I don't know when it happened. Can't even pinpoint it with generalities (well, actually, I probably can…but that’s beside the point).
All I know is that one day it was gone.
I woke up one morning and could not find my Hope, my sense of Awesome-ness.
Look at this face:
He still has his Hope.
Many moons ago I was the same way.
I liked to sing - so I sang - all the time, no matter where I was or who I was with. Made up new words to go with popular songs on the radio. Heck, I even taped my “hit songs” (seriously, I wrote “My hit song: xyz” on the cassette labels – aaaand I just aged myself…eh, who cares?) so I could share them with my Nana and whomever else would listen to them. Even composed a song about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - for real.
My parents bought me a marionette for Christmas one year - I loved it. As my puppet collection grew my grandparents built me a puppet stage - so I put on shows. My brother, friends and cousins always got roped into participating. I wrote skits for us to perform giving them roles that I created especially for them – and then the adults were made to sit in rows of dining room chairs to watch our “performance.” I even made up tickets - they had to give us their ticket or they couldn't see the show. Those were the rules.
During the Holidays when family got together I was the kid with the “great ideas” for how to get everyone involved in the Thankfulness Celebration. I made goofy hats for everyone and orchestrated the “go around the table so everyone can share one thing they are thankful for” activity.
When my parents went to “adult parties” I did everything in my power to tag along…because I was addicted to adult conversation. As far as I knew – I held my own – the adults all said I was “very grown up” =) Adult conversation was much more interesting than just talking to my friends.
This one time (go ahead...say it) I called into a local talk radio show late one night while my babysitter prayed that my parents weren’t listening in their car. It was cool! The host even sent me a certificate in the mail for being his “youngest caller” (still have it – shit you not).
I had no fear, no shame and an abundant font of enthusiasm for things that made me happy. There was no worrying about what other people thought or the “what ifs”…I just ran with it.
Then it happened.
Suddenly (or at least that's how it seems to me) you couldn’t pay me to get up in front of a room full of people. My knees began to shake uncontrollably if anyone was listening to me sing (and no freakin’ way was I going to record my voice – singing or speaking). Perform? As in…on a stage? Not. Gonna. Happen.
And then…I gave up my dreams for someone else’s. Worst of all? I gave up my power – for a lot of years.
There were some dark times during those years. Times when I didn’t think I would EVER be truly happy again.
BUT!! In the beautiful words of Emily Dickinson:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Hope sang her song. On those coldest nights in those darkest places she sang.
She sang LOUD and she sang STRONG and she NEVER. GAVE. UP!!
When the storms were raging and I couldn’t hear her sing she wrapped her wings around me and waited.
One day I realized that somewhere deep within my grown-up, sorry self was that awesome little girl that used to write puppet skits and sing “hit songs” that she wrote into her cassette recorder.
That realization was the first step toward reclaiming my dream…the second step was going after it.
Then Hope put me in the midst of a bunch of other Awesome People who fed my hunger for the Awesome-ness that I was lacking…until I had it all back!
That was the beginning of The Beginning!
Hope gave me the strength to take back my Power and take charge of my life in a very real way.
I got stronger with every passing day.
Now, I can sing (if you count Karaoke) in front of folks with only minimal knee shakeage…still working on being ok with hearing my voice on tape (I’ll get there – it has been suggested that I try doing voice-overs...eh…we’ll see). I still make up words to songs…usually about my kids and/or dogs. Dogs don't criticize - usually. The kids just roll their eyes and tolerate my silliness.
Traded in the puppet skits for blogging – although, I the puppet stage is in my garage and my mom has the marionettes.
Rather than organizing “activities” for gatherings I now prefer to cook for them…I specialize in food-coma-induction…and I’m not terrible at desserts either – just sayin’.
The face in the photo back at the top? That’s my grandson. Now that I have my Hope back and have reclaimed my Awesome-ness I can fully enjoy him - and his sister (the kisser in that pic) – I can be goofy with them and serve ice cream for dinner (but only if they are going home with mommy and daddy after) and quote Disney flicks all day long and just BE! No boundaries, no limits.
Bottomline? Like the poem says – Hope “never stops at all” – she is there, forever and always. She patiently waits for you to accept her nudges, listen to her song and open your heart to welcome back the Awesome that has always been yours – you just forgot it was there.
Now it is your turn! I have passed the baton to you. Hope is real. Hope is alive. Share your Hope with someone who needs it...you won't be sorry.