Listening To My Heart Leap

I stood in the bathroom this morning watching a little sparrow splash and bathe in the rain gutter. Water was splashing everywhere and he jumped out with wet feathers, shook and jumped in again. Three other birds were standing nearby watching  but not joining him. I wondered if I am like that with taking risks? I feel good when I see and hear of other people taking risks and jumping into big things in life. I just don’t jump in with them. I play relatively safe.Some may think  going to China was a big leap of faith and scary. For me it was. But the minute I heard of the experience my heart jumped and I leaped into the experience full speed ahead. I can’t just say that is my big leap for the next five years, or I’ve met my quota of risks I’m just fine thank you. My first clue of needing to play bigger is when I say “I’m fine”. That means I’m coasting in neutral and gearing up for something. If I’m not gearing up then I need to be. If I teach my students “do something bigger than your self” than how can I comfortably admit  that coasting is okay? I don’t want to expect my students to shift into high gear if I’m not willing to do the same.

The truth is I am not willing to take risks quickly. I have to coast awhile before I can jump in. The little sparrows watched their buddy splashing and playing in the rain gutter while they stood by contemplating the idea, considering that might be fun, but it could be cold and they would be all wet. I am like that when I go to the beach in California.  It’s not warm water any time of the year. I usually sit on the beach for a few days and bask in the sun, watch the waves and wade in up to my knees trying to get the courage to jump in. What happens if I’m only there two days? I miss the moment to play in the waves and feel the exhilaration of riding one into the shore. What I have learned is; when I play safe, I miss out on fun, growth ,challenges, and opportunities to see gifts in myself I wouldn’t see otherwise.

I said “yes” to the China experience the second day I heard about it. My heart jumped but I was scared and had to do some deep pondering and questioned my sanity briefly. When my heart gets a charge like that I cannot question or deny it or I’ll be left with regret. I have had other experiences in my life that brought that same charge . When I was 18 a friend of mine called me while I was finishing my second semester of college and asked me to replace her as a nanny in New York. My first response was much like my one to China. What? You are crazy, I don’t want to go to New York and babysit! When I heard about China I said “What , I don’t want to go to China!!. When I asked her why she told me what she got from the time she had been there and the personal growth that came out of it and difference she made in the lives of four little boys. I hung up the phone and felt the heart leap again. At 18 I wasn’t sure what to make of it so I sat with it, and prayed about it for a few days. I called her back and committed to it. Was I scared? Yes. Was I excited? Yes. I had never been too far from home other than Idaho for college. The limousine service picked me up at the airport and took me to the home I was to make my residence in Scarsdale New York. I was greeted by 4 beautiful little boys with brown hair and big brown mischievous eyes ages 2,4,8, and 10.

I have never played sports, but with four boys I learned very quickly that is what they like to do. My first afternoon there we played softball in the back yard. I was up to bat and hit the ball ( unbelievable) over the fence! It was a miracle. The boys followed the ball with their eyes, mouths hanging open (as well as myself). They turned to me and asked “Are you the Bionic Woman?” (She was popular in the seventies). For the next five days the boys would bring home their friends  to meet me and stare at me because they told them of my great accomplishment and of course that I was the “bionic woman”. I won their love and admiration immediately. They won mine. I learned how to depend on God while I was there when I got lonely or when I had hard days. There were times I questioned why I was there and what was my purpose. I realized these boys needed a mom who spent time with them and gave them some attention with playing games, eating meals and reading to them. When their mother asked me why I was so happy, I could only tell her it was because I followed my heart and did the things I was called to do which generally came from God. I also suggested she spend time with her children and she would experience more happiness than she had ever known. That was a risky thing to do, but she tried it for a few weeks, and I saw a difference in her.

Going to China did a lot of the same things for me. I got lonely and questioned myself why I was there. I had to depend on God and miracles to keep me there. When I saw that I could bring some light into the lives of my students by teaching them  not  to give up on their dreams and to share their talents with others I was rewarded beyond measure. I continue to get rewards  from the students. When I see their growth and willingness to take big risks, to learn and be better, I am  in awe of their courage. Some are teaching handicapped children, others working with big companies in Shanghai, one started a school for students to dream big, others have set their sights on graduate school in the U.S.  Listening to my heart  leap and jumping in has become an intentional objective for me.