dream on

DSC_0061 (3)

What do you do when you don’t know if you can … but feel you must?

How do you cope with self-doubt?

How do you push past feeling self-serving to feeling self-deserving?

I’ve been wrestling with these questions all summer long. Delighted with more time and opportunity, I’ve been able to nourish my creative soul more often. I savor each and every moment spent with my keyboard and camera.

But is that enough?

I’m not sure.

Is the creative act itself enough to satisfy, or is it in the sharing of the end result?

Do I dare? Will anyone care?

What role does audience play in any creation? In any creative’s growth?

I’m tiptoeing along this path, thanks in no small part to the encouragement of special friends and a husband who supports my every breath and dream.

And there’s a few other acquaintances whose inspiration and pep talks I keep within arm’s reach — maybe they’ll be of use to you if you’re in the midst of your own creative identity crisis:

Elise Blaha Cripe: fearless creator of Get to Work Book and so much more! Find big bunches of motivation by following her @elisejoy on Instagram or her website here.  Her Get to Work Book is a no-nonsense, plain-and-simple, get-it-down and you’ll get-it-done planner I’ve found to be oh-so-helpful. Elise experiments, explores, tries, fails, and tries again — a fun loving and living example of growth mindset. I find her incredibly inspiring.

Elle Luna: artist, co-leader of #The100DayProject, and creative author of The Crossroads of Should and Must. 

Elizabeth Gilbert:  author of Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear

Brene Brown: author of Daring Greatly

and finally, the classic Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck.

How can I possibly live past the hypocrisy of encouraging my children, my students, and family and friends to follow their dreams … if I’m not willing to walk the talk and follow my own?

Dream on, friends.

 

 

once seated, I will write

when you sit to write there’s no telling which way your thoughts will go or how far your words will travel

dead ends

curves

unexpected detours

rest stops

roadside attractions

the cursor blinks. waits. encourages. believes.

all the time in the world. ready to listen to me and my ideas

or my silence

but it all starts with the simple act of sitting

sitting down (anywhere)

to write

(I know and use all the excuses for not sitting.)

however,

once seated, I can’t help but get started

once seated, I’m willing to wait myself out

once seated, I will write

-eventually-

what I didn’t know I knew (thank you, Don Murray)

(please … no harm in walking the house. pausing for a load of laundry. or coffee. some nourishment)

but I return to the chair

and write

stubborn

petulant

(pretending?)

proud

 

hello

I found a penny on the floor this morning. Heads up. 2016. A shiny circle of copper peeking out from under the dryer in the laundry room. Of course I picked it up.  Of course I checked to see if heads were up or tails, as if that one small cent held the fortune to whatever might come next in my life. I may pass it along to someone else in need of a lucky penny, or I may keep it awhile, right here on my desk, evidence that fortune can be found anywhere – even under a dryer.

Hello.

I’ve missed you. And I’ve missed me …. writing to you. The collective you. My vision or version of audience, whoever you may be and however – if ever – you arrive here.

And though I’ve not been writing, please know of the many times I’ve thought about doing so. No explanation for my absence feels adequate or entirely accurate except to say that I’ve been in transition. Neither here, nor there, but somewhere in between, and I’m finally able to slow a bit — enough so as to hear myself think — and write those words down.  I can feel them. Right there. On the tips of my fingers.

Maybe it’s time to begin another hopeful year.

 

in the company of children

 

DSC_0416Hope’s been a little hard to find lately.

Truthfully, I’m not sure where to look most days.

Life’s been a little too.

Too much to process.

Too much to feel.

Too much to cope with.

I am the sum of my emotions, reactions, and responses to what I see, hear, and feel around me. Preoccupied one minute and a bit absent-minded the next. Sometimes articulate and then just as quickly in tears and tongue-tied.  I am a confluence of emotions merging one on another and into the next. I am world wary, poorly sleeping, and fiercely protective – making a focused effort to somehow manage and make right my own corner of a world I find increasingly difficult to live in or understand.

If not hope exactly, there’s some sort of solace found within the four walls of my classroom and in the company of children. Together, we enjoy simple things: a good book, card games, coloring, cookies … laughter. There’s renewal to be found – however fleeting – in the routine of our days and in the discovery of new ways to learn. To understand. To grow.

And there’s gratitude among us for each other.

Just there by the window is a blooming pot of bright, red geraniums: summer’s promise that warmth will one day return, and maybe along with it – some hope.

 

the direction of hope

DSC_0388 (2)Just the other day, I woke from a dream where I was taking a walk with my future self. There we were, side by side, walking down a country road. It was summer. We were relaxed. Smiling too, in my dimming memory of the dream.

I’ll take that as a good sign.

This morning, of course, I realize there’s so much I’d like to ask her – this me I’ve yet to be. I’ve had many conversations with the women I used to be, some critical and some congratulatory, but I’ve never to my recollection spoken with the woman I hope to become. Now the thought’s nested a bit, and I find it fascinating.

By nature, I’m a reflective and evaluative person.  My dominant glance is backwards and over my shoulder.  Just lately though, I’ve been trying to live more firmly placed in the present. I’m becoming more comfortable right where I am. This is good growth for me, and I can hear all the women I’ve been behind me cheering and raising a bit of a ruckus. Alleluia!

But what I want to know from that woman just ahead are questions I’m forming here at the crest of a new year – realizing as I ask them, that I’m almost completely in control of how she answers:

Are you happy?

Are you healthy?

Are you fulfilled?

Are you surrounded by people you love?

In my waking middle-of-the-night hours, I review my list of worries and what-ifs. It’s then I find myself wishing that woman from the dream was a fortune teller, reassuring me all will turn out fine in the end.

But what’s truly significant, I suppose, is how she and I walked forward together. Side by side. And I understand now that she’s just as dependent on me for how her life turns out, as I am hopeful for her life to turn out well.

So let’s keep walking. Side by each. Our whole cheering section walks just back over our shoulders and with us every step of the way.

Forward is, after all, the direction of hope.

 

 

 

It Feels So Good … To Be Well

DSC_0351 (2)

There’s nothing like a good dose of — I’ve been sick for weeks and I’m not sure what’s wrong with me– to slow, if not stall life on the spot. All the balls in air and mid-juggle, drop to the floor.

The mental rooms I lived in for almost a month felt smaller, more intimate, cleared of superfluous clutter, and I focused only on one thing — getting well. It was a life-shift, honestly. A paring down to the necessary and essential. Rest. Drink. Food. Every day’s decision evaluated by the sole criteria … Is this what’s best for me?

At the time, I found myself wishing for my “old life” back and wanted more than anything to think about something … anything … beyond my symptoms and what caused them. What eased them. What would finally elminate them.

Maybe it takes feeling really, really bad … to decide it’s time to live well.

Because after a week or so back into regular living,  I’ve decided I don’t really want my old life back after all. I want to live a more careful and considered life where the focus question all day, every day is followed by that one and only get-well criteria I lived when I was sick …

Is this what’s best for me?

What choices do I need to make to feel … well?

What should I eat? Drink? When do I need to rest?

Which balls do I pick up? And which do I leave on the floor?

What mental clutter needs clearing?

The very questions that guided me during my illness are guiding me to my wellness too.

And it feels so good … to be well.

 

 

 

 

humanity

DSC_0449 (2)

I’ve got a batch of granola in the oven. Tomorrow, when I return to school for my first teacher in-service day,  I’ll bring a glass jar full of it to my teaching partner. A little something from me to her.  A small sharing of something good.  The tiniest of reminders: we’re in this together.

And we are. All of us. Strangers and friends and colleagues alike. Men, women, children. Races and religions. Military and civilian. Haves and have nots. This community and the one across the border. I am human … and so are you. We are human and we’re all in this together.

Maybe it’s time to spread a little more of that humanity around. Probably it’s even past time. It’s never too late for a kindness, though, and now’s as good a time as any to bring such thoughts right smack to the forefront of my consciousness.

As the only humans living here, it’s our responsibility to make the world a better place. Each of us. Your world. My world. Our world. The world we all live in. The world we raise our children in.

The world I’m about to teach my students in.

What do I want those children to know about being human? How do I live humanity out in my own life? In what ways can I be more giving? Who needs my help?

And how?

It is human to help: There are as many ways to help as there are people who need help. Think about family, friends, neighbors. New moms and dads. The elderly. Is there a meal you could cook? Laundry to be washed? A resume you could write? A lawn to be mowed? Who could use a babysitter? A ride? A quick trip to the grocery store? A smile?

It is human to give: When I think about the most giving people I know, it’s easy to see what they all have in common. For starters, they’re good listeners.  They’re quick to recognize need when they see it, and they’re first in line to help. And there’s so much to give! As humans, we have so much to offer! Our time. Our respect. Our attention. Friendship. Love. Guidance. Gratitude.

Of course there are many more ways to be human.  I’ve written about the verbs of kindness before and reaching out in humanity is sort of similar – it’s just that humanity is also understanding the commonalities we share, the hand-to-hand-to-hand connections between us, and the knowledge that I see you and honor you … and I hope you see and honor me too.

So I’ll be looking around more consciously human than ever before.  I’ll be more consciously looking to see, honor, help, and give.

And maybe that’s what I want my students to know first: I see you and honor you.  I will help you. From one human to another … I will give you my best.

And we’re all in this together.