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“Obstacle or Opportunity or Both”

“No pressure, no diamonds” – Thomas Carlyle

It’s simple: every single person you will meet today is facing at least one major obstacle. Especially the ridiculously beautiful person staring back at you in the mirror. Take a look — so many big old obstacles smack in front of us. Daring us. Mocking us. Blocking us from achieving great stuff. Stupid obstacles!

Though we know they’re there, most of us pretend they’re not.

We do our best to avoid facing them. We procrastinate. We rationalize. We think maybe if we don’t look at our obstacles, they might just go away on their own.

Guess what? They don’t go away. Never. And, deep inside, we already know they won’t go away.

The far more likely scenario is they’ll get bigger, noisier, fiercer, and freakier.

Here’s the good news in all this. Every obstacle or problem we face holds a secret. Hidden deep within the dread is an opportunity for greatness.

The big idea is to never let a good obstacle go to waste. Use it or lose it. Now if you believe amateur internet linguists (hint: do NOT believe them) the Chinese symbol for obstacle can also mean opportunity (100% refuted by actual professional linguists, but you get the idea — sounds really Zen, doesn’t it?).

Once again, my friends, it’s really simple. The obstacles that stand in our way can either hold us down or elevate us to greater heights. You get to choose which one to go for. You probably don’t think you get to choose, but you do.

No joke. You really-really do get to choose.

Bertie Blount, the twelve-year-old protagonist of BERTIE’S BOOK OF SPOOKY WONDERS, with help from a terrifying ghost and a pair of hexed sunglasses that allow her to see a better version of herself, eventually chooses greatness. Bertie rose above her tragic circumstances, and her own terrible choices. And, in doing so, she becomes the better version of herself. How cool is that?

It’s funny, but when kids and adults read BERTIE’S BOOK OF SPOOKY WONDERS, they compare themselves to Bertie. Could I do what Bertie did in that situation? Could I persevere how she did? Could I achieve what Bertie did despite all the crazy dangers, and endless ridicule from everyone around me?

The answer is yes. And no. The applicable answer for you depends upon your willingness to face whatever obstacles stand in your way. Whether it’s a problem with your family, or your school, or your sports team. Or a problem with a friend or enemy. Or perhaps it’s an adult struggling with an addiction, or divorce, or health. Or wanting to be a better parent, wife, or husband.

Or perhaps it’s someone who feels like they have a hole in their soul because they know there’s got to be a better way to get through the day. So many people are wearing these cruel shoes, and those shoes hurt worse with every step. We’re talking life blisters, folks. They are living in conflict with their better natures.

Through Bertie’s commitment to thinking differently, her sense of compassion, and her hunger to make things right no matter what, she shows us there is a better way to get through even the absolute most horrific days.

Bertie Blount is fantastically flawed. She’s a girl who is beyond lost. Nothing in her life makes sense to her anymore. But being lost is universal. We all lose our way. And not just with the big picture stuff either. Most of us get lost on a daily or even an hourly basis. That’s what makes Bertie’s story so captivating, and so enriching to the soul, even if it’s partly on a subconscious level. We understand Bertie’s struggles, because on many levels they’re our struggles as well.

As much as Bertie gets lost, she carries on and somehow finds her way out of the dark and scary woods, again and again. Her obstacles didn’t hold her down, they elevated her. And that helps us readers know that we can do the same.

The pragmatic side of the novel is that we don’t find our way by avoiding our obstacles. We have face them, the same way Bertie faces them (usually kicking and screaming). The same way anyone who ever achieved anything great faced their problems. And, as history shows us in countless examples, the obstacles we overcome make us better people than we were before. It’s simple, but not easy. It’s a choice. And it will be the best choice you could ever make.

That’s the hidden diamond in all this. If you choose to make better choices, you go through the day in a happier and more engaged way. If you repeatedly make the best possible choices you don’t need a pair of supernatural sunglasses to become the better version of yourself.

But, hey, if you happen to come across a pair — why not put them on, right?

Bertie’s Book of Spooky Wonders
Author: Ocelot Emerson
Publication Date: October 15th, 2019 by Tantrum Books

About the Book: Twelve-year-old Bertie Blount is great at causing trouble. When she’s forced to leave behind her dad and friends in North Carolina so her mom can marry the most boring optometrist in the world, Bertie has a chance at a fresh start.

But when Bertie arrives in Pennsylvania, she doesn’t just bring trouble; she brings disaster. In a moment of anger, Bertie unwittingly triggers an accident that puts her future stepbrother in a coma.

Broken and desperate to make things right, Bertie prays for a miracle. Instead, the universe gives her a pair of supernatural sunglasses, a wise-cracking doppleganger, and a terrifying ghost that sends Bertie on a dangerous mission to find the one thing that just might save her stepbrother’s life.

About the Author: Ocelot Emerson is the freakish result of a mad scientist’s experiment gone horribly wrong. Born half magnificent cat, half malicious human, Ocie escaped from the secret International Prison For Wayward Creatures, and into a deep dark woods, only to be captured by a pack of ravenous ghost wolves. In a stroke of good fortune, the Great Spirit Wolves set aside their natural disdain for all things feline and accepted the cat person into their pack, where they taught Ocie how to hunt and tell bizarre yet heartwarming tales. Bertie’s Book of Spooky Wonders is Ocelot’s first novel aimed at feral and phenomenally gifted children.

Thank you so much for this guest post about the beauty in time and patience and focus!

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