Tag Archives: juggling

I Guess I Always Knew

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Yesterday, I read a great post on Freshly Pressed by Susan on her blog Three Cats on a Sofa.  It is called Letter to My Past Self.  I contemplated her idea.  What would I write to give the younger me more insight and more direction?

While I like the idea, it struck me that the younger me didn’t want to hear it.  As a young adult, a time for me of selfish indulgence, I needed to break free and make it in the world…or not.  I needed to fall flat, make mistakes, and get dirty.  I needed to be inefficient and poor, impulsive and stupid.  There wasn’t anything a “real” adult could have said to make me a better decision maker.  I just needed time to grow up.

Ironically, I grew up when I listened to me, the child. The youngest me remembers skipping to Kindergarten on a beautiful sunny spring day wearing the dress covered with lavender flowers and pale green leaves that my mom made for me.  I remember the unmasked and unfiltered joy that I felt just being in that moment.

When I was about 10 years old, my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I said, “I don’t know.  I just want to make people happy.”

He said, “Awww, that’s no kind of job.”

Little did either he or I know at the time, but I grew up to be a professional juggler and children’s entertainer. My career is to make people happy.

And now, I write.  I write for the joy of expressing what I see and hear and feel.  And I write children’s stories to share that joy.  I not only get to tell a story that I hope will be fabled or funny, inspiring or adventurous, but to facilitate a relationship between a child and a someone who loves them enough to share that moment.  How cool is that?

So what will you do?  Write a letter to your younger self or let your younger self write to you?

Learning to Write

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What we learn to do we learn by doing.
— Aristotle

Aside from being a writer, I am a juggler by trade.  I have been performing with my husband for almost 20 years making kids laugh and getting paid for it.  What I didn’t know when I started juggling, was how learning to juggle would change how I learned everything else.

If you have ever picked up three balls and tried to juggle, you know that for most of us, it doesn’t happen naturally.  That fact is, it took me a month to learn to juggle 3 balls.  For 5 minutes every day,  I would throw the balls up in the air just to have them fall back on the ground.  Failure.  Everyday.  Failure.

Yet I persisted.  Fortunately, I had a goal in mind when I started.  There was this cute bartender at a local watering hole…and he juggled.  Spurred on by hormones or whatever, I kept juggling every day until I did it.  It wasn’t pretty, but I did it. Although the bartender was not overly impressed with my juggling, he married me anyway.

Like I said, I was juggling, but it wasn’t that good.  It didn’t flow and it wasn’t flashy. With a good teacher by my side, I set off to make it better.  I juggled for a little bit every day whether I felt like it or not.  I learned new tricks and learned to work with different props. Some days, I was amazing.  I could catch everything and learning new things was easy.  Other days, I spent more time picking up the balls from the ground than throwing them. But, much like the stock market, the general trend was up.

When I started to write in earnest, I took the things I learned about juggling and applied them to writing.  I’m not just talking about the consistency or even the long term determination of writing to get better.  It’s about not being afraid to fail.  It’s about failing at the first draft or second or twentieth and committing to work through it until you get it right.  It’s about letting a critique group read your work and not being afraid of negative feedback.  It’s about not being afraid of the rejection letter.  Every time I dropped a ball, I was one step closer to catching one.  Each new rejection letter is one step closer to the next acceptance.

If you want to learn to juggle, check out the International Jugglers Association at www.juggle.org.