It seems that when inspiration collides head-long into loneliness and self-doubt – I find myself lofting into the great unknown. The last serious life-changing collision was in the Spring of 2002 – where I met my husband in an online dating service after a lonely Easter weekend. Nearly ten years and two gorgeous children later – that crash was transformational and my personal life has been gloriously rewarded .
Flash-forward to this weekend – at the NCTE Conference in Chicago – I felt like a little girl again wearing my mother’s shoes, jewels, and purse: imagining all that I could be when I grow up. Pretending to be chic and worldly in the splendidly sophisticated Palmer House Hotel and shopping along the Magnificent Mile. Pretending to be a wise and cultured as I sipped fine wine with the ghosts of the glamorous. Pretending that next time I could be presenting at such a conference as this! But in truth, I just basked in the glory of the gurus and the geniuses wondering if I’d ever really grow up and be wise like the big kids and as energetically creative as the young kids? After many enlightening presentations – actually most of them just perpetuated my self-doubt of mediocrity – I sat in the packed audience to hear Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher, and Penny Kittle prophetize that I was to “Practice What I Preach” – writing and sharing it publicly, with my students! I sat there with a body language that said, “Of course!” Way down, deep inside, that little girl cried in fear: “I’m not good enough – I just pretend”!
Ah, those powerful little words, from that little girl whispering her doubts and fears! Such words brought me to new discoveries and changes in this the grand year of 4-0 and here she was again – crying out! The big 4-0 is a number that demands one to re-examine, to redefine. How did I get here? What has happened with my life? Lots of great things, undeniably. But somewhere along the journey, I lost myself a little too and that little girl continues to sniffle. So this summer I embarked on great new changes to help that little girl grow up, to re-birth into this 40th year with new destinies: to become a great English teacher (clearly needing lots of revision), to go through weight-lost and health-found (still revising), and now – in my lonely weekend of inspiration – to become the writer I always wanted to be (drafting still). These three little balls juggling in the air are expected to enlighten and find me – save me from the over-sized shoes, jewels, and purses – save me from my world of pretend and offer me a validation and an identity that I can claim proudly as my own.
So, bring on the collision (gulp)! There will be many things broken and bruised, but hopefully this collision will save my public-self – just as the one nearly ten years ago saved my personal-self!