“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Some of life’s greatest adventures happen when you set out on an unmarked trail. Be the first to leave footprints on a snowy slope and end up at the top of the world; step into the edge of a forest and end up in a beautiful, flower-filled meadow; or maybe stumble out on the shore of a lake hidden in the belly of a mountain.
Once, just once, take off your socks and shoes and leave them in the sand. Go for a walk nice and slow, letting the sand swallow your toes and the water wash away your worries. Just walk for a while, then stop, sit down, and close your eyes. Listen to the soothing back and forth of the waves….they’re whispering your secrets to the wind, who will take them and blow them away. Now open your eyes and look back on your footprints. They’ve disappeared with your worries and secrets.
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ~ Scott Adams
One of the best things about creating is that nothing is a mistake. No matter what you spill or drip or tear, it's a masterpiece. Someone somewhere will look at whatever it is you’ve created and say, “That is the most amazing work of art I have ever seen. How much?” Or at least say, “Wow, I love what you did there!”
Art is one of those magical things that has an indefinite number of disguises. Even more than Inspector Gadget! And here's why: every person who looks at a single project will see something different, and walk away with a unique impression of it. We each view it thru our own personal lenses, colored by our experiences, thoughts, ideals, principles, goals, and fears. Each of us hears a different story. How great would it be if we could all get together and share them?
Well, in a way, that’s what I got to do today, for fourteen hours, in a conference room at the local Quality Inn. Paper Pals hosted a crop and I decided to bring some projects and create mistakes – also known as art – with a small group of like-minded women who shared their stories with me.
You know something? Life is a lot like art….with one notable difference: there’s no eraser. So does that mean it’s ok to get upset when you make a mistake? To throw a fit and give up? Absolutely not. It means that you take a step back and decide how to turn them into art.
I have to admit I find this a bit creepy. That hand print was made (in the context of the movie) with blood. And it looks like a person….
However, I am in no position to judge who anyone chooses to have a conversation with. I find myself talking to, well, my self quite often. It’s not just when I’m alone in my apartment. I’ll be wandering around the grocery store talking about what I need to buy, the outrageous prices, how much one thing costs compared to another, etc. After several minutes I’ll realize I was talking out loud. So lately I’ve taken to holding my phone up to my ear so it looks like I’m talking to someone else.
On the other hand, I also talk to Oliver. All the time. He has a special, non-verbal language that only a few people understand. Well, two people to be exact. (Just for the record, I don’t expect him to respond, nor do I believe that he does in any tangible, audible manner.)
In the movie Castaway, which is one my favorites by the way, Tom Hanks talking to Wilson was more than just talking to himself. He was attached to that volleyball in a very real, emotional way. I have a similar connection to Oliver. When Hanks thought the ball had been lost at sea he cried out “WILLLLSSOOOONNNN!!” How many of you teared up? It’s ok to admit it, I do every time! And I get chills. Because I can imagine what he’s feeling.
I can’t explain how I feel about Oliver. It sounds childish to be so attached to a teddy bear, but he’s the only family I have here. He represents something so important and deeply rooted in my heart and mind that I can’t sleep without holding onto him. Does that make him my Wilson?
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
~ Vivian Greene
Two days into my new job and I’m exhausted! Not because I’m running around like a headless chicken or feel super stressed; honestly, it has a lot to do with the fact that I don’t have much to do yet! Ironic, I know. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining; I’m still excited to be at a new school. I’m just so tired….
Because I’ve been dancing so much lately! Instead of sitting around waiting for the storm to pass, I learned to dance in the rain – and then I got out of there before I got so wet I melted! I’m really looking forward to next week and being able to work with more kids; maybe I’ll teach them a rain dance or two….
“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of what you already have.” ~ Anonymous
Sometimes when life becomes overwhelming, I have to remind myself to stop and take a look at what I have. When I feel restless and out of place, I make myself look around and be proud of the apartment I’ve settled in, the fact that I have a place to call home that’s all my own. When thinking about work stresses me out, I remind myself that some people don’t have a job, and I’m doing what I love, which is really just a bonus to being able to make a difference in a child’s life.
If I’m honest with myself, I can say that I am content with my life as it is right now. Yes, I’m lonely, and I want a family more than anything, but I also realize I have so much already. God has blessed me with so many wonderful gifts – friends, a place to live, a car, a job I enjoy even on the worst days (although I have a really hard time remembering that on the worst days!) – and best of all, I get to have a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe!
This is one of those moments when I can look back on my day and see the miracles that are happening. This new job is going to be one of them, over and over again, in big ways and small ways. I am very impressed with my new boss, his team approach and the way he acknowledges and listens to those working for him. I’m encouraged by how friendly and welcoming the whole climate of this new school is – to new staff, and I’m sure to the students.
I also see how this new position is fitting into the plan God has for my life. My student teaching is about to be set for January, meaning I’ll be official by June. I’m in a place where I can learn and grow professionally and personally, while at the same time help others to learn and grow. As the pieces come together I am finding encouragement and contentment, and a renewed sense of peace and safety in God’s arms. And you know what? He gives great hugs….
“Music is what feelings sound like.” ~ Author Unknown
How many of you sing at the top of your voice in your car when you hear a song you like on the radio? Do you find yourself nodding your head and tapping your pen as you sit in a Starbucks listening to your iPod? Or dancing around the living room in your underwear when you think no one is watching?
Self-expression comes in many forms. Music is a big part of many of them. It’s a universal language that never grows old, and even what’s old will become new again. Although I must say – 80’s music? Seriously? Can anyone name five good songs that came out in that decade?? I dare you.
Anyway, I could listen to a few of my friends play piano for hours. Or guitar. There’s something soothing about the sound of an acoustic guitar in the background. Especially in the mountains, camping. I don’t know how to play the guitar very well, mostly because my fingers are too short to reach around the neck and hold down the strings. I got a child’s guitar to help that problem but then I just look silly! Besides, I’d rather marry a guy who plays guitar….totally hot.
“Every day holds the possibility of a miracle.” ~ Elizabeth David
I think most of us have grown up believing that miracles don’t happen anymore. At least not like the ones we learned about in Sunday School; I remember the stories about turning five loaves of bread and two fish into enough to feed thousands, and Jesus walking on water. So what defines a miracle then?
Well according to Mr. Webster, it’s “an act or happening attributed to a super-natural power; a wonderful thing”.
I like that last part. “A wonderful thing.” Yes, a miracle is a wonderful thing, and every day holds the possibility for many wonderful things to occur. Here’s the catch: you have to be watching for them. Not all of them are extraordinary or life-changing, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t miracles.
Since today is Sunday, a sort of natural beginning to the week, I’m going to challenge you to take a few minutes each day for the next seven days to reflect on the small miracles in your life. Before you go to bed, maybe while brushing your teeth or even earlier while cooking dinner, look back at your day. What happened that was “a wonderful thing”? It could be something significant, but more likely it will be something simple, a gentle reminder that miracles still happen.
“The greatest thing in the world is not as much where we stand as in what direction we’re moving.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
Sometimes the greater importance lies in the act of moving, as opposed to the destination, or even the journey. Just being able to get up and go can be a very profound experience. I read another quote that said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” (Will Rogers).
I tend to move through life at a very laid back pace. However, when it comes to finishing a task – especially if it’s something I find interesting and/or intellectually stimulating – I can get things done pretty quickly. The point is that I’m moving, I’m doing, I’m creating, I’m not just sitting there waiting for life to happen.
I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now, or even a few months. But I know that I’m moving in the right direction.
“The trick is not to rid your stomach of butterflies, but to make them fly in formation.”
~ Author Unknown
I realized something earlier this evening: today was my last free weekday before the start of a new school year. Which led to another realization: I haven’t really done anything to get ready, or even really thought about what I’ll be doing at the new school, because I’m still so excited I got the transfer!
I’m not really nervous to start at a new school; I know how to do this job, and I know I can do it well. In fact, I’ve been doing it well these past two years in this very District. I’m actually really excited that I will finally be working in an environment where that fact will be noticed and appreciated, which will go a long way towards helping me find a teaching job once I’m certified. And that may happen sooner than I expected. God is definitely working things out for me!
To be honest, I don’t really remember ever being nervous about anything. I have wondered, on occasion, who first described it as “butterflies in the stomach” and how they came to that analogy. I imagine it’s a soft fluttering of some kind, like when a butterfly brushes its wings against your cheek. That doesn’t seem so bad, though. I think a better comparison would be a flock of ducks. That would be unsettling! But so powerful if you really could make them fly in formation….
Well friends, today I would like to introduce you to one of my new favorite places! It’s called Paper Pals, and it’s a local paper crafting supply store here in Pullman. The owner, Karen, is very friendly and knows a lot about the world of paper crafts. I’ve been hanging out there for the past couple of weeks working on projects.
See those big windows? That makes up one whole wall of the store, and right on the other side of them are six-foot-long tables that are available for public use. That’s where I’ve been working. She also offers classes on making cards, mixed media canvases, mini albums,and art journaling; she has a 14-hour crop once a month at the Quality Inn; she brings in someone to teach Intuitive collage; she hosts birthday parties; and she does custom wedding invitations! Oh my!
This week is a special one because Karen is celebrating the store’s 10th Anniversary with a big sale on Saturday! You can win this awesome tote full of great stuff, get 20% the entire store, and make a mini squash album or Cuttlebug card! Lots of fun and great deals! If you live here, or you’re visiting for the Lentil Festival, you should stop by between 10a and 5p – you get a raffle ticket just for showing up! (Plus an extra for every $10 you spend!)
I love hanging out there and working. I’ve been going in every day she’s open for the past two weeks! (Tuesday – Saturday from Noon-6p) During that time I’ve learned how to make mixed media canvases (photos available at Mixed Media Projects), create backgrounds for art journals, and make ATCs!
Oliver came with me today to help take some photos. On the left you can see some projects from the classes she offers, and on the right he’s sitting at her wedding invitation station. More photos of the store and products will be appearing each week here on my blog (under a new Paper Pals tab I’ll create tonight).
One of the most important things you should know about this store is that it’s not just a scrapbook store – it’s a paper crafting/mixed media project/art journal store. You can find supplies, ideas, and inspiration for just about any type of creation you’d like to make. Even if you’re not sure what you’re doing! Just come in and say, “Here’s what I need, and what I got,” and be open to suggestion. You’ll be surprised at the amazing things you’re able to create with just a little push!
This awesome paper is some of the new product she’s getting in a couple times a week. There are stickers and books that coordinate – and with the big tables and awesome view, you can buy everything you need then sit right down and get to work! And chances are you’ll be seeing Oliver and me working on something, too!
Check out Paper Pals on Facebook at Paper Pals and be sure to “like” them for great photos, newsletter information, and updates. You can also visit the blog at www.scrapatpaperpals.blogspot.com. And don’t forget to stop by this Saturday, August 18th, from 10a-5p for cupcakes, card making, and great deals!
“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” ~ Cesare Pavese
Looking back over my thirty-one years of life, I realize the truth in these words. And you know I love finding such profound truth in such simple statements.
At first it doesn’t seem quite right; you may be thinking, “Hey, I remember my tenth birthday,” or “I’ll never forget my wedding day.” But look a little closer. What do you really remember? That’s right my friends, it’s the moments. A whole collection of them on some days, others are just tiny snippets of a season in our lives.
Sometimes we manage to capture those moments of our lives on film. (This one was taken by someone special to me, and shows the comfort side of Oliver.) A photograph becomes the representation of all of our thoughts and feelings of that one moment. Then the moments grow into something so powerful we tell their stories over and over again until it’s all we remember from that experience. And the years go by, and one day we look back and realize that the pictures have come to represent days or even months.
And yet….it’s always still the moments we come back to. Especially the ones that change us. We never forget the moments that change our lives. What are yours?
“I’m in love. His name is Jordan Catalano. He was left back. Twice. Once I almost touched his shoulder in the middle of a pop quiz.” ~ Angela Chase
I got to hang out with an old friend today, one I haven’t seen in over ten years, and it was so much fun! We met at a cute little cafe and had lunch. In some ways it was like nothing had changed, we just hung out and ate, and talked about all manner of things. In other ways, lots of things have changed – she’s married and has an adorable little boy!
The last time I saw her she was still in high school, and I had recently graduated. Our lives have gone all over the place since then! One thing I’ve always enjoyed about her (and there are several!) is the lack of drama in her life. We somehow managed to remain on the outside of it while watching and listening to our friends get so easily overwhelmed. We talked about this briefly today, referring specifically to the camp we both attended and later worked for, which is how we became friends.
Later, while we were sitting in the shade at a local park and watching her son explore the playground (he's fifteen months and likes rocks and dirt!), we got to talking about the differences in kids today, compared to when we were younger. For us, almost touching a guy’s shoulder would have been something to freak out about and share with all of our friends, which is why the character of Angela Chase on My So-Called Life struck a chord with so many girls when it was on air. Today, a girl getting pregnant at fourteen isn’t even much of a scandal. Some schools have even started up daycares so the teen moms don’t have to drop out.
I believe that God has a plan for all of our lives, and that He will bless the life of every newborn child; I also believe there are consequences for our actions, and sometimes even the ones that seem bad can bless us. However, I believe that our inaction prompts consequences, too, and that’s something that can just as easily be avoided. It doesn't matter if you don't have kids, you're not excluded. Don’t expect parents to be the only source of encouragement, or assume they’re the only example kids are following. If you want to affect great change on the future, even more than recycling and using cleaner air products – show kids how to live. Walk the talk.
“I am who I am, no approval required.” ~ Author Unknown
Before someone can like you for who you are, you have to like you for who you are; and before you can like who you are, you have to know who you are.
Most people spend their lives trying to find themselves; honestly, I don’t think anyone ever really gets there, but only those who bother trying ever get close. It’s perhaps one of the greatest and most challenging journeys a person can take, but unlike most others, every step is rewarding.
As I’ve gotten to know myself over the past few months, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am who I am. Were I less than I am, we would be less than we are. And I like who I am. I don’t need the approval of the people around me. I do however need their love and support, their respect and their encouragement. But those things only serve to strengthen who I am, and in so doing, to strengthen who we are. I’m still learning about myself, but that’s the key: you have to keep going.
“When a shower brings a rainbow, we hardly remember getting wet!” ~ Author Unknown
Storms are great metaphors for so many things in life! And rainbows have come to mean different things, but for me they will always represent God’s promises to us. So when I hear this quote, I think about things in my life that are stressful, and how when God brings me thru them, I hardly remember why.
Literally speaking, I love storms! Especially in the spring or early summer, when it’s a downpour and I get soaked within minutes. I love going out and standing in the middle of the rain and closing my eyes….and just listening to the storm speak. It’s so hard to explain what it says, but I know some of you can relate. It’s nothing like the metaphoric storms in our lives, it’s refreshing and invigorating, and the power it demonstrates makes you feel so….alive.
I recently came through a storm in my life, and now that I’ve seen the rainbow – I’m still seeing it, and I’m in such a great mood! – I haven’t forgotten getting wet, but I’ve decided to turn the memory of it into one that does what actual rain does; I’m going to let it refresh me, and help me feel alive, as I move forward into the sunlight and fresh air. Life’s storms shouldn’t be forgotten, even when we’ve dried off; without the rain, we’d have no rainbows!
“Only those that risk going too far, can possibly find out how far one can go.”
~ T.S. Eliot
I’ve been getting back into crafting recently, something I’ve loved since I was a small child, and haven’t been able to do for a while. It amazes me how the one thing that I know will help me let go is the one thing I can’t seem to do when life gets overwhelming. But it's never too late to pick up where I left off.
Well I’m out of the cave now, and as of yesterday afternoon, out of a very stressful working situation. And I’ve found my art again.
At the same time, I’ve found a new freedom to take risks. I’m letting myself explore and experiment in ways I never realized I was resisting before. And the really fun thing I’ve learned is that I’m not really learning something new, I’m just learning to see my old way of doing things in a new way.
“Fifty years from now when you’re looking back at your life, don’t you want to be able to say you had the guts to get in the car?” ~ Sam Witwicky
While I’m not usually in a position to save the world, I’m often faced with tough decisions that will change my world. I want to be able to look back fifty years from now and say I did my best, I did what I had to do, I followed God - I stepped out on nothing, and landed on something.
I had an interview today, and was offered a job at a new school, one where team work and communication are top priorities, where my ideas and experiences will be sought after and I will work with others that want to teach me and mentor me. This is just one more step forward, a great next step in the journey that I’ve been on this summer. It’s a big change, but a great one. I know it will be hard at times; but God never says life will be easy, He just says it will be worth it.
Another quote I really like is “Fear not that your life shall come to an end, but rather that it shall never have a beginning” ~ John Henry Newman. I find myself thinking things like “I’ll do that tomorrow,” or “I’ll wait til the first of the month to start that,” but tomorrow never comes, and the first of the month flies by without anything changing. So why not start right now? What am I waiting for? I should just get in the car. The only real question is….which one?
“If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.” ~ Anonymous
I made this canvas this morning, and I’ve been thinking about this quote all day. This is one of my new favorites. It seems to represent so many areas of my life lately. All the things that have been changing, mostly positive changes, have been giving me a new sense of self – like emerging from the cocoon with wings.
In a lot of ways, I feel like a new butterfly. I’ve talked about this in other blog posts, although I’ve used a different metaphor (coming out of the cave); I have been changing and growing, and learning to see myself in a totally new way the past two months, and this transformation has been amazing. Well, now that I have my new wings, I want to see how far I can fly! I was born to teach, and to write, and to create. If I stay where I am, I feel like I’m suffocating.
That’s because one area I’d like to change in my life is my job situation; I love children, and I love teaching, but where I work now is so stressful it makes me ill. The worst part about it is that all of the stress originates with one person. I know that I should be praying for her – and I do – and that I need to have patience and be professional and respectful. Those aren’t always easy to do, and I definitely struggle with them, but after two years I don’t want to fight anymore.
Tomorrow I have a chance to make this change a reality; I’m stepping out in faith, trusting that God will continue to lead me where He wants me to follow.
“I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in autumn, how they’re experts at letting go.” ~ Jeffrey McDaniel
We could all learn something from these silent sentries. Without a word they teach us the way of true growth and prosperity. With the changing of seasons comes the moment of truth: the air gets cooler and the days grow shorter; the leaves begin to change colors and die, so the trees just….let go.
I don’t know about you, but I always seem to make things too complicated. When seasons change in my own life, when things start to cool down and the darkness creeps in, when I feel parts of myself starting to die – or one of my worlds of friendship start to crumble – I tighten my grip. Sometimes I hold on so fiercely I end up with nothing but a pile of broken pieces. But you see, just like with the trees, those seasons pass….winter comes along and I feel frozen for a while….but Spring always comes, and brings with it new life, new opportunities, new hope. I just need a little faith; I need to let go, and wait for the spring to come.
Of course, there are times in life when people must know when not to let go, too; I think that’s why balloons are given to children….
I own books. I don’t want to say “a lot” because what really constitutes a lot? I have over 200. Not sure how much over, probably closer to 300, but I didn’t take the time to count them all. I may do that one of these days. Instead, I counted the ones I haven’t read yet....and guess what! There are 118!!
That’s right my friends, I own 118 books that I haven’t read yet. And honestly, that’s not really even all of them. There were some I didn’t count for various reasons. The point is, I promised myself I would read all of the books I own before I go out and buy more. The thing is, I’d have to average about 2.5 books a week to get these read by the end of July 2013! That’s a lot of reading my friends! And no re-reading any that I’ve read before, which I actually enjoy doing quite often.
So I’m officially making a pledge, to all of you out there in cyberspace reading this, to read all 118 books before I allow myself to buy new ones. With the exception of books for work, my Masters classes (although I shouldn’t need to buy any more for that), and my art. I’ll try to post when I finish one for some sort of accountability, and to share with all of you what I discovered. Books are, after all, kind of like treasure maps – and tonight my journey begins!
“Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swiveled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.” ~ Bryce Courtenay
Courtenay is the author of one of my favorite books, The Power of One, a story about the difference one little boy can make against the bonds of apartheid in South Africa, but also about the power of people coming together as one. I’ll be writing a book review post on it one of these days.
This quote is more about the power of one moment, one remark, possibly even a single word, to change the direction of someone’s life. We really have no way of knowing for sure how something we say or do will impact those who around us; or even who may be listening.
This photo is by Yuichiro Miyano, titled “Step by Step.” I found it on a blog called “The Lost Promenade,” and it makes me wonder what she’s thinking about, how she’s feeling. What breath of a circumstance or random moment just collided with her life? Will this one moment on the dock change everything?
I might write a story about her, and use this quote as a guide. Does she sit on the end of the dock and let her feet hang over? Does she jump off and sink to the bottom, or float away with the tide? Who is the last person she spoke to, and what was said? What’s her name?
I was just talking to a friend online about leaving a legacy. She said she hasn’t figured out how she’ll leave her mark on history; she doesn’t have any children, so who will remember her when she’s gone? It’s both awe-inspiring and completely terrifying to think about how much our lives affect others in ways we can’t even fathom. Something as simple and automatic as a smile could change the world for someone. Something as innocent as a spoken word could destroy it….
“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” ~ Collette
Collette, a French novelist, once said that we will do foolish things. This is true. It’s a mathematical certainty. Some of us will do more than others; but then some of us will make more money, or have more children….it all evens out. It’s also true that college is when an inordinate amount of those foolish things will happen.
College is a special time in a person’s life. You get to explore your world and who you are within it in ways that your parents forbid when you were younger, and people frown upon when you’re older. For example, when the new Target store opened in North Seattle, and you felt adventurous. (That’s me on the right above)
Collette added that we should do them with enthusiasm. Now I ask you – what’s more enthusiastic than putting on novelty headbands?? (That’s me on the left)
“Home is where the heart is.” ~ Gaius Plinius Secundas (known as Pliney the Elder, who was killed during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius)
Today I took a class at my local scrapbook store, Paper Pals*. I made my very first mixed media canvas. It was so nice to be creative again! I’ve been waiting to really make anything until my craft space was all set up and organized, and it’s been driving me crazy!! Plus I’ve wanted to try a canvas project for ages.
For some artists, they work for the end, the final product. For me, it’s all about the process. Even though it was my first one, I’ve already learned several things about my personal preferences; there are some things I really liked, and a few I probably won’t do again. Overall it was a fun experience, and I recommend their classes to everyone! We went through it step by step, which is what I’ve needed, and the teacher shared tips and advice along the way.
This was a great first project, not only because it was relatively simple as far as design elements, but also because of what it represents: home. This is a concept I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. What is home? This quote seems to say it all so simply: it’s wherever you find the things you love the most. For me, that’s with friends and family, or any place where I can have the freedom to express myself in creative endeavors. (Which means I found a new home this week at Paper Pals!)
Here’s a fun rabbit trail: the shirt I wore today! Of course, it wasn’t on purpose, I actually didn’t realize what it said until I was in my car.
*Check out Paper Pals on Facebook! Like them to get more photos and updates, and help them reach their goal of 1,000 likes by the end of August!
“If we stop and stare at a flower long enough, it will become our entire world for just a moment.” ~ Author Unknown
I love this photo because it contains two moments: you’re drawn in by the bright yellow, a color promising optimism and creativity; but you can’t stay focused on it for long, it's too bright, so your eyes move on to the red behind it. The red is so subtle, almost hiding in the shadow of the yellow, encouraging it to be bright and bloom. And yet, at the same time, the brightness from the yellow reflects back onto the red, making it a little brighter, too.
This reminds me of the song, “Wind Beneath My Wings” and Beaches, the movie in which it was featured. I admit I always thought the song was lame, and I made up a sort of parody of it when I was a kid. Until I saw the movie. Listening to the lyrics in the context of losing her best friend to cancer – it made me cry!
“It must have been cold there in my shadow/To never have sunlight on your face/And you were content to let me shine/You always walked a step behind/I was the one with all the glory/While you were the one with all the strength/Only a face without a name/I never once heard you complain/[chorus] Did you ever know that you’re my hero/And everything I would like to be/I can fly higher than an eagle/Cause you were the wind beneath my wings.”
“It must have taken a lot of courage to discover that frog legs are edible.” ~ Author Unknown.
So begins chapter seven of my novel. And it’s a true statement. Although I’ve never actually eaten frog legs. I wonder if the person who discovered this ate them raw, or cooked them over an open fire. Perhaps with some fresh fish from the same stream? Or wrapped in a bit of seaweed.
I wrote an essay once about courage. My friend Jason Zingsheim sent me an e-mail referring to something that had happened, and how it took courage. (I had gotten up in front of about a thousand students to talk about myself.) I sat at my computer thinking about what courage really is; this is what I came up with:
“Courage is feeling the pain of death while living amongst the joys of life. Courage is having an open heart and open mind when something new and unusual and painful and unknown comes into your life and takes over your thoughts. Courage is accepting that some friendships will never be, and some will tragically end.
“Courage is having the faith to step out on nothing and land on something. Courage is being a friend to the one person everyone else has given up on.
“Courage is admitting that you love someone when they could never love you back. Courage is being a friend to the friendless, a shelter to the homeless, strength for the weak, and rest for the weary. Courage is living as close to Christ-likeness as humanly possible.
“Courage is that quality I admire so much in people like Elizabeth, Sarah, and Chuck – who have changed my life in such simple, and yet so profound and lasting ways. Courage is that quality I admire in people like Destiny, Scott, and Jack – who can never know how much they’ve touched my life because it would make them too uncomfortable, and present them with vulnerability they aren’t ready for. Courage is loving God when He makes you so angry you can’t even scream, but have to remain in the most painful silence man can endure. Courage is seeing everyone for who they really are, not who they try so hard to be, and loving them more because of it.
“Courage is not something I possess, but something I long for when life is going well, and desperately cling to in others and God when life is going terribly wrong. Courage is what I see in the eyes of a friend when I force myself to look at them, and courage is what makes me cry every time I do.
“Courage is what brings someone to give their life for another without a second thought. Courage is really close to love, and without it, love would not exist. Sharing myself with others is not courage. It’s being vulnerable, sometimes stupid, unsheltered, naïve. It’s taking a chance the rest of the world says shouldn’t be taken, believing I have nothing to lose. Nothing, it turns out, but friendships that once could have been and now never will be.”
“A quote is just a tattoo on the tongue.” According to William DeVault anyway. Ignoring the idea of violating your tongue in such a way, he kind of has a point.
Interesting note: when I looked up “tattoo” in Webster’s, the main definition given is “a beat of drum and a bugle call to call soldiers to quarters.”
The meaning we’re most familiar with, and that which is more suited to the context of this quotation, is “to mark permanently (as the skin) with figures, by pricking in coloring matter, or by making symmetrical scars.” I don’t have any tattoos yet, but I want to get one like this:
Except filled in, not outlined. It represents (to me) the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But not on my tongue. I was thinking my shoulder or ankle. Of course, one is an odd number, so I’d probably want to get something else, too. Maybe this:
Anyway, off the rabbit trail again: I think it’s more accurate to say that a quote is, for any writer or public speaker, the highest form of flattery. And so this month I will be sharing a quote a day, along with what you’ve all come to know and love as the random rambling rabbit trails of my stream of consciousness.