I have a client who’s a gifted poet and someday, perhaps he’ll also be a lyricist. I love meeting with him as I assist him…clearing one high hurdle after another. I suspect my client/friend was a philosopher, a deep thinker, a teacher in some other life. I admire him because he’s not yet ready to forego his deepest dreams and he has the stamina and drive – for now – to work a ‘day job’ while also exploring powerful needs to express himself.
One day, I’ll ask him if I can write about his journey more specifically, but for today, I cloak details in order to provide privacy. When we spoke recently, he asked where my admiration for prose comes from, wondered what I’ve written or done to develop the capacity to encourage and motivate. It’s easy, I told him. I love words, I love writers. I love dreamers…especially those who have the capacity to create, evoke emotions, tease memories forward.
He knows I’ve written a bit – mostly academic writing – but he was driving toward something else. Where does your creative spark come from? Who nurtured it for you?
Oh…such a question. I’m cautious when a client does the ‘turn the tables’ routine, but occasionally, a little sharing of self helps to deepen a connection, foster greater growth. So, I disclosed a bit. I shared that my fifth-grade teacher, Miss Lenz once told me something transformative and life affirming – in a breezy, offhand way. Well, I should clarify – it was offhand for her…but I’m still carrying the good feeling with me, decades later…side note – go teachers! 😊
Walking through the classroom, placing our graded papers on our desks, Miss Lenz paused when she got to me, smiled and said, “You see and feel things others don’t.” At first I thought it was a bad thing and she made me nervous. We’d done an assignment about our heroes and rather than write about one person, I wrote about three and how they were intertwined. The heroine? My sister Lisa but I also wrote about her best friends – disabled wonders James and Marta – and how they stuck together, helping each other, despite their physical and mental disabilities – and how their friendships encouraged me to be a better sister to Lisa.
I skipped past the grade (a B+ because of grammatical errors!) and went straight to the comments, where Miss Lenz offered encouragement. Up until then, I’d often heard ‘you’re different’ in a zero-sum way – nothing good there – but Miss Lenz’s feedback? You’re different and it’s special. Over the years, I’ve reflected on her input, her generous observation that it’s okay to see…and feel…and be me.
I shared the story of Miss Lenz and her creative encouragement – to use my ‘voice’- as I responded to my client and he smiled, nodded. I think he felt a connection as I talked about the oddball fifth grader that I was.
Later that day when I wrapped up my notes about our meaningful meeting, I felt a compulsion to resurrect a poem that I wrote – on a dare – in college. I took a poetry class – which I mostly despised. Not because of the professor but the snooty students. I was there for the credit only…meeting my gen ed requirements but the pompous and arrogant classmates made me ill.
Just like Miss Lenz, though, the professor saw ***something*** in me, my writing, which resulted in him challenging me to write a fun piece about a card game…ultimately published in a college anthology. My poem was the only one that made the cut. The arrogant ones? Nope. I was grateful then…and surprised…but over the years, I realized that his encouragement coupled with the early ‘it’s okay to be different’ messages from Miss Lenz helped to solidify my love of creative types…especially those who tinker with words…create worlds…tell stories…share from their heart.
The poem? I still smile when I read it, captured for eternity in a dusty volume on my bookshelf:
Precision reigned as all were sweetly stacked
Queen with commoner, King with Jack.
With sinister simplicity the digits sliced the pile
Spewing forth the fragments of a Kingdom gone awry.
Relocation is rarely welcome.
Bemused visages sight unseen; personalities not yet sought
Spun together shiftily –
Scrutinized from above.
Salty palms of moisture; calisthenics are part of the plan.
Flexed and fondled, picked-plucked and tugged
In preparation for alignment
Victors reap the virtues of her Lady’s fickle favors
As inferiors fade into obscurity, escaping to somber solitude.
From an unvanquished corner, a spoiling voice inquired:
“Nouns, verbs or adjectives, old boy, which do you prefer?”
My client? His adventure is unfolding, and I’m privileged to be at his side…with admiration and the opportunity to reflect on my own journey. Life is good!
Join us for more fun…inspiration and stories from the heart…at The Heart of the Matter! 🤍
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