― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel
I was sitting on the patio yesterday thinking about people and things that influenced my life. There were several teachers who made their marks. One was kind and convinced me that I could do things that I thought impossible. The other wrote me off and made me determined to prove I could do anything I set my mind on. My dad used to tell me that regularly, even in a time when most parents believed a wedding band was what a girl should strive for in her life. When I applied to, and was turned down from the best nursing program in the North East, he made an appointment for us to see the dean of admittance. He told me to convince her that they should reconsider. I did, and they did. Although I went to, and ultimately left the school and nursing, it was my dad who taught me my most important lesson. From that day on, the word NO was just a starting place, and I was (and still am) determined to get what I want for myself and those I love.
I am influenced by Arthur and my wonderful children much more than they realize. My sister Judy is well aware of her influences on me, and she never uses it for anything but my happiness. Though these people have made a major difference in my life, I have also been influenced by literature and poetry through the years. During high school, I found Robert Frost's words tremendously inspirational. He helped me understand that doing "your own thing" made you strong, not nerdy. Thoreau's words in Walden, "If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away," somehow seemed to sum up my teenage angst and make it all okay.
Then in college I was introduced to Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese artist, poet, and writer, who seemed to have read my heart and mind when he wrote The Prophet. I read that thin book so often that I needed a replacement copy senior year. The words of Julius Caesar (thank you Shakespeare ) “A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once," made me braver, and Mother Teresa's words, "We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do," made me kinder.
Then I found the words of Dave Barry in a newspaper one day, and I couldn't stop laughing. He just made me happy, so I looked him up on Amazon and purchased a book of his essays. Simple and silly, they made me laugh at him and at myself when I saw myself in his words. Dave Barry helped teach me the joy of laughing at the everyday insanity that surrounds us. So this week I am suggesting that you read my review of You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About, and then order a copy to read for yourself.
If you want to get a bit more serious, one of my favorite authors, Rick Mofina, gives us another episode in the life of reporter Kate Page. His latest thriller, Full Tilt, has Kate searching for a sister she watched drown many years before, and it is written in typical Mofina style. He never lets up!
Well, tomorrow we pick Mike up from the airport and start our whirlwind of a weekend. My niece's wedding is on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, so we are hoping Florida's weather continues to be the best in the nation. Hope all of you northerners are thawing out and planning your trips to sunny Florida.
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