The Bravest

the bravest

The bravest person I know is the parent facing life after the loss of their child.

I’m trying not to live in fear, not to future trip. I’m trying to send love and light and strength and healing energy. I’m trying not to be furious at the Universe who is taking parents on this journey.

I want to trust, I want to breathe, I want to pray and scream and cry and say something – anything – that will make sense, but I don’t know what words to share that will help ease the pain, that will share my love and let the bravest person I know feel my grief.

I want to be present in the pain, to feel it sweep through my body and out to the sky. I want to know that there is beauty and love and light wrapping their arms around those who need it most. I want to collect all the prayers and thanks and gratitude I read about, bundle them into something to hold onto. I want the bravest person I know to feel my embrace.

I want that child back, I want them to smile and eat spaghetti and smell fresh laundry. I want them to hug and cry and yell and love. I want their eyes to crinkle when they smile, their legs to shake when they’re tired, and their heart to fill when the bravest person I know enfolds them in their love.

Oh, Universe, the bands of my heart stretch to the great unknown. My fingers pause and enfold my face, they brush the tears and search for the words strangled inside.

All the while, my love, my hopes, my strength sleeps down the hall, wrapped in safety and dreams while the bravest person I know opens their eyes on an entirely new world today.

So I offer my humble words to you this morning, Universe: Peace. Love. Light. Hope. Faith.

And I trust that the bravest person I know receives them.

“It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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What Happens When You Focus On Your Words?

It was a normal Thursday afternoon. I pulled my red Prius into the garage after a long day at school, ready for the weekend. Our car ride chatter was nothing short of normal – with my teenage son, I’ve learned that some days are talking days, and some are best to be left quiet – and that words matter. Today we talked about the day, his classes, homework, and what he needed to do that night. As the radio clicked off and he swung his long legs onto the garage concrete, I heard him whisper, “Whoa, deja vu.”

“Whispers from your former life, bud,” I commented as I pulled my bulging bag of papers out of the back seat.

“No-not a former life, Mom. This has happened before. It’s the same thing,” he snapped back. Guess he’s not ready to  believe in past lives just yet.

“Seriously, Cam. When we have deja vu it’s you repeating what you’ve experienced in another time. It’s part of the Universe,” I patiently tried to persuade him.

“No, it’s not. I’ve done this before. In this life,” he shot back as the door closed behind him.

And we were done.

I’ve noticed that conversations with him require intense concentration. They are short, deliberate and to the point – or they’re not. Sometimes they’re full of hidden meaning, of twists of language, or simply a game of trying to appease my questions and get me out of the room.

As a writer and his parent, this does not satisfy my quest for stories, to use language to share emotions, to delve into the insides of his brain, or even to recount how he made his chicken/pasta concoction taste like something from a Food Network chef.

But it does start me thinking about words, and what happens when we focus on what we’re saying. In my classroom, I’m forever telling my 8th graders that English class is to learn to communicate – to use written and spoken language to understand each other, to share history, to create an understanding of the human experience.

I want my students AND my children to feel the urgency to use words to learn and move forward with the magic of life, and to always remember where we came from.

For writers, the written language is our sustenance. Moving pen on paper or fingers on a keyboard brings vigor to our veins and joy to our world. Writers teeter between words gushing out and over and tumbling down our bones as a waterfall carries the current, debris tossed in with beauty. We then sort and shift and question every single word, each letter becoming part of a canvas for our emotions and thoughts and stories. We can squeeze out language in the most excruciating fashion, hovering for days to capture that precise moment stuck in our minds and begging release into the world.

This consciousness of language, of purposefully and deliberately thinking about the words we put into the world, becomes at times both painful and pleasurable. Head down, we squint to see a story take shape, to illuminate the shadows of our world with words chosen with calculating concentration. We seek to be understood, to create community with our words, searching for the beautiful connection that comes when the reader pauses, looks up to wipe a tear or breaks into giggles. And we struggle with the pang of unkind comments, misunderstood intentions, and careless words flung thoughtlessly into the universe.

Writers know how much easier it would be to dismiss our thoughts, to brush them off and become part of the unconscious masses who struggle to put together 140 coherent characters. We understand the ease of dashing off an idea, pushing submit and walking away, and yet we continue to push through the pain of process. Why? To nourish our souls, to spread joy and understanding and passion and consciousness and hope that someday, in that deja vu moment, someone will call forth an experience and smile, reach out their hand, and make the world just a touch more beautiful.

That’s what happens when we focus on our words. We compose a wholehearted life. We create the kind of world we want to live in, for now and forever.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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The Universe is Taking Care of Me

Sometimes we all are so caught up in how we want things to be. Who will win an election, who will find the right relationship, what college our kids will be accepted to, what treatment will be found for an illness, what job might open up for us. We face these all-important, and sometimes critical, issues in life. However, I wonder if perhaps we are all just trying a bit too hard to make it happen.

I will admit I am a cerebral person. I stay up in my head all the time. I like it there. I like to think, to ponder, to imagine what if. I have never been one to jump into huge risks, or vocalize my thoughts immediately as they come to mind. I keep them ‘up there’.

Interestingly, I also wear them on my sleeve. Emotional, shy, sensitive – all adjectives used to describe me my entire life. It’s hard to feel intensely and try to keep it inside. I’ve never been good at lying or keeping secrets. Mix that all together, and I often find myself missing opportunities, misunderstood, or thinking of what I ‘should have said’ 30 minutes after the occasion ended.

So in the last few years I have kind of surprised myself. Surprised my family and my colleagues, too. I’ve decided that I needed to let these feelings and thoughts out of my head and heart and put them in motion. Like a slow leak in a balloon, I let the control in my head move towards my center. Using my contemplative nature, instead of thinking it out I let it settle and sink in. I acted on intuition over intellect and to my great surprise, amazing things started to happen.

I found myself in the mountains of Nicaragua, along with my children and complete strangers, mucking in the dirt and rocks to build a school. I found myself teaching and coordinating a new program at my school to help kids and families find their confidence and success. I found myself on a zip line flying over the jungle to challenge my fear of heights. I found myself applying and earning a government grant to study global education, with plane tickets for Washington D.C. and Indonesia. I found myself writing, testing the voice that began to emerge and finding new writing friends to share and learn with. Now, I find myself writing for Yahoo, my thoughts and words about education and parenting shared with an unlimited audience.

None of these experiences would have happened if I remained locked inside my head. There are too many reasons I could create to explain them away. There are too many risks, too many challenges, too many other people who would be better suited. Except that, the universe is taking care of me.

My writing friend Brenda Moguez, who shares her head and heart with the universe on a regular basis, writes in her blog ‘Passionate Pursuits’, “just once, this singular time, I’d like a leg up, the map, the golden key, the spoonful of sugar, the ruby slippers, and one of the wishes Genie gave to Aladdin. It’s ballsy of me to ask, I know, but I have good reason. I looked at karma’s life ledgers and I am showing a substantial overpayment. The same auditors, who tally the votes for the Academy Awards, keep karma’s book, so the numbers are accurate. Trust me.”

I couldn’t agree more. Karma’s life ledgers do keep the tally marks next to our name. Santa Claus does know who has been naughty and who has been nice. Cinderella’s fairy godmother does turn a pumpkin into a carriage so she can meet her handsome prince. And the Blue Fairy does bring Pinocchio back to life after he proves his bravery, honesty and selflessness.

But all of those magical experiences would remain in the ledger book if not for one thing: the voice and actions that put them out into the universe to be answered. As the great philosopher Bill Cosby says, “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”

Is this what holds so many of us back?  It’s our lives; we have to want it to happen.

In the end, I believe a combination of desire and action allows the universe to move. Trusting that we will be taken care of, that things will happen the way that they are supposed to, not necessarily how we think they should.

That, and a bit of fairy dust.

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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