your ordinary life is a fairy tale
and that means it's the best kind of real.
Blogging is, in and of itself, a weird thing for me. I feel really silly, putting my personal comments on the world out there. I can't control who gets to read them -- find my blog, and you find me. That's just how it is. That means, too, that my family and friends might learn hear things I've been quiet about in person, things I've been facing alone, trying to bear up in the face of what feels really heavy and hard.
Not being asked back to teach at the school feels heavy and hard. It feels like a big old lump of iron, half-melted down, twisted. It feels like I've lost my way, like I should have known to turn back at the beginning. There are so many things I want to be doing, and somehow, it's not happening. It's not the right place for me, which makes the moments that things work feel even weirder.
But it also feels like I'm being given another chance to make it happen. What ever "it" is. The "it" that has been calling to me for years, just out of hearing. The one I hear on the edge of my sleep. I don't call it a dream...
There's that word. Dream. This is "stories from the dream." Storyteller's Dream. And yet. What is the dream? I am quick to say, "but I don't have any dreams. there is nothing I dream of doing." and that feels really true. I don't want to be something when I grow up. I don't have a dream house, a dream car, a dream lifestyle. A dream job.
For one thing, where do you stop? A dream child? A dream spouse? A dream hat? A dream bathroom cleaner?
People like to ask, "What did you like doing as a child?"
I liked wandering around outside, telling myself stories and pretending to be book characters. I liked playing with my dolls. I liked going to school and brownies and choir and tap dancing lessons. I liked reading. I liked writing stories and poems, and dressing up in costumes. I liked going to church, and visiting my grandparents. I liked watching tv. I liked going to movies and museums and zoos with my family. I liked shopping for perfect, lovely little things, just to have bought something in a fancy store -- a fancy piece of chocolate, or a sticker, or a pencil, or a book... None of those sound like jobs to me. They sound like being a child. I like doing a lot of those things, still. But they aren't jobs. They aren't a career.
Here is something I'm still trying to understand, and I wonder if it is even possible to do. From "Two Tramps in Mud Time," by Robert Frost:
But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
as my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
and work is play for mortal stakes,
is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.
What does that even mean?
This is long and rambling, and I feel shy about putting it out there. This isn't a blog that's helping anyone with anything. I'm not even sure why it's here, or why I write, but maybe someone will feel less alone, someday, in seeing that I was here, and felt this, and wrote it.
Long story short, I am postponing the ecourse I was going to run. I know nothing about launching ecourses or products or services. I would love to do story/reading work with someone, soon. Soon, I'll have loads of time... And hopefully, I can find my way into offering blossom later in the year.
There will be a lot to let go of in the coming days, and weeks. As there always is, because that is part of living, and it sure beats the alternative.
This summer, I got to go to the National Storytelling Network's summer conference for the first time. It was amazing to be surrounded by storytellers from around the country, and some from other countries, who were exceedingly welcoming, supportive, and kind.
The day before the official conference opened, I took part in the Healing Story Alliance's pre-conference workshop, led by Lani Peterson. Lani does deep, world-changing work in Boston with people who have experienced homelessness or incarceration, and with other community members, facilitating their understanding of one another through storytelling.
There was a lot A LOT of stuff that I took away from that workshop. I'm not a trained psychologist, so much of it went over my head, but there was a part of the morning when we talked about helping people to tell their stories in order to re-construct their sense of self, helping them to "thicken" their stories. We go from the old normal -> through an experience of liminality and "undoing" our story -> to arrive at a new normal, where we are intentional in our responses. We then can return to the beginning of the story and help others.
This is the hero's journey, folks. We get to take that fairytale, mythic path every single day.
But it goes deeper.
We get to take that path every single moment of the day. In the pause between stimulus and response, where we make a conscious choice, we are responding to the call to adventure. That moment is sometimes briefer than the blink of an eye.
In every breath, in every response to our children, in every time we choose to speak up against hatred, and in every moment that we respond out of choice and not out of habit, we are heroes. We can have a thousand epic journeys in every day.
Those tiny, miniscule stories are woven together into the novel of our lives, the huge bildungsroman that tells of our journey from innocence to knowing, and then, we hope, into wisdom.
There is so much more to pull out of those few short hours, and I hope to bring you examples and insights over the next few weeks.
If you missed last night's facebook live, I have the video for you right here! Enjoy!
I'm sitting down to write, and I feel empty. A beloved guest from far away is staying with us, and my panicky only-child self is at war with my desire to spend time with my dear visitor. So I over-extend and do too much, and don't set boundaries, and then wonder why my heart is racing and I'm snapping and sniping at my child and spouse...
And our time together is good. A mirror is being held up, though, to how much i rely on my own routines and patterns to get by.
I hate that I'm letting my child soothe himself with tech -- games and cartoons on the iPad -- when I retreat to my phone and computer to tune out.
I hate that my kid is eating so much sugar, when I search the cupboards for a quick snack instead of a meal.
I hate being begged for a toy or soon-to-be thrown away thing, when I am letting money run through my fingers and bills are piling up while I don't work enough.
Im in a rough and whiny spot tonight, and angry with myself for not being happy.
stop caring what others think.
stop listening to the voices in your head that whisper half-truths and full lies.
stop checking your stats, likes, follows, retweets, comments.
stop checking the phone.
stop feeling like a failure.
stop trying to fix it. all of it.
stop asking for permission.
stop staying up too late.
stop trying to live on rice cakes, candy, and coffee.
start caring what you think.
start letting your heart lead.
start taking a risk.
start being playful.
start opening your close clutching hands.
start being kind.
start enjoying the magic.
start speaking to yourself with honest kindness.
continue to breathe.
continue to question.
continue to tell.
continue to reach out.
continue to look in.
continue praying, dancing, cooking, offering. speaking.
continue being gentle.
continue being brave.
stop. start. continue.
after this week, with a sick kiddo (now recovered), a missed lantern walk, last-minute work changes, newly scheduled gigs, and the work of simply being human, I need a moment to breathe.
Here's a huge summer sky over the Green Mountains.
breathe in the warmth, the space.
Tonight, we walked in the cold, just the boy and I, and sang our songs as we circled the neighborhood with our lanterns. so far away from the scene above, and yet, there is something the same in both.
So, the big snow passed us by. We had a lot of slush. The morning commute was awful, and we picked kiddo up at school early to avoid the evening commute. Then, I made brownies.
I've been thinking about how I got connected with people online, aside from the awesomeness that was LiveJournal, ca. 2005.
See, my last year of working at Spring Hill School, I got a book by Amanda Soule for Christmas, because Dooce had recommended it. I read dooce, because Alice of Finslippy mentioned her. Can't remember how I got to Alice's blog.
So, among the ads on Amanda's page was one for Kathy's site. And Kathy had an ad for Leonie's Goddess Guidebook page... and someone had an ad for Kind Over Matter, and they had a link one day to one of Hannah Marcotti's free ebooks. Through one of Hannah's courses, I met Angela.
So, that's how I "met" some of my people. Others, I've known since the days of dial-up, when that was how I could get internet access in my college dorm. There is the mailing list group of folks who have heard all my worst and best moments for the last 20 years. There are the high school and college friends I only see on facebook.
The truth is, I kind of suck at connecting with people. I forget to answer texts and emails. It's not that I don't want to talk to people, it's just... I end up waiting until the perfect time.
There is no perfect time. This is the only time there is.
Follow some of those links. Head down the rabbit holes of my past. You may meet some of your people, and you may not. Or you could go send an email or a text, or pick up the phone, or walk out your door, or look across the room.
Hello. This has been my journey to this place. Glad to meet you here.
We are listening to the radio, and the boy, who is no longer a baby, is sleeping.
Today, I roasted a chicken, and made the car fit into the garage.
We are waiting for winter to begin, as it must.
The little tasks are as done as they will be. The windows remain un-plasticated, but the hose is detached and coiled over my sagging bicycle in the garage, and there are milk and eggs and bread enough.
Tonight, I am grateful for the house, sighing as the temperature slowly sinks.
For the chicken in the pot, for fat, warm cats lounging around the living room.
For the gas and electric and water and sewer and cable internet, still working.
for the million, million little graces that make up my life.
If you are reading this, chances are, you are somewhere safe enough, warm enough.
Be glad of it, as the snow comes, and the wind and bitter cold.
Martinmas is this week. Think of Martin, who cut his regulation-Roman cloak of heavy scarlet wool into two pieces with his sword, which probably scared the wits out of the shivering beggar in front of him. Martin, who stabbed his sword through the security and complacency of power and offered not only warmth, but humanity, and who saw the divine flame burning lighting through the skin of the beggar in his dreams that night.
They have their own stories and struggles.
no one wants to hear how tired you are, how late you were up,
how the baby wouldn't sleep,
how work was hard, or just long.
No one really wants to hear about your aching feet, or head, or heart.
Unless you are willing to punch through the tired, the ache, into the source, into the deep
Pull back the tight-wound layers of it all, the election,
the dishes, the words bitten back, the ones you regret,
and take a moment to tell me
what the moon looks like tonight.
tell me about your anger, or your sorrow, or your need for something
you can't quite name.
It's so much more than tired.
No one wants to hear
they want too much to see, to touch, to hold.
to hold you up.
to hold your hand.
to hold on when you are so ready to let go.
I'm tired of battle metaphors. I want a metaphor of building.
less tearing, less fighting, less struggle.
No one wants to hear how tired you are.
I want a soft pillow, and a gentle hand, and strengthening sleep, not just for me.
for you, and for them, and for the person who made you angriest.
Goodnight. Tomorrow, the sun will rise,
and we will go on building.
Halloween was magical and lovely. We fell in with a newly-discovered group of neighbors with little boys who live on the other side of the block, and my Wild Kratt Bat joyfully demanded treats from every house with a porchlight on, accompanied by Harry Potter, a soldier in desert camo, and a very sweet turtle. It was cold, the bat ears didn't make it more than a quarter of the way (darn that low-temp glue gun!), but there was CANDY at stake!
That candy has been sorted now, examined, and considered. A small bag of chosen treats have been carefully saved, and the rest have gone to the Sugar Sprite. Sugar Sprite, also known as the Switch Witch or Halloween Fairy, collects children's treats and leaves a present in place of the goodies. Our Sprite then takes the candy and cooks it down into pure sugar syrup to sweeten the maple sap and provide the flowers with nectar for next year's bees. She tends to bring books to our house, but some families report a toy or game being left as a thank you for the candy. So, just in case you want to lessen the sugar load, she can visit any time she's needed.
As for me, I feel a need to pay closer attention these days to what I'm eating myself. I find that there are evenings when I look back over the day, and I can't remember eating a vegetable or any non-dairy protein. On the worst days, I eat an entire bag of Lundberg's Brown Rice Cakes, and forget to eat dinner. Or lunch. Maybe Sugar Sprite needs to visit me, too. But what might she leave in place of my starchy crutches? What would she leave for you? What would she take?
Perhaps the replacement will be real food, for me, and time to read and write.
It's November, and you know that means NaBloPoMo! So, for my bloggy version of NaNoWriMo, I look forward to your comments and questions. What do you want to know about? Here is my renewed commitment to daily posts for the month.
Also! More Storytelling is coming soon! I'm working on some downloadable stories, and local peeps will be able to catch me at the Linden Hills Winter Market and at Heartfelt's Preschool mornings. More info will be forthcoming...
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.