Friday, May 24, 2013

Elementary School, Memorial Day, A Dolphin's Tail, Gratitude

One of my new favorite things to do is to go into elementary school classrooms and share Winter's Tale. I love reading Winter's story to the kids.  I love how almost every student, even the rough n' tough boys want to give my darling stuffed Winter with her removable prosthetic tail a hug as they depart. I love bringing awareness to amputation and how no matter what befalls us life remains beautiful, we can choose to be happy, and how kindness matters. I love opening up discussion with these amazingly brilliant young people.

Originally I was only going to go in and read to classes during the month of April as it's limb loss awareness month. But, as word got around the readings continued and requests to come in the first of the next school year are being made. This is going to be a really good thing.

The discussion time with the students is, well like I write above, as amazing and brilliant as they are.

A 2nd grader ask, "How do you swim?"

After I explained when I kick I go no where but I have strong arms and I'm learning to free style and I can doggie paddle very well, I said, "But I think I'm going to get a mermaid tail." Oh, the little girls were in awe, they all want a mermaid tail and they wish we could go swim with Winter this summer.

When I first went into the schools I told the teachers, "All questions are open." And, I learned after the first reading, to allow and nudge the thought process...

Right before the end of our time together, one final question from a 5th grader, "Do you have disappointment?"

Wowers, profoundly powerful! I knew this was a moment of responsibility and teachibility. "Yes. Do you have disappointments?" She shook her head affirming and I continued. "We all do. Maybe you don't make the basketball team or you get a 'C' on a test you thought you'd get an 'A' on. Maybe your parents are going through divorce. We all experience disappointment in life but disappointments, failures, even successes don't define us but they can refine us, they can make us better."

Last Friday I had about 60 2nd graders followed by that many 3rd graders. The discussions went across the board without a lull. Some of the questions were,  how do you get dressed, has your hand ever slipped into the toilet when you get on to go potty, how do you drive, do people make fun of you, why didn't you black out, what is it to black out, yeah, why didn't you black out, what did your legs look like right after you got ran over....then at the close of my time with them one more question from a 3rd grader, "If you could go back in time would you change what happened?"

This weekend, Memorial Day, marks the 16th year of my accident. For the past few days I have contemplated this question. I can see the innocent face of the young boy who asked the question, the way he cocked his head waiting for my response. It's a question I have often asked myself but had not ever been asked it by someone else in such a pure way before. My response remains,"I am so very human and if I would have no memory of what I have experienced I probably wouldn't have gone to the construction yard that night and open the gate. But, being here with you, knowing what I know now, having had wonderful experiences and meeting the wonderful people I have, no, I wouldn't go back and change anything."

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to read Winter's Tail to kids. I am deeply grateful for the next generation of individuals. I am deeply grateful for Winter and her story, her happy face...I am deeply grateful for this life experience and how it has lead me to mix and mingle with the people I have...I am deeply grateful for the refining process even as I continue to ooze with humanness...I am deeply grateful for what my feet and legs had done for me, the places they took me, their service for me while with me. I am grateful to have run, to have felt squishy mud between my toes, to have had tall summer grass tickle my ankles, to have studied ballet...And, I am grateful for all that is yet to be...

Photo: This face is sure to brighten your day! Help us #Caption this adorable pic of Winter striking a pose for the camera!
You can go to for updates on this gorgeous girl.
This photo fills me with joy. What I see in her is what I feel in me.

1 comment:

  1. Julia, Julia, This is a powerful, awesome string of words. I am tearing up with gratitude for your honesty, your engagement with living, your EVERYTHING. You have been refined in the most glorious of ways! I see your smile being as wide as Winter's. Thank you.