Be different.

About a week ago a young girl who frequents the bookshop and likes to chat with me came into the store and told me that Grandparents/Special Friend Day was coming up at her school. Me: Oh fun!

Her: Well, yes, except, my grandpa can't make it.

Me: Oh no... that's a bummer.

Her: Well... I was wondering... since he can't make it, I'm allowed to invite a special friend.... Would you be my special friend?

What's that? Oh, that mess on the floor? It's just my heart in liquid form. Once I regain my composure, I'll get a mop and clean it right up, I promise.

So, yeah, today I got to go to the local Montessori school for two hours and be this girl's Special Friend for the day, which basically consisted of getting to wear a pin with her face on it and going to classes with her to get a peek into her life at school, followed by a choir concert before we were all dismissed and released back into the wild. It was delightful and I have never felt cooler.

At one point in the day, we were sitting in her homeroom (which is not called homeroom, but I can't remember the cute Montessori term they used, so I'm just applying public school terms to this situation) and as I was looking around, I noticed that on the wall above their 3-D printer (whaaaaaaat) were 8x10 photos of each student and a sentence about who they want to be or what they want to do with their lives. It was cute. While my special friend made her homework to-do list for the week, I started reading each kid's sentence. Most of them were standard: "I want to be a teacher," or "I want to change the world," or one kid's read "I want to make the world laugh" (rock on, little buddy), and then I found my young friend's photo.

"I want to be different."

Things in the news have been bleak lately and I've been trying really hard to keep my optimism going and to only perpetuate happy thoughts. If you've noticed, a good amount of my twitter posts consists of cute puppies and other baby animals. I just want to make people smile and to let them know that there are still things to be happy about.

When I saw this girl's sentence, I felt that feeling that I try and make everyone else feel, and all day long I've been trying to figure out why that made me smile. I think it's because people who intend to be different are the people who tend to think about why they do what they do or don't do. This girl, a sixth-grader, is already adamantly refusing to give in to peer pressure and blending in. She has already decided that standing out was better than all that.

It also helps that I know her, so I know that her version of different isn't achieved by being cruel or tough, but instead by memorizing strange facts and befriending booksellers. It's by writing silly poems and drawing goofy pictures of people, and by volunteering to help build book displays while her dad goes grocery shopping instead of staying home and taking selfies (not that I think selfies are bad, mind you, I just think that a lot of kids would rather take selfies than hang out in bookshops). She's a do-gooder and an all around cool kid. She's certainly different, but I'm certain that she's not alone.

So for all of you who think that the future is lost and that every new generation is worse than the one before you, I want you to know that somewhere out there, there are kids like this one: kids who want to be different. And I want you to remember that being different is what makes a difference.

And I think we're going to be just fine.


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Surround yourself with brilliance.

The other night my writing group held a reading at a local restaurant to honor the memory of a long-time member who recently passed away and to honor the work and life of one of the founding members who is moving away shortly. It was all very sad and very humbling, but also incredibly uplifting and joyous. This writing group, The No Name Writing Group, has been meeting for over thirty years and is more talented than most of its members care to admit or realize. I half-joke a lot about how I'm waiting for them to realize how much of a fraud I am and kick me out. It's not because I don't think I'm a good writer, I think I can put words together just fine, but when I hear their work every month it's hard not to think that I don't belong.

But then I realized something: I'm becoming a better writer every day and it's because of this group. I actually don't think of myself as a complete hack anymore and it's because of this group - and it's not because they are constantly telling me I'm brilliant (although they do try and remind me of it when I need it most), but it's because they are brilliant and I think that it's finally rubbing off on me to some extent.

So this is what I'm here to really say:

  1. Don't surround yourself with people you think you're just as good as, or better than. If you really want to get better at what you do, surround yourself with people who blow your freaking mind.
  2. When you find those people who manage to make you say "Crap, I've got some work to do," make sure that they're people who will love and support you as you work on your projects. There's nothing worse than a brilliant jerk, and they should be avoided as much as possible.

And finally, I want to share the work of some of these brilliant people with you. Please go and read their stuff and bookmark it and tell them how much you love them.

Davyne Verstandig: http://www.davyneverstandig.com/

Karen LaFleur: http://www.lafleurartworks.com/

Merima Trako: http://www.worldaccordingtoblam.com/

This amazing short story by Tom Lagasse: https://www.femininecollective.com/beyond-the-finish-line/

And Tom's website, too!: www.tomlagasse.com

(They don't all have websites, but if I'm missing any, I'll update this list as I go!)

This totally counts as productive... right?

I'm supposed to be cleaning my apartment right now, but I got as far as clearing off my desk and putting some of my books away and then I was like "What's happening on the internet?" and now I'm stuck to my couch and since Boyfriend has already called me once today just to give me a cleaning pep talk, I have decided that all hope is lost and that maybe I should just accept my fate and never move again. It also doesn't help that it's snowing like crazy outside. I mean... this weather basically just begs you to be lazy. It's all "Hey, LOOK: Everything is frozen! Nothing is alive! FOLLOW MY LEAD. FALL TO THE GROUND AND STAY THERE FOR SIX MORE WEEKS. IT'LL BE GREAT."

But I really need to vacuum and there are still some dishes to do and stuff, so I thought I'd text Boyfriend one more time to see if he could help because the dog is all sorts of sheddy right now and this laziness and inability to adult is kind of unacceptable.

Me: I took a break. I can't get up.

Boyfriend: Hehe

Me: I’M A USELESS BLOB OF LAZINESS

Boyfriend: But you're still cute.

Me: CUTE DOESN'T CLEAN.

Boyfriend: That should be an inspirational cat poster.

Me: On it.

Boyfriend: Wait, did I just assist you with procrastinating?

Me: What? No.

I found that kitty picture here: http://www.buypetmedicine.com/pets/general/cute-kittens-and-cats-pictures/

***

In other news, I got an email the other day informing me that I have been nominated for the Funniest Blogging Award over at My So-Called Chaos' Best Blog of 2015 Awards, which is insane!! I didn't even know I was in the running to be nominated, so I'm seriously floored here. Thank you to whoever did this (I think I know who you are!).

This whole contest is based on votes, though, so this is where you come in, you awesome nerds. Click either on the link above or on the graphic below and head on over and cast your votes! Everyone who has been nominated (especially in the humor category) is amazing, so I know this will be tough for some of you, but I believe in you! YOU CAN DO IT!!! YOU GOT THIS!

2015 My So-Called Chaos Best of Blog Awards

 

And THANK YOU!!!