Announcing My Motto for Life

July 2019 – A memorable morning; a perfect example of “stubborn gladness”

I think I’ve discovered my mantra, or as close as I’ll get to having a mantra.  

Maybe mantra isn’t the right word.  

My motto. 

My slogan.

My maxim. 

Stubborn gladness.”

I discovered this delightful phrase while re-reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. 

This was my second read of Ms. Gilbert’s book.  The first time was three years ago.  That time, I read the book, used my highlighter to mark “stubborn gladness,” and that was the end of it.

This time, “stubborn gladness” grabbed me.  It stopped me from reading.  I attached a purple Post-It to the page.  And, surprisingly, it’s been my biggest takeaway from this read.

Ms. Gilbert explains that it is her destiny to be a writer.  “I’ve decided to meet that destiny with as much good cheer and as little drama as I can – because how I choose to handle myself as a writer is entirely my own choice.” 

She goes on:  “My ultimate choice, then, is to always approach my work from a place of stubborn gladness.” 

This time, when I read that passage I immediately saw its relevance to my life with an invisible disability.

I certainly don’t approach doctors’ appointments, lab work, and MRIs with “stubborn gladness.”  

And there’s nothing “glad” about daily pain.

But I most definitely, absolutely, positively approach my day-to-day life with “stubborn gladness.”

That’s the reason why I do the things I do.

The reason why I bought myself a new bike.

The reason why I go for neighborhood walks with my son and coffee walks with my husband.

The reason why I went horseback riding this summer.  (Before he started preschool, we took Ryan to Disneyland for a “big adventure.”  It’s the one and only time he’s been.  The summer before he started kindergarten, we took Ryan on his first hotel trip, spending a few days in Cambria, California.  This summer, before starting middle school, Ryan chose horseback riding as his big adventure.)

I do these things, big things and little things and everything-in-between-things with “stubborn gladness.”

Because I can’t change my health.  I can’t make my autoimmune disease go away.  I have to learn to live with it, to handle it, to live with my life as fully as I can – with “stubborn gladness.”

Sending Some Encouragement Your Way

September 12th is National Day of Encouragement. 

In honor of that day, I send this week’s blog out to you as a virtual hug.

Because, in the the 9 years I’ve been living with my autoimmune disease, I’ve learned that everyone is going through something.

We could all use some encouragement.  

A large part of the way I taught involved encouraging my students.  With a hug, with a high five, with a smile, with a positive word or two. 

But I can’t reach all my readers and look at you directly and tell you that I’m proud of your effort.  Tell you that I think you’re doing a great job.  Tell you to keep at it. 

Instead, I’ll share these words of encouragement that help me, and I hope they’ll help you:

“Faith is taking the first step even 

when you don’t see the whole staircase.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

“Believe you can and 

you’re halfway there.”    – Theodore Roosevelt

 

“Nothing can dim the light which shines 

from within.”    – Maya Angelou

 

“Believe anything is possible and then 

work like hell to make it happen.”   Julianna Marguiles

 

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters 

compared to what lies within us.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

“Promise me you’ll always remember:

You’re braver than you believe,

And stronger than you seem, 

And smarter than you think.”   

Christopher Robin, from A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh

 

And now it’s your turn readers. 

Share the encouragement. Pass along some words of support, of hope, of inspiration to someone else. 

Plus, you can help encourage me by sharing my blog. Tell a friend who may be interested in reading my weekly posts about books, boys, and bodies. Invite them to sign-up. Share it on social media.

I appreciate it! 

No Picky Readers in This House

Ryan (age 3) and I, reading at our public library

Within the first week of school, my son’s sixth grade English teacher noticed his strong reading skills, and he asked Ryan what types of books he likes to read.

“It was hard for me to answer at first,” Ryan told me that afternoon after I picked him up from school and he filled me in on his day. 

I smiled.

Of course it was hard to answer.

My son may be a bit of a picky eater (he refuses to try macaroni and cheese, yet he loves a daily serving or two of cucumbers and carrots). 

But he certainly isn’t a picky reader.

Currently, we are reading Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior – a biography about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Most of our reading happens at bedtime as part of our nightly routine. It’s a serious book filled with facts that are not easy to read and discuss. But they are important and necessary not just because they are a part of our nation’s history, but our family’s history as well. (We are a mixed race family, and Ryan was understandably astounded to learn that not-too-long-ago my husband and I would not have legally been permitted to marry.)

Before this nonfiction book, Ryan had read the latest installment of a popular graphic novel series – Dog Man #7: For Whom the Ball Rolls. That book isn’t serious. It’s silly and off-the-wall and entertaining (for him). I enjoy the clever titles referencing literature classics (Lord of the Fleas, A Tale of Two Kitties, Brawl of the Wild).

Later that afternoon, I got the rest of the story.

“I told Mr. V. I like to read books about space,” Ryan told me. (Reaching For the Moon). 

“Yes you do,” I said. 

And basketball (Dream Big: Michael Jordan and the Pursuit of Excellence). 

And famous people (Who Was Rachel Carson?).

And dogs (Because of Winn-Dixie).

And girls with magical powers (Matilda). 

And kids in middle school (Diary of a Wimpy Kid). I silently added all these to the list.

So I will happily take this trade-off. 

I’ll deal with a somewhat limited rotation of dinner menus in exchange for my son’s plentiful book appetite.