The Artist’s Way: Hall of Champions


After completing and slaying (well, at least beginning the process of slaying) the hall of monsters, I’m next asked to identify my hall of champions. This was, in fact, much easier! And as I realized just how much easier it is to identify my champions than it was my monsters I begin to realize just how very blessed I am. I fear to make a comprehensive list, knowing I would inevitably leave someone out and then feel horrible about it (going back to the idea that I am my worst monster), but I did want to list—in tandem with the 5 monsters—a few of my great champions knowing that I could go on for days writing about what these champions and others have done for me I’ll keep it brief and to the point.

  • My parents and by consequence my grandparents, aunts and uncles

I have a very loving family. From the time that I was small until now I have never known anything but love and encouragement from my parents. They filled our house with fun, laughter, and literary heroes I’ll never forget and who will always influence me. In our front hall there stood a bookshelf—it was the first thing you saw really when you walked into the house because it was in your direct line of view and you had to pass by it to get to the rest of the house. But this wasn’t an ordinary bookshelf. It was filled with books of such grandeur and prestige that I actually felt honored the first time my mother told me that yes I could read a book off that shelf (The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens—it broke my heart, but I’ll never forget it). Now don’t get me wrong, our house was filled with books, but there was something magical about this particular bookshelf with its place of honor and, though I’m not sure I ever even told them myself, this kind of honor strikes a chord with me and with what I am trying to be. It’s an image of home—my home that encouraged reading, writing and pursing whatever dream might be in your heart. Despite all their faults (because they are human after all), this is what I love and honor my parents for.

  • My siblings and by consequence my nieces

I have two siblings by blood and one that I claim though we’re not actually related by blood. These three individuals have had more influence on who I am and how I champion to continue on despite the monsters that plague me.

My sister keeps me grounded.

My brother challenges me. *I would say this now includes my brother in law.

My would be sister keeps me sane.

My nieces (ALL of them) are my inspirations. I can’t get enough of them and when I start to feel down and like the world is too much, all I have to do is talk to anyone of them (even before they were speaking “words”) and suddenly all is right with the world again.

  • My second grade teacher Ms. M and my fourth grade teacher Ms. C

My second grade teacher nurtured my reading obsessions. In fact, she had an old clawfoot bathtub that she had filled with pillows and put in her classroom and it became a very special reading spot. I’ll never forget how she made reading seem both special and magical as though there was nothing better in the world to do.

My fourth grade teacher really taught me how to write, and write well. I’ll never forget her lessons on audience and purpose in writing (one of my favorite memories is how she gently told me that using the word “farted” in a formal reflective essay was not necessarily the best word choice—and the fact that I used farted…well, I was in fourth grade!). She encouraged me and taught me never to give up. I was not a great writer when I entered her class, but I left making the highest scores in the school on the writing portions of tests.

  • My work friends and family

There are too many to go into great detail, but Rhonda and Chris are my two greatest champions at work (although Bill ranks right up there too. He’s still convinced someday my books will be movies. Keep that dream alive, Bill!). Whenever I start getting too blah (which with my temperament is more often than not) they are always around to turn me back toward the right direction.

  • My students

I keep a desk drawer full of thank cards and notes, letters, and drawings that my students have given me over the years. This desk drawer isn’t just an ego boost, but a reminder that I am here for a reason. And it’s not just for something selfish. Sometimes, when I feel depressed or discouraged by the NC Voter or the school system, I’ll just read the notes. They are my champions.

Who are your champions? Who encourage you in your creative endeavors? When you make your list do you have more monsters or more champions?

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