If At First You Don’t Succeed…Do What?

by Sherry Riter in Lessons of Life

It wasn’t long ago when I shared my belief that one person can make a difference. Do you think that’s true?

Today Mission Small Business and LivingSocial announced the twelve winners of the $250,000.00 small business grant. As you may recall, I asked that you cast your vote for Wendy Lozano’s Cool Kidz Cuts. This contest had nearly 70,000 businesses participate and 3.1 million consumers vote. Who were the winners?

mission small business 2012 winners

Hmmm…Do you see Wendy’s picture in the group of twelve winners?

Sadly, no. Wendy and Cool Kidz Cuts did not win the grant which leads me to ask an important question…Was all the effort worth it to try and help Wendy win since in the end she lost the contest?

Give Up Or Try And Try Again?

Long ago, (according to The World Bank, 1994, World Development Report 1994: Infrastructure for Development, New York, N.Y., Oxford University Press) Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

10,000? Do you look at 10,000 attempts as failures or ways that will not work? Your answer to that question will correspond to your answer as to whether you give up or try again when success doesn’t happen after you put a bunch of effort into something.

When I started helping Wendy try to win the $250,000.00 small business grant, I knew it was a long shot. However, I also knew that twelve people were going to win, so she had a chance. While tweeting about it for a month, I kept a positive attitude that Wendy would win. Now that the announcement has come out and Wendy didn’t get the grant, I am still glad that we tried.

Many people were involved in helping Wendy get the word out about the contest and to get votes. I believe that each person learned some valuable lessons during the experience. I’m disappointed that Wendy didn’t win, but I don’t regret the effort I made on her behalf. I don’t think we failed. We didn’t get the grant, but that isn’t a failure. I see it as an opportunity where I learned a few things about Twitter marketing, people on the internet and myself.

I am a “glass half full” for everyone else and a “glass half empty” for myself. Why? No, let me ask that differently…WHY???!!!!!!

It is very easy for me to BELIEVE success for other people, but when it gets to my own life, I’m blinded with the fear of failure. Never before has it been so apparent to me that I am scared of being thought of as an “unaccomplished, not interesting, never did anything worth remembering” kind of person. My personal life right now is…(big sigh) in shambles. This is how it floats around in my logical mind all day long:

I have PTSD.

I’m getting therapy which is paid for by my insurance.

I have insurance because I have a job.

My employer is going to layoff lots of people soon.

If I lose my job, I lose my insurance which means I have to quit therapy.

It also means that I will have to live with someone in my family. Of course, some of those people see me as an intrusion into their life and an inconvenience, so I’m not so sure they would really let me live with them.

What does all that amount to in my mind? I see it as I’m obviously a failure. If I lose my job, I will be almost fifty years old, unmarried, without a job, not living in my own home and living with family members who see me as an inconvenience. Thomas Edison would probably have the attitude of try harder. I have the attitude of just giving up. I’ve worked so hard and now I feel that I have nothing to show for it except for a broken heart and empty dreams.

You may be thinking that I’m being dramatic or stupid and that’s your right to think whatever you want to think. My mother would quote the Bible and say that God won’t give anyone more than they can handle, but I don’t really care what my mother, the Bible or God says today. I am tired of trying to get rid of PTSD symptoms and look normal while having them, earn a living at a company that keeps threatening layoffs and smile when I feel like crying. So if I lose my job and have to live with other people where I’m not wanted, I will feel like giving up completely.

Yes, I am feeling sorry for myself and I am scared what the future will bring for me. PTSD makes the whole job thing re-traumatizing. The PTSD symptoms have become more pronounced and the small amount of control that I had on them has slipped away. I actually cry all the time now. You wouldn’t believe how many times I have to reapply mascara while I’m at work.

You see, I kept telling myself that as long as I had a good job and was self-sufficient, everything else would eventually iron itself out. But now with the whole loss of job thing hanging over my head, I no longer feel safe or self-reliant.

I’m not a very political person. Tonight was the first time I’ve ever watched a whole convention on television. I plan to watch the other one and both candidates this week too. As I listened to Ann Romney talk about her first years with Mitt, I could see the makeshift ironing board-turned-dining room table she described. But do you know what hit me the hardest? Ann has a soft place to fall. She has a husband who has worked hard to provide for his family, stood beside her through MS, breast cancer and raising five sons. I’m happy for her and for all the other women in the world who have “someone” that provides that soft place to fall when the world starts closing in on them.

I don’t have that and I guess I’ve never had it.

Before everyone starts telling me that I have God, let me just tell you to save your typing fingers. I don’t have as much faith as a mustard seed, I don’t do everything I’m “supposed to do” as my mother constantly reminds me, and my PTSD is so loud that I couldn’t hear God unless he were shouting at the top of his lungs.

Well, on that depressing note, I’m going to bed. I worked late tonight, cried a lot, fought the startle reflex all day and I’m tired. Sending you all virtual hugs.



This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Skip_D August 29, 2012 at 2:24 am


When you feel so down, just remember one thing:

…there are people who love you, & care about you, & are pulling for you – & will lend you a hand in any way possible, whenever you need it.



2 Joan August 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Skip, you are so right! There are so many people who love, care about Sherry, are pulling for her and will lend a hand in anyway possible whenever Sherry needs it. Sherry, do you hear us? We, your faithful and loyal readers of your blog, are here for you!

Your sharing so honestly what you are going through in your life right now is breathtakingly courageous. Not many people would have the guts to share so openly and truthfully the many trials that they are facing. You not only share what is happening in your life now, but you do it with eloquence, class, great writing and sometimes some humor thrown in, (although not today), there is no humor in your post today and that is okay.

To tell you the truth, I am not feeling very humorous myself today either. I wanted so very much for Wendy to get one of the twelve $250,000 grants that was being awarded. Along with you, me and Wendy’s mother, we were three of the people who worked very hard to help Wendy get the 250 votes that she needed to qualify and be considered for the grant. Wendy did get her 250 votes. By the time the deadline arrived, Wendy had way over 300 votes.

How do I feel about Wendy not being picked as one of the 12 recipients of a $250,000 grant? Well, I knew from the start that when Wendy threw her hat into the ring and tried for the grant that her chances of getting it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Still, it is human nature to say to yourself, “Well, someone has to win, so maybe I will get lucky and it will be me.” And as we know now, twelve people did win a $250,000 grant, but Wendy wasn’t one of them. Of course, if you, Wendy’s mother and me were one of the judges Wendy would have been awarded one of the grants! 🙂

But that was the problem, Redhead Riter. You, Wendy’s mother and me weren’t three of the judges on the panel, (yes, I know it was a bummer). If we had been three of the judges Wendy would have for sure been one of the 12 recipients to win a grant. Call it nepotism. I really have no problem with nepotism when it works out in my favor. 🙂

But this is precisely why I, myself, no longer enter contests. I learned a long time ago that entering contests was a total waste of time, (at least it was for me when I entered my screenplay in screenwriting contests because one never knows what the judges are looking for. It’s all so very subjective. What one judge might think is a fantastic screenplay, another judge might hate and then they all have to come to an unanimous decision without killing each other), although what Wendy entered was not a screenwriting contest but a chance to win a grant. Still, in a sense it was a contest, because 12 people were going to be awarded grants of $250,000 and nearly 58,000 other people were not going to be awarded anything for their efforts. (How do you like those odds?)

So if I had it all over to do it again, knowing what I know now that Wendy was not going to be one of the 12 people awarded the grant would I do it again? No way. All that time and effort put into The-Help-Wendy-Win-A-$250,000-Grant-Project and then not to have her win! Believe me, I am finished – FINISHED I TELL YOU – entering contests for myself or anyone else, although I still think it is human nature to say to yourself, “Well, someone has to win, so maybe I will get lucky and it will be me.” That’s how we get suckered into entering in the first place.

To sum this all up, I think the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (May 5, 1813 – November 11, 1855) said it best in his famous quote, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.” Although, I don’t think he was thinking about entering contests at the time he made this quote.


3 The Redhead Riter September 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.” Very good quote Joan, but I would still do it again because I learned many valuable lessons.


4 The Redhead Riter September 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Thank you, Skip, for your heartfelt words. I could feel your caring across the miles. {{{{HUGSSSSS}}}}


5 Jamie Wyatt August 29, 2012 at 2:46 am

I am sorry you are struggling. Maybe tomorrow you will re-read your “Blacklist” post, and see if it can reignite the spark of hope you felt when you wrote it. I am not presuming to to give you advice. I’m not ignoring your admonition not to remind you that you “have God.” I want to help, but don’t know how. I have gone through years of PTSD with a dear friend who is a Vietnam Veteran. I know that sometimes PTSD becomes overwhelming, and coping day to day can be a huge struggle. I hope your therapy is helping. If not, maybe you should change. I guess you know that sometimes medication can “get you over a hump.” I am confident that you are NOT on God’s blacklist, and that He loves you more than you can imagine, even when you don’t feel it. The blogpost below will probably feel trite to you. It is not meant that way. I hesitate to post it, but I accidentally came across it today, and after reading your post, it came to mind again. I post it only as a gesture to say that I care. You’ve inspired me on my blogging journey with helpful hints. I’m sure your efforts for Wendy made a difference, and I know they have given her organization more exposure than she would have had otherwise. You are loved in cyberspace! I am praying for you, my fellow Redheaded Writer! “The sun will come out TOMORROW….”


6 The Redhead Riter September 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm

“I know that sometimes PTSD becomes overwhelming, and coping day to day can be a huge struggle.” <---I really hate that part of it. "You’ve inspired me on my blogging journey with helpful hints." Thank you so much, Jamie. “The sun will come out TOMORROW….” I can hear you singing! 😉 LOL I often read my redhead friend's blog. I liked this part of her post the most..."Let's start practicing for our "old age," as well as for Eternity! Let's live each day with a sense of gratitude for our blessings, and let's look for the blessings in every circumstance! Let's approach our "problems" with ideas for solutions, instead of letting our problems overwhelm us. Let's try to always have hope! Let's be sure we follow Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer, to "Accept the things !/we cannot change, and change the things I/we can!" Thanks for having me read it again. {{{BIG hugssss}}}


7 Sue August 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Gosh Sherry, I hear you loud and clear. You are everything to us to follow you, so know we will help in any way we can.


8 The Redhead Riter September 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Thank you very much, Sue.


9 katherine August 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm

sweetie, sweetie, sweetie…… lets start with a HUG and then I will move forward. First… yes, I could fill this comment with platitudes. But instead I will write you this- Although you are feeling alone in your world you are with me in mine. My bloggy world is an awesome place and you have been in it from the beginning. You matter, you are loved ( yes by God) by me and by all of your bloggy friends. Use your blog to vent, it always feels better to write it down. But then move forward.You struggle and it sucks. I know, I know far more than you realize. It is important to maintain the glass half full ideology for yourself as well. Even when the glass may have a crack. No pep talk here,no raah raah ,stand tall, etc. Because you know that already. Instead I say do not worry about things that haven’t happened yet. Plan, plan, plan, make a plan, be prepared. The boy scouts say it works and I believe them. Who wouldn’t believe a boy scout right. I am a big planner my friend, ask anyone who knows me. Make something happen my friend. I believe in you xo


10 katherine August 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm

P.S. bummer Wendy didn’t win…………….


11 The Redhead Riter September 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I know! (stomping my feet) 🙁


12 The Redhead Riter September 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Thank you, Katherine. I’m trying to not worry and I’m definitely planning. I’m better today and am praying for the outcome I want LOL


13 katherine September 3, 2012 at 10:13 am

sending more hugs


14 The Redhead Riter September 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Thanks! {{{Hugssss Back}}}


15 katlupe August 29, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I am truly sorry for the way the PTSD has affected you. I wish I could help you in some way, but all I can do is to say, I love you and care about you.


16 The Redhead Riter September 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Thank you, Katlupe. I love you too. {{{hugsss}}}


17 Cynthia August 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm


You are beyond generous in sharing hard-won (very hard-won) insights with all of your loyal readers. What, now, can we do for you? When my husband was dying, and then after he died, countless sincerely well-meaning people told me to let them know whatever they could do for us. Tell me what day it is sprang immediately to mind. It wasn’t until the daughter’s best friend showed up one afternoon and sat in the living room talking to me like it was any other normal old day as she folded my laundry that I understood that sometimes we need to articulate what we need. Even if it is something as simple as folding laundry.

In the meantime, you haven’t actually lost your job yet, and you’re still in your home, so scrape on that mascara and show up again tomorrow happy to be there. And think about what you need for us to do for you. Just say the word….. I’m a good laundry folder.


18 The Redhead Riter September 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Thank you. I think I’m doing better today. I’m just trying to take one day at a time, plan the best I can and pray for happiness.

I could take you up on the laundry folding!


19 Rizwan September 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Bro,don’t you think by doing all this,your inspirational blogs,your will to make people stronger emotionally gets meaningless.I mean for the people like me who come here to get some motivation to try to live,they get nothing bcoz the one who motivates is the one with broken heart like us.OR maybe ur doing this just to show people that ur are also facing problems like them but actually you are a happy and successful man!


20 Sherry Riter September 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm


Do I blog like a man? I don’t think I’ve ever read a man’s blog like mine, that’s for sure. I’m a woman and that’s a 100 percent guarantee.

“The one who motivates is the one with a broken heart like us.” Yes, on this particular day, I said, “Yes, I am feeling sorry for myself and I am scared what the future will bring for me.” I think my readers can connect with that message. I’m being honest. I have good days and I have bad days, just like everyone else.

I write a whole series on things to motivate everyone including myself. My blog is a mixture of all kinds of topics, so every day isn’t just motivation based. I’m sorry you got nothing out of the post. 🙁


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