On Forgetting: The Facets of Our Genius #4/31 SOL ~2021

My entry today was to continue onward about rituals. I’ve described the warming of the room, the filling of the pen and my obsessiveness with having a notebook that subscribes to all of my preferences. I am a little persnickety when it comes to my habits.

Today was supposed to be an entry in my lighting of the candle. 

But, I am suspending that plan.

I had my day’s plan scribed out in my Life Book. This takes place in the early morning of the evening before. Yet, I allow for flexibility. Today, the Universe has other plans.

My Mother calls and wishes to meet for lunch. A student meeting on zoom is cancelled due to illness. My slice of life was not yet completed. Arrows were already filling my page.

So, I checked my morning emails in this newly crafted space of time.

And there it was.

A Slice of Life from one of my former teacher education students. She, now a Teacher Warrior in the midst of this pandemic – her first year as Teacher.

I’d been floundering lately. AGAIN. Resistance towards the inner callings that my soul has been screaming for me to pursue. I’ve been here a number of times. It’s painful. A quiet desperation, as Thoreau describes. The path mucky. Distractions in abundance. Bills need to be paid and peace to be kept.

The more I ignored it, the louder it screamed.

My notebooks were filling again with questions to live, observations and unfolding bread crumbs to follow. There is no playbook, manual or script that can tell us how to or where to go to figure out how to live our own purposeful lives. We discover it on our own by living and doing and paying attention and then listening.

A teacher I have always been. First, of my siblings, then those darlings in the early childhood years and moving upward to elementary. Then, to teachers, as a literacy coach and now to preservice teachers, and sometimes in service teachers as well. I love teaching and believe it has always been my calling.

But, there is something deeper that rumbles underneath all of this. An itch I can’t scratch. An ache that won’t heal. A taunting that won’t leave. 

I believe there are bigger callings we have beyond being “teacher”. A calling that works THROUGH us as “teacher”. 

The past few weeks, I’ve been partaking in Jeffery Davis’ free Wonder of This Life workshops on Insight Timer. He so perfectly attached words to what it was that was gnawing at me as I tried to describe it. 

He said something along this line. (Forgive me, I fail in capturing the direct quotes, although these might be. They are all scribblings in my notebook. I hadn’t planned on rewriting them here.)

“Genius is the capacity to retrieve and reclaim childhood at will. It’s a force of character that wakes you up to your best self and your best work in the world. It will guide us if we are awake to it.”

He goes on to remind me that “each of us is born with a distinct facet of character. A soul’s code. It’s presence is to remind us of our core unique genius. To reclaim it, we have to remember it. Our facets of life align with this genius. We are born forgetting. Others can mirror back our genius. We each are a gem, radiating from a facet of that gem – all together we are connecting and glowing. We are not alone. We are interconnected.”

It was revealed to me many years ago, through writing, that a one facet of my own “soul’s code” is to reflect others’ genius to them and tell them so they would hear it out loud and not forget. I had labeled this as “gifts”, however, rather than “genius”. I vowed to pay close attention to the notice the gifts of my third graders and tell what I see and to create conditions in which they could tend to those gifts. 

Nathen loved to talk. I told him he would be a voice for those who were afraid to speak. Nevaeh was a quiet gifted artist. I provided sketchbooks, artist books in the library and taught her zentangling. Rayah loved to dance, so did Grace. We created a container of space for them to dance in the classroom for us when they felt called to do so. And, Jace, he was a natural when in charge. I told him he is a born leader – would maybe be a coach one day – so competitive he was. Soon, these third graders were noticing gifts in each other.

But, there is now ANOTHER layer yet! (All these bless-ed layers!) This facet of genius is to show others how writing can be a medium to reveal the facets of their own genius for themselves. Our own words that appear on the page in front of us can guide us through this messy life. The writing helps us remember who we are meant to be and our place in the world.

Imagine the world we would live in if everyone was living out their true genius – their soul’s code. 

I dream of that world.

Those third graders of yesteryear have perhaps forgotten already what their genius is. I’m thinking I should write them letters to remind them. 

But, today, I thank you, Caitlin, for reminding me of what it is that I’m here to do.

I keep forgetting.

The Magic at the Black Barn

Reaching to turn on the lamp by my bedside this morning, my eyes rested on this delightful stuffed sheep that was purchased the day before. I’d forgotten that I placed her there before crawling into bed. A warm smile she gave to me as a first taste of this new day. 

“Why, good morning, Dear Friend!” I greeted her. And, some giggles followed as the 6 year old girl in me emerged.

Let me tell you how she came to be. It’s a sweet story.

In the middle of a long Saturday afternoon at home, there was a need to get out, to somewhere, anywhere, to be awed and delighted in seeing something new. My eyes were bored of all the sameness around here. I messaged my daughter and asked her if she wanted to take a ride out to The Black Barn. Facebook announced, they were open this weekend with fresh inventory. Spring Stock. This might be the medicine to revive me.

The Black Barn is such a pleasure to visit. It is truly a Black Barn, and a beautiful one at that, nestled in the woods next to a winding river and filled with enchantments to delight all of your senses and the creative maker in you. 

Upon entering, we were struck by the greenery, signs of spring – this gave me hope, coffee mugs, blackberry jams and delectables (toffee). Moving inward, the kitchenary will attract the baker in you, and around the corner, there are books of best selling authors to cozy up by the fire with. And, then, there is the children’s corner. . .

Shelves and nooks and crannies filled with stuffed animals and books and childish things that grandmothers desire for their grandchildren. My daughter and I took turns holding, squeezing and sharing each stuffed animal with each other – I think believing that we were actually one-upping one another with every new discovery. 

“I really like the avocado doll . . . and the carrot,” she said.

“Oh, it’s the sheep for me,” I replied.

I carried the sheep with me throughout the store, not knowing why I had to have her or for whom she would even belong. Two children’s’ books found their way into my arms as well – titles I hadn’t heard. How could that be? Any day with a new book discovery is heaven indeed.

Nearing the check-out counter, my decision to purchase my goods was stronger than the one that usually taunts me that it’s time to put things back. It’s the Mother Voice nagging “Do you really need this?” 

 I decided that yes, I did need everything, and I set it all on the counter.

“Oh, you found the sheep!” I heard Brenda say from behind the till. Brenda owns this charming Black Barn. “Did you see her name?”

“No, I didn’t, she has a name?” I responded.

“Oh, yes,” she smiled, and she reached for the tag on the sheep and opened it for me to read. Our eyes met in the mystery of the moment.

Sherri Sheep it read.

Good heavens. We all laughed in surprise and it was decided by us all that the sheep was there for me and was just awaiting my arrival.

I left with my heart full and my little-girl soul happy at the magic of the moment. 

Thank you, Brenda, for your attention yesterday. So easy it would have been to just collect the money for the items I purchased, say thank you and send us on our way. You did more. You have created a dream space in this barn and filled it with items that remind us of who we can be and the possibilities of what we can do.

But more than this – you remembered my own name and made me feel seen, and created a somehow magical moment, in which this gift attracted me. You did not know that an old lady dream of mine is to raise alpaca sheep one day, and spin wool, and knit hats and small things for children to wear, but somehow, the universe has a way of using people to remind us of who we are and what our dreams are.

It’s a fairy tale dream that may never happen, but it’s fun to dream none-the-less. 

Until then, I’ll just keep visiting Brenda at the Black Barn. 

There’s magic in there.