In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Friday, April 29, 2011

In My Words: Inspiration

                 Try not to become a man of success but a man of value. ~Albert Einstein

Who do you value in your life? Who inspires you to be a better person? Maybe this person isn't the most successful person you know as the world would term success--money, fame, lots of stuff. 
I am blessed to have four children and I have to say they all inspire me. I can't believe that I get to introduce these talented, kind people as my kids. I could go on and on about all of them, but since I try to keep these post brief, I won't.
Today I will turn the spotlight on my daughter Amy.
She inspires me. 
Because Amy is one of the most courageous people I know. When I was her age, fear was a constant companion of mine. Amy turns 23 in a few weeks. She's traveled to Guatemala (and lots of other places) and lived in Nicaragua for nine months. She looks past labels and sees people for who they are. I've said this to her more than once: I wish I had been more like my daughter when I was 22.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In Others' Words: Obstacles

"The brook would lose its song if we removed the rocks." 
~Wallace Stegner, novelist

One of my favorite sights is a mountain stream. Whenever my family heads to the Colorado mountains, I grab my camera and add to my collection of photographs of mountain streams. I love the way the sunlight hits the water. The way the sun's rays angle through the trees. How sometimes even in June you discover patches of snow and ice along the stream banks. And the sound of the water--it's so relaxing to listen to it rush by.

It's easy to read the words of today's quote and think, "How true. Rocks create a brook's song." Isn't that a lovely thought?

But then ... I had to think about the rocks, the obstacles, in my life. Have I allowed difficulties to produce a song in me--or more of a whine? Would someone be refreshed by the words I speak about the tough times I've faced? 

Photo by Beth K. Vogt

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Monday, April 25, 2011

In Others' Word: Mistakes

"Don't worry about mistakes. Making things out of mistakes, that's creativity." 
~Peter Max, artist

I'm beginning to realize creativity is all about mindset. If I have an "Oh, no! I might make a mistake" mindset, I shut down my creativity. I don't dare type a word, much less a sentence or a paragraph, for fear of making a mistake. And I know I'll make a mistake if for no other reason than because I am the world's worst typist. (Just made one typing the word "typist." See what I mean?)

I have to forge ahead into creativity, which just may appear out of my mistakes, not by avoiding my mistakes. Just re-read that last sentence and I'm letting it stand: Creativity happens out of my mistakes, not by avoiding my mistakes.

Go and be creative today. Make some mistakes! 

(And my husband found yet another typo when he proofed my post! Creativity abounds! And yes, I fixed it. I am, after all, an editor.)

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Friday, April 22, 2011

In My Words: The End

The end of the story.
I've been trying to land the first chapter of my work in progress (WIP) for several weeks now. Yes, weeks. And I know with the help of my trustworthy and oh-so-wise mentors and my longsuffering critique partners, I will write a first chapter that sings.
I already know how the story ends. This doesn't mean that writing the end of the story will be easy. Knowing how the story ends and writing it well are two completely different things.

Today is Good Friday. This day, more than any other day of the year, reminds me that sometimes what we think is the end of the story, isn't. Sometimes we think, "The end." And then God steps in and says, "Not yet. Wait a day. Or three. You're going to be surprised."

Pastel by my daughter, Christa Vogt

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In Others' Words: Living

"Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint you can on it." ~Danny Kaye, actor

I am not an artist. When it comes to drawing, I fail at stick figures. And the last time I sat in an art class--so long ago I was wearing a uniform!--I focused on all the rules and techniques and how I wasn't able to follow them perfectly.

Where was Danny Kaye's perspective on art and life when I needed him?

For too many years I approached life like I approached that art class: Tell me the rules and I will do my best to follow them to the letter. In a word, I majored in legalism. 

Looking at life as a canvas that I can splash with color? That speaks to me of God's grace. Big, bold, uncontrollable grace.

What if the paint ends up somewhere I wasn't planning for it to go? Rather than seeing it as a mistake, how about I step back and admire that wonderful touch of green . . . right there. 

Unplanned. Unexpected. Perfect.

Have some fun today. Go throw some paint on the canvas of your life!

Photo by victomar/

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Monday, April 18, 2011

In Others' Words: True You

"Whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you'll find that when you're free ... your true self comes out." 
~Tina Turner, singer

Do you feel like that little girl sitting on the front step? Like maybe your friends all went off to play and left you sitting by yourself?

Some days are like that. Sheesh! Some weeks are like that.

The question is: What can you do about it?

Maybe that's the whole point. You need to be proactive and do something about whatever's dragging you down. Realize that so-called friend isn't a true friend. Realize that unfulfilled dream is really someone else's dream for you--not your dream. And it certainly isn't who God made you to be. Tell all those "what if I fail" thoughts goodbye and sign up for that writing class just because you've wanted to forever.

What's dragging you down? And what would the "true you" look like if you got rid of the dead weight?

Photo by hortongrou/

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Friday, April 15, 2011

In My Words: Story

One rule all fiction writers learn? Show, don't tell.
For you non-writers out there, "Show, don't tell" translates to describing what's happening in such a way that readers are drawn into the story. Don't say, "Angie felt sad." Show the reader how Angie is feeling by describing what she looks like, how she acts and interacts with other story characters.
But does the "Show, don't tell" rule translate over into real life?
I think so.
Have you ever had someone tell you one thing--but their actions, their facial expressions tell you something entirely different? Your friend isn't outright lying to you, she's just not revealing how she's truly feeling.Or maybe she is--if you pay closer attention to her actions than to her words.
Have you ever wondered what your actions reveal about you? If you had a volume control somewhere on your body (and why hasn't this been invented for small children?) and it was turned off for the day--what would your actions show about you?

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In Others' Words: Life

"There is just one life for each of us: our own."~ Euripides, ancient writer 

Confession: I've wasted too much time watching other people live their lives. Or wishing I could live someone else's life. Reality? At this point in my life, I'm not dancing on Broadway--although I do dance in the kitchen with my husband. And I'm not marrying a prince--but really, who wants the pressure of all the paparazzi? I won't be singing on American Idol and I'd be voted off the island on Survivor.
I have my life to live--and I like it, thank you very much. Most days. I'm not too thrilled today, but that's because my dishwasher continues to act up. Euripides' words remind me that I can focus on someone else's life--or I can take care of my own. 

Photo by jonesy/ 

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Monday, April 11, 2011

In Others' Words:Writing

"Write about what you know and care about deeply. When one puts one's self on paper, that is what is called good writing." ~Joel Chandler Harris, author

Passion or popular--the debate rages on. Do you write the story of your heart or do you write what sells? Here are a few more questions for you: What if what sells bores you to death? Or if you feel like you're selling out? Or selling your soul for publication? 

Is what Harris said true for you--putting yourself on paper equals good writing? Think about it. If you, the author, don't care about what you're writing, why should anyone else?

Photo by soophatoe/

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Friday, April 08, 2011

In My Words: Never

Fill in the blank: I could never _____________________________________.

Really? You couldn't? Why not? Is it illegal? Immoral? 

Or are you just scared? Afraid to try something new, something risky, something daring.

Look at that blank again: I could never _______________________________.

Maybe you could.

Maybe you should.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

In Others' Words: Mistakes

"If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything."
~ Marva N. Collins, American educator

I don't know about you, but I wish I'd stumbled across this quote a lot sooner in my life. For me, mistakes were all about wrong, wrong, wrong--not a chance to try again and get it right. 

I like Marva Collins' attitude. It's the whole "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" approach to life, instead of the "If at first you don't succeed, you're wrong! So, sit on the bench and let somebody else do it right!" approach. 

Mistakes happen. If nothing else, it means we're in the game. We're trying. We're living.

Made any mistakes today? Good for you. You're in the game!

Photo by Cieleke/

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Monday, April 04, 2011

In Others' Words: Accomplishments

"No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you."
 ~Althea Gibson, the first black tennis player to win Wimbledon (1957) & the U.S. Open (1958)

My dad taught me to ride a bike--and to drive a car.
My mom taught me to be kind to strangers.
My 8th grade English teacher read my first attempts at writing, encouraging me to keep at it. She saw beyond my less than stellar efforts to my heart's desire.
As an oh-so-nervous first-time mom, I watched my friend Robyn and became a better mother. 
My children taught me how to forgive.
My friend "Wise Guy" taught me to see God--and me--in a whole new way.

What have others helped you accomplish?

Photo by hortongrou/

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Friday, April 01, 2011

In My Words: Illustrate

If you were an artist, how would you illustrate your life? Would you use watercolors or pastels? Oils or charcoals? Would you sketch a self portrait or a still life or something abstract? Would you select vivid colors or stick with your basic black and white?

As a writer, I'm used to working with words . . . to painting word pictures.I'm not quite certain how I'd illustrate my life if handed a paint brush or a fist full of colored pencils.

But I think I might start with my hands . . .

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