Monday, April 27, 2009

Success is fleeting,... unless.....

This past weekend, I had the honor of attending the LDS Storymakers Writing Conference. It was a wonderful experience being surrounded by so many talented people who made me realize the importance of working hard and never being complacent.

There are a few times in life when I amaze myself. Today is one of those days.

Not because I am so wonderful and creative, but because I simply have the most incredible dumb luck at times! Once again I digress as I get off on one of my ADD tangents. I’ll begin at the beginning….

After getting home and mulling over all that I learned and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the gratitude of being able to help, meet and learn from so many wonderful people, I finally remembered that I needed to do my blog posting .Since I had arranged the tour over a month ago, there was no way that I could have foreshadowed my thoughts and feeling on this particular day. I looked at today’s Life Saver and smiled. It read;

“Unless you’re the lead dog, the view is always the same.”

Publishing is an interesting business. As authors we are always trying to step up one more rung on the ladder. If you are unpublished, you want to get a contract. If you are published, you want an agent, a bigger contract and a national audience. If you have a national audience and an agent, you want to be on the best seller lists. And once, you’re there, you want to stay there and do it better and better and better…..

I’ve been lucky and had an amazing amount of success – success that others merely dream of. I’ve hit the national market, done TV, radio and hit the charts high on Amazon. I’ve seen my name in print in prestigious publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Financial Content and big papers across the nation. I’ve seen my name go as far as England, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. But I look at J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyers and Richard Paul Evans and even some of my closer acquaintances like James Dashner, Josi Kilpack and Janette Rallison and think, “Man, I have a LONG way to go!” Adn i look at even closer friends like Candace Salima, Tristi Pinkston, Annette Lyon and Michele Bell who have more knowledge in their little pinkies than I have in my entire noggin and think, "There is NO way I can ever catch up!"

Discouragement sets in and before I know it, success is out the window and I’m a failure. Thankfully, God knows me well and slaps me up the side of the head every once in a while and places opportunities in front of me that get me outside of myself and focused on others in a positive way. It’s when I have the ability to serve and follow in the footsteps of the only lead dog who matters – the Savior.

And when I do that, the level of success suddenly does not matter but the route in which we get there – flowing in His footsteps following His lead – does.

I came out of Storymakers so incredibly grateful that I have been placed in positions where I could help fulfill the dreams of others, learn from others, teach others and spur the hope of others. But mainly, I am grateful for the opportunity to be used as an instrument in His hands for blessing the lives of others.

It’s true; success is fleeting -- unless you look at it as an eternal proposition. And if you do, not only your success, but that of others, becomes an eternal gift that is satisfying where ever you may be on the success spectrum.

Monday, April 13, 2009

There are many reasons I have become a part of the Stayin' Alive With Stacy Virtual Tour and Life Saver Challenge. I'll share just one:

November of 2008 found me brooding and ill-tempered. The struggling building industry made it necessary for my self-employed husband to seek employment in another state. The eight hundred plus miles between home and work meant that for most of each month I was alone in "The Parent Zone." I had little time for such frivolous activities as sleeping or showering, let alone going to lunch with friends. When a notice came through my writer's group that Stacy Gooch-Anderson would be in town and that we were all invited to meet for lunch the following Saturday, I sighed heavily and prayed that I could survive long enough to just get to the weekend. Amazingly, the week flew by as I did my best to meet the needs of my active children, my aging parents and the demands of my church callings. As I knelt by my bed Saturday morning, praying for peace and assistance to accomplish the many tasks ahead of me, I felt a strong desire to attend that lunch. When I tried to dismiss the "temptation," I felt loving arms surround me and a voice whisper in my heart. "Fill your well."

Attending lunch in Tempe that day changed my life. Not only did I reconnect with old friends from ANWA, but I met Stacy Gooch-Anderson. How many people do you know would, upon meeting you less than ten minutes before, excitedly announce that the house next door was for sale and she would love to have you as a next-door neighbor? Stacy relfected the Light that has accompanied her throughout the many challenges she has faced in her life. Of course, I had to get a copy of her book, The Santa Letters. I loved that book even more because nowI knew the author.

Stacy has a unique flair for finding flecks of humor in even the most bleak situations. Her newest book, Life is Tough, I Doubt I'll Make It Out Alive is full of laugh-until-you-cry, life-saving wisdom. Just as easily as she invited me, a relative stranger, to live next door, Stacy invites the reader into her home and her heart as she recounts "A Mother's Life Lessons Learned Through Laughter." Each chapter offers a unique life lesson learned during her journey through marriage and motherhood. Can you imagine having to call your husband to discuss your child's misdeeds so many times that the office starts a betting pool about the nature of the call? And just how do you cope when multiple generations of your family are struck with cancer? Stacy does it with a frankly honest style and humor and just enough tears to soften any heart.

And the fun continues! Stacy is posting a daily "Lifesaver" on her blog. Today's Lifesaver is:
"If you want to be a leader with a large following, go slow on a two-way street." I highly recommend you pick up the challenge. You never know when you ar going to need your own lifesaver!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

There is only one path to follow...

I am a slow learner and I have a problem with feeling very inadequate at times.

I remember when my dad (who was Bishop of his ward at the time) passed away and looking at the hundreds of people waiting in a line, which snaked out of the cultural hall, through the lobby and out into the rain as they waited for an opportunity to bid adieu to him and lend support to his family.

Since he was loved by so many more than just his family, I also remember thinking that I did not envy the man who would have to step into his shoes.

Neither did that man.

He came to my mother’s door soon after he’d been set apart and cried as he expressed his ache over losing such a good friend and concern over having to fill my father’s shoes.

I remember clearly my mother placing her hand on his arm and telling him ever so sweetly that he did not have to fill my father’s shoes but simply use his own to walk in the Savior’s footsteps.

When President Hinckley passed away, I shamefully but admittedly thought again that I did not envy the man who had to try and fill his shoes. But since this church is one of perpetual order, progression and consistency, another was called to fill the position.

Soon after, my family and I got to meet and listen to that man. And as I shook President Monson’s hand, I could not help but remember the words of my mother and feel with all of my heart that this man too had probably cried over losing such a dear friend as well as facing the imposing task of following behind such a beloved prophet as President Hinckley. Nonetheless, he would serve and follow in the footstep of his Savior doing as He would have him do.

Amongst laughter from the personal stories and memories he regaled us with was the permeating feeling that this was a man called of God to take care of His business, minister to the members of His church and be His mouthpiece as we are ushered into the next period of worldly change and ecclesiastical growth.

I did not see an elderly man so very different from the last but saw and felt the spirit of a man who has been prepared and cultivated all of his life to bless the lives of all he may.

I did not see an untouchable man but one who took the time to shake the hands of those who were there, listen to them and love them.

I heard a man who made us laugh, allowed us to cry and encouraged us to stand a little taller and believe a little more.

In short, I met and shook hands with a man who emanated the spirit and qualities of the one whom he has promised to serve,…. and it gave me hope. Hope that I too don’t need to worry about filling anyone else’s shoes but that I simply need to walk in my own as I follow in the footsteps of my Savior.