Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Legacy II: I Dare You

I am thrilled that my friend Angela Negro is contributing the first guest Legacy post.  Her blog, Signed by Ange, is one of my favorite places to visit for wisdom, a really good, deep laugh, and a great story. Ange lives in France with her husband and her "messmonsters," where she creates gorgeous art, engages in some serious renovation projects, homeschools said messmonsters, and oh so much more.  She is a an athlete, a traveler, an artist, a mother, a teacher, and, as she says on her website, a wordsmith, whose commitment to the literacy of women and girls, to beauty, and to the encouragement of those around her inspires me more than I can say.  Read on and you'll see just what I mean. 

Hello there everyone,

I must say I feel very honored to participate in Gigi's 'Legacy' series. While I feel a little daunted about writing a guest post for the blog of someone as immensely talented as Gigi, I admit that it's come at an ideal time.  The arrival of the cooler temperatures has coincided with the recent celebration of my 40th birthday and my latest adventure at homeshooling my messmonsters, both of which have conveniently given me extra cause to pause and consider the people and ideals that have shaped my life till now. Merci mille fois Gigi, for giving me the opportunity to put my fingers to the keyboard once again, after such a long absence over the summer months, and set my story down. 

"You can be bigger than you are." were the very first words I read, in the very first book I ever actually remember my father giving me. We had just moved from New Zealand to the sunny Sunshine Coast of Australia where Dad chose to shed his skin and go from tradesman to salesman. This was the 'positive mental attitude' era of the 1980s and consequently brimming with promise, at least as far as my parents were concerned.

"I dare you," he said, as I cried for my old friends and lamented my plight in a new school where the prospect of making new friends seemed overtly daunting to my 11 year old mind, "to be the very best you can be." Dad was ever the tower of strength, a shining example of will power, positive attitude and determination. Life, to Dad, was entirely what one made of it, no Ifs, Buts or Maybes. Certainly no excuses. No feeling sorry for oneself. No feeling sorry for myself. Success in life, and however I chose to measure success, was all up to me. "I Dare You," and many of the other books Dad subsequently passed on to me to read as he pursued his sales career from iced drink machines into real estate, told me that it all boiled down to a question of personal choice, motivation and giving myself the means to reach my own goals... Word after word, as I read that wee book through my pre-teen tears, I slowly became inspired.

Over the years, during one or another of my multiple moves to exciting new horizons, that tiny hard cover book disappeared. The tricks and tips, and various lessons on life I avidly learnt from within its pages, thankfully, didn't. They have helped me navigate my way through all of the hairy situations, major challenges and embarrassing disasters that life, in its ultimate wisdom, has a tendency to throw to all of us. While the book has dropped out of existence, 29 years later the title remains firmly stuck in my mind. It's the first thing that pops up when times get tough, even now. 

So strong was its effect on me that I've recently started making a career out of wanting to inspire the rest of the world the same way. Often a well chosen phrase is all it takes to shine a new light on a tricky situation and guide the way forward.

More than anything, it's the most precious legacy I could ever leave my 3 messmonsters.  At the risk of sounding evangelical, being ultimately responsible for my own inner happiness has come to represent the epitome of freedom to me, and this in turn has engendered as much an infallible faith in life as an inherent, indestructable, unquenchable joy. I want that for the whole world. But if I can't give that to the world at large then I can at least offer it to my kids. 

"I dare you, to think creatively,"  I heard myself whispering tonight as I softly kissed my 11 year old Chickpea, who was all sullen and digging her heels in about having to read a real book (ie: not about horses) for her homeschool French programme. "It's all right for you," she said, "You like reading and I DON'T! So you were good at school and it was easy for you." 

"You decide what your attitude is to reading and learning Chickpea. I can't do that for you. I can only say that the day you decide to accept each challenge with an open attitude, is the day that learning will happen naturally and without effort for you too. Go on! I dare you to adventure!" 

Thinking of my dad and another sulky 11 year old, all those years ago, I smiled as I turned out her light and left her room... 

Words and image copyright Angela Negro 2010


  1. Gigi, I agree with you about Ange. She is awesome! And with this post, she managed to make me tear up as well.

  2. Wonderful.
    That quote, 'They didn't know it was impossible so they did it anyway' is so outstanding!
    Thank you, Angela and Gigi.

  3. love the post. very inspirational. words I need to hear. checking out the link now. thanks!

  4. She made me tear up, too, Angie!

    I love the quote, too, Dawn.

    They were words I needed to hear, too, nacherluver. Very much so. I love this post.

  5. Sounds like a wonderful, kind and caring person.
    Very inspiring and good quote.


  6. Oh, what an inspiring post, Gigi! I can see you have chosen wisely here, because Ange has managed to give me what I expect when I visit here! I am moved. What a great legacy for her children, and all the more so as it was given to her by her father. Thanks so much for this.

    Her post reminds me very much of a favourite poem/quote of mine by Apollinaire:
    “Come to the edge, he said.
    They said: We are afraid.
    Come to the edge, he said.
    They came.
    He pushed them and they flew.”

  7. What an amazing post! Ange sounds like a fascinating woman and so wise. What a wonderful father to have instilled such a beautiful legacy to pass on to her children and now to all of us. Thank you for this - it's beautifully inspiring!

    Have a gorgeous weekend dear Gigi and Ange, too! xxoo :)

  8. Wonderful Ange....I love that kind of positive inspiration....Great series Gigi, xv.

  9. Hello Gigi,
    This is such a lovely and inspiring post. I love the message of simplicity. And this story you have shared with us Ange, is so lovely and powerful. Thank you.

  10. Ange the is wonderful... "I dare you, to think creatively..." I need to say that to myself more often! Thank you for the inspiration. And thanks for this great new series, Gigi! I've been slow to visit as we're just returned from an impromptu trip to London. Nothing short of an AMAZING time! It is the best city--I can easily daydream of living there...*sigh*... Anyway, great to be back and visiting you here. :o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

  11. Through this short post I feel as though I have gotten to know three generations of a family...and how some things other than the color of eyes are passed down...A beautiful post!

  12. What an absolutely beautiful post this was to read and savor! I have raised my two girls, but I know what you're speaking of. The trying to instill in them the idea that happiness is at their beck and call for much of their lifetime. If only they will choose to seek it.

  13. It is late here and this is the perfect read to end my night. A beautifully told tale, daring me. Ange is a wonderful storyteller and oh! I would have loved to've known her dad. Well, perhaps I do know him, having read this little treasure. Yes. I believe so.

    Thank you for this inspired series!


  14. Gigi ~

    And this fine Legacy installment numero deux is fantastic! I'm adopting this attitude, and I'm also heading over at this very moment to visit the brilliant writer who shared such a dynamic post!


  15. Oh, Gigi. You have the best friends. Angela made me cry. I love it. I love this. And you, I love you, my friend.

  16. Well, if that doesn't make you sit a little taller in your seat, I don't know what will!!
    I love this little nugget of wisdom and inspiration.
    It makes me want to ask myself, what do I dare myself to do today?

  17. oh wow ... this is so powerful, ange ...
    i hung on your every word and could feel myself being elevated onto this
    amazing plane of yes, i can!!!
    your dad was brilliant to give you such gifts ...
    and now your children receive his legacy through you ...
    absolutely magnificent!
    i so want to find a copy of this book for one of our children
    who is taking the more challenging path in life at present ...
    thanks so much for sharing this and encouraging me so ...


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