Be Brave!

I was clicking through the audio files on my computer when a soft, sweet voice caught me by surprise! The timid and airy voice of my daughter drifted towards me.

“What in the world?” I wondered.

She was singing. Softly. She did not want to be heard. Yet, she had recorded her voice–on my phone, no less–so, on some level, I suppose, she did want to be heard. She merely did not want to be seen and heard in that moment. She was too embarrassed to sing in front of an audience, yet her heart held a song. So, in some quiet moment she had snuck away with my phone to record every raspy, airy sound that emitted from her heart. I wonder if she played it back and listened to it or if she pushed the phone aside afraid to hear the sound of her own voice.

What now?

You slip the recording device back in its proper place and you go on as if nothing ever happened. Until one day someone stumbles upon that sweet little creation and says, “that is beautiful.”

Heart work takes courage that most of us do not have. Mind work merely requires that you get it done. Heart work requires that you give yourself, that you be completely vulnerable to the process and the product. Heart work can’t be shrink-wrapped and set on the shelf. It’s custom-designed, one-of-a kind. There’s so much more at stake.

Maybe that’s why some of the most brilliantly creative people were (and are) also the most troubled. They give everything to their craft and risk getting nothing in return. The little girl who steals away to sing into her mother’s phone is afraid to take that risk. I wonder how many more little girls like her are out there…

One day we’ll either become better at our craft or brave enough that it doesn’t matter.  Let’s keep working at it!

Daily Prompt: Overcome

Happy Monday!

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Prisoner in Paradise–a Parable

Once upon a time a peasant girl met a handsome prince who swept her off her feet and carried her away to his magical kingdom to live “happily ever after.” There he provided her with “everything she could ever want”–a gorgeous castle, fancy clothes, servants and chariots. Eventually, she even gave birth to two beautiful children. It seemed the peasant girl, indeed, had “everything”! She was certainly the envy of all the citizens in the kingdom. Yet, deep in her heart, the peasant girl was unhappy and the prince could not understand why.  After all, he had given her “everything.” He offered her more things, but she turned them away. He tried to impress her with his heroic deeds and commendations, but she was unimpressed. With each day, month and year the peasant girl-turned princess became increasingly depressed.

Then, one day, she was gone!

No one in the kingdom could find her. The servants searched her quarters, the children searched the gardens, the prince searched the bedroom. She was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, the maid came rushing in from the kitchen waving a slip of paper. It was a note that read:

Dear Beloved,

When I was a peasant girl I was confined to my father’s house. I had to obey him and abide by his rules. When I became a woman I left my father’s house but was, again, subject to a man’s rule. I have spent my entire life longing to be free. I loved my father and I love my husband. They are both good men who have been good to me, but the person who I long to be can not exist in captivity, even if it looks like paradise! I am more than a daughter, a wife and a mother. I am also a poet, an artist, a speaker, but you’ve never heard my voice! How could you? In this kingdom it is drowned out by so many other sounds… So, I had to get away…to hear the sound of my own voice!

I wonder how many women can relate to the princess in this story? Feeling like a “prisoner in paradise” who can–or should–not complain about a “good” life with a husband and children who love you, but also feeling completely underwhelmed and unfulfilled because you have your own dreams and ambitions that have been set aside for theirs?  I’ve struggled with many of the “safe” choices I’ve made, wondering if I should have taken some risks instead.

But, where does the princess in this story go? She leaves the safety of the kingdom–the protection of her prince and the surety of his purse! She’s on her own without his advice and she’ll have to figure out how to navigate the wilderness all by herself! She dares to venture out after years of pampered, protected and privileged captivity. What does she feel now that she’s gone? Fear? Freedom? Both? Will she succeed or will she fail? Will she hear her own voice or will it be drowned out by a cacophony of sounds she never anticipated? Your/her/our plot thickens!

To be continued…

slipper

 

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#Daily Post #Traditional

Is the Use of Letters and Memos Becoming Obsolete?

Today’s Daily Post on “Paper” reminds me that I had an interesting and shocking exchange with a group of students recently when I asked them to include with their end of semester portfolios either “a letter or memo to me” in which they were to explain their writing process and revisions. I did not have any specifics in terms of format other than, you know, “a letter or memo,” which, in my mind, was explanation enough for what format was required.

Although the assignment was not going to be graded according to the format of the letter or memo, I expected to see something that at least resembled the SHAPE of a letter or memo and I didn’t think that I needed to provide a detailed explanation of the letter or memo format in order for these intelligent, talented, savvy young people to know what to do.  These are writers who had created some of the most brilliant creative works I’ve ever read!

Ah, but I was sadly mistaken.

Rather than letters or memos, I received notes and messages from my students in various formats–paragraphs mostly–of varying lengths, on separate sheets of paper with no particular rhyme or reason. I was baffled, but when I raised the issue there was near unanimous surprise! “Oh,” they said. “we didn’t know you wanted our reponses to be in the actual form of a letter or memo!”

“Huh? Did not my instructions to write a ‘letter or memo’ indicate the actual form of a letter or memo?” I was lost, but my befuddlement became utter bewilderment when another student informed me that his concept of a “memo” was a “Post-It” note!

Wow.

So, what does this mean? Have the ancient forms of letters and memos been co-opted by the modern forms of emails, texts, Tweets and other social media “posts”–even Post-its? If I, as an English teacher ask for a “letter or memo” I must not assume that the old forms come to mind?

letter

Does this mean that technological changes in the way we communicate have made traditional forms unnecessary, even irrelevant? So, not only do we lose paper, we also lose the format of documents that were once printed on paper too?

I’m not one to knock the new forms or formats for communication, but it hurts my heart a little to think that the tried and true conventions might be becoming less necessary to our daily interactions. Letters and memos are still a part of business and I made it clear to my students that they can not disregard them just yet, but their ignorance caught my attention because they have apparently been able to go so long without knowing about or using these types of documents enough to consider them necessary.

I learned about and began using these forms in middle school!

Perhaps future generations will have less of a need for letters and memos in order to conduct business, but somehow, to my 20th century mind and fingers accostumed to the touch of paper and hard No. 2 pencils, this just seems wrong.

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For samples of my students’ amazing works see Woman Enough and Flash fiction: Life’s a Challenge–Face It!