Finding Hope…

This past Saturday night, my husband and I met up with some good friends and joined thousands of other New Yorkers for an evening of Kelly Clarkson at Radio City Music Hall.

Now, we’ve been long time fans of Ms. Clarkson. We watched her on American Idol and voted hundreds of times every week so that she would make it into the finals. When we missed her Breakaway tour at Jones Beach, we vowed we would never miss her again, and therefore, we’ve seen her My December, All I Ever Wanted and, now, her Stronger tours.

And while both of the previous concerts were amazingly mind-blowing, this one meant something more to me…something different.

I had just received another glowing (read sarcasm) review on one of my books a couple days before the concert, and as a result, I was having trouble working on my newest project. Doubt wasn’t simply creeping in — it had pitched a permanent tent in my head, and it wasn’t letting go. And the harder it became to write, the more I started to think of myself as a failure. I know, ridiculous based on one bad review, but that old adage about sticks and stones…it’s crap. As a writer, I know the power of words, and they have a lot of power.

So anyway, I had put it from my mind (I’m not the type to wallow, but I am the type to walk away, so this could have been the end of my writing career) and went about my merry life with my family. And went on my way to the concert Saturday night with all the enthusiasm of a 5-year-old kid on Christmas morning.

Before the concert, we grabbed some drinks in the upstairs lounge and as we sat there talking, I couldn’t help people-watching a bit too. And I started to notice a trend…the vast majority of the concert-goers were either homosexual or overweight. This struck me as interesting before the concert, but as soon as the concert started, I had a revelation.

Kelly opened the concert with the song “Dark Side” and she sang it behind a massive screen upon which were displayed article clippings of nasty things people have said about her in the media over the years, and accented with words in giant red letters like FAILURE and FAT. The recurring lyric, “Please remind me who I really am” struck me so hard that I was already tearing up a mere couple of minutes into the show.

So many thoughts were going through my head in that moment, as I reminded myself of who I really am. I’m not my novels. And I’m certainly not my reviews, good or bad. Deep down I know that I am a human being, flesh and blood. I’m defined first and foremost by myself, and secondly by those who know me and love me. In the list of things that I am — wife, daughter, mother, sister, cousin, niece, aunt, friend, employer, philanthropist — writer is waaaaaay down the list. It’s a chosen career. Something I enjoy doing and have been fortunate enough to make money at…but by no means does it define who I am.

And then it made sense why so much of the audience consisted of people who, in some cases, might be ostracized by society. People who have self-esteem problems or who are told they aren’t entitled to the same rights as the rest of us. They can look at Kelly Clarkson and see that she has been hurt and torn down and publicly humiliated, and that eventually, she gave a big giant finger to those who said “you can’t” or “you’re a failure” or “you’re fat,” and then made herself into something beautiful and poignant.

Besides the fact that she delivered some of the most stunning live performances I’ve ever heard, she also delivered something a little less tangible: hope. And not just to struggling 20 and 30-somethings in New York. She’s also giving hope to millions of orphans in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Halfway through the show, we got to see a video montage of the children Kelly visited on her trip to Africa. Hearing about the 1.9 million orphans in South Africa alone was enough to have me bawling again, and yet another reminder of how insignificant my little Amazon review is in comparison.

So, in honor of my new found hope and my redefinition of who I am as a person, I’m going to donate $5 for every unique comment that’s left on this post to Houses of Hope Africa. All you have to do is comment!

Now go forth and be the best person you can be today šŸ™‚

49 thoughts on “Finding Hope…

  1. EG says:

    Well now I have a goal to see Miss Kelly in concert!

  2. That’s a GREAT goal! I highly recommend it! Probably the greatest night of music I’ve ever been to!!

  3. Yanni Amouris says:

    Your blog got me all teary-eyed. Beautifully written and very poignant – you truly captured the essence of that night.

  4. I love you, Boobsicle! So glad we all got to share that amazing evening together!

    By the way, here’s her singing the song for the children…so amazing!

  5. Sue Tackett says:

    What a great post! I just want to say that in our PC age, disparaging homosexuals is rapidly becoming a no-no which is as it should be. However, I see overweight people disparaged on an almost daily basis. Frequently the disparagers hint or say that overweight people are gluttons or lazy or simply weak because they ‘can’t control what they eat’. That’s not always true. Many of them have medical challenges and the guilt (yes, overweight people are ‘guilted’ into believing they brought their condition on themselves) and shame add emotional challenges. I’ve seen it happen to people I know and love who are neither lazy, gluttons, nor weak.

    I don’t think a law or new PC rule is necessary nor would it be worth the effort. I just wish people who abide by the Golden Rule and they should ‘judge not, lest they be so judged’. None of us is perfect, therefore none of us should be ‘throwing stones’.

  6. Sue Tackett says:

    Note to self: Learn to proof read.

    “I just wish people would abide by the Golden Rule…”

  7. So true, Sue! Thank you for your comment!

  8. JodyS says:

    Life is too short to be spent judging. Ourselves OR others. Beautiful post, Jerrica. Thanks for helping the orphans. And I’m glad you enjoyed yourself so much at the concert. I saw Godspell last night on Broadway and was reminded of how great a show it is. Life is good! šŸ™‚

  9. Jeanine says:

    Wonderful post…. We are all looking for a place to belong and connect. It’s great that Kelly gives that to her fans. To Africa! My son just got back from Safari in Tanzania.

  10. Thank you, Jody! And I’m so glad to hear Godspell was great! I’m looking forward to seeing it! šŸ™‚

  11. Wow! Part of me wants to go on Safari, but another part of me can’t stop visualizing my head in the mouth of a lion. LOL! Thanks for stopping by, Jeanine!

  12. Here’s the opening to the concert, if anyone wants to see it…I watched it again and still got choked up…

  13. Vicki Batman says:

    Wow, Jerrica, what a moving show. I always share how I got a horrible critique about my writing. I decided not to let that define me.

    My unique Kelly Clarkson comment–we do a jazzercise routine to one of her songs and it kicks butt!!!

  14. Good for you, Vicki! And yes, KC and Jazzercise!! LOVE IT!

  15. Kara says:

    I think it’s wonderful what you are doing. Good job making a difference!

  16. Thanks, Kara! And thanks for stopping by! šŸ™‚

  17. […] like to read about Jerrica’s awesome experience this past weekend, you can visit her blog here. For every unique comment she receives, she’s donating $5 for Houses of Hope […]

  18. Very wise comments, Jerrica. And so timely.
    Thanks, L. j.

  19. Thank you, Lucie! I’m glad to “see” you šŸ™‚

  20. Rose Gordon says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience and your generous donation.

    It’s hard to take criticism–and even harder when not done in a constructive way. But you’re absolutely right, reviews don’t define you. Even writing books doesn’t define you. You are so much more! And there are problems in this world that are so much greater that what most of us even think about. Thanks for the reminder of what’s most important.

    (Good to hear your writing is back on track, by the way!)

  21. Thank you, Rose!! I’m so grateful for our friendship — it’s so important to have a good support system in this business and you are big part of mine šŸ™‚

  22. Marquita Valentine says:

    Words do hurt. Saying sorry does heal the wounds, but the scars remain. Don’t give up, Jerrica–you writing is beautiful!!!

    BTW I love, love Kelly Clarkson. Her songs really do have meaning behind them!

  23. Aw, thanks, Marquita!

    And so true about KC’s lyrics. Eric keeps saying he hopes she doesn’t find love because then she won’t be able to write good songs anymore. lol.

  24. P.S. Happy Birthday!! šŸ™‚

  25. Lily George says:

    what a lovely sentiment! As writers, or I think as any artist will attest, we tend to think we are only as good as our last project. This blog is an excellent reminder that we all need balance in our lives. Thank you!

  26. Love me some Kelly Clarkson!! She performed in Centennial Olympic Park last year and I could hear her sound check from my office across the street. Total Sweetheart and very funny. She has a potty mouth, too… šŸ™‚

  27. Thank you, Lily! And thank you for stopping by!! šŸ™‚

  28. Totally, Kristie! She’s so awesome I can’t even stand it!!

  29. Hope Tarr says:

    Great post, Jerrica. I have the CD of Ms. Clarkson’s very first album but I can see I need to catch up with her career–quickly.

  30. Hope, I highly recommend you do! She’s such a force!! šŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by!

  31. Viktor Jerga-Jerga Lundberg says:

    Nice writeup!

    In my 300+ shows attended (mostly rock & metal) I’ve seen & felt the same thing you describe. It’s awesome when music can reach beyond it’s 15 minutes of fame and have some sort of lasting effect.

    I actually have a lot of respect for her mainly because she did a gig a while back in NY with a rock cover band doing some Def Leppard covers. That makes her ok in my book.

    Ok, that’ll be 5 dollars.

  32. jeff7salter says:

    Not sure how you’ll be able to select unique comments here, but here goes:
    I’m not familiar with Kelly Clarkson.
    But I know a good bit about teasing and criticizing. Mine is not related to being ‘fat’ however — it’s the opposite. I was always the skinny kid. In Jr. H.S. the ‘regular’ sized girls weighed more than me. I managed to stay skinny until I reached about age 40 and then weight began to cling.
    Now I’m 5′ 11″ and about 178 in exercise clothes & shoes. I guess that’s fairly ‘regular’. But who defines what ‘regular’ is? Hopefully it’s not (for men) those over-developed competitive body-builders. For women, hopefully it’s neither the emaciated models in fashion mags & catalogs … nor the unattainable (& embellished) girls in Playboy & Victoria’s Secret.
    Hopefully more of us can look INSIDE other individuals and see sweet spirits and kind personalities.

  33. Love your name, Vik! Ha! And how amazing is that that you’ve seen 300+ shows!! Holy crap!

    So glad you’re okay with KC…we’d have a problem otherwise. lol.

    Thanks for divesting me of another $5 šŸ™‚

  34. Jeff, how wonderful would that be?!?! I agree completely. And I know criticism can go both ways when it comes to weight. Having been on the chubbier side most of my life, I’ve always looked at skinny people with a tinge of envy, but I know they come with their own set of insecurities too. As a grown-up, I’m learning that it’s about making healthy choices so that I feel good about ME, no matter what I look like šŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by!

  35. Oh, and just to clarify…by unique comments, I mean only one comment per person. If you commented a hundred times, I would only count it once. It has nothing to do with the content of the comment šŸ™‚

  36. Paul Spadafora says:

    You are a beautiful person…inside and out and don’t let anyone tell you differently! What doesn’t kill you makes you STRONGER!! You go girl!!

  37. darah says:

    I am new to your blog and I haven’t read any of your books (yet :o) but I saw this post listed on Rose Gordon’s blog and came over to check it out. I really admire all writers… even if I end up not liking the book. I can appreciate the effort, blood, sweat, and tears that go into each and every piece of work that you put out. Not only expecting but welcoming others to give you their opinion of something so personal is very brave. Applause for you and thank you for encouraging others to share their thoughts by giving such a great incentive… a donation for the orphans is wonderful.

  38. Have I told you lately how much I love you, Paul? šŸ™‚ Mwah!

  39. Darah, thank you so much for linking over from Rose’s blog! And thank you for your support, both for us writers and for the orphans šŸ™‚

  40. Jerrica ~ I am so, so, so, so, sooooooo happy that Kelly Clarkson broke though to you. She is beautiful and you are talented (Well, you’re beautiful too, but… you know what I mean.) I have always known you were talented and I am happy every day that I know you. And – really – my opinion is so much more important than that Amazon reviewer’s anyway. šŸ˜‰

  41. I heart you, Ava! And yes, your opinion is WAY more important, and it means the world to me šŸ™‚

  42. Sophia Ryan says:

    Hugs on the bad reviews, Jerrica, but as the wonderful Ms. Kelly so beautifully sings, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Just by the fact that you posted about it shows that you are stronger. One really nasty comment about my most recent book body-slammed me to the floor. But the whole time I was clawing my way onto my feet again, I kept telling myself it was just one person’s OPINION. Before we allow ourselves to go deep into the muck over someone’s OPINION, we might be wise to sing along with Kelly. At the top of our lungs, now! What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger!

  43. Yes, Sophia! Sing it!! šŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by and for your encouraging words!

  44. Devika says:

    Jerrica, we love you!! Love the post!! I would have responded even if you were not going to donate. You have such a happy & positive aura!

  45. Aw, thank you, Devika!! I am so feeling the love tonight!! šŸ™‚

  46. Amy says:

    Just want to say how proud I am to call you my friend. You are a beautiful person and fantastic friend. I loved reading this blog entry! šŸ™‚

  47. Likewise, my friend! I love you! šŸ™‚

  48. Misty says:

    I HAD THE BEST time reading your book. Can’t wait to read the next one!
    I know you already know this, but it bears repeating. All writing is autobiographical. The negative review was a reflection off and about the “energy suck” who wrote it.

  49. Misty, can I just put you in my pocket?? šŸ™‚ Thank you for your kind words — I’m so glad you enjoyed the book; I hope you enjoy the rest!

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