About Me

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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An illogical conclusion

A friend of mine came over to visit today with her gorgeous 4 month old son. The sun had finally come out, and so we sat in the back garden barefoot beneath the shade of the Japanese Maple sipping our drinks, munching on Green & Black's white chocolate, and talking about a number of things -- all while enjoying her son's gorgeous, radiant face and happy laughter.

One of the things we talked about was winning. I have been noticing an interesting pattern emerging in my life over the last few months. As most of you know, I won a trip to the Dominican Republic to build a drinking water system in an organic cocoa-farming community at the end of March. Then a couple of weeks ago I entered a draw on my favourite blog, Chookooloonks, and won a hand made Kenyan scarf. And then this week I came across a blog written by another adventurous spirit, Bahieh K, who was doing a giveaway of SKY's recently released awesome new CD "Now,"and I just got an email yesterday that it was my lucky day! I won that too! Given that I have been looking for full time work now for a year with very little success, it is incredible to me that I have won three amazingly beautiful things/experiences in just four months. I was recounting my excitement over having won SKY's CD to my friend, and she said "yeah -- I noticed that you were doing a chocolate giveaway on your blog about a week ago, but I didn't enter because I didn't think I would win." Hearing her say this struck a chord with me, and I felt a whole bunch of dots suddenly connect.

The truth of the matter is that up until recently, I rarely entered giveaways, and the reason was that I did not think there was any chance of my winning. Why? Because I have rarely won anything in my life. Why? Because I have rarely entered to win anything. Not because I have entered to win over and over and over and been unsuccessful. Because I never even gave myself a chance to win. So really I have no logical reason to think that I would be unsuccessful. In reality, the few times I have applied for things, I have actually been very successful. I applied to college and got in. I applied to art school and got in (and did not go). My application to law school was successful -- again, I decided to not go -- but I did get in. I was also accepted to an MFA program in creative writing which I chose to not pursue in order to enroll in a Master's program in Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island. I wrote a UNDP grant application while I was in graduate school to go do research on a Mediterranean island, and it was funded. I wrote two more grant applications, both of which were also funded. I won an award for my Master's thesis. I could go on, but I think I have made my point.

I write with two other women writers two days a week. Both of them were telling me about their successes with their creative projects this week -- Ahava Shira had applied for two separate grants to fund her creative, collaborative, community-based arts projects, and had just received news that both of them had just been funded, and Daniela Elza recently published a book and completed her PhD, AND sent off a manuscript of her poetry to a publisher. Listening to them, and reflecting on my own experiences lately that challenge my previous assumptions that I do not win anything has made me think it is time to start expanding my success with winning to some other areas of my life. As I mentioned in my last blog entry, I am currently reading the novel The Tiger's Wife, by Tea Obrecht. Tea is only 26 years old, and her first novel has just made the cover of the NY Times. As I read, I have been asking myself how she accomplished this at such a young age, and at the same time finding myself thinking -- you could do this, you know. Not the same way she is doing it of course, but in your own unique way. Sure it would take a lot of work, and you need to practice your craft and hone your writing technique....but the truth is that when I hear that other voice that always has an answer that shoots me back down whenever I start to dream about accomplishing a dream, it has no logical foundation. How would I know whether any novel/poetry manuscript I write would not be successful when I have not ever even tried to get anything published? I sent off exactly two other article proposals to travel magazines before I had my recent article about voluntourism published at Bootsnall. And I am now working on a second article for them that will be published in July. So if the two positive responses I have received are any indication, I would have to say that at this point the only thing standing between me and publishing my writing is my own lack of initiative.

Which reminds me of a poem I used to have up on the wall in my kitchen by Marianne Williamson that I really need to get back up on that wall, which says:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

When I think about it, I know I would never have entered the draw to win the Kenyan scarf if I had not won that trip in March. I would probably not have entered to win the CD either. But I am learning a rather obvious (in retrospect) lesson -- that the more I apply for, the more often I succeed (and just for the record, out of the 25 people who read my chocolate giveaway blog entry, only two people entered the draw to win a large stash of really, really good chocolate, so your chances of winning were incredibly high). I have entered to win a number of other things this year that I have not won, but even the things I didn't win led me to connect with new people and enlarge my community. Shortly after returning from the Dominican Republic, I entered a draw for two female bloggers to go to Kenya to write about a water project that was to bring water safely into a community, so that the local women did not have to walk all the way to the water source through areas that posed a threat to their physical safety. I did not win that trip (but you should check out the work of the two incredible women (Rachel Cernansky and Tonyin Ajao) who did, here), but about a month later I received an invitation to join a community of women bloggers composed of all the amazingly talented women around the world who had applied for this trip, and I have been exchanging ideas, thoughts and information with them ever since, enriching my own writing, building relationships with fellow female bloggers, and introducing me to an endless supply of inspiration and encouragement. So I guess I won something there too, after all, eh? 

It seems to me that the biggest difference between the writers who become best selling authors, or the business owners who succeed, or the ___________________ (fill in the blank here) who become international successes and those of us who do not is the willingness to try. My grandfather used to say that "the right angle to use when attempting to solve a difficult problem is the try angle." I give you full permission to roll your eyes at that one -- I did it every. single. time. he said it -- I have no idea where he got that from, but he may just have had a point.

Next time you come across something that sounds like fun, but you think "what are the chances that I will win/be selected/be nominated/succeed," why don't you just give it a try? Just for a change. Just to see what happens. Oh -- and please jot me a note if you do. I am really interested in hearing what the outcome is!

Have a great Thursday, people!

1 comment:

  1. good post..winning your chocolate bar was a magical feeling, but i guess i don't enter typical contests because they don't feel safe -- they almost always want personal contact information. i like the contests you are talking about -- they have pure intentions and simple rules. you are right that we must try to win something for ourselves without thinking we won't win. it's all about attracting positive forces into the realm of our existence..