A Secret Revealed, A Dream Taking Flight


“You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings
Learn to use them and fly.”
Rumi

I have a secret.

It is perhaps not the best-kept secret, but a secret nonetheless.  And no, I’m not pregnant (at least, I hope not), and I’m not going to be a grandma (at least, I hope not).  I haven’t discovered a really nifty way to eliminate calories and fat grams from all things chocolate (I’m getting close, though–I know it!), and I haven’t figured out how to stop worrying about all those events that will most likely never happen (I would lie and say I’m getting close on that one, too, but no one would believe me).

And I haven’t sold the movie rights to the book I haven’t written.  When that book is finally written, I’ll give the movie rights to my three talented sons and let them work their magic–as long as that magic includes convincing Jennifer Aniston or Michelle Pfeiffer to play the part of me.  (And if not, then Betty White and Doris Roberts can mud wrestle for the winner-take-all opportunity.)

No, my secret isn’t as dramatic as any of those possibilities, but it is every bit as exciting.

Three days from now, while most of the people in my little corner of the world are still sleeping soundly, I will be making a five-hour drive north to Kansas City to make a three-hour flight east to a place I’ve never been . . . Washington, D.C.  To say that I’m excited is an extreme understatement; I am giddier than a junior high girl who just found out (via triangle-folded note) that the boy she likes this week likes her back.  Twinkling eyes, goofy grin, high-pitched squeal threatening escape . . . yep, giddy.

And here’s why:

When I decided almost two years ago to retire at the end of this year, I knew I wanted to focus the next stage of my life on writing, with the ultimate goal of someday–someday!–writing a book, but I also knew I needed help in reaching that goal.  Where to begin?  I started looking for writing conferences to attend, places I could go to learn from other writers who had already “been there, done that”; unfortunately, most of the writing conferences were remotely located, extremely expensive, and quite intimidating.  And then in December I came across an inexpensive, one-day workshop with writers, editors and publishers in Washington, D.C., in the middle of cherry blossom season.  Let me repeat: writing conference, Washington, D.C., cherry blossoms–a chance to scratch off three items on the bucket list in one big swoop–perfect!

Now, I realize to some of you attending a writing conference would be the epitome of mind-numbing, shoot-me-now boredom, but for this geeky gal it’s the first spark of a dream that has been almost 40 years in the making.  You see, I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since the third grade when my short story about talking mushrooms was selected over all other entries (even the sixth graders’!) to be featured in the school district newsletter.  I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since high school when some of my essays and poems were included in the literary magazine and my position as newspaper editor allowed me to write all the editorials that no one else cared to write.  I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since college when my English major fueled a passion for good literature and my journalism major sparked an interest in investigative reporting and feature writing.  I dreamed of writing for a major magazine, seeing my words in print and my byline at the top of the page.

But then I got scared.  Magazine writing was fast-paced, aggressive and competitive,  and I was afraid I just wasn’t good enough.  And so I added education hours to my transcript and chose teaching instead–a safe alternative that would allow me to share my passion for literature and writing with young people, and then maybe some of them would be good enough and courageous enough to pursue my dream (and some of them have been).  Teaching has brought me tremendous joy and fulfillment, and I have never once regretted my decision to follow that career path.  But now that this first career is coming to an end, I’m back to where I started–with perhaps with a little more courage this time around.  I have been knocking (timidly, but still knocking) on a few doors of opportunity, and the doors have been swinging wide open.

A dream postponed is not a dream forgotten.

But I digress.  Back to my trip:

By January I had done all my research, and I was ready to approach my husband with my idea of attending the conference and building in a couple extra days for sight-seeing.  I knew (and he knew) that I didn’t need his permission to go, but I did want his blessings–and he kindly gave them.  He didn’t want me traveling alone, though, and insisted I find someone to go with me.  At first I was offended; I mean, good grief, I’m a big girl, capable of hopping on and off a plane, hailing a taxi, and mapping routes from a hotel to sites of interest.  But the more he insisted, the more I realized he was probably right (I hate when that happens); a travel companion would provide good company, increased safety and decreased expenses.  It had to be someone else who was interested in photography, though–someone who wouldn’t roll her eyes or sigh heavily or fight to contain her boredom as I stopped to take 50 pictures of every structure from 50 different angles.

And so I thought of Patty–a former student who is a fantastic photographer and who has also dreamed of someday visiting D.C.  She was thrilled by my suggestion, her sweet husband gave his blessings as well, and we were set–and then our dream trip got even better when our mutual friend Jamie, who lives outside of D.C. and is an amazing photographer himself, graciously offered to be our host and tour guide.  Since that original offer, he has mapped out our entire stay, which will include Friday visits to Arlington National Cemetery, the various memorials and monuments, the National Mall, the Smithsonian Museums and U.S. Botanic Gardens as well as a Sunday drive through the Virginia countryside and a tour of his friend’s winery (Barrel Oak Winery).  This is so much more than I could have ever hoped to accomplish on my own, and allowing someone else to take care of all the sight-seeing and transportation details has been a huge relief (maybe I’m not such a “big girl” after all).

With one big worry tossed aside, I can now focus all my worrying on a few less significant but no less troubling concerns, most of which revolve around the fact that I will be hanging out with people a “little” younger than I am:  1. What if I snore?  I swear I don’t, but my husband swears I do–what if I’m so loud they can corroborate his story from their adjoining rooms?  2. What if I get leg cramps in the middle of the night and wake them with my blood-curdling screams?  Will I scare them senseless–and will they forgive me?  3. What if I’m so worried about the first two possibilities that I can’t sleep at all–and then doze off on the metro, mouth wide open and slobber dribbling down my chin?  4. And what if they realize within mere hours that even though I might be funny/interesting/silly while chatting on Facebook, I’m actually pretty quiet and boring in person?  Will they try to “accidentally” lose me in the crowds at the National Mall? It wouldn’t be that hard.

And of course, this small-town girl with the southern Missouri accent has a few worries about the big-city writing conference she’ll be attending on Saturday.  What does one even wear to such an event?  (I doubt that it’s currently hanging in my closet.)  Will all the other writers already have published works to discuss?  Will they turn away in horror when they realize I am just now (at my age!) starting on this journey–or turn up their noses in disgust when they discover I’m a mere blogger (a blogger!)? And if I share with them some of my recent recognitions or the opportunities already appearing on my not-so-distant horizon, will they be less likely to sneer? Perhaps most intimidating of all will be meeting with the attending magazine editors and small-press publishers and having them critique samples of my writing.  I’ve never opened myself up to such judgment, and it’s a frightening proposition with potentially painful consequences–but also a necessary one if I’m ever going to take the next step toward turning that dream postponed into a dream fulfilled.

In my 30 years on the job I have never taken off three days of work to do something just for me–in fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever taken a personal day at all–but this opportunity was too good, too enticing to pass up.  Because of this year’s early spring weather, most of the cherry blossoms have come and gone (which just gives me a reason to go back sometime), but no matter–I will still be challenging myself with the writing conference, and I will still be seeing and photographing some beautiful, awe-inspiring sites while in the company of two great friends.  I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m grateful, and I’m just a little bit scared.

But most of all, I’m giddy.

Early morning at the Arlington Memorial Bridge and just one of the many shots I’m hoping to capture. Photo by my friend Jamie L. Adams. To see more of his photos of the Washington, D.C., area, please visit his blog, The Laughing Bunny.
Advertisements

About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
This entry was posted in Fears, Retirement, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to A Secret Revealed, A Dream Taking Flight

  1. Jamie Adams says:

    Are you trying to say you are excited?? Great Story!!!! And don’t worry… because if you “doze off on the metro, mouth wide open and slobber dribbling down my chin” your friends will be right there to photograph it. 😀

    • Thank you! I have problems staying awake while traveling in the car, so I would imagine the motion of the metro will have the same sleep-inducing effect–and my photographer friends with their cameras at the ready is exactly what I’m worried about!

      Am I excited? Over the moon …

  2. warren gunter says:

    i think its great to follow your dreams. i am happy to know that one can do what they dream, no matter what age or gender. i too had a dream when i was younger, and now am living it. it took 30 some years to get there, but now am living it. when you do write a book, get published, and on your way to your dream, i would like to be one of the first to read it. keep us informed of your trip. cant wait to see some pictures. good luck.

    • Thank you, Warren, and I’m glad you are now living your dream as well–sometimes it takes us a while to get there, but maybe that makes the fulfillment that much sweeter. I’m sure I will be writing about my trip and sharing pictures, and you can be sure that if I ever do publish that book, I will be shouting it to the world!

  3. DCircle says:

    How exciting!!! I’m excited for you, and can’t wait to hear about your travels. As for the last portion of your blog (my inner Yoda must come out); You worry to much, me thinks.

  4. SUE says:

    Oh, Karen, you are going to “Soar with the Eagles” at this conference and I am giddy for you!! Once you get there you are going to be so right in your comfort zone that you will smile at your past insignificant worries, Remember your experience is going to take you a long way – and – your age? – they are never going to know if you are any older than they are when you meet them.
    You are going to have NO time to worry about snoring!!! Visiting DC with my sons & standing on the White House lawn with the president & Mrs Reagan was beyond even my dreams. Now I can hardly wait to hear about your dream come true!!!

    • Thank you for the vote of confidence, Sue–you’ve been in my corner since the beginning of my blogging journey, and your support has been greatly appreciated! We have such a packed agenda that sleep time (and therefore, snoring time) will be very limited–and who knows, maybe the other two will snore even louder! 🙂

      I’m sure you will be one of the first to hear stories about my adventures, and I will most likely have THOUSANDS of photos to go along with the stories!

  5. Gail says:

    Wow…. I don’t even know you but I’m excited for you too! And I applaud you for going after your dreams!! It will be a great trip, just wait and see. My oldest son went to D.C. on his spring break with a group from college just 3 weeks ago. It was his third time there and the cherry trees were in full bloom so he got some good pictures for his mom (who has always wanted to go see the cherry blossoms). Absolutely beautiful!

    • Thank you so much, Gail! All three of my sons are pursuing their dreams–none of which are probably practical, but (much to their dad’s dismay), I have tried to encourage them because I know what it’s like to put those dreams on hold for 30 years. Fortunately, I’m getting the chance to re-visit my dreams; not everyone is so lucky. I hate that I’m missing the cherry blossoms, but I’m sure now that this will just be my first trip to D.C.

  6. RayEtta says:

    What a great adventure. Be sure to have lots of pictures when you return. You definitely have a way with words. Give a dream every chance. Years ago I heard a story about a man in my community that was a musician and singer. Really he was pretty darn good too. He was told at one point to ditch his local band and move to Nashville. He chose to stay at home and play weekend gigs whenever possible. Eventually he had a business were he played every weekend as his own boss. It dawned on me then that it is not always the case to make a dream come true by having a number one record or a book on the best sellers list. You can succeed at something you love in a smaller way. There are options open that did not exist in the past. People are beginning to self publish and to be able to sell versions for new tech items through Amazon. Check out every possibility. I would be curious about what type of story you would like to tell. Are you thinking about something witty and humorous or something more dramatic? I too have dreams, and perhaps way too many. I put off a few things thinking I would do that when I retire. My list got too long. One thing I want to do is somewhat silly but I am working on it anyway.

    • RayEtta, I have purchased four memory cards to take with me, so yeah, I’m planning on taking a lot of pictures! I like your observation that “You can succeed at something you love in a smaller way”–very true. As for what type of story I would tell, I’m not really sure yet; I’m interested in the memoir genre, and whatever the story, I hope to make it witty and inviting (I don’t think I could pull off the dramatic).

      I understand putting off dreams until you retire; that is exactly what I have done. I wish now that I would have been more adventurous along the way, but since I can’t change what’s done, I’ll focus all my efforts on what is to be. And you should, too! Good luck with your dreams, and nothing is too silly if it brings you happiness …

  7. Kathy says:

    Hot Diggity Dog! What a wonderful adventure for you, Karen! I’m looking forward to the pictures and the wonderful stories. “Where there is an open mind there will always be a frontier.” (Charles Kettering) Let the trail blazing begin…ENJOY your new frontier!

  8. John Bradley-O'Neill says:

    Congratulations Karen on literally spreading your literal wings…time for takeoff. Safe travels and here’s hoping you have an enjoyable and enlightening time while in Washington. My brain is fried today, so I’ll leave you with the following…

    “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” – Henry David Thoreau

    “The end of wisdom is to dream high enough not to lose the dream in the seeking of it.”
    – William Faulkner

    “For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.” – Catherine Drinker Bowen

    “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” – Barbara Kingsolver

    “It’s tougher than Himalayan yak jerky in January. But, as any creative person will tell you, there are days when there’s absolutely nothing sweeter than creating something from nothing.”
    – Richard Krzemien

    “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”
    – Eugene Ionesco

    • Thank you, Mr. O’Neill! “Literally spreading your literal wings”–I love it! And the Thoreau quote is one of my favorites; in fact, I have a blog idea about retirement that revolves around that quote. And thank you for sharing the other quotes as well–I particularly like the Krzemien one: “It’s tougher than Himalayan yak jerky in January.” Perfect! Here’s hoping you can rescue that brain from the skillet before it’s burnt to a crisp …

      • John Bradley-O'Neill says:

        The last line in your post. – “But most of all, I’m giddy” – is the revealing sum of all your words and thoughts. Because, darlin’, if your heart and soul is giddy, if it’s dancing on air, then you know you’re on the right path. Take it from a fellow writer. I can sit down at dawn (or prior to) and work on a script for fourteen solid hours…and damn if I’m not ALIVE.

        And remember, it matters not if you’re published. If your writing to-date feeds your soul, then you are already a success story.

      • Very cool perspective, Mr. O’Neill! As of late, my soul has been extremely well fed–and yet, I am still hungry. Oh, what a feeling … what a gloriously wonderful feeling!

  9. Pingback: I’m Still Smiling | Iced Tea with Lemon's Blog

  10. bronxboy55 says:

    You already are a writer, Karen, and you’ve been demonstrating that at least since you started this blog. But I understand your dream of writing books, and I’m sure you’ll be equally successful as a published author. You have just the right balance of talent, confidence, and self-doubt. Those traits will take you far.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s