Revealing Your Sparkle: My July 4th Wish

“I am like a falling star who has finally found her place next to another in a lovely constellation, where we will sparkle in the heavens forever.” — Amy Tan

Did you know that even a fairly basic fireworks display requires months of planning, a solid 40 hours just to produce the script (yes, they require those) and, on average, $3,000 to $20,000 worth of equipment and supplies? More energy, time and funds go into advertising, fire insurance and safety measures—and don’t forget all the time and energy folks invest in enjoying the festivities. Chances are, you’re among them.

Indeed, we Americans will go far out for a meaningful sparkle. But what if we didn’t have a reason to celebrate? What if, like our founding fathers and other early Americans, we had to carve out our own?

I’ve been pondering these matters a lot lately as Girl Boner work moves along, new opportunities and challenges arise and publishers take interest in my work. Next week I’ll host my 25th episode of Girl Boner Radio (holy schmoley!). If there’s one thing my show and guests have taught me thus far, it’s this: there’s never a reason to stop striving for authenticity, empowerment, passion-filled lives and the fruition of our wildest (read realistic) dreams. If ever I’m in doubt, all I need to do is listen to that inner sparkle. That which makes our heart dance paves the way. Seriously.

sparkle quote

As we gather with loved ones to commemorate our country’s independence, I hope you’ll join me in a little task. Don’t worry—it won’t take much time or money, and there are no fire hazards involved (well, unless that’s your passion—in which case, forget everything I just said! ;)). All it requires is taking a moment to consider your own sparkle. What makes you shine? What are you passionate about? What fills you with giddy butterflies? If your life isn’t chock-full of the answer, what might you do about it?

We’re so blessed to live in a country where we have ample freedom to live and express as ourselves as we see fit—but it’s easy to grow complacent, overly comfy with the comfortable. If we truly want that “something more” kind of life, though, which I suspect many of you do, we’ve got to live with passion.

As I explained on the air this week, it’s so important to be turned on by our lives. When we are, Tan’s quote becomes autobiographical. Every moment won’t fill us with metaphorical fireworks, but some will. Some days we’ll have magnificent, sky-wide displays. Best of all, we’ll be better able to light up others’ skies with our glow. In between, we can dance, play, rest, learn and dream in the clouds, sunshine, rainbows and storms, gratified by the knowledge that we’re living life fully.

An awesome TED talk I watched the other night featured a woman who “faked it until she became it.” After a traumatic brain injury lowered her IQ and confidence during college, Amy Cuddy was encouraged to show up to academic challenges every time she felt afraid. She did, and eventually became the person she aspired to be—a successful grad student and, later, an esteemed professor and researcher at Harvard. When it comes to our inner-sparkle, I think we sometimes have to fake it until we reveal it. In other words, it’s always there. If  it goes into hiding or hasn’t yet been revealed, it’s up to us to change that.

What lights your inner-fire? What are you doing about it? What could you do? I love hearing from you! ♥

Wishing you and yours a happy, safe holiday!

The Freedom to Write

“If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.” — Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

I’m all about breaking rules when it serves a worthy purpose. As we gear up to celebrate the United States’ birthday, I’ve been thinking about the many rules that have been bent and broken so that we writers can freely pursue our passions, and how lucky we are to be writers period.

Consider the following:

  • During the 18th century, many women authors took on male pen names in order to be taken seriously. I can only imagine how many women never pursued writing at all, out of similar fears, or because the words female and author weren’t considered a harmonious pair.
  • In the age of slavery in the U.S., slaves who could read and write were esteemed members of black society, yet anyone caught teaching slaves to literary skills were subject to fines, whippings and imprisonment. Some of the bravest slaves wrote their way toward intellectual freedom, meanwhile risking—sometimes losing—their lives.
  • One in five adults worldwide are illiterate, according to the United Nations Literacy Decade. And only about 61 percent of adults in low-income countries can and and write. This isn’t right or fair or easy to wrap our heads around.

We can’t likely change the whole world quickly or on our own, but we can make the most of our freedom by pursuing our passions with gusto. If we buy into negative notions, such as “writing isn’t a real job,” we take away from the efforts of millions along the way—men, women and children who read and wrote anyway—when it wasn’t considered right, good, safe or easy. We owe it to them, our loved ones and ourselves to read and write our butts off.

Writing IS freedom. For many artists, writing is a necessary pathway toward emotional fulfillment, a sense of community and acceptance, sanity and even physical health. As we watch fireworks and gather with loved ones this holiday week, I hope you’ll also take time to celebrate the freedom we have to put words on the page. Through our thoughts and stories, we can entertain, inspire, educate and change the world.

Toward that end, I’m putting a little something for writers together, and would LOVE your contributions. To participate, send a photo of you holding a sign that reads “I AM A WRITER!” or conveys the idea in other ways. Chosen photos will be featured in a permanent collaboration on my site. Yep, that’s all the detail you’re gonna get, for now. 😉 Email the photos to me (august at augustmclaughlin dot com) by July 21st.

Wishing you a healthy, safe and joy-filled 4th of July!

How are you celebrating the 4th or other summer holidays? Do you wear your “I’m a writer” badge proudly, or do you still need a little nudging? 😉 Anything you’re particularly grateful for this summer?