Thursday, March 29, 2007

 

So You're Thinking About Becoming a Freelance Writer

Copyright 2007 by Donovan Baldwin

You would think that writing is writing. You would think that just because you are doing it in freelance mode rather than under contract to a publication or advertising firm, for example, that it's the same thing. You would think, huh?

Well, like many things in life, when you step away from the beaten path and eschew the warmth and comfort of schedule, office, guidelines and are forced to do all that that implies for yourself, things change.

Anyone who is good at their job and decides to go out on their own...start their own business...very rapidly learns a bitter truth. Along with all the obligations to the boss, the kowtowing and dog and pony shows, the J.O.B. did provide some things that it can be hard to get along without.

Take that scheduling thing a couple of paragraphs ago. For many people striking out on their own, including freelance writers, a first dash of cold water from the fountain of freedom is the realization that they are not as good at scheduling their own time as their boss or office was.

Oh, it's great not to hear the clock go off in the morning, but at some point, if you want to be successful, you have got to get out of bed and go to work. The boss expected you there by a certain time and kept you there a certain time for a reason. Requiring a certain amount of time out of your life insured that a certain amount of work got done. With no boss to stand over you or glare at you as you come in late, it can be easy to cut the routine and suddenly find that your output has dropped off.

For a freelance writer, low output can mean low wages.

In the routine of the office, you knew that certain jobs had to be done in certain cycles and to certain rhythms. Many times, those rhythms and cycles were there when you came to work at that company. You may have modified them somewhat, but there is a chance you did not create them. As a self-employed individual, i.e. freelance writer, you are going to have to discover and create the cycles, rhythms, and schedules which will help you be successful.

At your job, you had to develop and grow. Maybe they provided training for you, maybe they didn't, but at some point you probably realized that if you wanted to advance, or at least keep your job, you would have to figure out how to work the new machinery, fill out the new form, or placate the new boss. A freelancer has to stay abreast of what's going on as well, only now, there is no one standing by to make sure you get the message.

Additionally, your job provided incentive for you to keep working even if things weren't going well. As long as you came in and did your work, you got your paycheck. For many, that, and the chance of losing a job, translates into a certain incentive to be creative. Often, when writers go freelance, they find that without any guidance and expectations from outside, their creativity dries up. Then, it is up to them to force themselves to produce.

Bosses also set expectations, and you knew as an employee what those expectations were. Many people who decide to freelance feel that they will now be able to call the tune. However, often what they want to write is not what others want to read, and they find that the boss had certain expectations because he or she knew what the market was demanding. Many a freelance writer, and others who take the self-employed route, find themselves doing many of the same things they did, but for less money and with no benefits.

The list can go on. There are a myriad of things that anyone leaving the work force and striking out on their own will realize need to be done. They will also realize that usually somebody else did them when they had a job. Now that they are self-employed, again, i.e. freelance, they are responsible for it all...from bookkeeping to sanitation. It is their responsibility not only to be a good employee but a good employer as well.

Going freelance in any profession can be daunting, and sometimes the rewards are not monetary. Many self-employed people make less than they did at their last job, but would never go back now that they have made the break. After all, where else can you quit work to watch the game or play with your kids, take a couple of days off because you feel like it, and do your work with a beer on the desk?

Donovan Baldwin is a Texas writer and a University of West Florida alumnus. He is a member of Mensa and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, health and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as health, fitness, yoga, writing, the environment, happiness, self improvement, and weight loss.

You can find a collection of articles on health, fitness, diet, and weight loss and related subjects at http://nodiet4me.com/articledirectory/ .


Sunday, March 25, 2007

 

I Got Paid Today

Copyright 2007 by Donovan Baldwin

Recently I wrote an article in which I tried to point out that consistent effort was needed for success in many things. Persistence paid off, in other words. Shortly after posting that article on MySpace.com, a nice lady named Toni sent me a message about the article. She was not only kind enough to compliment the article, but in her message, she told me that she had been about to give up on something, and my article kind of pushed her back on track.

I have been paid in various ways for a lot of things in my life, but that has to be one of the nicest "checks" I have ever received.

You know something? Not only was Toni kind enough to say nice things about my article, but she took the time to let me know the impact I had had on her life.

Isn't that a great feeling? Years ago, I had the good fortune to train individuals in a new career. Many of these people had never had a job that paid as well, many had been going through a string of misfortunes, and I got to help set them on the road to success in a new career. A few came back to see me later and let me know how grateful they were for the difference I had made in their lives.

There, you go! Yet another "check".

You might be wondering why I put the word "check" in quotations.

Well, it's because Toni's response, and those of my ex-students, was not only a feel-good thing that brightened my whole day...and a payment of sorts...but it also reminded me of something we sometimes forget. It was a "reality check"...a reminder. One of the reasons we tend to forget is that we often don't get messages back telling us how we have done, what we have or have not accomplished, or the impact that we have had on someone else's life...for better or for worse.

You don't have to write an article to impact someone's life in such a way that they incorporate your message into their life. My wife has family members who are missionaries in foreign lands. She was telling me that in one country where they were missionaries, they were not allowed to preach or even tell others about their religion. They had to pass on their teachings and beliefs by being living examples of their faith.

We impact each other's lives almost every day, often without even realizing it. We may say one thing and five minutes later show our children, coworkers, or family members what our real core values are. Sadly, we sometimes say one thing and teach another through our actions. Often, our children, and others, may incorporate those values into their own lives. That's great as long as we have shown them the best lessons in life that we can muster.

Unfortunately, many of us continue teaching the wrong lessons and sending the wrong messages because we never get any response that lets us realize our mistakes and improve ourselves and our messages. Many motivational professionals and success coaches agree that to improve performance and achieve success, it is very useful to have some sort of feedback so that we can recognize our strengths and weaknesses, thus gaining an understanding of what we need to work on. Also, if we have been doing well, the positive message we get back from others can be a great reward while strengthening us in our determination to keep on doing the right things.

Several times in my life, I have received a "thank you", a compliment, or just a word of encouragement at just the right moment so that I was able to take hold of my life as it veered off track and put it back on the proper road.

That's why I say, "Thank you, Toni," for letting me know that I have made a difference in your life. I thank you also for reminding me that someone is watching and that my words and my life can have an impact, and it is up to me to determine what sort of message I wish to send. Your reality check not only rewarded me for my efforts, but brought back to my mind the need to write what I believe and live my life as it should be lived.

That sort of payment is worth a lot more than money.

Donovan Baldwin is a Texas writer and a University of West Florida alumnus. He is a member of Mensa and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, health and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as health, fitness, yoga, writing, the environment, happiness, self improvement, and weight loss.

He has a collection of articles on health, fitness, diet and weight loss at http://nodiet4me.com/articledirectory .

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

 

Father Brown and the LIttle Irish Priest

Copyright 2007 by Donovan Baldwin

"It's not that we don't have enough scoundrels to curse; it's that we don't have enough good men to curse them."

- G. K. Chesterton

I love words.

I love the way they can flow and twist and wind themselves together into a thought or an image. Maybe it's the Irish in me, but I do know that part of my love for the words of poetry, stories, and philosophical thought can be pinned on one dear little Irish priest...Father Cunningham.

It was the 50's and I attended St. John's Parochial school in Warrington, Florida, a small community which lay between Pensacola and the huge naval air station, NAS Pensacola, where my father, and many of my friend's fathers worked.

As part of the good Catholic education I was supposed to be getting, one of the priests was tapped to come over to class regularly and give us some religious education. I don't know what the Lord was thinking, but he sent us Father Cunningham.

Father Cunningham was, as the Irish (at least those in movies like "The Quiet Man") say, "a dear little man". He was, of course, small, with an unruly shock of black hair, and a perpetual smile. Everyone, including the nuns, loved him dearly. At that time, I couldn't understand why they would shake their heads and smile a little sadly when they learned that Father Cunningham would be the one coming "for religion" on a given day.

They didn't seem to be happy about it!

On the other hand, we loved it, as Father Cunningham knew a million stories, and, like a good Irishman, was ever prepared to regale us with tales of leprechauns, the banshee, and the black coach...not to mention a myriad of other characters that nobody else ever bothered to tell us about!

Of all the characters I waited for, Father Brown was the best!

Father Brown was a fictional priest/detective created by the great Gilbert Keith (G. K.) Chesterton, a prolific and wide ranging author whose work was characterized as much by his free-wheeling, often acerbic, style of writing and witty opinionating as it was by its diversity, hidden humor, and depth of thought.

Father Cunningham knew all the Father Brown mysteries and loved to share them with us. Fortunately for the nuns they were written as short stories. He would, with a beautiful Irish brogue and flair for the tale, take us down streets and alleys in foreign cities we had never heard of (or had forgotten about after the bell rang or the test was over), and introduce us to adults we had never known before...nor had we seen them in that light.

I hated school with all the passion of my young heart, but I soared when Father Cunningham came to class, and I could hardly wait to hear the next adventure of Father Brown.

As I look back these 50 years, I am able to see the impact that one small Irish priest had on my entire future.

A year or two later, in a library, I stumbled across a book that had the words "Father Brown" on its spine. It also had the word "Chesterton". I took the book and read it cover to cover over the next few days. I devoured all the Father Brown mysteries and moved on to all the other mysteries on either side. I read about Sherlock Holmes, Bulldog Drummond, Simon Templar (the Saint), the Lone Wolf, Mr. Moto, and Dr. Fu Manchu. When I had made a dent in all the mysteries and hungered for something else, I read the westerns. I started with Zane Grey and went through western story after western story, acquiring an admiration for Hopalong cassidy (the real one, not the movie one made famous by Bill Boyd), and Hashknife Hartley and his sidekick, Sleepy Stevens, along the way.

From there, I moved to Science Fiction and eventually became acquainted with the works of Heinlein, Asimov, and others too numerous to mention.

Somewhere, I discovered G. K. Chesterton had written many things other than Father Brown mysteries, and I began to read anything of his I could find and this lead me to the essay. Essays led to poetry and philosophy, and by the time my high school teacher exposed me to Shakespeare, I was ready! These readings did not lead only to the dusty shelves full of what could be considered "literature", but also led me to the output of modern writers.

From fiction I moved to non-fiction and, wanting to know more about myself and my fellow travelers upon this earth, I uncovered the likes of Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill and dipped into such esoteric areas as meditation and yoga. I taught myself speed reading and tried to read my way through lists of great books.

I cannot credit Father Cunningham with my love of books, as my parents began taking me to the Pensacola library on a regular basis before I could read. In those days it was still in Old Christ Church on the edge of what is now Seville Square in Pensacola. The floors were wood, and the stereopticon with the collection of slides was the first thing I headed for when we entered.

Nor did Father Cunningham teach me to love adventure, romance, God or my homeland, but he led me to a love of words and the thoughts of men and women both great and simple. All these thoughts and opinions and stories and poems have helped to make the happy, healthy, usually well-balanced 62 year old man I am today. Almost any simple phrase or common event can send me into the corridors of my mind where an untold number of tales and thoughts await to intrigue or amuse me. No high speed movie car chase or thriller plot can set my blood racing as easily and completely as one simple passage, "'Come, Watson, come!' he cried. 'The game is afoot...'"

It was years later, by the way, that I came to realize one other thing as well. The nuns need not have worried. By telling us the Father Brown mysteries, Father Cunningham introduced us to the concept of good and evil and was actually using these stories as morality plays to make points in ways that we could absorb into our young beings. The "learning" would come later.

Donovan Baldwin is a Texas writer and a University of West Florida alumnus. He is a member of Mensa and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, health and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as health, fitness, yoga, writing, the environment, happiness, self improvement, and weight loss.

You can find his site on yoga at http://yoga-4-the-health-of-it.com/.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Donovan_Baldwin

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Monday, March 19, 2007

 

Consistency - Parent of Progress, Cornerstone of Success

Copyright 2007 by Donovan Baldwin

In his book, "Awaken the Giant Within", Anthony Robbins has the following to say about achieving success:

"In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently."

Remember back down the line where someone told you that if you put a little bit of money in the bank every week or out of every paycheck, after a while you would have a large chunk of money? Made sense, right?

Or how about if you take a walk every day, or at least several times a week, you will lose weight, get fitter, go down a dress size...whatever! Do you remember that?

Okay, how about brush every day? I know you've heard that one!

So, what the heck do all these things have in common?

No peeking! You actually have to read the article.

Oh, okay. We all know and understand that simply taking the occasional swing at changing our lives or improving them or losing weight or making more money isn't going to work. It's the exercise done regularly and often over time that improves our bodies. It's the money put into the bank out of every paycheck that mounts up to enough to actually invest in something expensive. It is brushing our teeth every day that helps keep tooth decay in check and keeps the dentist off our backs.

That little Austrian kid, what's his name, probably did have some good genes going for him. However, Arnold Schwarzenegger never would have made "Pumping Iron", got discovered, made a lot more movies, married Maria Shriver, and become the governor of the state of California if he had only visited the gym once or twice and then quit...or only showed up every other Wednesday.

Like so many successful people, Ahnald (sorry, couldn't resist) visualized a goal for himself, figured out what steps were needed to get him there, and then was willing to spend the time and effort necessary to perform those steps regularly and religiously.

Raining and cold today? Got to get to the gym. Don't feel like working out? Got to get to the gym. Not only that, if something he tried wasn't working, he tried to figure out what would work and started over.

Was every step along the way perfect? Of course not. Just look at some of Arnold's movies, and you will see that some would definitely NOT remind you of the future governor of California...or of Gregory Peck, Charleton Heston, or Gabby Hayes, for that matter. What did matter was that he kept swinging...er, lifting, and did not give up.

Same with Ronald Regan, by the way.

Or how about that young black woman born in the segregated city of Birmingham, Alabama in the mid 50's? Who would have thought that she ever would have a chance to become anything. I grew up in the South of the 50's. I remember what she faced. It wasn't just two water fountains (white and colored) and three bathrooms (men, women, and colored). That's almost just an inconvenience compared to being considered by a large part of the population to be less than human and not being allowed to even dream of following the paths to achievement open to those who did not have skin the same color as hers. However, she too had a goal and never quit working at it despite the obstacles, and the almost certain times that she must have felt that her goal must be impossible to obtain.

Today, Condoleezza Rice is one of the most famous, most respected women in the world. Her name will go down in history because she had something to work towards and realized that just taking a casual swing at it once in a while would not get her where she wanted to go.

By the way, it was another person with skin the color of hers who would not give up and quit either. Partly because of the sacrifices of people like Martin Luther King, not only did the extra water fountain and bathroom go away, but so did a lot of the obstacles that little girl faced. He didn't quit trying either, until he could try no more...and that decision was not his.

Pick somebody successful. It doesn't matter if it is Tiger Woods, Thomas Edison, Donald Trump, or Tony Robbins. Heck, Edison even said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." How many of us would have quit after two or three tries?

How about that unemployed ex-secretary in Britain. Thought up some silly characters and wrote a book about them. Twelve publishing houses rejected her story before one decided to take a chance on it. Even her good friends were telling her to give it up and get a real job when the first Harry Potter book by J. K. Rowling hit the stands.

An old story I remember from a bazillion (my spell checker says "kazillion" doesn't exist) years ago was about a sports writer watching a famous golfer sink a difficult putt. A man beside him snorted and said something like, "I wish I had been lucky enough to be born with his talent." The sports writer didn't say anything at that time, but he thought to himself of all the times he had seen that same golfer practicing putting over and over between rounds when he could have been resting.

Yeah, we all have different levels of skills and talents. Our parents may or may not have been able to help us out. Our genes, or the circumstances of our birth and heritage, may or may not have made it easier for us to accomplish this or that. However, again and again we can see that the winners...those who succeed, are not always the most talented, those born rich, or those whose genes made it easy for them.

So many times in life's race, the winner is the one who simply did not quit running.

Donovan Baldwin is a Texas writer and a University of West Florida alumnus. He is a member of Mensa and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, health and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as health, fitness, yoga, writing, the environment, happiness, self improvement, and weight loss.

Learn how you can save hundreds of dollars with do-it-yourself legal forms and software at http://www.legal-forms-supermarket.com/ .

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Friday, March 16, 2007

 

Who Will Rid Me Of This Meddlesome Priest?

Copyright 2007 by Donovan Baldwin

It was late in the year 1170 when Henry II of England supposedly uttered the famous words which have come to us as, "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" Actually, no one really knows the exact words spoken, but the idea was apparently conveyed in some similar language. Supposedly, the statement was preceded by something similar to, "What sluggards, what cowards have I brought up in my court, who care nothing for their allegiance to their lord."

Whatever the exact words, the idea put forth by the king with such fervor was enough to encourage four knights who were with Henry in France, to take horse, cross the channel, and ride to Canterbury cathedral where they found Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, taking refuge at the altar. There, on the afternoon of December 29, apparently believing they were acting on the wishes of their liege lord, they brutally hacked at him until he was dead.

Throughout history, and at all levels of power, words and wishes of those in positions of authority, even words and wishes not specifically defined but merely implied, have often been translated by others as statements of fact or even as direct orders.

Whenever I hear of people taking it upon themselves to manufacture a standing structure out of an illogical (sorry Spock) pile of rubble, I remember a cold morning in Germany when two young soldiers approached me and asked, "Sergeant Baldwin. Are we going to have an alert?"

For those of you who never knew the joy of getting a phone call at two in the morning and hearing a gruff voice on the other end say, "We're on alert! Grab all your gear and get here now!", it was, and probably still is, something to be expected by any soldier stationed overseas, and many in the States. At that ungodly hour, the real thrill was kissing your loved ones good-bye as you headed out the door, not knowing if, as everybody wanted to know, "the balloon's gone up for real" this time.

Back to the cold morning in Germany. I tried to answer as noncommittally as possible, "Well, I don't really know, but they normally call one a month and we haven't had one yet this month. It's been about a month since the last one." I shrugged my shoulders and went on about my business. A few hours later, I overheard one soldier tell another, "Sergeant Baldwin says there's going to be an alert tomorrow." A little later, the company First Sergeant wanted to know why I was telling the troops we were going to have an alert. My protestations of innocence must have really seemed untruthful when the next morning the battalion to which our company was assigned, called an alert.

I believe the First Sergeant believed me, although some of the soldiers seemed to take my denials with a grain of salt and a knowing grin. What is important to note is that the First Sergeant knew that I had this disgusting habit of telling the truth, particularly when it would have saved certain portions of my skin if I had lied just a little bit!

Based on this and other events in my life, I long ago learned to be very cautious of what I said and how I said it in certain situations. I am sure that the President, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Trump, and the local mayor have all learned this lesson long ago. Therefore, when executive officers of companies both major and minor, and political office holders and bureaucrats disclaim knowledge of or participation in certain activities or events such as the mass firing of a large number of employees, the revelation of supposedly secret information, or the redeployment of resources to new areas for unknown or illogical reasons, I find myself going back to square one.

In square one is the basic question: How honest and reliable has this individual proven himself or herself to be?

As very often happens today, particularly in the political arena, many officials do not have a good track record. In fact, it often seems as if many "knights" have jumped on horses and crossed the channel to rid their bosses of some "meddlesome priest". While they at least might have been acting from the highest motives and in the belief that they were fulfilling the desires of their boss, I wonder how often the boss made sure that his or her unvoiced desires and wishes were loud enough to be heard.

About the Author

Donovan Baldwin is a Texas writer and a University of West Florida alumnus. He is a member of Mensa and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, health and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as health, fitness, yoga, writing, the environment, happiness, self improvement, and weight loss.

Learn how you can save hundreds of dollars with do-it-yourself legal forms and software at http://www.legal-forms-supermarket.com/ .

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Friday, March 09, 2007

 

Politics and the Art of Teaching Dogs Not to Bite or Bark

Copyright 2007 by Donovan Baldwin

I was born in America, raised in the south of the 50's and 60's, lived in Europe for six years, attended three colleges, and was bitten by two "bad dogs" when I was a boy. Actually, several dogs have had a nip, not to mention cats, but those particular two were known to be "bad dogs".

How many times have you and I said or thought something, or reacted in a certain way because of factors like those? How many times have we thought about it later and realized that our initial reaction, whether correct or incorrect, was based almost entirely on what we had heard, read, or absorbed through our finely tuned "skin" of expectations and beliefs?

It happens to a lot of us with some regularity, and hopefully, over time, we learn that we should delve a little deeper into the facts and realities of a situation or a person before we reach some sort of damning or beatifying conclusion.

Now, that's those of us who are introspective and capable of pulling ourselves up to a higher plane of existence. In other words, you and me.

Let's talk about all the other people.

Most of them will never give a second thought to their actions or beliefs other than something along the line of, "I'm afraid of dogs because I was bitten by one when I was a child."

Hmmmm! Something wrong here. When I was a child, I was bitten twice by "bad dogs" and several times by dogs without a qualifying adjective and I have absolutely no fear of the critters.

I wonder if maybe all those other factors in my life had some sort of impact on my adult reaction to dogs!

Now, let's talk about the dogs.

A dog is a dog is a dog. Oh sure, they have different personalities, and some breeds having been bred for particular traits or sports may tend to be more passive or more aggressive...whatever! In the final analysis, however, except for the occasional Hound-ibal Lecter, most will be like us to some extent, becoming what they are raised to be within the constraints of their doghood. They cannot talk, but they can communicate by barking. They scratch because they itch, they lick themselves in places that offend our sensibilities, they leave gifts on our lawns, and, in general do what they as dogs are prone to do. While we can teach them to use a certain spot in the yard, or to give us a signal when they need to go out to use that spot, for the most part, they could care less about our desires and wishes...not because they are unthinking, unfeeling, or bad. They are dogs by birth and instinct, molded with a veneer of "social graces" that we have forced them to acquire. This is not bad nor good. It is merely "dog".

Back to people now.

I am not trying to compare people to dogs per se, any more than the old saying, "A leopard can't change its spots" makes humans into leopards when applied to one of us. However, maybe seeing that once a nature is formed either by birth, education, environment, events, circumstance, and a host of other factors, we will understand that the creature known as man is almost as susceptible to blind adherence to our nature as any other being.

With all this in mind, how many times in history has a ruler, a politician, a diplomat, or even a private citizen felt compelled to teach someone in another land, of another faith and belief system, the "right" way to think and do things?

You know, anybody who knows much about dogs knows that if you think that you can take food away from a dog the way you take food away from a child, there is a chance you may get bitten. Most of us with a modicum of common sense would think twice before we tried to force a bear to wear a dress and sit at the table with us. This is not because the bear is any more "bad" than the dog, but it is in the nature of most creatures to be what they are and resist change. A thinking creature, such as a human, perhaps, can go one step further and see, or believe, that his or her very humanity is being threatened.

A dog usually bites once in response to a stimulus, but humans are more dangerous. They can decide when, where, and how...and how hard...to bite...or worse.

A human will not change his or her thoughts or way of life to yours simply on your say-so any more than a dog will stop barking or biting because it offends your sense of right and wrong, proper and improper, which has been developed within you for all the years that theirs were growing in them.

Beware the human. He bites.

Donovan Baldwin is a Texas writer and a University of West Florida alumnus. He is a member of Mensa and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, health and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as health, fitness, yoga, writing, the environment, happiness, self improvement, and weight loss.

Save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in legal fees and attorneys' fees with do-it-yourself legal forms and software at http://www.legal-forms-supermarket.com/ .

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

 

Captain America Is Dead

Copyright © Donovan Baldwin

In 1941, against the backdrop of a world in turmoil, a new fictional character was introduced to the American public. A puny weakling in poor health but wishing to do his patriotic duty, Steve Rogers allowed himself to be injected with a serum intended to create a super soldier. Thus was born the hero in red, white, and blue...the shield wielding Captain America. Sadly, in the latest edition of his long-running comic, he is downed by a sniper's shot. It's sad when heroes die, especially if they are someone you have known since childhood.

Though no longer a comic book fan; I gave 'em up about 47 years ago, simply remembering the old days of sitting in front of the comic book rack at Woodrow Moulton's pharmacy in Warrington, Florida brings back so many other memories. The reference to Captain America, leads to the comic books...Superman, Batman, Ghostrider (the old cowboy one, not the flaming skull guy on the motorcycle), Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Lash LaRue, Tim Holt as Red Mask, and of course, Hopalong Cassidy and the Durango Kid.

It brings another memory as well. I remember when, a few years ago, my mother told me that Mr. Moulton (I never thought of him as anything but Mister Moulton...never Woodrow. He was too dignified a gentleman for that.) had been shot dead during a robbery on June 7, 1978 by one Marvin Edwin Johnson. She thought it had something to do with drugs although it might have simply been a robbery. Apparently the old pharmacist in his landmark pharmacy who had helped so many people over so many years tried to defend himself and his property. For this, he died.

You know, when my father and mother moved to Warrington, Florida, then a nearby community between Pensacola and the Naval air base, from Atlanta in 1945 right after I was born, they were happy to learn that they could buy the Sunday Atlanta Journal and Constitution at Mr. Moulton's "Warrington Pharmacy", and thus was born a ritual that lasted over three decades. After Mass on Sunday, there would be the trip to Warrington Pharmacy to pick up the Sunday Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

In fact, after I got my driver's license, my first trip in my father's car, on my own, was on a Sunday morning when he handed me the keys to his 1956 Chevy with the missing accelerator pedal (you had to step on the bar that would have been underneath the pedal) and told me to go get the paper. Backing the Chevvy out of the driveway and driving the two miles down and two miles back is something I still remember. Mr. Moulton was there and I wanted to brag about driving down by myself, but I sort of felt you just didn't brag to Mr. Moulton. Not that he would put you down, he would have simply expected it as something that had been bound to come about.

It's hard to believe Mr. Moulton is dead.

Shortly after they started getting the paper every Sunday, my dad went in one Sunday and they had sold them out. Mr. Moulton heard about it and told my father that from that day on, he would order one extra paper and put it under the counter for him. For years, it was not uncommon for one of the ladies to see my dad coming in the door and sing out, "I've got your paper over here, Mr. Baldwin!"

When it was time to buy my mother's birthday and Christmas gifts, I could count on Mr. Moulton or his staff of older ladies to steer me towards an inexpensive perfume, earrings, or fake strand of pearls. It wasn't until years later that I learned that they often cut the price for "Mr. Baldwin's boy" at a nod from Mr. Moulton.

What a great example of what a simple American citizen could be, and the influence he could have on the life of a youngster growing up in his community. What a sad thing that Mr. Moulton had to die because of someone else's desire to escape from a life which could offer so much. However, from time to time, I find the mechanic, the clerk, the cop, or the teacher who shows a sense of value such as his and I feel that although Mr. Moulton is dead, his quiet example of another, less flashy, American hero and guardian can still be found.

This is a time in our nation's history when heros are plenty. It's just that they are dressed in camouflage and some don't shave regularly yet...or don't have to shave because they are female. They don't always hit us between the eyes like Cap's shield, but they are there though sometimes hard to find for all the rhetoric their heroism gets wrapped in. Sometimes it is hard to see them for the row of politicians standing in front of them claiming the glory or exonerating themselves from blame, but they are still there. Sometimes, if you look closely, you can see that many of them are a little confused at their own heroism. They just see it as doing what they were supposed to do.

What a concept!

You know somethng? Though Mr. Moulton and Captain America are dead, their spirits live on. They may be gone, but there are others with their spirit and attitude to take up the slack.

About The Author:
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Donovan Baldwin is a Texas writer and a University of West Florida alumnus. He is a member of Mensa and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, .and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as health, fitness,yoga, writing, the environment, happiness, self improvement, and weight loss.

You can find information on do-it-yourself legal forms and software at http://www.legal-forms-supermarket.com/.
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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

 

The Importance of Finding Yourself

Copyright 2007 by Donovan Baldwin

Two vignettes from sometime in the 60's.

In the first, I am a teenager sitting in the living room with my father. We are watching television. Someone is being interviewed. I cannot remember who it was, but he has just said, "I am trying to find myself."

My father's response, "Hmmph! You're right there. What's so hard about that?"

Being a teenager, I naturally thought that was an excellent remark, although I never would have let my father know that. Yet, at the same time, I was in a quandary because I too was trying to find myself and wasn't sure where to look.

In the second, , I am driving around Pensacola, Florida, my hometown. I am listening to one of my favorite radio commentators, Earl Nightingale, whose motto was, "We become what we think about."

A listener to his program has asked the question, and I will get as close as possible to the question and the answer as I remember them, "I am about to enter college. How do I choose the career and course of study that will bring me success and the most wealth and pleasure from life?"

Earl Nightingale's answer, "Find what you love to do so much that you would do it even if nobody paid you, and make that your life's work. You will be happy to go to work every day. Your love of what you do will make you become the absolute best at doing it. People will see this and soon see you as someone who cares and is knowledgeable, and this will further your career more than anything else and you will rise each day eager and anxious to get to work."

Two vignettes and now a story.

In Pensacola, Florida in the 60's, a young man who wanted to write and who loved literature and the flow and sweep, mystery and mastery of words, wanted to know the same things. His advisors told him, "The money's in accounting. If you want to be successful and wealthy, go into accounting." So, he got an accounting degree.

Back to the present. The ex-accountant, ex-optical lab manager, ex-soldier, ex-restaurant manager has, after 45 years, "found himself". Oddly enough, his father's remark was on the money. He was right there all the time, but he went looking everywhere except within himself. Earl Nightingale's advice fits in as well. The ex-accountant who wanted to write, but only wrote instruction manuals, reports, and business letters, now gets to write every day...and loves it!

Rich? Not as some people would judge it, but every day, I get up looking forward to putting down the words rattling around in my head. When do I work? I am never quite sure, because when I am doing something that does not appear to be "work", I am absorbing, enjoying, stroking, and massaging all that happens around me. It all becomes a part of me and may eventually reappear as a story, a poem, an article, a comment, or as a thought in an email to my friends or family.

Now let's talk about reality. My father, 4F in World War II because of an eye injury, was a masterful concert violinist. When he married my mother, he was faced with a choice of earning a living and supporting a family, or making beautiful music. He was unable to find himself, that man who could support his family with his music. He chose one, support his family, over the other. He did a good job of it, but it wasn't unusual on a Sunday to find him wistfully playing recordings of beautiful music. He never touched a violin again.

I wish he could have done the thing he loved rather than bending over a table at Pensacola Naval Air Station for 30 years, repairing aircraft instruments. I wish he could have played the violin or conducted an orchestra for all the years of his life, rising each day to do what he loved rather than putting on his Archie Bunker hat and going to the Navy base with his carpool.

I am proud of my father. He had his faults, like any man, but he tried to do the right things for his church, his community, and his family. However, I wish that he had "found himself" and lived up to the desires and dreams of his heart.

My life has proven that, until the end, at least, it is never too late. Maybe the other lives I have lived were necessary to prepare me for this incarnation as "writer". I don't think so. As much as they have given me, I think my life would have been happier and more productive had I done the thing that I so longed to do rather than following paths which went places I really didn't want to go.

We only have this one life to live and there are no guarantees but one. It is best to choose to make your world what you want it to be before you have no choices left.

My father was right. We don't really have to go very far to find ourselves. We just have to look inside and find out what we really want to be. Not "have". To be. Once you know what you want to be, then work to become that and one day you will turn a corner and "find yourself" right where you were all along.

Donovan Baldwin is a Texas writer and a University of West Florida alumnus. He is a member of Mensa and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as health, fitness, yoga, writing, the environment, happiness, self improvement, weight loss, and pets, of all things.

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