The Best That Could Happen

I joined a local Toastmasters club earlier this spring to pursue one of my goals to become a motivational speaker. The chapter I belong to meets weekly every Monday with the exception of holidays. This was one of the best decisions I made not only to accomplish my goal, but for also my personal development. I have so much fun at our meetings learning how to improve my public speaking skills and interacting with my fellow Toastmasters.

This week, I gave my third Toastmasters speech as part of my Competent Communication manual. The manual consists of ten different projects where the speaker needs to complete ten different speeches that have a specific objective. There’s a part of me that’s not yet comfortable having my speeches videotaped, but I wish I did last Monday. I received so much positive feedback and constructive criticism about my third speech. The following is a revised version of my speech I wrote this morning. Perhaps one day I’ll record myself reciting this speech. That definitely sounds like a plan. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me because all feedback is welcomed. Enjoy.

Bill

The Best That Could Happen

Introduction

Good Evening, Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and honored guests. I’d like to begin tonight’s speech with a little mental exercise: imagine yourself about to make a life changing decision, something that will require you to step outside of our comfort zone, making sacrifices that you don’t want to do. Do you have that image inside your mind? Good. For some individuals, they’re excited, confident, and ready to do what’s necessary to achieve that goal; for others, they’re intimidated, afraid, and hesitant to initiate change. I can’t speak for anyone else, but there were some moments in my life where I fell into that latter category whether it was changing jobs, pursuing a personal relationship, or taking advantage of a business opportunity that could’ve changed my life for the better. I thought of every negative excuse to talk myself out of taking action, always anticipating the worst that could happen. Tonight, I’ll be discussing how people can change their mindset by no longer anticipating the worst that could happen; instead, anticipating the best that could happen.

Body

Not too long ago, I was employed as a wellness counselor where I facilitated group counseling sessions to adults enrolled in a partial care program. One of my favorite groups that I loved to teach was Positive Psychology. For those who are unfamiliar with this subject, it’s a theoretical orientation that helps people focus on using optimism and happiness to manage their mental health issues. One positive psychology coping skill I used and found effective not only with my clients, but also for myself was positive self-talk. Whenever negative thoughts entered my mind as I contemplated doing something I’ve never done before, I immediately challenged them with several positive thoughts. For example, a typical conversation inside my mind would go something like this:

Negative Self-Talk: I want to become a motivational speaker, but I don’t know if I have what it takes to be successful.

Positive Self-Talk: That’s an awesome idea! You’re a talented writer and you’ve got an excellent speaking voice.

Negative Self-Talk: There are thousands of individuals who are already earning a living doing so.

Positive Self-Talk: Yes, there are thousands of individuals already earning a living in this profession, but none of them have traveled your journey, lived your life, or could tell your personal story.

Negative Self-Talk: What if I fail in this endeavor?

Positive Self-Talk: What if you succeed in this endeavor? Imagine how much your life would change for the better.

Negative Self-Talk: But suppose…

Positive Self-Talk: STOP!!!

Sometimes it was necessary for me to shut down the negative self-talk before things got out of hand. Repeated use of positive self-talk enhanced my self-confidence and minimized the negativity.

Another coping skill I also employed to anticipate the best that could happen was visualization. Some athletes use this technique to empower themselves before engaging in physical activity to increase their performance. I often use visualization when I’m exercising with free weights. Sometimes I listen to inspirational music to give myself an extra boost of adrenaline. One of my favorite songs is “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from the Rocky movie. I imagine myself successfully completing my exercise routine just like Rocky Balboa running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum 40 years ago. Visualization, like positive self-talk, has also been very powerful for me, increasing my hope to achieve my goal.

Conclusion

Anticipating the best that could happen can be an excellent motivator for anyone to take risks to pursue new opportunities. I’d like to conclude this speech with the same mental exercise where you imagined yourself making a life-changing decision to step outside of your comfort zone. As you’re sitting there recalling that image, what are some thoughts crossing your mind? Are they negative? If so, I challenge you to start thinking positive thoughts to increase your optimism. Can you visualize yourself successfully achieving your goal? If not, do so. See yourself transforming your life for the better with positive self-talk and visualization. Thank you, Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and honored guests.

 

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My Twin

Twins

My Twin

Thanksgiving is only two days away. I’m looking forward to spending some time to relax, eat some delicious meals, watch some football, and enjoy quality time with my loved ones. I’m not sure what time I’ll be crossing the Walt Whitman Bridge to head over to Philly but the first person I plan to see is my father. I saw Dad almost ten days ago at Philly’s Men Are Cookin’, an annual cooking event hosted by the Ivy Legacy Foundation where he has participated since its inception for the past 23 years. Almost every year Dad prepares his famous collard greens that he serves with either turkey or pork. I’ve participated in the event on a few times, but this is more Dad’s thing than mine since my stepmother and Dad’s wife Betty is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Rho Theta Omega chapter. They are quite delicious and I have to give Dad credit where its due because my father can throw down and prepare some slammin’ collard greens.

I try my best to come out and support Dad at Philly’s Men Are Cookin’ if my schedule permits, and I was glad to be able to do so this year. At the end of the night prior to the Ivy Legacy Foundation giving out their awards for that evening, Dad was acknowledged by the committee for his participation in Philly’s Men Are Cookin’ for 23 years. I was so proud to see him get that recognition even though he attempted to get me to go onstage since I’m his namesake, but this was his moment. Had the Ivy Legacy Foundation not give Dad that special acknowledgement, I was still proud of my father not only for his dedication, but also for being my parent and a significant, positive influence in my life. I took some pictures that evening, posting them on Instagram and Facebook. There was one I referred to as Dad and his twin since I do resemble him.

As I’m sitting here composing these words, I’m thinking about the impact that Dad has had upon me. He wasn’t the perfect father, and I don’t think one exists, despite the images I saw in my early childhood and adolescence on television sitcoms that aired in the 1970s and the 1980s. Dad was my father. He was a provider, a supporter, and an encourager who always wanted the best for his children. Sometimes he had his moments, but then again so did I (another story perhaps for another time) and nobody’s perfect. It feels great to reminisce about how Dad has contributed to my overall growth and development as a man, an artist, and a writer.

Art. Outside of my immediate family, not too many people know that Dad can draw. I remember my paternal grandmother sharing with me during my childhood some sketches that Dad drew from the Walt Disney movie The Lady and the Tramp when he was a teenager. I also share that same ability because I enjoyed sketching comic book characters when I was a child. Dad would bring home comic books he purchased for me at Robbin’s Bookstore on 13th Street near the corner of Sansom Street, and I would draw my heart’s content. At one point, I wanted to be a comic book artist, but that was a gift I never felt comfortable sharing with the rest of the world unlike my writing.

Writing. When I visited Dad on the weekends after my biological parents separated and divorced in 1981, I would always ask Dad if I could have a pencil and a yellow pad to write. He always supplied my request, allowing me to write down my ideas and whatever thoughts came across my pre-adolescent mind. I found contentment just sitting there writing. In my early adulthood when I decided I wanted to be an author, I told Dad I wanted to write mysteries. Dad supplied me with every mystery book he read or went out to purchase on the subject. When I first started reciting poetry, Dad and Betty would frequently attend some of my featured performances back in the late 1990s.

Star Wars. The intergalactic space opera that was a life-changing experience for a seven-year-old, introverted, uncoordinated, artistic child growing up in Southwest Philadelphia. Dad took me to see the original Star Wars back in 1977 and it gave the ability to dream and pursue my creativity despite the fact that it drove my mother and my second grade art teacher Mrs. Kendall up the wall with every project I made in art class had themes to the movie. He also took me to see The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 on several occasions, which really increased my aspirations to become the next George Lucas. I remembered spending that summer trying to write the next chapter in the Star Wars trilogy until I discovered the anime television show Star Blazers on television. There’s a part of me that wishes I actually wrote that sequel since I wasn’t 100% satisfied with Return of the Jedi (I don’t like Ewoks).

Chess. I discovered and learned how to play chess in the second grade. I was fascinated by the strategies involved with how to win the game using the different pieces to maneuver around the chessboard. I remember coming home from school that day sharing with Dad my excitement for the game. Unfortunately, our family at the time didn’t own a chess set; however, that didn’t stop my father from denying his son until he could purchase one. Dad took a checker board and every United States coin currency he had and crafted a chess set for us to play using pennies for pawns; nickels for rooks; dimes for knights; quarters for bishops; a fifty cent coin for the queen (Susan B. Anthony coins weren’t invented back in 1977); and a dollar coin for the king. As weird as it sounds, it worked as Dad and I played our first chess match.

Family. Dad has always served as the father figure to his younger siblings. His dedication and commitment to family has always impressed me, generously providing to his loved ones, including his children, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, and most recently his next door neighbor’s children who he adopted as his great-grandchildren. That’s something I’ve always admired about him even though I am not a father. I’ve recognized this trait in my brother Mike who carries that generational torch in his relationship with his daughters and my nieces Camilla and Kamiah. I also try my best (and it’s not easy as times) to dedicate and commit myself to the individuals who I consider my loved ones.

Men’s Health. Dad has always been my role model when it comes to taking care of one’s health and well-being. He was the first one that taught me how to shave at 13. He was also the one who gave me the birds-and-the-bees conversation at 15, but I already knew what I needed to know after taking Health in the 8th grade. Dad had an impact on the way I dress letting me read his copies of GQ when I was a teenager. In recent years, we’ve shared conversations about men’s health issues as we both are growing older as adults as we inquire about our health and reprimand each other when one doesn’t disclose to the other when they’re feeling ill.

Determination/Resiliency. Dad is one of the most determined and resilient human beings I know. Whenever my father focuses his efforts upon accomplishing a particular task, he will put in the time and effort to see that task completed. He never allows anything to stand in his way and will have no problem transforming the impossible into the possible. He educates himself on how to do home repairs to the best of his ability from plumbing to drywall to electrical work to minor automotive repair. I also inherited that same trait when it came to accomplishing my creative endeavors, especially writing my first novel One Love. This is something I plan to apply more often when it comes to my future creative endeavors.

Thanks, Dad, for the positive impact you’ve made into my life.

Love,

Your Twin,

Bill

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An Open Letter to Fear about My Writing

1 October 2015

Dear Fear,

It’s difficult for me to find the words I want to say to you as I sit down to compose this letter, but I’m determined to do so. It’s best for you to know how you made me feel these past weeks. You’ve caused me to have doubts about my passion for writing. You’ve flooded my thoughts with insecurities about my talent. I’ve procrastinated putting off working on projects, participating in various writing groups, and doing writing assignments that could bring out the best in my creativity. To make matters worse, you’ve caused me to seriously contemplate stop writing on several occasions. When that last thought crossed my mind, I decided enough was enough.

I’m getting tired of riding this emotional roller coaster with you. I can rant about all the things you’ve done to make me feel miserable, to think negative thoughts, and to wallow in self-pity, but I’m not going to anymore. I’ve surrendered so much wasted power and energy to you in the past. I’m declaring my power over you by choosing to think, to speak, and to bring positivity into my passion. I may not be where I desire to be as a writer and an author, but I’m comfortable with who I am and the person I’m becoming.

I want to thank you for the lessons learned, the understanding acquired, the strength developed, and the courage created to push you aside despite the things you did to interfere with my creativity. On the days where you kept telling me “It’s okay not to write, Bill,” I wrote anyway. You would whisper in my ear, “You’re not making any progress,” and “You won’t find the words to say anything,” I kept writing. Every obstacle you attempted to place in my way, I overcame by reminding myself, “I am a writer and this is what I was born to do.” I’m grateful you made me rediscover and reaffirm my self-confidence to know that every word I write is not and will never be a wasted effort.

Goodbye, fear, because you will no longer steal my joy to write anymore. You can take all of your negative relatives with you, go kick rocks, and play in traffic.

Deuces,

Bill Holmes

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Three Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

As a writer, I personally don’t believe in writer’s block, but some writers do. In the past, I thought I suffered from this problem because I was unable to write something related to my creative aspirations. Writer’s block is nothing more than a cognitive distortion that can interfere with a writer’s creativity, allowing my fear to place limitations upon my abilities. I overcame this challenge when I started teaching my creative writing course Write Here! Write Now! In my opinion, there are three ways to overcome writer’s block: 1) believing you can write, 2) developing a writing plan, and 3) engaging in writing.

1. Believing You Can Write

The first lesson I taught as a as a creative writing instructor was instilling the belief to my students they could write. Before any person wants to accomplish a goal, he or she needs to have belief. An individual can possess all the talent to write a New York Times best seller but if that person lacks belief, then talent is meaningless. One of my childhood heroes growing up was the boxer Muhammad Ali. The general public remembers Ali for the quote “I am the greatest,” but there was a second part to that quote that’s often excluded: “I am the greatest! I said that before I even knew I was!” Before he began training, Muhammad Ali had to believe in himself or he would’ve been defeated prior to throwing one punch. I encouraged my students to believe they are writers regardless of their accomplishments and/or desires by repeating to themselves and also writing the words I AM A WRITER in their journals until they gained self-confidence to write.

2. Developing a Writing Plan

Once belief has been established, the next step is to develop a writing plan. It’s important that planning occurs before actually writing. Some beginning writers who possess tremendous enthusiasm may find themselves overwhelmed and quit doing so if they start recklessly writing without creating a plan. For example, a runner training to participate in his or her first marathon doesn’t start running 26.2 miles on the first training day. He or she designs a training schedule that incorporates the availability and the frequency of runs per week to increase strength and endurance to compete in the event. Writers need to have a plan that will provide them with the structure to write and develop their craft. I made a commitment to myself to write a minimum of 1,000 words every day between 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. from Monday to Friday and any time on weekends. Sometimes I may not achieve my minimum but I write something, anything, even if it’s my name. My schedule provides me with the structure I need to accomplish my daily writing goal. Whenever I work on any literary projects, I create handwritten outlines to assist me with structure. An example of one of my outlines can be found at the following link: http://behind-the-book.blogspot.com/2007/08/marathon.html. Having a schedule and structure enables me to achieve my writing goals, which is the perfect segue to my final point: engaging in writing.

3. Engaging in Writing

Now that belief is present and a plan has been created, it’s time to do the work. Writers need to be committed towards pursuing their creative endeavors. There will be some days when a writer doesn’t feel like writing, and that’s natural. There will be some days when a writer doesn’t know what to say, and that’s also natural. I’ve experienced both feelings in the past, but I wrote anyway. Another quote from Muhammad Ali that I like and is applicable to this point: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” Every writer suffers at some point in his or her literary journey to find something to write about. Another exercise I taught in my writing class is having my students take a piece of paper and writing the words I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY on the first line. Using that statement as a writing prompt, I made them write about their insecurities about writing until they completed the entire page without repeating the same prompt on every line. Writers will identify and eliminate any negative thoughts that interfere with their flow. I’ve employed this technique, too, with my own writing and discovered myself becoming more relaxed and creative as I wrote with ideas appearing inside my mind.

If you have any suggestions or recommendations as to how you overcame writer’s block, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you so much for reading my blog post.

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Why I Continue to Write

I don’t want to write anymore. That was the thought that crossed my mind and woke me out of my sleep Saturday morning sometime around 2:00 a.m. I hadn’t felt creative and productive for the past several weeks even though I written in my journal for 42 consecutive days since 14 June. Journaling my thoughts alleviated some of the tension and the stress I was placing on myself, but it also became a distraction for me to really do something that would progress me with my creative aspirations. The stress and challenges of my professional career as a mental health counselor along with not engaging in self-care strategies (e.g., exercise, reading, cooking) I should’ve been doing so were taking their toll on my well-being. The pressure I placed upon myself to accomplish my goals were also contributing to my stress. The financial struggles I experienced for the past several months to obtain additional income were affecting me, too. I felt overwhelmed by all the ideas I desire to accomplish with my creative, and when this occurs, I don’t feel productive and will waste my time procrastinating watching television until the electronic device starts watching me. I started to question whether or not I was becoming depressed again. Maybe, maybe not, but I’ve been down this road too many times, and I’m tired of this journey.

The last thing I want to do is to quit writing. The thought of never wanting to write another idea, word, thought, sentence, paragraph, etc., would make me miserable. That would be a slow death for me. I knew what had to be done and activated my laptop, logged onto Microsoft Word, and started typing away on the keyboard. I wrote for almost 90 minutes this morning before the sunrise. It felt awesome to focus my efforts towards journaling any thoughts and ideas that came to my mind, uninterrupted by the quiet inside my living room, free from the distractions of television, music, and social networking. My flow was effortless and this morning’s journaling session may have been the most honest one I’ve completed to date. The negative thoughts dissipated the more I engaged into my creative task. I didn’t give a damn about being grammatically correct as I put my internal editor on hold writing my shitty journal entry, borrowing from Anne Lamott’s shitty first draft expression to describe my first attempt at a piece of work. 90 minutes, 3 pages, and 1,725 words later, I felt better, rejuvenated, and empowered to continue writing. This journaling session was the foot in my ass to kick start my motivation.

I have to continue writing. Temporary challenges do not and will not define my future. They should and will never interfere in my creative process, and that’s a promise I intent to keep to myself. I continue to write because it gives me strength and courage to express my voice even if no one is listening. All that matters is that I’m listening. I don’t want to or will not surrender my life to mediocrity and complacency if I abandon my gift and settle for an existence inside an unpleasant and unfulfilling comfort zone. I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night barely able to sleep thinking negative thoughts about no longer doing something that brings me joy. That’s why I continue to write. Insecurities about my age may appear inside my mind because I’m no longer in my early to mid-twenties. I’m not dead yet; I’m still alive, breathing, and kicking. Age is just a number and it’s not too late for anyone to start something new or rediscover something they were once passionate about doing, but time doesn’t last forever. That’s why I continue to write. If I never wrote another piece of literature again for publication, I’d still write for my personal fulfillment. I’ve been blessed that some of my published works have made a positive impact in the lives of others who’ve read and listened to my words. I created some beautiful relationships with individuals who came into my life, supported my endeavors, and became my family. They’re listening, waiting, and anticipating something new. I’ve this feeling inside my gut that tells me there’s something special inside my soul waiting to be accomplished. The only way to discover it this true or not is to do what I was born to do and press forward with my creative endeavors despite the temporary challenges, fears, and insecurities. That’s why I continue to write.

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My Mid-Year Review of Living Fearlessly

Now that the year 2015 has officially arrived, I’m declaring the next 365 days to be my year of living fearlessly when it comes to my creativity. I’m excited and looking forward to taking risks and being uncertain about the future rather than being intimidated of the thought of writing, sharing, and publishing my work. This will be the year where I step aside to allow my imagination to explore and discover new ideas; to encourage and motivate myself to be my best artistic self so I can assist others to do the same; to accept and approve my spirit’s brilliance; and to surround myself with kindred, positive spirits who unconditionally love and uplift me in my literary endeavors as I reciprocate the same sentiments.

– Bill Holmes, “My Year of Living Fearlessly”

The above excerpt was the last paragraph to my first blog post I wrote and published back on 2 January 2015. It doesn’t feel like I wrote that blog less than six months ago given the unpleasant cold days of winter now that it’s a warm and sunny summer. The first half of 2015 has almost expired, but that doesn’t mean the entire year is coming to an end. No, this is the perfect opportunity for me to currently assess my progress with pursuing my passion since I’m a firm believer in accountability.

I created the following list of things I did in pursuing and/or accomplishing my creative endeavors in the last six months:

  1. Wrote and published 14 inspirational WordPress blogs since 2 January.
  2. Started creating outlines for new chapters for One Love’s sequel, Love Like This.
  3. Recorded three YouTube videos, reciting poetry in two and demonstrating the show versus tell technique of fiction writing.
  4. Read some inspirational books about positive growth and development like John C. Maxwell’s The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth and Brendon Burchard’s The Motivation Manifesto.
  5. Started a second affirmations journal to consistently search for and record positive quotes to empower my creativity and increase my self-confidence.
  6. Facilitated two one hour amazing sessions of my creative writing workshop, Write Here! Write Now!, for my brother and dear friend Lamont “NAPALM” Dixon at the 2015 Louder Than a Bomb poetry pep rally at Gloucester City High School in February.
  7. Read books that challenged my creativity like Anne Lamott’s bird by bird and Jeff Goins’s You Are a Writer
  8. Stepped outside of my comfort zone in March and attended voice-over classes taught by actress Michele Morgan in Bloomfield, NJ and recorded a voice-over demo with Samori Coles, my dear friend and co-producer of my spoken word CD, The Air I Breathe.
  9. Attended a book signing featuring my dear friend, mentor and former creative writing instructor Bernice McFadden for the re-release of her novel Loving Donovan in Brooklyn that also featured author Terry McMillan, which re-ignited my passion to write.
  10. Coordinated with my dear friend and publisher Jessica Tilles the re-release date of my ESSENCE ® Best Selling Novel One Love for 9 September.
  11. Dedicated myself to write on a daily basis on 10 April 2015 for a minimum of 500 words, having missed only four days (16 April, 23 April, 22 May and 13 June).
  12. Facilitated another successful Write Here! Write Now! workshop on 23 May 2015 at the 31st Annual Celebration of Black Writing in Philadelphia, PA.
  13. Stepped outside of my comfort zone again in June and joined Toastmasters International to improve my public speaking skills.

Wow, I didn’t think I accomplished that much until I actually sat down and wrote that list. Of course, there were some things I didn’t accomplish as I hoped to during the first six months in 2015 like I intended, which included the following items:

  1. Finish revising the manuscript for my memoir In the End.
  2. Start collaborating with my friend Angela Kinamore to work on our joint literary project like we originally planned over dinner last year in March 2014.
  3. Making progress to bring back Write Here! Write Now! in the second half of 2015.
  4. Updating my website to give it a complete makeover.

In the past, the old me would’ve been discouraged that I didn’t complete these four items above, dismissing the 13 accomplished items. The power of positive thinking has definitely reshaped and changed my mindset. I do have some unfinished business for my literary aspirations, and there’s no better time to get things started. I’ve also learned that it’s unnecessary to beat myself up if things aren’t moving fast as my expectations. Rome wasn’t built in a day (pardon the cliché) and neither will be the career of a passionate writer who wants to achieve his absolute best. I don’t know what the second half of 2015 will bring, but I’m anticipating a wonderful and prosperous season for new experiences and discoveries. All I can do is stay focused, keep learning, take consistent action, and continue writing every chance I get.

“I am a writer, a poet, a creative writing instructor, and an ESSENCE ® Best Selling author. I am proud of my literary accomplishments to date, but I have yet to discover and the world has yet to experience my best work.”

– Bill Holmes

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My Artist Prayer Revisited

One benefit for maintaining a journal is having the opportunity to review some past entries. Consistent journaling and maintaining journals for almost 20 years has provided me with this luxury. I don’t get to do this quite often since I’m not one who enjoys dwelling upon the past. Sometimes I can find myself distracted just going through the many pages that represent my life’s history, and have done so on a few occasions.

At the beginning of the year 2015, I made a commitment to enhance my personal growth and development. I’ve spend some quality time reading introspective literature and completing writing assignments from books like John C. Maxwell’s the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, Brendon Burchard’s the Motivation Manifesto, and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. These tasks have made me more conscious about the person I am and desire to become, especially as a writer. It’s important for anyone invested in personal development to spend some time reflecting upon one’s progress to evaluate strengths and areas of need for improvement.

This past weekend, I came across an assignment I wrote when I was reading Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way called the Artist Prayer from last summer in August 2014. The reader was required to create his or her unique “artist prayer” for meditation and review to enhance one’s creativity. My prayer expressed my gratitude for the Creator to bless me with my creative talents and my desire to continue making a positive difference in my life and also others. I was satisfied with what I originally wrote nine months ago, but my prayer doesn’t capture my current thoughts, feelings, and desires. I took some time this weekend to revise my artist prayer so that it’s more current and updated. I also plan to meditate and read my statement as a daily reminder for staying motivated to write, just like I did when I participated in doing the assignments from the Artist’s Way. Here’s my revised artist prayer:

Dear Creator:

Thank You for allowing me to witness the sunrise of another blessed and beautiful day. Thank You for loving and being so good to me in spite of myself. Thank You for being the foundation of my strength and inspiration. Thank You for bestowing me with an amazing talent that allows me to express my ideas and feelings, which I can employ to make a positive difference in someone else’s life.

As I’m composing this letter to You, my Creator, I feel very special and honored for all I’ve accomplished with my creativity. I’ve explored various creative forms during my life but none bring me greater joy than writing. I could spend hours engaged in this activity, just sitting down at my laptop on my living room sofa in my home; traveling to a nearby park in the spring or the summer with my journal in a cool place; or visiting a coffee house or book store sipping on some green tea or hot chocolate with either instrument. Writing has presented me with various opportunities to not only grow as a writer, but also as a poet, an author, and a creative writing instructor. It has connected me with some like-minded individuals who became my extended family and inspired me to be a better artist and a human being. It gave me much needed confidence and self-esteem I never thought I would possess to overcome my shyness. It has been my therapy throughout all of my experiences and my favorite self-care strategy to manage my mental health. None of those feats would have been possible without You, my Creator.

I was born to be a writer. Writing is more than my passion; it’s an essential function of my life like eating, breathing, and sleeping. Sometimes I take this gift for granted due to my arrogance, insecurities, distractions, and other negative reasons. I have no one to blame but myself for my failures and shortcomings. I do ask You to please forgive me for my shortsightedness when I’m not utilizing my talents. When I’m not using my creativity, I dishonor You, my Creator, and also myself.

I am proud of the writer that I am and will become as I continue to pursue my literary aspirations. I feel that I’ve yet to tap into my true potential to really express my creativity. I’m planning to enter a new phase of my journey that will enhance my personal growth and development, which will affect my creative endeavors. There will be some risks associated with this journey, challenging my talents and confidence. There will also be some unknown territories I will explore for the first time. Those thoughts do frighten me sometimes but I will not allow it to negatively impact my ability to take consistent action. I’m more frightened by not taking the risks and to succumb to living a regretful, mediocre life of playing it safe by wasting my talents just to exist instead of thriving. All I ask of You, my Creator, to provide me the courage, the wisdom, and the guidance necessary to begin and to complete this creative and spiritual journey.

Amen.

Bill Holmes

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