A Mother’s Advice: Stay True

Recently, I had dinner with friends I had not seen since last summer. We sat over cocktails catching up on family activities, surgeries, and our children. Both of my sons are in college. My oldest son is a college junior pursuing a Fine Arts degree majoring in photography and is still considering his minor area of study. My youngest son is completing his freshman year and has already changed his field of study back to his original love of cultural anthropology with a minor in philosophy. His original college degree consideration was an international business with a minor in marketing.

Of course, whenever I discuss my sons’ college majors, the first questions I receive are:

What type of job can he get with that degree?
How many jobs are available for that career?
Will he be able to earn a living?

As a parent, I understand the basis of these questions. Fine art and anthropology degrees don’t conjure up wealth and prosperity like business degrees. But I have always advised my sons to “pursue your passion and you will find your purpose. You will find a way to earn a living and support your family.”

From an article written in Forbes by Paolo Gallo, Career Lessons from Steve Jobs, Bruce Springsteen and Snoopy, “Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, said in his commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 that we should look in the mirror each morning wondering: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” He added that, if the answer was negative for too many days in a row, it would be time for a change.”

Negative tapes

My passion growing up was to be a writer, journalist, or editor. I remember sharing this idea with my father across the dinner table late one evening when I was sixth grade. I had written a story and my English teacher had written positive feedback on my school paper. Encouraging my father to read it, I told him I wanted become a journalist and I had even set my sights on where I wanted to go to college. As usual my timing of this big discussion was ill-timed, he was drunk. Not just drunk, wasted drunk. But then again, my timing would never be correctly timed because every night was the same. My school assignment was in the exact same place on the kitchen table the next morning. His silent answer told me all I needed to know. I would never make it as a writer.

Throughout my childhood, anything I accomplished was always met with the same response from my father, “Girls can’t do that,” or other similar responses, but the worse response was his silence which was the response I received that evening long ago. His silence, whether drunken or in rare sobering moments left with me wondering about my own abilities.

My father didn’t keep me from pursuing my passion. I did. I allowed the negative tapes from my childhood to keep playing in the back of mind. I wasn’t going to allow those negative tapes to become a legacy tape for my children.

I pursued the business route, climbing the ladder, and earned a very good living despite those negative tapes. But that path still led me to an upsetting end in 2009 when the U.S. economy collapsed. I might add however, I still could have been an out of work writer too. My point is, no career is guaranteed but doing what we love doing gets us through the night, if not the day.

My path

I have learned a lot over the last seven years about myself, commitment, pursuing passions and earning a living. But the number one lesson for me is material wealth should never be the goal unless that is truly your passion.

Everyone’s path is different and everyone’s concept of success is different.” Jim Gaffigan

I am currently working in a job and for a company I enjoy. It provides the necessary income to pay the bills and invest in a 401(k). While the job doesn’t fulfill my passion for writing, it does allow me to pursue my love of writing when I am not at the office.

If I had started my career with the lesson of material wealth, not being the goal, but the goal of pursuing my passion, I may have had more than one published book by now. Would I now have material wealth? Maybe. Maybe not. The point is I didn’t stay true to myself.

Motherly Advice

My advice to my sons is not just for their career, but how they approach their future.

“Stay true to God, stay true to You, stay true to your dreams,” I advise, “You will find a way to earn a living and achieve happiness if you continue pursuing your gift. Ultimately, your ‘gift’ leads you to your purpose.” Sheri Prielipp-Falzone

I remembered an argument from someone a few years ago when my first son was graduating from high school. I believe the argument derived from the television show, American Idol. The person’s argument was that these kids were being given bad advice as to not to give up their dream even though it was obvious they could not sing and achieve stardom.

I’m sorry. I didn’t buy his argument that we should pee on someone’s parade.

While I agree they may not achieve top of the chart stardom, they still can have the passion to be a part of the music industry in some fashion. Perhaps their voice simply leads them to explore and expand their musical expression in a different form of success.

“Attitude, not aptitude, determines altitude.” Zig Ziglar

I am happier now than I have ever been in my life having gone through the last seven years of rejection, reinvention, and renaissance. I certainly don’t want my sons taking a lifetime to figuring out their purpose here on earth. Our purpose involves the gifts God has blessed us in our abilities. He has blessed each one of us with a passion to pursue.

My career advice despite your age

Write down all your responsibilities, talents, and abilities. Divide all three into columns of what you can do but would rather not do, like to do and don’t mind doing, and then what you really like to do. Let’s face it. We all have to do something in all three columns in our career, but concentrate on what you really like to do. Even if it is just a day job and you are pursuing your dream elsewhere. This is the path I took in developing my own contracting business and now into full-time employment.

Stay true

I am staying true to my dream of writing. There is still a lot of ink in this fountain pen, and I aim to keep writing. As for my sons, they are doing outstanding in their chosen disciplines at college, and I have no doubt, they will be successful in life too.



2017 New Year’s Resolutions in Quotes

The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.” – Ben Stein, American writer, lawyer, actor, and speech writer for presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford

I want to be truly happy.

There have and are people, puppies, and places that make me happy. But true inner happiness has eluded me much of my life. Several weeks ago in my journal I asked the question, “Why am I so unhappy?”

My answer came in part a few weeks later as I sat watching the program, “60 Minutes” on CBS Television featuring a segment with Denzel Washington on the set of Denzel’s first HBO production, “Fences,” and his mission to produce all ten plays by one of America’s greatest playwrights, August Wilson – winner of two Pulitzer Prizes.

Paul Whitaker asked Denzel if he enjoyed directing and Denzel responded he would not be directing anytime soon because he has to pay the bills.

“Acting pays the bills. Do what you gotta do, so that you can do what you want to do. I’ve just done what I wanted to do. Now I gotta get back to what I gotta do.” – Denzel Washington, American actor, director, and producer

 What I gotta do

I never pursued my dream career for several reasons, but in the end, it’s really my own fault. I allowed circumstances to get in the way of my creative passion instead of it making it daily career goal.

In 2009, I lost the career I actually pursued and, to say the least, I was devastated. I thought it would devastate the financial well-being of my family too. But while the loss forced me to travel unexpected terrain and seemingly bottomless valleys, I have triumphed by creating a contracting business that helped my family navigate the debt waters. And now through the help of friends, who are really angels in disguise, I have full-time employment again in an era when 4th quarter-age and experience are not seen as assets.  This job although it is not a passion, but one I am grateful to have and one that I will do to the best of my abilities. I hope I will competitively excel to allow me to do what I gotta do to do what I want to do.

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States

To do what I want to do

The Denzel Washington interview opened up a new way of thinking for pursuing my own passion. Success is not only for the 9 to 5 job.  Happiness to me is exploring and producing my creative endeavors. If achieving true happiness never produces a cent of financial success, so be it. It is the creative process in itself that makes me truly happy. Happiness outside of my family and friends is immersing myself in the creative process of poetry, storytelling, blogging, journaling, or wherever the crafting process takes me.

I have drilled into my sons to pursue their passion which ultimately is the gifts God has given them and they will make a living out of it somehow. The important lesson is to love what you are doing. And I will add this piece of advice too for those who are in the 4th quarter of the game like I am on the subject of being successful, remember these words by Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize, and Goethe Prize winner:

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer, French-German theologian, organist, philosopher, and physician

It’s never too late to be successful.

True happiness is

My only resolution for 2017 and beyond is pursuing true happiness.  What does true happiness look like? To me, it is an endless supply of pen ink for my fountain pen and any available scrap of paper. Writing has always meant happiness for me even when I am sorting out whatever it is – good or bad.  The Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso said:

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life from our souls.” – Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright

Dreaming intentionally

Exploring my creativity through my writing is my passion and it does bring me true happiness. The process and the end result is not for my readers although every writer hopes their words are read and valued. It’s what I want to do. I have to turn my dream into a reality just like Denzel.

“You have to dream intentionally. Most people dream a dream when they are asleep. But to be a writer, you have to dream intentionally.” – Haruki Murakami, Japanese Writer of multiple International literary awards

Pursuing the passion

At least for me, Edgar Allan Poe and Leo Tolstoy said it best:

“With me, poetry has not been a purpose, but a passion.” Edgar Allan Poe, American writer, poet, and literary critic

“If you want to be happy, be.” Leo Tolstoy, Russian writer


The Blogging Owl postscripts:

In 2017, you will be reading more from #FitbitTheOwl and #SheriFootball, and maybe a new hashtag personality.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Napoleon Hill, American New Thought Author and suspected con man

2017 deadline:  A book of poetry and an inspirational memoir

Whatever you are resolving to do in 2017, I hope it includes a continued reading of, The Blogging Owl.

Happy New Year and God’s Peace in 2017!

Sheri ~ The Blogging Owl