It always surprises me what comes up when asked these kinds of thought-provoking questions. It would have made more sense to write about making my first quilt, about learning new skills, about wanting to do something compassionate for someone, about seeing imagination and work come together to create something wholly new, but that’s not the memory that wanted to be explored. And the one that did… sometimes I forget I ever was that girl. Clearly I need to remember.
#DareToExcel Challenge – 3:
Take a few minutes to remember a time when you were nine, or around that age, when you felt free to be your best.
Feel an exact moment in time and place. Are you outdoors or indoors? How does the air feel? How do you feel in your body? What are you uniquely doing or making? Who are you with and how are you uniquely relating to others?
Looking back with full compassion toward yourself, what 1-3 adjectives would you use to describe your younger self at her or his best?
These are your 3 Young Genius Qualities.
How can you bring some of those young genius qualities forward to this project?
The first memory that sprang to mind was from a picnic at the lagoon in the town where I grew up. It was summer and a bunch of my friends from school were there. The weather was sunny, warm, with maybe the slightest breeze off the bay. The water was alive, with the sun glinting off its low, lapping waves. The cries of seagulls mixed with our laughter.
My four closest girlfriends and I were on the lawn doing cartwheels, aerials, and back flips. The five of us were in gymnastics together and we were playing around, egging each other on in a sort of friendly competition, daring each other to new heights and new combinations. When one of us missed or messed up we’d shout pep-talks from the sidelines. If it was a really bad miss, we’d laugh it off and try again.
Playing like this in the sun was so different than training or regular competitions. Free of the focus on perfecting techniques and form, we could just have fun. And because it was just fun, we dared to experiment, we dared to be fully in our strong and flexible bodies, pushing the limits of what they could do, to see how high we could jump, how fast we could run, how far we could fly. And because it wasn’t about trying to be our best, we were free to actually explore what our best could be. And often, we found it.
It’s strange to look at this list and consider that these are not words that I would use to describe myself now, at least not in the way I mean them here. The strength and flexibility of resilience has become a way to get through the tough times, to weather emotional, financial, and other storms, instead of an expression of the strength, power, flexibility, and adaptability of a trained athlete or of youth. And the freedom I have now, hard won and held through sacrifice and compromise, is not the freedom of what felt then like an endless summer where everything is possible. And vibrancy? Perhaps I just vibrate on a more subdued frequency these days. They are all still in me, just not expressed in the same way or with the same exuberance and joy as they were then. I want to get some of that back.
But that is my life. What about my project, Make, Don’t Mull?
In its conception my project was more about creating calm and space, about clearing away obstacles, about getting to work, which feels the absolute opposite of the me from memory. How do I infuse Vibrancy, Resilience, and Freedom into a project that essentially consists of slogging through a checklist of incomplete tasks that I just want, finally, off my plate…Why was that, again? So I have the space and freedom to explore a topic that absolutely lights me up.
And there it is. Because my #onesmallproject has two parts: The chop wood, carry water part, and the freedom to experiment with a story that no longer serves me or the world, to play with new combinations, new manifestations, to push its boundaries, to see how far it can stretch without snapping, to give it more power, more strength. To help remake it into a powerful force for freedom, life, action, and hope. I may not be able to do a backflip again, but I bet I can relive the feeling it gave me.
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