a “traditionally gifted” child can be stressful and very limiting.
Of course, this is from a mom who is raising “average” kids  (at least according to all the tests), and I’m darn proud of it. My kids are gifted in other ways.

It really boils down to how they use their gifts, how we all use our gifts, that makes this world a well-rounded and better place.

I hope you enjoyed the video. Have a great day!

Same Clothes, Different…Year?

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I don’t shop for clothes for myself very often. The truth is that I’m not very fashionable. No one would EVER mistake me for a fashionista. I’m lucky to find clothes that fit my tall, long-waisted stature.

But never is it more apparent how rarely I shop then when Facebook Memories reminds me.

On more than one occasion, a “Facebook Memory” has popped up, from YEARS AGO, and I will realize that the shirt in the photo is the same shirt I just wore THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY.

It’s shameful, really. Embarrassing, definitely.

I try to shop for myself but get easily frustrated and end up buying clothes for everyone else in my family except me.

I’m way too practical. All I need is a few t-shirts, some yoga pants, a good-fitting pair of jeans (which in itself is like finding a needle in a haystack), and a few nicer shirts/blouses for church and going out. Let’s face it…in the fashion world, I’M BORING!

I have a pinterest board of “Style Wishes” which is named appropriately. They are truly wishes. They are the clothes that I wish I had the sense of style to put together myself…and then actually have an occasion to wear them.

My problem? I would rather be functional than fashionable, which is probably the reason for holding on to the same clothes for years. The things I buy are meant to last, through the seasons, through the trends.

Maybe along with a chauffeur, a chef, and a housekeeper, I should hire a stylist as well.

The Pastor is Not the Church

I’ve mentioned in past posts, that we have visited a number of churches in the past five years since we relocated, trying to find the right fit.

One of the reasons we’re still searching, besides the fact that we can’t seem to make any good personal connections, is that several of the churches seem to put a tremendous amount of faith in their Pastor…when it should be in God.

Now, I’m not saying that as church members, we shouldn’t regard our Pastor’s words as true. But what I am saying, is that we’ve found that many churches seem to put too much emphasis in what the Pastor says rather than what scripture says.

Think about it. Have you ever been to a church or a Bible study, or around members of the same church, and you hear quite often, “Well, Pastor So-and-So says that this is true, or that is frowned upon?”

My husband and I keep running into that, and it makes our discerning ears perk up.

The Pastor is NOT the leader of THE church…God is.

What people should be saying is, “Pastor So-and-So said this, NOW LET’S SEE IF SCRIPTURE BACKS IT UP.”

But most of us are too lazy to do the work ourselves. Just like our news and entertainment, we want our religion spoon-fed to us too, and that’s NOT okay.

In fact, it’s downright frightening.

That puts WAY TOO MUCH POWER in the hands of the Pastor. We should hold our Pastor’s accountable, and they should remind us to check it out for ourselves. They have an enormous responsibility to lead their flock, but their flock needs to be held accountable too. If we sit back and let the Pastor do all the work, then we aren’t giving our all to God.

Pastors are only human. They make mistakes. We need to look to the Bible for our answers.

Which leads me to another point: Too many Pastors are teaching out of Christian books and not The Book…the Bible. Too many are relying on other’s commentaries and, as such, their messages are a watered-down version of what Jesus taught.

They have managed to skew the Message to fit the masses to bring people in the doors instead of bringing people in the doors to hear the Message. There’s a big difference, and I hope it changes soon.

The Bible tells us that WE are the church…not the building, not the Pastor, but Jesus’ followers.

Have you run into this before?