Tag Archives: hard work

Hooray for Leo and tired artists everywhere!

Artists don’t become artists overnight. I hate the phrase, “overnight sensation” because it’s a lie. I remember when people were amazed at the talents of Christoph Waltz in “Inglorious Bastards.” When he won the Oscar many referred to him as an “overnight success.” The actor who’d been acting since his teens and staring in German westerns since the 70’s laughed. He credited his success to persistence saying, “That it was worthwhile sticking it through. That it was worthwhile to develop it.” I’m sure today Leonardo DiCaprio is saying something similar.

Way to go Leo! For years we’ve watched his talent grow in roles wondering when he would have his time to shine. For me he didn’t take home the coveted Oscar for his role in “The Revenant.” While the role was deserving and impressive I think of his win as being an applause to his amazing career to date.

Congratulations to Leonardo DiCaprio and hardworking artists everywhere! Credit: Getty Images

Congratulations to Leonardo DiCaprio and hardworking artists everywhere! Credit: Getty Images

It takes a special kind of person to be an artist. Most things we do go unnoticed and unappreciated. Few of us get recognized in the grandiose way that Leo did but it’s a life that suites many. I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. While I’m published in non-fiction and have over 5,000 freelance articles to my name I’ve been working towards publication in fiction for over five years now. I’m also a dancer who choreographs two shows a year and runs a successful dance studio in the Middle East.

Art is what I do and I do feel lonely and unappreciated in what I do except for times of motivation like today that came from Leonardo DiCaprio’s win. He’s worked long and hard and can easily demonstrate the attributes of an artist: someone who is persistent in their craft and obviously has a passion and drive for it. In his attempts for acting’s highest honor he never stopped taking risks and going after challenging roles. He gives everything he does his 100% effort and even in the light of rejections he handles himself with poise and class.

Today is a day that all artists, no matter how hard they work with little appreciation, should stop and acknowledge our fellow artist Leonardo DiCaprio. He is proof that time and hard work do payoff. Now with that in mind, back to work on this WIP ☺ Happy writing, dancing or whatever form of art you passionately do.

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The Great Bunny Rescue

Today marks the fourth anniversary of one of my greatest adventures and accomplishments. When we briefly lived in Arkansas our dog, Oscar brought to my attention that our backyard had become home to a rabbit nest. There were three precious, adorable, and wild bunnies taking up residency on our property. I never saw the mother but I read that she was most likely around and the best thing to do for the bunnies were to let them be. So we did our best to ignore the cuteness until one day…

Diamond and Jedi at 2 months old. Such furry cuteness!

Diamond and Jedi at 2 months old. Such furry cuteness!

I could never live in tornado alley again and that would be fine by me. I hate those scary storms and one night we got hit hard. This particular storm was heavier in rain than twisters and quickly our yard was flooding. I ran out to check on the bunnies. One was stuck in the nest, her back legs were stuck in mud and she was reaching her head up in order to breath. Her screams were haunting and the other two were sitting just outside the nest looking on helplessly. I know all my internet research on the topic of raising bunnies indicated that it could not be done. I read stories of trained professionals failing at rescuing wild bunnies and if I couldn’t find a way to rehabilitate them for the wild, domesticating them would be next to impossible. At that moment I had to choose and I chose to give them a chance. Sure failure was likely but I refused to sit by and let them die when I was there and able to intervene. So I grabbed kitchen gloves, because who wants rabies and these were wild animals, and a large Tupperware bowl. I quickly grabbed the first two with no problem and then closed my eyes, prayed and hoped for the best as I yanked the other one out of the mud. She slipped out with ease but was nonresponsive by the time I got her inside. They were all freezing so I wrapped them in warm towels from the dryer and sat them in a box before heading out in the store to the nearest farm and hardware store to get supplies.

When I returned with a heating lamp, kitten replacement milk and syringes (because any bottle was too big) I was happy to find three living bunnies. There the real work began. For weeks I fed them every 3 hours and took care of them. They became 20 times more time consuming than my human baby. One bunny, Artemis didn’t make it. Her system rejected the replacement milk. I knew going in that this was a likely outcome but was thrilled when I reached the point when it was obvious that the other two bunnies were in the clear. Then the big question was, what to do with the bunnies. The vet practice I took them to said that they were too domesticated to ever return to the wild. To be honest though, after over 6 weeks of caring for them I had no intention of giving Jedi and Diamond away. They were litter box trained and responded to their names. I was blown away at how much personality and individuality these little bunnies had.

So that is the story of our Diamond and Jedi. In 4 years they have lived a lot. They’ve gone through multiple road trips and two moves, one of which was to Saudi Arabia. They have been with us through the loss of a child and the birth of another. They are proud big sisters to two rambunctious puppies and a cat who they would prefer to disown. Life for these once nearly drowned bunnies is golden.

While I am NOT a rabbit person, I am totally into my bunny girls. I do feel the need to point out that rabbits are a lot of work and require a lot of maintenance. They are sweet and adorable but please do not buy someone a bunny for Easter. Also, what the experts say are true. It is best to leave a wild bunny alone. In my case I felt I had no choice and I was willing to accept the sleepless nights and countless hours of caring for them. Even then I consider the success of my bunnies to be mostly pure luck. I would strongly caution anyone who wanted to take on such a project.

So whenever I’m feeling down about my writing or overwhelmed at all I have to do I go love on my bunnies. They are the truest testament to persistence and endurance. I know that I can do whatever I set my mind to. I was told raising the bunnies was impossible. Don’t tell my little furry girls that!

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Relief and lessons from success

No matter what we do. We could be writers, dancers, artists, spouses, parents, children, etc. We all work for something. It could be personal or professional or a mix of both but I’m willing to bet that you’ve worked hard for something and are probably working hard for something right now. We do that as we move forward in life always striving for the next thing.

Last weekend I hosted a dance Showcase for my dance students. It was the first time I’ve held such an event with my new dance business here in Saudi. When I taught in the States I had this process down to a fine art. I knew what to do and when, and even though it was still hard work it was mostly a routine. Here I’ve been paving new roads and making connections. This past year has been a constant battle of administrative whit in addition to the usual responsibilities of being a dance teacher.

I’m thrilled to say that while the day was long and tiring everything went perfectly. I had happy dancers and parents and just seeing them dance their dances, showing off all that they’ve learned—I’m still smiling about it.

Running this Showcase though is like doing any other thing, it takes work. There is planning and implementation and dedication. Sounds a lot like writing? I thought so. This is why I love how I’m involved in multiple things. I learn from each and apply that knowledge to everything I do. From the Showcase I learned what it’s like to work hard within another culture. At times I was frustrated over how people could not understand that I need ample set up time. I couldn’t just go “poof” and the chairs, stage, décor, etc. would appear. Everything I did to prepare for this event had to be explained and justified again and again. I was building relationships and helping people understand and this goes for everyone here – every nationality. When you live in a place long enough it’s easy to fall into its ways and forget how things are managed elsewhere. So running a Showcase for one dance class was considerably harder than running an entire recital but I learned from it and so did everyone I worked with.

What I took from this was a reminder of the benefits of hard work. Yes, that sounds cheesy and yes we should all know that lesson but it’s nice to get a reminder every now and then. It’s easy to feel down on my writing some days when I’ve been writing fiction for four years now and I still feel far from my goals. But thanks to events like my Showcase I’m reminded of what success feels like and how much sweeter it is when I’ve worked so hard for it.

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The Recipe for Luck

“I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

That is one of my favorite quotes and in my office I have a print of it framed where the text is printed on a sea of three-leaf clovers. While Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t necessarily associated with luck the three-leaf clover that is associated with the holiday is. Three-leaf clovers remind me of this quote. It tells a truth that everyone can be inspired by.

We can all do our best to create luck but at the end of the day, Jefferson’s theory that hard work generates luck is true. No one became a bestseller by not busting their butts writing the best novel that they could write. No one got a promotion at work without working hard, no one reached a goal without taking steps towards it, and the list could go on and on. I’m sure there are some rare instances where the work didn’t seem too hard to justify the reward but I’m willing to bet they are rare or that an individual’s hard work simply went unnoticed but indeed took place.

Just this morning I worked for hours on deep edits on my young adult novel. It’s my goal to see that book on shelves and eventually on bestseller lists. Taking the time on those tedious edits is just one example of the hard work I’m putting into my writing career. I’m making it possible for me to experience “luck.”

Finding available space at the compound I live on is like finding water in the vast Saudi desert. It’s very difficult. I am a trained dancer and when I saw a giant hole in children programming over here I knew that I wanted to teach again. I had a talent to offer even though I shifted my art focus to storytelling these past few years. I love to dance and help others and when I was initially told that I had no space to teach I kept working to find a solution. It took me a year of meetings and actually going to see different facilities and different times of days to check availability. I just returned from teaching a tap and jazz class to some wonderfully talented and happy girls. Without my dedication and hard work my dance classes would not be happening.

No one really likes hard work, if we could skip to the end and live the dream that would be so much easier. That is not an option. I honestly find my success so much more rewarding when I look back at what I did to achieve it. “Luck” comes with a price and Thomas Jefferson was right, it is hard work.

Allrecipes.com

Allrecipes.com

So when you’re wearing your green and drinking a Guinness take a moment and think about luck. Have you found that your “lucky” moments stemmed from hard work? How can you work harder to find the luck you seek? Lately I’ve been asking myself, “Am I working hard enough? How can I work harder and more efficiently?” I know what I need to do to accomplish my dreams. Do you?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I challenge you to go create some luck through hard work but take a break to make some yummy cookies ☺

We all know I’m a sucker for a good recipe. These “All Recipes Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies” are divine! Enjoy!

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Finding inspiration in the Olympics

Today launches the start of the XXII Winter Olympic Games and I cannot express to you enough on how excited my house is. My family has always loved the Olympics, both the winter and summer events. It’s a great opportunity to see sports that you don’t see all the time and I love how countries come together to celebrate the tradition and compete to completion. Mostly though I love the inspiration that can be found in every aspect of the games. I’m a dancer (which isn’t an Olympic event) and a writer. I find inspiration and motivation in the acts of the athletes that I use to apply to my own life. But really no matter what you do you can find inspiration in these games.

The Olympics is the symbol of hard work. Whatever sport is up those athletes became Olympians through hard work, dedication and talent. Notice how I put talent last. In so many pre-Olympic articles the topics are not about talent but about mindset and the athletes preparation. That is how most things are. For example, with writing I see that it is more about persistence than anything. Each day I have to stay in my chair and write or I’ll never accomplish my goal of publishing my fiction work. Same thing with dance, I may have talent but if I don’t practice and study new trends then what kind of dance instructor would I be?

Like anything in life how you look at it can help you reach your goals. In one article I read recently it talked about how strict Scott Hamilton was going into his Olympic games. It talked about the intense pressure he felt especially with being the favorite to win gold. He said that he tried to shut out as much as he could about the games and focus on his routine. Figure skaters Meryl Davis and Charlie White are seen as favorites for these games. They expressed their plan to have fun and get out and experience the games. Two different approaches but no wrong answer.

I love hearing about different athletes and how they mentally cope with the pressure. Their techniques are ideas that everyday non-Olympians can apply to daily tasks and on up to dreams. And how can you not be inspired by such great triumphs? I still remember screaming in front of my television when the U.S. men took to the pool and won the 4×100 relay. That final touch of the wall was amazing to watch over and over. Remember great Olympic performances such as Michael Johnson, USA “Dream Team” in basketball, Usain Bolt, the 1980 USA hockey team, Mary Lou Retton’s perfect score, Michael Phelps, Kerri Strug and all the other wonderful athletes and moments.

This year as you watch the Olympics (and I hope you will) be sure to pay attention to the stories that take place off the competing areas. Listen to the stories of personal triumph, those who have conquered battles greater than a gold medal and those that can teach us about the power of will. Those are the stories I love best and the stories that will inspire me for many writing days ahead.

Though we won’t be seeing this event at the winter games, take a look and relive one of my favorite Olympic moments.

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