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The Double Meaning behind the blog title 'Dream Follower:'
First, for 14 years I was a ballroom & social dance instructor, and have studied both leading and following. I feel that learning to follow is full of nuance and is often misunderstood. I made it one of my personal goals to become a really excellent follow on the dance floor, and will probably talk a lot about the art of following - both in and out of the context of dance.

Second, I am a huge fan of author Michael Ende, probably best known for The Neverending Story. The book is incredible, and the first film captured some of the essence. (Please don't watch the other two films...I urge you to read the book though!) Anyway, at least twice in my life I have been caught in a storm of my own indecision, and my inner Moon Princess yelled to my inner Bastian...'Why don't you do what you dream?' I tear up even now as I write this little blurb. The tension between being practical, keeping my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds (at the risk of compromising my inner vibrancy, true self, and who knows what else)...and reaching for my true dreams (at the risk of losing everything) is still a very real struggle. In fact, one of those struggles lead to my 14 years of teaching dance, so we can see which voice won the battle that fateful day when I was staring at the want-ad...

And so I strive to be two kinds of Dream Followers in my life. One has to do with connecting with others, and the other has to do with connecting with my inner Moon Princess and the world of possibility that opens when I do...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Exciting News

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to announce the birth of my new blog, Dance Tracker for which I have written my first entry.

I plan to drive traffic from here to there, but not the other way around, so those of you who have gotten kind of an inside view of my life since I began writing here on Dream Follower will get to see a whole new side of me, but I intend to still use this blog as more of a personal journal or outlet for writing in general.

Those of you following my story will need to be comforted (perhaps not by lies?) in knowing I have not abandoned the thread, just been distracted by life. Samantha and Luke will continue their adventure, I promise.

Thank you for your patience, your readership, and your indulgence.  I am evolving in new and unpredictable ways as we go, so again...thank you.

-Jessica (Dreamer, Dancer, Thinker, and now also, Writer)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

power of the mind

Shakespeare said it first in a line given unto Hamlet "...for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so..." and therein lies the trouble.

Certainly the mind can wend its way through labyrinthine justifications or excuses, exceptions or even denials. The mind likewise can defy logic, ignore reason, and leap from one thought to the next with lightning-like nimble electricity.

What defines good and bad? How do we know one without the other for contrast? How can we lumber our way through life rather than insinuate our way through all the paths of least resistance? What fun it is to ponder!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Addendum to Natural Helpers

Someone asked me about the puzzle, so in answer I will try to describe the scenario.

There were probably about 20 kids of all different shapes and sizes, three wooden islands, and one plank of wood that was (purposely) not long enough to simply set down as a bridge. The objective was to get us all across.

I suggested that we have the largest of us anchor the plank, which he did, and as the middle island began to fill up, we realized we would need to do it in stages, keeping enough of us on the middle island so we could anchor for our big guy, which involved passing the plank.

My solution was a little cumbersome which is why I am certain there would be other (perhaps more elegant) solutions. But it got us all across, and not milling around looking helpless, so there's that.

Lies are Comforters

I know I am not the first to think this way.

The lie can be so small, innocuous, seemingly well-intentioned. It could be flattery for the sake of sparing someone's feelings, or so thaI don't appear harsh. Often it protects both parties, making it all the more tempting.

It's like a truth could be the early morning frost biting your nose, and the sun shining brilliantly cutting through the haze of dreaming, and by pulling the warm comforter back over our heads you can (for a time) hide. Delaying the inevitable is still sometimes a way more appealing option.

A lie can be as small as an excuse, as big as blaming someone else for action or inaction. I have been in a cocoon, lying to myself, and I am emerging to find those formidable obstacles were not so formidable after all...

I am still stretching, yawning, and rubbing the grog out of my eyes, but I am getting ready to greet the day in all its glory.

What if...?

As a child I think often found myself wondering what if?

My mother would be annoyed with me asking over and over what if, what if...

It was away in my mind following a train of thought beyond and beyond. And after that I would continue to imagine what else could be a parallel reality. I understand why she was irritated. There was no end in sight. No satisfaction. No silencing the worry-warted beast within.

It is another branch of a symptom of a vivid imagination, this wondering what if.

And at that time maybe it was also another way to stall off making decisions. If we go for it, if we try something, then we must stick to our guns and live with the consequences. Going for it means not wondering what if... Or at least it means not allowing what-ifs to slow you down.

But it can also be empowering. What if also allows the imagination to roam freely, shutting up the judging mind. It can be your mind full of goblins and ghosts and goons your worst nightmares, it can be full of all the possibilities you never dreamed of before.

What if can be a powerful tool to be used for both ill or for good, to motivate or pause the action, to entertain the mind, amuse the heart, or stall the nay-sayers.

I'm sure I will never stop asking what if...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

natural helpers

In Tenth grade, I started at a new school, and I will never know how they conducted the selection process for inviting kids into the program, but I very much enjoyed the Natural Helpers retreat we went on. I learned so many things about myself and about stereotyping, and how to see past conventional boundaries by being part of this group. Perhaps ironically, they had selected people from various factions to represent the concepts and ideals of the program back to that contingent. We had minority groups, as well as nerd or rocker, etc.

We bonded with each other, and learned listening skills and tools. We were learning how to recognise warning signs of suicide or harm to others, and in general it was supposed to be a peer-based support system.

We did games, trust exercises, puzzles and physical team challenges.

It was at one of the last that I discovered something in me. I want to be patient, I truly do.  The group leader had explained the physical team challenge, and I remember all of us milling around, and myself also hanging back...

I was developing a theory for a solution, but also keenly aware there could be more than one approach or solution. My impatience overtook me in a moment of frustration, and I started to share my idea. My peers gathered around me, and decided my idea worthy of consideration and a trial, and it ultimately ended up working. I'm sure there were helpful suggestions as we started realising additional roadblocks along the way, but it was an environment that brought out of me a sense of leadership, a confidence in myself, and a feeling of self-worth. There were pictures of this exercise, though at the time I was oblivious to them taking pictures. I distinctly remember the feelings in those minutes, and the pictures of me explaining my idea in the circle of peers rang a proud bell for me. I remember hesitating, and thinking 'come on guys, let's just try something' and being certain that my solution would work, even though there might be a more elegant one.

I know I have leadership abilities.

perhaps I have become conservative because the risks have not been my own alone...