I have a 4th of July tradition. I enjoy going to barbecues, watching fireworks and other typical holiday celebrations, but my ritual is more contemplative. I spend a few minutes concentrating on how I can use my skills as a writer to help others.
I don’t remember exactly when I started using Independence Day in this regard, but I DO know it predated my professional writing career which has been going strong for at least 30 years. Well, some years stronger than others. I earned my first paycheck for something I wrote back in 1983 when the Arizona Republic published a story I wrote about an unwanted Christmas tree. I earned a whopping $30, but the pride carried me through many years of pennilessness for my freelance work. No wonder they call it “free.”
I was not becoming rich for my efforts, but I was prolific typing weekly articles for Campus News, the weekly newspaper for Scottsdale Community College and occasional submissions to the Buddhist periodicals the World Tribune and Living Buddhism. I also penned plays, skits, video scripts, screenplays and teleplays.
Eventually I earned a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and was hired by Mesa Parks, Recreation and Cultural Division as a public relations practitioner. It was a part-time position but I cranked out press releases, feature stories, speeches, letters and brochure copy like a machine. I worked with wonderful people and enjoyed putting my skills to good use for eight years.
One of the benefits of working for the city is that I could see the direct results my words had in making the community a better place. I wrote about the wonderful events, classes, volunteer opportunities and programs MPRCD offered, people read or heard the news via newspaper, radio or TV and came out in droves to enjoy them. Unfortunately my position was eliminated in spite of glowing performance evaluations.
Things went downhill after that. My marriage ended and I had a string of writing jobs that didn’t work out. Eventually I took a more stable position working for a local non-profit organization. Unfortunately my writing skills were rarely needed. I felt a part of me died. My attitude must have tanked too, as I eventually was fired from that job as well.
In spite of this setback and hiatus from being a professional scribe, every year on the 4th of July I reignited my desire to be a writer that would serve humankind. Unbeknownst to those around me, I would launch my wishes into the universe and wait for the brilliant burst of color in the night sky to remind me that my desires could burst forth into reality if I could remain steadfast in my commitment.
My Independence Day ritual predated The Secret, the Abraham series and What the Bleep Do You Know. However, my issue was I didn’t hold onto the dream long enough. Once a year does not an expert make. Eventually I read (and even co-wrote) books and articles on creating a positive attitude and fulfilling your life’s ambitions. To date my most successful work was penning the popular self-help book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within (with fellow author Jacqueline Howard.) Nothing is more gratifying than knowing something I created has improved the life of another person.
But I’m human and sometimes take a stroll on the grouchy side of life. At times I wonder if the words I write have any impact, I worry my expertise as a public relations expert and professional writer will no longer be enough to pay the bills, as well as any number of negative thoughts that can swirl in and out of my consciousness. Fortunately I’ve trained myself not to wander down that rabbit hole of negativity for any length of time. It’s like exposing ourselves to radiation – a little might be necessary at times, but too much is toxic.
Fortunately today is the 4th of July – my day to rewrite my personal history. Holidays are great reminders of important dates and people in our lives. It doesn’t matter if the holiday is secular or non secular, all have value.
You may or may not want to read my articles, book or adopt my practice of using the 4th of July to remind yourself to launch or reactivate your life’s purpose. But in the words of my father (imagine a Yiddish accent when reading the next four words) “What could it hurt?”