A thousand choices

Transform FEAR into —

curiosity, love, kindness, humor, hope, joy, knowledge, focus, laughter, awareness, wonder, willpower, wings, experience, faith, fervor, encouragement, enlightenment, challenge, gratitude, goodwill, action, learning, beginnings, opportunity, inertia, aim, determination, adventure, character, smiles, hard work, independence, liberation, letting go, peace, patience, perspective, awe, calmness, confidence, effort, insight, light, movement, living, overcoming, mindfulness, healing, grace, generosity, energy, acceptance, reflection, truth seeking, self-reliance, remedies, desire, fight, fortitude, freedom, intention, lessons, journeys, poise, positivity, art, poetry, singing, dancing, words, wisdom, wellness, trust, respect, compassion, affirmation, friendship, fun, fresh starts, stepping stones, goals, dreams, drive, duty, grit, cheer, excitement, apologies, forgiveness, plans, prayers, purpose, questions, coping, daring, empathy, helping, morale, moxie, nerve, heart, guts, resolve, self-discipline, spirit, tenacity, understanding, research, enthusiasm, valor, caution, courage, boldness, ability, readiness, information, life, meditation, mettle, options, decisions, protest, change, education, emancipation, volition, carpe diem, zeal, honesty, introspection, usefulness, appreciation, blessings, delight, dignity, play, exercise, hugs, deep breaths, doing, vantage points, U‑turns, exploration, growth, invitations, venture, virtue, value

—Terri Guillemets

Raindrop days, lightning moments

We all have those moments in our lives that transform us — something small or big happens and we’re never the same.

Sometimes we remember these moments in our personal histories as leaps, or falls — or just serendipitous wanderings — from one life segment to the next.

Or we mark them like stars on a map of self — constellations of life-changing moments. Some seem crazy small and wouldn’t even register as stars in others’ systems. But in our own they blaze bright.

Or maybe our days are raindrops and our lives rolling clouds and these moments are lightning strikes.

Raindrop days, lightning-strike moments.

These maps and moments imprint our souls, our minds, our memorious hearts. Our stories of self are made from them.

—Terri Guillemets

Reading with her eyes shut

In the 1990s, I worked at a couple of elementary schools as a special needs aide for physically and mentally challenged students. I was also a crossing guard, cafeteria and recess monitor, classroom and teacher’s aide, front office worker — and my favorite job of all — I worked in the school library!

When I was learning the ropes, students would come in and ask where the Dr. Seuss books were. Not being able to find any, I asked the librarian the next time she was in. She said she refused to stock any because Geisel was too political. I’ll admit to his use of metaphor and some “hidden” meanings, but that type of censorship makes me irritated and even more so, sad.

      “…If you keep
      your eyes open enough,
      oh, the stuff you will learn!
      The most wonderful stuff!…
      There are
      so many things
      you can learn about.
      BUT… you’ll miss
      the best things
      if you keep your eyes shut…”
      —Dr. Seuss, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!, 1978

And by the by, if that particular librarian ever reads this, please know that I love you and I loved working for you, and you were so wonderful in every other way. I mean, heck, a boss who lets her employee into her secret stash of dark chocolate is a special person indeed!

—Terri Guillemets

A Teeny-Tiny Ghost Story

My parents used to read this story to my brothers and me. They would read it after dark, in scary voices. I loved it. The book set the story is in eventually ended up in their attic for many years, but today we came across it and those cherished childhood books are now on my bookshelves! —tg

“Teeny Tiny”

Reprinted from James Orchard Halliwell, Esq., “Fireside Nursery Stories,” Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales: A Sequel to the Nursery Rhymes of England, 1849

This simple tale seldom fails to rivet the attention of children, especially if well told. The last two words should be said loudly with a start. It was obtained from oral tradition, and has not, I believe, been printed. –JOH, Brixton Hill, Surrey, April 1849

Once upon a time there was a teeny-tiny woman lived in a teeny-tiny house in a teeny-tiny village. Now, one day this teeny-tiny woman put on her teeny-tiny bonnet, and went out of her teeny-tiny house to take a teeny-tiny walk. And when this teeny-tiny woman had gone a teeny-tiny way, she came to a teeny-tiny gate; so the teeny-tiny woman opened the teeny-tiny gate, and went into a teeny-tiny churchyard. And when this teeny-tiny woman had got into the teeny-tiny churchyard, she saw a teeny-tiny bone on a teeny-tiny grave, and the teeny-tiny woman said to her teeny-tiny self, “This teeny-tiny bone will make me some teeny-tiny soup for my teeny-tiny supper.” So the teeny-tiny woman put the teeny-tiny bone into her teeny-tiny pocket, and went home to her teeny-tiny house.

Now when the teeny-tiny woman got home to her teeny-tiny house, she was a teeny-tiny tired; so she went up her teeny-tiny stairs to her teeny-tiny bed, and put the teeny-tiny bone into a teeny-tiny cupboard. And when this teeny-tiny woman had been to sleep a teeny-tiny time, she was awakened by a teeny-tiny voice from the teeny-tiny cupboard, which said, “Give me my bone!” And this teeny-tiny woman was a teeny-tiny frightened, so she hid her teeny-tiny head under the teeny-tiny clothes, and went to sleep again. And when she had been to sleep again a teeny-tiny time, the teeny-tiny voice again cried out from the teeny-tiny cupboard a teeny-tiny louder, “Give me my bone!” This made the teeny-tiny woman a teeny-tiny more frightened, so she hid her teeny-tiny head a teeny-tiny further under the teeny-tiny clothes. And when the teeny-tiny woman had been to sleep again a teeny-tiny time, the teeny-tiny voice from the teeny-tiny cupboard said again a teeny-tiny louder, “Give me my bone!” And this teeny-tiny woman was a teeny-tiny bit more frightened, but she put her teeny-tiny head out of the teeny-tiny clothes, and said in her loudest teeny-tiny voice, “TAKE  IT!”

Kicked happy, fallen grateful

I’ve known… lightning strikes and hammer blows, tripping falls face-to-ground. I drag heavy fears… and I’ve hurt a lot. But why nurture the negative? With each adversity and graying year comes a brighter, giddier laugh and a more sincere, deeper smile. My heart gets both weaker and stronger with each blow, and every knockout convinces me that I don’t want to spend any more time, not even mere seconds, being miserable or resentful or smeared with the filth of the past. Wash myself clean each morning and brave the new day… I’ll take what I can get in lessons and give whatever I can in smiles…

—Terri Guillemets