that door

you’ve seen enough of them slammed in your face
and those few that were slammed behind you
but this one
was different

you knew the possibilities that lay behind it
you knew the stories of what could be
and all the maybes and likelies

and still it was terrifying
because this one
this one

you were going to knock on
and wait

and you with your brave self
did
just
that

you knocked
and waited
and slowly the knob turned
and it opened
and there were the possibilities of all that you hoped for
dreamed of
wrote about

so beautiful with all the could be’s
that it took your breath away
scary and exciting and dizzying and amazing
much like looking over the side of the Tallulah Gorge
leaning in, but not too much, not just yet
taking time to adjust your vision
and find your balance
on the precipice of something so grand

a place where each step is measured carefully
climbing down to where everything,
all the precious little details
come into focus,
a place where beauty and dreams and hopes
all join together there in the place that few
dare to tread
the place that takes every ounce of courage
and letting go and trusting
and not looking down
to get to

you will get there
and when you do
don’t let the past make you look back at how far
you’ve come
instead take a moment or three
and make camp
right there
in the valley
of all you’ve hoped for

even if
it looks
nothing
like what you
imagined
it would

sometimes flowers
bloom in the
cracks
made by storms
long past

Tallulah_Gorge_(c,_1894)-_USGS_

Tallulah Gorge, circa 1894 Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7632628

The Dream That Made Me Hear

Is there a full moon or something?

Because these dreams I am having…..when I awake, I’m not rested.  I spend the rest of the day seeking meaning.

Last night’s was no different.  In keeping with the “It’s not for me to lock the door to keep someone out” and yesterday’s thoughts about fear and comfort zones, my dream last night seems to be calling me out about fear and judging others.

I was on the fifth/sixth grade hall at my old elementary school.  (The repurposed building still stands and I see it at least twice a week.)  At one point I rushed into Mrs. C’s room.  I spent many happy days in there in the sixth grade learning about artists and diagramming sentences–two of my favorite things. (Yeah, I just admitted that.) But in my dream, I was afraid and begging Mrs. C to keep the door locked.  I never could get through to her the importance of that.  In the next moment I was in a room across the hall, the one I had fifth grade classes in.  Brightly lit, the room was filled with students who were trying to find a seat.  I sat down and started tucking my valuables away. I could hear people being loud in the hall, and then a tall angry female came in.  We were all afraid.  Okay, I was.  I can’t speak for anyone else because she was my only focus.  She was yelling and then I heard her words.  She told a story of dreams dashed.  Dreams that were really important and would have made a huge contribution to our world.  Her dreams were attainable but someone unjustly brushed her aside as not worthy, and all her chances were gone.  She was angry.

After hearing her story, I was angry for her.

Through my tears, I told her, choking up, “I’m so sorry that happened to you.  My heart hurts for you.”

And in that moment our eyes met.

And I was no longer afraid.

I had seen into her heart, and that made all the difference.

It has been on my heart today that we are all seeking the same things at some point in our lives.  To love and to be loved.  To dream and make those happen.  When we are not heard or we feel dismissed or our dreams are laughed at, the brokenness begins and that’s when the darkness can come in.  And it then has to be let out.  In any matter of ways.  Sometimes it’s worse than others.

Tonight I’m left wondering what my heart and my conscience are trying to tell me.  Whom do I need to listen to?  More importantly (and yes, I think there might be a distinction), whom do I need to let know that he or she has been heard?

May we all find make time to listen to someone–maybe someone we love or maybe someone we’ve only just met–and to let them know they’ve been heard.  It could make the difference between their anger and their turning things around.

Because when we hear another’s dream, another’s story, there is an invisible thread that joins us, that binds us.  And that thread is what will keep us from fearing another and remind us that we are all more alike than different.

Now I’m off to read with Captain Cooter at the debut of his book club on “his ship.”  And perhaps I might even drift off to sleep a little earlier and have totally irrelevant dreams.

Love to all.

On Imagination and Familiar Ground–The One with Galileo, DaVinci, John the Baptist, and Emily Dickinson

Today was one of those homeschooling days that puts a smile on the teacher’s face and a song in her heart.  Oh we had some hurdles, sure.  Today’s hurdles were brought you by Long Division and Regrouping.

But we triumphed through sheer determination and doing umpteen problems until our grasp was a little stronger.  We read about Galileo and watched a movie about him–one that had me in tears at the end.  Bless him.  What we people do to each other…..but that’s a story for another day.  We studied Leonardo DaVinci’s “St. John the Baptist,” and read John’s story from the Good Book.  We also read the story about when John’s father was told he was going to be a father, because I really love that one.  We ended our day by reading a poem by Emily Dickinson.  It’s just too good not to share.

I started Early – Took my Dog – 

And visited the Sea – 

The Mermaids in the Basement

Came out to look at me – 

And Frigates – in the Upper Floor 

Extended Hempen Hands – 

Presuming Me to be a Mouse – 

Aground – opon the Sands – 

But no Man moved Me – till the Tide 

Went past my simple Shoe – 

And past my Apron – and my Belt 

And past my Boddice – too – 

And made as He would eat me up – 

As wholly as a Dew 

Opon a Dandelion’s Sleeve – 

And then – I started – too – 

And He – He followed – close behind – 

I felt His Silver Heel 

Opon my Ancle – Then My Shoes 

Would overflow with Pearl – 

Until We met the Solid Town – 

No One He seemed to know – 

And bowing – with a Mighty look – 

At me – The Sea withdrew – 

Isn’t that lovely?  We read it through twice and talked about the images, and I introduced my children to that which I love so much–anthropomorphism.  We talked about the image of the Tide as a person following her.  Our Princess loved the mermaids and Cooter loved the frigates.  And I loved it for so many reasons, not the least of which is that Emily Dickinson is my very favorite poet.

A couple of thoughts occurred to me as the day eased its way into night (seems so much less harsh now that it gets lighter later, all frustrations with the time change aside).

First, Emily Dickinson was something of a recluse.  She never went to the sea.  Yet her imagination was so vivid that she was able to travel there in her mind and take us with her.  It is so beautiful, this picture she paints with her words.  I can smell the salt in the air and feel the wind on my cheeks.  I hope that I can encourage and plant the seeds for that kind of imagination to grow in the minds of my own littles.

Second, I really do appreciate the imagery of the tide as he follows and threatens to overtake her.  He has her on the run as he rises higher and higher, about to eat her up.  As she moves to get away, he follows until they meet “the solid town.”  Familiar ground for Emily Dickinson.

Fear is like that, isn’t it?  When I am in unfamiliar surroundings, a new place or situation, it is easy to be frightened and feel overwhelmed…..and perceive nearly everything as a threat.  And yet, once I reach my comfort zone once again, I realize, upon reflection, that it really wasn’t something to be all that afraid of after all.  I made it.  I survived.

Tonight I’m thankful (again/still) for the opportunity to learn alongside my littles and watch their minds absorb, grasp, wrestle, learn, and formulate new thoughts.  I love that they are interested in so many different things that sometimes my mind spins.  I beam with joy when one or the other or both tell me about something they already know, something I was about to teach them.  They have so many wonderful folks sharing stories and wisdom with them.  I shouldn’t be surprised that when I mentioned John the Baptist, they piped up with, “He ate bugs!” or that when Galileo’s name came up, our Princess shared that he was the one who proved that things of different weights travel at the same speed when dropped.  I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am, and pleasantly and thankfully so.  We have our “off” days, our “hard” days, so when a day like today comes along, I want to shout my gratitude from the rooftops.  (Where we could also do some birdwatching so it could count for school, along with all the hollering.)

I’d love to hear what this poem says to you.

Wishing you all a delightful imagination and the ability to get back to your comfort zone and realize what had you running wasn’t quite as scary as you thought.

Love to all.

This lovely illustrated book of Emily Dickinson's poetry can be ordered at your local bookstore or purchased here.

This lovely illustrated book of Emily Dickinson’s poetry can be ordered at your local bookstore or purchased here.

Checking it at the Gate

One evening last week I took Cooter to swim lessons.  It was a quiet night since there had been no swim team practice earlier.  It was just the children taking lessons, and…..

a group of ladies about to get in the pool.

Our children taking lessons were in two of the three far lanes.  These ladies walked over and started getting in the first four lanes.  They spread out and all faced the one woman in the fourth lane.  That’s when it hit me–water aerobics.

They were all shapes and sizes and ages.  Some with hats and some without.  Some with bathing suits on and others with shirts and shorts covering up their suits.  Out of the eight or so women taking the class, it was obvious that for a couple of them it was their first time.

The lady leading the class was delightful.  Really.  She was full of energy and a joy for life.  She laughed as she talked and had her students change positions and movements.  She was so interesting and fascinating to watch that I found myself watching her and almost forgetting to watch Cooter as he swam and bobbed and floated on his back.  (Almost–I did keep track of what he was doing and watch each time it was his turn.)

The women in their rows talked amongst themselves.  As the teacher lifted her arms up, she laughed.  She pointed to her arms and the way they flapped a little more than maybe she’d like them to.  “Oh we don’t worry about any of that.  Just do it.  We all check our ego at the gate over there.  Don’t worry.  No one notices anyone else’s arms or anything.”

The gate.  A place to lay it all down and see where you can get without that heavy weight.

The gate. A place to lay it all down and see where you can get without that heavy weight of ego.

Wow.

I love this woman, you know?

Today I thought back to her and her class, hoping to catch a bit of her pep talk tonight during Cooter’s swim lesson.  Then I remembered she told the other ladies there wouldn’t be class tonight.  It’s her anniversary.  I hope she’s having a blast.  From what I saw of her passion for laughter and life, I am sure she is.

What would I do if I checked my ego at the gate?  If I wasn’t worried about failing?  About what others thought?  What would I venture out and try?  What would I say I could not live another moment without knowing about?  And would I go after that knowledge, that adventure…..if my ego wasn’t in the way?

Tonight I’m thankful for the water aerobics teacher who challenged me to step outside the box.  It’s not a comfortable place to be, but it is fascinating and mesmerizing.  I’m dreaming a little bit today just because of those words–no worries, egos are checked at the gate.  Yes.  That’s really good stuff right there.  What if?

I hope you all take a moment today and ask yourself that same question–what if you checked your ego at the gate?–and then dream big and start to work making that happen.  Imagine the adventures we all could be having.  All the things we could be doing…..

Love and wishes for big chase-able dreams to all.