Reflections from a Lifetime Friendship

Friendship comes easily for some people. Other people need to tangle with a metal hurdle and eat cinder from the track to find a true friend.
You guessed it. I’m the second kind.
In fact, ramming my right knee into a hurdle in eighth grade is exactly how I met my long-time friend. Believe it or not, our junior high (now a middle school) still has that red cinder track.
And my right knee really bugged me recently, after a five-hour stint in the car and our five-mile hike up Icicle Ridge.
It’s safe to say I don’t take friendship lightly, and I try to value each person who calls me a friend.
And I think the list is pretty short.
And not just because writer’s don’t get out much. Besides being an introvert (which doesn’t mean I’m shy or don’t talk much), I don’t share my heart with many people.
Well, except portions of my heart are available to anyone who reads my stories and books.
It’s funny how I try to be transparent in my writing, but I don’t bare my heart and soul to many people in face-to-face relationships.
Some people call everyone a friend, and while I try to be friendly to everyone, I have only a handful of close friends.


In my mind, these are rare people who can accept my flawed, opinionated self at face-value and aren’t trying to change me into something more acceptable. Not that all of them think I couldn’t change for the better, but their affection isn’t tied to those invisible standards to which I don’t measure up.
Here are some things I’ve learned about friendship from the tall girl who had to walk me in to the locker room on that long ago day at track practice:

  1. No one’s perfect, but anyone can pretend to be. When people only like you or want to spend time with you because you act a certain way (dress a certain way, work in a certain profession, earn a certain amount of money…and the list goes to infinity and beyond), they probably aren’t showing you their true heart and they don’t want to share yours.
  2. Time and distance never diminish authentic feelings. Some people can go years without seeing each other, and when they’re together they pick up as if no time passed. And they experience the same joy and connection as if they’d been together the entire time.
  3. Laughter only has value where tears do. Laughter’s the best medicine. A laugh a day keeps you healthy and young. As far as the benefits of laughter, they can’t be underestimated, but what makes a true friend unique is that they value tearful moments as highly as mirthful ones.
  4. Advice is given freely without any strings. Some people want you to tell them what to do, and when they give advice they expect you to follow it or “they’re done.” That’s not friendship. Friendship is 50 percent ears to hear, 40 percent heart to love and 9 percent eyes to see with only one measly percent mouth to spout advice.
  5. Listening goes both ways. Everyone knows people who talk and talk and talk. And when you talk, they aren’t listening but planning what they’re going to say next. A friend isn’t all about talking out their issues. They’re eager to hear what’s on their friend’s mind almost more than they’re waiting to finally share their burden with someone.
  6. Communication happens silently. “We looked at each other and burst out laughing.” Have you ever experienced it? Yes, if you knew the other person well enough to understand you were thinking the same thing at that moment.
  7. Time spent with them is a great investment. We’ve all spent a day with someone and felt emotionally and physically exhausted afterward. Time with a true friend energizes our soul and strengthens our emotions, even if we do things (like stay up all night talking) that sap our bodies of energy.
  8. Acceptance is the currency of friendship. Even when you disagree with beliefs or choices, it doesn’t lessen the emotional bond. Two can walk together even if they disagree when they accept that being right isn’t as important and being loved.

What are the characteristics of your longest, most meaningful friendship? What did I leave off my list?
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Wonder Woman Makes it to the Big Time

Wonder Woman isn’t just for comic books anymore. And no matter what the UN says about it, this female superhero is making it to the big screen where she will be the ambassador for empowerment of women everywhere.

Sure, the United Nations can name cartoon characters as honorary ambassadors, but bringing a bustier-wearing woman to the stage sends the wrong message.

The U.N. recanted, bowing to protesters, but this won’t stop Wonder Woman from stepping from print to silver screen. She has been a suffragist, a sex symbol and a soldier since she first appeared in 1941, conceived by William Moulton Marston. Now, she’s going to be a movie star.

wwmaksitbig

Gal Gadot played Wonder Woman in Batman v. Superman and will carry off the role in her own film in June 2017. Godot is both a model and a soldier, 2004 Miss Israel who served in the Israel Defense Forces, as all Israeli’s are compelled to do.

Why can’t a woman be smart, strong and sexy? And if she isn’t covering up her physical assets, is that begging for objectification?

Plenty of male superheroes are flaunting their physical assets without anyone screaming about demeaning men. Why is there a different standard for our gal, Wonder Woman?

She was created as a hero to represent America’s position in World War Two: a patriot who wanted to protect the innocent. The original Wonder Woman had defensive weapons—bracelets that deflected bullets and the Lasso of Truth.

Isn’t that the kind of superhero we all should want? Not one who’s out to wreak havoc but is bent on keeping people safe.

Now Wonder Woman will get to tell her story to the world. The film won’t follow the comic book canon of the Amazonian princess.

Instead, the story takes place during World War I. When Steve inadvertently leads men to the Amazon’s island paradise, the women warriors face down guns with arrows.

They keep Wonder Woman true to her creator’s vision by making her more interested in peace than conflict. But, as history has proved time and again, sometimes the reality of peace comes at the high cost of war.

This writer is enthusiastic about seeing a female superhero take the tile role in a comic-book-inspired movie.

Sure, we can argue about clothing choices, but as Gadot was quick to point out in interviews, at least the outfit doesn’t hinder her movements. And it doesn’t expect her to run and fight wearing four-inch heels.

Isn’t it time we looked beyond the costume? What’s in the heart of a character? Is she wearing these clothes to distract her foes?

It’s more likely she pulled them on and forgot about them. That’s what I do. I’m not walking through my day thinking about how I look.

Real women have more important things on their minds.

And if this movie trailer is any indication, Wonder Woman doesn’t have any spare moments for thinking about how her body armor makes her appear too sexy to fight.

Do you think the costume makes (or breaks) the credibility of a superhero? Are you excited for Wonder Woman’s debut in her own motion picture?

Happy Birthday to my biggest fan

Every author wants to have someone who believes in their writing so much they’ll buy it without blinking at the price. Some writers have fans like this who they’ve never met in real life. I have my sister.

And today is her birthday.

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to let everyone know what a fantastic person she is. Not just because she believes in me and buys my books. (You really think I’m that shallow?)

My sister and I share a common history. Not only does this involve our shared genetic ancestry, but it also includes experiencing the nature and nurture of environment for sixteen-plus years.

Walking to honor our Mom at the Relay for Life
Walking to honor our Mom at the Relay for Life
Anyone who knows us understands our shared experience doesn’t mean we’re similar. Although she does like to claim we’re twins (mostly so she can deduct two years from her age).

We understand where the other one is coming from. A lot of things remain unsaid in our conversations (and this totally baffles my husband) because they’re understood.

In the book that is our lives, we don’t need to go on about back story. We lived it together. Do we know every emotion and every heartache? No. But we understand the context for all of those things.

Top Five things I Love about Her

  • She loves to read the same kinds of books I do (and she lends me her books all the time)
  • She listens well and her responses show both how well she heard and how smart she is
  • We can do outdoorsy things together because we both love to walk and hike
  • I feel accepted and appreciated by her even when I’m being a huge jerk (are you surprised that I’m a jerk? Or just that I would admit it in such a public forum?)
  • We can talk about anything and everything (can you tell I like to talk?)

Five things I bet she would Change about Me

Since my big sister is such a nice person, you’d really have to twist her arm to get her to admit she’d like to change anything about me. So this list should probably be renamed.

What my sister makes me want to change about myself. 

Sounds better right?

  • My sarcastic humor which goes too far sometimes and pops out at inappropriate moments
  • My sweet tooth. Back in the day, it would have been so there’d be more Russian Teacakes for her, but now it’s because she wants me to be healthy
  • The knack I have for putting myself down
  • Confidence in my writing ability (because she believes I am so much better at writing than I really am, so it makes me work hard to improve)
  • All my excuses – because I should have been where I am now two decades ago, but I had so many justifiable causes to hold me back

So – no more excuses. Why are you still writing this blog, Sharon? Get back to the writing that will be published and read. Words that will change the world.

Happy birthday, Sister. Hope you have a wonderful day. You deserve it!

Good News: There are Heroes in your Child’s School

I work at a school when I’m not working behind my keyboard. Schools are important places for the present and future health of a country. Lucky for us, there are heroes there.

During the ten years I worked full-time at the middle school, we fielded tons of questions when a school shooting happened. Think Sandy Hook Elementary. Or even the Boston Marathon bombing.

A local law enforcement official died in the line of duty trying to subdue an armed man in a town a few miles from where we lived. His death, funeral and the dedication of a section of our highway in his name all provided in-class opportunity to discuss important safety issues with our students.

Another shooting happened on September 29 in South Carolina. A 14-year-old took a gun into an elementary school and shot two students and a teacher.

You know what, no matter what reason comes to light from this teenage gunman, I’ll never understand the compulsion to gun down defenseless children. (Thinking of the Jedi temple scene in Episode III – when Anakin Skywalker became irredeemable in my eyes.)

But I’m thankful for the everyday heroes who worked at the Townville school and who volunteered for their fire department. Those people are worthy of admiration.

In Townville, an unarmed volunteer fireman, Jamie Brock, searched the grounds for the shooter. When he saw him hiding in the grass, he confronted and subdued him. It didn’t matter that the shooter had a gun aimed at him and Brock had only a determination for right.

You know what else I admire about this everyday hero? He knows who the real heroes are in that school building and so many others around the world.

“The true heroes of (this) senseless tragedy are the teachers that put their lives on the line to protect their students, the principal who through fears of her own (did) what was right to ensure the safety of the school,” Brock said via statement at a September 30 press conference.

Brock contends that his reaction to search for the gunman is no different than what any fire or law enforcement personnel would do. After all, they put their lives on the line daily to protect their communities.

It’s nice to see teachers heralded as heroes. Most are overworked and underpaid as they pour all of their talents and passion into teaching children, preparing them for life.

As the teacher I worked with and I told our students, it is our job to protect them. From bullies. From their own ignorance. And, yes, most definitely from an armed assailant.

Do you know a heroic educator? Brag on them in the comments. Then go and tell them how much you appreciate all they do.

Everyday Heroes Teach Unexpected Lessons

Maybe a hero is someone who showed you how to be a better person. You might not even have realized that person was heroic until much later.

It might have been a family member who showed unexpected tenacity in a difficult situation. From them, you learned that life was hard, sure, but also that the hardness didn’t have to crush you.

Stand up and fight against cancer or an unexpected accident that cripples you.

All of us have had a teacher or coach who imparted an unexpected life lesson to us.

For me, there were several:

  • My seventh grade language arts teacher made me believe I could be a writer
  • My freshman basketball coach showed me that no matter how little a person has to offer, every bit is important for the success of the team
  • I learned from a high school teacher that dreams don’t always look the way you expect them to…but that doesn’t make them any less amazing
  • A drill sergeant taught me that a positive attitude changes everything and affects everyone around you

The list could go on.

In this article from success.com, the author learned these lessons from everyday heroes.

  1. From her grandmother: nothing is impossible
  2. From her basketball coach: the greatest enemy of excellence is “good enough” (Here is double proof that coaches impact lives AND the athletics teach real life lessons as well as any sit-down subject in school)
  3. From an employer: learn from your mistakes

What can you add to this list? Share a lesson you learned from an unexpected source in your life.

On the Job Heroics

Heroes are everywhere. Your mail carrier might be the next one to make the news for an act of heroism. Segment two of the Everyday Heroes spotlight is all about on the job heroics.

In fact, this week’s hero fills a special place in my heart because of her ordinary job. Because I’m here to tell you, there is no career so mundane to keep an opportunity for heroism at bay.

I also admire her because you wouldn’t catch me doing her job. Why would you trap yourself in a moving vehicle with small children? Or teenagers? Or anyone?

And driving a big old bus under those stressful conditions is doubly admirable.

Once again, I found this story courtesy of A Mighty Girl.

Just Another Day on the Bus

Renita Smith drives a school bus in Maryland. Every morning she picks up kids and drops them at school. In the afternoon, she returns to the school and runs the route again to see the children safely home.

One afternoon, her bus caught on fire.

When her glance in the rear view mirror revealed flames at the back of her bus, Smith went into action.

She didn’t panic. Or stop to wonder what the protocols were for situation.

“I undid my seat belt, jumped up, got my babies and got off.”

To be sure every 4 to 9-year-old on her bus was indeed safe, Smith climbed back into a smoke-filled bus and checked every seat.

“By the time I got to the last step on the bus, it just went up in smoke.”

Not your average day at work.

Not your average bus driver.

Needles to say, parents of the twenty children riding the bus that afternoon are calling Smith a hero. And those kids have a new-found respect for the duties of a bus driver.

Smith doesn’t think her actions were heroic at all. “I have to handle each child with care, as a mommy would. That’s what I hope any human being would do for any child.”

We can hope that every person would respond in a similar fashion. Smith’s quick thinking and brave actions renew our faith in humankind.

Read more here.

Do you know any everyday heroes? If you’d like to see them featured here, leave me a comment. It’s about time some positive stories flooded the Internet.


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Meet Some Everyday Heroes

My fascination with heroes has only been strengthened by the current comics-into-movies craze. What’s even more inspiring? There are heroes around us dressed in the guise of an ordinary person.

This month on my blog, the midweek posts (I will be changing from Thursday to Wednesday halfway through) are dedicated to these individuals.

Today, I’m dumping some links to videos and articles that will give you a glimpse at the sort of people who we don’t see in the news.

Why do they tell us all the bad news? Shouldn’t they always follow it up with some good news?

While mainstream news shows protests and property damage, another kind of television station focuses on the goodness birthed from tragedy. Here is a video that shows how the fury of nature brings out the best in some people.

I’ve seen people hanging from a bridge in protest. I’ve seen others standing on an overpass threatening to jump and end their lives.

Would you have the courage to stop someone from jumping? In this next video, you’ll also see heroes reaching out to rescue those who are falling.

I had mixed feelings about the last story. When I saw the headline, I immediately thought, “Here’s an everyday hero.”

Hero mom dies rescuing son from Oklahoma fire

And then I read the story.

Every mother would hope to have the same courage to enter their burning home when they realized their young child is still inside. That’s what this woman did, after escaping with her two infant sons, too young to walk out on their own.

But then I read on. Rescue crews were on site. Trained professionals were there to do the job. She didn’t listen to them.

In the end, both she and the four-year-old she tried to rescue perished from injuries sustained in the fire. Now her other children our motherless.

Would the fire personnel have been able to pull her son out in time if they weren’t trying to rescue her too?

We’ll never know. While I admire her self-sacrifice, part of me feels the loss was unnecessary.

What’s your idea of an everyday hero? Do you have some stories for me?


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Check out Poet Inspired and  my other books. Already read one or more of them? Your honest review is a golden nugget in this writer’s world.

Everyday heroes stand for their beliefs

What do you believe in? An equal education for everyone? Well, that’s been something people have been fighting for as long as their were people to fight. Everyday heroes stand up for what they believe in. No matter the cost.

Below is a story shared on www.amightygirl.com. Even though I’m familiar with many desegregation stories from the 50s and 60s, I hadn’t known all of these details.

If you’re only six years of age and can stand up for what you believe is right, you are a hero in my eyes.

Read on about Ruby Bridges.

As a six-year-old, Ruby Bridges famously became the first African American child to desegregate an all-white elementary school in the South. When the first grader walked to William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960 surrounded by a team of U.S. Marshals, she was met by a vicious mob shouting and throwing objects at her.

ruby-bridges

One of the federal marshals, Charles Burks, who served on her escort team, recalls Bridges’ courage in the face of such hatred: “For a little girl six years old going into a strange school with four strange deputy marshals, a place she had never been before, she showed a lot of courage. She never cried. She didn’t whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier. We were all very proud of her.”

She just marched along like a little soldier.

Once Ruby entered the school, she discovered that it was devoid of children because they had all been removed by their parents due to her presence. The only teacher willing to have Ruby as a student was Barbara Henry, who had recently moved from Boston. Ruby was taught by herself for her first year at the school due to the white parents’ refusal to have their children share a classroom with a black child.

Despite daily harassment, which required the federal marshals to continue escorting her to school for months; threats towards her family; and her father’s job loss due to his family’s role in school integration, Ruby persisted in attending school.

The following year, when she returned for second grade, the mobs were gone and more African American students joined her at the school. The pioneering school integration effort was a success due to Ruby Bridges’ inspiring courage, perseverance, and resilience.

I admire people who stand firm on their beliefs. I don’t agree with what they believe? That still doesn’t change my respect for them.

It takes a true hero to inspire other people to persevere and be courageous.

What do you believe in? Will you stand for it? Even if it means standing against a mob?

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Wonder Woman in Vegas

Wait a minute! Didn’t I just post about how Wonder Woman despises Las Vegas? I mean so much so that she wouldn’t even join me for a few moments by the pool.

Yep. I haven’t changed my story.

No matter what it sounds like according to the headline.

She wouldn’t set foot on the melty-hot pavement of The Strip. She did enjoy a few flyovers of the well-lit city after the sun went down.

They can see that place from outer space.

Actual Image from NASA

The last evening of our trip while my husband and I were walking off the excess chicken alfredo penini dinner we’d enjoyed, I ran smack dab into our gal Wonder Woman.

And laughed.

Because I knew the chances of her stepping inside this casino were astronomically high. Even if she needed to apprehend a criminal.

Because everyone knows once you step inside a casino you’re stuck like a rat in a maze.

No need for her to swoop in and save the day.

Let casino security handle it.

So what did I see that made me laugh? This:

A Wonder Woman Slot Machine
A Wonder Woman Slot Machine

 

When we walked by, there was a couple playing at one of the four stations. I had to stop because they were playing video clips from the Lynda Carter television series.

One of them involved the quick-change twirl and flash that transforms plain Diana into Wonder Woman. I could watch this all day long.

But look at the board and what you’re trying to match up?

This Machine is gold for sure
This Machine is gold for sure

Not that I know anything about slot machines (or gambling in general), but I got a kick out of this little Wonder Woman island in the middle of a great big casino.

A casino she would never enter.

So of course I snapped a photo (or four). I couldn’t wait to post proof that she had indeed landed in Vegas. Inside the casino at the Luxor.

Do you think she laughed when she saw the photos?

I’m pretty sure she called her lawyer or her press agent or someone like that.

Sold out to a slot machine. Those were the words she used.

Wonder Woman Wild? I don't think they want to see that
Wonder Woman Wild? I don’t think they want to see that

Whoops. Maybe I shouldn’t have laughed about that.

Or taken pictures.

Or posted them online.

Whoops.

It doesn’t mean anything. Our gal Wonder Woman despises Sin City. And someone is going to pay for using her face and name without permission.

Sure wouldn’t want to be that guy.

My Month of Heroic Deeds

Everyone needs a hero. Some days, anyone can be a hero.

I’d like to claim that I’m the most heroic person in my neighborhood. But I’m not even sure I can say I’m a hero among those in my office. At the moment, that’s nobody but me.

The thing is the smallest things can be heroic.

D210

Check out my little deeds of heroism:

  • I didn’t eat the last piece of cake (and not just because someone snagged it before me).
  • I cleaned out the cat box (more than twice in one week even)
  • I made spaghetti sauce from scratch
  • I took a friend to birthday on his birthday (actually, my husband bought the dinner but it was MY idea)
  • I washed the dishes after cooking dinner (she who cooks should NOT clean)
  • I managed to cancel my premium subscription to an app on my phone (this is harder to do than it sounds)
  • I bit my tongue when I wanted to make a truthful yet sour remark
  • I made coffee after six PM even though I couldn’t drink any
  • You didn’t hear me complaining about the heat when the thermometer rose past 100 degrees
  • My husband kept both hands when he dug in my bag of dark chocolate treats. (I snarled at him but didn’t bite)

Sometimes you have to laugh at all the small things or else the big things crush you.

If you need help locating the small things that are smile-worthy, check out my gratitude memes.

How were you a hero this month?

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