Tag Archives: writer

Good, better, best: One of them-there stick-to-your-ribs quotes

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

My third grade teacher taught this to her students. I’m not sure if she repetitiously implanted this into the minds of all her students through the years, but I certainly remember her drilling this into our little 7 and 8 year old brains.  She was insistent that we repeat it until we knew it by heart.

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

And then she wanted us to act like we knew it.  Sista-girl leaned on us, pressed us to produce our best work.

And if we didn’t, she leaned more.

When running down the roster of beloved teachers during class reunions, she’s up there at the top. She’s also on that list of folks who “don’t play.”  Then and now.  That means you’re not slipping anything past her, getting over on her, getting away with anything.  Her tone was (still is) loving, but firm.  But if you found her wrath via disobedience or laziness, it was as if the world were ending. Five minutes later, you’d vow never to revisit that backside apocalypse again.


“If you miss more than three on any homework assignment or test, you’re going to get it.”


It was our first week of school.  Yes, she said that to us. My almond-shaped eyes went round for 2 seconds after that pronouncement.  If I were outdoors, I probably would have caught a fly in my mouth.  And she let our parents know.

Yes, teachers could still paddle their students back then, and we did our darnedest to make sure that tape-wrapped walloper didn’t find our little asses. So we tried.  Hard. To get it right.  That type of discipline may seem harsh by today’s standards, but it was what it was back then.  Careful, deliberate, meticulous work was the key to a comfy heinie.

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

If I was the unlucky recipient of said swats more than one time, I really don’t recall. Maybe that’s one of those painful memories folks exhume with therapy, but I don’t think it was more than a couple of times, if even that many.

However, years  later, this saying is still stashed in my mental mantra chest.


Good..okay… that’s fine, but get better.  Do your best.  Keep pushing until your good becomes better and your better becomes your best.


And I still see things that way.   One thing I appreciate about this instructor: I don’t recall her sparking competition between her students, but she did push us toward excellence.  Even if some of us had to push through learning curves.  The goal was still the same:

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.

This is my Day 21 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community

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Go ’till you get it right

Life lessons can be extracted from the most mundane everyday occurrences.   Even a roller skating rink that smells like a bundle of hot, sweaty, funky feet.

A college friend invited me to a skating fundraiser one Saturday night.  Her text-vite was right on time.

I was quite excited to get back out on the rink, but when I saw people dropping like flies and resurrecting from the floor—coupled with the clack-clack-clack-splat of stumbling stakes and skin meeting the shiny wooden floor, along with the occasional thud of an @$$-crash, I purposed in my heart I would re-learn the way I learned to skate backwards  while in college:  Head first, then heart.  Visualize it, then do it.

In the meantime, while I glided to the middle of the rink, I noticed an older man helping a young girl—likely his daughter—stumble her way toward balance.  Their hands stayed lightly connected throughout the night.  Close enough for comfort, yet light enough for independence to take root.

There was also a little boy with a light-weight grey and white striped long-sleeved hoodie.  That boy clicked-and-splat his way around the rink.

Then there was my friend, and another college acquaintance who had recently moved back to the States.  We all were individually trying to awaken the muscle memory that brought us so much fun and relaxation during our college years.

“Hey, do you remember how to do that move?”

“Which one?”

“You know, that one  like this?” (*Insert noisy, slippery attempt at fancy footwork.*)

“I was trying, but I still don’t have it.”

“I don’t know what I’m even doing.”

“I know, right?  I still am trying to remember how to skate backwards.”

Conversations like that.

At one point a group of about 10 old people (most  in their 30s or older) kept stumbling around, trying to remember their former fancy footwork from more limber years.

But if we don’t get back out there, we will never relearn what brought us so much joy in the first… Click To Tweet

All while the little striped-shirt boy, kept clanking around the rink, but falling less and less.  His brows were stuck on furrowed, and at first,  I thought he was an angry little child.  But after a while, watching him clack-and-fall the entire night—My mind changed.  I was wrong.  That was likely his look of determination.  Determination to stay on his feet.  Determination to improve every clack of the way.

Life is not a practice around, and if we don’t know how to execute life’s moves, we must figure it out along the way, clacking and falling, sometimes rolling and flailing and stomping with furrowed brows as we develop and grow along our chosen paths.

I also learned that the further along we get on a path, a slip and fall might be more risky.  We may have more to lose, especially if we grow less limber and less open to change even along once-familiar paths.   But if we don’t get back out there, we will never relearn what brought us so much joy in the first place.  It’s important to get out on life’s rink, persist, and go ‘till we get it right.

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Persistence, perseverance, success, motivation.  Ain’t going nowhere without ’em

 

screenshot from brainy quotes.com

Isn’t this a relief?  But what if you’re your own worst critic and don’t have the luxury of thinking your first pieces are “good stuff?”  Whether or not you think your words beat out bread slicers for best innovation, it won’t matter if you don’t persist in getting those words out of your head and into the world for folks to see, visit with and imbibe.

Yes, the words you use are accessible to vast hordes of people.  Yes, lots of folks know what they mean.  Yes, they’re common as joy and pain, and swathe open spaces like sunshine and rain (random song reference… sorry).  Thing is, no on can compile words into story like you can.  Just like no one has your handwriting, the distinct timbre and lilt of your voice, your exact mannerisms, or brow furrows, no one can construct your story like you can. If you gave several different artists the same color palette, all their works would be distinct.


No one can color that verbal canvas like you


So persist, because no one can color that verbal canvas like you. Doesn’t matter if your word-paintings start out like stick figures in primary colors.  Keep writing, reading, and learning for access to greater word palettes and more nuanced gradation.  When it comes to learning, no one ever “arrives,” so keep the heart of a student.

And stay motivated, because change will come if you keep honing your chosen craft.

And persevere, because your words, your writing can help color someone else’s understanding of this journey called life.  It’s possible the timbre of your writing, the lilt of your tone can strike the heart of another for good like no one else’s can.  It’s not your job to figure that out, though.  Just write.  Hone.  Craft. Improve.  Seek feedback, and after you do all that, keep writing.

This is my Day 5 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community.

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Why do you do what you do?

Need drives me. A need to achieve everything on Maslow’s entire hierarchy.

Work feeds my wallet so I can feed my face. Can’t recall how many times my parents reminded me of 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (NIV).

The thought of going without Mom’s peach cobbler or sweet potato pie (not really pressing needs) or even her stick-to-the ribs casseroles was enough to propel me to work. As an adult, I work for the same reasons. Money buys food, shelter, water to bathe and keep my living spaces clean. Those dollars also buy power to warm my home and provide a comfy place to rest, recharge and go at it again.

Yes, need drives me. But it’s not the only thing. I also work to afford as much safety as possible.

Unfortunately, that won’t provide me with another type of warmth. Psychological warmth, which isn’t the same as trying to psych myself out when I’m cold. For me, it means those intimate, reciprocal relationships that make me feel warm and fuzzy, in tune with and accepted by others. From the connection with my immediate and extended family and fiancé, to my longtime friends and other loved ones, that need for connection and to impart warm fuzzies to others drives me to pick up the phone to just say hello.

From there, I do the specific work I do because maybe one thing I write and report will cause someone to smile, to peek at or examine life through a different lens or to look at others with more compassion and kindness. Maybe it’ll cause someone to say “Hey, I never thought about it like that before.” Or “I’ve never met anyone like that before, but we seem have things in common.”

The small part I play in the universe may cause someone to consider something, anything from a different perspective. Changing the world is hardly the goal, but maybe something I write or say can cause positive ripples, change someone else’s mind, and propel them to do great things in the world. That’s the kind of change I may never know. We may never know all the lives we reach with our kind words, smiles, or our written words.

There’s also the accomplishment factor. I recall one of the proudest moments during my teen years when I edited our high school yearbook as a sophomore. It was produced and delivered on time. It had been some years since that had happened at my school. That was THE goal that year, and I did everything I could to make it happen, including staying many an afternoon after school to make sure deadlines were met. At the end of that school year, we gathered everyone in the school cafeteria to make an announcement. It was worded in such a way to gear up folks for a disappointment.

“I just wanted to tell you…(BIG PAUSE) that the yearbooks… are here.” There was another palpable pause. One of my friends let out a scream, then the room was an avalanche of cheers. That, right there? Gave me the one of the biggest senses of accomplishment. These days, I experience that in multiple small doses peppered with the opposite emotion.

These Days…
I love the feeling when I finish a writing project, be it a blog post in my spare time, a writing challenge, or something written for work. I’m driven because I love the feeling of setting a goal and meeting it, be it large or small. Doesn’t really matter if it’s writing and mailing cards to others, to shredding that pile of old mail, to washing and folding that laundry to cooking or baking something something that tastes so good, it makes me want the slap myself.

From tiny things to the more weighty matters, completing goals reaffirms the idea that I am more than capable of doing what I set my mind to do, including reaching my potential as purposeful writer and storyteller. But walking into that purposeful and confident writing starts with putting one word on one piece of paper, or typing a word into a document. Then a phrase, sentence, paragraph, and giving the mind freedom to let the story unfold. Keeping my basic needs met, those on the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs keep me going, as well as the intrinsic need to accomplish everything inside and sometimes just outside my wheelhouse of potential.

From: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/33/MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg/2000px-MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg.png

Doing what I do daily is the only way “do” will transform into “done”. “Done” breeds that sense of accomplishment which motivates me to… do more.

This is my Day 3 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community.

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