Monthly Archives: October 2017

Getting it Done (Inspiration Series, #29)

Finishing her book wasn’t a foregone conclusion, but Deidra Parrish Williams saw it through.

In another lifetime, I might not have gotten to know Deidra Parrish Williams. We didn’t grow up together, or attend the same college, or hang out in the same places. But social media, combined with a few interactions, put her into my orbit.

I’ll be honest. At first, I simply saw this gorgeous gal with a beautiful family and passions for many of the things I cared about, too. She was open with her feelings about things going on in the world, and the kind of person who seemed to naturally boost up those around her. 

She shared the journey when she moved from the northeast down to North Carolina–including encounters that seemed to be straight out of an old version of America, but is still all too real. Deidra is one of those rare people who is honest about her doubts and frustrations with the world while still exuding a sense of calm and optimism that I am sure enlightens everyone around her. I know it does me.

What I didn’t know about Deidra was that in addition to her many roles, she was also working on becoming the thing that sets my spirit afire. An author. Yep, in addition to everything else, the woman can write.

I watched this past summer as The Current’s Whisper came into being. The Facebook posts went from the “It’s coming!” To “It’s here!” It was, quite simply, a wonder to behold; even more so when I learned that behind this incredible achievement were some familiar feelings of nervousness and self-doubt. 

Because you see, this was not a short-term project. What I imagined had been a straight road was actually a winding one that had taken 15 years to travel. Deidra told me about how, while the idea for the story had come pretty quickly, the mechanics of putting it together were not so simple.

“I wasn’t exactly sure how i was going to get the basic storyline to develop into an entire book,” she says. “I put it down a hundred times over the years. I was intimidated at times and I questioned whether i could pull off the kind of story I wanted to deliver. Something rich and evocative.”

She says it was about 10 years in that she felt something different–the story started to come together and she became invested in finishing. That’s when she put herself on the line, began telling people about her goal and asked those closest to her to keep her accountable. She also read other books to remind herself that she too, could do it.

The support, combined with Deidra’s determination, worked. She brought her characters–especially protagonist Kyle, who deals with a veritable trove of family secrets and personal pains–to life, weaving a story of past and present that isn’t always comfortable to read. It is, above all, honest and real. 

As a writer who dreams of creating such things, holding her book was like what a minor leaguer must feel like holding a World Series ring. I could almost hear the voice saying, “You can do it too.”

And that, I think, is a key to Inspirers. The dedication they show–whether to a craft, to a dream, or to making a difference–speaks to those of us out here still doubting that we have it in us. They remind us of the value of our gifts by sharing theirs.

Deidra passed along a quote from her grandfather that has stayed with her.

“Constant drippings make impressions.” 

I’d like to think that’s a lesson for anyone who has a hard time seeing how their little efforts will ever pay off. 

I take extra hope from the advice Deidra has for those of us still on the fence about our ability to tell our own stories:


To learn more about Deidra and all she does, visit her website at www.DeidraParrishWilliams.com

Advertisements

Keeping it Real (Inspiration Series, Week 28)

Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, Superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, made his expectations clear after a racial incident at the school.

There’s no such thing as a slow news day anymore. One of the challenges, as things seem to move ever-faster and feel ever-crazier, is to sift among the latest headlines and pick up the stories that resonate beyond the latest person to say something nuts.

I don’t know a lot about General Jay Silveria’s past. His Air Force bio and online snippets talk mostly about his military career – 32 years of service and leadership in some of the world’s most dangerous spots. He was Vice Commander of Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and previously served as Deputy Commander USAF Central Command. He’s logged more than 3,900 flight hours and received numerous honors, including the Pentagon’s highest award for service outside combat.

My guess is that the General didn’t expect to make headlines – the high-ranking men and women of the military seem to share a humility that doesn’t seek attention. They put their troops first, their country first. And so, when he confronted an incident at the Academy’s preparatory school, he likely wasn’t thinking about how far his response might reach.

“Incident” is a nice word for the racial slurs that were scrawled on the dormitory-room message boards of five black students. As he gathered all 4,000 cadets, along with 1500 faculty and staff members, the 3-Star General was blunt. 

“That kind of behavior has no place at the prep school, it has no place at USAFA, and it has no place in the United States Air Force. You should be outraged, not only as an airman, but as a human being.”

It was a 5-minute speech that didn’t shy away from recent events and the racial tensions they represented. He mentioned the NFL protests and Ferguson, and referenced a talk by the Dean following the march by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Silveria was very obviously angry. His tone relayed the seriousness of what had taken place and he was in no mood to do anything less than condemn it. And yet, even with the classic military gravitas in place, the General spoke to higher goals. 

“But I also have a better idea, and it’s about our diversity . . . It’s the power that we come from all walks of life, that we come from all parts of this country, that we come from all races, that we come from all backgrounds, gender, all make-up, all upbringing. The power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful.”

It was striking. With no exposure or real understanding of the military, I’ve always simply seen it as this narrow place of rules, regulations, and prescribed behavior that allows no deviation. They say, you do. But even as Silveria denounced what had happened, he took the time to openly acknowledge wounds that have become a national topic of conversation and communicate a vision for the academy that looks forward.

So much of the time, we look to eliminate the things that make us different. I know that as someone who yearns for a conflict-free life, it is often most comfortable to quietly urge peaceful resolution at all cost. It has made me a generally nice person, but too often, it leaves me hesitant to speak out or make waves. 

By not just reducing a racist act to an ordinary infraction – and by actively extolling the very diversity it tried to destroy – Silveria took center stage as a leader who could be trusted to value each cadet’s history and the strengths that come from their individual life experiences. The goal is not simply to melt everyone down into a monolith, but to create a team where each person contributes to a greater whole.

Putting a point on it all, the General advised his audience to take out their phones and record what he had to say next. It was a simple message for those who couldn’t deal with his vision. For me, the get-along girl, it was a ln important reminder of the impact a few unambiguous words can have:

“If you can’t treat someone from another race or different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.”

No further words needed. If you missed the complete speech, check it out here. 


%d bloggers like this: