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• Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

People often ask me if I project myself into my work–if I write my story, albeit fictionalized.  While I can’t say that I never do that, it’s not usually an overt decision when it happens.  Sometimes I write what I need to learn, and Willow’s story became that.  I never intended to write about a young woman so very different from people around her.  I assumed, as I typed the first paragraphs of Past Forward that I would show just how similar we all are at the foundation.

I was wrong.

Something about Willow’s personality and philosophy of life kept pushing its way to the forefront of her story.  It became like a theme song, one I finally named “Live Life Deliberately.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in life–to allow it to propel you in random directions without regard for how you want to live. I think that’s why people resonate so strongly with Willow.  One could say she chose to carpe vita–seize life.

I’ve received more emails about Willow than any of my other characters.  People write to tell me about their balcony container gardens, the Christmas cards they made last year, or their first attempts at making soap or candles. People have taken up knitting, sewing, painting, drawing, rug hooking and braiding, and I can’t remember what all.  There are communities where a single hen or two lay eggs every day in suburban backyards–because a fictional character inspired their owners to step out of modern American culture and live a dream.

candles11Even as I sit here, I’ve got one of the tallow candles I made last year burning next to me. I don’t need the light.  I didn’t need the candle.  I made them because I wanted to see just what kind of work went into the process.  It’s one thing to research and do the math to figure out hours and total yield.  It’s another to render tallow three and four times before deciding it’s clean enough to burn.

When I did it, a friend asked why people were so drawn to things that are hard, smelly, uncomfortable work.  It made me uncomfortable because I didn’t know the answer.  I am, by nature, a very lazy person.  I don’t want to live Willow’s life.  I want the fruits of it, but I don’t want to do hard, physical labor making soap or candles just so I can then have a way to clean up after making those candles or have light by which to make that soap.  I don’t want to garden, can, raise animals, hang clothes on the line, or a million other things that Willow has to do. Would I like it if it “just happened”?  Sure!  But unlike the delightful stories I get from readers who have “turned off electricity” for the day or week (leaving on essentials like refrigerators etc.), I like my electricity. I want it.  So why am I sitting here beside a flickering mason jar candle with lights on in the kitchen behind me and the corner of this room?

It’s a reminder.

See, while I don’t want to replicate Willow’s exact life in mine, I do want that purposeful living she embraces.  She chooses to make her soap, make her own “light”, and grow her own food.  That is how she chooses to live deliberately.  This candle, with its occasional snaps and crackles, glows brightly beside me, giving much more light than you’d expect from half a cup of tallow.

And it gives me inspiration.

I’m working on a non-fiction book whenever time allows (which isn’t often).  It’s an exploration of how a life lived deliberately looks from the perspectives of people who live very different lives.  I want to focus on the principle of living deliberately, not the method. Willow’s method is hers.  It might be perfect for you or your sister or your neighbor.  It’s not perfect for me or for everyone. So, as I struggle to find that perfect balance in my life (even if I’ll never achieve it), I wonder about others.

How do you live deliberately?  What do you do to ensure that you are making purposeful decisions that direct your life in the path you desire most?  How is your life different than it was before you made that decision?

If you’d like to be part of this book and are willing to be interviewed, I would love to know more. I would love to learn with you and from you just what it means to live deliberate, purposeful lives.  Please Email Me:)

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5 Responses
  1. Lucinda says:

    This is great! Plenty of food for thought. Thank you!

  2. Challice says:

    I hang my laundry for the both of us. ;)

  3. Chautona says:

    That right there^^^ ladies and gentlemen, that’s love and self-sacrifice. Who else has such a giving daughter??? ;)

  4. Charlene Barnes says:

    As I have mentioned before, I have done foster care for many years. When I started taking in children, it was because these children were hurting inside and needed someone to show them what real love is, and that they had a safe place to go, with food in their tummy’s, and a bed to sleep in, and that Jesus loved them. Did they return that love, not always, but if I could make a difference in their lives for a short while, it was what God wanted me to do, and that was enough for me, and hopefully they would remember, when times got hard for them, they would remember the family that took them in and told them that God loved them always,no matter whatever happened to them, He would have His arms around them and hold them close.
    When people ask me why would I bring a child or adult into your home that you know nothing about, and have them around your children? I tell them about the scripture in the Bible, in Matthew 25:35-45.
    Matthew 25:35, says, For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged me.
    My children learned a lot from these children, and shared their personal things, and they are very loving and giving, adults. I have no regrets, and I’m still doing foster care today, because I have plenty of love left to still share with someone, that needs someone to care for them.

  5. says:

    That’s just beautiful, Charlene. I love that you can do that. The world needs people who have that kind of capacity for love to step out and take that risk. :)

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