History Miscellaneous

“Why You Should Still Try” by the Unrealistic and Delusional Me

March 30, 2017
Walt Disney

I regularly imagine far-fetched things that cause me to set unrealistic expectations for myself. For example, when my LOML and I got engaged and were planning the wedding I wrote a little essay to Martha Stewart, complete with photographs of us and our wedding venues. I suggested to her that our wedding would be a perfect candidate for the Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. My case was like five pages long. Stapled together.  Printed in black and white.  Complete with our engagement story.

We weren’t in the digital age of today. Give me a little grace.

Probably, if I had access to some of the free publishing tools we have readily available today, I would have been chosen.


Or, maybe she sensed my Dad would be a wee bit stressed and it would be evident in the photos.

Daddy and me - idea

Here I am with my LOML disembarking from our carriage at the reception.  She could have just excluded photos of my Dad giving me away if that was a concern.  😉

LOML and me - idea

I believed she would actually consider my story and would at a minimum send a crumpled note thanking me for contacting her and gently letting me down about how there was no chance in heck she would even consider putting our wedding in her elite magazine. Bah. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

She went to prison shortly after that.  Just saying.

And remember how I thought I was going to become a country music star from my dedicated viewing of The Barbara Mandrell Show as I mentioned here?

High Unrealistic expectations.

Then, there was that time about a year ago when I wrote a letter to Joanna Gaines.

Embarrassing to admit isn’t it?

In one of the meetings with our house designer he pegged me as a giant Fixer Upper fan.  I had virtually no idea what he was talking about.  I had vaguely remembered seeing something in my FB feed that sounded similar.  Apparently, I was 18 months or more behind the rest of the modern world.

At his insistence, I watched Fixer Upper and was subsequently so touched by Joanna Gaines that I wrote her a long letter of admiration.

I am going to pause here to let you know I am not a weird stalker.  I am a relatively normal human being with friends.  I swear I have friends!  And, I believe no matter how successful you are or you appear to be, you still need encouragement knowing you are touching someone.

So, in my letter I gushed on about our move to the tiny house and how it almost took my heart and soul and then realized thanks in part to her that I was doing an okay job.  I poured out my soul and my admiration to her for about three pages.  Okay fine.  Four pages.  Because there was that last part, within my admiring ramble, where I invited her and Chip and the kids to stop by to kayak and fish with us the next time they were in North Carolina.

Ya’ll.  I actually think thought think she might stop by.  Meanwhile, someone on her security team probably has a case open on me at the local sheriff’s department.

At least she is one-up from Martha and sent me this a couple of months later:

Chip and Jo - idea

Chip and Jo2 - idea

Do you think she has helpers who write the quick messages for her?  Something tells me she has one, if not two and that they run out of ink often.  😉

And, not to leave you hanging, she has not stopped by with fishing pole and oars in hand with Chip and the kids.  Yet.

The other day I was walking our dog and was imagining being asked to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for my witty blog (hint: you are reading it). I know. I probably should be under the care of a psychologist. In my stream of ‘thought,’ as I directed my visually impaired dog around the yard, I imagined me jabbing at Jimmy by saying, “You know. A guy I met my freshman year in college said I looked like Nicole Kidman.”

Have you seen that clip from The Tonight Show where Nicole confesses she wanted to date Jimmy, but he was too clueless to figure it out? It is darn funny.  To get my jab at Jimmy, you need watch it here.  Seriously, you will laugh.

In my appearance with Jimmy, I would leave out the fact that this fellow freshman must have been delusional or intoxicated because I certainly would not point out to Jimmy that I pale in comparison to Nicole…even though her skin is a bit more pale than mine 😉Then I thought, well there I would be sitting for all of the world to see – real-life evidence that this freshman dude needed glasses.

It all ties together when you are walking your blind dog.  And as you walk in the house with her, you still think deep down it could be possible.  Anything is possible you sigh.

Except, it is impossible for me to look like Nicole Kidman. I did not look like her then either. I have red hair and it is curly, unless I straighten it.  That is where our similarities end.  I would demonstrate the lack of a likeness to you, but as you already know – most of my life possessions are in storage and that includes whatever box of photographs have survived from my college years.

Regardless, I thought it would cause a funny little awkward moment in my interview with Jimmy, that 1.2% of me still believes will happen.  That part of me is also frustrated because my joke is now ruined because now it is on the internet.


The 98.8% of the rest of me is moving on.

In any case, I think I have passed this high-expectation/unrealistic expectation thing along to my eldest. It could be developing in the two younger children, but it is less evident at this point.

I mentioned some of my first-born’s ideas and inventions in this post not long ago, but this week I have my first piece of real evidence that he takes after me with regard to expectations and ideas of grandeur:

He wants David Copperfield to teach him how to do illusions and has written him a letter requesting a lesson.

Letter to David Copperfield - idea

The only difference is that he is a child and is thus unaware of the limitations of the world, whereas I am aware of these limitations yet I still have irrational thoughts of grandeur or whatever.

At least I know in my heart that my ideas may not happen.  How do you tell a little one that?  I don’t think you do.  I think you want them to believe they should pursue their ideas.

When he graduated Kindergarten we gave him the perfect book as his graduation present:  What Do You Do With an Idea (I highly recommend it – it’s on Amazon here).  It is a cute story about exactly what happens to an idea and what you should do with an idea.  It is perfect for children and it is perfect for adults too.

We are going to mail the letter and see what happens…as soon as we can find an address that is.


So, in all of this, the 1.2% of me wants to share with you ideas or people who went against the odds and were ultimately successful.  I think it is because my 1.2% wants to demonstrate success against the odds, so it can take over some of the 98.8% share.

Today, there are shows dedicated to finding hidden talent and ideas and viewers sop them up like gravy with a biscuit (American Inventor, Shark Tank, America’s Got Talent).  Sometimes these people are told no or that their idea is poor and that is simply what drives them to prove it will work.  Sometimes these people just need encouragement verses discouragement because they already battle the greatest discouragement of all  – that which resides within their minds.

Fortunately, both types of adversity can net a successful idea coming to fruition.

We all want to reach the most far-fetched of our dreams, and some of us will.  We definitely want our children to. If you are out there feeling a little deflated and uninspired to pursue your dreams – here are some people who did and who were successful.

And, as far as Martha?  I’m not sure if her wedding magazine still exists, but if it does maybe she will do a retro issue?  I will wait by the phone for her call and will leave the light on… you know, in case Chip and Jo show up.

Those Who Listened to Their 1.2%

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lacking creativity.  The rest is clearly history.

Walt Disney - idea

As a sophomore in high school Michael Jordan was cut from the varsity basketball team. He went on to play on the junior varsity team and the varsity team the following year.  Jordan played for UNC Chapel Hill and then joined the Chicago Bulls as the third overall draft pick.  He gained the nickname, Air Jordan, which then became a Nike shoe brand endorsed by Jordan.  It has been a popular style choice since it was introduced in 1984. Today, Jordan is worth about $1.1 billion.

Air Jordan - idea

Katherine Switzer was the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon and because of her determination to do so it directly led to more opportunities for women in sports.  Her bib number from that day, 261, became a symbol for women being “fearless in the face of adversity.”

runner - idea

Switzer, had a paradigm shift when she told her father she was going to try out for the cheerleading squad her freshman year in high school.  He responded, telling her she didn’t want to cheer for other people, that “the game is on the field and life is to participate not to spectate.”  She took his advice.

When she went to college, there was no women’s cross country team, so she trained with the men’s and after hearing many Boston Marathon stories, was determined to run it.  She successfully slipped through registration and check-in for the race, but a few miles into the marathon, a press truck noticed a woman was running.  The race manager, Jock Semple, was also on that truck.  Semple chased her down and tried to grab her bib numbers and remove her from the race.  She became even more determined to finish and did so in four hours and twenty minutes.

Afterwards, Switzer became a symbol of women in sports and was a major driver in getting the women’s marathon into the Olympic games in 1984.  In an interview with ESPN, she closes stating that she is thankful Semple tried to stop her because it has only inspired and motivated her. You can watch her amazing interview here.

Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, spent two years and $5,000 of her savings working on an idea inspired by how panty hose (minus the feet) made her feel slimmer.  She wrote her own patent after purchasing a textbook on how to do so when she discovered there were no female patent attorneys in Georgia.  Then, she ventured to North Carolina from Atlanta to pitch her idea to the textile mills who produced hosiery.  She was turned away by every mill representative.  Two weeks after returning home, a mill operator called her and offered to support her concept.  He had been encouraged to do so by his three daughters with whom he had shared the idea.

She continued to work on her idea, completed her prototype, worked on her packaging, came up with her name and then was able to get Neiman Marcus to sell Spanx.  Other major department stores followed.  In 2000 Oprah Winfrey named Spanx one of her favorite products, which led to a significant uptick in sales.

Today Blakely is worth over $1 billion.  In 2013, Forbes magazine named her the 93rd most-powerful woman in the world.

J.K. Rowling is best known as the author of the Harry Potter series.  The idea for the series came to her in 1990 while she was on a delayed train from Manchester to London.  In the seven years that followed her mother passed away, she had her first child and she became divorced.  She completed the novel in 1997 and after receiving many rejections, Bloomsbury Publishing in London agreed to publish it.  Rowling progressed from living on state benefits to millionaire status in five years.

Potter Castle - idea

A publisher told Stephen King that they were not interested in negative science fiction after reviewing the manuscript for “Carrie.”  It went on to be rejected by 30 publishers, which led King to literally throw it into the trash.  His wife salvaged it and encouraged him to submit it again.  King has published 54 novels and his books have sold over 350 million copies.

Here are a few more:

Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before creating the lightbulb.
Ben Franklin dropped out of school at age ten.
Twenty-seven publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’ first book To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.
Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four.
Bill Gates’ first business was a complete failure.
Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime.
When Emily Dickinson died in 1886 less than a dozen of her poems had been published.  She was known as a poet only to family and close friends.
When The Beatles first started out, a recording company told them they didn’t like their sound and that guitar music was on its way out.
Lucille Ball was regarded as a failed actress and a B movie star.  Even her drama coaches encouraged her to try another profession. 

Lucielle Ball - idea

I will concede these stories are a little bit different than my fantasies of being featured in a wedding magazine or kayaking with Joanna Gaines, but the similarity is that you should still try no matter the circumstance.  Write the letter.  Grasp the courage.  Try.  Receive the encouragement from those who offer it.  Leverage the haters to motivate and inspire you.  Use all of that as an accelerant to make you try harder.

Show that to your little ones.

Journey on!
xo, the mamabrain at mamabrains

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