Tall Poppy Diaries

Observations and musings on life as a happy high-achiever (or what the Aussie's call a "Tall Poppy" ). "Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have." --Oprah Winfrey

Thursday, August 12, 2004


  Stick-Figures, Faith and Friends

"Getting ahead in a difficult profession -- singing, acting, writing, whatever -- requires avid faith in yourself. You must be able to sustain yourself against staggering blows and unfair reversals. When I think back to those first couple of years in Rome, those endless rejections, without a glimmer of encouragement from anyone, all those failed screen tests, and yet I never let my desire slide away from me, my belief in myself and what I felt I could achieve."

--Sophia Loren

Last night, I was sifting through stacks of my children's school work from last year--deciding what to keep and what to toss. I came across a notebook belonging to my seven-year-old that was supposedly his "journal" from first grade. Page after page, every drawing was virtually identical--a stick figure with the arms and legs out to the side, a round circle for a head, a smiling face drawn on, and a little tuft of hair on the top and sides of the head. I remembered him showing it to me proudly at Christmas time:

"See Mommy, this is me doing a wheelie on my bike! ... And this is me on a skateboard... This is me doing a trick on a skateboard...This is me saying, "I love you, Mommy!...."

And on, and on, it went--with him showing me the same picture page after page, each one supposedly representative of something totally different from the previous identical drawing.

Finally, we reached the end of the book and my son asked, "Could you tell what a good skateboarder I would be if you would let me have a skateboard?" This coming from a seven-year-old who watches the X-Games like other children watch cartoons...a child with no sense of his own mortality...a child who will practice endlessly until he perfects his latest stunt on his bike. So I said, "Well, drawing yourself skateboarding and actually riding on a skateboard are two different things! And besides, I didn't even see a helmet on your head or pads on your elbows and knees."

Totally frustrated by my lack of attention to the "finer details" of his drawing, my son flipped to a page that supposedly showed him completely decked out in all of his gear and said, "SEE? It's all right there...you just have to WANT to see it. I WANT to see it, so I DO! Do YOU want to see it, or not? 'Cause if you can't see it, that means that you just want me to be too little to ride. All of my friends who want me to ride the skateboard see it. They told me that it looks like I'm going to be really good...and THAT'S how I know that I will be! THEY see it, I see it, and I want you to see it. Can't you see how good I will be?"

And, then, in that instance, I could see it. As scary a sight as it was, I could see it. I could see how much he believed in himself. And as if he weren't tenacious enough on his own, his friends had rallied and convinced him that they could see it, too.

So I replied, "Yes, I can TOTALLY see it! You're going to be spectacular! You never give up, you believe in yourself, your friends believe in you...you are going to be awesome! You are also going to be OLDER when you get a skateboard, but once you get it, I know that you will be INCREDIBLE!"

In that instance, his eyes lit up and he went running out to show his Daddy his book, which he proclaimed was now "full of pictures of me doing tricks on my skateboard". My son was content knowing that I believed in him, whether he was going to get the skateboard for Christmas (which he didn't) or not.

So this morning, as I refocused my mind on working toward the publication of my book, I took three tacks from my drawer and hung three items on the side of the bookshelf beside me:

* The Sophia Loren quote above that reminds me why I keep moving forward with my book
* A stick-figure, pencil-drawn by a six-year old, on a slightly ripped piece of notebook paper
* A picture of me with a few of my friends who have always rallied and "seen" my book in print, too.

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