Oct 29, 2016

Who am I to shine?

Who am I to shine?

by Deb Graham
I’ve cherished books since I was a little girl, wandering in the public library, longing to be old enough to venture unto the mysterious realm of the Middle Grades room, certain the thick books held untold mysteries, away from my beloved picture books.

Books are to be cherished. For every holiday since our first son was born, gifts have included a book. I want my kids to associate reading with happiness.  I taught them each to read when they were not much older than toddlers. As a character in my novel asserts, “The world can’t put anything over on a body who can read.” She’s a pioneer; they talk like that. 

I guess my love of books passed down. When the kids were young, I sometimes found myself scolding, “It’s one o’clock in the morning! Put down your book and be asleep!” I’d step into the hall, wondering if I was wrong to fuss. Perhaps I should have encouraged another chapter. I delight in hearing my grown children complain about their little ones reading far into the night, or, at least, sleeping with a pile of picture books.  

Reading is a gift.  But writing is a whole nuther thing.

Who am I to think I can write anything worth reading? A song, a poem, an article, a full-length book? We’re warned against pride and arrogance, cautioned about the virtues of humility, and to present before the world something out of our own creative minds is ...well, daunting.

We may admit, with lowered eyes, “Oh, I write a little.” Somehow saying, “I just published my eleventh non-fiction, one of them has almost  300 reviews on Amazon, my debut novel is selling well, I’m working on two more and I’ve collaborated on three others and I'm thinking about writing a peanut butter cookbook,” sounds like go-stand-in-the-corner boasting. Not to mention, it's anxiety-inducing. Wrapping words around actions can do that, you know.

Let’s look at some wisdom from reputable sources:

Matthew 5:16 (KJV) says “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

The Lord of all tells us to shine. By writing good quality books, articles, stories, poetry, blogs, music, etc, we push back the darkness.

Nelson Mandela quoted Marianne Williamson in an inaugural address:

 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (1)

In October 2008, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.” (2)
To deny our probably-inspired creativity doesn’t benefit anyone. The World is great at cutting us down, making us feel inadequate; we need no help in that regard. What we need is  a source of uplift, a reminder that we’re on the right track. I hope we each can find that.

As you read this, I’ll be at the ANWA Northwest Retreat. It’s a coming together of like-minded women, all sharing ideas, strengthening one another, teaching, sharing, building relationships, mixed with time to write in complete, uninterrupted sentences in a beautiful setting.  Last year was my first retreat, and I came home feeling so energized, so accepted, so inspired, I was among the first to sign up this year.
 Last year’s retreat triggered three new books and two bathroom remodels (3), along with tangibly increased self-confidence. Who knows what will happen this time? 

One of the most valuable things I learned was to own it, to boldly say, “I’m an author!”

 ~~~                                ~~~

(1) “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

(2)  Happiness, Your Heritage, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
(3) I designed the backsplashes in our bathrooms and made them of beach rocks from the retreat’s beach, which I gathered a month later. Benefit to living nearby!


  1. It was awesome! My head, heart, imagination, and notebook are all bursting with new ideas and relationships, along with new directions to tackle. I accomplished a lot, relaxed, absorbed...it was wonderful!

  2. It was awesome! My head, heart, imagination, and notebook are all bursting with new ideas and relationships, along with new directions to tackle. I accomplished a lot, relaxed, absorbed...it was wonderful!


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