Let Freedom Read – Liberty Island Special Independence Day Edition!

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Let Freedom Read – Liberty Island



A rant from a frustrated gymnastics coach

In 2004, it was Carly Patterson. In 2008, it was Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson. In 2012, it was Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman. In 2016, it was Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez.

I’ve heard it again and again in the fourteen years I’ve worked as a gymnastics coach.
“My baby is going to be the next __________!” Choose a name from above, depending on the year.

Usually (but not always) the child has natural talent. Also usually, the child has no discipline, expects to the center of attention, doesn’t like correction, and likes to announce that she is better than the others in her class (one was less obnoxious about it though, whispering to me instead of saying it aloud because, “they can’t help it if they’re not as good, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings”).

The end result in almost every case: the parent complains the child isn’t getting enough instruction, and why hasn’t the child been moved up to team yet?

Occasionally it is possible to explain to parents that just because a child can sling her feet over her head, or just because a boy is seemingly supernaturally strong, doesn’t mean they’re ready for a more advanced class (much less team). They need to learn to listen, develop the discipline to follow through without being babysat and to work independently, and also come to the realization that their skills aren’t fantastic, but need to be honed and built upon for years.

More often than not though, that message never get processed by a parent’s brain. The parents make excuses for their precious future Olympian and cast snide remarks or openly sling accusations that the coach isn’t doing enough for their child, and before long they’ve ragequit (to use a gaming expression). They hop from gym to gym, never getting it, always complaining, and the loser in all this is the child, which saddens and frustrates me.

Some of the kids do go on to become decent gymnasts, but generally they develop an arrogant, superior attitude which isn’t borne out by their actual skill level. Others – who knows? Do they ever go on to excel at anything, or do their parents refusal to see that hard work and accountability are necessary for success hinder the child from succeeding?

= = =

I know most of my posts have something to do with writing or my stories. Even the gardening ones, because one of my characters (Tam) is an avid gardener. But what connection does this have? Um. Well, none I guess. I just wanted to vent because sometimes it gets to me. But – let me give it a go: The same work ethic needed in gymnastics is needed throughout life. Even with writers. We need to work hard at our craft, despite any natural talent we might have. We need discipline, and we need to be able to take criticism, and we need to never, ever give up.


Resuming Gardening, Slowly but Surely

I had to give up gardening and really, almost all outside work, because of my disabilities. But with the improvement in my health, I’m starting, in a small way, to get back to one of my loves.

Here you see my a raised bed with two vegetables in it, and in the background, you just might glimpse some of the incidental flowers as well as survivors from when I had an herb garden (chives, comfrey, lemon balm, chocolate mint).




I also used an old, useless wheelbarrow to try growing a small herb garden. In first photo, you see last year’s thyme, which survived the winter, and the basil which reseeded itself.
The parsley I just planted and petunias as well, because I have some extra and thought they’d be a nice touch.



In the second photo, you can see how they’re thriving a few weeks later.



I think it’s easy to see where my one character Tam (in Sword’s Edge and Children of the Enaisi) gets her love of gardening.


One of the Classic Blunders

Well, at least book two of the Sword’s Edge Chronicles is out, so you can have your next fix. And it comes recommended!
“Children of the Enaisi has a beautiful high concept with a mysterious past of lost technology and ancient secrets. A fresh new take on Rangers that fans of classic pulp fantasy will love.”
          – Jon Del Arroz @jondelarroz
Don’t take Jon’s word for it, check it out!
Never fear, it can be read as a stand alone novel. 🙂

(h/t to Deep Magic for the meme)

Librarians Are My Heroes

I love libraries. And librarians. That love started when I was a small critter. I didn’t have friends as a kid (we now understand something of Asperger’s so I know now why I was unable to figure out social dynamics, but I digress…), so books were my friends. As was the librarian at the Thomas Jefferson Branch of the Detroit Public Library. There were several there, but one was my favorite; she took an interest in me, and always made sure she was available if she saw me come in.

Back in those days, kids could walk, even at the age of six or so, where we wanted, as long as our moms knew where we were going, so I would trek the four blocks (0.6 miles – I looked it up) to the library as often as I could.

We were only supposed to be able to check out three books at a time, and I would do so, and bring them back maybe two days later. The librarian would doubt I read them and ask me questions about the books. I’d answer them, and I guess I impressed her because she raised the limit of books I could take home at a time, so I wouldn’t have to trek back quite so soon (I never waited until they were due; I wanted more to read). Imagine a six or seven year old carrying a stack of books almost to her chin all the way home and then back to the library less than a week later. Yep, that was me.

She was kind, and she encouraged me. I think I read every single book in the children’s section by the time I was seven or eight, so she showed me how to use the card catalog (which also led to learning the Dewey Decimal System), and she gave me suggestions on books to read when I expressed an interest in new topics: spies, botany, geology – she never made fun of my eclectic interests, just pointed me in the right direction.

I don’t remember her name after all these years, but she was instrumental in my life in so many ways. I owe so much to her. Miss Librarian, thank you!