Friday, March 08, 2013

What Cleaning out My Inbox Did for Me

Over the course of the last few days, I've been cleaning out my personal email box. It was full - ridiculously full - to the point that I was embarrassed.  Yeah, I know I'm the only one who sees it, but I know it's there and it makes me feel cluttered and disorganized.  So I told myself that every time I sign in, I would purge my inbox of at least 100 emails.  I knew it wouldn't be long before my virtual mailbox would be back in order again.   

You see, the problem is that I love to read and I love to learn.  So sometimes I get emails and think, "Oh!  That looks interesting.  I want to read that sometime."  The problem with that mentality is that with having four kids, a house full of pets (dog, cat, two birds and various fish), work, household chores etc, that "sometime" rarely comes and ultimately I never really do get around to reading, "How to Get 6-Pack Abs," or "We (insert heart graphic here) Slow Cooker Dinners" sent to me personally from my favorite websites.  Ultimately, these get filed into the dreaded electronic circular file.      

Fortunately, this wasn't the fate of an email I had received from a fellow writer and very special friend of mine back in early December (yes it was 2012 - I'm bad but not that bad).  The subject line simply read "Erma" and I knew it had to be something regarding one of her favorite American humorist writers, Erma Bombeck.  I was nearing the end of the almost 1500 emails I had stored in my inbox like birdseed in a squirrel's cheeks, so I decided to reward myself by finally taking a moment to open that email.  Even the squirrels have to crack a sunflower seed once in a while! 

I opened up the mail to find a link and a quick little message saying, "Click the video on the right hand side of the site. Enjoy."

I followed the link to find a very short video of Erma Bombeck discussing what I can only imagine was the first moment that she truly realized, or believed, I should say, that she was a writer.  She was working part time and taking a class taught by Brother Tom Price, a man of many hats, who as Bombeck tells us in the interview, saw each of his students individually.  He clearly saw who Erma Bombeck aspired to be and suggested she write something for The Exponent, the magazine at the University of Dayton at the time.  She did and the next time he saw her he spoke these three simple words to her:  "You can write."

Bombeck considered not believing him, saying her first thought was, "I won't believe him," (notice she thought won't) but because he was a man of the cloth, she made the choice to go against her first inclination.  She chose to believe.  Bombeck went on to become one of the most well-known humorists, writers, journalists, and columnists of our time.  

I held onto that email from back in December because I knew it pertained to writing, but more importantly because I was certain it held something valuable inside - some precious little nugget to help me along my way - and it did.  I, too, have been told I can write and as I sit here thinking about teachers in high school, professors, and friends who've ever taken a moment to see who I am, and to encourage me, I feel that not writing is a disappointment to myself and to them.

So today, I choose to believe.  I desire to write meaningful things, things that inspire and evoke whatever the reader seeks, that cause some sort of awakening in those who read what I write. 

So cleaning out my inbox didn't help me figure out how to make crock pot chicken that everybody is sure to (Heart), but I have learned one very important thing.  It's ok to believe in yourself.  Erma Bombeck did and look where it got her!

photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc