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Write On

One, Two, Three – Jump!

I was terrified when Elana Levin contacted me to write four blogs for the WGAE website. I’m used to scribbling words for a group of characters played by actors so talented they made every word so much better than it looked on paper. It was great hiding behind them, but I don’t have them to protect me anymore, so I said yes.

I am not a risk taker by nature. I don’t drive anymore, I’m not athletic, and I’ve never bought a lottery ticket. Swimming in creeks or rivers where fish (or even minnows) might be lurking scares me. We rented a house upstate for years. When we walked home from our neighbor’s house after dark I was sure the bats fluttering above were waiting to swoop down and nest in my hair. My husband had his hands full helping me co-exist with nature. I’m from two edgy and wonderful cities, Detroit and New York and I am very comfortable in both places. But nature…yikes! I’ve made some progress, thanks to my husband Tony.

Being uncomfortable is good, sometimes. My high school drama director cast me as science prodigy Tillie in “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” – dyed my hair mousy brown, wore polyester and baggy knee sox as I cradled my dead rabbit at the end of the play. My mom’s best friend didn’t recognize me. Great moment for the girl usually cast as the ingénue. My college boyfriend Michael was determined that I get my license. He taught me to drive. Yes, I did drive for awhile. Grace Bavaro sent me from the restaurant to the TV studio. My friend Nancy Williams Watt generously encouraged me to add my voice to the voices of the Guiding Light characters. Super bosses Paul Rauch and Ellen Wheeler would often call me in on Friday and tell me I’d be doing a very different job at Guiding Light on Monday. I always lamented the fact that I never had time to “train” for any of these jobs. My husband watched me freak out and then witnessed my wonder when I realized how great it is to learn something new. Not that I mastered every job, but it’s so exciting to go into a dark, scary place, turn on the light and see that it’s not so scary after all.

Children play with dog

photo by Tony Hurst

And it’s fun to help someone else get over their fear. Our landlady upstate asked us to keep our two big dogs Scout, a curly coated retriever, and Annie, our beautiful German Shepherd, on leash when we walked the road – turns out our two little neighbor girls were terrified of dogs. We kept the dogs in check, but the girl’s curiosity outweighed their fear. They were frequent and welcome visitors. At first they yelled “Put Pointy Ears (Annie) in the house” as they came up the road. But after a short time, they reached out their little hands to pet curly Scout. Finally they got to know old Pointy Ears. Little girls and big dogs became fast friends. Eventually they got a dog of their own!

I know that it’s time to challenge myself. I wish I would have prepared in certain ways – learned to type, kept my license, finished my degree…but then, maybe the ride would’ve been different. More sensible, but less fun… Truthfully there’s very little I would change about my experiences.

I’m grateful to the people who thought outside the box when I couldn’t, who gave me a little push. I’m glad I took a breath and said yes to this writing assignment. I learned that I want to take more chances! Thank you for having me here for the last few weeks. I had a really good time.

16 Responses to “One, Two, Three – Jump!”

  • giftofamber:

    Challenging oneself can be a very scary thing. I’m not a dog person in the slightest (with a few exceptions) and it’s always a challenge to interact with each new one. Writing is even more of a challenge. Finishing stories and committing to getting them written is probably the hardest challenge I face.

  • Thank you for letting us take the leap with you! I love every place we land together!

  • Tricia(@sparcharge):

    Wonderful reflections, Jill. I have to admit ,I feel a bit overwhelmed by technology in general and Twitter specifically!I want to write witty and profound tweets but sometimes I can’t think of anything to say.The desire to connect wins out though and I surprise myself.Again I want to thank you for being so accessible to all of us.

  • Kelsey (@KelseyUSA):

    Loved reading this! I used to struggle with challenges and new things that I knew nothing about. My parents got divorced when I was 18 and both of them became happier so I figured I’d take on a challenge and see if it would make me happier.

    The furthest I ever “ran away” from home was the end of my driveway when I was 7. When I was 20 I decided to move 900 miles away to Indianapolis (from Rhode Island) to pursue a challenge … I was terrified, and so far, its been worth it!!

    Thank you for sharing your story :-)

  • Maureen:

    I am not surprised you are a great blogger…because you are a great tweeter. Though Tina had to nudge you in that direction, you have taken to it like a duck to water. And although you no longer have characters to hide behind…your own voice is very interesting. I am a bit bummed this is your last blog here and have my fingers crossed you enjoyed the experience so thoroughly you will want to keep it up…even if just once a month.

  • Barbara Broumberg:

    Jill, You are such a delight!

  • love these, and sorry you’re stoping at 4. You have an eager readership, so keep it up! And remember, bats are your friends- as long as they stay in the air : )

  • Sometimes the challenges we face are external, sometimes they’re ones we place on ourselves. But whatever we face, if we have someone who has faith in our abilities, and supporting us along the way, we can soar.

    Can’t wait to read what you write next :)

  • alice mccracken hurst:

    Come on Jill, keep going. Your writing has moved me to tears and belly laughs of joy these last few weeks. Your voice is so honest, courageous and insightful. I already miss you.

  • Kerry Baitinger:

    Jill, may your dreams continue to become your reality. Now, about those journals from the 70′s…

  • Janice Lorie Hirsch:

    More…more….We’ve had a good time too! All those people who gave you a little push did it because they knew how capable you are of “turning on the light”,finding your way, and dedicating yourself to whatever is asked of you…..big or small. You have probably helped more people than you realize get over their fear of something. Two great messages…..not being afraid to take some chances, even when it’s scary….and remembering how important it is to help someone else take a chance when they are a little scared. You are one of the greatest supporters of others that I know……I sure miss Scouty B. and old Pointy Ears……Simon and Lizzie too. xo

  • Fifi:

    Wow. I love it. I am proud of you lil Jill. What an exciting life you lead Being a native detroiter I was very uncomfortable amongst all the snakes, upstate in Ny. I don’t know how you did it. Xoxo

  • Keyko Belleperche:

    Jill,

    OMG! I have just spent the first hour of my day catching up on your adventures! Wow. I have to tell you – growing up you were ALWAYS an inspiration to me. In my eyes, you and Jan were women I wanted to emulate. You are smart, strong, beautiful, and resourceful women! What more is there? And I loved your Dad – he was a great man. I have to admit to being a bit envious that I didn’t have one… but Mr. Bob had room in his heart and I appreciated every minute I got to spend with him! And bless your Mom for putting up with Damon and I after our Mom died. Wondering the street of NYC did wonders for my soul.

    Keyko

  • Jill Lorie Hurst:

    Keyko, Keyko – please call me or e-mail me at jillhurst@msn.com – spoke w/Guzman this morning, happened to find this posting on line. Love you. And I hope you know you were the love of his life. “Yill”.

  • Diana:

    Hey love the article! Reminds me of how much problem I have trying to think of something to write about! >.< Something, anything, nothing comes to mind…. Every once in a Great While I might get inspired enough to write poetry but not very often. I tried to write a short story to write for a writing class one time and pressured by a deadline… I came up with the most cliche storyline lol. I'm a hopeless romantic so the only thing I thought of was some kind of a romance, mystery, suspense where the guy wins over the girl and the family and get married with kids ….Sort of like the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". I related to the movie A Lot! lol I've always wanted to re-write it but don't have a clue how to start …Any suggestions?

  • Dale Hopson:

    Nice to know Annie and Scout are doing well!

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