January 16, 2013 - Oh -- I don't know, a little over a year ago I think -- Pam Belding (or as I like to call her, Red) started sending me the ever-evolving manuscript she was writing.
I hoped she did it so I could edit. Outside on the patio furniture I would sit and read. Armed with nothing but a red felt tipped pen I would edit and make important and sometimes witty commentary..
(Before I go any further, I feel obligated to state for the record there is something empowering about wielding a red felt tipped pen. I can see the allure some teachers face when correcting their students' papers. But, I digress. Where was I . . . yes, yes, red pens and Red . . .)
I would print off Red's raw pages and with pen in hand would edit her stuff. As I have plenty of experience in doing this, I was confident I could help her out.
About 27 drafts later, I can't say I helped her any, but I can say she has penned a pretty darned-good self-help book. You Are The Boat though written by Red, is a voyage into your life.
"My family was planning on leaving the country and living in Brazil for an extended period of time. I was home schooling my son and I was struggling. I found it wasn't nearly as fun as I thought it would be or as easy. I was panicing," the ginger-haired Ortonville area resident said recently.
On one of her daily walks she asked no one in particular (some may say God), "How am I supposed to get through this with this attitude? The very next day as I walked I thought 'attitude is like a rudder on a ship.' From there the idea that your life is like the different parts of a boat started."
And that's how her analogy got its get up and go.
Pam Belding in Ortonville with her new book (click for larger version)
Soon the heart became the ship's wheel; strength became the mast, a person's soul their sail. At home at her dining room table, with colored pencils she sketched out her boat -- one of those tall ships from the 19th century, complete with the wooden lady figure head that looked suspiciously a lot like Pam.
Pam said once she started thinking about her boat (her life) and once she started to ask her boat's Captain (The Big Skipper in the sky) for help, and letting her Captain steer, her life started to get easier if only because she wasn't making it harder.
"Once I got it, I wanted to help other people feel strong and stable. Who wouldn't want to share it? It's not just for me. I'm not this elegant. I'm not this simple -- I like to complicate things. This didn't come from me. It came to me to share," she said. "I wanna' help other people feel better."
Before finishing up her book and self publishing it, Red started leading You Are The Boat group presentations. From these she talks with other people she discovered parts of her boat were missing. These parts were added into the final draft.
You Are The Boat is 55 pages that can help folks struggling, gain some perspective. I think it's good for any age reader -- young teen on up the rigging to old folks like me.
It is a very simple book written from the heart (and through a lot of self introspection).
"This whole thing has taught me I have a lot more to learn. I am not done! It's only when I think I am done that I start making things a mess. When I was writing You Are The Boat, a number of other ideas came to me. I plan to write those, too," she said.
You Are The Boat is a soft cover book. Pam built a picture of her boat.
That wall hanging is the cover art for her book. She wanted to thank Clarkston photographer Mark Kelly of MPK Photo for cover shots.
Red has a website www.currentinspiration.com where she writes her thoughts of the day blog-style. Oh, and you can order You Are The Boat there, too.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org