Hurricane Rita, Author and Motivational Speaker.
It has a certain ring to it.
Two things I’ve been told most of my life:
You should write a book.
You should be a motivational speaker.
I wanted to do the former as a kid, but I was never quite sure I had anything about which to write. I decided I wouldn’t sit down and attempt a book until I had a concept which I felt would be worthy of …well, writing a book. I was finally convinced I had a crazy enough story when I returned from Afghanistan as a wounded Chinese and Korean cryptologic linguist with three fresh new bullet holes through my backpack, moved into my car, and drove to Alaska to be a river guide. It was on my long night drive through Ohio that I called my mentors and excitedly shared the fact: I was motivated by circumstance to write a book!
Now? After becoming an ultramarathon runner, being on 72 Hours, eating the slug they didn’t show on TV, and the consequent rat lungworm, paralysis, learning to walk again, dance again, run again, to use my bladder and colon again?
There’s no question.
I’ve given myself December 19th as a deadline. If I change that (since I and can do that), I’ll let you know. As for now…December 19th, my 1 year anniversary from being released from the hospital, and my 31st birthday will be when my book will be finished. Maybe I’ll celebrate a dirty thirty…first…in Moab with a book signing!!!! 😀
As for the latter: Motivational speaker.
I remember volunteering for the YWCA while at Milton Hershey School. There was a boy, about five years old that the workers said was hopeless, a lost cause. He wouldn’t speak. He wouldn’t play. He wouldn’t socialize at all. He had seen too much. He was sitting alone staring at the floor when I came into the room of rowdy children.
I chose him. I didn’t have a choice. His condition chose me.
I brought a coloring book and some crayons with me and sat down next to him. He wouldn’t look at the crayons nor the book, especially not me. I introduced myself, telling him I wanted to color and he was welcome to join in, but didn’t have to. I told him he could tell me to leave at anytime and I would go. I started with a red crayon, filling in all the spaces that red might go, being careful to outline and shade properly. It took several minutes. He was interested, but instead of asking him to join in, I asked him if he could pass me a green crayon.
After a slight hesitation, he passed it.
I did the same with a blue crayon, after carefully outlining and shading the green spots on the paper.
He passed it just a little more eagerly, and responded with a slight grunt to my heartfelt thanks for the gesture. After filling in the blue, I asked him for an orange crayon, and if he could set the blue one over “there.”
After filling in the orange spots, I asked him if he’d like to do the yellow.
The shell was cracked. He carefully outlined the spaces and shaded them precisely as I had. I praised his work. He smiled sheepishly without making eye contact.
Another hour passed, and together we had colored 3 different pictures together. Our conversations began with him telling me the color he’d like me to pass to him while he filled in the spaces. By the time we finished, he was giggling, joking, smiling, and making eye contact with me. Eventually, I asked him if he wanted to play horsey, and he did. We crawled out from under the table and he climbed onto my back. I galloped around the room, throwing my head this way and that, doing my best impression of a horse. I galloped down the hall and into the small cafeteria, then back to the play room.
The women running the program were blown away. They were sure he wouldn’t speak again. They had assumed he was beaten.
That moment, I felt the inspiration. I felt I had allowed him the space to ignite the flame enough to come back to present and enjoy life lightly, as a child should, to play horsey no matter what awaited him or what happened in the past.
The inspiration. What a feeling!
I felt it again at Daikon Wilderness School last week.
It was a basketball camp for at risk kids, though clearly not all of the children cared to participate. I played basketball with them during the morning in the gym, grappling for rebounds, playing Knock Out, remembering my high school days. The employees told me before it was time for me to speak to them that keeping the kids’ attention for 10 minutes could be a huge challenge.
That’s why I was so surprised when they laughed at my corny jokes, cringed at my detailed story, and nodded at my message for over a half hour. We connected, and by the end of the session, a young gentlemen raised his hand simply to thank me for coming and sharing my story.
He told me he’d learned a lot from my visit.
And I was inspired.
Now I have an opportunity to share my story with “the world” of Central Pennsylvania at the Allen Theater, located at 36 E. Main Street in Annville, PA on Tuesday, the 20th of August! I have an opportunity to share a story of tears, challenges, desperation, passion, love, and hope.
I get to motivate!
I get to share!
There will be a meet and greet at MJ’s CoffeeHouse after the presentation!