The Wild Remedy ~Mending a Weary Soul

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It’s all I have to bring today

This, and my heart beside

This, and my heart, and all the fields

And all the meadows wide

Be sure you count – should I forget

Some one the sum could tell –

This, and my heart, and all the Bees

Which in the clover dwell.

~Emily Dickenson (1830-1886)

This weary soul of mine succumbed to social media early in the morning, as some days, scrolling is all I can muster. My hand, even too exhausted to lift the pen to my notebook page.

On this particular day, a teacher-writer-soul friend, Mary Lee Haun, was also having a weary kind of day.  Her #poemofpresence whispered to the quiet corners of my dissonance:

today I am sad

please don’t try to cheer me up

there’s nothing for it

My fingers typed a few words to let her know that I felt her angst as well. I shared with her a word I’d recently learned, one that named this kind of tired – a word in Tibetan:  ye tang che. The ye part means “totally, completely”, and the rest of it means “exhausted”. Altogether, ye tang che means “totally exhausted”.

Devendra Banhart taught me this word, while listening to him on a recent episode of the On Being podcast. The lovely language and voices of this podcast are healing, so I turn here often in times of need. The word, ye tang che, Devendra credits to have learned from Pema Chadron in his book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.

I had jotted it into my notebook to bring up in moments of despair. Like this.

A lovely dear friend of us both, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, swept in to save us on this dreary day. My heart sang just seeing her name and an image of her responding to our short conversation.

She offered a gift: a recommendation of a book.

The Wild Remedy ~ How Nature Mends Us by Emma Mitchell.

With a slight surge of new energy, a quick exploration brought me to the contents of Emma’s book. Emma suffers of “the grey slug” or depression, as some know it as. She shares her journey through nature as a balm to lift the grey from her days. Winding paths through the woods, drawing and painting the discoveries along her way fill her illustrated diaries. Month by month, she charts her highs and lows and the neuroscience of how our bodies, minds, spirits and hearts receive the natural healing benefits of plants and wildlife when we step into the wild.

Her book arrived on my doorstep yesterday.

All of a sudden, I’m witnessing more bees, and fields and meadows wide.

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~ from my morning walk ~

And . . . my heart is beginning to mend from all of this ye tang che.

 

Slowing Down and Finding Words

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I don’t know what this post is about.  It’s a ramble and I apologize upfront.

I’ve been having trouble lately putting words to the images, thoughts and feelings I experience.  It’s not that I can’t recall them, it’s just that I’m struggling for the right fit – the perfect description.  Maybe I’m just exhausted.  Well, it halts me in my tracks.  I get frustrated and end up writing clichés or simple phrases just to hold on to the moment.

Last Friday was the most beautiful September day.  As I walked from my car to the school door, carrying my bags and coffee in hand, I caught sight of the horizon.  Fog blanketed the playground and a layer of dark clouds rested along this horizon.  Just at the crust of these clouds, light beamed.  The sun, not showing itself yet, was announcing it’s arrival. The entire sky was glowing with rays of light.  I stopped for a moment to take in its beauty. It filled me.  I had no words.

At lunch, as I walked to the mailbox, I heard honking above.  As I craned my neck to the sky, hundreds of geese flapped their wings in the most magnificent V of geese I have ever seen – all heading south.

Again.  I stopped to take in the awe.

A boring description – again, I apologize.

As I reached for a poetry book off my shelf this morning, John O’ Donohue, one of my favorite poets and also an Irish teacher, jumped into my hands.

Here was his first poem:


Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn

The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to color.

Oh my heavens.

The words I had been clamoring for.

I printed it off and pasted it to my September Birthday Poems collection.

John O’ Donohue understands poetry.  He put words on the page to paint the description of my experience.

For this, I am grateful.

Each day, we have moments of awe.  It’s difficult to describe their significance and maybe we don’t have to.  We can just feel them.  But, sometimes, I want to put it in writing.

John O’Donohue describes it as such:

There is a quiet light that shines in every heart.  
It draws no attention to itself, thought it is always secretly there.
It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty,
our desire to seek possibility, and our hearts to love life.
Without this subtle quickening, our days would be empty and wearisome, 
and no horizon would ever awaken our longing.
Our passion for life is quietly sustained from somewhere in us
that is wedded to the energy and excitement of life.
We enter the world as strangers who all at once become heirs
to a harvest of memory, spirit, and dream that has long preceded us
and will no enfold, nourish, and sustain us.
The gift of the world is our first blessing.

There are days when it seems these quiet gifts of the world come pouring in.  There are other days where it feels like God forgot that I’m still here.  Perhaps other people need more, on those days, and He thinks I’ll be fine.  But really, it’s the days that I am so consumed with the pace of life that I am blind to what is in front of me.

Slow down, I hear.

Slow down.

The moments are there.

And the words will appear.

 

Stuck Between Being and Doing

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Bring on the lemonade. Drag out the lawn chairs. Summer has officially begun. 🙂

The classroom is cleaned, organized and packed up for the summer months.  Reflection mode is in high gear which means time needs to be spent “just being” for awhile. Reading, writing and walking with Sandy (our lab)  have consumed the majority of my past few days. It is glorious.

I am pretty good at doing “downtime”.

Expert – really.  I should give lessons.

Savoring this blissful peacefulness throughout my days, my children all grown and having flown out of the nest, I am learning to accept this pace of life as being “enough” right now. The quietness of an empty house is healing.  My company; myself.   It’s taken years to unlearn the multi-tasking, needing to keep busy, making stuff and going places kind of mentality.  I must be honest, I’m not proud of that person.  (But, dang, she got a lot done.)

Yet. . . (I used yet, instead of but, because there is always a but, but yet feels like but here.)

. . . when my husband comes home from his long day at work,  there is this unsettled feeling that I should be able to tell him all I had accomplished during these past 8, sometimes 10, even 12 hours (yes, he works too much). I mean, the windows need cleaning, my hostas are begging to have the taunting weeds pulled out and Sandy is now afraid of the dust bunnies (I need to buy a vacuum).  This is obvious stuff I should do.

Yes, the residue of this old narrative telling me “I should. . .”

All I can somedays tell my tired husband is that I got some writing done (in my notebook), some reading. . . and I took Sandy for a walk.

He is always happy for me that I got to go on a walk, especially on beautiful days.  So, we talk about Sandy and how she loves to run and play in the water filled ditches.  And, that she smells from this.

I am grateful my husband never complains about the things I don’t do.  He is careful here, as he knows what door he is opening if he goes there. But, my own soul, and mostly my mind, need to feel some sense of accomplishment.

This place in the “Being-Knowing-Doing” gap is a destination I tend to reside in more than I’d like to admit, even though I’ve worked hard to get here.  I’m not sure how long one should stay here.  Because if I stay too long, I can’t seem to come out.

I remain stuck.

In the crux between being and doing.

Carrying an angst that I can not name.

Perhaps it does not have a name.

I need guidance.

I reach for a book that calls to me right now, Do The Work, by Austin Krien.  I can not seem to find it, my writing room in disarray.  So, I grab the next one in line;  Let’s All Be Brave, by Annie F. Downs.  It practically jumps into my hands.

There are underlined words ~

“Courage involves action – like you are going somewhere.  Maps.  Movement.”

“Your life, start to finish, is a map. . . I don’t know where you’ve been and I don’t know where your map will take you.  I only know there will be moments when you feel like the map has turned or changed and moments when you realize you’ve read this map wrong all along.  You will crumple it up and throw it down, only to return to it for direction, once your finish your cryfest.  I get it.  I know.  But it’s your map.  Not my map.  Or my cousin’s map.  Or your spouse’s map.  It’s yours.”

Oh my.

I have to go back to my map.  Where’s my map?  Am I lost at sea?

Fear will set in again.  I know that.

I am not a risk taker – never have been.  The only risky thing I ever do is ride my motorcycle – that’s it.  The males in my family make up for what I lack in risk-taking.  I should not say that.  My daughters are more brave than I can ever be.  They take risks.

But, I need to be braver, I think.

I should be writing. My writing dreams seem to be all stored up in notebooks and there is big fear here:

~of choosing the wrong one to dive into as a project.

~what if I tire of it?

~what if I don’t have time to finish?

~how will I ever stay focused?

~what if no one likes it. . . or even reads it?

~for sure, nothing will get done around here if I commit to writing.

Yes, this must be my problem, I tell myself.  It’s fear.

I glance at my writing desk and see chaos.  Just like my mind.

And, my house right now.

The real answer hits me hard and I really try to ignore it because I really do want to write. But, I must take care of what really needs to be done first.  I scan my shelves for a the third book of today’s writing session:  The Life-Changing Magic of  Tidying Up.

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It’s cleaning.  Creating order.  De-cluttering.  Wash the windows.  Pull the weeds.

Go buy the damn vacuum.

This work is not pleasant.

I text my mother and tell her I can’t stop eating.

“Go outside and pull weeds, there’s no food out there, ” she replied.

Ugh.  How did she know?

Maybe, just maybe, today – I’m supposed to accomplish something.  Just something small though.  I don’t want to set the bar too high. And, I’m afraid of falling off the “just being” wagon.

I’ll tidy up my writing room and go pull a few weeds.

Maybe, make some chocolate chip bars.

That should be enough “doing” for one summer day.

For now.

Until I find my map.

 

 

 

 

 

What Does It Mean To “Just Be”?

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“You need to Just Be.”

I’m hearing this voice over and over lately.  It’s summer time and people are trying to Just Be and take time off from their busy lives.  Emails in my inbox from spiritual writers encourage the world to Just Be.  My body tends to want to Just Be.

Just be.

But, what does this really mean?  To Just Be?

I was telling a friend about my plans for summer and possibly next year in my work.  I get excited about my work sometimes when I begin to think of all the possibilities. Every year, in education, is an opportunity for renewal.  My mind spins at all of the things I’d like to do differently next year.  I can always do better, I know.

This person listened compassionately and then said,

“Shari, my hope for you is to Just Be for awhile.”

These words are still ringing in my brain.  Now, I know this person has my well being in mind, not wanting me to take on too much, or really, just wanting me to slow down and not think about school for awhile.  I honestly believe my work supports my purpose in life, so I don’t always think of it as work. For some, work is work and life outside of work is, well. . . life. We teachers are in a different category, as they we always thinking about our profession.

I had to ponder on these words long and hard.  Because, I consider myself much more of a BE-er than a DO-er.

I let the words, Just Be,  marinate in my brain for awhile and decided that Just Be has different meanings for different people.  Not only this, but for the same person, it means different things at different times depending upon what they are doing and their understanding of the depths of Just Be.

Here are some of the ways I think we define Just Be:

Definition #1:  I’m taking a break from work or doing anything that involves a lot of work.  That break might be for a moment, it might be for a week, or a vacation or a summer.  It might mean vegging out in front of the tv, conversing on facebook, or doing anything that takes them away for the stressful lives they live.  Don’t start any big projects or do any planning at this time.   I did a lot of this kind of Just Being after my daughter’s wedding.  Actually, I slept and read books instead of any fall work in the yard.  I used Just Being as my excuse to not do the stuff I was supposed to do.

Definition #2:   Leave me alone.  When my daughters used to go through those teenage hormonal weeks, they would often say, “I want to Just Be!”  Really, this meant to get out of their space.  Leave me alone.

Definition #3:  Be content. Stop seeking.  Accept what is and be happy with that.

Definition #4:  To be present in every moment of your life.  If someone is speaking to you, stop what you are doing and fully listen.  BE in the moment.  If you are watching tv or a movie, BE there to feel the characters/people you are watching, connect to them.  If you are eating, savor your food, eat slow, be grateful for the nourishment.  This means shutting off your phone just to Just Be with the act of what you are doing.

It means to look for opportunities to JUST BE in your day.  An interruption in your drive to stop at the railroad tracks for a train is just this. Rather than being annoyed about a delay in your plan or to occupy the few minutes reaching to check your phone, you have an opportunity to take deep breaths and listen, look around you, pay attention to the world.  Say a prayer.  Think of a friend in need and send her your loving energy.  Just take some long deep breaths and quiet the mind.  Listen to and focus on your breath.  Stop the rampant thoughts.  Always, waiting for trains is just this chance to do this.   Waiting can be a gift if you look at it that way.

It means to slow down your pace.  Take small snippets of time to be grateful.  Write something down in your journal.  Send a note of “You Matter” to someone who needs to be reminded.  Stop living at the speed of a to-do list that only Superman could accomplish.  Glorifying busyness is not a healthy state of mind to live in.   We can so easily become  a victim of busyness.  This is ego who needs this.

It means to take time every day for listening.  This may mean meditation.  It may be prayer.  It might be yoga.  It could be sitting on the front porch with coffee watching the hummingbirds.  It’s a silencing of the mind.  Be mindful.  Be conscious of your thoughts.  The only way I can hear what God wants me to do is if I silence Bernice.  It takes daily work and constant practice.

It means living the life of who you truly are.  It’s Being authentic.  If I spend all day writing and reading, it’s because I love it and it’s who I am.  If I strive to train for a marathon, it will take time and dedication, but it will be because that’s a dream and it’s who I am (you would not really find me doing this though).

It means to follow your dreams.  God’s plan for us is way bigger than what our little minds tell us.  Ego keeps us small.  Dreams mean work.  To make dreams happen, you have to DO.

Be – Do – Be – Do – Be – Do – Be – Do

In Just Being, we listen.  We hear what our heart and soul intends for us to do.  Then, we Do.  Without the Doing, we are not following through with our listening that comes from Just Being.  And, I’m not talking about our mind telling us we should scrub the floor, although, sometimes when we are Just Being, we hear a voice that says to clear, de-clutter, clean.

It’s Being Present in whatever we are doing.  It’s a way of life.

Do we ever master it.  I don’t think so. Maybe if you are a Zen Master.  Not I.  The need for me to constantly be conscious of my thoughts and bring myself back to a place of being will be my life’s work.

I’d like to be able to live Definition #4.

What do you think?  What is your definition of Just Being?

Shari 🙂

 

 

Loving a Good Disagreement

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My teacher-friend bursts into the room with her laptop.

“Hey there, friend! Ya gotta minute?  I have to show you this  on the computer!”

“What is it?” I ask, excitedly, as I get up from my desk and meet her at the table, anxious about what we are going to see.

“It’s this new app that is out there.  It’s called Spritz. They are claiming we’ll be able to speed up our reading and finish a novel in 90 minutes!”, she beams.

“Oh my gosh!  I saw that earlier!  That’s HORRIBLE!!!! I could never read that way!” I tell her.

“Are you kidding? I WISH I would have had this app when I had to read all those boring psychology books in college!” she argues.

“Well, you wouldn’t be able to remember any of it with all of these words speeding by,” I blurt back.

“I have to disagree with ya there.  Your mind isn’t being taxed because you don’t even have to move your eyes. You don’t have to think about visual tracking, going left to right or anything.  Only thinking.”

“I think I’d be nauseous.” I tell her.

“Why? You don’t even have to move your eyes?”

“I don’t know – it freaks me out.  You would lose the savoring of the book.  Rereading to hear a beautiful phrase over, or to capture some words to use for your own writing because you love them.”

“Do you read all your books that way?”

“Well, most of them.  I’m a little whacked like that.”

“Well, I think of all the college reading that I just had to get read.  There was nothing to savor there.  This would’ve saved me boatloads of time,” she tries to convince me.

“How would you use your reading processes?  You wouldn’t be able to try to figure words out based upon them looking right, sounding right or making sense in the text because you are only given one word at a time?  What about fluency?  Without being able to see what’s coming up, you are not sure how to read with your voice?”

“All I know is that I would have loved this in college and I think it is perfect for when you have a ton to read and you have to get it done.  It’s a good option.”

“Maybe, but I’m not convinced,” I try to agree, but my gut is telling me, “I don’t think so.”

After thinking about it, maybe it would be a good app to use in some situations.  My friend’s ideas about it made me think outside of myself and into a new plane of thinking.

I love to be able to have an intellectual conversation with colleagues, disagreeing on some topic in an attempt to make sense out of something new.  There are only a few people I am able to do this with and I am blessed to have them in my life because they push my thinking and force me to reflect on my beliefs and theories of which I rest my entire teaching philosophy on. Emotions do not come into play because we know that there may not be a right answer, but that our own backgrounds and experiences can help us both to synthesize new ideas at a much greater depth than if we were to try to understand it on our own.

My thought to ponder on is, how can we nurture an environment where all groups of teachers are able to do this?  Certainly, it’s possible. But, what makes it possible?  We’ve all been in settings where it’s happened and you’ve left the group feeling like you’ve been to another planet and back.  We’ve been in other settings where it doesn’t happen and you leave feeling frustrated and stuck.

Einstein said, “We have to think with everything we have.  We have to think with our muscles.  We have to think with feelings in our muscles. Think with everything.  And so it is a flowing process which also goes outward and inward and makes communication possible.”

So, do we just have to all be thinking hard?

It’s more than that.

Joseph Jaworski writes in Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership, “When people come together and go beyond their habitual way of being as a group, even more possibilities open up.  But somehow a kind of block prevents those extraordinary experiences from happening.”  He goes on to quote Bohm, “You’ve GOT to give attention to those blocks.  You’ve got to find out where it comes from both in yourself and in anybody.”   If you can achieve this, the individuals in the group would be able to operate as if with one mind.

Personally, I thrive on trips to that other planet.  I know I have to be conscious of my own blocks that I bring to a group.  The key is to help all in a group to clear these blocks as well, to allow for the intellectual ideas flow through us.

“When most oarsmen talked about their perfect moments in a boat, they referred not so much to winning a race, as to the feel of the boat, all eight oars in the water together, the synchronization almost perfect.  In moments like these, the boat seemed to lift right out of the water.  Oarsmen called that the moment of swing.”

~ David Halberstam

I think that you, pretty much, have to trust the other men in the boat.

Hmmmm. . . . a thought to ponder. . .

Where Writing Comes From

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Awakened by a high pitched whine outside my bedroom door, I cover my head and burrow back into my flannel sheets and quilts.  Saturday mornings are reserved for sleeping in past 6:30, but being the lone human at home this morning, it would be my duty to wake up to Sandy’s calling.

As I shuffle to the biffy first, Sandy follows me.  I sit down and and I receive morning kisses – dog licks on my chin and nose.

“Yes, yes, I’m happy to see you, too,” I smile.

After this reassurance, she rushes into the bedroom to see if her master is awake.  She returns after noticing his absence.  Ice fishing called his name this weekend and Sandy was left behind.  Up and down the hallway she paces.

“Wanna go outside?” I ask her.

Her tail wagging in gear three and jumping means an absolutely “YES!”  Opening the door, she bursts out, galloping over to the woods.

“Sheesh!” I mutter to myself, shaking my head. “How can she be so wound up in the morning?”

I venture off to the kitchen to make some coffee and wrinkle my nose in disgust.  Dishes fill the sink and tracings of yesterday clutter the table.  A full day yesterday at work and exhaustion upon arriving home meant a little reading and right to bed for me.  I pay the price today.

“You need to get this cleaned up before you start anything,” Bernice scolds.

“Well,  it’s going to have to wait,” I tell her, “I have writing to do.

She frowns.  I’m getting really good at talking back to my ego mind.

I fill my cup with coffee and head up to my sanctuary, having no idea  what I might write about today.  However, I know, from daily writing, that if I show up to write, something will come.

A candle is lit. My inspiration playlist gently fills my ears.  I rustle through my pens to choose the perfect one that wants to write for me today.  My notebook opens to a blank page.

Okay. I’m ready.

And, I sit.

My eyes close and I breathe, hand placed over the page.  Deep breaths, breathing in this moment.  Stillness.

“Give me something – something. . . ” I ask.

The trees outside are swaying wickedly as I gaze out the window above my desk.  The sun pops in and out of clouds.  The light so bright I have to squint my eyes.

“Wow! I have not seen that much brightness for awhile!” I say to myself out loud, the spring sun a gift.

The heat kicks in.  A vent on the floor to my right forces warmth up my way.

“M-m-m-m-m . . . this is heaven. . . the sun, the heat.”  I savor it.

Adelle’s turn to sing on my playlist.  Her words?

“Make you feel my love. . .”

I breathe again.  Angel arms wrap around me.  I shut my eyes and smile, a tear squeaking out, feeling His greatness.

“Thank you.  Yes,” I praise.

And, I put my pen to the page.

Notice, Name It and Pay A Compliment

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“Learning to compliment others well is a real art. . . receiving any kind of positive feedback (about writing) feels good.  Receiving a compliment that gets to the heart of what one was trying to do (as a writer) feels amazing.”

These words marinate in my brain this morning upon reading them in today’s Slice of Life Day #4 Challenge ~ words from Anna Grotz Cockerille’s post, in how we can teach our kids how to compliment one another’s writing.

Lucy Calkins,  Donald Graves and Donald Murray teach us to notice something positive that the writer did and name it for them.  I begin to think about the teachers in my school who are busy as elves today getting ready for parent/teacher conferences tonight after school.  Some are ready and confident.  Some are anxious and worry.  All are amazing in their own unique ways.

“But, do they know that?”  I wonder.

Not only is it important for us to notice and compliment our writers, but it’s equally and more important to pay attention, notice, name and compliment what others do as humans.  How often do we pay attention to the positive actions others do?  And, if we do take our heads outside of ourselves for a moment to be aware of what’s going on around us and notice it, do we give that someone a compliment SAYING we noticed?

Receiving a compliment that says “You’re awesome” is nice, but the most meaningful compliment is when someone takes the time to let you know they’ve noticed something specific that you did – and named it for you.

That’s authentic.

It’s real.

It’s the evidence that supports our awesomeness and you know what?  Those are the messages our ego needs to hear.

I noticed a teacher being awesome today.  She confronted another adult when she disagreed with something that was going on.  It took bravery to do that.  I’ve seen her be brave like this before.  I’m awed by her.  I told her so today.  I don’t know many adults that go right to the source of a problem when they have one.  She does.

She deserved to be noticed and to be complimented on that – specifically.

I don’t know about you, but my ego doesn’t always believe, “You’re awesome.”

Ego usually says to me, “Yeah, right.  What did you do? I know frosting on poop when I see it.”

But, now, when someone gives me evidence?  That gives me PROOF.

I can then say, “HA!  Take THAT, Bernice!  See? I AM awesome!!”  (btw. . . Bernice is my ego, just incase you didn’t know.)

I challenge you to pay attention, notice and compliment not only other writers today, but other people.

An Artist Date Discovery

My word of the year is whispering to me everywhere I go.  I chose the word “courage” this year, as I have quite a few goals I intend to reach, but I need an extra double shot of “courage” to put myself out there.  You can read my post about this here.

So, in an effort to work through my fears, I joined the Life Book 2013 group. Last week, I began to work on my first art journal page assignment from Tam.  Our assignment was to create our own fairy art mother who chases away our inner critics in order for us to create with freedom.  Our fairy art mother would shoo away  that nasty voice we hear about our work not being good enough.

Here is my fairy art mother:

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I even added a sword!  I don’t know why, but I guess I was thinking that those wretched voices are like dragons and I could ward them off with a sword.  Crazy.

I’m also rereading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and this caused me to join a fabulous face book group of ladies who are also reading the book.  We are sharing our artist date experiences and I am so inspired by the experiences I read.  

So, today I decided to take myself out on my artist date.  Restock the well.  Explore.  Open up all my senses.  I decided to do some browsing in an old used bookstore we have downtown.  It’s actually more like a used “everything” store, but it started out with just books.

I walk in the door and right there I see her.  On a tall glass shelf at eye level.  Looking at me.  I am drawn to her and my mouth drops.

It’s her.

My fairy art mother.

As a statue.

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She even had the sword.

I snatched her up and felt like I’d discovered gold.  A giddiness inside was just bubbling.  My mind was on monkey overdrive.

“What did this mean?”

” How could this be?”

“Holy Crap.”

I paid 5.00 for her at the till.  (Well, not right away really.  I browsed the entire store and also found an armful of books at a dollar each.) The clerk gently wrapped her in newspaper and told me to carry the bag carefully.

All I could think was, “Seriously?  Don’t worry, lady.”

Back home, I googled the statue’s significance and here is what I found:

“Faerie Guardians of the Glen II are defending our earth and protecting its inhabitants. Although fearless strong and heroic these faeries still personify a timeless beauty that make the Faerie Glen collection so unique.”

Defending our earth and it’s inhabitants.  A protector she is.

And then, I realized. . . this faerie guardian is within me.

Not only am I the protector of my artist self, but I am also the protector of much more than that.  I am responsible for the protection of my health, my dreams, my goals, in my beliefs and passions.  No one is responsible for all of this but me.  It’s my duty to hold myself accountable to it all and protect the “me” that is to be.

Whatever evolves will evolve and it will be good.  As long and I am courageous and can draw my sword when that inner voice starts whining, or criticizing, or worse.

I have a fairy art mother and a faerie guardian now.

There is no stopping me.

I have swords.

Shari 🙂

Arriving at My Place of Peace

I was spent.

As I usually am at the end of a school year.  This one, more so.

I am a literacy coach at an elementary school for students from Prek to grade five.  We have five to eight sections per grade – about 800 students.  This is a large school.  I am the only coach.

I have been in education for over twenty years, my first job as a first grade teacher in 1987.  Education is changing.  Students are changing.  Society is changing.  New teachers coming and others leaving.  Holding on to a vision is sometimes daunting when so many changes are continuous in our profession.

My job does not end when the students leave.  I continue to work through the summer, compiling data, working on curriculum, ordering materials, planning for new teachers, reading new research and keeping abreast of new literacy practices.

Added to the load of my job was the fact that I was finishing up my Masters.  Because I am a perfectionist and overachiever in some areas, my final paper ended up being a book.  A blessing and a curse.

I also have four wonderful children, the ages of 17, 19, 20 and 22. All of them. . . at home with my husband and I.  Just when we thought the nest would be emptying, they started coming back.  Sleep was something I was lacking and my edges were frayed with constant stints of worry at night.  They are all normal kids who like to have a good time.  I, the parent, that just prays for the angels to guide them home safely at night.

My husband, we’ll call him Sporty, was in full force with fishing, golfing and running down to the hunting land to farm some food for deer, fall just around the corner.  His agendas after work are full.  Married for 24 years, I’ve accepted that this is who he is.

My life is one that 98 percent of the world pray for.  I’ve been so blessed, too blessed.  Yet, it was also overfull.  I had been scattered and strewn about.  Pieces of me were everywhere, but not really there.  I needed to get away just to figure out if I could keep going at this pace and in this path.  And just to remember why I was here in the first place.  I was losing meaning and purpose in all that I was doing.

July is my month of freedom.

So, the end of June when I was able to attain a small cabin for two weeks beginning July 1, I was as giddy as a school girl could be.

I had the car packed up in two hours.  Sporty came with to help set up camp, but he could not stay as work was calling his name, having just had vacation time for a Canada fishing trip.  I was at ease with this, as I craved aloneness.  I think he had mixed feelings.  I could feel this, but we didn’t talk about it.  The kids planned on coming and going when they could, being only an hour away.  Honestly, I was not planning for anyone. . . but myself.  A strange feeling, selfish, yet a desperate attempt, like I was running away from my life,  in order to save myself.

Upon arrival, I unloaded food, checked out the facilities and immediately drug my chair down to the water.

I climbed into my resting place and closed my eyes and I just lay there.  The air moist, the sun embracing me with warmth and the sound of the waves lapping.  This is heaven.  How can heaven not be like this? All I could verbalize over an over in my mind was,

“Thank you, God.  I am here now.  Let me rest.  Please, please, bring me peace.”

Tears were already welling up and I hadn’t been there for more that an hour.  I had to hold them back as I wasn’t ready to face all that God had in store for me here just yet.

The breeze gently caressed my skin.  “Yes, I know you have something to say,” I replied to it.  “But, not now. . . I just beg to lay here and disappear into this landscape and forget who I am for now.”

It wouldn’t listen and I smiled just knowing there was so much here for me. I would try to be patient toward all that was unsolved in my heart, just as Rainer Maria Rilke starts out her poem,  LETTER TO A POET.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart

and try to love the questions themselves.

do not now seek the answer, which cannot be

given you because you would not be able  

to live them.  And the point is to live everything.

Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then

gradually, without noticing it, live along some

distant day into the answer.

I prayed to live my questions.  First I needed to articulate them.  In this mess of who I was at that point in time, would I even be able to figure out what my questions were?

And how do you live a question into the answer?

I would let the breeze teach me.

Today though. . . I just rest.  Just rest my weary bones.