A Change of Perspective

Thursday, January 28, 2021

 “When I changed the way I looked at things, the things around me started to change.”

                                                              --Darrion Cockrell, 2021Missouri Teacher of the Year

Recently I watched a video about Darrion Cockrell’s accomplishments. He was born to a drug addict. He was a Crip before he was 10. He was a foster kid.

A kid like that usually goes down the tubes. Prison or the cemetery. Mr. Cockrell defied the odds. He’s now a St. Louis educator, and was named Teacher of the Year for my state this year.

Am I proud of this young man? Mos def. Am I inspired by what he’s achieved? Yes. But it was what he said--the quote at the beginning--that made me sit up straighter and truly pay attention.

Our perspective can have a ripple effect. When we change that perspective, the ripple changes.

When I was 13, I dreamed of being either a journalist, a social worker or a novelist. I fantasized about someday having a book on a bookstore shelf with my name on the spine… but deep down, I think I figured it would never happen. 

When I was 16 I dreamed of being an unpaid angst-filled poet (and I was).

Between my teens and entering my middle ages, I wrote: occasionally and without purpose. When I was in my 40’s I finally switched the way I looked at things. I realized that if I didn’t get off my broad, flat rump and start submitting, I’d never get published… and I aggressively went after that goal. I joined a writing critique group. I wrote and revised and submitted. A few of my pieces got published. 

When I was in my mid-50s, I dreamed of getting a book published. During NaNoWriMo I wrote, surrounded by my students. I daydreamed about finishing the manuscript I had started and getting it published. In my heart, however, I doubted my writing would ever interest a publisher.

Change of perspective resulted in a change in my life. I began querying, and looked at a high number of rejections as a goal. The more agents and publishers I contacted, the more likely my manuscript would eventually become a book… and it’s happening. This spring, my book Henry’s Story: Greenwood Gone will be making its grand debut.

Okay, so it won’t be a grand debut. There won’t be a red carpet (unless I roll it out myself). There won’t be a sea of photographers snapping my photo at author events (unless I strap a GoPro to my golden retriever, and strap one onto all of his four-legged friends, and bribe them with a smear of peanut butter once they’re finished). There won’t be a bunch of people wanting my autograph (unless my family members accept the $10 I give each of them to please please please show up and act like they’re buying a book… I’ll need the money back later, of course). 


But grand is in the eye of the beholder. Because of the pandemic, I’m looking at things differently. I’m not expecting what used to be a normal book roll-out. I’ll be prepared for different. Smaller. More creative due to possible constraints.

A change of perspective results in things changing around me. Congratulations, Darrion Cockrell… and thanks for inspiring young people.

Sioux Roslawski is a middle-school teacher and a freelance writer. Her book (has she mentioned it lately?) is coming out in the spring of 2021 and is titled Henry's Story: Greenwood Gone. If you'd like to read more of her writing, head to her blog.


Joanne said...

Sioux, you are so inspiring! Congratulations on all the work you've done and what you've accomplished!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

This is such a powerful message. And I mean both his and yours.
Thank you for nudging us all to consider how we are shaping our own reality and how that might change.

Theresa Boedeker said...

Congrats on your book. So often changing our perceptions does change our situation.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yes, indeed, powerful messages from both of you, Sioux, thanks for sharing!

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Thank-you Sioux for this empowering message. Darrion Cockrell's story is definitely one that can inspire young and old alike. A change of perspective does cause things to change around you. And Sioux I hope that your book's debut has all of the fanfare it deserves and is a huge success. Congratulations again.

Margo Dill said...

I just love your posts. :) I am working on your edits this week and I just love your book too. And even though COVID might mess up this book's debut just a bit, we are all about thinking outside the box, and I'm finding more and more ways to do that every day!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Joanne--Thanks... and you are mentioned in the acknowledgements.

Sue--I am really inspired by Mr. Cockrell. What a rough beginning... and yet he defied the odds.

Theresa--Thanks. And yes, a change of perspective can make all the difference.

Cathy--Altering your perspective, or opening up interesting-looking doors, can change your life.

Jeanine--Thanks. I keep mentioning the book. Perhaps too often?

Margo--With you paving the way, I'm sure things will be as smooth as they can (these days).

Renee Roberson said...

Sioux--Thank you for sharing that video of Darrion's story. What an eloquent, compassionate and deserving educator! I love how he used his story and those who mentored him as a teen to pay it forward. And I love the image of you working on your book while being surrounded by your students! I know they will be inspired by your own story of dedication and perseverance in getting your book published. Love the new name!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--He is quite inspiring. Of all people, he is one person who can say to young people struggling with gangs or drugs that they CAN overcome. They CAN emerge on the other side, victorious and whole.

And yes, I would not have a book without that group of students... without one student in particular.

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