Kaliopy: What advice can you share for those also wanting to follow their passions?
Linda Ellis: We’ve all heard this advice many times: “The secret of success is to discover what you enjoy doing and then find a way to
make money at it.” Though cliché as it may sound, I believe it, because I’m living it. I concluded my most recent gift book, Simple Truths of
Life with the comparison of life to a jigsaw puzzle. Every crossed path, every person, event and phase of our lives adds yet another
“piece” to our puzzle. The whole picture becomes clearer and better understood as we determine where each of our pieces “fit.” Working
in the corporate world allowed me to add many pieces to my puzzle and gave me not only many experiences to write about, but the
realization that my personality could not be constrained to the walls of a cubicle. Though for many years I turned my back on my yearning
to write, for fear of losing that steady and dependable income, I finally had to face the fact that I was extremely unhappy and restrained in
such a structured environment. My creativity was literally being stifled. Writing was an outlet for me then, but has since become my life’s
passion. Though I won’t lie and say I do not benefit from the income derived from the sales of my inspirational books, I can honestly, and
without hesitation, tell you that what is essential to me and what inspires me most is the feedback I receive daily…hourly from those whose
hearts have been touched by my words. Knowing that my writings will live on long after the footprints their creator has left on earth have
faded, is what continues to provide encouragement for me.
However, I’ve always had trouble when people ask me for advice based on my “success.” Partially due to the fact that the word “success”
is defined as follows: the achievement of something planned or attempted. Frankly, my current success was neither planned nor
attempted. It was more recognized and cultivated: recognized because I perceived, and capitalized upon, an opportunity which required
me to venture into a world completely out of the realm of my training and experience and cultivated because I believed in it enough to
devote my time, energy, and most importantly, my heart, to its development, growth and success.
Most columnists doling out advice on success would undoubtedly mention how important it is to
set goals and have a strategy to help you achieve and accomplish each. I, too, feel it is important to set goals, yet I feel it is equally
important to remain flexible and fully aware of opportunities that arise during life’s journey that may not follow suit with rigid plans and goals.
I believe that often, following your passion, instead of the plans and goals you’ve set should they differ, will lead you to your own road to
success, if not financially, in personal fulfillment. In a poem to my daughter many years ago, I wrote:
I hope for you there is success,
not in what you will buy or own…
but in the pride you feel,
in the person you’re with
when you are all alone…
There is a quote by Norman Vincent Peale which reads: “Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow.” If I had to summarize my
journey into one sentence, that would have to be it. Because true success, that is, complete success is attained when you find personal
fulfillment in what you do, instead of just going through motions to receive a paycheck. It comes down to making a life versus making a
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|Inspirational Author, Speaker & Poet
Linda Ellis started writing poems as a child, a talent inherited from her Irish grandmother. She grew up in Florida and then
lived in New York for several years. However, her southern roots kept calling her home so she settled in Georgia where she now lives
with her family and a menagerie of pets. She spent years working in the corporate world, but after her first poem was shared on a syndicated
radio program in 1994, an alternative career began to emerge and she soon came to the realization that her true passion was in writing
Because no promotion or raise received from her boss could ever equal the satisfaction she felt when she would hear from those whose
hearts had been touched by her words, she made the decision to leave the corporate world behind to pursue her dream, inspiring others
through her poems. Linda focuses on writing about real life, including all of its joys and sorrows. Thus, as each new phase of her life is
experienced, so are new feelings, thoughts and ideas that she feels compelled to express through her poetry.
Her poetry has been featured in best-selling books and magazines such as Family Circle, US News and World Report, WOW Professional
Performance, Leatherneck Magazine, and various other major publications. Her poems have also appeared on FOX TV (FOX 4), ABC News
(News 10), CBS News (KLASTV), NBC (WXIA) and on hundreds of radio programs, including Radio Delilah.
Her most famous poem to date is The Dash, which has been enjoyed by millions over the last 14 years. It is now the subject of a beautiful
pictorial gift book written in conjunction with Mac Anderson , founder of Successories, and has been recorded as an amazing song. The
Dash poem is responsible for changing attitudes and subsequently, thousands of lives around the world. She has incorporated the concept
of the dash (that little line in between your dates of birth and death which represents all the days you’ll live on earth) into an inspirational
speech that will no doubt touch your heart and get you thinking differently about life and what’s truly important.
Kaliopy: How has your journey in writing shaped you since leaving the corporate sector?
Linda Ellis: My journey is an unusual one, to say the least. I worked for more than 20 years in the corporate environment, always striving to
give 110% of myself in order to be noticed and promoted to the next rung on that corporate ladder. As a hobby, I’d always written creatively,
even as a child. I began sending my poems to a syndicated radio show here in Atlanta and before long my work was a regular feature of the
show. This, in a way, fanned a flame for me as slowly my interest in writing expanded. Years after, I wrote a poem titled: The Dash, and
though I cringe at the thought of being regarded as a “one-hit wonder” because of the many inspirational poems and stories I’ve written, I
cannot deny that writing this poem is the single most pivotal point in my life regarding the direction of my career.
For those who are not familiar with the poem, it is based on that little line on a tombstone, between the dates of birth and death. Every day
we spend on earth is ultimately represented in that little “dash.” I was complimented in an interview recently, where the gentleman said in
reference to sales in the hundreds of thousands of my first book based on that poem, "It's very impressive where you've taken The Dash
poem." I replied, "It's more impressive where The Dash poem has taken me..." I compare it to a seed I'd planted many years ago, which
quickly sprouted and continues to grow exponentially being constantly cultivated by the millions of souls inspired by its message. It's
unfathomable to me the number of loving legacies, rerouted journeys, smiles worn and tears shed as a result of my words. But, out of the
millions of lives that have been touched and changed, I firmly believe that my own has been altered more substantially than any other. The
people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve been afforded because of my chosen combination of written words, are blessings I realize and
cherish every day.
Kaliopy: What inspired you to pursue writing as a career?
Linda Ellis: To be honest, initially I tried to ignore my interest in writing as a career. I knew that poetry and creative writing wasn’t exactly a
field well-known for being profitable and I had two children to think about. However, the more I tried to deny the opportunity, the louder it
knocked on my door. I was taking orders for my poems in the ladies room at work and doing radio interviews in my boss’s office before I
finally made the decision to take the leap. But I did, and I’ve been blessed since.
Kaliopy: You have captured many hearts around the world with your inspiring poetry, how did it feel when David cook, the American Idol
winner, had actually tattooed the last stanza of your poem, "The Dash" onto his arm?
Linda Ellis: A Fan of American Idol winner, David Cook, wrote to me and included a photo with the last stanza of my poem, The Dash
prominently displayed in ink on his forearm! It felt as though my heart was smiling as I read the reason he had gotten this tattoo: The
Dash had been read at the funeral of his brother. The words had apparently impacted him so much that he wanted to carry them with him
every day. I was reminded again how powerful words can be and how very often they take a direct route to the heart. As a rational
person who requires tangible evidence to sway my opinion, I must admit I've come to believe in, and accept, the concept that this poem
has a unique purpose and a reason for its creation and existence. Maybe propelled by a higher power or force of nature, or maybe just
sheer coincidence, but how else can one explain its enormous effect on the world having been originated by one woman without the
wherewithal or resources at the time to launch such an explosive inspiration into the world? I was busy living my own dash, while the poem
was out working its magic. It took me many years, and countless stories of this inspiration reaching the lives of those who need it, when
they need it, to truly believe in its power. Though still bewildered, I no longer doubt its abilities.
Kaliopy: What was the driving force behind your famous writings "The Dash"?
Linda Ellis: I’m often asked what, in particular, inspired me to write The Dash. I believe it was a combination of things in my life at the
time. It was during a period when I was working for the top executives of a very large and successful corporation. It was a strict company
with a tense working environment and I began to notice how the priorities in many lives there had become, what I considered, misaligned.
It seemed to me there were far too many worrying far too much about that which was inconsequential in the scope of life. But also,
resonating in the back of my mind were the words from a letter which had been previously routed around the office. It had been written by
the wife of an employee who was aware that she was dying. I was so moved by that letter that I saved a copy of it and continue to live by
"Regrets? I have a few. Too much worrying. I worried about finding the right husband and having children, being on time, being late and
so on. It didn’t matter. It all works out and it would have worked out without the worries and the tears. If I would have known then what I
know now. But I did and so do you. We're all going to die. Stop worrying and start loving and living."
Her words stuck with me. Her letter made me stop and think. This is it. This is all we get. I did my best to convey this concept in The
Dash, but it is also the underlying theme for much of my work. From The Dash:
|For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.
Kaliopy: Can you tell us a bit about your recent launch "Every single day" ?
Linda Ellis: Every Single Day, the next gift book to be published this year, was inspired by one of my father’s favorite sayings. In a joking
manner, he’d often say that it would be better if we were all born with expiration dates stamped on our forehead, like a carton of milk. In
that way, we could better plan the route we choose to take during our journey on earth, as we would then know definitively the date of
our ultimate departure. He always had a unique way of getting his point across.
In 2003, my father informed me that the doctors had given him only a few months to live. I went to stay with him in Florida to help care for
him during the latter stages of his cancer. The lessons I learned during this chapter of my life have since changed my attitude, my views
on life and death and the way I accept change, struggle and adversity.
One example of his remarkable outlook and disposition during this time was the way he referenced the gravesite he had chosen for
himself to save my brothers and I this difficult and painful task. He informed me with a sly grin one day, “Well, I finally got to purchase
some waterfront property…”
I really didn’t comprehend this statement until I sat motionless beside his open grave on the day of his funeral. With silent and continuous
tears rolling down my face and the preacher’s comments fading into a dull, monotonous tone in the back of my mind, I glanced to my left.
My eyes fell upon the reflection of the sunlight from the dark water of the small lake adjoining the grounds near his final resting place. I
managed a smile of acknowledgment as I nodded my head in understanding and silently uttered the words to myself…“Yeah pop, you
finally did get your waterfront property…”
In essence, my father taught me invaluable lessons about truly living my life while he was in the midst of losing his own. He taught me that
we are not guaranteed a tomorrow and that many of us will not have the opportunity that he was given to know our approximate
“expiration date.” We need to tell our loved ones often how we feel and not wait until tomorrow. These days are so hectic and busy and
minutes dissipate into hours and days before our very eyes. That is why we need to learn to slow down enough to fully experience this
life and appreciate the blessings with which we are granted. Then, and only then, will we be able to truly live…Every Single Day.
|…if the span of every lifetime
were cut into pieces with a knife,
then every single day would be
…a single slice of life.
And we’d be certain of the days we
to laugh, to love…to live,
knowing just how much to take from life
...and just how much to give
Kaliopy: What other passions do you enjoy when your not writing?
Linda Ellis: Aside from writing, inspirational speaking is my favorite aspect of this career. Various organizations and corporations hire
me to speak at their conventions and conferences. Though I’ve done many radio interviews, and the statistics for visitors to my poetry
web sites total more than 40 million, the speaking engagements allow me to experience that one-on-one with people. They give me the
opportunity to see the expressions, shake the hands and accept the hugs from those who have been touched by my words. The book
signings that follow my speeches are always enlightening as I listen to the many “dash” stories and share with folks their tears, laughter,
sadness and joy. Though the economy has had an effect on this facet of my work, I anxiously look forward to each appearance and
strive to inspire the “dash” of everyone who attends.
Kaliopy: Lastly, I have heard your working on a larger project, is there anything you would like to reveal at this point?
Linda Ellis: The one thing about inspirational writing is that the sky is the limit. There are so many avenues to take it because the world
right now is a sponge in desperate need to soak up as much inspiration as it can hold. The need for motivation, encouragement and
mind stimulation is as great as it ever has been. Life is so hectic and just performing day-to-day tasks is exhausting for most of us.
Because of our responsibilities, we sometimes forget to just “be.” Often, a combination of written words can add that spark we need to
remind us that, as John Lennon said: “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..”
I’ve recently signed with a literary agent, which will enable me to reach more people with my “sparks” of inspiration. Though we have
many projects we are discussing, my hope is that the next project will expand upon my latest poem, titled: “Tomorrow’s Yesterday” as it
embodies so much of how I feel about life…
|Precious seconds tick in rhythm
as we walk…and laugh…and sleep,
accumulating into minutes
that we can use, but never keep.
Today is here, but only once,a
blessing…merely ours to borrow,
for it will soon turn into yesterday...
just as it was once, tomorrow.
Minutes to hours, hours to days,
no secret or mystery...
our “now” in turn, becomes our “then”
…a part of our life’s history.
Live for today…live for your “now,”
make memories that will last;
paint bold colors of your present
to the canvas of your past…