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1. Meet Davina Bell, author of The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade

Thanks for talking to Boomerang Books, Davina Bell. My pleasure! What’s your background in books? I was the type of kid who read all night by the hallway light that peeked through the cracks of my bedroom door and wrote endless stories on old computer paper – the type with the holes in the side […]

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2. Achieve Your Goals with Three Must-Have Psychological Assets

Goal setting, writing goals, marketing goals, life goals . . . everyone has heard of these terms, these strategies to creating and achieving goals. But, what’s involved in actually creating and achieving those goals? How do you get from an idea or desire to its fulfillment? To begin, you need to have the ‘right stuff.’ You need three essential elements. The first of which is confidence. 1.

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3. Do unto others as they would want you to do

So we are back to my favorite topic - charity. In a previous write-up, I discussed how giving away money from a stockpile of it is not necessarily noble. By extension, the concept also applies to giving away time when you have a lot of it on your hands.

But it is not so. Giving of yourself - effort, emotional attention and time - is much more difficult than writing a check, and requires real commitment. Our values are sorely tested when you have to take time out of an already full day to go do something to bring succor to someone else. It is easier if that person is someone you care about, so friends and family are a different story altogether. But when it is someone you do not even know, or even relate to well, it calls on every bit of strength in your belief system. It is also a great way to test your own commitment to a cause.

 As difficult  as it is to reach out to an individual you cannot really connect with, in sympathy or otherwise, it becomes just as important to accept them and their needs. And that is a crucial factor in philanthropy. I have heard the common dictum that talks of finding your own cause, something that you feel for. I think that is a really misguided notion.The cause should be where the need is most dire. Because helping where help is needed most is what charity is all about. I might think kids need to be in school, but what the kids really need is food and clothing first. I cannot give them a book instead of bread just so I can feel good about myself, or because I had that extra book to give away. That is a gift, not charity

Another important part is being non-judgmental when assessing need. Wondering why a needy family does not manage time better, or have fewer kids, or be less whiny is not a factor in deciding their need. Charity in its purest form must be unselfish, and that means your prejudices and opinions should be irrelevant to the act of giving.

I believe the defining nature of any charitable act is the establishment of a feeling of hope in the receiver. Hope is not just an optimistic wish, or a pleasant vision of the future. It is also a reflection of joy and satisfaction in the present. So when you fulfill an immediate need, or remove an imminent distress, it gives the person such relief that it translates to hope - hope in the present day for a better day tomorrow. And that is why it is imperative and unquestionable that we provide for the requirement, irrespective of what we think or have or want to contribute.

Altruism  is predicated on doing good for others. It does not include the right to decide what is good for them, or to classify their needs according to our priorities. Or to withhold charity because of the recipient's attitude. It was Mother Theresa who put it so lucidly, "It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving."  And how much effort, she may have well added.

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4. Trust yourself. You know what you need.

trust-yourself-20141201_165807-450Trust yourself. You know what you need. We’re given constant messages from the media about what we need and how we should be. But we are each individuals, influenced by our past experiences–and we are not all the same. I’m queer. You might not be. I need to write, to have a voice through my writing, and to reach others. Maybe you have a voice in a different way. I need to talk about traumatic or painful things with trusted friends and a therapist–but sometimes I need time to think about them first. I also need time for fun, play, and hugs. Maybe you’re different. I love time to myself to read. Maybe you don’t. I need time with friends, but I also need quiet time. Figure out what it is you need, and follow that. Listen inside, and your heart will tell you what you need–to be happy, to be safe, to take care of yourself.

This can be a hard time of year for many people, so I thought I’d post more positive messages for people again–selfies along with the messages, so people can see the person (and author) behind the message. I think it helps make it more personal and real.

I will try to post photos most days of December for you all. Let me know if you like this idea. :)

And if you like this post, if it speaks to you, I hope you’ll share it with others.

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5. Poetry Friday: Last Hope by Paramore

And the salt in my wounds isn't burning anymore than it used to
It's not that I don't feel the pain, it's just I'm not afraid of hurting anymore
And the blood in these veins isn't pumping any less than it ever has
And that's the hope I have, the only thing I know that's keeping me alive

It's just a spark
But it's enough to keep me going
(So if I let go of control now, I can be strong)
And when it's dark out, no one's around
It keeps glowing

It's just a spark
But it's enough to keep me going
(So if I keep my eyes closed, with the blind hope)
And when it's dark out, no one's around
It keeps glowing

- lyrics from the song Last Hope by Paramore

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6. Obedience

 I have another whirlwind moment to share.

After I turned this blog back on yesterday I felt the need to get away for a while. To draw near to the Lord. And as I pulled out of the drive it was very obvious there was a power struggle going on. I could feel it in the air. As if there is a battle heading up in huge proportions. I felt as if I were in the middle of it.

I got a milkshake and I did a once through of the thrift shop- went on my way praying over a bed (frame) that would cost about one tenth of the one I had dreamed up in my head for her majesty's birthday present in two weeks. I prayed it would still be there when I had money in hand, and the price would be down to one I feel comfortable paying for a used item.
I was just minding my own business.
No, not for a bed.
For the Lord.

 I turned onto the main street, and I began to go up the hill by the hospital (on my way to the river to be alone with the Lord). As I began to accelerate up the hill, a trucker pulled up in the left lane (had his left turn signal on, so I thought, Okay?!). I was in the right lane.

Something said to give that truck the once over so I could identify it. Couldn't figure out why I need to do that, until it began to pull over into the right lane (left turn signal still blinking).
He didn't even see me.
He kept pulling into my lane where I was.
Fear and anger almost overcame me.
Finally there was a parking lot right across from the hospital.

If it hadn't been there, I wouldn't be here. 

I remember beeping my horn two or three times and the person never even let off the gas. In fact, accelerated. My jaw was to the floor. Seriously. I just looked around. Nobody who had been behind me would let me back into traffic, so I couldn't get the license plate number. I was dumbfounded more than anything.

Here's the thing. It was like I was invisible. Like nobody saw me. Didn't see it happen. I was so freaked out, and nobody even came to my aid. And that was when the devil hit me with, "You are invisible. Nobody is going to help you. They don't care."

Wow. Not so much.

I began to speak the word of God. To pray.

And then I heard the Lord say that it is time for things to break. Not just in me, but in others all around me. And I knew I had to draw away deep within His presence.

I said the words ripple effect.

He said, "No child. Tidal wave."

I am okay with that.
Just protect me and mine as we all go through this.

So instead of getting into the river, I climbed the hill. The very steep, slick hill. It was about 90% humidity yesterday, and 80+ degrees. But I went. Still frightened and feeling as if something/body had it in for me. Trust me Princesses, your enemy does.

I sat on a towel and I prayed. I felt led to tell the Lord my allegiance is with Him. He knows it, but I know He needed to hear me say it out loud yesterday. There is a huge battle going on in the spirit. And it is heading up to be a war.

Children of God, listen. We have got to get our heads out of the sand. Stop believing that everything will be just fine, and we can continue to keep doing the things we are, committing the same sins over and over. We are lying to ourselves. Self included.

The Lord really does want to set us free. But something has to change. That change begins inside of us, not in the middle of a political party. The word of God says may you prosper, even as your soul prospers.
Nothing is going to change in this nation, inside our churches, our homes, our hearts, until we make up our minds that we are done with the game playing.

Stop hiding the porn, and other sexual sins.
Stop hiding the excessive drinking in private.
Stop hiding the gluttonous appetites and the gimme gimme attitudes.
Stop with the envy.
Stop with the pride and arrogance.
Stop with the anger and unforgiveness and just let go of the hurts of the past.

When we make up our minds that we truly want to change, then, and only then can it be broken and restoration begin.

It starts in the head, and when the head is convinced, then it moves to the heart (or the body...). Once the body catches on, it goes outward, and not just inward. It radiates. Calls out to God like E.T. sending his signals home for mom and dad. Turn on our heart lights. Call out to the Lord. Repentance. Truly sorry for the things we have allowed to go on. Sometimes we don't even know we were allowing something to go on until we begin to ask the Lord to open our eyes to see.

Problem is, some stop right there. They see what is going on and, oh no, please don't make me go there Lord.
They run and hide.
They are afraid to face it.

If we would seek Him in boldness and not just give the Lord lip-service, we would know that these things inside us HAVE to change if we are ever to be truly usable by the Lord our God. And if we truly have allegiance with Him then we will not shy away from those things which hurt. We will just let the Lord be who He is, and cleanse and purify us from the inside out.

People will get saved.
Ministries will grow.
Churches will have revival.
The Holy Spirit will pour out and create in us newness and new gifts.
Fears will melt like ice cream in the heat of a July day.
Children will straighten up.
Homes will no longer be broken.
Life will be so full, instead of empty.
Our hearts will be full.
There will be less poverty and homelessness.
Less sickness and emotional grief.
People will be made new.
They will understand and feel again.

Wouldn't that be wonderful? That is my hope and my prayer. Join me. 

Matthew 7:7-"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

2 Chronicles 7:14- if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

If you have questions, complaints, concerns- email me. If you need prayer, email me. If you need to give your life to the Lord, email me. 
If you have been touched by this, please share. 
If you have suggestions or comments, feel free. But please, keep them pleasant and positive. We don't go bashing other people's blogs, and we would hope for the same respect here. 
God bless and I pray you have a sweet, sweet day.

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7. Give Sanctuary to the Hopeless Lingering in the Halls

    Sally Matheny

Hopeless despair 
     Who loves to go to the rest homes, the assisted living centers, the nursing homes?  Whatever name you call them, they are probably not on your list of favorite places to visit. The stench of urine, feces, and death are not as difficult to endure as the weight of hopeless despair lingering in the halls. 
     Some people serve regularly here. For others, it’s a constant internal struggle between our minds wanting to do what we’re comfortable with, and our hearts doing what we know Christ wants us to do.
     My husband, son, and I recently visited a church member who lives in such a place. We always enjoy our visits with Beth. We want to minister to her but it’s not easy. As soon as we enter the building, the odors welcome us. That doesn’t bother us as much as “the walk.”

     In order to reach Beth, we must walk two long hallways. Those who are able have parked themselves on the sidelines in hopes of viewing something new, something fresh. They watch those from the outside pass by in their bright colors. Some of the residents’ bodies deny them a view of the faces; allowing them only a view of shoes pattering by. Nonetheless, it is life in motion, and a better scene than what lies in their room. For others, who receive a cordial hello or a smile, their faces light up like those of children catching candy in a parade.
Hoping for something new, something fresh.

     Then, there are those whose minds will not free them to show any expression, or worse, they convey hopelessness. We speak to those we can, and steadily make our way to Beth’s room. She’s gone but her roommate is there. Confined to the bed, she repeatedly moves the one thing she can—her arm, back and forth, back and forth. No sound comes from her lips. You only hear a tap as she touches each side of the bed with her arm. Tap…tap…tap.
     Eventually, we find Beth in the cafeteria. A few residents have gathered there for an afternoon worship service. The residents share with one another their pain—not the pain in their bodies, but in their hearts. Some wrought with burdens for their loved ones who do not follow Christ. Others are lonely or feel offended. They end with a discussion on love, forgiveness, and prayer.
     The man leading the service talked of days gone by when church groups used to come and sing the old gospel songs. He fondly remembered children giving him pictures they had drawn, and how Sunday School groups would bring treats for everyone. He misses the old songs and said a lot of today’s contemporary Christian music doesn’t even mention God or Jesus. He asked if anyone played the piano. No one volunteers.
     My husband stood up and said he’d try to play something if they wanted.  The residents joined in on I’ll Fly Away and Amazing Grace. Tears welled up and I could hardly sing, especially when I saw the face of one gentleman. He, too, was emotional. His closed his eyes tight and scrunched up his wrinkled face as if he were in severe pain. I watched him for a while. His gentle swaying gave me the impression his intensity was because he was soaking in the music and with all his might he was trying to hold it there. Savoring it down to the depths of his soul, clinging to it for as long as possible.
     I took a deep breath trying to suffocate the lump that had risen in my throat. I take so much for granted. Gazing around the room, I presumed their wheelchairs imprisoned them.  Reflecting on that later, I realize it was their only thread of freedom to move themselves out of their tiny rooms and to this temporary sanctuary.

     And temporary it was, for as soon as the service was over, most of them merged into a single lane out into the hallway. We stayed back to visit with Beth.  Three or four other residents lingered in the room. I saw a skinny, stubble-faced, man wheel up to the man who had been soaking in the music. They spoke to one another softly and the skinny man bore a toothless grin. What they did next made mebreak out into a smile. Each of the elderly gentlemen stretched an arm out and gave the other a fist bump. They laughed and then they talked.
     There was another man who stayed. We couldn’t determine if he wasn’t in his right mind or if he was just a rascal. He wheeled up behind our son and held a tiny paper cup in the air. “Can I get another shot of this? Or some other kind of liquor?” We laughed it off and Beth told him, “Quit cutting up just because I have visitors. You know all you had was juice. Tell these folks what your name is and then go on.”
     The man announced his first, middle, and last name with a rolling, loud flair as if he was announcing a boxer into the arena.  Beth said, “He always says it like that. Alright, now, you go on and leave us alone.”
   With a mischievous grin he did not move. Using a racial slur, he proceeded to ask her a question about the man in the corner, the one who had enjoyed the music. The man in the corner overheard it and asked him what he said. Beth got mad. She pursed her lips, raised her eyebrows, and told him in a firm voice to go on before she told on him. He didn’t move. She said, “Don’t make me come over there.” He didn’t  move.

     Nervously, I looked at my husband and wondered if we were going to see a rest home brawl. Beth, with her enormous gold purse on her lap, which held all her “valuables, because things tend to go missing in this place if left unattended,” began to wheel herself behind me, around the table, then behind the instigator. Her agitation fueled her adrenalin and amazingly, she pushed his chair towards the door.
     He yells, “Get out of my rim!”  He starts to push his chair back around towards our direction. It looked like a game of “Duck, Duck, Goose.” He wheels behind me and circles back to his original position.  Beth is livid. Suddenly, the man asks if we have any medicine. Beth tells him it’s in his room and he slowly moves on. Before exiting the room though, he stops by the two men in the corner. Slamming his paper cup down on the table, he roars at them, “Don’t ever come back unless you have free samples!” 
     As entertaining as that sounds, I don’t imagine living with it every day is very pleasant. Dealing with bullies, worrying  about someone taking what little belongings you have left, or wondering when you’ll no longer have that single thread of freedom; it’s easy to see why so many feel desolate.

Give them a sanctuary.
    I am grateful for those who are at ease serving people in this season of life. To go work day in and day out in this atmosphere takes someone special. For the rest of us who struggle with it, I pray God reminds us of His will to treat the elderly the way we want others to treat us when we reach that age.  And that we remember that He wants no one to perish but for all to have eternal life.  Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for anyone but the opportunities for accepting Christ are definitely dwindling for those in assisted living centers. Pray for them. In the midst of their despair, point them to an eternal hope. Give them something new, something fresh. Give them a sanctuary.


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8. Why hope still matters

By Valerie Maholmes

Someone asked me at a recent book talk why I chose to write about hope and children in poverty. They asked whether it was frivolous to write about such a topic at a time when children are experiencing the challenges associated with poverty and economic disadvantage at high rates. As I thought about that question, I began to reflect on the stories of people I know and families I’ve worked with who, despite the challenges they experienced, were managing their lives successfully. I also reflected on popular figures who shared stories in the media about the ways in which they overcame early adversity in their lives.

As I reflected on these stories, it occurred to me that a common theme among these individuals was hope. I began to see the various ways in which hope is a highly influential and motivating force in their lives. This kind of hope is not passive—it is not merely wishing for a better life, but it is active. It involves thinking, planning, and acting on those thoughts and plans to achieve desired outcomes. It is the driving force that keeps us moving despite the adversity and allows us to adapt and to be resilient in the midst of these circumstances. In reflecting on these themes, I decided that I wanted to tell these stories and to link the stories with theoretical frameworks that help illuminate why I believe hope is so important. Most of the theories and ideas I discuss are well known to those of us who study children and families. However, it occurred to me that practitioners and policymakers may not be so familiar with these ideas and may find them useful in planning their work with children and families. My goal is to foster understandings of hope and resilience in practical terms so that together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers alike can help more children and families manage their circumstances and chart pathways toward well-being.

I Hope You Dance. Photo by Lauren Hammond. (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr.

I Hope You Dance. Photo by Lauren Hammond. CC BY 2.0 via sleepyjeanie Flickr.

So when I think about a response to the question “Why focus on hope?” — I respond “Why not?” Why not focus on strengths rather than deficits? Why not focus our interventions, legislative activities, and funding priorities on processes that will motivate individuals to strive for the best outcomes for themselves and their children? In so doing, we can formulate an action agenda on behalf of children and families that first assumes they can and will succeed in rising above their circumstances.

As I learned from the families I interviewed, success means different things to different families. For some, success is being able to keep their family together—have dinner together, talk with each other, and support each other. For other families, success means being able to be a good parent– to go to bed at night realizing that you’ve provided for your child emotionally, spiritually as well as materially, and that by doing so, your child might have an even better opportunity than you did to achieve success. These individuals are truly courageous. They have overcome many obstacles and are striving to continue along that path. There are countless other courageous individuals who may never have the opportunity to tell their stories or to have their experiences validated with concepts and theories I discuss from the psychological literature. I hope this volume will represent their lives too. I challenge those of us who work with children and families and who advocate for or legislate on their behalf, to have the courage to “ hope” and to allow that hope to be a motivating and unrelenting force in our efforts to foster resilience and well-being in these families.

Dr. Valerie Maholmes has devoted her career to studying factors that affect child developmental outcomes. Low-income minority children have been a particular focus of her research, practical, and civic work. She has been a faculty member at the Yale Child Study Center in the Yale School of Medicine where she held the Irving B. Harris Assistant Professorship of Child Psychiatry, an endowed professorial chair. She is the author of Fostering Resilience and Well-Being in Children and Families in Poverty.

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9. Hope: Holly Schindler

A tiny ray of hope appears inside me, the same way a little stream of light pours from the hallway through my bedroom door's keyhole at night.

- from the novel The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler

For similar ponderings, please check out Definitions of Hope, a series of hopeful musings from various authors and other artists.

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10. Panic, by Lauren Oliver | Book Trailer

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

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11. The Wacky Winter on Wiggly Way, by David Cunningham | Dedicated Review

In The Wacky Winter on Wiggly Way, David Cunningham has weaved an intriguing character-driven story that induces thought-provoking moments based on hope, faith and perseverance.

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12. Interview with Barry Rudner, author of ‘Silent Voice’

Author PictureBarry Rudner has been an author/poet of self-esteem books for children for over thirty years, dealing with universal truths such as, reaching for your dreams, homelessness, undying friendships, disability awareness, always being yourself, autism awareness, hope and utter silliness. He firmly believes that we cannot educate our children unless they feel good about who they are; and ultimately, as they grow up, they will not feel good about themselves unless they educate themselves. Please feel free to visit us at our website at www.nickoftime.us.

Thank you for joining us today, Barry Rudner. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I am a product of an incredible education from my parents. My formal education was a double major in biology and religious studies. I thought I wanted to grow up to become a doctor, but I realized I wanted to grow up and try to answer questions in ways that science cannot. But it is this hybrid of both degrees that gives me a certain insight into the world of children’s literature. In other words, as a scientist, I know the grass is green because the chlorophyl absorbs all the wavelengths of light and reflects the green. But as a children’s author, it is so much more poetic to think that the grass is green because it envies where the children have stepped.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I was in graduate school in the late ’70s trying to earn a Masters degree in neuroanatomy in the hopes of being admitted into medical school. I was at a friend’s house, and he had a room mate who was taking a children’s literature course. On the kitchen table was Shel Silversteins, The Giving Tree. That one moment completely changed the path of my life.I knew that I would spend the rest of my life chasing after what I consider to be the most linear thought ever committed to paper for children. I have been pursuing this goal ever since.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

I started writing stories for children because I love the way they think. If I may be so bold to quote Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, “…and such things commonly please us best which are most strange and come from farthest off.” And that in essence is our children. Somehow, in their innocence they understand things that we do not even mean. They are living, breathing allegories. Children are that very thing that “comes from farthest off”.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

I believe that my life would be much harder if I did not write for children. I believe I understand my audience as well as my craft. Children’s literature is no different than taking a felled tree and stripping it of its bark and limbs and whittling it down to the size of a toothpick; and, right when you think you are done you split it in half. That is children’s literature.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

My favorite part about writing for children, especially thirty-two page picture books is to teach them universal truths without ever dealing with what is real. By definition, that is a fairy tale.  Teaching them to reach for their dreams. Teaching them to be themselves. Teaching them to be aware of the less fortunate. The beauty of truth is that it is multi-cultural and I never have to deal with what is real: only with what is true.

silentCan you tell us what your latest book is all about?

The latest book is entitled, Silent Voice, and it is a modern day allegory about autism awareness: that the only ought in autism is that we ought not ever give up trying to find the cause and cure. The majority of the world population is not even aware of the pandemic nature of this disorder. But the book is not about finger pointing or blame. It is about educating those who are simply unaware.

What inspired you to write it?

Last year in March I was speaking to a dear friend, Nicole Albert, a licensed therapist, who approached me about writing a book about the lack of awareness of those children that fall under the spectrum of autism: worldwide one in eighty-eight suffer from this disorder. It is a staggering number when you consider the statistics. I simply felt that it needed to be addressed. After three months of researching, I started the process of rewriting.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Silent Voice can be purchased online at our website at http://www.nickoftime.us in a variety of electronic formats as well as a hardcover version of the book. Our hope is that the book version will become a part of bookshelves everywhere.

What is up next for you?

For an author, even a barely-an-author-type like myself, all that matters is to rewrite a book that is worthier than the one that proceeded it.

Do you have anything else to add?

It took almost eleven years to become published. For anyone aspiring to become an author, do not take rejection personally. Take it as a complement. It means your work is being circulated. You are looking for that one editor who is searching for that very manuscript you have written. Case in point: I once met the editor at a symposium who rejected Richard Bach’s, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, because their was no mass market appeal for it. Need I say more.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Barry Rudner. We wish you much success.


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13. Guest post by Nicole L. Albert, MHS LPC Licensed Psychotherapist

I am happy to be part of Barry Rudner's virtual book tour this month. To promote his book, SILENT VOICE, Barry is touring the blogosphere with The National Writing for Children Center. In this guest post, licensed psychotherapist Nicole L. Albert talks about Barry and his book. I hope you'll enjoy the post. Happy reading!


I am fortunate to be a long time friend of Barry Rudner. We met while vacationing in the Florida Keys more than two decades ago. It has been with enthusiasm and appreciation through the years that followed, to participate in his journey of children's literature. Each and every piece of his work, touched me in the deepest of ways. He addresses so many issues of what is typically never spoken aloud. With each piece of writing, he imparts messages of hope, each and every time, and attends to the struggle while opening the hearts of the reader.

I am a licensed board certified therapist and I work with children, adults and families struggling with a variety of life's issues. His writings touched a chord in me as I would think of people whose lives I came into contact with for a variety of reasons. I knew they would benefit from the insight and pure joy his books would provide.

A good proportion of my client base, are individuals with a wide array of Developmental Disabilities.

One day I called Barry to wish him a Happy Birthday - we exchanged some events of what we had both been doing of late, and I described to him some of the situations that I was challenged with, for individuals and families touched by Autism.

A couple weeks later, I received an email from him asking me to read something - the early drafts of Silent Voice. It was utterly staggering! He had accomplished to put into words, a world that many people know only too well and unfortunately way too few are aware of. Silent Voice was born, along with outstanding illustrations that completely depict the nature of this overwhelming and all consuming challenge.

I am so very proud, to have been part of this journey.


Title: Silent Voice
Genre: Children's fiction, Family
Author: Barry Rudner
Website: http://www.nickoftime.us
Publisher: Nick of Time Media, Inc.
Purchase link: http://www.nickoftime.us/hardcover-books.php

SUMMARY: A modern day allegory about autism awareness: that the only ought in autism is that we ought not ever give up. Ever.

Barry Rudner has been an author/poet of self-esteem books for children for over thirty years, dealing with universal truths such as, reaching for your dreams, homelessness, undying friendships, disability awareness, always being yourself, autism awareness, hope and utter silliness. He firmly believes that we cannot educate our children unless they feel good about who they are; and ultimately, as they grow up, they will not feel good about themselves unless they educate themselves.

Connect with Barry on the web:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nick-of-Time-Media/507826792667344
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickOfTimeMedia
Google+: https://plus.google.com/107827469685021155032/posts 

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14. Where were you?

Where were you when you first heard the sound? Good sounds – your husband’s voice, your baby’s giggle, the words “I love you?” Do you remember? Can you picture the scene and surroundings?

I experienced a condensed courtship with my wife because I was briefly called back to service during Desert Storm. I don’t recall the first expression of the four- letter L word in our relationship. I know it came, and stuck. I have said it to her every day for nearly twenty-two years. I say it every night to my girls and sometimes in front of other people, much to their chagrin.

I wish I remembered the first time I said it, though.

I will never forget the first time I heard the word Cancer as it related to my family. I was in the hospital just a week ago when it was introduced to me, while my little girl lay sleeping nearby. The doctor actually used the words “oncological event” before I made him dumb it down for me. Cancer.

I held my wife in my arms as she collapsed into a puddle. Doesn’t cancer affect other families? Why would he be saying this word? I felt an instant dislike for this man, but my mind clouded to nothing. My wife’s head heaved in my chest. I couldn’t think in more than three word bursts. I have no idea how long we stood that way. I was roused only by the sound of a man pushing a cart way down at the end of the hall. The wheel squeaked as he carried out his task and I remember thinking, “How can he be pushing that? Doesn’t he know? It doesn’t matter where that squeaky cart is! Why isn’t he stopping?”

It was then I realized this isn’t everyone’s diagnosis. It is Kylie’s and ours: our family’s, our friends and network of support. But the rest of the world will continue to march on around us.

I will add a link to Kylie’s Caring Bridge at the end of this post because I won’t allow cancer to dominate my writing. It will peak its evil head in from time to time, I have no doubt. But I won’t allow it to take over my life, steal my joy, soil my faith, or crush my little girl.

It took a while to determine the enemy. Until then, we’ve been punching at shadows. Now we start to take it out. We are at the beginning of a long road, but there is hope. Kylie knows what is going on, she is scared. We cried together and prayed. She has decided that this is happening because God must have a really big, great plan for her. I don’t know if I could have gotten to those words so quickly at twelve – she’s just chock-full of amazing.


The picture I added is one of Kylie as Annie in her school play a couple of years ago. She is an incredible actress and I can’t wait to see her on stage again.

Because our minds are reeling right now, the verse we’ve been holding onto is Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement, friends. I have to go now, the bell just sounded for round one…




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15. Poetry Friday: Hope by Gertude Stein

Hope in gates, hope in spoons, hope in doors, hope in tables, no hope in daintiness and determination. Hope in dates.

- Gertrude Stein, from her piece called Food

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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16. In Memory of…

The wife of a friend of ours from high school recently lost her courageous battle with cancer. In her honor I  post this piece that I was commissioned to create for a client who’s friend also died from cancer. Thank you, Mary E. for permission to share on my site. RIP Margo McCabe.

Dragonfly Pond

Dragonfly Pond, commissioned in the memory of Shawn Oligmeuller 2009.

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17. Hope, growth, possibility






the pumpkin flowers are up

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Artists live a life of wonder. At times, it’s wondering what to do next. I will not lie, I have been wondering this for the last few months. I am looking for the sweet spot! It’s my favorite place to be in Art. It’s the place where you are working and you don’t want to stop. I think it’s a divine place where God kisses your life with ideas that flow out in a steady stream.

A lot of things can bar you from this place. Looking in the wrong direction, self doubt, self pity, self self self. Ha! Get the point? You have to get rid of the”self” part. If the sweet spot is divine, then you have to seek out the divine.

A few nights ago I had a dream. My dad was in the dream. Someone had driven him to my house. He slowly came up the steps to my house and said to me, ” Bloom“. In a small whisper he said, “bloom where you are planted”.
Then he was gone.
I woke up knowing the “divine” had spoken to me.
No grinding out ideas, just let the divine IN me out… to make the art I was born to make.

A flower does not worry about the bloom. All the coding for that bloom is IN the seed. It simply drinks up moisture from above and the roots go down and the bloom comes.

So… BLOOM today! You were meant to be like none other.

Filed under: dream, God STuff, Inspiring, Kicking Around Thoughts, Reflections

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19. The Darkest Day, by Rosalie Warren

I have always loved the winter solstice. There is that sense of being at the bottom of the curve - the sine curve representing the rate of change of day length. This day (and its summer partner) are the times at which the curve flattens, when the rate of change is at it slowest. When nature stops, or so it feels at this end of the year, and gives us time to contemplate.

This Friday 21st December is a special day, too, on the Mayan calendar. I've just been reading about the Mayans and it seems they knew a fair bit about mathematics and made astronomical observations that were way ahead of their time. Not that we have any need to fear. Scientists assure us that there is no truth in the idea that some unusual planetary alignment or asteroid collision will bring the world to an end today - though I can't say I'm enormously relieved to hear this. Humankind is still more than capable of bringing civilisation to an end - and we have already caused the extinction of many species, with more, no doubt, to follow.

 We are also, in some sad cases, willing to bring an end to innocent young human lives. I heard children singing Away in a Manger at a carol service in Peasholm Park, Scarborough, last weekend, and could not hold back my tears, thinking of those poor murdered children and their families in Connecticut.

It's been, for some, a dark, dark year. Many families, even in the relatively prosperous UK, are feeling the pain of increased energy, food and petrol bills, with large numbers out of work or earning barely enough to get by. In many countries, the situation is far worse. It's difficult to feel the hope in the Christmas message of goodwill to all people. It's difficult to go on believing, sometimes, in anything good at all.

Yet new buds are already forming on the trees. Nature struggles on, in spite of pollution, disease and climate change. People struggle on, because they have to. They do it for the sake of their children, their spouses, their parents and their friends. 

Life has not been easy for many writers this year. I'm one of those who has had disappointing news from a publisher. I know that, on the overall scale of things, this is small beer. But it hurts, and I know many fellow writers who are hurting, too. School visits and other events have been severely cut back, because of lack of funding, and those writers who depend on these things to supplement their income are feeling the pinch. Advances have, by all accounts, almost disappeared for the bulk of writers. E-books are doing well in general and some authors are making a fortune, but many have failed to find the sales they hoped for.

It's difficult for readers, too. Libraries have closed or are threatened with closure. The big publishers seem mainly interested in blockbusters and celebrity memoirs and recipes. The supermarkets rule the sales and, where they go, the booksellers must follow. Lots of small, interesting, independent bookshops can no longer afford to carry on.

Meanwhile, small children like two-year-old Jacob, my partner's grandson, adore books. So does his one-year-old sister, Ava. They know nothing of the troubles in the world of writing, but they know what they like. There are wonderful new children's books, everywhere I look. And there are children's authors, slaving away, inspired, inspiring and inspirational - creating words (and objects) of wonder for the new generation to learn to love.

And while all that is happening, I have hope.

Please, fellow children's authors, don't stop. Jacob, Ava and all the others can't wait to get their chubby, sticky little hands on your latest work. Remember that... as you read the latest disappointing or infuriating email from your agent or publisher.

 Times are hard but our children need you, more than ever. They need voices of sanity, sense and sensibility in this crazy world. Whatever happens in the cold out there, please go on creating your warm, sunlit little places where life truly begins. Don't, whatever you do, even think of stopping. The world, which will almost certainly still be here on the 22nd December and for a while beyond that, needs you, your vision, your pictures and your words.

Happy writing, and may the sun shine on your efforts as, according to the Mayans, the new age begins.

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20. A better New Year’s resolution: commit to hope

By Anthony Scioli

From late December to the middle of January it is obligatory for people to make one or more New Years’ resolutions. Recent surveys reveal that the most common resolutions made by Americans include losing weight, getting fit, quitting smoking, quitting drinking, reducing debt, or getting organized. This list dovetails perfectly (unfortunately) with an international study of 24 character strengths which revealed that Americans rate themselves lowest in the virtue of “self-regulation”.

Ironically the other leading American resolutions involving getting or doing more rather than having or doing less. Americans want more socializing, more joy, and more learning. We want less and we want more. Should anyone be surprised that resolutions often fail to bring about lasting change?

Less than a handful of psychological studies have been done on New Years’ resolutions. There is scant advice in the database for the layperson to glean except that resolutions are more likely to be successful if an individual is more motivated and a goal is perceived as more important. This is not very helpful “self-help”.

As a psychologist, I would suggest that instead of a piecemeal focus on narrow goals that is bound to fail, people should aim for a higher horizon, a commitment to a more hopeful way of life.

Lighthouse. Photo by Fylkesarkivet i Sogn og Fjordane. Creative Commons License.

Deep below the surface of many desperate resolutions reside the most primitive fears. The dramatic turn of the calendar on December 31st is a reminder of finitude on many levels, most poignantly, the fact that an individual has one less year. In the northern hemisphere this reminder comes when the nights are long and wind blows hard and cold. However, regardless of where one lives, a different freeze may be felt, what the existentialists call an “ego chill”, the sudden and full awareness that one day you will cease to exist.

The projected fears of the New Year are the same as the deathbed regrets of the dying. They are the twin fears of a self-aware being. “Did I live to my life to the fullest?” Have I have left a mark on the world?”

There is a strong need to feel that one did not leave too much unlived life “on the table”. Emerson put it this way:

“Our fear of death is like our fear that summer will be short, but when we have had our swing of pleasure, our fill of fruit, and our swelter of heat, we say we have had our day”.

Human beings also fear the specter of oblivion. Aristotle went so far as to coin the term entelechy to refer to an essential momentum within all living things to continue to be or exist, without end, in one form or another. I believe that we all have some form of entelechy etched into our DNA.

In Living A Life That Matters, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote, “In my forty years as a rabbi, I have tended to many people in the last moments of their lives…The people who had the most trouble with death were those who felt that they had never done anything worthwhile in their lives, and if God would only give them another two or three years, maybe they would finally get it right. It was not death that frightened them; it was insignificance, the fear that they would die and leave no mark on the world.”

The answer to this existential dilemma is to live a double-life. You should balance being anchored in the here and now with investments focused on a more transcendent plane. The scientific psychology of the 20th century focused more and more on the here and now. The most obvious, and in my view, overrated example of this is the concept of “mindfulness”. At best, mindfulness, or an intentional, nonjudgmental awareness of the present is a corrective Eastern strategy for the distracted and hurried mind of the West. It is not a full program for living. Not only is it impractical to live just for the present but such a philosophy does not match up with the architecture of the brain which is dominated by the frontal lobes and other structures designed for projecting into the future or preserving the past. Human beings were meant to live in 3D, the past, present, and future.

In contrast, the American psychology of the 19th century was initially influenced by “moral philosophy”. From about 1850 to 1890, it was not uncommon for psychologists to focus on more transcendent issues such as character, values, religion, or coping with death. In the 21st century we need a more integrated philosophy.

Living a “Double – Life”

There is an old adage that “where there is life there is hope”. I would turn this around. I believe where there is hope, there is life. I understand hope as a composite of four basic needs: attachment (trust and openness), mastery (purpose and collaboration), survival (self-regulation and liberation), and spirituality (empowerment, connection, and salvation linked to a larger perceived force or entity). If you want to live more fully in the here and now while also investing in something more enduring, commit in 2013 to a life that includes more time for building and nurturing relationships, for articulating a mission in life, for increasing your perceived degrees of freedom, and for spiritual fulfillment. You will not only feel happier on a daily basis, but you will be far more likely to build an enduring legacy. Towards this end, I offer eight recommendations, two each for the four cardinal elements of hope (one for the left brain and one for the right brain).


Attachments may be the most significant sources of hope. Note that even the perennial classics of the holiday season such as A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, and the Auld Lang Syne song (Should Old Acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon?) all deal with the primacy of relationships.

For left brain attachment read Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey. For your right brain, follow this up with a live viewing of his play, Our Town. If you are seeking inspiration to nurture your relationships, it is difficult to find two better sources.


Six months before his assassination, Martin Luther King Spoke about mastery to a group of Junior High School Students in Philadelphia.

“If it is your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

For left brain mastery, go to the positive psychology website at the University of Pennsylvania and take their VIA Survey of Character Strengths. Find out what your top five strengths are and find ways to craft your life around these virtues. For right brain mastery, listen to Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.

Click here to view the embedded video.


Survival hope is strongly infused with a sense of liberation. In contrast, the most common experience in hopelessness is a sense of entrapment. The psychologist Rollo May contrasted freedom of doing with freedom of being. To maximize your freedom of doing, May suggested making the most of your potential or taking advantage of various forms of fate or destiny such as your genetics or time and place of birth. He also noted that when your freedom of doing is restricted, as a human being, you always have the freedom to be, to adopt a particular attitude.

For left brain survival hope, I would read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. As a psychiatrist who survived the Nazi concentration camps, Frankl describes how he found hope by maximizing both types of freedom. For right brain survival hope I would follow Frankl with a viewing (or re-viewing) of the film Life is Beautiful.


For left brain spiritual development reflect on your spiritual type. Spiritual needs and passions will flow from your particular type. Are you a mystic seeking a sense of oneness? Are you a follower seeking structure? Are you an independent seeking support for a chosen path? Are you a collaborator looking to join forces with a powerful other? Are you a sufferer who seeks comfort? Are you a reformer seeking justice? For right brain spiritual development, I would review your list of favorite songs and find one or two that match up with your spiritual type and play them often in 2013. You can find music consistent with your particular religious affiliation that will nevertheless address your particular spiritual type. Here are six suggestions: For independent types: the Chariots of Fire theme; for followers, “Amazing Grace”; for collaborators, “Lord of the Dance”; for mystics, “Unchained Melody”; for sufferers, “Let It Be” (the Beatles); for reformers, “A Change is Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke).

Anthony Scioli is Professor of Clinical Psychology at Keene State College. He is the co-author of Hope in the Age of Anxiety with Henry Biller. Dr. Scioli completed Harvard fellowships in human motivation and behavioral medicine. He co-authored the chapter on emotion for the Encyclopedia of Mental Health and currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Positive Psychology and the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Read his previous blog articles: “Why spring is the season of hope” and “Contrasting profiles in hope.”

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21. Writing Links

Romancing the Writing/Sabbatical Update #3 :: Sara Zarr

7 Things I’ve Learned So Far - Augusta Scattergood :: Guide to Literary Agents

Why “oh well” should become an author’s favorite words :: Lisa Schroeder
Written in January 2011. Still one of my favorites.

Golden Advice: The Wisdom of Solomon :: Molly Blaisdell

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22. Middle Grade Voices

 Middle Grade Books

1) “Children of the Lamp (The Akhanaten Adventure)- by P.B Kerr, published by “Orchard books, and imprint of scholastic Inc.  New York 2004.  What if you find out that you are descendants from a long line of Dijon, human-like  beings created from fire.  They are able to grant wishes, and take on different animal forms.  This is exactly what happens to two twelve-year-old twins, John and Phillippa, after they get their wisdom teeth pulled.  The children are sent to London to their Uncle Nimrod's home where their amazing adventure begins. This venture takes the reader on a magic carpet ride through a fantasy Middle Eastern World.  This journey teaches the twins that granting wishes is not only dangerous for themselves, but for people who desire wishes as well.

2) “Peter and Star Catchers”-Written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Greg Call.  Published by Disney Hyperion paperbacks for children New York 2004.  How was never-land discovered?  How did Peter Pan become a boy forever? This book helps the reader find answers to those questions and many more.  Peter Pan is a never aging boy, who visits children at night and takes them to fantasy island called Never-Land where magic lives.  Through the use of vivid language and pencil illustrations, the authors introduce us to how Peter Pan became a part of a world, full of amazing creatures, and magic. This story reveals the mystery of magic dust and how Children can make it real by looking within and tapping into their own imagination.

3) “Infinity Ring book three the trapdoor”- written by Lisa McMann, published by Scholastic Inc.  New York 2013.  The next book in this interactive serious takes our heroes Dak, Sera and Riq to Maryland in 1850 just before the Civil War.  The main character in this book travel back it time and fix History Breaks, that has been caused by an evil corporation with intentions to take over the world. The time period in this book describes how new law has been passed that allows any white American to report free blacks, and then make them slaves. The children's mission is to stop this law, and to save the civil right leaders from a prison Dream like landscapes, humor and adventure take the seriousness of the topic at hand, and twists it into a fun read for everyone. 

4) “The 13thReality, the Journal of curious letters. - Written by James Dashner, illustrated by Bryan Beus, Published by Shadow Mountain Press an imprint of Worzalla Publishing Co.  Stevens point, WI. 2008. One day a nerdy boy, Atticus Higginbottom receives a strange letter from Alaska.  After this boy’s life changes from a boring one to life full of mystery and questions that, need to be answered.  Twelve clues help him understand that the world he lives in is just one of many parallel worlds, which still need to be discovered and saved.  If a child likes to solve problems through clues, they would love this book.  A story progresses Atticus goes from zero to hero.  The pencil illustrations and secrets surrounding the boy’s life will keep your middle graders turning the pages.  

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23. Change Your Destiny

I was sitting in the movie theater today, minding my own business, (and Captain Kirks!), when all of the sudden three words came to me. “Change Your Destiny”. I was so surprised that I dug down into my purse ( the black hole), looking for my notebook so i might them down.
Along with the words came a sudden rush of hope and direction for my future. Instead of watching the Star Trek movie I began thinking of things I could turn around in my life that would mean a different future, even 3 months from now.

How many times in our lives do we stay the course because it is easy or familiar? What would happen if we chose three things in each day, and purposed in our hearts to do them differently? Perhaps that wild mean venturing out to see a neighbor you hadn’t seen in a while? Or put down that cheese sandwich and opt for a salad? Why not carve out an hour of the day to work on your novel or write a letter to a relative? Maybe it’s time you tackle your To Do List?

I will think out loud here and list some different areas of interest to me.

Home front

Under each heading could be multiple topics.

Imagine if you took a new course of action for each heading, each day. How might that change your life by this time next year? Just think! You could come to the end of the year a new person. Or perhaps you might become the person you were meant to be? What area might you work on this week?

Heaven! The final frontier! But what will you do before that??? I LOVE the thought of CHA CHA CHANGE!!!

Are you with me?


Filed under: Inspiring, Kicking Around Thoughts

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24. A glorious thank you!

A weary heart i carried
A battered heart i owned
A stonic look i gave
A broken spirit i carried
All, until your miracle smiled at me
And even when i heard the village women yell ”the storm is over. come out” i still did not believe it, for fear had created a comfortable home in my heart.
But you, you never gave up on me
But you ,you never stopped loving me
And now,even now i stand in awe…speechless,useless unable to think out
For what uttered thank-you(s) can demonstrate how grateful i am .

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25. Looking For Reasons Not To Quit

Hi there. Long time no see. It’s me, not you. I’ve been slack.

But tonight I’m putting a hold on the smoothies I promised to make for D and myself, in order to write this post. So listen up. Because it’s important. And because smoothies are on the line!

Lately I’ve been feeling down in the dumps, and it’s not just because of my recent terrible haircut. It’s also because of a project I’ve been working on, which is not going quite where I want it to. It’s gotten so that the last few days I’ve been trying to think of a reason not to quit. Because somehow I got to this point where quitting doesn’t even feel like quitting. It just feels like not continuing, which doesn’t really sound as bad. Does that make sense? It does to me.

But I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this project. You always hear stories where people were so close to quitting when they finally met with success, so I thought, maybe that’s where I am. Maybe I should hang in there a bit longer. But what’s the point? I need a reason. A really rock-solid reason not to quit–something that will actually force me to keep going. Because this is kind of new for me. I don’t quit. Never. Not really. I’m not even bragging because honestly, sometimes it’s a curse. If I get it in my head to do something, then I JUST. WON’T. LET. IT. GO. So ordinarily what keeps me from giving up is that I can’t admit defeat. But this time that isn’t enough.

Because I kind of want to quit. I’ve turned it into something other than defeat. I’ve turned it into the realistic, responsible thing to do. It would save me a lot of grief (read: feeling depressed at my lack of success and guilty for doing anything besides working on my project). It would be easier.

So, while I was washing dishes tonight, the answer kind of came to me in the form of this blog post. (It seems like I always get half-decent ideas while I’m washing dishes. You might think that’s a good enough reason to wash dishes more often, but I’m still not sold.) Anyway, I was trying to think of one good reason not to quit and I realized it was actually pretty simple: If I quit, then I’ll definitely be in the exact same place that I am right now. Forever. My project can’t possibly succeed. And the disappoint that I feel right now will never go away–why would it? But if I don’t quit–if I keep on trying–then there remain two possibilities ahead of me: One is that I might never succeed. I might remain exactly where I am right now. Forever. With one exception: at least I would know I didn’t give up. But the other possibility is that I will eventually succeed. Until I eliminate that possibility, it’s still out there. It could still happen.

If I quit, then all I do is eliminate hope. I control the future by closing off all possibilities except the one I don’t want.

And hope is enough to keep me going. I wouldn’t condemn anyone to disappointment–I want all your dreams to come true. So why would I do any less for myself?

One of my college professors paraphrased Thomas Edison, and I’ll never forget it. At the time, I thought he made it up. I thought he was a genius. So I will always think of R.L. before poor T.E. when I hear the words, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

I guess what I’m saying is, don’t give up. I won’t if you don’t.

What keeps you going on your low days?

Tagged: Being Brave, Failure, Fear, Future, Hope, Persistence, Thomas Edison

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