shoot me straight.

A dream? Wait, what is that? I think I heard about that once in Mrs. Jones kindergarten classroom. I vaguely remember someone telling me about my ability to be “whatever I want to be” and “do whatever I want to do” when I grew up.  Only neither one of us took into account that I was just a small girl, really unable to do and be a whole lot of things – wishful thinking on Mrs. Jones’ part.

I don’t think she intentionally lied to me. I don’t think she intentionally misled 25 imaginative five year olds, but she did. What did I want to be? A dinosaur. Oh man, Land Before Time was my all time favorite and if I could really be ANYTHING I wanted to be when I grew up, I wanted to be a dinosaur. I told everyone, and everyone smiled. “Aw, that’s so cute”, they would say, always failing to mention that little girls don’t grow up to be dinosaurs. I figured that one out the hard way. But that’s the truth of it. Little girls simply don’t ever grow up to be dinosaurs. Ever.

Somehow, I quickly moved on. You would think that I would have dismissed their promises of being anything I wanted to be and doing anything I could set my mind on. But I didn’t. I walked blindly straight back into dreaming of the impossible. After all, they promised right?

They would ask, and I would tell, of the dreams I had for my growing up.

“Wait, you want to be a movie star?” they would ask, confused. “No no no…” 6 year old me would respond as I pointed to the sky, “I want to be a twinkle-twinkle little star.” Cue laughter and dismissive pats on the head. “Silly kids and their imaginations.”

What they failed to realize is THEY are the ones who told me over and over I could be anything I wanted to be. After the country western singer, veterinarian, and bull rider phases past, (wow, can you tell I was raised in the sticks) I finally settled on astronaut.

Since before I can remember I have been fascinated with the stars and space. I have spent many nights staring at the moon, wondering if anyone was staring back at me.

“Lets go to the moon.”

Great plan, Alison, too bad you can’t ride a roller coaster without vomiting all over everything. I doubt the space program is looking for someone to throw up on their nine-bajillion dollar equipment. And, I highly doubt leaving the earths atmosphere would go smoothly for you. Devastated. Once again my physical limitations prevented me from being whatever I dreamed possible. It’s probably a good thing that my space adventures didn’t work out – they recently cancelled the space program and I would be out of a job.

So what distracts me? You. You do. You tell me I can be anything I want to be and then you tell me all the reasons why it won’t work. You praise and push and encourage and cheer – you do all these things knowing that in the end, it will never work. Someone shoot me straight. Tell me I can’t be a dinosaur, but that I can be beautiful and strong and mysterious. Please, remind me that little girls don’t turn into stars. But tell me that I can be unique and can stand out and amaze people with my light. Tell me that it is possible to twinkle and shine and push back the darkness. Please tell me that. Tell me that I can’t carry a tune in a bucket and that I probably won’t be the next Shania Twain, but that I can and I should sing as loudly and as often as possible.

And just straight up tell me that I shouldn’t ride bulls. Ever.

Please tell me that it is probably not likely that I will ever go to the moon or see the stars up close or turn around and take a picture of an earthrise over the horizon on the moon.  Tell me that I get motion sickness too easily and it wouldn’t be wise or dignifying to attempt a zero gravity spin around a circular NASA room.

But show up and tell me that I can go on wild adventures. Tell me that my feet can leave the floor through stories and dreams and that I can travel to all sorts of places. Don’t lie to me telling me that I can do anything I want to do and be anything I want to be, but show up and tell me that I can and will do a lot of really great things. Don’t distract me with your empty promises and don’t tell me I can’t do it.

Tell me what I CAN do. Tell me what I will do. Tell me all the places this little girl will go. Tell me the stars she will sleep under and the adventures she will go on. Tell her she can be lots of things, lots of really great things. All realistic. All grand. All amazing.

the hope of all these things (my one word)

Last year was the first year I officially chose a word to hang as a banner over 12 months. The word was given to me in a flash of a second and I knew that it was the one I was to walk under. The word was “expect” – and let me just be honest, nothing happened last year that I expected. It was a year littered with grief and suffering and heartache and little gifts of light to sustain me along the way.

I heard God whisper at the beginning of 2013 that I can and should expect big things from him. I did. I tried to, anyway. Don’t be mistaken, not everything I expected from him came about –  in fact, most didn’t. But I hope that this past year cultivated one thing in me – love. I hope that 2013 can be marked by love. It was, after all, the year I learned to love and see people well. It was the year I learned to be seen and known and, get this…loved.

I want to look back at 2013 as the year I didn’t expect love to show up…

…and it did anyway.

There is not one part of me that is sad to see the year 2013 in the rearview mirror.
I am grateful that it is done and maybe one day I will be grateful it happened.

But here I sit – on a cold, rainy ninth day of the year with much anticipation about what this year will hold. The possibilities are endless. And since this is my space and I get to be as honest as I want, I will go ahead and tell you that I am scared out of my mind. This year holds the possibility of a move, of a job change, of me choosing me (for once), of figuring out who I am and where I fit and how I can use the gifts and talents I have been given to make this world a bit more tolerable {beautiful} for those around me. The next 356 days have much to offer.

This year, another word has chosen me. It is a word that is spoken over me every time I leave the house and it is usually the last word before I head to bed each night. It is only fitting that I will march {proudly} into 2014 carrying this word before me and dragging it behind me. The word this year is very well known and most people would assure you they know exactly the definition. But the meaning and weight of the word goes much deeper than the surface you are thinking of.

“Shalom”

You may immediately throw your hand in the air, demanding to be called on, because, of course, you know that Shalom means peace. You would be right, but only partially. Shalom is a Hebrew word that, depending on the vowels used or variations of the word, has a multitude of deep and heavy meanings.

For lack of a better way to name all of the meanings without this turning into a novel comparable with “War and Peace”, I am going to just list these things out and then maybe name a couple of my favorites.

Shalom –
–       peace between two entities
–       well-being
–       state of safety
–       to make amends
–       to make good
–       to be (or make) peace
–       to restore
–       prosperity
–       wholeness

Variations of Shalom –
–       [hishtalem] “it was worth it”
–       [shulam] “it was paid for”
–       [meshulam] “paid in advance
–       [shalam] “hope of wholeness”

Gah, there is so much hope in all of that, so much good. I never would have picked this word for myself because I have a hard time believing good things happen to/for me. So when this word became part of my daily routine and I began talking to a friend about it, she immediately exclaimed “this is absolutely your word for the year.” So there it was. I decided this would be “the one” and then I looked up all the different meanings and blessings it holds. My first thought was I was walking into this year proclaiming peace but it turns out to be so much more than that.

This year has all the potential in the world to be a year of peace and safety and rest and restoration. All these things wrapped into one. I may get to look back over this year and say “it was worth it.” The year was worth it. Everything that led up to this year was worth it. Oh God, I hope to be able to say that.

So, I will pray blessings over this year. I will pray health blessings, joy blessings, work blessings, creative blessings, sleep blessings, writing blessings, driving blessings, dinner blessings, and art blessings. I will pray for and hope for all the blessings. But most of all, I will pray shalom. I will pray for peace and amends and restoration and well-being. I will pray for safety and I will pray for prosperity. I will pray for wholeness and the hope of it.

Not only will I pray for it, but I will GET UP and work towards it.
I can’t make it happen, but I can focus my efforts toward that end. And so I will.

Here’s to 2014.
Here’s to peace. And safety. And wholeness.
Here’s to the hope of all these things.
Here’s to Shalom.

And that’s something worth raising my glass. 

i am still…safe

tapping
rapping
rustling outside my window.
winds of today
becoming yesterday
suddenly
I’m in tomorrow.

soft is the hum
gentle
forceful shift
strong
carrying a chill
onward
forward.
always onward.

out of fear
ran the sun
from the winds of change
hiding, cowering, waiting
another day

burning
yearning
warring against
frost
threatening to freeze solid
burning ball of fire

suffering through
flames –
sheds light, casts shadows
illuminating darkness

fear does his worst
convincing, persuasive
fleeting victory remains his reward

hoping
groping
searching through darkness
not lost, still remembered
i am still
safe