Lifelong Learning, Indeed – Emotional Pro

April 6th, 2006

Ever since I started writing “Born to Learn,” it has focused my attention on our human “lessons.” They never stop. “How are you going to publish your book, Ilene?” people have been asking me. I don’t have a clue. I am driven to write this book; yet I don’t yet know how I’m going to print and distribute it. It’s backwards to what I have been told to do, perhaps a waste of time. It isn’t a waste of time for me. Yesterday, I completed the editing of my first draft, which means in the last few days, I have read my own book, cover to cover. Here’s the great part: I enjoyed reading my own book! Even though I wrote it, it held my interest, seemed to flow well, had some good stories. Wow.
It brings to mind my earliest experiences with writing (as an adult). It was 1975 and I decided I needed to write, which I did using my fancy Selectric typewriter. I started my working life as a secretary (Thanks, Mom, for insisting I learn to type and take shorthand!. I found it fun and challenging to see how fast I could type. Now, I type well over 120 words per minute–my last test was taken more than 25 years ago–going so fast my computer keyboard cannot keep up with me, and I often need to stop and let the characters fill in on the screen). Well, I was petrified to put my words on the paper, because I grew up in a very critical family. I could “hear” my father’s voice (and all the folks who agreed with him, which seemed like millions), questioning, challenging and criticizing my every word. Everything I wrote, I threw out. Several days went like this, until I got fed up with this useless pursuit. “Ilene,” I said to myself, “you are sitting in such judgment of yourself that you can’t get anything on the paper! Here’s an idea: you never have to let another soul see what you write! Just put your ideas on the paper. Don’t worry about punctuation, syntax or spelling–just get it out! Then, put it in a file folder in that drawer over there, and don’t ever look at it again, unless you want to!” Freedom! I did just that. I wrote, happily, for days, stuffing the results into a folder in a drawer at the end of each writing session. I didn’t look at them for about 4 months. When I did, I found myself (like now) enjoying what I had written! One of the pieces was about my graduate school education. I had taken an “outside course” in family therapy, getting the University of California at Berkeley to give me credit for the course. It was a full day a week, with all psychotherapists already working in the field except me, in which we learned to do family therapy while our instructors observed through a two-way mirror and gave suggestions via an ear piece while we worked. Intense, yet VERY effective! This piece I wrote contrasted what I felt I had learned in school, versus in this class. I felt good enough about it to take the risk and submit it to Family Therapy, a journal published by the institute where I studied, edited by psychiatrist Martin Blinder (of Dan White “Twinkie Defense” fame). Dr. Blinder called me a few weeks later, to say they would like to include my article in their journal (my first publication in a professional journal!). I offered to make a time to come by and pick up the manuscript and find out what changes he wanted me to make. “I don’t want you to change a single word!” he asserted. “In fact, I want to tell you what a pleasure it is to find a psychotherapist who can write!” So much for criticism and judgment from the outside world. Look in Family Therapy, Volume III, number 2, 1976 for “Teaching Models for Graduate Training in Psychotherapy” by Ilene L. Dillon, M.S.W.!
So my point. This week I have taken another great risk. I made application to Bradley Communications to participate in their Quantum Leap program, in which they promise to give me the information, tools and support I need to take my career/writing/Internet business to the top of the heap. And they can do it, too, having worked with the author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad and with Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, creators of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. I sent off some of my writings to them via FedEx yesterday, in support of my application. I’ll have an interview, and know by April 13th whether I’m included in this “class.” Why is it a risk? Lots of money–had to put it down even to be considered. More risks to follow, including fame of some magnitude. Opening myself to being told what to do and how to do it. And, again, opening myself to possible criticism. Now, really, I have no indication that this is the way things will go. Like all of us, though, since criticism is my background and my legacy, it’s something I think about. Not like in 1975, but still a little “blip” on the radar screen. This time, I’m going to eradicate that blip!
And let me tell you about fame. My dear friend, Kay Hammel, who is as wonderful and talented a medium as one could ever consult, years ago told me that Simon, her guide, would like me to think “globally” about fame. “Do I have to?” I asked immediately, knowing my reclusive nature. “Yes,” she said, very deliberately, after a long minute of deliberation. The next day, I found myself digging my heels in. “I don’t want to be famous!” I protested as I dug in my garden (the place where I do lots of good thinking). I wanted to be able to continue going to the grocery store with two-day dirty hair, no makeup and in blue jeans, the way I like to go, without feeling conspicuous. I had a talk with God, right there on my hillside. “You want me to be famous, I will do it. But I’m not going looking for it. I’m not ready. You make me!” It wasn’t until about 4 years later that I had another talk with the Big Whoever, this time telling Him/Her “Okay, I’m ready. I’ll seek fame.” I do the Internet radio program, which hasn’t been enough, yet, to bring world-wide fame (though I have had people in Switzerland and Brazil listen to my broadcasts). But going for the Quantum Leap could do it for me. This time, I’m being a grown-up, rather than a petulant kid defying God to “make me.”

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