Last night – the last official night of summer vacation before heading back to work this morning – I danced in the darkness under the rising first quarter moon like I’ve never danced before – ever, in my whole life. No need to go into details other than to say that I’ve always wanted to dance like that and dreamed I could be so uninhibited but never thought I actually could do it because I believed too many limiting stories I told myself about myself.
In mid-August, I knew I needed to have three more adventures by the end of summer vacation. The first was a trip to Vermont. The second was a trip to Narragansett. Both trips were spontaneous and energizing. I thought I might need to grant myself an extension for the third experience because time was running out. But then last night, as sorrow for the end of summer crept in, I felt an irrepressible urge and knew exactly what to do. And so the third adventure was dancing with wild abandon (and glow sticks) in the moonlight to the Grateful Dead, accompanied by the percussive sounds of crickets, katydids, and cicadas (or whatever insect was responsible for the continuous sound of a vigorously shaken maraca).
At one point, I laughed so hard that I cried real tears and rode an arc across the tipping point into grief and sorrow that coexisted with joy in perfect, unprecedented harmony illuminated by stars and moonlight. I liberated a wild energy that birthed a new self and felt so full of life.
It was surprising and awesome.
I am not the same person as I was when summer began. After such an anguishing first half of the year – the darkness before the dawn – this was hands-down the best summer of my life, fueled by my new motto: Life is short. Do what you love. There was a special kind of magic that came from falling in love all over again with water lilies, herons, painted turtles, and flowers in all stages of becoming. I was enchanted by the starry, summer sky and the glow of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of fireflies lighting up the back yard. I experienced a deep, inner shift on retreat up on a hill during a full moon, and my whole being was tuned by the ocean air and the rhythm of the waves on two separate occasions. I connected with my mother’s spirit in dreams that felt more real than waking life and in every note played by her beloved symphony orchestra on an evening dedicated to her memory. I collected lost and forgotten pieces of myself through reconnecting with old friends, friends of my parents, and former neighbors whom I hadn’t seen in decades – and met some brand new friends whom I recognized at first glance as members of my soul tribe. It was a full, sprawling summer, richer than I ever could have imagined. After engaging the magic all summer long, my cells are dancing to the energy of new possibilities.
Albert Schweitzer said:
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
As I return to my classroom for another school year, I am sincerely grateful to those who have reignited my teacher spirit by sharing stories about educators who truly made a difference in their lives, and I am equally inspired by stories of shining moments that make it all worthwhile shared by former teachers. I am grateful for assistance in working toward goals that take my talents and passion to the next level and to the friends who listen closely and call me out on things I do and say that compromise my capacity for happiness in the present moment. I have been surprised, blessed, and inspired by unexpected generosity and invitations. I have been uplifted by the waves of beautiful energy that have come to me all summer long and want to express my gratitude to those who have helped me to redefine and reinvent myself.
In the past day, I have had conversations with a couple people who are in crisis and feel hopeless. I encouraged both of them to hold onto hope because sometimes blessings will fall from the sky when you least expect them. I know this to be true from my own experience. The right people or circumstances will show up at the right time. Grace happens. It reminds me of some lines from one of my favorite poems, My Friend Yeshi by Alice Walker:
Where the newness to old life
Babies are caught by hands
they assumed were always
This is the true wine of astonishment.
We are not
When we think
After all the blessings I have received this summer, it is time to move onward to a new school year with a heart that has been supercharged and is ready to love, love, love. And to keep dancing with more passion and wild abandon out of the old, outworn skin and into new, expanded, delicious possibilities.
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