At the beginning of 2017, we decided to take the reins and solve the problems that surround us. As ambassadors of hope and help, we set out to find 117 solutions to the problems that plague us. Every week we focused on two specific problems and asked our country for their help to solve them. We believe that all of our problems can be solved and that the answers are trapped inside of everyday people like you!
The response? We’ve been working with numerous authors this year who took the challenge to solve some our greatest problems. Problems like racial reconciliation, bridging the cultural divide, fostering effective change in education, the revitalization of senior living, and the importance of fathers — all topics that were tackled by some fearless, everyday people who decided to get their solutions out of their heads and out to the world. Every month, we featured several of these authors, and we can’t wait to feature more in 2018.
But in December, we decided to feature a special guest named Santa Claus. I know what you’re thinking, what problems has Santa Claus solved? Before you think we’ve lost our focus this month, bear with us and keep reading. You might be surprised.
People can’t survive without hope. And when you think of the overweight guy with the chubby belly who is always jolly, did you ever think of him as someone that represents hope? Of course, adults know there won’t be a guy with a red suit and silver beard soaring through the sky on Christmas Eve. (Shhh! Don’t tell my grandchildren I said that!). But when you see an image of Old Saint Nick, doesn’t the child inside of you get a little excited and even hopeful about what’s to come? Do you feel joy, love, and peace when you see a picture of Santa, especially when you see the children? I do. The child inside me still jumps for joy this time of year–especially when I look at my grandchildren’s faces when they sit on Santa’s lap. Perhaps we could all benefit from feeling a little love, joy, and peace, even if it comes from a make-believe character.
Thank you, Santa. We appreciate what you represent this time of year and the feelings you invoke in countless adults and children alike. This holiday season take some time to take it all in. Just pause and be present in the lives of those you love most–especially the little angels who bless your life. And if you don’t have small children to inspire you, go sit on Santa’s lap yourself! I promise the little child inside of you will beam with love, joy, peace, and hope.
How About You?
Santa isn’t the only one who can offer hope. When you tell your story and what you’ve been through, what you’ve discovered, what you’ve developed, or what you’ve overcome, YOU become the voice of hope and help to others. Don’t keep that to yourself! Let us help you get your message out of your head and out to the world!
Have you seen the movie Hidden Figures yet? I give this nonfiction movie 5 stars, and it exposed me to another angle of Black History Month. Until I saw this movie, I never knew that three female African–American mathematicians were instrumental in the early days of NASA. They weren’t just instrumental, they were crucial to John Glenn’s orbit around the earth! Why hadn’t I heard of this before?
This month gives us the opportunity to recognize and applaud the contributions that black men and women have made. From artists, to poets, to politicians, to religious leaders, to authors, to sports figures, to business men and women, to scientists, to everyday people, this is our appointed time learn more about these people and to celebrate their accomplishments.
My husband is a baseball fanatic, and we recently visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. What a treat! Negro leagues were formed due to segregation laws, and they ran strong from 1920 until they started their decline in 1945, when Jackie Robinson was recruited by the Brooklyn Dodgers. They produced strong players like Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Roy Campanella, LeRoy “Satchel” Paige, and—of course—Jackie Robinson. Think any of these athletes made history? You bet your boots they did! They were a strong force in the civil rights movement, although all they really wanted to do was play baseball.
As I think about our effort to find 117 solutions to our most pressing problems in 2017, I’m drawn to the racial divide that has plagued our nation almost since its inception. It’s a big problem, and we need to find solutions.
I like what is happening in St. Louis, particularly through an organization called Mother 2 Mother, where 11 black mothers share their stories with “thousands of mostly white attendees…” Their purpose is to expose other women to the “dangers and realities of raising Black sons in America regardless of the socio-economic status achieved.”(source)
I attended one of these conversations and was dumbstruck by the things these black mothers endure that have never been part of my life. Their sons are consistently pulled over for no reason and, in some cases, have been handcuffed and taken to the police station. One woman’s daughter was told to go to the back of the school bus by some teenage boys, who were never punished, and it happened in the priciest zip code in the St. Louis area. As I heard these mothers – doctors, attorneys, scientists, and professors at Washington University – talk about what they and their kids battle on a daily basis, I shrunk in my seat and thought, “There has to be a solution to this.”
We are looking for solutions to problems like white privilege and the racial divide. How about you? What do you know, what have you been through, what have you discovered or developed that can help others? What inspirational nonfiction book could you write that will bring hope to others? Please join us in our effort to find 117 Solutions in 2017!
The purpose of 117 Solutions in 2017 is:
Human beings are wired to respond to stories, and we remember things that have an emotional impact on us. When you write your book, there’s a nonfiction writer tool you can use to impact the reader. It affects them on an emotional level, so they will remember what they read.
How do you do that? Well, it’s not so complicated. One way to impact your reader is to bring them in close, to make them feel like they’re right there in the room with you. You do that by creating scenes that use the nonfiction writer tool of sensory language.
Sensory language is just what it sounds like – it’s the language of our five senses. When you use sensory language, you describe what you saw, felt, heard, tasted, and smelled. You don’t write, “I was sad when my girlfriend left me.” You write, “When she told me she was leaving, she smiled as she whispered the words, ‘I’m leaving you.’ My throat clamped tight. I blinked hard, so I wouldn’t cry, but one hot tear fell and salted my upper lip.”
In this passage, you find four of the five senses: She told me–hearing; throat clamped tight and hot tear–feeling; she smiled–sight; she whispered–hearing; salted my upper lip–taste. The only sense not included is the sense of smell.
Sensory language punches up your writing and engages the reader. It breaks up the monotony and helps the reader to visualize the scene, so they can experience it.
Take a look at the two passages below, and notice how sensory language makes a difference.
1. Becky called me and said that something terrible had just happened. She wanted to talk about it, so I asked her to meet me at the grill on the ground floor of my building. It was almost noon, and I was hungry, so I asked her if she wanted something to eat.
Compare that to:
2. “The police just barged in my house,” Becky said. “It was raining, and their boots tracked bits of grass and mud all over my white carpet. Didn’t even bother to wipe their feet. It’s like they used my carpet as a door mat. There were six of them.”
A piece of red hair – I Love Lucy red hair – escaped from behind her ear, and she slicked it back without taking a breath. My watch beeped twelve o’clock, but she yammered on. The grilling onions made my stomach lurch. I hadn’t eaten breakfast.
“Wow,” I said. “I’m so sorry. Can I get you something to eat? I could use a bite myself, and maybe that would make you feel better.”
Her head banged down on the table, and she hiccuped massive sobs. “What do you think I am, a twelve-year-old?” she sputtered. “It’s not like a snack can make me all better!”
Sensory language is a nonfiction writer tool that is easy to incorporate. All you have to do is describe what you hear, what you smell, what you see, what you feel, and what you taste. Drop those elements in a scene and watch your writing come alive!
Look around you. We’ve been bombarded with problems that appear unsolvable, and many are in deep distress.
We have so many problems that we don’t even know how to name them anymore, but we do know what doesn’t work. Top-down solutions don’t work. Government can’t fix anything, organized religion hasn’t solved our problems, and we’ve tried to medicate our problems away, but that hasn’t worked either. In many cases, these attempts have made things worse and have spawned new problems.
I believe that our problems—all of them—can be solved, and that the answers are trapped inside people like you. When you share what you know and what you’ve learned, you become the solution. The answers are inside of you. You ARE the solution.
There are two things that people cannot live without: HOPE and HELP. People need hope that things can and will get better, and they need help to get from where they are to where they want to be. When you tell your story, when you share what you’ve been through, what you’ve learned, what you’ve overcome, what you’ve developed or the path you took, you become the voice of hope and help.
There are people like you who have the answers, the solutions. And there are other people who, in some cases, are literally dying, waiting for those answers. You have what they need, and you can offer the hope and help that they crave simply by telling your story. You are the solution.
Think about what you’ve learned and how you can be a force that changes lives, saves lives, and transforms society. Don’t waste your pain and struggles. Put them to work in the world and let the mess become the messenger — the messenger of hope and help.
Maybe you’ve been through a painful time and fell like you can reach back and give others a helping hand. What do you know? What have you learned? What have you discovered or developed that can help others?
It’s time for us to take the reins and solve the problems that surround us. In 2017, we are going to find 117 solutions to the problems that plague us. Every week we will focus on 2 specific problems and ask for your help to solve them. Perhaps you have a solution of your own, or maybe you know someone else who does. Introduce us to one another.
You can share the problems you’ve encountered and the solutions you crafted to offer hope and help to this chaotic world. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?
When you tell your story and what you’ve been through, what you’ve discovered, what you’ve overcome, or what you’ve developed, you become the voice of hope and help.
The purpose of 117 Solutions in 2017 is:
You can’t sit around and hope that things will change. If you want change, you must be the solution. Be the one who offers hope and help and write your high-impact nonfiction book that can save lives, change lives or transform society. Click the button to get involved:
We have a lot of problems, and here are a few to consider. What do you know or what have you learned about these problems that could help others?