We are continuing our celebration of Megan Morrison’s incredible GROUNDED: THE ADVENTURES OF RAPUNZEL with a nod to the people who have come into our lives and changed us – forever. You know who we are talking about. That person who came out of left field, and now you can’t imagine your life without him. Or the person who guided you out of a dark space, and is an essential part of why you live in light. Or the person who stood up to you – how dare you! – and challenged some engrained belief of yours and you were finally set free. Or or or…
Here’s what Megan says about Rapunzel’s that person:
Rapunzel lives quite happily in her tower – she loves it, in fact, and has no interest in the ground, where, she believes, everyone is horrible. When Jack climbs into her tower on a quest of his own, he frightens her, insults her, and shakes her belief system. Soon afterward, to protect her Witch, Rapunzel chases Jack out of the tower to get back what he has stolen. Thus begins her journey across Tyme and her first real friendship – both of which challenge her narrow upbringing… and change her forever.
So we decided to conjure our that people (those people?!) – the people who have irrevocably changed us. (You’ll notice we are split about halfway between spouses and writing mentors!)
Given that I am getting married in May, I think I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about my soon-to-be wife Jane as a person who has come into my life and changed it forever! I spent a lot of time hoping to meet that one person who would be the perfect partner in life. I didn’t really expect that she would sit down next to me at a conference for children’s writers one day—but I’m glad she did!
How cute are they in their matching denim?!
It’s probably cliché to say that my husband is the person who changed my life forever, but it’s true! It’s more than the fact that we have three children and are celebrating our 20th anniversary this summer. So much more. Bryce and I are opposites in many ways (beyond the whole short/tall thing). He’s confident, adventurous, and has crazy good people skills. Me…not so much. But after 20 years together, I like to think that I’ve made positive strides in all of those areas, largely because of his example. We’ve had amazing adventures together, including living in Asia for four years—something I never would have been brave enough to do if he wasn’t by my side. We balance each other, make each other stronger. I can’t wait to see where the next 20 years will take us!
John D. Engle, my high school English and creative writing teacher, changed my life forever. He taught me to write, submitted my work, and helped me get my poems published. He encouraged me to go to college and, because he was a fabulous teacher, my first – brief! – career was as a high school English teacher. Lacking his extroverted disposition, I lasted one year, then earned an M.A. in journalism and began my career as a writer.
John and I remained lifelong friends and I visited him two or three times a year (he lived a couple of hours away). I became part of an informal writing group of his friends and former students. He was a respected and widely published poet (1,000+ poems in magazines and anthologies).
When I visited him a week before his impending death, he handed me Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem “Evangeline” and asked me to read to him, as he was too weak to talk. He did not live to see the publication of my book, Winter Trees, but I sent him the galleys so he could read my dedication: “To John D. Engle, Jr. – tree lover, poet, teacher, friend.” John departed this world on June 6, 2006 at age 83.
Here is Mrs. Ferguson. Wow.
Penny Parker Klostermann:
Oh my! It’s hard to pick one person who came into my life and changed it. Many have. My husband. My son. Friends. But I’m going to approach this from my writing world and go with my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Ferguson. I wrote a twenty-six line, rhyming poem when I was in her class. She bragged and bragged about the perfectly metered story it told. She even showed it around to the other teachers. Her words gave me a boost that has stayed with me on my journey as a writer.
My fifth grade teacher, Mr. Robert Looney, deeply changed my life. I will never forget the day he stood up on his teacher’s desk chair and help up the Spelling Textbook. We all groaned. We had gotten used to the drilling from that textbook version for the previous aces. Different cover now, but same program. But then Mr. Looney broke into this wide grin, and proceeded to dump the thing in the trash. We all looked at one another like, IS THAT EVEN LEGAL!? In lieu of the Spelling program, Mr. Looney introduced us to his self-designed program called FLAIR. We wrote, and wrote, and wrote. We learned spelling and grammar in context, and we crafted crazy stories that year—each time to Mr. Looney’s delight. Whenever I think of writing or stories, I think of Mr. Looney’s big grin, a trash can, and a decision that forever changed my life. Thank you, Mr. Looney.
Anya, Niko & Becca in the Grand Canyon
It may be cliché, but it’s true—my husband, Niko, wandered into my life, and it has now changed in so many wonderful ways—geographically, culturally, psychologically, spiritually. Niko’s a scientist who’s originally from Berlin, Germany. Because of his job, we’ve been very fortunate to be able to visit and live in many different places. During his first sabbatical, we lived in Berlin for one year, which was so culturally enriching, and wonderful for our daughter, Anya, who was only 2 ½ at the time. For his second sabbatical, we lived in sunny San Diego, and drove cross-country from our then home in Massachusetts, and back, with daughter and dog, Becca, in tow. It was such an eye-opening experience for our family to see so many different places in the U.S., especially the many national parks that we visited (since I’m a nature girl at heart).
But he’s changed my life in more personal ways too. Through his steady love and support, he’s helped me to peek, even sometimes wholly emerge from my introverted shell, to learn to better argue and disagree without necessarily fighting, and to be more Zen and less reactive—things that have just made me a better person and partner. And it goes without saying that Anya has also enriched my life in ways I could never have imagined before she was born. I feel so lucky, and grateful to have them both in my life!
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman:
I can’t think of a more apt choice for someone who came into my life and changed it than my son. I have wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl playing with my Cabbage Patch Kids. It was something I took for granted would just happen one day. Becoming parents proved to be a difficult road for me and my husband, and it wasn’t until the third trimester of my pregnancy with my son that I let myself relax and finally get excited about becoming a mom. We celebrated my son’s third birthday this past weekend, and I never thought I would be so happy and thankful to spend my days doing the voices of Sesame Street characters and brushing up on my Thomas the Train knowledge.
Do you think he likes books?
I’m kind of balking at the idea of picking just one person who has changed my life. There are so many! But I’m sure every single one of us thought that – and everyone else dutifully chose one person – so I will do the same. When I was an undergraduate in college I thought I wanted to be an actor. I spent two years taking acting classes and trying out for plays. Then I went to a college in Alabama for a year—don’t ask, I followed my boyfriend!—and while I was there, I was in a play by Maria Irene Fornes. The minute I opened the script to read at my audition I was flooded with this sense of…familiarity, maybe? This sense of amazement. Fornes’ voice spoke so strongly to me, and made me want to use mine. I truly think it was in that moment that I decided I just might be able to write the way I wanted to write, and to say what I wanted to say.
I have to say my husband is the person who entered my life and changed it completely (for the better!). We met at a time in my life when everything was changing for me and I was sort of just drifting. I didn’t know what I wanted from life or even who I really was. I had a pretty poor self-esteem and low self-confidence. I felt like I didn’t really fit in anywhere and never would. From our first conversation, I admired his self-awareness and integrity. I liked that he was such a hard worker yet had an easy-going attitude and never took himself too seriously. He didn’t worry about making mistakes, and viewed life as an adventure. He taught me not to worry so much about what others thoughts of me and always made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted to. Our early conversations really opened my eyes to possibilities that I’d never imagined for myself and gave me the courage and confidence to go after them. I am sure I never would’ve become a writer without him in my life and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done (besides marrying him, of course!). 🙂
Who is YOUR that person? Who is the person who changed your life?
Want to win your very own signed copy of GROUNDED, plus a cool bookmark? (It might just be the book that changes your life!) Please leave a comment here, or after of any of this week’s posts, for a chance to win!
You can also buy a copy of GROUNDED at the following locations:
Third Place Books
The Secret Garden Bookshop
Barnes & Noble
Thanks for joining us here at Emu’s Debuts!! Be sure to visit again tomorrow and Friday for new and exciting posts on Megan Morrison’s GROUNDED: The ADVENTURES OF RAPUNZEL!