Invested

We live in a world of noise.

Over the past week, I’ve worked in an office spot that allowed me a view of a waiting room television. It stays on one channel throughout the week, the local ABC affiliate, and the day is a cycle of news and talk shows.

Everyone has an agenda. Nothing is unbiased. Between shootings and alligators taking children, Florida is in the midst of a horrific stretch.

I’ve subscribed to a few different newsletters and one gave me something valuable on Wednesday.  It included a free copy of Steven Pressfield’s new book, No One Wants to Read Your Sh*t and What You Can do About It.

I loved his book, The War of Art and this is another powerhouse about writing. His opening chapters make a powerful point.

No one wants to hear what you have to say.

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There is a solution to this problem, according to Pressfield.

Know your concept. Inject it with emotion. Make it unique. Make it stand out.

We often write, and speak, to hear ourselves talk.  We stand on our message and think, for the sake of our own importance, it will automatically spread like wildfire.

Some marriages and families operate like this for years.

Emotion, and honesty, are risks. What if we lived like we had to earn our audience? How would that change our communication? How would it shape our stories?

This weekend, think about investing value into your days. Make the conversations and experiences count.

As a husband and father, I’m trying my best with Val and the boys. I’m trying my best with myself, looking into the mirror and being honest, having faith, and keeping the courage to move forward.

If you are alive and reading this, your story isn’t over yet. Make it count.

~Matt

 

Real Neat Blog Award

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I want to thank my friend Roxanna for a Real Neat Blog Award nomination.  Her blog is filled with encouragement and she is passionate about making a difference for her readers.  You can find her blog by clicking here.  If you are ready for a positive change and new purpose, check it out and follow tonight!

Thank you for everyone in my audience.  I’m blessed that you’ve decided to join this community on a journey that can change your life.

In terms of the Real Neat Blog Award, here are the rules…

RULES

  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blog.
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  • Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog, etc.)

Here are the questions and my answers;

1. Who has been the single most influential person in your life to date?

-This could go so many ways.  Right now, I’d say my son Carter.  He’s six years old and he’s everything I never was in my childhood.  He’s athletic and outgoing. He had endless energy.  He’s funny and, in many ways, he’s my hero. He’s teaching me about myself as a man, husband, and father. I hope, and pray, I can live up to his expectations one day.

2. What book has impacted your life the most (so far)?

-I’m going with one from the fiction and nonfiction worlds.  The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a necessity for anyone looking to amp up their creative efforts. It is encouragement and a much-needed kick in the rear end. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene is the other.  Greene is a master, the novelist I wanted to emulate from the moment I read him in college. There are parts of his books that have seared themselves on my heart. If you haven’t read either of these books, check them out ASAP.  You won’t be disappointed.

3. Share with us a link to a blog post by you that you think we ought to read (or re-read 😉 )

Why I Believe.

4. Share with us a quote which is either funny or cheesy :-p

-I love everything from Pressfield’s book that I mentioned above.  Here’s a solid quote that covers all the bases: a little funny, a little cheesy, and true.

There's a secret that real writers know

5. What do you want to change in your community?

-I want to see widespread social and economic change.  I want to see people living lives of faith and life in action.  I want people to know that God does cut through the cosmos and interject into our lives, that reality can be changed and hope is real. I want new lives, to draw attention to the people fighting to make a difference and give them the encouragement needed to wake up and do it all again tomorrow.

6. What inspires you (or pushes you 😉 ) to blog?

-When I graduated with my MFA in creative writing, I had a thesis novel in my hands and a major question waiting to be answered.  What would I do? The idea hit me like a hammer, what if I could write to make a difference? What if the words could change people and speak into their situations? That drove me to this blog and my current project writing about the battle against poverty in the city of Reading, Pennsylvania (named the poorest city in the United States in 2011). I believe we are all called to make a difference and I want to tell the stories that matter.  That drives me to every post and publication.

7. Share with us the happiest period of your life so far.

-I’ve been blessed by marrying my high school sweetheart.  We’ve had two amazing boys and any of these moments count.  I’d say these current times are my happiest.  They aren’t easy but, for the first time in a while, I’ve felt God’s hand on my progress and purpose.  I feel like a ship with new wind just starting to pick up the sails. Writing to serve has transformed my creative efforts and, on a deeper level, my life.

The only thing I’m missing is nominees.  Here’s some blogs you should check out, all deserving of recognition and your time!

Blogs You Should Check Out:

1/A Writer’s Path

2/ Wiley Coyote

3/ Memoir Notes

4/Anewperspectiveperhaps

5/ Words on a Blackboard

6/Keithgarretpoetry

7/Fiction All Day

 

~Matt

What is at Stake?

During my time at Fairfield University’s MFA program, I had the chance to work with many talented faculty members.  Lary Bloom, a veteran journalist and writer, manned the world of nonfiction.  He always asked students to identify what is at stake with a story? What matters?

Why should anyone care what we have to say?

Last night I read through this section about fear in Pressfield’s The War of Art:

Fear of the consequences of following our heart. Fear of bankruptcy, fear of poverty, fear of insolvency. Fear of groveling when we try to make it on our own, and of groveling when we give up and come crawling back to where we started. Fear of being selfish, of being rotten wives or disloyal husbands; fear of failing to support our families, of sacrificing their dreams for ours…Fear of throwing away the education, the training, the preparation that those we love have sacrificed so much for, that we ourselves have worked our butts off for. Fear of launching into the void, of hurtling too far out there; fear of passing some point of no return, beyond which we cannot recant, cannot reverse, cannot rescind, but must live with this cocked-up choice for the rest of our lives.

Every line made sense. I’ve felt the sting of the emotions and worry in the dark times.  He continues this section by saying that none of these match up with the “Master Fear, the Mother of all Fears that’s so close to us that even when we verbalize it we don’t believe it.”

Fear That We Will Succeed.

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Photo Credit: Arya Ziai via Compfight cc

Success pulls us out of our comfort zone.  It makes us into the person we’ve chased since we were children.  It is the culmination of our efforts and the force allowing us to change the world. We surpass the expectations of our teachers, parents, friends and loved ones. As you go forward, embrace success and give yourself permission to stand out.

Take the risk. Make a difference.

Break from the crowd.

See where it takes you.

~Matt

Unknown Memories

Val has needed a new phone for a few months now.  She’s had it for a while and I’ve nagged her to replace it.  We talked again today as Aiden took his nap and Carter watched a movie.

“I need to go through my pictures,” she said.

“How many do you have on there?” I asked

Now, guys, this is similar to other great questions from our playbook.  It can apply to shoes, purses, makeup, whatever the subject.

“A little over two thousand,” she replied.

Two thousand pictures.  Years of shots from when the boys were younger. She started going through them as we talked.

The best memories, I told her, are the ones we haven’t made yet.

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Photo Credit: Adikos via Compfight cc

We all have goals and deadlines.  I’ll lose a certain number of pounds by this date.  I’ll get a new job, new car, new house. As a writer and someone starting a business, my goals are glaring in the windshield every day that I move forward.

As parents, we could write books of the goals we have for our children.

Our focus can be so intense that we lose sight of the meaningful rewards.

I’m in the process of reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and I have no idea why I’d waited this long. He has some great insights on the nature of Resistance and how we handle it in our lives. It is the force going against us as we attempt to complete the creative act we are called to do.

Pressfield writes that fear is good and we must use it as a barometer as we proceed. The more fear we face, the more we are called to completion and know the path is for us.

Fear, for me, was never anything front and center.  It sat in the back corner of the bedroom late at night, a cold fog that drifted across my pillow and manifested in doubt.  What if, it asked, what if you failed?

What if you lost control?

I had a counselor tell me once that God meets us in the center of our greatest fear. I had mentioned the loss of control and he replied, “then I’d hate to see what may happen.” While I’m not totally over my control issues (why I spend hours behind a keyboard, because the words tend to listen most of the time), I feel like I’m getting better.

Progress requires faith.  Letting go requires picking up our new path.

Our best memories are the ones to come.  We must value our impact on the world.  Our calling will better ourselves and those around us. I pray, every day, that these words will make a difference in someone’s life.

The journey happens in steps. Don’t forget to soak up and enjoy the important moments along the way.

You can, and you will, change someone’s life.  The only question is how.

~Matt