Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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September 20, 2019

Channel Your Strengths, Even When You Don’t Feel Strong

I haven’t felt strong since May 15.

If you don’t know about the tragedy in my life, brace yourself for devastating news.

My husband died in an airplane crash. And his death changed me, forever.

But when needed, I can be strong.

I channel the strengths I had before May 15, and I can do anything I could do before he died.

But in order to channel your strengths, you need to know them. There are lots of ways to determine your strengths. I’m sharing an easy, fun way today.

Who Are You?

What words would you use to describe yourself?

Take each letter of your first name and think of a word that starts with those letters that describes you. First responses. No censoring.

Use a name that’s at least five letters long. If your first name is Lori, add the first letter of your last name and use LoriK.

Use descriptors that represent you that are positive.

These are off-the-top-of-my-head responses from several years ago.

M – Master Planner
A – Assertive
R – Risk-taker
G – Goofy
I – Imaginative
E – Enthusiastic

I don’t feel those strengths too often. Not since Tom died.

Here’s how I feel:

M – Missing Tom
A – Authentic
R – 'rong – Everything is wrong without Tom here.
G – Gutted
I – Inescapably Sad
E – Erasable Like I’m not here. Because it seems like Tom got erased.

Clearly, those aren’t strengths. They’re feelings.

They’re honest feelings. I’m authentic about my life-changing loss.

That’s a sad, sad, sad list. I am inescapably sad. And that’s okay for now.

Don’t worry about my emotional state. Don’t worry that I came up with the word erasable.

Bad things happen. Any of us can be erased from this world at any time. And that’s the only E word that popped into my mind. I was authentic and shared it here.

Considering the catastrophic loss, my emotions are right where they need to be.

Back to focusing on strengths. I can access my strengths, use them, and feel stronger.

Three weeks after Tom died, I taught a week-long class for West Texas Writer’s Academy at West Texas A&M University.

You may be thinking WHY? 

I didn’t have to teach that week. Everyone understood. No one would have been upset if I’d cancelled.

But I needed to prove to myself that I could do my life. That I could go on without Tom, even though part of me wanted to stay in bed and never leave my room.

I turned on my teaching brain and did my Margie thing. And the following week I taught an Immersion class in Dallas.

My strengths got me through each day.

M – Master Planner – I was prepared. Teaching materials, loaded handout packets, and millions of on-target examples.
A – Assertive – I took charge.
R – Risk-taker – I pushed myself to be there, to teach two weeks in a row.
G – Goofy – I laughed and joked around. That’s who I am.
I – Imaginative – Deep editing techniques and teaching methods.
E – Enthusiastic – I shared my passion for helping writers make their writing as strong as it could be.

I had most of the feelings in my list for those two weeks. I missed Tom. It felt wrong to not call him, to not hear from him. At times I felt gutted. When I wasn’t teaching, I felt inescapably sad. But I didn’t feel erasable, I felt valuable.

I don’t feel erasable now. Please don’t worry about me.

Okay – now it’s your turn.

Write the letters of your name in a column and throw down the first descriptors that come to mind that start with those letters.

Choose words that describe your personality, your approach to life. Not short, near-sighted, and chocoholic.


Don’t take more than 10 seconds to come up with all of your descriptors.

You may be oh-so-creative. You saw how I used R for wrong. So wrong, but right for the list.

Analyze Your Descriptors

How do your strengths work for you?

Can you channel your strengths even when you don’t feel strong?

Please share your list of strengths in the comments. I’d love to see them.

A Quick Note About Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors

Who Are You? is one of the exercises in my Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors course. It’s packed with dozens of ways to get your writing career on a smart track and keep it on that smart track.

The DSDB lecture packet is available through my website. I’m teaching the DSDB class online in January. If you’re interested, you can register now.

THANK YOU to the WITS gals for hosting me again. Love you all!

BLOG GUESTS — THANK YOU for dropping by WITS.

Please post your WHO ARE YOU? list, or just say Hi.

You could win a Lecture Packet from me or an online class from Lawson Writer’s Academy. The drawing will be Sunday night, 9:00 PM Mountain Time.

Lawson Writer’s Academy – October Courses

  1. Deep Editing, Rhetorical Devices, and More – Instructor: Suzanne Purvis teaching Margie Lawson’s course
  2. Create Compelling Characters – Instructor: Rhay Christou
  3. A Deep Editing Guide to Make Your Openings Pop – Instructor: Margie Lawson
  4. Five-Week First Draft – Instructor: Koreen Myers
  5. Crazy-Easy Awesome Author Websites – Instructor: Lisa Norman
  6. New Course:  Two-Week Intensive — Fixing Your Plot – Instructor: Shirley Jump
  7. New Course:  Profitable Facebook Ads – Instructor: Michelle Fox

About Margie

Margie Lawson — editor and international presenter — teaches writers how to use her psychologically-based editing systems and deep editing techniques to create page turners.

She’s presented over 120 full day master classes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and France, as well as taught multi-day intensives on cruises in the Caribbean.

To learn about Margie’s 5-day Immersion Master Classes, full day and weekend workshops, keynote speeches, online courses through Lawson Writer’s Academy, lecture packets, and newsletter, please visit: www.margielawson.com

Interested in inviting Margie to present a full day workshop for your writing organization? Contact Margie through her website, or Facebook message her.

Interested in attending one of Margie’s 5-day Immersion classes? Click over to her website and check them out.

81 comments on “Channel Your Strengths, Even When You Don’t Feel Strong”

  1. Love you, Margie. Hope you can feel the peace we’re all sending you.

    Okay, i’ll Try:
    L - loving
    A - active
    U - unstoppable
    R - (w)riting
    A - all-in

    1. Hellooo Laura --

      Ah -- I love you lovey Laura.

      Perfect descriptors for you. Strong traits: Unstoppable and All-in.

      Those two descriptors drive your writing career.

  2. Continuing to lift you in prayer, Margie....

    S - Sugar & Spice
    H - Hopeful
    E - Empathetic
    R - Rebellious
    I - Introspective Introvert

  3. Hi Margie. Your authenticity is inspiring. Digging for the truth - and some. Thank you ? Here’s mine:
    J - Just
    A - Amiable
    Y - Yammering Yellow (never)
    - Young at heart
    H - Hurrier.

  4. Margie, you're an amazing inspiration in all you do, including grieving. Miss you lots. Sending big hugs, warm thoughts and many prayers.

    1. Suzanne --

      Thank you.

      I miss you too. I'll be in Deland, Florida next month, but it's six hours from Destin. Too far to drop by your house. Hope I get to see you sometime in 2020.

  5. Always love your posts and how much you bring to the writing community in unique ways, I did this exercise really, really quickly and was surprised by some of my answers. Well, without editing them, here they are:

    L - Long-suffering
    I - Intuitive
    S - Sympathetic
    A - Athletic
    T - Tenacious

    1. Hello I --

      Thank you.

      Good for you for doing the WHO ARE YOU? exercise like a free association test. Super fast. No censoring.

      Work your strengths. Make them work for you.

  6. Here's my list!
    J - Jubilant
    U - Unafraid
    L - Laughing
    I - Intelligent
    E - Earnest

    By the way, on "unafraid," I don't know why I chose that one! I'm afraid of plenty, but you said, "throw down the first descriptors that come to mind that start with those letters," and that's what popped into my mind. Maybe my subconscious thinks I'm more courageous than I often feel.

  7. I am so sorry for your loss, Margie. I got a lot out of the session you did at Woodneath Library in Kansas City a few years ago, and I'm glad your strengths -- which are many -- are helping you through this difficult time.

    My response:
    T – trustworthy
    H – honest
    E – efficient
    R – responsible
    E – exacting
    S – structured
    A – authentic

    I admit to using a thesaurus to find words with the right starting letter. But this does describe my strengths.

    Theresa Hupp

    1. Hello Theresa H --

      Thank you.

      I loved presented at Woodneath Library. Impressive people, and an impressive library system too.

      I'd love to come back.

      Your strengths look like they could help you through anything.

      Thanks so much for posting.

  8. Wonderful advice Margie! And stuff I needed to hear. I haven't felt that strong lately either - job hunting can really wreck your self-worth. But I'm getting better. I'm getting me back. So here's my list:

    J - Joyful (because I start a new job in just over a week!)
    O - Open
    C - Crazy cat lady
    E - Ever changing
    L - Looking forward (not back, because I'm not going backwards)
    Y - Yay! (because I'm excited about the new path I'm starting on)
    N - Never quitting writing (because I have to write, it's who I am, even if I forgot that for a little while)

    1. Hello Jocelyn --

      Glad you're back to being joyful again!

      All your other descriptors work well for you too.

      Love your NEVER QUIT WRITING. So true.

      Hope I get to see you in 2020!

  9. J - Joyful
    E - Empathetic
    N - Nice but not TOO nice
    N - Needs to give back
    Y - Young at heart

    B - Brave (I used my IRL last initial because it made more sense. I've had to be brave to stand up to my life. It has been a blessing. [another B!])

    I am sending you so very much love and peace, Margie. *squeezy hug*

  10. T - traumatized
    I - immobilized
    F - far far far from strong
    F - furious
    A - altered
    N - numb
    Y - yield, as in, Ok Universe, I yield…you are obviously playing
    by a set of rules built with sugar rainbows and heart-mutilating knives.

    1. Tiffany, my heart bleeds for you as I read this. I've had a treasured parent ripped away and it's just WRONG. It's hard and sad and infuriating and wrong. I'm glad you listed your TIFFANY out, you brave soul. You deserve all the support that we can give you.

      My love to you, Tiff. Every bit of my love.

    2. Thank you Tiffany. I can only imagine your pain. Well, I can, but my dad died of a massive heart attack when he was 60.

    3. NOTE TO BLOG GUESTS: Tiffany is my daughter.

      Tiffany --

      I love you.

      I'm glad you posted your list of feelings.

      You don't feel strong now, but I know you are incredibly strong. I could list dozens of ways you've been strong, but anyone who reads this would cry.

  11. You have a great many more strengths, Margie. And you share them with your students in invaluable ways. I'm glad to hear you taking care of yourself. I hope you feel the love and extra strength your students (including me) are beaming toward you every day.

    Y-Yearning to learn
    N-Never gives up
    E-Ever ready (like the battery)

  12. First, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I was deeply saddened when Jenny Hansen told me about your husband.

    Okay, now on to the happy stuff.

    E - Enigma - people are still trying to figure me out.
    L - Laughing - I tend to use humor to get out of a funk...usually and an inappropriate moment.
    D - Delightful - or so I'm told by others.
    R - Relentless - I'm like a dog with a bone sometimes.
    E - Empathetic - I tend to feel other's pain.
    D - Dreamer - always have been, always will be.

    Just so you know, I played by the rules. I came up with the words quickly, then went back and added the comments. I surprised myself a little bit.

    1. Hello Eldred --

      Thank you.

      Reading your list of descriptors, I feel like I know you. Great list.

      Glad you didn't give yourself time to think. Thanks for letting me know some of the descriptors surprised you.

  13. Thanks for this! You're so very good at sharing your journey and encouraging others. Here's mine:

    K- Kind
    I - Imaginative
    M- Mindful
    B - Brave
    E - Empathetic
    R - Resilient
    L - Lifter
    Y - Youthful

  14. Love you Margie. Even in your gutted responses, we feel your strength and are encouraged that there’s a way through the storm. Thank you for always opening your heart.

    L - Laughs loudly (a cack that quiets a room—you’ve witnessed it Margie!)
    Y - Young at heart
    S - Surfs through the fear
    T - Truthful, it’s the seed of trust
    R - Ruthless researcher
    A - Aboriginal Australian, proud of all the things that make me who I am.

    1. Hello Lystra --

      Ah, you're such a love. Miss you.

      Your list of descriptors is so perfect for you.

      You THEMED with SURFS through the fear. It's your truth and surfing is your world.

      Hope I get to see you on the Gold Coast next year.

  15. Margie, I'm so sorry for your loss, and so impressed by the steps you've taken to heal. This "strengths" exercise is a fun approach to growth! I wish you all the best.

  16. Margie, I love you. Let me try this exercise.

    N--no account

  17. T - Tenacious
    O - Organised
    R - Resilient
    Y - Inventive - I'm inventing a new use for the letter Y!!
    H - Hilarious

    1. Hello Sheila --

      Thank you. Miss you. Can't wait to see you Down Under next year.

      Your list of descriptors is so perfect for you. I hope you share them with Dundee.

  18. I'll give it a try.
    D - dedicated
    E - electronic
    L - loving
    E - energetic
    Y - yearning
    N - not defeated
    A - attentive

    Not sure how well those work, but they're what I came up with super-fast.

  19. Hi Margie, still keeping you in my daily prayers. Glad you're doing better. Here is my list.
    J - Jolly
    P - Patient
    A - Anxious
    U - Unusual
    L - Loving
    E - Easy going
    T - Talented
    T - Tolerant
    E - Excitable

  20. S - sassy
    U - unusual
    S - self-directed
    A - ambitious
    N - nice

    Interesting. If I'd taken more time, or edited, I'd not have found some of those.
    Thank you, Margie.

  21. Margie, know that hearts around the world are rooting for you!

    C - Curious
    H - Hearty...as in having lots of heart
    R - Rise and Shiny
    I - Impossibly romantic
    S - Sincere
    T - Tender
    O - Opportunity Exploiter
    P - People person
    H - Happily Ever After seeker and storyteller
    E - Engaged and engaging
    R - Respectful...most of the time

    1. Hello Chris --

      Thank you. I appreciate all that support.

      Such a creative and true-for-you list of descriptors. Love it.

      I hope you shared your list with all your amazing family.

      Thanks so much for posting.

  22. Sending my love and hugs to you, Margie. Off to share this link.

    L = Loyal
    Y = Young (As in playful)
    Z = Zen (as in introverted)

    K = Knowledgeable
    E = Eclectic
    L = Lyrical
    L = Ladylike
    E = Electric
    Y = Yearly (as in setting goals every year.)

  23. Sending you healing thoughts and may you keep the beautiful memories. Here's my list:
    L = Loving
    Y = Young-at-heart
    N = (in)tuitive
    D = Dependable
    A = Amazing

  24. Thanks for your honesty and strengths. Sending thoughts and hugs your way.

    L = Loving
    A = Artistic
    U = Unflappable
    R = Ready for anything
    I = Imaginative, Inspirational (at least that's what people tell me)
    E = Encourager

    1. Hello Laurie --

      So excited I get to work with you in another Immersion soon. In nine days. On Sullivan Island!

      Strong list! Love all those descriptors.

      Can't wait to hug you.

  25. I'm so sorry for your loss and so amazed at your strength. Thank you for this wonderful article.

    My list:

    Karing (see, see? I took your advice. :D)

    I hope life gives you many wonderful things in return for what you've given, Margie Lawson. Thank you.

  26. Thank you Margie--sending you warm thoughts, prayers, and hugs.

    Ooh-challenge accepted and here's my list:

    J- Judicious
    O - Offbeat
    S - Spiritual
    E - Epic
    P - Passionate
    H - Honorable

    W - Warmhearted
    I - Inventive
    L - Leader
    L - Loyal
    I - Imaginative
    A - Affectionate
    M - Mindful

    Z - Zany
    A - Adventurous
    R - Rousing
    E - Earnest
    K - Kissable-Kindhearted-Klutz

  27. Margie, you inspire me. You have always inspired me, but now it's not just because of your knowledge; it's because of your spiritual resilience. We all have what it takes to make it through the challenges of life, but to take those challenges and turn them into fuel is something few of us are able to accomplish. I can see that as a true leader you gain your strength by helping others, and I am grateful for everything you've done to help me see and acknowledge what I have to offer our tribe. Here's my response to your thought-provoking exercise:

    B- Bold
    A- Artistic
    B- Balanced (Don't I wish, but I'm working toward it)
    E- Energetic
    T- Thankful
    T- Teacher
    E- Empathetic

  28. So many feels. I lost my mother this past April, and I feel like a ghost. But, you inspire me so much, that I’ll give this a go:
    C - crazy (in a fun way)
    I - imaginative
    N - nice
    D - determined
    Y - youthful

  29. Margie,
    You are a true inspiration to all of us.Thank you for sharing your authenticity and heartfelt emotions. You are indeed a strong woman. Sending you loving hugs!

    Okay, here goes:
    C - Creative
    H - Helpful
    R - Risk taker
    I - Ironman (140.6 - 8 time finisher)
    S - Sympathetic
    T - Tough yet tender
    I - Inspirational
    N - Nutty
    E - Empath (Big time!)

  30. This post brought tears to my eyes, Margie--not just for your unimaginable loss (which is probably one of my worst fears), but for your strength and generosity of spirit in using it to share something valuable with this community. What a kindness. Thinking of you and hoping that all the wonderfully warm memories you clearly have of Tom offer some measure of comfort. <3

  31. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing.

    This exercise is eye-opening. Here are mine:

    D - Detailed
    E - Energetic
    N - Never-Stopping (at first I thought of my busy schedule, but this will be writing related too :))
    I - Incredible
    S - Supportive (I like to teach and encourage people)
    E - Excited (I love to learn and experience things)

    I couldn't think of anything else for I. I kept looking at it and it feels uncomfortable to just state that. And the more I looked at it, the more I realized I need to believe that more about myself. I also came up with silly and sexy for S, but again felt weird claiming that so went with the next one that popped up, which fits me too.

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