There are two things I must do. One is write, and the other is run. The problem is there are days when I don’t feel like doing either. On days when I accomplish both, I feel complete. I feel like me. Yet, for as many miles as I’ve run each time I begin, I must fight the demons that tell me to stop. Every step I take fuels me to keep going until I reach a stride where my mind focuses, and running is enjoyable. The first two miles are always the toughest. It’s the same for writing. Getting started can be a battle. I’m working on my third novel, and it’s not any easier than the first. Actually, it’s harder because I’m learning more. When I sit down to work on my manuscript or to write a post I go through an entire Facebook, email, Pinterest ritual before I begin. The longer I wait, the more I torture myself until finally, I focus. And it is torture because I let the fear swirl around in my mind growing more intense with every minute.
The lesson I’ve learned from writing and running is the importance of doing something–anything when faced with fear. Taking that first step toward doing the very thing that frightens you is empowering. It teaches you to get up, get courageous and go! It’s not easy. The things we feel the most fearful of are the things that are the most important to us. We can choose to let fear immobilize us or we can walk confidently in the direction of our fear and do something.
I remember standing outside the cafeteria waiting for the bell to ring. Someone handed me a piece of paper folded into a square. It read, Will you go with me? Circle one Yes or No. I was surprised. No one had mentioned that my 6th-grade classmate, Harry, liked me which was unusual for our small town middle school. I wondered, why me?
I eventually circled yes and returned the note. I really didn’t like Harry as a boyfriend, but I think it was a combination of feeling as though he was a nice boy, cute, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I was flattered.
Our 6th-grade romance consisted of holding hands and a peck on the cheek. We would talk on the phone for hours, though. We also wrote each other notes, many I still have today.
While our middle school romance fizzled, our friendship continued. Harry and I went to a Christmas dance and prom together. However, we lost touch after graduation.
Then while I was living in California, I found out Harry had died. Shocked, I questioned how and received little information. I was told Harry was gay. He moved to New York City and became sick. It was the early nineties. My heart ached. Harry never told me he was gay. He could have trusted me. I was his friend.
I thought about the pain he must have felt growing up in a small town in the eighties. How maybe he never felt like he could be himself. Perhaps he feared what others would say or feared for his safety. I had a difficult time grasping all the emotions Harry must have been going through. I wished we would’ve talked about it.
The novel I completed a few months ago I titled UNFORGIVEN back in 2013. I had finally listened to the lyrics of Metallica’s song THE UNFORGIVEN. Back in the early nineties when Eric and I were dating there were few songs on Eric’s playlist that didn’t have me running for a bottle of Excedrin. This was one of them. My husband loves his heavy metal. Anyway, after years of listening to the music, I finally Googled the lyrics. I cried. The song’s about a boy who grows up never being able to be himself.
New blood joins this earth,
And quickly he’s subdued.
Through constant pained disgrace
The young boy learns their rules.
What I’ve felt,
What I’ve known
Never shined through in what I’ve shown.
Won’t see what might have been.
What I’ve felt,
What I’ve known
Never shined through in what I’ve shown.
So I dub thee unforgiven.
Writers: James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich
When I think of what Harry must have gone through as a boy and a young adult, I feel pain. He had to hide who he was for fear of not being accepted…loved.When I first started writing my novel I knew leading an Unforgiven life was still something I struggled with. I always had trouble understanding how much I lived my life based on societies expectations and what I truly felt. Not upsetting others, following rules, finding a husband and having children were all very strong messages I received as a young girl. It wasn’t until my daughter’s accident and then turning forty that I began peeling back the layers of who I thought I should be to get to who I was. Writing a novel about a girl who challenges religious rules and societies expectations of girls was what poured out of me. In some ways, Faith Hope Michaels is what I wish I could’ve been when I was seventeen. Creating her voice was certainly a lot of fun.
I wish I would’ve had the chance to tell Harry to be courageous and be himself. I wish I could have told Harry that he was a beautiful person. I hope there was someone in his life who did.
Be yourself and let others do the same. We all want to be accepted and loved. We all deserve to be accepted and loved.
Ten years ago I devoured a book entitled BOUND by Donna Jo Napoli. I was a teacher at the time attending a writing conference where Ms. Napoli was the keynote speaker. The novel gripped me. I had to find out who this woman was that wrote so beautifully about a girl named Xing Xing.
I’m reading more than I ever have in my life. As I meet authors I want to read their books. As I’m entering a new phase of my life, I want to better understand myself and make sure I’m realizing my full potential or, as Oprah says, living my best life.
The cartoon is from: America’s Disability Rights Museum on Wheels
One reason I love kids so much is because they see the world differently than most adults. Many children are optimists that live in the moment. they want to understand everything from the caterpillars metamorphosis to why they can’t eat dessert first. I’ve been watching videos of when my kids were little. Seeing their excitement while jumping off the couch or dancing to their favorite song brought me back to a time when I taught them about the wonders in the world and they taught me to see with fresh eyes. Those early years with my children inspired me to become a teacher.
K.D. Rausin is a former teacher living in sunny Cape Coral, Florida. MYSTIC, her middle grade fantasy, and Elle & Buddy, her picture book, both feature strong female protagonists who use wheelchairs. Both books were inspired by her daughter, Arielle Rausin.
K.D. Rausin is a former teacher living in sunny Cape Coral, Florida. MYSTIC, her middle grade fantasy, and Elle & Buddy, her picture book, feature strong female protagonists who use wheelchairs. Both books were inspired by her daughter, Arielle Rausin.
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.