Mallard Ducks, Inspiration & a Dad

Finally, warmer weather

A writer friend of mine wrote a blog this week about how to find inspiration. I had to copy down one of her statements because it packed a powerful message for me.

“Inspiration is born of observation, but it is nurtured with action.”

Wow—I’ve mulled this over every day since. Now she relates it to being a writer ever in search of inspiration which prompts the action of writing. I definitely agree with her.

But being a writer is so much. At least for me. My writing is the sum of all my parts: woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, professional career person, board member, neighbor. You get my point, right? All of those elements make up my own perspective on life and what I see. Those elements also impact my vision for my characters and my stories and in part will determine if I can create a story that will appeal to others. Or help them. Inspire them. Or allow them to slip the daily bonds into a different zone while they read.

I also realized as I considered my friend’s statement and her complete blog that we all can look around us for inspiration and find it if we allow ourselves to open up to even the littlest bits of the world around us.

For example, yesterday as I neared the end of edits for yet another novel, I glanced out my window toward the lakeshore. What caught my eye? A mallard duck family—mom taking a break by swimming in the gentle waves and dad doing duckling watch to the five little ones toddling in the sand. If four of them were behaving, one was duck waddling away from the pack and dad was chasing after.

That made me think about today—Father’s Day.

Thirty-four years ago, I got a phone call in the evening. I was harried. I was teaching 3 classes in summer school session, I’d been single parenting 3 sons for several years. Put the emphasis on the single. Those sons were now in their teens and testing their limits. Money was tight. My oldest son was driving and used my car at night to go to his job as a cook at a drive-in. And this phone rang and a guy (a widower from our parish with a 2 year old son) with a great voice gave me his name and asked if I’d like to go out with him sometime. I knew who he was but I thought the whole thing was a joke and said so.

He was determinedly serious. I told him I didn’t have time to go out. He asked about a different night. I told him I was babysitting my nephew. He asked if he and his son could stop by then. I said “maybe” and “goodbye” and hung up. I figured that would be the last I’d see of him.

Not so. He was persistent, charming, romantic, very intelligent, my sons loved him (and they were teens—you know, don’t much like any adults at that age—how weird was that?), even worse my mother adored him! My oldest son told me I better marry him because he was a great dad. Sometimes it pays to listen to your children. 🙂

Oh, Happy Day...

Of course we married and blended our sons into one family. My sons got a father, a real one, in the trenches with them during the difficult times, on the mountain peaks of their lives during the highpoints. My dear hubby with the great voice, his romantic heart (still gives me flowers just because), stood with me through all the difficulties we’ve faced as a couple, a family, as parents. We were a dual career couple with high stress, multiple commitments and over-booked lives but he was the rock that pulled it all together. He was the one that our sons turned to. So did my siblings. So did my mom.

I’ve been very blessed as a result of that phone call on a warm June evening. It was a very small item in the scope of that day and in the whole of my life. However, it has impacted my life and those I’ve loved ever since.

And this is how a family of ducks and a simple but powerful statement inspired my choice of topic today and to finish my novel’s edits last night. I hope something within these paragraphs does the same for you.

My hubby

Explore posts in the same categories: Light bulb moments, Writing

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10 Comments on “Mallard Ducks, Inspiration & a Dad”

  1. Edie Ramer Says:

    What a great story! Love the photos, too. You looked beautiful then, and you’re beautiful now.

    Congrats on finishing your edits. You’re rocking!

  2. virginia mccullough Says:

    Great story, but also a great quote. It’s a keeper, just like your husband.


  3. Anne Parent Says:

    I cried when I read your blog. It is beautiful, just like you.

  4. What a lovely story, Mary Jo (of course, I teared up). I’m so happy you found such a wonderful man to spend your life with, and hopefully I’ll have the pleasure of meeting him one day. 🙂

    And wow!! What a gorgeous picture of you…the wedding picture is beautiful, too. 😉 Love you!!

  5. caseyclifford Says:


    Thanks to your inspiration I’m off to download the instructions for putting my book on Kindle. And thanks for the compliment about the photos. As for the story, if we have great materials, the story flows, right? 🙂

  6. caseyclifford Says:


    I agree with both your comments about the quote and hubby though somedays…

    I bet you’re getting excited about NY next week! 🙂

  7. caseyclifford Says:


    Wipe your tears. The story should make you happy just like your quote made me. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. caseyclifford Says:


    You actually have met Jim. He was with me the year I came up to the GGBA Christmas party. He thought all of your were as wonderful as I do. Can’t wait to see you in July for the meeting It’s still a go! 🙂

  9. carol gianforte Says:

    appreciate the way you weave so many facets of life together; from the general to the specific; from the philosophic to the concrete. And how you just write a lovely, inspirational story always. We ARE looking for inspiration in each moment!

    carol gianforte

  10. caseyclifford Says:

    Carol, Thanks for the kind words. I hope I never disappoint. Looking forward to seeing you in July. Mary Jo

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