Sunday, November 20, 2011

Another book - another life lesson - The Last Lecture

I recently reread a book called The Last Lecture.  Maybe you're heard of it?  It's a book written by Randy Pausch, a prof at Carnegie Mellon, before he died of cancer.  I had seen an interview on TV with him and his wife years ago and there was something intriguing.  There was acceptance.  There was a positive out of the negative.   I bought the book and read it years ago, promising myself I would read only one chapter at a time...making sure I slowed down to really reflect on it.  Yeah right, I read it straight through. 

This time around something caught my attention - something different than before.  Maybe something I needed to get out of it this time around.  Unfortunately I don't have the book in front of me, so hopefully I don't mess this up.

There is a section in the book about inspiring the dreams of others.   He talks about what a good coach, teacher, parent...should do...inspire others.  He talked not so much on the knowledge passed on, as the inspiration to reach for dreams.  He achieved many!  It got me thinking.  What can we do to inspire our kids to dream? 

Our oldest wants to become a vet.  She is currently applying to colleges and will soon be looking for a job to get her closer to her goal.   She also loves to write.  When she only 14 ( is that right Anna?) she wrote her first novel.  She couldn't publish it because it was fan fiction.  She had read the entire Trixie Belden series and was saddened when she was through...there were no more!  So, she wrote her own.  Did I inspire her to do this?  I am sad to say that I did not.  I wasn't against it by any means, I was just a tired, busy mom whose plate was pretty full.  But, her grandma inspired her!  Every step of the way!  They spent months editing that book...back and forth...until she was finally ready to "publish" it just for her friends.   It was 230 pages.  She became inspired.  She could write a book.  She has since written many short stories, a long running series, and a Catholic Trilogy that she would like to publish.  Again, she's been editing back and forth with her grandma, as well as a few trusted friends (one very good friend who wants to be an editor!  how cool for both of them!) and will soon be contacting publishers.  She knows it's a long shot.  But she's going for it!  I know she's my daughter, but I can honestly say she is a very good writer!  I really think she has a chance!  In fact, I've been trying to get her to push this thing forward much sooner.  But you see, that's my point here.  It was my dream for to try to publish these before she applied to colleges.   Seriously, wouldn't it look great on a resume?  I am a published author, I wrote (I cannot give that one away just yet).  But she writes because she loves it.  Not because she feels it's some sort of job.  She is achieving her dream - not mine.   She wasn't interested in putting life on hold for this.  She began and ran a peer writing club for years, she joined a varsity soccer team, she still takes her younger siblings on special outings.  Her life is balanced. 

All that came about because someone inspired her.  Someone was there to tell her she could do this, and to help her along the way (thanks mom).

Randy Pausch also talks about character.  He helped to choose who would be accepted to the college and who wouldn't.  It wasn't black and white based on grades.  And it wasn't based on a loaded up volunteer list either.  He mentions one young lady in particular.  Her grades weren't stellar.  There really wasn't anything that stood out on her application.  She wasn't immediatley rejected, just put back in the pile to review again if there was still room at the end.  When he opened her file a small thank you card fell out.   He's quick to point out this wasn't a "suck up" thank you card.  The student had actually written it to someone in admissions who helped her to navigate the process.  It was never meant for their eyes, yet the admission counselor had stuck it in her file.  They chose to accept her into the program.  She had integrity.

Integrity and character:  both often overlooked. 

What did I get out of this?  I will try to do more to inspire my kids to achieve their dreams.  To support them along the way.  Maybe point things out they are unaware of.  Give them time to invest of themselves in something they really enjoy.

What can we do to help them?  Whether we have 1 child or 20 makes no difference.  It's not our life to live - it's our childrens'.  Even if we are short on time, we can make sure our kids know we support them and that we will help them achieve their dreams.

So, I guess tomorrow....I better help Terese cut the fabric pieces for the quilt she and Anna want to make in the next month of so.   I'd cut them now since my "insomnia cure" hasn't kicked in, but I have no idea of what they have designed.  It's not always for me to know, just for me to help where I can.

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