Is There a Story Inside you?

Are you a writer with a message for the world? There are definite signs that can let you know.

I’m talking about more than the fact your fingers have to be pried off the keyboard each night. More than the fact you do very little except write, write and write.

Maybe you’re not even aware of it yet. Let me ask you this, do you see something in the world that needs to be changed? Something you feel so strongly about you can hardly talk about it without raising your blood pressure.

Is there something inside you’re dying to share, afraid you might burst?

Any of these reasons would be reason enough to pursue getting your words out there.

But you need to know whenever we feel strongly about something, there will be resistance.

As with anything we do with great value, resistance will try to stop us.

But that’s okay. Expect resistance. Fight it like crazy, but expect it. And believe me, resistance is persistent and tries many tactics. He’ll be the one telling you:

Everything’s already been said

One fallacy that tries to derail us is the thought that we have nothing new to say.  And the truth is yes, many things have been talked about again and again. They have been the topics of  books, articles, papers, and even day to day conversations.

But they aren’t said with our voices. What we say will not be the same as every person who said it before us. How am I so sure? Well, for one thing not everyone has the same life experiences. Nor does everyone have your unique voice.

You’re not a good enough writer

Now this area needs to be addressed. Because it’s something we can do something about.  I remember in 2012 when I came across a course offered online called Tribe Writers. I had heard about Jeff Goins on Michael Hyatt’s site. I liked Jeff’s style of writing. And what really appealed to me was his confidence.

And then one day I heard Jeff was starting a writing course and I heard me ask myself, “Why not check it out?”

I decided I had nothing to lose. Didn’t I always like writing? Hadn’t my teachers encouraged me in this area?

So I signed up. I remember going through the exercises and learning so much. And the first time I needed to submit an exercise I heard this loud sound, my heart beating out of my chest. I kind of froze and after a day or two. Yes, I was that scared, I went ahead and hit submit. Do you know why? Because I had read comments from other writers who were just as scared. And they submitted, encouraging me to follow suit. And I did.

When I received positive feedback, my confidence started growing and it felt wonderful. I knew I was in the right place.

What Tribe Writers is and isn’t

If you’re looking for a class that will hold your hand and tell you only what you want to hear, Tribe Writers is probably not for you.

If you want to believe all you have to do is X Y and Z and you WILL skyrocket onto the best sellers list within a couple of weeks. Again, this might not be what you’re looking for.

But, if on the other hand, you want to learn what you need to do to become published and you’re willing to do the work. If you’re ready to discover what your voice is and identify what your worldview is. Then look no further.

I thought I’d learn valuable information. I did.

I thought I would get feedback on my writing. I did.

What I didn’t count on was the community of writers I’d get to know and care about. Fellow writers who shared my passion and desire to make a difference with words.

The interviews Jeff provided were great. The lessons exceeded my expectations.

I felt inspired to sit and let my words dance onto my computer screen day after day.

You have nothing to lose

Tribe Writers offers a guarantee taking away any risk. You can join, give it a try, and see if it’s a good fit. And if you find it isn’t, Jeff gives you your money back. That’s rare these days.

And in case you’re worried that you won’t have the time you need to go through the course, you can even go at your own pace. You can repeat the course. I did a few times.

What could happen if you do Tribe Writers? Well, I have just written my third book with two more in the making. You could finally write that book you’ve been thinking about.

What it’s meant to me

I learned what it means to build my platform. I’ve increased my readership, my writing has improved.

Am I rolling in the dough? No. But I’m reaching more people with my words, something that’s important to me.

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For more information about Tribe Writers click HERE. (Please note it is an affiliate link).

And just maybe we’ll get to read your story.

The Hole so Deep

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Anyone who calls suicide a decision clearly doesn’t understand all that it entails. We are complex human beings. More goes on below the surface than we can even comprehend.

More and more, we hear about people taking their lives. And suicide/depression is not limited to a certain class of people. When we use terms like “those people,” we demonstrate our lack of knowledge on the subject.

But before I begin, let me say I’m no authority on the subject. I don’t have letters after my name. But I feel I have something to say.

I almost became a widow three times. And my husband, whom I love very much has shared with me how it felt when he was in the thick of it. With his permission I have written about our life in my book, BROKEN.

Depression is a hole

Mike shared, “It’s like a cave I couldn’t get out of. A hole so deep.”

Yesterday, like millions of others we watched a program about Robin Williams. I was curious to hear my husband’s response when they spoke about Robin’s family. Curious because it’s been this puzzling piece to me. How a person who is loved, and part of a family could go down that path.

My husband’s response was, “Wow, that is so heavy for his family to have to go through that.”

No. I didn’t blurt out, “What about you?” Maybe in the past I would have been tempted to. But living with someone with depression has slowed down my quick remarks. I listen more.

When my husband was nineteen years of age, a neighbor came up to him and said, “Hey, there is a black man in your car.”

So Mike went to the garage where the door was blowing open and shut and he saw something he would never forget. Leaning his head against the glass he saw a man. But not a black man, a man he called “Dad.” it was his father, asphyxiated. He had not driven away as they thought. He was there in that car for four days.

Depression is generational

Suicide had also taken two other relatives in his life. And when Mike suffered with depression his father’s option became a viable one for him as well. It was always in the back of his mind.

Depression in three generations. Would it continue? Please tell me no.

When our son was a teenager he silently fought that same monster of depression. He was cutting himself and we had no clue. Then one day we received a call from his youth leader, Kyle.

“Hi Anne, is Nathan there,” he said quickly.

No small talk, no chit-chat, just the question.

“What’s up Kyle?”

“Anne, I have reason to believe Nathan is going to hurt himself.”

And so began our nightmare. Friends offered to look for him. That hour and a half seemed like forever. They found him alone in the park. Nathan had planned to end his life, but instead he said God gave him music. And today his passion is to reach out to struggling students. Because he remembers how lost he felt in that hole.

You can hear Nathan’s story here.

Compassion is the answer

So why am I sharing all this? Because we need to have compassion for those who suffer. We need to let them know we’re here for them. As long as it takes.

Suicide is not a simple choice they make. And it doesn’t mean the person doesn’t love his/her family. In their minds, at that moment, they think they’re alleviating pain their families have suffered. They believe their families will be better off without them.

My heart goes out to the family of Robin Williams. It is a long, lonely road back to feeling normal.

So unless you have seen the ambulance pull away as attendants shoot questions at you in rapid fire. Before you judge the actions some make, forever affecting those left behind. Pray. Pray for the family. And pray for those who may be in your circle of influence.

Maybe we can figure out a way to help them. We have to try.

I Didn’t Invite him

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“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer.”

He showed up again. I didn’t invite him, but that didn’t matter.

He never offered anything positive, but instead questioned any good ideas I had. And if I trembled starting something new, that’s when doubt would spew out tons of reasons why I SHOULD be scared.

In April, I launched my second book, BROKEN. Never had I felt such strong opposition.

My first book, Real Love was a peek into my life. The second one opened the doors to let the world in.

As I bled onto the pages, doubt made sure I heard each negative comment from his front row, center seat.

Doubt is stubborn. But, the good news is, so am I. Although I prefer to think of myself as tenacious. It sounds better, don’t you think?

I Felt Defeated

Attempting to put my life on paper, technology kept interfering. I was approaching the finish line. All that remained was pagination.

All the tutorials said pagination was easy. But technology and I are not friends. I tolerate him and he lives to torment me.

First, I elected to add the page numbers automatically. Even that gave me trouble.

It’s important to note I was trying to do this job without knowing I needed to be in Page Layout. Something I realized as I worked on my recent book. What should have taken moments took hours. Okay, days.

Ignorance is not bliss. Unaware I was using the wrong format, I continued trying to put number my pages. I demanded they comply. Eventually I added them manually, one page number at a time. Yes, I did that. And afterwards, some of the numbers declared mutiny and actually switched places. One time, sections of my book were numbered with only two numbers. 49, and 50. I thought I was going nuts.

People told me, “It’s easy. You’ll get it.” I googled, and watched You Tube tutorials of smiling people whose numbers cheerfully jumped on their pages.

I kept getting back on that kicking bull.

And yes, I’m well aware that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. I believe you’ll find my picture next to that definition. Note I am NOT smiling.

Like returning a child to time-out, I marched those rebellious numbers back to their rightful spots. And when I looked away, they moved again! And if it’s possible I think I heard laughter. Do numbers laugh?

Through it all, doubt sat there grinning. I hate that grin.

“You’ll never get it,” he taunted.

“Just watch me,” I seethed.

What I learned

Eventually I got it done. And I remember being afraid to even breathe. Since that time, I’ve made some significant discoveries:

1) I have a metal mind which slams shut when I think I’m right. (My husband pointed this out to me).

2) Doubt has a good memory. In those moments when I tried standing up to doubt, he opened his memory bank, reminding me of my previous failures. He’s good at remembering the bad.

3) I can speak louder than doubt. When doubt listed my failures, I counteracted by listing some of my successes. A list I keep in mind for those occasions.

I did it

Bottom line is this. I did finish my second book. And after beating myself up a bit, I gave myself grace.

As long as I have to use technology, I will make mistakes. And I’m okay with that. I don’t have to be good at everything. I have freedom.

The point is, I outlasted doubt. And the more I do that, the shorter his stays will be.

It’s unreasonable to think he won’t show up.

As long as we have something of value to offer, doubt will be there.

If you struggle in your writing or another area, and doubt tries showing you up, arm yourself. I suggest reading Bryan Hutchinson’s book, Writer’s Doubt.

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Using his own experiences, Bryan shines a light on some of Doubt’s tactics, helping us understand what we’re up against.

Remember, when we take risks, doubt will show up, uninvited and obnoxious. You can count on it. But being prepared will make all the difference.

Don’t let doubt stop you. You’ve got a story to tell, one we need to hear.

All I Did was Listen

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Photo courtesy of Jessica Peterson

Sometimes people need to talk. Even if they are wrong numbers.

She called looking for Pete Peterson. I knew there was no Pete at our house, but I felt God prompting me to just listen, so I did.

Also, I remember my husband telling me that the guys in the army used to call him Pete.

The elderly woman continued to tell me why she was looking for Pete.

“We used to be friends and my husband knew him for years. I’m having a surprise birthday party for my husband and it would mean the world if I could have Pete there.”

“Have you tried to do a search?” I asked.

“No, I’m not very good with technical things. My daughter usually does that kind of thing for me, and she tried a little with no luck.”

I didn’t feel like I was supposed to hang up so I asked her a few more questions. Like where he lived, worked, how old he was. Things that would help me in my search.

I told her I’d call her if I found out anything.

“Why are you helping me?” she asked. And it was a fair question. After all, I didn’t know her.

“I’m a Christian,” I replied and I feel I’m supposed to help you.

Then I said, “That’s nice that you’re having a surprise party for your husband.”

She started crying. This person I didn’t know. This person that mattered and was more than a wrong number.

“My husband has cancer.” She said as her tears came through the phone.

“May I pray for you?” I asked.

There was silence for a few seconds and then she said, “I would like that very much. No one has ever asked me that before.”

And so I prayed for this woman I was getting to know. Prayed that we would find Pete Peterson. Prayed for her husband.

She cried again, called me an angel and we hung up.

Hours later I still had no leads. And I was done for the day. I knew God cared about this woman. Otherwise why would he ask me to stay on the phone?

The next day still brought me no closer to finding Pete. Finally I shared the story with a friend of mine who lived one town over.

“I used to know a Pete Peterson,” she said.

I needed to make sure this was the right direction so I asked, “How did he spell his name?” No use following wrong leads.

“No,” I responded to my friend when she told me her Pete Peterson spelled it, s-e-n.

And then, the next day I asked my friend for her Pete’s number anyway.  What if Shirley was mistaken about the spelling? It might be worth a try.

So there I was calling a guy I didn’t know. Telling him about Shirley and her husband. He listened quietly and then he said. “I know them.”

I could hear him get choked up when I relayed to him how they had looked for him for years. He definitely would come to the party.

Calling Shirley was wonderful. Once again she called me her angel. And she asked if we could meet some time.

“Sure,” I said. “That would be great.”

We chose a Mc Donald’s in the next town. There was no doubt in my mind it was Shirley when I saw her walk in with a huge smile on her face.

“Are you Anne?”

I smiled back, “Yes.”

“You are my angel,” she said again.

“I hope you won’t mind but I picked out something I want you to have,” she said as she placed the gift before me.

I pulled off the fancy wrapping paper to reveal a beautiful porcelain angel. Her features were well defined and just looking at her made you feel wonderful.

And now that exquisite angel sits in my china cabinet. A wonderful reminder of what God can do if we just respond to his voice.

I’m no angel. All I did was listen.

The Dad I Never Had

Dad and me

 Father’s Day is almost here. Sons and daughters will stand in line with cards and gifts in their hands. Cards that tell their dads how much they mean to them.

Others will barely make it through the day, thinking about how they no longer can give their dads a Father’s Day card. Just wanting the day to end as well as their grief.

There will be some people who never had a dad they could remember. Year after year they endure the day and basically wish it never existed.

And there’s yet another group. A group that had a dad, but didn’t. He was there. but not in the way a dad should be.

Our Dad was absent though present. I have memories of him sleeping in his chair in front of the television set.  My more vivid ones are of him whipping out his belt and taking off after us. I’d him yelling things no person should ever hear. My siblings would be crying in their bedrooms and I cried knowing I was next. It never occurred to me that he had a problem. He was a rage-aholic. I honestly thought we were bad.

Then our mom died when I was sixteen years old. That’s when our family fell apart. She was the glue.

One month after mom was gone my brother Gus sat having lunch with my dad.

“Dad, did you know the night Mom was sick she called Anne and Anne didn’t go?”

I froze as my father’s eyes narrowed. With his finger extended he said, “It’s your fault your mother’s dead.”

And at sixteen, I believed him.

It’s hard living with someone who blames you for your mother’s death. Impossible really. Eventually my guilt was too much to bear. I left home and lived with an aunt.

Then months later, maybe even a year, my sister called.

“Anne, you need to come and see Dad. He’s got cancer.”

I managed to get the words out,” I can’t come.”

“Anne, you already regret not going to Mom. Don’t do it again.”

As impossible as it was to imagine seeing my dad, she was right.

So the next day I walked the long hall at Veteran’s hospital. What would I find when I got there?

The years had not been kind to him. He looked a lot older than fifty-two.

“Annie” he said with a smile when I walked in his room.  ” You came. But why do you look so mad?”

“It was not my fault she died,” I stammered.

“I know,” he said quietly.

He knew? He knew but didn’t bother to tell me?

I let him talk and was surprised when the words came, “I’m sorry I wasn’t a good father to you.”

The images of him chasing us with his belt, his eyes wild with rage flooded my mind. But instead I pushed those images out and instead saw the man before me.

There was no belt in his hand now. And he was beaten himself, by this cancer.

At that moment, God softened my heart.

I looked at my dad and responded, “You did the best you could.”

Words I had not planned on saying. But words that nonetheless needed to be said.

Reaching down I kissed the cheek of my dad. The one who said to my sister and me when we were little girls, “Make your legs stiff,” as he lifted us high into the air. With our dresses tucked in out underpants we felt like we were beautiful ballerinas that owned the world. With arms out to the side we smiled so big.

I wish things had been different. I wish I felt loved and nurtured by this ballerina lifter, but I didn’t. And yet, God gave me an opportunity for reconciliation.

My dad apologized for the first time ever. Our last conversation was our best.

The next day my father died.

So on Father’s day I hold onto the memory of me lifted high in the air. And like others I miss my dad. The dad I never had.

Let Your Words out

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I have to write. From the time I was young, writing has been an escape for me. While things were difficult at home, I could go to this imaginary place. my new home.

The spiral notebooks stacked in a box don’t look like much. But tucked inside are the pages of my life. The days when we didn’t know where my sister was, the endless prayers, “God give us an answer.”

The days leading up to the births of my children. Each emotion scrawled onto the paper. Scrawled because not everyone could write like Mary Ann Kenny.

Looking through those journals I see a younger me, someone whose feet were not wet, someone whose heart was still intact. Someone very young and inexperienced.

Writing is not a hobby to me. Writing is like breathing.

I place my fingers on the keys and my mind opens. Out tumble the words which had been waiting by the door. Sure, sometimes they trip over each other because of their exuberance at finally being free. But even that’s okay. They know I’ll come by and reposition them.

I love words. They are the only thing I can manipulate without protest. Tweet.

 

And even the words who don’t make it in this story know that there will be a place for them somewhere. I’m not going to exclude them. I know what that feels like.

Writing is a chance to pull back the curtains of my life and let you into my world. To let you see who I am.

Yes, I have to write. People were created to touch each other. To be in community with one another. And it’s our words whether spoken or written that can reach out. Without that we are islands that shrivel up inside.

A couple of years ago I had a desire to pursue my writing. I took a writing course called Tribe Writers, by Jeff Goins. Little did I know what it would do for me. I thought it was just about the words. I was so wrong.

Tribe Writers gave me the tools I needed to hone my writing. It also taught me that while we may be individuals, we share so many common emotions. We may look differently and have different roles in life, but we are so alike. We all hurt. We can all experience joy.

I found a place where my writing was read and accepted. Where I was accepted.

And I wrote the book I was meant to write. I opened up my life and jumped onto the paper. Tribe Writers created the place where I could learn the things I needed to learn and then practice them.

What about you? Do you have a story within you the world is waiting to hear? Or are you yearning to know how to release those captive thoughts inside you?

Maybe Tribe Writers is the launching ground for you. You can find out more about Tribe Writers here at this affiliate link.

It’s not to late to sign up, if you need help in getting those words out.

I know I’m glad I did.

Tribe Writers

A Review – Writer’s Doubt

I think I can.

I hope I can.

What was I thinking?

What we tell ourselves matters.

I still remember sitting in our brand new LeCar as my instructor, none other than my husband, attempted to teach me how to drive. And wouldn’t you know it, it was a stick shift.

Once again the hill won as I killed the car.

“You’re not going to get this,” he said to me.

“Just watch me,” I responded.

That was on a good day. A couple days later I believed him and I just about gave up.

Then I had a brilliant idea. Why not let my friend Cindy teach me.

With every successful use of the clutch I heard, “Good job. I knew you could do it.”

And that made all the difference in the world. There is another licensed driver out there because of it. One who didn’t learn till she was in her 30’s.

Another challenge – writing

While driving was one challenge, I would have others, like writing.

I won a writing contest when I was young. And as I kept writing I experienced success. I have my poetry in stores, I published Bible Studies, articles, devotions. Then I took a writing course, Tribe Writers and attempted another challenge. A book.

My first attempt seemed to go well. But then I decided to write the book that was burning within me. A memoir of sorts. And while I had experienced doubts whispering before, now they were standing on chairs screaming:

Are you nuts?

Who would want to read a book YOU write?

You still have problems, what have you got to say to a listening world?

How can we fight doubt?

Lucky for me I heard about a book that dealt with those nagging doubts.

Bryan Hutchinson’s book, Writer’s Doubts, was just the ammunition I needed to face those doubts head-on. His book helped me all the way to publication.

Hutchinson’s book assured me having doubts as a writer, or any artist is normal.

What if I waited till I had no doubts? Well, I can honestly say two books would have never been written and I’d still be getting someone to drive me everywhere.

Resistance – our enemy

I highly recommend Writer’s Doubt if you are trying to achieve a goal and finding resistance is winning.

I learned a lot reading his book.I learned that resistance is to be expected.

I discovered resistance became stronger the closer I got to my goal.

That understanding helped me. I could anticipate it, and somehow diffuse some of its power.

So what are you thinking of doing? And what’s trying to stop you?

You too, can go past those doubts.

Writer’s Doubt will help you discover:

• How to let go and tell your story.
• What your true writing potential is and how to reach it.
• How to break free from inhibitions and self-imposed limitations.
• How to overcome your internal (and external) naysayers.
• How to use your doubts and fears to your advantage.

So what do you say? Are you tired of silencing the desire within you?
Tired of watching others achieve what your heart yearns for?

Then order a copy of Writer’s Doubt and get going.

I highly recommend this book. It will help you with any resistance you may have. And it will help us too, because the world needs what you have to say. It really does.

You can visit Bryan Hutchinson’s Blog or visit his Facebook page HERE, or you can twitter him @adderworld.