Inspiration can take on strange forms, and as I’ve been contemplating moving into an entrepreneurial space, I’ve been hiding my fears by being productive in non-important ways.
Today I was perusing Instagram and trying not to think of the myriad of things that need to happen before I feel I am ready for that next step. And as I was scrolling past pictures of children I knew who are now adults (where does the time go?), I came across the following posts back-to-back.
The Holy Spirit is always going to do His thing when it comes to providing inspiration and direction, and today’s IG time is just continued affirmation that my recent decision and my future hopes are on the right track.
And it was by coincidence about a month ago my wife stumbled across an announcement the venerable and talented Kevin Smith would be conducting one of his famous Q&A sessions at Tampa’s Improv comedy club. In the early stages of our relationship in 2005, Lee and I bonded, in part, because of our mutual love of Kevin Smith and the movies he makes.
“There is no way we’re missing this,” she told me.
“Umm …. I may be in New York on August 12 playing telephone repair man,” I reminded her.
“There’s no way I’m missing this,” she said with a confident, unapologetic smile.
And so this evening my wife and I had our second ‘go out on a school night’ date of the week, and it was amazing.
Kevin Smith is a fantastic story teller. If you let him, he could tell stories for days on end. Tonight’s performance was, by definition, a question and answer forum with the acclaimed writer and director. One would think Smith would cover a wide array of topics and subject matter. He did, but in the two hours allocated, he answered only four questions. That’s how detailed and immersed Kevin gets into telling a story about how or why he did something a certain way.
And through it all – through the foul language and inappropriate subject matter, through the stories of friends maintaining sobriety and fighting off thoughts of suicide, through eye-opening accounts that show the human and real side of celebrities often thought to be divas – the common theme was inspiration.
It was a slap in the face to me, but one I desperately needed.
I am currently reading Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, and it’s not hyperbole when I say the book is transforming my life. Not only am I learning about the power of prayer, I am experiencing it as well. I remember listening to the audio book four weeks ago – yes, I am a slow reader/listener and I don’t do a good job making time to finish the book – and being inspired to pick up a writing project I shelved a year ago. It’s an intimidating project I’ve been avoiding, and I always manage to find a reason to not start it up again. Yet there I was in my car, crying, and feeling Batterson’s words speak to me.
I still haven’t touched the project.
God has enveloped me in kid-glove-like affection and direction by surrounding me with such inspiring and positive works, yet I still find myself in the rut of my own making. I still find myself playing it safe in my comfort zone and ignoring what He’s calling me to do.
And that is why I think God took a different approach with me tonight, one filled with F-bombs and stories of smoking weed on hotel room balconies. There’s no doubt in my mind God put me in the audience of Kevin Smith’s show so I could finally do my part and get back to the keyboard. It worked. Today is August 12 and I hadn’t posted to my blog since July 2.
The writing hiatus stops now.
God does His part to give us joy, accomplishment, and greatness. He delivers every day in a million different ways, yet we fail to listen. We fail to move. We fail to act. We fail to respond. As is the recurring theme in scripture, we fail God while He remains faithful to us.
The failing stops now.
During the Kevin Smith show, we were not allowed to have our phones out at all. This is very understandable, but hinders my affection for tweeting great quotes or ideas as they are said. Thankfully, I was able to capture some of them the old-fashioned, analog way: pen and napkin. Here are some of the tweet-worthy comments from tonight’s show.
<when pursuing a dream> “Push a little fucking whimsy.”
“If you want to get shit done, surround yourself with people who will ask, ‘Why not?'”
“Acting is the lie that tells the truth. It’s the only witchcraft that really exists.”
I think my favorite Kevin Smith quote of the night comes from the idea that we live in a world where people will question your motivation and tell you you can’t do a particular something. They’ll tell you, as an example, you can’t skate or that you’ve never skated before or that skating is for other people and not you. They’ll tell you the ice is thin and give you reason after reason of why you can’t or shouldn’t skate. Yet what we need ….. what we crave …. is someone to look us in the eyes and say, “Skate, bitch!”
In His own crafty way, that’s what God told me tonight. I’ve been watching other people on the ice for so long. Now it’s my turn to lace ’em up, get out there, and skate.
You’ve heard the old cliché: Time to close this chapter in your life.
Have you ever had a season in your lifetime that was more like closing a book …. and moving on to a new book ….. in a different library ….. on the other side of town? That was my 2004.
I’m a big fan of milestones. It’s amazing to me that in January, I will hit the mark of having lived in Tampa longer than I did in my hometown (17 year, 6 months). Last June, I celebrated my five year wedding anniversary with my wife. Just last month, I reached seventeen years of service with my employer. It really is amazing how time flies.
But now as we’ve reached the end of Summer 2014, I am hitting a new set of decade-long milestones in my life. The second-half of 2004 was brutal for me. In addition to dealing with the savaging hurricanes that pummeled Florida that summer, my life was – for lack of a better phrase – in a free fall.
My marriage had dissolved. I was living at my friend’s house, getting by on a steady diet of beer (as in cases) and no sleep. I was unsure of what each day would bring, and, in poetic parallel to Mother Nature’s wrath, everything seemed like a dizzying whirlwind.
As if that weren’t enough, it was 10 years ago yesterday – 3,654 days – that my father passed away.
His passing was expected. Having been diagnosed in the summer of 2002 with Mesothelioma, we knew the outlook for my dad’s life was not a long term one. He underwent chemo and battled his cancer, along the way prolonging his life just enough to sneak in some extra memories with his grand children. I remember shortly after his diagnosis he and I went out for beers, no longer sharing a father-son relationship, but rather one of friends. For one night, we were drinking buddies, and I remember laughing at the fact I out-drank my dad and had to proverbially carry him home.
Losing my dad was tough. In the time following his death, I’d still pick up the phone to call him during Miami Dolphins games. As my kids took up recreational soccer, I’d anguish inside at the fact he was no longer around to see them play. My mentor for all things DIY was gone. I didn’t just lose my dad. I lost my friend and my hero. Although the memory of my dad still influences me and what I write, it’s not the same as if he were still alive.
They say time heals all wounds. There is some truth to that. Wounds do heal, but some wounds never disappear. After ten years, I can still see in me the void that exists with the absence of my father. My life is amazingly better today than it was at this time ten years ago (a testament to God’s amazing grace and His ability to put us back together). But I still miss my dad, and I am saddened that he never got to know the me I am today. I know he was proud of me, but the me he knew in his final days was a lie. I showed him a facade to keep him from seeing the lying, cheating, and broken man I was at that time.
I hope that when it comes time for us to meet again in Heaven, he’ll meet me with a hug and with the words, “You did good, son.” The book of Matthew teaches us to store our treasures in Heaven. In trying to be the best dad to my kids that I possibly can be, I like to think I’m doing just that.
In our church growth group tonight we learned about and discussed how we grow as a result of the various trials in our lives. God uses our experiences to shape us as individuals and to move us closer to Him.
My life is a testament of how good things can arise from bad choices. It’s never easy and the journey is usually an endurance of hurt, pain, guilt, and shame. But surviving it makes us stronger, and trusting in Him is what allows us to get through it all.
One of the greatest figures in the Bible, Peter, had perhaps the most epic failure of all time: he denied three times knowing Jesus. Peter went on to found the Christian church.
Tough times happen. Tough times will continue to happen. Mistakes will be made. But when they are, remember that failure is simply a platform to growth.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
I love my writers group. Every month, Lee and I trek down to Brandon to enjoy in the community and fellowship that is Brandon Christian Writers. The group is so supportive, and every time we meet I learn something new about writing, publishing, editing, etc. And the talent that is displayed as we share and critique each other’s work is astounding.
We had a great meeting this evening, and it left me feeling inspired and eager to write. I feel I’ve been slacking as of late, and this image pretty much sums up of what I need to remind myself daily.
Tonight was meeting night for our writers group, and we had a wonderful guest speaker in Suzanne Woods Fisher. Suzanne is an accomplished, bestselling, and award-winning author of ‘The Stoney Ridge Seasons’ series and ‘The Lancaster County Secrets’ series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace.
The best part of Suzanne’s presentation was the genuine joy she displays when she talks about writing. Even though she is a professional writer, it clear to see that she writes for the love of the craft. And her number one advice: Take a risk in accepting your calling.
That line really stuck with me, and it reminded me how I shouldn’t be afraid or reluctant about the writing project I’ve had in a drawer for over a year now. I’ve been afraid of the challenge. I’ve been afraid of the subject matter. I’ve been afraid of diving head first into the deep end of the pool.
Suzanne’s message tonight was what I needed in order to get out if first gear. I hope I can follow her example and take small steps – one at a time – to greatness.
Part of my goal for 2014 is to have a post on my blog site every day. As I mentioned on the first of the year, I don’t want to necessarily write every day (although that would be great). Rather, I want to post something. Pictures, videos, something.
Although I am still working out a ‘subject schedule’, I think I will devote my Fridays to promoting people I know and their works and success. Hence, welcome to the first ever danaCreative Friendly Friday. Okay, I guess you can say the idea is somewhat borrowed from Twitter’s #FollowFriday, but I am going to give you more than just a Twitter handle to follow and forget.
Instead, I will share a little bit about how I know the person I’m highlighting, as well as information on where you can find them on the Internet.
With all that as the backdrop, I would like to introduce you to Sue Markovitch. I first met Sue via what I affectionately refer to as my music family. That is, the collection of music fans with whom I interact, most of which came together through the music of Sister Hazel. It started with us interacting on the old Sister Hazel message board. Her avatar was the tattoo she has of the Lyrics for Life logo. We got to know each other, and we soon came to realize we were, at the time, living parallel lives with regards to love and heartbreak. We were kindred spirits, finding in each other strength, guidance, and encouragement through the emotional tough times. Our friendship was purely virtual and online, but it was, off the bat, something special.
Sue was there for me, specifically when I had an emotionally devastating setback in summer of 2006. I was driving back home from a day trip to Miami, and I remember spending hours with her on the phone and she calmly talked me off the proverbial ledge. This is someone whom I never met in person, but she made the time for me to help me when I needed it most. When we finally met in person a couple of years ago on The Rock Boat, all we could do was hug, laugh, and cry; cry the tears of joy you shed when you see someone you’ve missed for such a long time.
Music is such a huge part of my life, and I am so blessed to have the opportunities I do to envelope myself in such awesome music. The event headliner for this year’s Rock by the Sea music festival was NEEDTOBREATHE and, as always, they brought down the house with their performance. Their songs are amazing, their lyrics are so powerful, and their music overall can be life-changing. From beginning to end, this music-filled weekend was beyond awesome, and listening to one of my favorite bands close out the evening on Sunday simply took my breath away.