"Snippet" -- a small piece or brief extract
This post is not about Mama -- exactly. Thoughts of her occupy my mind often, and all the more with her "Celebration of Life" service this Sunday. Yesterday was a hard day. Maybe because of that, maybe hormones, maybe my thyroid medicine change -- probably a combination of all that (and more). Losing is hard. Losing pets, losing people, losing at contests, losing anything is really difficult. But, it is part of life. We have to learn to lose well so we can win well. Losing keeps us humble, makes us appreciate the wins when they come, reminds us what NO or GRIEF or LAST PLACE feels like so that we can live in gratitude for all we have, fully enjoying YES or FIRST PLACE when it comes. Sometimes we get lucky straight out of the gate. Sometimes it takes long hours and lots of practice.
I've been reflecting on this quite a lot lately -- not just for me, as you can see from the photos. My niece and nephew have been experiencing this a lot recently. They were both local and state winners in our NCRA Young Authors Project. It was my nephew's first time winning, although he has written for 3 years now. My niece has won every single time -- it's been hard for him, but he's been such a trouper and has celebrated every win for her and with her, even though he didn't win. He wasn't going to write this year. It took lots of talking to convince him. I was so thrilled when he was finally a winner, and I love his poem, Magnified Light. Perhaps I'll feature it soon on my blog.
They both entered poems in the local AR Ammons poetry contest. Once again, niece won 2 honorable mentions and nephew -- nothing.
This weekend, they both participated in their first karate tournament. (Please forgive my ignorance of vocabulary if I use something improperly -- this is all new to me. . .) When they went into the ring, the first thing they had to do was demonstrate their bow skills. Nephew was reticent, but tried his best. He took last place in that event. Niece totally drew a blank in the ring, and even when the judges encouraged her and walked her through step by step, she still couldn't perform well. She took last place. There were tears of failure and disappointment on her part, but she still had two events to go. She brought me her bronze medal, wiped her tears, took a deep breath and stepped right back into the ring, taking 2nd place in Form, while her brother took FIRST place in that event! She brought me her silver medal and suited up for sparring, in which she took FIRST place. I've been proud of young people so many times in my teaching career, but never any prouder than I was of her (and her brother) on Saturday! One of the judges sought her out after their division and commented how proud he was of her for sticking with it and he reminded her that she went from last place to first place because she stuck with it! Perseverance and resilience emanated from her and when I asked her afterward if she was glad it was over, she said, "NO! I'm ready to go again!" Losing builds resilience and resilience brings courage and eventually perseverance brings WINS, and the confidence to try again.
It happened again on Sunday. She was to read her entry aloud at our small celebration gathering, honoring the NCRA Young Author winners for our local association. When she stood up to read, she got in her feelings and got teary. It took her a few tries, but she read her entire piece, to lots of cheers from the small audience! Resilience! Perseverance!
It applies to me, too, in my writing -- I've been writing and entering every contest I could for over a year now, with nothing but no's and no mentions and losses. Then, just a few weeks ago, I had a win in 50 Precious Words. Then I entered a birthday writing contest -- no luck, another loss. Most recently, I am thrilled to say I was named an Honorable Mention in the SpringFling KidLit writing contest, but many of my friends were not named this time. While my heart hurts for them, I know they are building resilience -- we are ALL building resilience. A yes today can be a no tomorrow, and a no today can lead to a yes! We must persevere and build our resilience so when the big YES comes, we'll be ready, and we'll be humble, and we'll be grateful.
And while it's not about Mama, I told my niece Sunday, "Your grandma would be so very proud of you. I know she's about to bust!" And it's true. I wish she were here to experience all the wins and to "encourage" us when we lose with her pragmatic response, "Oh well, that's life." But I know she is proud and as she said in her letter to us, "whatever you endeavor to do in the future go for the mountain tops, stars, space, etc. and I'll be there in spirit supporting you every step of the way." Thanks for the support, Mama!
And to all my writing friends that feel the sting of disappointment today, tomorrow is a new day (and Write Mentor mentorships will be announced and PBChat apps are due) and there are more and more and more opportunities for wins, losses, resilience, and perseverance! Good luck, and don't give up!
As a teacher for many years, I know that parents make the difference in the quality of learning and also make a difference in their involvement that doesn't just affect the kid, but also affects the teacher and the school. While there are school memories scattered throughout these other stories, these are simply specific to school. I am thankful that I had a mom who made a positive difference for me, my friends, my teachers, and my schools.
I didn't attend kindergarten (it wasn't required; yes, I'm THAT old. . . and plus which Mama said there wasn't any point in sending me to kindergarten since I already knew everything I would have learned there. [As a teacher, I might argue that point today in favor of socialization and herd immunity, but I certainly didn't suffer academically from her decision.]) From my earliest school memories as a first grader in Ms. Meachem’s class, Mama made sure I was prepared. I had a sweet little red and blue school satchel, and I remember taking oatmeal creme pies for snack. Perhaps she sent other things, too, but it is the creme pies I remember. I was already reading and probably writing, too, when I arrived as a first grader at Whiteville Primary School thanks to Mama and her reading to me at home and making sure I had plenty of books available to me. Mama became a grade parent right away and helped out at school whenever there were parties or special activities. I remember specifically her being there for the Easter egg hunt we had, but I know she was there for other events as well.
Also, that first grade year brought my first trauma -- Leon Brown. Leon was a black boy on my bus -- #161 -- who decided it would be cute and fun to tease and attack me, culminating at some point in ripping my red plaid dress. That’s the only detail I remember about the actual attack -- I know I came off the bus with a ripped dress courtesy of Leon Brown. Mama was livid. She made some phone calls -- or maybe she went in person -- I’m not sure. Coleman Barbour was in charge of buses, and he pulled a few boys together (I’m assuming they all rode my bus, but I don’t remember) and we did an old-fashioned “Line-up” with me identifying Leon as the perpetrator. I don’t know what punishment Leon received. What I do remember is that Mama had my back and she wasn’t going to sit idly by while someone hurt her little girl.
Mama also fostered friendships. She allowed me to go over to Terri Nobles’ house to play (and maybe spend the night? I have a vague recollection. . .). She knew Terri’s family and felt safe. However if she didn’t know the family, she would not allow me over to their house but she was always gracious and hospitable to my friends and allowed them to come to my house. In first grade, it was Cheryl Graham. She was my friend from the bus and my first school sleepover buddy. She and I sat on the bus singing “On Top of the World” by the Carpenters daily. When she came to visit, she did fine with Mama, but hid under the bed when Daddy came home. Mama always welcomed my friends and made them feel at home.
Mama continued to serve as grade parent until grade parents were not “a thing” anymore -- I know she was very active through 3rd grade. In the upcoming sewing segment of my tribute to Mama, you'll discover some other ways she positively poured into my schooling. Of course, even after grade parents were so "last year", she was still active in my school career. In middle school, I was involved in Gifted and Talented, and Mama was in PAGE (Parents of Academically Gifted . . . ). She was very active in that organization and was always quick to make sure I was allowed to participate in things that would help me grow and use my abilities.
In eighth grade, through PAGE and GT, we were allowed to take a psychology class in the evenings. It was a parent-child class, and it was Mama who went with me. I don’t remember how many sessions, but it was wonderful. Dr. Jerry Paschal taught the class and that was special, because he had been Mama’s teacher/principal during her schooling. He was serving as Superintendent of Whiteville City Schools. I don’t remember all the topics we covered. I do remember taking an IQ test -- and Mama and I having the same IQ -- 132! Those were special times at a difficult time for me -- middle school girls are an animal unto themselves. Our relationship wasn’t stellar during those years, but this is a pleasant memory amidst a lot of pubescent unrest in my world. I treasure those times we sat as equals and learners together.
Music made its first big appearance in my life in middle school. I joined band in sixth grade, which radically changed my life. As I began to play trumpet, new worlds opened up for me and Mama made sure I had what I needed and got where I needed to go to be able to participate, even though sometimes it was costly. She and Daddy allowed me to audition for All-County band starting in 7th grade, and it became an annual event through my high school years. Not only did she provide transportation and motivation, she also was the one at home who had to endure those first couple of years of practicing “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, “This Old Man” “The Old Grey Goose” and so much more as I honed my craft -- loudly. I know she was at least thankful that my bedroom was upstairs and that we had a big yard. I joined the chorus during my eighth grade year, and I remember my family sitting in the bleachers to hear us sing “Sentimental Journey” “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and other standards from the 40’s
Mama’s care and nurturing extended into high school, as I continued to pursue my course in music and drama. Twice, Mama took me to auditions for Governor’s School -- once for trumpet and once for drama. That meant traveling to Winston-Salem for auditions -- way out of her comfort zone, but she did it, for me.
Also, in high school, Mama was a devoted member of the WHS Band Boosters. She helped out in traditional and non-traditional ways; attending meetings, participating in fundraisers, and even creating a fund-raiser (much to my mortification as a teenager) where she paid Band Boosters for their “trash” -- labels and UPCs, etc. -- that Mama used vigilantly in her couponing and rebating/refunding endeavors to stretch our family dollars. While it might have been a hard pill to swallow, it came from her desire to help the band -- and help our family, which in her mind was a win-win situation!
Mama and Daddy also made the decision in my senior year to allow me to go to New York City for a drama club trip over Spring Break, which was QUITE a trek for this Southern country girl! I had only been to NC, VA, and SC at that point, and it was amazing and life-changing in my perspectives. We saw shows on Broadway and off Broadway. We went to NBC studios and saw Liberace at Radio City Music Hall. We ate Chinese food in Chinatown, shopped 5th Avenue, including FAO Schwartz. We rode the subway, walked for miles, and ate at Mama Leone's, where the waiters and waitresses were fascinated with our Southern accent (which we MIGHT have accentuated just a bit for effect ;-) I'm quite sure we didn't have the money for that trip, but they knew it was something they couldn't and wouldn't give me and they sacrificed in order for me to go. I didn't fully appreciate that then, but I am so thankful for that opportunity.
Throughout my school career, Mama pushed, supported, and nurtured my academic successes and my extracurricular endeavors. Without her support my life would have been much different in this area that has come to impact my life in more positive ways than I can begin to count. The friends and the teachers with whom I built relationships during these years and the musical/dramatic experiences that I participated in have shaped who I have become as an adult in myriad ways, and that wouldn’t have been possible without Mama’s support throughout my schooling.
**Sadly, I don't have any pictures of Mama serving as grade parent, helping at parties, chaperoning field trips, or selling concessions for Band Boosters. Moms, make sure you get pictures of you doing these things. Your children will want them one day. I know I do.
My brother, Dale has had MORE than his fair share of misadventures. From breaking his collarbone in kindergarten to shoving his hand through the storm door and running through hot ashes, his life seemed to be filled with medical emergencies! While I haven’t been quite as misadventurous as Dale, there have certainly been moments in my life where it was helpful to have a Mama that was also a doctor. Don’t misunderstand, Mama never attended medical school. Her knowledge is gleaned from experience and common sense -- and innate wisdom, but for all of her kids and now grandkids it has come in handy and it is often Mama that we seek when we have health questions, and now that she is gone, it is Mama that we miss calling on to solve medical mysteries large and small.
It is no wonder that she loved medical shows on TV -- from Marcus Welby to Quincy, ME back in the day to HOUSE, Diagnosis Murder, and NCIS episodes more recently, she would find herself fascinated by the medical knowledge. Mama was smart about many things. This is just one, but there were certainly times when her practical knowledge came in very handy. Here are a few of mine:
The Bicycle Accident
We were visiting friends Don and Joyce Meredith for vacation. As I remember it, it was our last morning there and Joyce was going to make toast for breakfast, but was out of bread. She sent her daughters, Donna and Susan to the local store to grab a loaf of bread. I was younger than either of them, idolized them both, and did NOT want to be left behind. Susan graciously allowed me to ride on her handlebars. Not the greatest decision. As we were riding down a gravel road, Susan hit a bigger rock, which cause the bicycle to careen off course. We toppled, wobbled and SPLAT! It was a tough and very painful tumble. For me, an apparently very dramatic 6-7 year-old it was quite traumatic. In fact, I remember running down the road screaming, "Help me, help me, I'm going to die!" Bless the woman's heart who came to our rescue. I guess Donna or Susan must have given her their phone number (pre-cell phone days). Our parents came and rescued us and had to take us to the hospital. We required bandages, tetanus shots and concussion watch. I remember Mama was proud of me because Susan cried for her shot and I didn't. I came home from vacation with bandages on my right wrist, elbow, and shoulder, along with my left knee and left ankle. It was quite an ordeal!
What we DIDN'T know was that I had brought back something else, too. Over time, as the wounds began to heal, Mama noticed the one on my right wrist didn’t seem right. There was a darkness in the wound that didn’t look good -- and it sounded/felt like bone scraping on bone. So she took me back to the doctor and he said it was just dirt in the wound and that my body would process it and deal with it -- nothing to worry about. I don't remember, but there may have been another doctor’s visit -- maybe a couple more. Nonetheless, Doctor Mama didn’t believe that doctor. She kept watching my wrist and began applying some home remedies. I was 6 or 7, so I don’t remember all the details. . . .I do remember an Irish potato poultice to draw out whatever was in there. I think there were some other steps, too. Over time, it became clear that there was something in my wrist. The potato poultice drew it up enough that Mama could tell it was pieces of gravel. Eventually she did "surgery" with tweezers and peroxide and ended up removing 3 small pieces of gravel from my wrist. We taped them to a piece of notebook paper and kept them for years.
While no part of that experience was enjoyable, I was thankful then and for all the years after to have had a mom with such great instincts, wisdom, and steady hands ;-)
I also had a couple of additional misdiagnoses --
In 7th grade my doctors missed a mononucleosis diagnosis and sent me home with a wrong answer. I was so sick. Fever spiking to 104 and higher. I almost passed out and felt so bad I thought I seriously might die. Mama's tenacity and knowledge ended up paying off again, as they put me in the hospital for 11 days and a diagnosis of mono after all. My sister was about 6-7 months old, so Mama couldn't stay at the hospital very much, and Daddy was working so I stayed in the hospital by myself, and eventually healed up good as new. I think that was at the very end of the school year. I know my 7th grade teachers, Mrs. Hooks and Mrs. Shearin sent me flowers in the hospital.
My sophomore year in college at SCC, the doctor had said to my mom that I had cancer and it had already spread to the lymph nodes. As it turned out, it was merely cat scratch fever, and I lived to tell the tale. But for the 3 weeks - 1 month that things were uncertain, every time Mama looked at me she would cry, thinking I WAS dying. . .
Even as adults, we have all called on Mama to identify rashes, look down our throats, make medicine or folk remedy recommendations -- for us, our spouses, our pets. . . .
All of us in the family have had circumstances where Mama was a better doctor than our doctors, and we have been incredibly blessed to have her as medical caregiver and as Mama.
These blog posts were first written as part of a book for Mama to say thanks and to let her know that I loved her and treasured so many amazing memories that we had made together, in spite of some rough patches along the way in our relationship. Faith was strong in my family. It shaped us, created us and measured us. It grounded us, connected us, and was a keystone in our times together. That doesn't mean our faith was without struggles. Mama struggled with her faith during the time that my grandmama was so sick and bedridden -- and for the rest of her life. We all struggled with our faith -- and our attitudes toward church (Not equivalent things in my way of thinking.) during a particularly challenging time as we were breaking away from a congregation we had been part of for a long time. We've each faced faith challenges in different seasons and for different reasons. The last 20 years have brought lots of change to the beliefs and practices of the faith of my family, but our love for Jesus has never wavered. Our sincere desire to do what Jesus would want us to do -- the concept of the golden rule (Treat others the way you would like to be treated.) has provided a benchmark our whole entire lives. While currently on Sundays, you may find us worshiping at home around our fire pit as opposed to fellowshipping with a structured church, the foundation is strong, the faith is strong, and the desire to live right, be who God created us to be and the hope for Heaven are hallmarks of my family and my growing up.
From my earliest memories we were heavily involved in church and regular in our attendance. For the first several years, I had to sit with Mama and Daddy during services. Folks who attended church with us tell stories of my sitting attentively at 6 months- 1 year old, and how Mama would tolerate nothing less. Some thought she was too harsh, but I appreciate the fact that I was one of those weird kids actually listening to sermons and taking notes as a young girl.
As I got older and began branching out, Mama would let me sit in front of her. If I became inattentive or otherwise was not doing a good job, she would reach up and thump me on the ear. Sometimes today when I’m sitting in a church service (or a teacher meeting or. . .), there are some people I wish were close enough that I could thump their ear. . . .
We were expected to be at every church service unless we were sick. Normally we didn’t mind, but Sunday nights were hard, because Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and The Wonderful World of Disney both came on and we always missed them. It was actually a special treat to be sick and be able to stay home and watch our favorite shows. We enjoyed church, but as a young child (and considering the small, conservative church we attended) it didn’t hold a candle to Wild Kingdom and Disney . . .
One of the books in our house was a Bible story book. It was part of a larger set that contained a Bible Encyclopedia and another big Bible-based book. They all had these burgundy-brown covers. Usually it was Mama tucking us in, and oftentimes it would involve a story from the Bible story book. Most of the stories had illustrations, and had comprehension questions at the end that were usually part of our bedtime routines, along with saying our prayers.
When it was appropriate, Mama would let me join in with the church ladies in their activities and events. When we were attending the 74-76 Church of Christ, we would meet up at Vi Thick’s house and make cards to go on the meal trays for the hospital and nursing homes. We would cut construction paper into rectangles and fold them, putting a sticker on the front with a scripture. Inside we would write the name of our church. Later when we attended the Whiteville congregation, I think we did something similar. I enjoyed being part of the group and learned a lot about serving from those ladies. I appreciate Mama so much for including me in those times.
Mama also allowed me to visit the Nursing Home with a mentor who had moved into the area. She took a couple of us young teenage girls under her wing and taught us a bit about sewing, took us to visit the folks at the Nursing Home. We would visit and read the Bible to the residents. I spent a lot of time in this mentor’s home and she and her husband always held hands when they prayed. I thought that was so beautiful and wanted to do that with my husband one day. Now I do. And my whole family does, but it all started with the time Mama allowed me to spend with godly mentors.
One of the values Mama instilled in me early was hospitality. It played out in a number of ways in our household. Here are a few:
Hosting the guest preacher -- I remember a number of times when our church was having a gospel meeting (revival) and the preacher would stay with us in our house for the week. I always treasured those weeks and enjoyed sitting at the feet of the guest preachers. Sometimes I had the special privilege of accompanying them to other members’ houses for dinner as their GPS. Sometimes they would teach me magic tricks or card tricks. Those are some of my favorite memories. One of the preachers who came and stayed with us brought his family for part of the time, and his daughter became one of my good friends. We counseled together at church camp and roomed together at Christian college.
Church Parties -- We hosted lots of church parties at our house -- baby showers, wedding showers, party parties, and New Year’s Eve parties. Mama would always get a little stressed when the time drew near as there was always so much to do, but I always enjoyed the special snacks and the extra fellowship time. Also, it often involved singing, which was always my favorite part. I remember lots of New Year's Eves, singing in the new year with my church family.
There were lots of other examples of my mama showing hospitality, but it is a value that I treasure and strive to emulate in my own life now. I am so thankful for her modeling in this important area of Christian living.
Mama always took our spiritual homework seriously. I got my 10 commandments bracelet for memorizing the 10 Commandments and a mini treasure chest for learning all the books of the Bible. Mama worked with us on memory verses and other memory work. At some points during our growing up time, Mama was also our Bible class teacher. Even when she was not, she made sure we were following up like we needed to.
The scriptures were always a regular part of discussions at our house. Whether it was around the supper table or while we were gardening, fishing, or whatever was going on, there was likely to be scripture involved in our conversations. I’m reminded of the passage in Deuteronomy 6 that says, “Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” Mama modeled that very well. Scriptures were lived out in our home and there was no hypocrisy. What you saw was what you got -- wherever we were.
When we had trouble wrapping our heads around something at school or something someone said that conflicted with our church teaching, I really appreciate that Mama and Daddy didn't just quote doctrine. We went back to the source. We sat at the dining table, pulled out the Bibles and concordances, looked up scriptures and sorted things out the best we could based on what we read in the scriptures. It's still a practice in my house now, because it was instilled so fully then.
Commitment and Service
Our whole entire lives, these concepts were modeled and taught. My family was whole-heartedly committed to the Lord and to His church as we understood it. There was an understanding that if something was happening at church, we were to be there unless there was a very good reason we couldn’t be. Pretty much the only reasons we didn’t attend something was sickness or if we were out of town. Even if we were out of town, we usually attended the local congregation. We tried to schedule our work schedule around church times, but missing an occasional service due to work was acceptable as long as it wasn’t habitual.
For most of my life, Daddy was ministering from the pulpit and Mama was ministering from the pew and in the home. They both made sure that we understood that our church life was serious and we needed to take it seriously. Our church responsibilities came first. I remember one time -- elementary or middle school -- and I was supposed to get an award, but it required missing church. Mama allowed me to make the decision, but I chose to not attend the awards ceremony, but rather to attend church services.
While some of my specific beliefs and opinions have changed as I’ve grown and studied on my own and as I’ve had many more experiences, these hallmarks of my faith and precepts of commitment and service still serve me well as I make decisions about my priorities. I am thankful not to have to “decide to go to church on Sunday”. It is as ingrained as brushing my teeth every day.
(Full transparency note: Our church shut its doors in October 2019 before the Pandemic in March 2020. We were meeting with a small group at our house, but stopped meetings during the Pandemic. For most of the time since last March, Shane and I have worshipped alone -- at our dining room table or around our fire pit, studying Priscilla and Aquila, reading scripture, or sometimes enjoying an online church service. Even though we are not committed or regularly attending a specific church right now, our values and faith are strong and our desire to serve and grow in our Christian walk is also strong.)
I am thankful for the moral, spiritual, and ethical compass that these concepts provide. These ideals helped shape me as a person and as a Christian and I am so incredibly thankful to have grown up in a home that valued commitment to the cause of Christ.
While these ideals provide a stability that I value, my strong knowledge of the scriptures, coupled with a strong belief in thinking and studying for myself and not merely taking someone’s words as gospel have allowed me to stretch and grow and become a woman of impact -- a leader who stands firmly on her own two feet, but constantly leaning on the arms of Jesus for guidance, strength, and support. That would ONLY be possible with the strength, determination and spiritual guidance of my mother -- a woman of impact herself.
As a leader in my current church (refer back to full transparency note), these foundational scriptural truths and these critical views about commitment and service have given me solid footing from which to lead and have allowed me to be a leader who is willing to go the extra mile and brings a strong scriptural focus to our church.
I absolutely value all the conversations around the dinner table, and as we were driving, gardening, fishing, and living that helped make me the woman I am today. While I am still a work in progress, and I fail every single day, I have a growing understanding of His grace and mercy because of the foundations laid by my mama and daddy.
Sundays were church days and family days. Grandmama would often come home with us after church for Sunday dinner, which was always a Southern fried family affair -- fried chicken, rice and gravy, green beans and slaw or stew beef with rice and green beans and slaw, etc. Pictured from L-R are me (Tonnye Williams Fletcher), Cora Le White Smith, Mona Faye Smith Williams, and bottom -- Shanda Kay Williams (White)
One year ago (+a few weeks), I became active on Twitter. Originally, I wasn't excited about it. It was one of those things "they" say you need to do to become a successful author. So on Leap weekend, 2020, I leapt onto Twitter. As I explored and oriented myself to Twitter, I discovered the kidlit community. The first people to show me kindness and welcome were Kailei Pew and Kaitlyn Sanchez. Through them, I learned about this #SpringFlingKidLit contest, sponsored by Kaitlyn and Ciara O'Neal . Choose a gif. Write a Spring story in 150 words -- or less. Everyone who knows me knows I don't do much of anything in 150 words or less :-D But I threw my fairy story into the competition and did not place as a winner. However, I was a winner, because I was introduced to this amazing kidlit community that has provided help and encouragement to a new writer. And I have won every day since then -- sometimes I literally won (but mostly chance things -- critiques, (to help my writing improve), free books (to use as mentor texts), book bling (because . . .book bling! ;-), KidLit Zombie week came later and I got the "Miss Congeniality-ish" award from Jolene Gutierrez, who has become another dear friend in this community. With every critique, my writing and my knowledge improved. I took classes, webinars, read books, joined Twitter chats and mini-communities like #PBChat with Justin Colon, and #PBParty with Mindy Alysse Weiss, #KidLitSelfCare with Brittany Pomales. This year, I joined Julie Hedlund's 12x12 Challenge, and First Draft Friday with Hollie Wolverton. In this year, I have learned so much and grown as an author and as a person. I have won in so many ways. Most recently, I experienced my first big "win" as a writer, when I entered Vivian Kirkfield's #50PreciousWords contest. Yes, that's right -- a full story in 50 words. The top 51 were chosen out of 772 entries, and I was number 47! That's a ways down the list, but it put me in the top 16%, and it was the first time that my writing has won in a big international event. It has been a year of wins and losses, learning and growing, challenges and successes. I'm thrilled to be part of it all, and win or lose, I'm here for the duration, because that's the only way you'll ever be a winner!
I hope you enjoy my story about Venus. Feel free to leave me a comment here or on my Twitter or my Facebook. I've linked all the amazing people who have influenced my writing journey on Twitter. If you're missing any of them, go follow them now if you're an author hoping to win. If you're a reader, many of them have books out now, or will have soon, so check out their books.
Oh, and if you're an insect or very small animal, watch out for Venus.
VENUS' SPRING TRAP
72 words (not including back matter)
Venus awoke after a long winter,
stretched her leaves toward the sun, and set her traps.
She was hungry!
She unfurled her lobes,
Open wide. . .
What shall I eat first?
A row of ants ambled around. . .
A bunny bounced by. . .
A ladybug leaned in. . .
Finally. . .
a fly fluttered in for nectar,
touched the trigger hairs, and. . .
Fly made a delicious snack!
Interesting facts about Venus Fly Traps:
(This back matter is not part of the contest entry -- just here for your curiosity)
Venus fly traps are carnivorous plants with hinged traps that secrete nectar to lure insects. When insects touch trigger hairs, the hinge closes and the plant digests the insect with enzymes.
It takes Venus Fly Traps a while to reopen a trap once it closes, so they often don't waste their energy on tiny insects like ants. Most plants have several traps available so while one is closed, they can still catch food in the other traps.
Venus fly traps only grow naturally in boggy areas in the sandhills of North and South Carolina. They are a vulnerable species, and removing them from wild spaces is a felony and can result in jail time.
I've been a teacher of K-3 students for over 20 years; I'm also a writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and picture books. I'm wife to an amazing husband and mom to Sparkles, Mocha, and Rusty -- our feline fur babies . I love reading, writing, singing and listening to music. I enjoy nature, Bible study and spending time with friends and family!