Random Thoughts from a Random Mind

This has been a gray week. My mind has been in a muddle, where words, ideas, thoughts, frustrations, hopes, and fear all wander through the fog that seeps into my brain from the outside–from the weather–and makes me feel unable to accomplish anything. Today, however, the golden fall sunshine seems to have decided to make an appearance, and with it comes the urge to clear out the fog that is in my brain and find some sense and meaning.

The golden sunshine begins.

Of course, that’s not easy, so today I will be writing one of those posts that follow the whim of my words and thoughts. Stream of conscious rambling to clear the murkiness and lay down a path toward clarity. I understand if you don’t decided to follow along. I’m not sure I would. :) I’ll try my best to give meaning to my words.

The Randomness of Blogging: Some of you have noticed that I haven’t been blogging regularly for a while. Some have mentioned it when I comment. Some have e-mailed or said something on Facebook. Most haven’t reacted at all, which is no surprise. What has been surprising to me is that suddenly I have been getting new followers. (Welcome to all of you who have joined me recently.) Why is this surprising? Well, I haven’t been writing a lot. I have been commenting and I try to always respond to comments on my posts, but it’s not like I’ve been making any new statements or ranting about society or contributing to poetry or prose. Yet somehow I’m getting followers. Blogging is so random sometimes.

The Randomness of Writing: The last time I posted, I reported on the status of my book.  I have worked on it some more, but this week, mired in the muddle of my mind, I feel like I’ve hit another road block. I don’t have writer’s block, exactly, but I can’t seem to find the focus that I had last week. Does weather do that to you ever? How do you make your way through the murk?

The Randomness of Fall: I love fall. It has always been my favorite season. I love the smells, the colors, the quality of light. I would rather be outside on a warm fall day than on a hot summer day.  I love the flavors of fall; the cinnamon and apples, caramel and pumpkin spice.

Apple picking a couple of weeks ago.

But this fall seems particularly random, or off in some way. It feels like the leaves have turned too early. Some trees have already lost their leaves, while others still cling to the green of summer. The weather changes in the blink of an eye (I know, I know, I live in New England). From blazing hot days to shivering cold. From moments of sunshine to moments of gloom.  At least, however, those variations bring with them rainbows.

Driving home on a gloomy fall day.

This fall I feel disoriented and confused, but I have a theory why. It may, of course, have a little to do with global warming, but I’d rather blame it on the nauseating election season. The fumes and negativity, vicious attacks, ridiculousness, and everything else is leaking into the atmosphere and disturbing the beauty of my favorite season. I have decided to avoid it all now. I won’t discuss it. I won’t debate. I won’t listen to debates.  I won’t engage. Instead, I’m going to focus on the color, the light, the smells and the tastes of my favorite season and recognize when it’s time let go and focus on the joy.

Joy can be found in the smallest achievements.

The Randomness of Life: Yesterday I was listening to Studio 360. The show included an interview with Andrew McCarthy (of Pretty in Pink fame) who went on, after Hollywood to create a career as a travel writer. Listening to his interview, as well as an interview with Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public Theatre in New York, made me think about the reality and randomness of our paths in life.

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Very few people follow a straight path throughout their life, knowing from the beginning where they want to go and finding their way their without twists and turns. Life doesn’t function that way. A man who became well-known in 80′s movies, went on to discover his voice in the discomfort of travel. A boy who was a near runaway at 14 went on to become one of the most powerful voices in theatre in the country, after realizing that acting wasn’t his route. My own path, and even my destination, are still so very unclear, but it is the very randomness of that journey that makes each day one full of possibility, even in my confusion and my darker moments.

I now choose to define success in my own terms, even if that form is not recognizable in the eyes of others. I also choose to enjoy the randomness of the journey. It will be interesting to look back at the end and see where I have been.

So there you have it folks, random thoughts from a random mind.

What kind of randomness are you thinking about today?

The Power of Timeless Words

I just read an amazing book.

It contains words, as books usually do, and offers clarity that can speak to people from any generation, especially women but I think the lessons apply to both sexes. It contains poetry, imagery, honesty, insight, and peace.

While I bought the Kindle version, I wish I owned a hard copy. I want to write notes in pencil in the margin, dog ear pages, and read it over and over again. I know, some of you are wincing at the thought of the desecration of the pristine pages, but I don’t see it as that. I would see it as revisiting an old friend for advice, learning from its wisdom, and giving it the sheen of a well-loved treasure.

What is this book? Perhaps some of you are thinking I stumbled my way into reading the Bible. No, despite my many attempts at reading that story, I have never really found comfort in its pages or lost myself to the beauty of its verse (except a few sections here and there). I have never found wisdom from its messages. I could never really find myself in those pages

You would think that this book, written at a time when the traditional place for women was in the home (1955) would have very little to say to me as I struggle to find my place in the world. But the opposite is true, as this book exemplifies how little some things have changed, and how much we still have to learn. I find myself in almost every chapter, as she explores the challenges of relationships and the lessons of life learned as a woman, a mother, a wife, and a member of a community.

What is this amazing book, you ask? How did I find it? Well, at the wonderful meeting I attended the other day, I learned that this book, written by a Smithie, had been given to high school juniors as a book award. Dean Walters read a passage from it, as she began to talk:

“Every person, especially every woman, should be alone sometime during the year, some part of each week, and each day. How revolutionary that sounds and impossible of attainment. [. . . ]

[. . .] The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone.

[. . .] What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it–like a secret vice!” ( 42-43)

This passage, which I’ve shortened here, trilled to the person who wrote just a few days ago “The Art of Being Alone, Still Learning”.  I knew I had to read this marvelous book.

Why does this book speak to me so clearly? Because her writing and the metaphor she uses seems timeless. Because even though she was writing from a time and a place very different from ours, everything she says seems applicable today. Here are a few more passages of Lindbergh’s that I highlighted as I read:

“What is the shape of my life?

The shape of my life today starts with a  family. I have a husband, five children and a home just beyond the suburbs of New York. I have also a craft, writing, and therefore work I want to pursue. The shape of my life is, of course, determined by many other things; my background and childhood, my mind and its education, my conscience and its pressures, my hear and its desires. I want to give and take from my children and husband, to share with friends and community, to carry out my obligations to man and to the world, as a woman, as an artist, as a citizen.

But I want first of all–in fact, as an end to these other desires–to be at peace with myself.”  (16-17)

“We must re-learn to be alone.
It is a difficult lesson to learn today–to leave one’s friends and family and deliberately practice the art of solitude for an hour or a day or a week.” (36)

Seashells.

“When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to.” (100) 

“A new consciousness of the dignity and rights of an individual, regardless of race, creed, class or sex. A new consciousness and questioning of  the materialistic values of the Western world. A new consciousness of our place in the universe, and a new awareness of the inter-relatedness of all life on our planet.” (128)

“For the enormous problems that face the world today, in both the private and public sphere, cannot be solved by women–or by men–alone. They can only be surmounted by men and women side by side.” (130)

 

I’ve said it before, words have power. The power of Lindbergh’s words lie in the fact that her word reach across time and difference to speak to the questions, concerns and challenges that we all face at different times in our lives. I would love to know that my words have that power, but for now all I can do is keep writing from the heart.

I finished a book today, and I am glad I did.

Happy Sigh Day

I started a different post yesterday, that I thought I’d finish today. But instead today has turned out to be a Sigh Day.

A Sigh Day? What’s a sigh day?

Perhaps a quote will help you understand:

“Halfway down the stairs, is a stair, where I sit. There isn’t any, other stair, quite like, it. I’m not at the bottom, I’m not at the top; So this is the stair, where, I always, stop. Halfway up the stairs, isn’t up, and isn’t down. It isn’t in the nursery, it isn’t in the town. And all sorts of funny thoughts, run round my head: It isn’t really anywhere! It’s somewhere else instead!”
― A.A. Milne

Not helping?

A sigh day is a day when  life is neither up nor down. For me it is a day where thoughts fly in, but I cannot catch them. Where beauty catches my eye briefly only to disappear. A sigh day is a day where I can’t quite grasp what I am looking for. Or, as Winnie the Pooh says,

“But it isn’t easy,’ said Pooh. ‘Because Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.”
― A.A. MilneThe House at Pooh Corner

Sometimes a sigh is a sad thing.

Sometimes a sigh is a glad thing.

And sometimes a sigh is just a sigh.

Today is a sigh day for me, and I really can’t explain it. So I guess I’ll just go with it and say it out loud

 

OCCUPY THANKSGIVING Meets the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups

This week  marks the 20th 100 Word Challenge over at Julia’s Place. I think I have missed a couple, but it has been a wonderful journey through incredible writing.

Be sure to check out other entries.

As usual, Julia has set us an interesting challenge. In her words:

Now for this week we are going topical again. The King James bible celebrated it’s 400th birthday last week. Although it is a religious text is has formed our language across the years. It has some surprising phrases that we use often in  everyday conversations.

The prompt this week is to use at least one of these for inspiration.

…the powers that be  /  the apple of his eye  /   the writing on the wall…

You do not have to include the phrase if you don’t want to but the piece must indicate which it was in it’s content. As usual you have 100 words and it must be suitable for a PG certificate.

I, of course, have to make things even more difficult for myself, because I decided today that all my posts this week should fit into the OCCUPY THANKSGIVING movement started over at Jamie’s fabulous blog. So here is a non-fiction post that is very personal and might be just a smidge shy of an R rating (sorry Julia). I am also including a picture, because it seems right.

Daddy and daughter bonding over a video game.

I remember the day I read the writing on the wall, the spot of blood that indicated something was wrong. I fought against the reality for as long as I could, but the painful truth was that I briefly carried a child not meant to live. Less than a year passed when the powers that be granted me a gift that helped make up for the pain of that loss. I sit and watch my husband interacting with Sarah, the apple of his eye, and realize that even with the occasional battle of wills, this was the child I was meant to have, and I am forever grateful.

 

OCCUPY THANKSGIVING: Thinking Thankfully

This weekend was a challenge.

Between teaching classes for students who, I believe, had already started Thanksgiving break in their minds (despite the fact that they still have 2 1/2 days of school this week); avoiding the course about self-publishing which has me completely intimidated and realizing I have a lot of work left to do, even when it comes to format; listening to my daughter scream, cry, and whine for over an hour as she decided to spend most of yesterday (and part of Saturday) in one of her spoiled-brat stages of existence–rare but still painful; trying to plan a fun Thanksgiving for a very complicated family: and the fact that I allowed myself to be sucked into computer games as I avoided the chaos, I feel like a completely useless waste of space.

That’s not a good feeling.

But, no worries folks, this is not going to be a whining post or even a post asking for sympathy.

Instead I am going to listen to these words of wisdom from the fabulous and talented Christine in her guest post called “Something worth celebrating” over at The Idiot Speaketh (the complicated connections of this blogging world leads to many links)

” It probably comes pretty naturally to most of us to strive for excellence of some sort. But this pursuit of greatness shouldn’t prevent us from recognizing, and celebrating, those of us who are being the best we can be.
Many times we focus on what we lack in ability. I’d like to suggest we make the effort to keep our thoughts turned to what we can do.”

In other words, we should be thankful for and learn to appreciate what we already have, even as we strive to achieve our dreams and goals.

So, in honor of this wisdom and the fact that Thanksgiving is this week, I am determined to focus on the positive and think thankfully. Starting . . .  NOW!

A UNIVERSE OF THANKS

Sunshine reflecting sparkles on the wall
of a home filled with warmth, love and dreams.

Warm chai spiciness sits on my tongue
made by a partner, husband, friend,

Words waiting to be written or read
celebrating a lifetime of learning.

A family filled with laughter and fun
supporting each other in all ways.

Blogging buddies and lifetime friends
filling the gaps of loneliness.

Future adventures looming near
a journey to countries and people unknown.

Past adventures that I hold dear
filling my life with life.

I may not know who I am today
nor what I will become tomorrow
but the gifts of the journey along the way
mean a life filled with joy not sorrow.

Update: Tori’s comment below reminded me that she had written a wonderful thankfulness post the other day. So now I am adding the link to hers and will continue to add any posts that I feel will help us feel thankful:

Thankful Blogger Am Thankful by Tori Nelson

Inspiration: A Thanksgiving Memory

Update to the Update: In honor of this excellent idea to Occupy Thanksgiving by the always brilliant Jamie note the new title of this post

500 Posts, Now What?

I haven’t really been paying attention to how many posts I’ve written until my brother posted his 200th post yesterday. When I glanced at the number I saw 499, and thought, wow I should celebrate 500. This is by no means to diminish Steve’s accomplishment, as I have been at this longer, but it is a nice round number worthy of acknowledging.

Like Steve, I don’t really have any momentous words for this occasion. Actually, a short time ago I said to Nathan, “I have nothing to write about today.” I’m not blocked, I just don’t have any ideas fighting for attention. I don’t have anything I particularly feel like ranting about this morning (as I have basically chosen to ignore all the ills of society for the time being). I don’t have a specific soapbox to climb on. I don’t even have anything silly to reflect on. It is simply a Friday.

But it is the Friday of my 500th post.

In a way, it is truly significant, as I attempt to embark on this Simultaneous Stories project which I believe comes from the desire to understand the role blogging plays in our society and in my life in particular.

I just pointed out the title of this post to Nathan. “Wow! Congratulations,” he said.

My response, “I don’t know if that is something to be proud about.”

“It is,” he answered.

You’ve gotta love a husband who is supportive.

I guess I question the importance of this because, as I wrote about a few days ago, I’m no longer sure why I write. That post sparked some interesting discussion and led me to other posts on the topic, including this one at Tossing It Out called “Is Most of Our Writing Done in Vain?” My response to Lee’s post moved we one step closer to understanding my own purpose as a writer. This is what I said,

Reading this made me realize something about why I write. Yes, I have the dream of achieving fame and glory through writing and always have, but that is not why I write. I write to share my story with a small audience. Right now, I write for a future audience, my daughter and descendants unknown. I know very little about my parents, despite them still being alive and together. If my words now give my daughter a better understanding of who I was, then I will be happy. I can’t share everything with her yet, but as she grows I have begun to share some posts and other writing already. She knows more about me than I ever did about my Mom. So, I may write for joy, or to be heard, or to understand, or to remember . . . but I also write to share.”

Now I look back on these 500 posts to see what stories I have really shared. What can my daughter learn about me from this blogging adventure? What legacy do I leave with my words? Here are some of the things I hope she has learned about me (including links to posts that share these aspects of me) I tried to link to older posts that you may have missed:

I could continue this list forever, but now it is time to post this momentous post to the universe and say, it has been a fascinating journey. Should I continue for 500 more?

Life’s Wisdom Learned in Works for Children

Whenever the craziness and insanity of our world gets to be too much, I find myself turning to old favorite things for comfort. Sometimes that means putting in a good romantic comedy (When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Notting Hill, or The Holiday are my recent go to picks). But, more often than not, I search for comfort in all things related to children–movies, books, and television shows (even the most obnoxious ones from Disney). Of course, some of my go to comforts aren’t specifically for children, but most of them filter the world through the eyes of childhood and reveal that children are much closer to simple truth than so many adults who think they know everything.

The past few days have been very emotional for me. A combination of good news, bad news, creative energy, fear, too much Halloween candy, insomnia brought upon by the joyous time change, a lot of schlepping and driving, the general ups and downs of being a parent, and a few too many caffeinated  have combined to make me a babbling ball of frazzled energy. So, in typical fashion I found myself looking for comfort in a book. Now the book I chose isn’t exactly one for children, but it is a reminder that learning can come even from the simplest of bears:

Hoff writes,

“but the adult is not the highest stage of development. the end of the cycle is that of the independent, clear-minded, all-seeing Child. That is the level known as wisdom. When the Ta Te Ching and other wise books say things like, “Return to the beginning; become a child again,” that’s what they’re referring to.” (151)

Throughout my posts you can easily find quotes and memories from childhood favorites that still speak to me this day. But rather than have you search for them, and in a hope that gathering some of this wisdom together might make me fill more centered, I thought I would share some of my favorite lessons here, in one place. Feel free to add any that I miss in the comments below.

  • There is no limit to dreams: I very recently wrote the post called “Join Me in a Land of Wonder” so I’m not going to repeat the videos here. But I would like to quote some of the dialogue from Tangled that I love:

Rapunzel: I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?
Flynn Rider: It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then?
Flynn Rider: Well,that’s the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream.

  • Today’s mistakes mean nothing: Or, to quote “Tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it.” 
  • There is no limit to where your imagination can take you:

“If you are a dreamer come in, . . .”

. . (Shel Silverstein, Invitation)

“For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.” (Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends)

  • The simplest things can make us happy:

Actually, Calvin and Hobbes is one of the best sources of wisdom anywhere.

  • Keep on trying:

  • Love, travel, and adventure make life worth living:

My list could go on forever, but I’ll spare you that. What words of wisdom have you learned from your favorites of childhood?

Weaving Webs with Words

Conservation of a tapestry in the workshops of...

Image via Wikipedia

The other day Hilary posted “Dream Weaver” using the metaphor of a tapestry to explain the journey of life:

“The journey into the past revealed a depth of memory, a rich tapestry of experience and opportunity for growth.”

This post resonated with me, as I have often used words like tapestry or weaving to explain concepts important to me,  even (I think) in some of the early posts on this blog. As a matter of fact, I quote here from the dusty tome of my dissertation that I have not looked at in years:

I prefer to think of culture as “a tapestry,” a metaphor given to me by carol North of Metro Theater Company. A tapestry contains interlocking lines of color that allow each strand to strengthen the beauty of the whole in order to work together to create the final image. At the same time, however, the creator of the tapestry can make choices for each individual strand that make one color seem to dominate. It is important to understand both the whole and the individual strands. In terms of our society, I think that we must ask what the whole represents: is it the dominant culture (white, male, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle-aged, upper-middle class, Anglo-Saxon, Christian) which has had control for so long, or is it some other entity that cannot survive without each individual strand? Each strand is different, made up of tiny fibers that give that strand its strength and color–just as each person is different, able to affiliate him/herself with multiple cultures based on personal choice, personal beliefs, and financial standing, as well as physical attributes. Yet, while individuals might affiliate themselves with one group, society still has some power in defining who we are and what roles we play in the overall tapestry, just as the creator of the tapestry assigns the roles played by the individual strands.”

[Side note: it was really strange to copy something that I don't even remember writing anymore. I do know that I originally had written a poem about tapestry that I wanted to include, but I don't know what happened to it. I really wrote that?]

I have explored the idea of lives interconnecting through invisible webs in numerous post. Click on the topic “Connections” on my side bar you will find posts celebrating friends, posts about the stories that connect us all, posts about the connections I’ve made in the past that still touch me in the present, posts about webs and tapestries and connecting the dots.

The theme keeps recurring, that our stories and our lives all intersect and connect in numerous ways to create the whole.

Even my fiction seems to reflect the theme of interconnected stories. The Moon Calls women together to share their stories and embrace their strengths. The Storyteller invites people around the fire to teach about tolerance and difference through stories. Her words merge in the air to create Pictures in the Flames. Wise Mother shares the gift of magic with a young apprentice, inviting her into the world of story telling and other magic.

The phrase Simultaneous Stories, keeps appearing in my notes and Morning Pages as well as my blog posts. I recently splurged on a little specialty notebook, in the hopes that perhaps keeping my ideas with me would help me focus and create.

The very first page contains the following list:

"Both shoeless in the sand"; kicked out for coming out; Simultaneous stories happen all the time. An hour in the day . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This interest in telling simultaneous stories isn’t recent. When I first applied to my doctoral program I wrote how I wanted to create a theatre piece that crossed cultural boundaries by being performed with people from a variety of nationalities utilizing multiple languages. I wanted that to be part of my dissertation, but was somehow talked out of it by an advisor who, at the time, believed that dissertations should follow a more traditional research method. Of course, just after I graduated applied research became the more popular mode of dissertation writing in my field, so I guess I was just ahead of my time (or perhaps I opened the doors for other people to walk through). Sigh!

Perhaps my struggle to find the story that I want to write comes from trying to focus on one story. Maybe the project I need to work on is one that brings together many stories, some of my own, some of yours, some of the people I have yet to meet.  In some ways my decision to go to Slovakia reflects my desire to collect stories and be open to the unknown.

I still don’t have a clear picture of what form this collection might be. Perhaps it is a book, with a collection of stories from some of my favorite bloggers intertwined with my own. Perhaps it is a stage play, where the stories of people get told through words, through movement, through puppets, through dance. Or maybe I really do need to learn how to weave, to create a visual tapestry of stories and connections and the words that link us all.

Detail of Woodpecker tapestry designed by Will...

Image via Wikipedia

All I know for sure is that I have been weaving a web of interconnected stories all my life, and now I need to find a way to share.

Life is About Learning: Celebrating Fabulous Friends III

I know a lot of intelligent people. Since I’ve spent most of my life connected in some way with academia, I have often been surrounded by people who blow me away with the way their minds work.

But this morning I had a little revelation, life is not about what you know but about continuing to learn.

While I’ve met a lot of intelligent people who can wax poetic about everything under the sun, many of them don’t interest me. I find myself zoning out when it becomes obvious that the person I am talking to is more concerned with showing off his/her knowledge and sounding intelligent than contributing to a conversation and being open to learning something new.

In the end, the people who remain part of life, the people who I count as friends are the ones who see the world as a place to learn something new every day, and then share that knowledge with others as they seek more learning. So today, as the third part of my (hopefully ongoing) series that I call “Celebrating Fabulous Friends” I would like to celebrate some of the learner/teachers I’ve met in my life.  (For the first two installments read Celebrating Fabulous Friends and Night Marchers in the Bathroom.)

Nancy Lum, World Adventurer

Nancy is in the middle, with myself, my sister Deb, and her friend Karen celebrating my wedding.

Nancy and I met in Japan. She was there teaching for the JET program, and I was teaching for a private Language School. While I’m sure we met when she first got there, we didn’t become close until my last year in Japan, when I discovered an amazing person who had a passion for learning all she could about the world. Our friendship has lasted, with Nancy visiting me whenever she can in all of my various locations. She came to my wedding in Hawaii, while friends who I had known longer were unwilling to make the trip. While she wasn’t part of the wedding party, officially, she stepped up and helped in ways that made her truly the maid of honor.

Nancy returned from Japan to her home in Canada for a short time to get a masters in ESL. She then went back to our home in Okayama and has been there ever since. She takes every opportunity to travel and see the world, learning as much as she can about the places she visits and sharing her knowledge through the eyes of her camera. She and I keep fantasizing about traveling together on some wonderful adventure, but it hasn’t happened (yet). Maybe I should see if she wants to come to Slovakia. ;)

Anyway, I include Nancy in my list of Fabulous Friends because she cares and shares and is always learning more. When she visits, she wants to go out and explore the world. The last time I saw her, when she visited me in Durango, CO, she was distracted by news that her sister was in the hospital, but even then she carried her camera and shared adventures with me and my family. I am so honored to count this wonderful, intelligent, creative, learner among my friends.

Jackie Haltom, Inspirational Artist

Figuring out the hands for a piece of art.

I’ve known Jackie for only a year. We met when Sarah started taking art lessons in Independence.  We probably socialized for the first time last Halloween as we took Sarah out trick-or-treating with Jackie’s girls and other kids in the neighborhood.  However, a relationship that started slowly blossomed into a friendship of mutual support and encouragement. Jackie helped me discover the courage to express myself in a new artistic way, and the results are in the header of this blog. Jackie also took on the challenge with me of learning how to share our love of art and creativity with a different population, as you can read about in “Appropriate Age Appropriateness.” Without Jackie, I would not have had the courage to try to self-publish (although that project is still slowly moving forward). Jackie inspires me because she is continually learning, admitting what she doesn’t know, searching for more knowledge, and challenging the status quo. She lives and breathes art and recognizes how important the arts are to our culture–so she strives to share that passion with others by encouraging them to find their inner artists. Jackie helped me through a complex transition in my life, and I am grateful she has become my friend.

Jackie inspired another fabulous friend, Heather of Little Red Henry (link in my blog roll) to paint this wonderful creation.

There you have it, a couple of other examples of the incredible people you can meet throughout your life if you are simply open to learning about the world around you.

What have you learned today? Who have you met that you would like to celebrate?

Here's a beautiful piece by Jackie.


Leaping into Possibility

Yesterday I was presented with an opportunity.


This is not an employment opportunity, as a matter of fact it is an expensive opportunity.

But it is an important opportunity nonetheless.

op·por·tu·ni·ty http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [op-er-too-ni-tee, -tyoo-] noun, plural -ties.

1.an appropriate or favorable time or occasion.
2. a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal.
3. a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success. (dictionary.com)

Rambling Thoughts

When I first saw this adventure posted on my Facebook page, my thoughts went like this:
“Wow! I want to do that! I should post it in case any of my friends are interested. Hmm, I’d really like to do that, but I don’t have a job so how can I justify it? But, I’ve given up opportunities before . . . so maybe its time I take a chance. No, I can’t do it.”
Soon after this little internal discussion, I got a personal message from the artistic director asking me to join them on this adventure. See, a few years ago I had been invited by Dramatic Adventure Theatre to participate in their program called ActionEcuador, where they spend time in several areas of Ecuador serving the community, teaching theater and exploring how the arts can help with social change. All things that  I am truly passionate about. They then spend a week creating theater pieces to be performed in New York later in the summer. Nathan and I were all set to do this wonderful program, bringing Sarah with us, when the world came crashing down around us and our futures became unsure. Needless to say, we had to let the opportunity pass.
That wasn’t the first international theater opportunity that I had to turn down because of changing circumstances and financial issues. A few years earlier, just before we moved to Colorado, I had been scheduled to participate in a mid-summer program for 10 days in Russia learning about theater and arts education in schools. That fell through when we had to move that summer.
My most recent lost opportunity involved an application to create theater in Pakistan, but I’m sure you can guess why that one fell through.
This time, however, my war with myself took on new meaning. True, financially it isn’t the best time for me to take this adventure, since I am underemployed and we are living in an expensive state. But, in term of where I am in my life, and my pursuit of reinventing myself and trying to create the career of my dreams, this is the perfect time. In terms of when the trip happens, its the perfect time, as I don’t begin teaching the one class I have until January 17th and my brother is available to help Nathan with parenting duties.
So what was stopping me? Two things.

Guilt and Fear!!!!

The issue of guilt: How could I possibly justify the expense when I am not bringing in very much in terms of income, and it means some of the things we planned as a family will have to be postponed?  But in reality, as soon as I mentioned the possibility to Nathan, his response was:

“I really want you to do this, so let us sit down and figure out the finances and what needs to be done to make it happen.”

And when I talked to Sarah about it her response was “I’ll be sad” until I explained it was only for a couple of weeks when she changed it to “You should go.”
So really, guilt was just an excuse. The more terrifying thing holding me back was, indeed, my perpetual stumbling block
But what exactly am I afraid of? Because when I think clearly, there’s nothing to fear:
  • I love the people who run this program, and although we’ve only spent a short time together in person I feel like we were meant to meet. In fact, I could easily have included both Jesse and Mary K in my post celebrating fabulous friends.
  • I’m not afraid of travel, and I love to see new cultures. Well, I get nervous travelling, especially flying, but ultimately once I’m there all is good.
  • The trip is pretty much planned for me, all I have to figure out is my flight there and back (and any extra visits to other places, which I probably won’t do anyway because of finances.)
So, what exactly am I afraid of?
The answer came out in my Morning Pages this morning, as I tried to work through my thoughts and emotions surrounding this possibility. Although Morning Pages are meant to be private, I shared them with Nathan and I now share a portion with you, so that you understand what’s going on in my head:
“I’m afraid of opportunity, because I’m afraid that I will waste the opportunity. If I don’t try, I can’t fail. But then again, isn’t not trying simply another type of failure? . . . this trip gives me the chance to see theatre in action, which is the type of theatre that I value. It is about the power of the arts to change lives. If I don’t do it, if I can’t make it happen, then I’m still all talk and no action. So going is the right thing to do. Or am I making excuses to do what I want? Am I being selfish? . . . Where should I look for guidance? My instincts are all out of whack, or at least I’ve lost the ability to trust my own instincts anymore. I don’t know how to follow my gut.  ”
Before I completed the morning pages, I read them to Nathan and asked what he thought I should do. Here was my response to his answer:
“Tears just poured down my face as he encouraged me to just go for it. Just do it. Live in the now and not worry about whether or not I achieve anything big or important. So I guess the answer is before me. Sarah even says I should do it.  Looks like I’m heading to Slovakia. I wonder what happens next.”
After that outpouring on the page, I got up and filled out the application. Then, of course, the doubts started creeping in again. But, in a miraculous way, signs from this wonderful blogging community keep cropping up to reinforce that I’m doing the right thing:
  • First I saw this lovely post called “What I Missed Today” on Gifts of the Journey, which shares what can happen if you don’t take the opportunities the world provides.
  • Next, I saw this post by a blogger that I’ve only recently become acquainted with, who is pursuing her graduate degree in theater and is going to be facilitating a workshop using Theater of the Oppressed techniques in Occupy Boston. A simple reminder of the power of theater to help create a better world.
  • And, just a few moments ago, this post celebrating the life of Dorothy Heathcote, reminded me of why I pursued a PhD in theater for youth in the first place. My dream was to create theater that explored cultural difference and promoted cultural understanding; a dream of mine that has been buried if not forgotten.

So friends, it looks like 2011 will end with me stepping onto a plane toward possibility, and 2012 will begin with a creative journey into unknown destinations. Look for me to blog about it.