Yes, it's hard to admit but the last thing I feel upon waking is the excitement suggested by an exclamation point. If anything, ! is more like the ball and bat with which I feel I've been hit before morning coffee and sometimes afterward. I don't look forward to the day or my life and this is hard to admit.
On this particular morning as I slogged downstairs my coffee-radar on, my Inner Cheerleader AWOL, I heard: Give me a C, Give me an R, Give me a EATE. What do you have? CREATE.
Jerry stood in sweats spelling out the perfect cheer. I went from slogging to hugging with no trace of my grumpiness to which we're accustomed. The cheering continued throughout the day in phone messages and at lunch creating for me a very different and contagious energy.
I called a friend who's attending a series of unending interviews and not only cheered for her but suggested her husband do likewise. While walking down the street, I cheered for my neighbor Judy raking leaves from the storm drains in the street. You can't cheer for someone else or be cheered for yourself without experiencing a positive energy shift. This may not apply if your team's severely loosing in a sporting event, though quantum physicists might argue cheering even helps then.
How on earth did the Dawn who burned her name and an exclamation mark in wood go AWOL?
How did I come to forget the girl in the hairnet( a potential dream catcher according to my friend Laura)? Who stole her fire or did she unknowingly quit tending it?
Fifth grade, around the time of the photo and the height of my wood burning period, was the best of times followed by the harshest. I had just glimpsed confidence having won the district speech contest in 4th grade and along with two friends getting one of three roles in a 5th grade play. This was a really big deal to the girl in the hairnet whose only performances other than church choir were in front of her bedroom mirror singing duets into a hairbrush with Karen Carpenter, Cher and various artists from Soul Train and American Bandstand. (Remember "Love Train?" I loved that song.)
These two positive events were quickly followed by public and private traumas starting with peeing on myself in the outfield during recess. The only thing making this worse was the outfield was asphalt. I wanted to sink into Mother Earth unlike the puddle that didn't sink but surrounded me. Instead I pretended to be throwing up, a 5th grade attempt at distracting my peer from the pee since a fellow outfielder walked over to ensure I was okay.
I rushed by the teacher whose rule was you either 'went' before or after recess, but not during. I ran by her and vaguely remember calling my mother to come get me. The event was never spoken about at least to me that I recall. There was nothing to cheer here other than maybe the fact that I cleared the playground. (Great, now that I'm allowing myself to truly think of this, I now wonder what happened to the puddle?)
This incident was followed by a total fall apart during another speech contest as my limbs, lips and voice quaked. At the conclusion, one parent said to another, "What happened to her? She did so well last year." Finding ways to avoid public speaking became the compass guiding my life so much so that I chose the only major in college which allowed me to trade taking speech class for diction which only required we sit in circles rather than stand before an audience. (In English class, my rule was broken due to having to recite poems and give very brief talks, mine were brief and I chose to break my rule when I tried out for yes, cheerleader. Somehow I discovered that when shouting neither my voice nor body trembled. I proudly cheered before my peers who to my dismay chose my girlfriends for the squad.)
The speech and pee incidents were closely followed by having to be resuscitated at camp during a treading water contest when I not only took myself down but a fellow camper with me. These three public events don't include my private fears of death and hell. Yes, each morning around this time I began to feel relief I had not awakened in hell, the firey burning kind thanks to the preacher's Sunday sermons, yet I awoke in my personal hell. I thought I had cirrohsis of the liver as a 5th grader because I was spitting up what I now know are tonsil stones but at the time sure looked like how I imagined my liver having read of it in the World Book Encyclopedia. I cried so much and waited to die as the fire in me dimmed. The girl who wrote Dawn! came to associate her name more with mourning than morning.
This week I've wondered what it would have been like to have had an outer cheerleader during the earlier events of my Fifth Grade years. These events probably wouldn't have birthed shame and its kin if in the outfield I had heard: "It's alright. It's okay. We all have accidents. Yours was today." Or what if after the speech I had heard: "You're alright. You're okay. We all get scared. Fear works that way."
Of course, my peers and parents were all part of a culture that was cheering deficient in the ways I desired. The beliefs of those times: "Pride goes before the fall" and "Children are to be seen and not heard" did not promote a cheer-ful environment. Thanks to the environment and above situations (I didn't even go into the boyfriend chapter of that era or more aptly stated boyfriendless chapters.), I emerged like most of us, needing a positive inner and outer cheerleaders. This brings me to: I need you. Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap. You need me. Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap. It's about reciprocity.
In the prior story I concluded with accessing my inner cheerleader. We need both, to be able to cheer ourselves on internally and also accept or ask for cheers from others. We need one another. The earth needs our cheers, the Universe might like a few and the angels and guides watching over us all would probably enjoy a cheer or two.
"Go, Friends, Go. There's a story to be told. Go, Earth, Go. Lovingly unfold." Cheers to us all.