I want to talk about rejection. I've wanted to talk about it for a while, but the subject is always uncomfortable and it's a hard one to find a positive angle to write from. No, I don't think I've found a way to make you cheer when you hear the word "no", but I do think that the last few weeks have helped me get a better grasp on what I want to say. I need to start with a little of what might be called "whining", so please forgive me. I promise, this is heading somewhere good.
As a writer, my day often starts off with a big, bubble bursting NO! Sometimes this is because I've actually done something wrong or let a silly mistake slip past me. Sometimes it is simply because someone else heard yes and there was no more room. Occasionally this no is delivered in pleasant tones that only make me sigh at the lost opportunity. Others... well, let's just say that I've dealt with a few people who have left me licking wounds for a lot longer than their rudeness should have been allowed to affect me. As a writer who is trying to sell books, whole new avenues for NO in all of it's various forms come into play. Toss in my artist side and I can honestly say that the vast majority of responses to my work have been on the rejection side.
It sounds bleak, doesn't it? I mean, really, why keep slogging away when the odds are so far against me? Well, there are a few reasons:
1) Growth. Every time I hear no, I have a choice to give up or to see what can be done to improve my odds of hearing yes. Giving up isn't as easy as it sounds when you love something. Learning to do things differently may be hard, and it may be painful, but any opportunity to grow and become better should ALWAYS be embraced.
2) Resilience. Being able to bounce back from a negative experience is important. Getting into the habit of doing so in one area of your life helps make it easier in others. Picking myself up and dusting myself off so I can take another run at my writing goals helps me handle setbacks in my daily life better.
3) Creative Problem Solving Skills. I get to try all sorts of new ways to do things. It keeps my brain active and alert. The process becomes a puzzle to work out, and I enjoy that as much as all of the rest. Plus, I get to pass on what I've learned to others who may find that even though something didn't work for me, it is perfect for them.
4) Self Knowledge. Hearing NO makes you look at yourself closer. I've learned to let the overly critical voice in my head have its say and then tune it out in order to find out what I really believe from a balanced point of view. It took a while to get to that point, but now that I'm there (most days) I've found that it is the act of writing and the act of creating that fulfills me. Having a piece of my work find the right home is a nice perk, and knowing that my hard work is not stuck in the wrong home is priceless. Rejection is often just a way to keep what is important to you out of the wrong hands so that it can be nurtured in the right ones.
5) Perseverance. Sticking to things can be difficult. Rejection adds the temptation to walk away. Choosing to ignore the urge to throw in the towel is empowering. Knowing that I can stick to a path that I feel makes me a better person makes the rough patches easier to deal with.
None of this means that rejections is something I pursue, but I do admit that I am growing oddly thankful for its occasional visit. Do I wish those visits were fewer and father between? Oh yes! I sure do. BUT now that rejection and I have met so many times, I have come to find out that it is not my enemy. It is that friend who loves me enough to say NO when I need to hear it, and who will help steer me in the direction I need to be going.
If you are currently upset about a NO, take a minute to look at the situation. Could it be that rejection saved you from an opportunity that wasn't right for you? Maybe it's giving you a chance to improve so you will be ready for a better opportunity that is just around the corner. Take some time to make friends with rejection and see how it's helping you become the best person you can be. I suggest a mug of hot chocolate and a fuzzy bathrobe for this process... it helps... a little.
Fiddlebug and his friends Bart and Craig were playing in Fiddlebug’s playroom one morning. They were planning a treasure hunt and looking at their collection of fairy flowers. Fiddlebug mentioned that it was really funny how pixie dust could change the things it touched and both Bart and Craig agreed. Then the three friends started talking about all of the weird changes they had seen happen because of the clouds of rainbow sparkles Sophie the fairy sneezed through the forest. They wondered what might happen if Sophie sneezed on them one day and decided to make costumes to show the weird changes they imagined.
Fiddlebug made a mask to show what he would look like if Sophie sneezed on him and he grew fur and a bird beak! Craig and Bart could hardly stop laughing when Fiddlebug strutted around the room pecking at his toys and then saying “Meow”!
It’s fun to make up weird masks! Here is an easy way to make one – or many - of your own!
What you need:
The top of a Styrofoam egg carton (other materials will work too)
Other decorating materials that you would like to use
What you do:
1) Cut the sides off of the egg carton top. Also cut straight up the center on both sides of the divider so you have two flat pieces of Styrofoam tha are the same size. Tape them together in the middle.
2) Cut a triangle out of the bottom center of the egg carton piece (This will be for your nose)
3) Cut two really big eye holes out of the middle on each side of the triangle. Now you have the mask frame. Set it aside until you are ready to start gluing on your decorations.
4) I used fringed pieces of paper to make “fur” for my mask. All you have to do is cut construction paper into strips and then cut slits ¾ of the way through along one side of the strip to make fringe.
5) Break the strip in smaller squares so you can glue them on easier. Use different colors of construction paper so your mask will be nice and bright! Glue sticks work great for this part!
6) Make a cone shape out of construction paper to use for a beak. Cut a flap so you can bend it up and glue it to the inside of the mask where the nose cut out is.
7) After the glue dries tie two pieces of yarn through the eye hole and around the side of the mask. Now you’re ready to pretend you are a weird new creature!
Fiddlebug really liked being a cat/bird! He thinks maybe he’ll be a fish/moose next time! What kind of silly new creature can you think up?
I would love to tell you that I have some sparkly words of inspiration for you this week. I really would. The truth is that all I have at the moment is a very heartfelt (and quick) helpful hint: Be realistic about your schedule! My October has been VERY busy. Some of it is self-induced, but quite a number of the things on my plate are only mine because they either won't or can't fit into someone else's To Do List. Prioritizing has been a challenge, and occasionally things that are really important slip through the cracks. This week it was the ability to finish my planned post. That's okay though, I'll look at it as an opportunity to encourage you to look at your own schedules and see how well they are flowing. If your workflow looks more like rapids than a productive route to completion maybe it's time to see if there are some items that can be removed. I'm lucky, most of the culprits that keep making me fall behind this month have expiration dates. November looks far less tangled. Maybe I'll even be able to catch up! (Yes, I did laugh when I said that!)
So this week, take a little advice from someone who didn't follow it herself. Step away from the idea that being too busy is a positive character trait. Weed your schedule to create some breathing room if you need it. Delegate one thing that isn't necessarily yours to someone else who can handle it just as well. Drop a thing or two that isn't necessary. Just make sure that you don't remove the ones that are best for your soul in an effort to keep up!
Fiddlebug, Bart and Craig decided to make a game! They call it No Handed Apple Catch and they had a LOT of fun coming up with the rules. Here are the directions so you can play your own round at home:
What you need:
One apple with a stem for each person playing.
A door frame (or lower branch if you’re playing outside)
Tacks (unless you can just tie the yarn around the branch)
What you do:
1) Cut a piece of yarn for each apple so that it can hang at face level for your players.
2) Tie one end of a piece of yarn to each apple stem
3) Push a tack into the top of the door frame for each apple – space them far enough apart that players can move around their apple.
4) Tie the other end of the yarn in a loop and hook the loop over the tack in the door frame so each apple hangs at face level.
5) Players need to put their hands behind their backs and use only their mouth to catch their apple. (This is just as much fun for everyone watching as it is for the player!)
All three friends spent more time giggling than they did catching their apples, but once they got a good hold – Craig had to use his frog tongue since he doesn’t have teeth – they had a really great treat to snack on as their prize!
Being of an artsy nature, I pay a lot of attention to the creativity of humans in this world. Interestingly, creativity seems to be a source of contention and point of division in our species. I believe this is because some people have a terrible misconception about creativity. They believe that it is an “us and them” situation as if not all humans possess the ability. Some poor souls are even under the incredibly mistaken impression that creativity is a frivolous quality and that those who are cursed with it are simply dreamers.
While there are a few less motivated apples in the barrel of humanity, I can assure you that every person on this big blue marble we call home is beautifully and vitally creative. I can also promise you that creativity is arguably one of the most important qualities that humans possess. Do I detect the rolling eyes out doubt our there? Let me share a few things that should change your mind.
You would not believe how many times I hear someone say that they just aren’t creative. Usually there is an air of sadness and a hint of longing in their voice. It breaks my heart, but I understand the problem. They look at Michelangelo or read C.S. Lewis or listen to Mozart and because they cannot produce the same results in those areas, they believe that they lack creativity altogether. In reality, those examples excelled in their particular art form but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us should consider ourselves deprived. Mozart would most likely have made a lousy country music singer. Michelangelo could not have created that gorgeous, hand drawn thank you note that holds a place of honor on your desk. C.S. Lewis never got the joy of making up a silly story to entertain your child while on a long car trip. Maybe fine art, literature and music aren’t your thing. Maybe your creativity won’t reach as large of an audience. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Creativity is, at its heart, just the act of making something new out of what you have. If your recipe for meatloaf leaves your friends begging for your secret ingredient or you have ever used the contents of your junk drawer to solve the problem of a lost screw, you have been creative. DON’T PANIC! Creativity is a good thing. Also, don’t mourn the fact that you are not at some other person’s level in any particular creative area. If we were all creative in the same way and at the same level the world would be an awfully boring place filled with all the same things. Nothing new and different would ever happen.
Speaking of the ways people are creative, I have to laugh at those who believe that creativity is an indulgence. Maybe you CAN live without the finer arts – although, what a sad world that would be – but creativity and artistic talents are not the same thing at all. Without creativity our ancestors would never have mastered hunting and growing crops. From sharp sticks to arrowheads; from gathering wild seed to cross pollinating to create corn; every act that has taken place in human history has involved the use of creativity in some form or other. The same outside-the-box thinking that urged one human mind to write epic poetry prompted another human mind to build indoor plumbing. The results may look different, but the starting point is the same: Someone saw a need to make something that was not there before… and then found a way to do it.
So, next time you encounter a problem, see it as an opportunity to exercise your creativity. Take a moment to find an unusual solution that could prove to be a better way that will add something positive to the world.
Craig the spring peeper frog thought it would be really funny if Sophie’s pixie dust landed on him and made him grow wings! (He’s even pretty sure that he could beat Fiddlebug and Bart at a game of Cave Tag if it happened.) Craig decided that he couldn’t just grow plain old wings either, fairy sparkles never cause anything that isn’t a little flashy. He thought that some nice striped wings would look the best – with a little bit of spooky design thrown in too, of course!
After he made them up, Craig decided he was just a little camera shy so he had Fiddlebug’s teddy bear wear them for the picture. Here are directions to make your very own set of
What you need:
A length of wire. Two wire coat hangers will work also.
Wire cutters for the big person to use
Duct tape and a small flexible piece of padding
Patterned pantyhose or tights – this is a GREAT time of year to find interesting patterns and stock up.
A robe tie, piece of ribbon or some other length of material to tie the wings on.
Other decorating stuff like glitter if you would like.
What you do:
1) The big person needs to form a set of wings out of the wire. The wings should be attached to each other in the middle. The easiest way to do this is to make a circle with the wire first and then twist the circle in half to form two teardrop shapes that are the same size. If you are using two coat hangers, each one will become one wing. Join them in the center with duct tape. You may want to use extra padding in step 2.
2) Wrap the padding around the center of the two wings where they are twisted together and tape it very well. This will help keep the wire inside from poking while you are wearing them. (This is another great place to have your big person help.)
3) Slide one leg of the tights or pantyhose over one wing. You will have to reshape the wing as you do this because the loop will want to close together. Stretch the fabric so it’s tight around the wing.
4) Twist the tights around your center padding to close it around the first wing.
5) Stretch the tights or pantyhose around the second wing from the center. You will have to reshape this wing just like the other.
6) Tie a tight knot to close off the fabric at the tip of the second wing. You can wiggle this knot down onto the flat part of the wing so it doesn’t show as much.
7) If you want more decorations on your wings, this is the time to add them and let any glue dry!
8) Fold your ribbon (or robe tie, etc.) in half to find the center. Tie the center of the ribbon around the center of the wings so you have two pieces hanging down that are the same length. Use these to tie around your chest to attach the wings. REMEMBER!!! DON’T TIE YOUR WINGS AROUND YOUR NECK, IF THEY GET CAUGHT ON SOMETHING THEY COULD HURT YOU THIS WAY!
Fiddlebug and Bart are almost wishing that Sophie WOULD sneeze on Craig because of this one. They really want to know who would win the race if Craig could fly!
I've been talking a lot about sticking to your goals. It’s an important skill. The lack of this ability has killed many worthy dreams and closed the doors of opportunities before they could really make a positive difference in the world. Trust me, it is the slog and the grind of one foot in front of the other that makes things happen. Talent and aptitude won’t get you anywhere if there is no forward movement. There is just one catch: Not all tings SHOULD move forward.
New information can alter the best laid plans and completely change the course a project is heading in. For all of you parents out there, let’s use The Science Fair as our example. For the sake of agreement, our student is a go-getter with a passion for science and a true wish to bring home the ribbon. Picture this is you will:
Your child has decided to enter a really great example of genetic manipulation by cross pollinating a yellow marigold and an orange marigold. They are aiming for a striped offspring. They have a plan. They have their seeds and other supplies. They are prepared.
At first, everything goes as planned. The seeds sprout. Your child cares for the plants and records all the data. Flowers bloom and cross pollination is achieved with the careful use of a Q-tip. There is plenty of time for the seeds to form, be planted, and grow into new plants. Your brilliant child and dedicated child is even ahead on their display board. That Science Fair ribbon is in the bag!
Then it happens. The Universe tosses out a curve ball. Your neighbor needs you to babysit for a couple of hours and it turns out that the kid has a deep need to destroy plants. You find this out after a quick trip to the bathroom during which time the youngster has shredded the plants and scattered their remains along with all of the potting soul over what used to be your blue couch. Science Fair is two weeks away.
Although an excellent opportunity to help your child learn to deal with disappointment, it is probably not the best time to cling to the idea of sticking to this particular course of action.
There are other scenarios as well. Perhaps after struggling with your 3rd grade math curriculum for 2 months both you and your child are more confused by how to properly solve a world problem than before you started. Maybe you discover that you are allergic to shellfish which is the main ingredient in your new diet plan. Or possibly an unexpected move leaves you face to face with a change that will not allow room for your current plans to thrive. These things all mean that it is time to toss the old plan and find a new one.
This is not the same thing as giving up. This is admitting that no matter how much planning and effort you put into a project, something new can easily come along and bring it to a halt. Don’t fight it. Clinging to a plan or project that no longer works keeps you from putting your energy into a new plan that will.
Fiddlebug, Bart and Craig are in the mood to play pirates. They have a treasure map and a hidden treasure. They’ve even got great pirate names picked out! But Bart mentioned that a pirate isn’t really a pirate without an eye patch. And why would any great pirate settle for some boring old plain black eye patch? That’s why Bart brought his favorite bugged out eye cover to share with you today. (My son Chance was nice enough to model for the picture) It’s not hard to look like a mean old pirate with this on your face!
What you need:
Styrofoam egg carton (the paper one will work also, but is harder and less comfortable)
Paints or other things to decorate your eye patch (construction paper cut outs and a glue stick would lessen the mess.)
Something to poke holes in your egg carton to thread the yarn through.
Yarn, ribbon or string
What you do:
1) Cut one of the egg holder sections out of your egg carton
2) Trim up the section you cut off so it will be comfortable against your face when you wear it.
3) Decorate your section to look like an eyeball. Any kind of eyeball will do, so get creative! (Make sure it’s dry before you move on)
4) Have a big person help you poke two holes in opposite corners so the yarn can be attached.
5) Thread the yarn through the holes in your “eyeball” and then tie the yarn back onto itself to secure it.
6) Have someone help you tie your new eye patch on and you’re ready to go!
Bart also wanted to say that he thinks it’s really funny to make a whole carton’s worth of different “eyes” and then tie them all over himself! Then he can be a bug-eyed space alien with eyes on his feet and belly and the back of his head and on his knees… Well, you get the picture! Mother Bat added that she likes to borrow a couple so she can wear them on the back of her head to remind Bart that she’s keeping an eye on him even when her back is turned.
Being a homeschooling parent for 13 years and an independent author/illustrator makes a person learn quite a bit about a lot of things. Now it's time to pass it on!