Thursday, September 27, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Nancy J. Ring

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Anchors,Signposts and Wanderings

Forks, bends, detours, scenery, and fellow travelers I've discovered while Exploring the Path Home.

This is what you'll find on freelance writer and community mental health counselor Nancy J. Ring's blog. That, and a whole lot of wisdom and truths that just leave you breathless. I am having a tough time telling you just one post to read, so let's just say that you should read the whole thing including quotes, favorites, and  things.

Last year she graduated with a Master’s in Community Counseling  and now has her Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) certification. She works with adults who have severe and persistent mental illness, so she knows a lot about how it can be tough to find the path home. She's worked at the same place for nearly 10 years and loves that her work focuses on helping people achieve their vocational goals, as well as working on emotional health and well being.

When asked about how all of this affects her writing she said,"Helping people become who they are meant to be is a theme that runs through my writing, my counseling, and my ministry."

I know I gain many insights into myself and my own writing from Nancy and her blog. Plus, she has been a writing buddy in my Struggling Artists of Literary Talent (SALT) for many years, so I love her as a sister.

Nancy writes nonfiction articles for women, adults, and teens on all kinds of inspirational, Christian living topics. She's  also written Sunday School curriculum for her church and award-winning grants for her vocational program at work.

Her blog started as a way to get back into writing after she had finished graduate school.

Nancy says, "It’s helped me find my voice, connect with other writers, and helped me identify writing topics I might not have otherwise considered."

Now let's delve into Nancy's past as a kid. You'll see why I absolutely love her and her writing, too:

Childhood Ambition: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor, a gymnast, a scientist, and an artist. Sadly, I wasn’t very good at any of these things. When I discovered how much math with required to be a scientist or doctor, I ditched those goals right away.

I still like gymnastics and art, and I’m still not good at either one of them.

Fondest Memory: Ok, I’m having trouble coming up with one stand-out memory. I think it’s mostly the little memories that I’m fond of. Our family Christmas traditions, getting ice cream or Gene & Jude’s hot dogs when me & my brother had good report cards, having my aunt’s family over for brunch after church on Sunday. I’m sure there’s more extraordinary memories, but these are the ones I recall at the moment.

Crystal Editor comment: I love it that Nancy remembers food. Me, too!

Proudest Moment :A lot of my proudest moments seem to be related to academics. I guess I’m a nerd. When I was in 7th & 8th grade, I won 3rd place in a spelling bee. At the time I was disappointed that I didn’t place better, but I’m proud of that now. I was also a finalist in a regional story writing contest. I’d been interested in writing ever since I’d read The Hobbit back in 3rd grade, but this was the first time I received real, genuine, encouraging feedback about my writing. Even though I was only a finalist, I was proud of this at the time. Go figure.

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen: Most people would think my biggest challenge was growing up with a disability. Spina Bifida has always been a part of my life. I’ve never known life to be any different, and being disabled is only an issue when it’s an issue. Snow on the ground creates an unpleasant experience, but it’s hardly the biggest challenge I’ve ever encountered. The quadratic formula, now that’s a challenge. Does anyone know why we needed to learn that thing anyway?

Crystal Editor comment: Ok, raise your hands: How many of you had to go look up quadratic formula? Much less has learned it?

My First Job: My first job was as a telemarketer for a basement waterproofing company. Cold calling at the age of 14. Despite the fact that most of the calls were rejections, we had fun in the office. Our boss was young himself & would do all sorts of goofy tricks to try to keep our spirits up. He taught me to think outside of the box when you need to address a problem. And if that doesn’t work, go next door to the Hostess shop and buy everyone Twinkies.

Childhood Indulgence: As a kid I was always asking to stay up late to read “just one more chapter.” Also, when my dad was working overnights as a paramedic, on Fridays Mom & I would get pizza and a movie. I looked forward to those nights all week.

Favorite Outfit as a Child: Well, there’s the tea bag Halloween costume my mom made me out of pillowcases. (No, I do not have a picture). I also had a mint green Easter dress I loved when I was about 5 or 6 years old. It had pink ribbon, and lace, and a layered, pleated skirt. I loved that dress.

Favorite Childhood Movie: I loved The Muppet Movie. I still do. Kermit the Frog is wonderful.

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Favorite Childhood Book: I read all the time when I was a kid. My mom would buy me chapter books at the beginning of a shopping trip to keep me quiet and by the time she finished shopping I was always asking for another one to sustain me over the car ride home. So while it’s hard to pick just one book, I’d have to say my favorite is The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. This was the book that made me decide I wanted to be a writer. I remember reading the opening paragraphs and trying to figure out what the magic stuff among the words, what made those words do what they did.

Favorite Childhood Activity: Well, there was reading of course. And playing on the swings. I still loved to do that. The neighbors across the street had a swing set, but we never did. When my parents did some renovating in the backyard I lobbied for a swing set. Instead, they put up a 2-car garage. My beloved lilac bush was also sacrificed in favor of this ugly, mustard yellow & brown monstrosity. Mom would say that it was “her” lilac bush, but it’s not like she lobbied to save it from the invasion of the garage.

Childhood Hero: I think my favorite childhood hero would have to be Jim Henson. I mentioned this at work the other day, and several of my clients laughed at me. I just think the guy was a creative genius. Kermit the Frog & I seemed to understand each other, and that was very important to me at times when I was growing up.

Favorite childhood Ritual: Well, there’s the pizza & movie nights with Mom that I mentioned. At Christmas, our family would also hold auctions, where the kids would get to bid on dime store items. For some reason, that was almost as exciting as opening presents. I think I liked knowing that it was something special about how our family celebrated the holidays; something other families didn’t do.

Nancy

 

Book Lovers on Shelfari, a note from Nancy: 

My screen name on Shelfari is Njring121. Come find me & I’ll be your friend.

Sample of Nancy's Writing Expertise:

"The Need to Be Needed," reprinted for Ministry in Motion

She has also written for Discipleship Journal, Young Salvationist, Christian Standard, The Christian Communicator, and other publications.

Nancy says about her development as a writer, weaving in all aspects of her life and her philosophy behind it:

"Both my jobs (writing & counseling) are driven by a passion for communication. I’ve also recently discovered the art of making handmade books. I’m very interested in how making books can be used in a therapeutic manner. I think handmade books can be a great bridge between my interests in writing and counseling."

Anchors, Signposts, & Wanderings

Nancy's Dog, Nika: "Well, as Kermit the Frog would say,'Time's fun when you're having flies.'”

Nika

3 comments:

LeAnne Benfield Martin said...

Crystal, Great job! Thanks for these features. Nancy, there's a lot here I didn't know about you. And no mention of chocolate anywhere? Hmm....

LeAnne

Anonymous said...

Nancy under estimate herself a bit when she to ld you about the writing competition in 7th or 8th grade. She said that she was "only a finalist" Actually she placed 8th out of what had to be hundreds of thousands of grade school kids.
I think that qualifies as a bit more than "only a finalist"!

Nancy's Dad

Wendy said...

What a wonderful interview, exceot I was dying to see the Nancy baby and little girl pictures!