Annette McDermott, DE

Critically Acclaimed Writer

Annette is a Mid-Atlantic based journalist, digital content writer, and children’s author. Her writing credits include health and wellness websites, periodicals, and Christian publications for children. She’s also a two-time Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor. After investigating her family’s WWII history and volunteering with a veteran POW group, Annette made it her mission to help veterans compose their memoirs. She is currently working as a writer on the History Channel for A&E Networks. When she’s not writing, you’ll probably find her outside playing in the dirt or binge-watching Star Trek.

As a Story Terrace writer, Annette interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

Strength Like a Sunflower

“What’ll it be this year?” I wondered aloud as I scanned a display of seed packets.

My eyes rested on a packet of sunflowers.

“I’ll try these!” I said.

My husband smirked, “Good luck.” I sighed. When it comes to growing flowers, I’m not known for my green thumb. Still, I’m nothing if not persistent. I wasn’t optimistic as I planted the seeds. But it wasn’t long before tiny green leaves atop sturdy stalks peeked out of the ground. Determined to see the sprouts mature and eager to change my flower-killing reputation, I attentively cared for them. Soon the sunflowers were taller than me. Each boasted a spongy dark brown center surrounded by buttery yellow petals.

Several weeks later, a tropical storm hit. The whipping winds and torrential rains lasted almost 24 hours. As the storm hammered our home, my husband and I listened to the loud vibration of our continuously-running sump pump for long, nervous hours.

“I hope my sunflowers are okay,” I said, biting my lip.

“You’re worried about your flowers?” my husband asked. “I’m worried about the basement flooding!”

I was worried about the basement flooding too, but I was more worried about my sunflowers. I’d nurtured them for weeks and didn’t want them to experience an abrupt and violent demise.

We weathered the storm, house intact and basement dry, and went outside to survey the damage. My shoulders drooped when I saw my sunflowers. They were nearly devoid of petals and looked like they were hanging their waterlogged heads in defeat. After a few days, my sunflowers turned black and became an eyesore. I decided to cut them down. As I lifted a slumped sunflower head, pruners in hand, my jaw dropped. The head was peppered with tightly nestled sunflower seeds. Each creamy white seed was embellished with intricate black lines. Only the tips of the seeds were visible because they had formed from the inside out.

Although weather-beaten and battered on the outside, my sunflowers had a veiled inner beauty and resiliency. It would take more than one bad storm to prevent them from completing their mission. I didn’t cut down my sunflowers that day. Instead, I was reminded that worth comes from within. To this day, I find the striking outer beauty of sunflowers enchanting.

But I know it’s what I can’t see that makes them extraordinary.

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