"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Most of my remembered childhood was remarkably small. Our world was the eighty acres of the dairy that was both home and work, and while it was a world that offered much to explore, it was bound by barbed wire fencing and the fear of my parents. A fear which settled into my cells without my invitation or clear awareness.

Town, seven miles away, was full of hidden dangers. People waiting to take advantage. Endless streets to get lost on. Mysterious temptations lurking in the shadows hoping to snare unsuspecting innocents into sin.

Even school, where I eventually learned that being smart was a way to be safe in a certain way, contained hidden dangers at every turn. Unspoken rules for behavior, dress, friendships - most of which I either didn't understand or didn't have the means to meet. Salvation Army clothes, saddle shoes and too-short bangs were not the uniform of coolness and popularity.

Without television or newspaper to offer a wider world view, my only lens to the world was my parents' paranoid and narrow belief that no one could be trusted, from The Government to Big Business to The Neighbors who were only looking out for themselves. Occasional old Life and Look and National Geographic magazines would find their way into the house. I read them cover to cover, with longing and hope, determined to someday find my way into the magic those pages and pictures offered.

The fear rooted itself deep and dark, invisible tendrils spread to every part of my being. Even in the light of a life  marked by success and overcoming and respectability, it whispered, "You can't." and "You're not enough." and "You don't belong."

Like the light of a sun rising through softening layers of clouds, a new awareness has brightened my sky this summer. I no longer believe fear's lies.

Navigating our way to and around Iowa City, making wrong turns and ending up where we were headed anyway. Feeling like family in the midst of perfect strangers. Confident that my smile would get me something good, even if it was just a smile in return.

Driving away from a new friend's house, the route home not a perfect reverse, and believing without hesitation that I could (and did) figure out how to get myself to the freeway.

Making the huge leap a year ago from the security of a safe career into the great unknown of dreams beckoning from my soul, then embracing the gifts the year offered that were so different from the ones I expected.

I've watched my brothers conquer their own fears to make dreams come true. Frank, the oldest of them, finally living on and traveling in the boat he designed and dreamed and for which he's sacrificed much. Mark, the middle, in the face of daunting loss, more kind and gentle and loving than ever, moving slowly but without hesitation toward the light of a new life whose nebulous form requires a constant faith. Geoff, the baby, finally owning his own home after years of renting, an ownership that shouldn't have happened, but did because he wouldn't believe in No.

A new school year starts soon. My second with no new first-day dress, no closet full of new sticky notes and purple pens and bulletin board borders, no certainty of what the next nine months will hold. I face the unknown of it, holding the power of dreams-that-will-not-die and believing, hoping I'll be able to remember when fear comes with new warnings of woe.

I can. I am enough. I do belong.


M said...

"I can. I am enough. I do belong."

Those eight words...words that were never part of my vocabulary growing up (nor yours) are so powerful. This post brought tears to my eyes, from the family picture to the picture of lonliness that fear produces in our lives. Thank you for sharing this!

I love you

Janna Qualman said...

You are. You are, and you do, Deb.

Your words are wonderful. And I love that family photo. Even though the story behind it isn't what you think it to be, it shows us strength and belief and chances.

I would have loved you as a teacher. Just sayin'.

Wanda..... said...

Such a melancholy post, but yet it rings with a positive note of confidence! You write beautifully, Deb!

Wanda said...

I wonder how many children were saved and inner fires lit by National Geographic.

Walk away from the fear. Stand in the you-ness of you. Enough.

Gammary said...

Deb, I hold you up in bright light. Your writing, while always had the strength of good bones has come more and more alive with a glowing complexion. I see in my own writing how much I need to work to buff up a shine. Your passion for writing is something I admire. Your dedication and perserverance shows me that if this is something I want to do, I need to DO IT! It only comes with the hard work of doing...and you are DOING!

This piece is so lovely and echos pain and hope and finally, peace.

Love you,

Barb said...

I'm enjoying and relating to your writing, Deb. Fear is insidious but less intimidating if you stand up to it. Good Luck!

patti said...

Deb, your writing sings!
I love the rawness, the honesty, yet the poetic sound of your words.


Carrie Link said...

"I can. I am enough. I do belong."




NEHBM of this and NEHBM of how you rocked Iowa City!

Loren said...

I am so sorry you had to experience those harsh words that a child should NEVER hear. But, am so thankful the Lord has revealed TRUTH to you! You are MORE than ENOUGH....You have everything you need right inside that beautiful heart and mind! Share the gift of WHO YOU ARE with all of those around you Deb! My oh My you belong!

Bless you my friend! I sooo cannot wait to see what God does IN and THROUGH you!

Anonymous said...

You are a miracle, Deb, a living, breathing miracle. You offer so much hope. I loved seeing your brother's comment, thanking you for sharing.

As this new school year starts, I want to hold your words close to me, and watch out for those kids who are living in fear and without hope.

Thank you for sharing, and for reminding me that survival and healing is possible.

Love you!

kario said...

Chills. The first paragraph gave me echoes of your choice to join another closed community when you left home. I can see how that place felt safe and predictable to you, but I am so pleased that you have broken the bonds of "don't" and "can't" in favor of embracing the YES in life.

You are more than enough. You are a wonder and we are all so lucky to be sharing in your words and your journey.

Love you.

Suzy said...

I never doubted for a second....

NEHBM about your being an incredible writing coach and mentor.

Love you


Kathryn Magendie said...

Ohh, can't wait to read!

Wanted to stop to say I don't remember if I told you -I'll be heading up to Portland Oct 20! :-) staying 2 weeks.... :-)

Jerri said...

I love that you title this--not fearless, but fear-less. The distinction is emblematic of your writing: smart, clear but layered, subtle.

You do, indeed, belong. Maybe you need a new-first day of the 2nd year dress.

Katie Gates said...

Beautiful writing, as always. I'm moved by your talent.

Side note: I want a bumper sticker that says this:

"I no longer believe fear's lies."

She Writes said...

The fear rooted itself deep and dark, invisible tendrils spread to every part of my being.

Yes. I know this kind of fear. Beautifully written.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Your comment on my "marriage" post made me LAUGH! ....haw! Yeah ... yes ...yup! :-D

Journaling Woman said...

I relate in so many ways. Then and now.

Fear is such a show stopper.

Great post.

Terri Tiffany said...

I am so excited for you! It broke my heart to read about all those fears that have led you for so long. Just yesterday, a friend of mine said "Can you imagine what we would do if you took our fear out of the factor?" And I thought about how I too let some old fears drive what I do now. It's a tough one to overcome and so happy to see your journey begin!

Anonymous said...

So glad you had a wonderful experience in Iowa City.

Wishing you less fear and many blessings.


Kathryn Grace said...

I wonder how many people in your community knew or suspected the terror and injury you children endured. I see the faces of such children almost everywhere I go--waiting for the bus, in the grocery store, pushed along in a stroller. I want to reach out to them, to offer a gentle hand, safety. All I can do is smile, send them love. Pray.

What amazes me, as an adult, is how many there were in my childhood, how misunderstood quite often, and how little anyone was doing to help them. What amazes me even more, is how many such faces, such tight little muscles and raised shoulders I see today.

I wonder how many adults, the walking wounded, do we meet every day, ringing up our dry cleaning tab, teaching our children, driving our buses, running for public office?

You remind me again not to take it personally when a coworker stabs me or another in the back or a clerk in the store is rude, to step back and remember that he or she, too, might be one of those haunted children, grown up, scared, and nowhere to hide. Not that I'll accept abuse, but that I will remember the pain from which such behavior is born and respond, to the best of my ability with compassion.

Amber said...

It is sometimes amazing how much I feel in common with you...and then I remember-- Oh yeah. No accidents.

Hey Soul Sister. You are MORE than enough.