On Getting Out of Your Own Way, and Making Space on the Shelf

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called ‘All The Things That Could Go Wrong’” – Marianne Williamson

“Above all, never let age extinguish the fire of your inner child.” – S. Ajna

There’s a new, highly sought-after writer in Boise.

He’s got a fresh voice, a unique style, and a bold, unconventional storyline.

Which makes sense, because …

He’s eight years old.

I ran across his story this past week. It’s that lovely sort of heart-warming tale that lingers with you long after you finish reading. Perhaps you saw it?

In case you didn’t, it begins with a little boy named Dillon who wrote a whopping 81-page story story about being transported back in time after an ornament on his Christmas tree explodes. Apparently it’s quite the page turner.

But nobody outside of his own family would have known about it, had this little boy not … err … “self-published.”

I use the phrase “self-published” loosely, because what he really did was sneak his dog-eared, highly-decorated manuscript into the stacks of the local library.

During a family outing to the library, unbeknownst to his grandmother, he tucked his story amongst the other books on the shelf, sandwiching it between thickly-padded library bound editions.

Then, that evening, he confessed to his mom. (I wonder if he did so because he suddenly wanted it back? We aren’t told.) And so, his mom called the library the following day to ask if she could pick it up.

She assumed it would be in the Lost and Found. And really, who wouldn’t?

Instead, the librarians said no. She couldn’t have it back.

Because they were adding his story to their collection.

“It’s a good story,” one said with a shrug. (Though they did add it to the graphic novel collection, rather than fiction – it has quite a few illustrations.)

Now his manuscript is one of their most requested items, with something like 56 people in queue to read it. Publishers have contacted the library, seeking to actually publish the book.

Not half bad for a second-grader.

Even better, his literary success has now inspired other area kids to write stories. Some have told librarians they want to write books for the library, too; a local author wants to work with Dillon to create a workshop for young people.

Adorable, inspiring, motivating – the kind of story that puts a spring in my step.

But beyond being a heartwarming story, his story reminded me of some advice I got long ago:

More often than not, you’re the one standing in your own way. So get out of your own way, already. Just watch what happens.

It’s excellent advice, and when I’ve taken it (and plunged into an adventure of some sort or another) I’ve been amazed at the expansion of my world.

In fact, you’re reading these words right now because one such adventure led to the creation of this website … and everything that came after. (That’s a far longer story, to save for another day.)

That doesn’t make the advice any easier to take, by the way. Sure, it’s easy to go big and bold when you’re a kid, because you don’t have decades of disappointments and “reality” to temper your enthusiasm. (And of course there’s a heavy dose of librarian magic in this particular story.)

Once life has thumped you on the head a few times, it’s hard not to flinch.

But this story is such a great reminder of what wonderful things we are capable of doing if we stop asking why, and start asking why not.

When you raise your hand, or stick your neck out, or grab the clip board, or sign up for the phone bank, or whatever way you personally challenge the status quo – whether quietly or from a rooftop – you’re staking out a little space in the world.

Sortof like little Dillon did, when he subconsciously declared his book to be just as worthy of a space on the shelf as the stiff-backed novels that now flank it.

You deserve a space on that shelf, too.

So this week, this month, this year … let’s make a little room for ourselves.

And let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of February 8, 2022

Tuesday: Join Claire McCaskill for a Zoom Call With Indivisible **Tonight!**

**ATTN Missouri folks! Indivisible We Will Persist is hosting a Meet and Greet with Former Senator Claire McCaskill

From their event description:

We hope you can join us for a “pep talk” from Senator Claire McCaskill, who will be sure to fuel our energy to become involved in the upcoming (April, August and November) elections and how and why we can make a difference!

We are expecting a large attendance. To ensure you will get into the Zoom meeting, please sign into the meeting at 6:45PM. Please note the zoom states the meeting starts at 6:30. This is when the waiting room will open and the event will begin promptly at 7pm Central.

Register here: https://indivisible.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0qcuuppzgiGtVItIOmGIIqU47XkSVaCdf6

TUESDAY: Registering Voters Just Got More Important:

No doubt you’ve seen that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) just eviscerated the remaining section of the Voting Rights Act. Yesterday, in a 5/4 “shadow docket” decision, with Roberts joining the liberal justices, it stayed the decision by a 3-judge lower court that had thrown out Alabama’s redistricting plan after finding it to violate the VRA’s prohibition on diluting racial voting power.

What a monumental loss for democracy.

Please don’t let this setback deflate you. Use the anger as fuel, and then use that fuel to get out there and register people to vote.

So today 3pm ET/12n PT, join Field Team 6 and call eligible voters in Georgia.

You’ll be reaching out to get people registered as Democrats, or signed up to vote from home (vote by mail) if they’re already registered (and 65 or over, or disabled).

Making sure people are registered to vote, and that they can vote safely from home, is a super-effective way to make a difference. But we need your help. Join us as we turn voices into votes! All training provided! Go here to sign up: https://events.democrats.org/event/401842/

Thursdays: Friend Bank

Voting Rights are under attack across the country! As of May 14, 2021, legislators have introduced 389 bills with restrictive provisions in 48 states. Twenty-two bills with restrictive provisions have already been enacted. In addition, at least 61 bills with restrictive provisions in 18 states are moving through legislatures.

Friend Banking is a tool to meet the community where they are and make sure the people in our lives are registered. With changing voting registration laws across the country, the best way to remind community members like your friends, family, colleagues and so many others to check their voter registration status is to ask them directly through folks they already know, like you. By hosting a Voter Registration Friend Bank, you will serve as a voter registration hub. We’re asking everyone who attends to have a conversation with 20 friends saved in their personal cell phone: Have you checked your voter registration status?

Join us to fight for voting rights and defend democracy by learning how to host your own Voter Registration Friend Bank. Join here: https://events.democrats.org/event/422475/

To learn more about hosting a Voter Registration Friend Bank, visit our Voter Registration Friend Bank Toolkit Here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14Gf67-A8jBZUpp1zFOnWUxlJQlxAut-mxIleQ4LE12Y/edit?usp=sharing

Saturday: Phone Bank to Wisconsin Voters:

Saturday, 2/12, 5pm-6:30pm (And 2/19 and 2/26)
Virtual Event – Join from anywhere!
Wisconsin is truly doing amazing things, and I’m in awe of Ben Wikler, who has an enviable amount of energy. Let’s pitch in and help, shall we? We can help keep WI Gov. Evers in office and throw out contemptible WI Sen. Ron Johnson by joining this phone bank. Southshore Milwaukee is organizing folks because people can now request their absentee ballots for the rest of the year. We need to talk to as many Wisconsinites as possible to make sure they are able to request their ballots and vote as easily as possible. You know these elections will come down to a handful of votes, so it is crucial that we talk to voters now. Phone banking occurs on Saturdays from 4:00pm- 5:30pm. They will give you a reminder call & send you a confirmation email with everything you need in the days leading up to the event. Finally, we would love to have your friends & family help as well. Do you have a friend or family member that you could bring along to this event with you? Register for the Zoom link here: https://www.mobilize.us/wisdems/event/435364/

WHEW! GO TEAM!

P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every email! We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

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