“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” –Steve Jobs (1955–2011, rest in peace)

Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech 2005

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

If you, like me and millions of others were moved by the too-young death of Apple creator Steve Jobs this week, and in mourning happened upon the video of his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, you saw someone who exuded authenticity, a man who had clearly learned to trust his own inner voice…

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We’ve talked about the power of our stories. Danica Davidson. shares her writing aspirations here. She’s gutsy to “wear the shirt” [link to a wts post] of her writing aspirations, and I’ll bet that’s why you’ll likely see her books on the shelf soon.

Danica is a professional freelance writer who is now actively seeking to publish a YA novel. She has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times and featured on the Guide to Literary Agents about her novel-writing. She has also adapted Japanese books into English. Please check out her website www.danicadavidson.com or follow her on Twitter @DanicaDavidson.

I’ve been telling stories as far back as I can remember. Even as a young child, I knew I wanted to be a writer. When I was in first grade I was habitually writing picture-books (which I also illustrated) and in second grade I made my first attempt to write a novel. By the time I was in middle school, I was writing novels regularly. This just came naturally to me, and I couldn’t imagine a life without writing. From the beginning I’ve wanted to share my stories, so I’ve never been one to write and hide my creations. I’ve had a drive to share them and to be a professional writer.
Even at age eleven I would go to writers’ meetings carrying my writing and trying to show them to adults. Not many of the adults took me seriously because of my age, but I could tell a few were impressed. Nothing came of it professionally, though. I began bringing my novels into school and sharing them with friends, who then passed them on to more readers. These readers also passed them on and soon I had a school fanbase, which was a flattering, honoring and wonderful thing. Around this time the Los Angeles Times covered me as an up-and-coming author.

I thought it would all come together for me then, but it didn’t. There was a family tragedy and my life changed. I had to work three part-time jobs while studying on my own to get my high school diploma. I worked at a feed store, I worked at a daycare, and I did reporting for the local newspaper. The newspaper reporting was somewhere along the lines of what I wanted to do, but the other two jobs were because they were what I could get and I needed the money. I was very much aware that many of my friends were goofing off and partying through their senior year as I struggled through low-paying jobs to make an income. I was in a very different world from most people my age, though I’ve also come to learn that too many other teenagers have to face the same reality. We don’t always get a chance to enjoy our childhoods.

I wrote when I had time, but so often it had to get pushed aside for more immediate needs. I began sending articles to magazines in hopes I could build up a résumé there and this would help me get my novels published.

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My inbox is choking with urgent appeals. Write your Congressperson. Sign this petition. Forward this video. Send money.

Social media is atwitter with people shocked about the “Republican war on women.” Or outraged at the Pence Amendment to defund Planned Parenthood and the move to eliminate the entire Title X family planning program that helps low-income women get health care and prevent abortions, for heaven sake.

The histrionics reach ever higher decibels, escalating shock and fear. From friends, I hear, “I’m speechless. What are we going to do?” From uninformed reporters, “But should taxpayers be forced to pay for abortion?” From frustrated activists: “We need to march.”

Much as I hate to quote Ronald Reagan, “There you go again.”

Ironically, Reagan threw this phrase at President Jimmy Carter who in a debate had made the case for national health insurance. That conflict still rages today, just like right-wing politicians and women’s advocacy groups are still caught in a never-ending Kabuki drama about what on the surface appears to be abortion, but in reality is a much broader assault on family planning, birth control, and underneath it all, women and our role in this world.

No one can change that narrative but us, and we must do it quickly. The good news is we already know how and have the tools at our disposal.

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As Egypt continues to roil with change and I receive news daily about the UN Commission on the Status of Women 55th session that will convene in New York starting February 22, my No Excuses focus on women in the U.S. is shifting to global mode. And when my fabulous feminist journalist friend Lynn Harris told me about her work with the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, I immediately asked if I could share it with you. Please read her post below, let us know your thoughts, and if you’re moved to action you’ll find out how you can help.

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