After All!

‘The Poet’ by Constance Baltuck

I am not exaggerating when I tell you my sister Constance is a famous Alaska artist.  After all, she has a show hanging in the Alaska State Museum at this very moment, with several of her paintings in its permanent collection.  She was also just invited to show at the prestigious Artforte Gallery in Pioneer Square in Seattle.  (BTW, my walls are decked with early Baltucks, and Con has promised me their value will skyrocket after she dies.)

She felt these opportunities had dropped into her lap out of the blue.  But how many paintbrushes did she wear out preparing for this ‘sudden’ success?  For thirty years she has steadily produced beautiful art, selling out show after show.  The key phrase here is “After all…”  Yes, after all the hard work and promotion and never never never giving up, she has ‘suddenly’ hit the big time.

On the other side of the brain, my sister Miriam, heretofore the uncontested White Sheep of the Family, is a scientist.  She has worked for NASA, and at the White House for the Clinton Administration, and as the first female director of one of NASA’S three Deep Space Tracking Stations on the planet.  Her contributions to science were recently recognized when they named a planet after her.  Okay, so it was only a minor planet, but even so, it’s official…and if you don’t believe me, just Google ‘Planet Baltuck’.   So another sister busted her butt for thirty years working very long hours in very high heels to succeed in a tough field dominated by men.  That’s what you have to do if you want a planet named after you.

And if you want a book that bears your name on its spine and houses a novel that would make your mother proud, you must never never never give up on your writing.  It is a long hard journey that requires grit, discipline, and a hefty supply of bum glue.  But one day you will find that ‘suddenly’ you are a published author.  In the meantime, don’t be too hard on yourself, and always remember that success is relative.  I remember my mother declaring proudly, “Seven children, and not one of them in jail!”

Do you ever get discouraged?  Can you tell us what you do to maintain your courage and determination?  

If you would like to see more of my sister’s paintings, check out her website at:



  1. terri says:

    Look at you, posting every week!!!! I love this post about determination and I plan to look back on it during those days when I am feeling old and wondering what is the point of all this typing.

    1. Thank so much, Terri. We can take turns reminding each other!

  2. Yvonne Young says:

    The Baltuck sisters have indeed done their mama proud! Including you,

    1. Dear Yvonne, thanks so much for your kind words! I can say the same of you.

  3. I love your mother’s definition of success. It reminds me of an Erma Bombeck quote: “A good day is one when there is no call from the principal saying your child rode a motorcycle through the wall of the high school.”

    Another quote I love is from the writer Elmore Leonard “Don’t quit. It’s easy to quit during the first ten years. Don’t quit,”

    As I begin to log my 13th year of professional storytelling, I am beginning to feel more and more comfortable in that skin. Thank you for sharing your stories of of perseverance and stick-to-it-tive-ness! Good soup for the soul.

    1. Dear Anne, I love your quotes, both hitting the nail on the head, as usual! Anyone who has heard your exquisite storytelling knows that you have put in your time, paid your dues, and honed your art to perfection.

  4. sue says:

    Excellent advice, and so hard to remember (or even LEARN if you’re under 30) in these, the days of instant… literally, everything. We can instantly get breaking news via TV, internet, email, phone, tweets; we can instantly get a hot meal by ripping open a bag and stuffing it in the microwave oven for 30 seconds; we can instantly get money that isn’t even ours by swiping a credit card. I love your message that elbow grease, perseverance and continued trial and error learning is the true path to greatness. Thank you, Naomi!

    1. Hi Sue, You make a really interesting comment on the direction our society is taking. It is kind of scary, when you stop to think about it. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this.

  5. mj monaghan says:

    Wow, Naomi, what an incredibly talented family, including you!!
    I love art and writing. I will be checking out the link for your sister’s art.
    Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Hi MJ, thanks so much for your kind words. It is clear that you love writing, my Freshly Pressed friend! (BTW, I loved your last post). I hope you enjoy my sister’s art too. If you look at the archives of past shows, I was there with her in Italy and France and the Tetons, and got to watch the artist at work. She sets me up with an easel and I get to paint, too, but I am mostly there to make her look good!

  6. kathy Klein says:

    Wow, what a gorgeous picture. You certainly have a lot of talent in your family! Thanks for the inspiration – good to be reminded during this busy season that we have to take care of our “writer selves” in addition to getting all the holiday stuff done. Time to pull out that laptop again 😉

    1. Thank you, Kathy. It is one of my favorites. I painted my kitchen walls yellow, to go with that painting, and to give it a proper place to live. And as I look forward to the New Year, I think I need to do the same thing for my writing–so I am making a proper place in my life for that too. Best wishes for your writing in the New Year. Here’s a toast to 98 percent!

  7. mikereverb says:

    I’m really glad you shared this post with me, Naomi. It definitely rings true; many “sudden” successes aren’t that sudden when you dig a little deeper and find the hard work that was put into an endeavor.

    Your mom certainly has a lot to be proud of in your sisters and you. 🙂

    1. Hi Mike, thank you! You are so sweet! I’m happy to bask in the glow of my big sisters!

  8. ShimonZ says:

    I really appreciate your mother’s standard of success. And were it not for the fact that one of my sons did spend a little time in the calaboose, I would adopt her comment immediately. Maybe, I will just modify it a bit, and say, “…and not one of them in jail, right now!” I loved your post.

    1. Thank you! Your comment made me laugh out loud. I’m glad you came by.

  9. Madhu says:

    Beautifully written as always Naomi! Not sure how I missed this! Love the painting, and your mom’s sense of humour!

    1. Thank you, Madhu. My mother had a very quiet sense of humor, but it was always present.

  10. Bobbi Taylor says:

    This is wonderful Naomi! You may not remember me – to the family I am Roby, the daughter of your mother’s cousin Burt Brownyer. I found this through our cousin Mary. It is great to find you and hear of the success of you and your sisters. I remember the summer your mother took you all to Alaska and stopped at my parent’s house in Park Forest on the way. She was an amazing woman.

    1. Hi Bobbi,

      I remember visiting Burt and Louise, and I remember hearing updates from my mother about my cousin Roby whenever she talked to your mom. It is so nice to hear from you, and it was really a pleasant surprise to hear from Mary, too.
      You might want to check out my post, “What’s Mt. St. Helens Got to do With the ‘Blog on Fire Award’? It has some fun facts about the Brownyer line of the family.

      Thanks so much for writing. Let’s keep in touch–I’d love to hear what you all are up to.

  11. Reblogged this on Writing Between the Lines and commented:

    It’s still true today!

  12. I loved reading about your sisters and I love your mom’s statement. Your sister is a talented artist. I have a rather talented uncle who’s an artist. Here’s some information on him:

    I hope all’s well with you and yours.


    1. Hi Janet, Thank you for the kind word. I looked up your uncle’s website–I really like his work. We are all well, and I hope you and all your two-footed and four-footed friends are too. So good to hear from you.

  13. Hello Naomi,
    You’re gravatar and story popped up in my WP Reader.
    What a lovely surprise…!!! I enjoyed your post. So much talent
    in one family. Your Mom did a phenomenal job … and … she says so herself with confidence. Good for her.
    My brother-in-law was head of security for NASA. He retired about 8 years ago. Such an honor to have a planet named for your sister. I will check the website for your sisters artwork but the painting your showing in your post is great. You’d have to be for exhibitions in those fine places.
    Hope all is well … I’m good. Still plowing my way to the day I can complete a while book for publication. Your word of encouragement are stellar.
    Isadora 😎
    PS: Can you tell us what you do to maintain your courage and determination?
    Erase yesterday and look ahead to tomorrow … : )

    1. Hi Isadora,
      Thanks so much for your visit. It’s interesting that your brother-in-law worked for NASA too. If he retired eight years ago, and my sister moved to Australia to manage the Deep Space Station at least ten years ago, it’s still possible that they knew each other. She used to send science experiments up in the space shuttles, and I wonder if that would fall into your biL’s jurisdiction.

      What kind of book are you going to write? Fiction or non-fiction, poetry, short or long stories? Inspirational, perhaps? I wish you the best of luck with that. I get side-tracked in my long-term writing projects by travel, storytelling, houseguests, and community service, especially since the inauguration, and that is all good stuff to spend time and energy on. But I have given myself until the end of the year to finish my novel. Have you read “Bird by Bird” by Annie Lamont? She highlights a good way to approach an intimidating project.
      Best wishes!

      1. Greetings Naomi,
        I’m not quite sure how many years ago my bil retired but it’s at least 8 years. He was head of secuiry for NASA. He was in charge of anything to do with making sure security was in place for uniformed personal to space launchings. Of course, this is a short overview of what he did. He never really went into it too deeply – after all, it is security info. 😳 I met a few of the military higher-ups while at their gala parties. His name is Peter or Pete Colangelo. She just might know his name. It’s a small world after all as Walt Disney would say.

        I have about 3 stories written for a children’s book. It’s a series. I have bits and pieces of a memoir. That’s always a painful write so little gets accomplished. The inspirational writes are somthing I want to put together as one book, I’d love to combine it with my original photographs of flowers and orchids, plus maybe a book of criminals stories from my hubby’s encounters as a highly decorated NYPD police officer while under cover and in uniform. WOW – right???
        I suppose that’s why I haven’t put anything together. My mind is filled with many ideas. When the time is right I’m sure I’ll manage to get something done. I will pop over to Amazon and get the book you suggested.
        My life is full of many of the same distractions as you but I love those distractions. People love Florida and visitors love “Mi Casa de Paz”. A peaceful place to lay your head down and just be.

        I do hope we get to read more of the blogs posts we add. It’s been enjoyable to dialog with you. Have a great weekend …
        Isadora 😎

      2. Hi Isadora,
        I will ask my sister if she recalls your brother-in-law, and get back to you. It sounds like you have lots of exciting irons in the fire, not the least a celebrated hero under the same roof! Perhaps there’s a mini-series in your future. Best of luck with the writing, and all the other sweet pleasures of life.

      3. 😍❤️😍 Thank you 😎

  14. Ah yes, persisting toward goals, and knowing what they are! I was just thinking this morning about the years when there were no teaching jobs, the disappointment since I had wanted to teach since kindergarten. There were lessons and adventures in other work, but thank goodness for the changes that allowed me to return to my own best path. Hugs ❤

    1. Hi Mary!
      So happy that you have followed the bread crumbs back to your true path! So good to hear from you.
      Hugs right back!

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