I’m feeling quite ill today. Took my chemo meds this morning – so it is to be expected. It helps to rest in the cool, quiet, darkness of my room. While I do, with any energy I have, I pray, and think of ways to help myself find more strength, more joy, and more ease.
The first time I did cancer treatment, I kept a journal of all sorts of wonderful thoughts and prayers people sent me. For some reason it’s been difficult to do that this time.
None-the-less, I’ve made an agreement with myself to make an art journal of encouragement and beauty. So, I direct my thoughts to that.
What might help me now, and inspire me each time I turn to it? I am drawn to the power of words and images, so I set to work.
I carefully choose and craft the images and words. Repeatedly I read the words. I let their meaning and sound fill the space around me. I notice how they make me feel. I search for words that create the palpable sensation I seek. Then I string them together in ways that increase their power. My hands shake as I lay down the words and images. Interestingly enough, I’m able to breathe through that and actually allow it to form my drawing in ways that please me.
Do I still feel ill? Yes. But I also feel soothed.
The power of creativity – in thought, design, word, and deed – is strong. I think I will take my journal back to bed with me, and rest with it in my hands. I will imagine the sweet smell of beeswax and roses seeping out — bathing me in warm, luscious peace, as my sister and brother Saints sit and keep me company.
In the March/April 2019 Ideas Issue of Good Grit, Brad says his workshop is “the kind of space where if someone comes to work with us, they would feel like anything is possible.” How awesome is that?
I love that idea, and this cover shot. It makes me smile and chuckle — but it’s also super profound right? Anything is possible. Grab hold of your dream — and your trusty colander — and make it happen!
My thoughts immediately go to my students. I can see us — goggles on, capes flapping behind us, dripping with jewels, multiple bags on each arm — laughing out loud as we run to join Brad in his time traveling machine. I revel in the joy I see on our faces. Then my thoughts turn to the makerspace where we turn ordinary objects into extraordinary inventions. And finally, I see us sitting together in reading groups — eyes wide with amazement as they read!
One of the practices Rosamund and Benjamin Zander suggest in their book The Art of Possibility is stepping into a universe of possibility. What if all educators worked to create a space in their minds and hearts, as well as in their physical learning space, where anything is possible and miracles happened every moment of the day? What if we created universes of possibility for ourselves and our students?
It would be amazing and world changing!
But how? How do we create universes of possibility that others can feel? We can’t just say it’s a universe of possibility where anything is possible, we have to work to make it a reality. Our choice of words, classroom design, norms, agreements, rules, and beliefs have to support everyone in the universe of possibility. We need to believe it’s true, and then speak and act in a way to make it real for others.
I’m thinking what that might look like for me.
Model curiosity. Engage in conversation. Listen. Wonder. Marvel at ideas and give them a go. Even, and especially, the ideas of a 5-6 year old. Laugh. Collaborate. Make mistakes. Use, and teach, “How Fascinating!” Explore. Investigate. Think. Problem-find. Problem-solve. Be creative. Be teachable. Learn. Regularly engage in What if? moments with myself and my students! Believe the best about others. Help others see and believe the best about themselves. Radiate positivity. Speak from a mindset of abundance. Speak of beauty and goodness. Be grateful. Invite others to join in.
And what if we didn’t just create that space in our classroom? What if we created universes of possibility fin our everyday lives? Again, amazing, and world changing!
Is my life a universe of possibility? Yes. I am the Queen of Possibility.
Do I always live in that knowledge? No. Sometimes I forget I live in a Universe of Possibility, and get mired in the slog that the day brings me.
Clearly, even as the Queen, I can deepen my practice of believing, speaking, and living possibility.
So, the universe of possibility I’m working on today.
Cancer? A cure is possible. Side effects? No problem, I can manage. The pandemic? Brilliant creative people are working on a vaccine and treatment. Prayerful people are praying them closer to it. It can end. People hating and being less than human to one another? We can choose to love and be kind. We can make a difference. Experiencing stress? I can breathe, pray, nutraceutical up, and move through it. My washer and drier are old and hanging on with a thread? They can continue to work. And, if they need to be replaced, I can stay safe and comfortable in the process. Feeling small in the face of it all? God is greater. God is generous. God is trustworthy. Hope? Always good to have, and never disappoints. Joy? Absolutely. Possibility? Everywhere.
And, thanks to my good friend, Jojo, I can leave you with one of my favorite Universe of Possibility creating quotes.
When nothing is sure, everything is possible. (Margaret Drabble, The Middle Ground).
“Poetry is a type of literature, or artistic writing, that attempts to stir a reader’s imagination or emotions. The poet does this by carefully choosing and arranging language for its meaning, sound, and rhythm.”
I am a poet. I am a poet a meaning maker a lover of language
I am in awe of the profound power of the tiniest words strung together
I am amazed at the pleasure I experience by crafting these simple poems. It is the meaning making that most enthralls and feeds me.
I’m struck by the realization that all my writing is about making meaning. It makes no difference if it is a poem, a note, an observation about a child in my classroom, or an entry in my journal. I work — so I’ve discovered — with the heart and soul of a poet, always looking for the beautiful and powerful meaning in every moment.
Poets, I’ve learned, sometimes notice and acknowledge meaning, and at other times we assign it — creating symbols in our own personal mythology. Part of my mythology involves fireflies. I love them. They always remind me of pleasant nights from my childhood, in my backyard, surrounded it seemed, by the dancing lights of the fireflies.
I was reminded of this the other day. My brother and I were on a late day hike, and as dusk fell, we walked past a field flush with fireflies. I was immediately transported back to those peaceful, awe and joy filled evenings of my youth. We stopped for a moment, and I put out my hand to once again trap one of those beautiful creatures. Amazingly, I got one on my first try.
When I returned home, I decided to speak the meaning of that moment, and the simple firefly, into existence and remembrance.
Fireflies and Messages
Flashes twinkle on and off in the darkness,
As I stand the darkness appears less dark
Is that shadow the flight of a firefly?
In anticipatory hope my hand glides through the lightened darkness
In a moment of intuition I gently close my hand hoping to seize that flash of light
Slowly I open my fingers and gaze within a firefly walks across my palm
We look at each other with recognition he has let himself be caught
Flashes twinkle, on and off in the palm of my hand
Light lit message delivered he lifts his wings and is gone ~M. James July 5, 2020
As you probably already know, I’m doing cancer treatment right now. It’s a difficult process during a difficult time for us as human beings. So, it’s not easy, in fact it’s pretty tough. But is it doable? Yes. And not as bad as it could be? Yes.
There really is so much good in this world — beautiful people, edifying messages, helpful caring behavior, and many wonderful things. But sometimes it’s hard to maintain my focus on them because the difficult, negative, concerning, and fearful stuff is so ridiculously loud.
So, what do I do? Among other things, I turn to possibility thinking, and creative thinking and doing. Lately my creative doing has been writing — in particular poetry and the stories I tell myself.
It’s amazing really, how deeply my thoughts and stories impact my emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing. Do the words I choose, and the stories I tell, actually change my situation? Hmmm … that’s a tough question because they answer is no, and yes. Or perhaps to quote John Daly from the old What’s My Line show, “We’ll give you a qualified yes.”
What I mean is, even with all the positivity I can muster, even with all the real, beautiful, true things I notice and tell myself, there is currently still Covid, still unrest, and still cancer. However, and it’s a big however, the words I speak, and the stories I tell – to myself and others – make a difference. They make a difference in how I see things. They make a difference in how I react to things. And, they make a difference in how my body, mind, and spirit are able to manage the battles they are fighting.
I still remember working with my brother on his Strength Training for Fencers book. He wanted me to being able to power clean half my body weight. After laughing, I embraced the task. Much like now, it wasn’t easy. But, the ease of the task, and my experience of the weight on the bar, changed depending on what I said as I approached the task. When I approached it with an inner conversation of “yikes this is a lot of weight” I experienced it as such. When I coached myself through it differently “You’ve got this, it’s not that heavy” I had a completely different experience. As amazing, or unbelievable, as it may sound, the weight of the bar appeared to be less, and the task was easier, when I told myself it would be.
Our bodies and minds are incredible creations. They hear what we say, and act accordingly. There’s a doctor who suggests our brain is our second immune system. She suggests it isn’t our immune system that gives up first, but our brain. Our brain decides it’s hopeless and says, “We can’t do this.” Our immune system hearing it, says “Oh, we can’t do this? Ok.” and lays down its arms in defeat.
With all that in mind, I turned to the power of story — in particular written story through poetry. I found an online poetry workshop — or perhaps it found me — that has been perfect for my purpose.
Our first task was awe. Notice the things around us and be in awe of them — the big and the small, the extraordinary and the very ordinary. Our second task was making meaning. Find the things in our lives that mean something to us, remind us of something or someone, speak the truth to us, and then look even deeper, and articulate that meaning for ourselves and others.
Here are my poems. I used a photograph for the first poem’s illustration to show the detail and reality of my words. I sketched the illustration for the second poem — taking artistic liberty — so I could enhance the meaning. The orange pill really is quite tiny – not even 1/2 an inch long. It doesn’t say cancer crusher on it in real life – but wouldn’t it be fabulous if it did? And the plate is not covered with roses. But the story — the meaning — is about the shower of roses and blessing, and the power infused into that tiny orange cancer crushing pill.
I hope you enjoy the stories I tell. Perhaps even more so, I hope you are inspired and encouraged to write and tell your story. There really is power in the written word. Take the risk and write. You don’t have to share it with anyone but yourself. Perhaps you will, but either way, the power is there. It’s changing things with every letter written, and every word and sentence formed.
I am in Awe of My Silver Icon
I am in awe of my silver icon created by hands that love the Lord delivered by hands that love me
She stands surrounded by affirmations prayers and blank pages waiting to be filled
She is Queen Protectress and Amplifier of goodness and connection through time with great love to me ~M. James, June 30, 2020
Gather and Speak
Pink roses adorn the sides of my cup reminding me I’m not alone
Therese is letting fall a shower of roses from heaven itself
Her loving hands send graces as we gather at the altar and speak saints angels and me
A small orange pill rests in my hands I ask that it may be blessed
May its power be increased by the prayers love and presence gathered here
I set the pill reverently upon the pink rimmed plate
Then I speak to my beautiful body the house of my sacred spirit
Do not fear do not resist be brave
Embrace and welcome this little orange pill with joyful hope
Accept it as a gift and magnify its efficacy with your courageous participation ~M. James, July 2, 2020
Be in awe of everything. I love that! Be in awe of everything.
Be in awe of the amazing sky.
But also be in awe of the fork you use. Be in awe of the beautiful red tomato. Be in awe of the green tomato tops that dance like stars after they’ve dropped their weighty fruit. Be in awe of the cutting board, the kitchen counter, the floor, the house, the air, your breath, your very self. Be in awe of everything.
Being open to awe, inspiration, and wonder changes things. It transforms the way I think, what I notice, how I feel, how I interact with things and people, perhaps even how they interact with me.
I didn’t come up with the idea. I’m taking a poetry course with Jacquiline Suskine over at One Commune. Be in awe of everything is her title for Day 1. I haven’t listened to the talk yet. I will tomorrow.
For now I just want to sit, breathe, and be in awe.
I’m intrigued by the idea of creating a culture of helping. A culture where “colleagues support one another’s efforts to do the best work possible.” The authors of the article about IDEO suggest that a culture of helping is particularly important for organizations dealing with “knowledge work, when positive business outcomes depend on creativity in often very complex projects.”
I love considering how ideas like this might also benefit education, families, and society, as well as business organizations. Because really, doesn’t that description fit all of us? Especially now?
We are all dealing with knowledge work and often — if not always — very complex problems. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could support one another as colleagues to get the most creative, sustainable, outcomes to the many complex issues facing us today? Perhaps it is time — past time, even — to be willing to explore and learn from the best practices of others.
I always think about this as an educator. What can I learn from other leaders? What can non-education based organizations teach me? What kernels of insight can I grab from researchers dealing with business organizations? And, how can I let these new ideas and insights inform my practice in the classroom?
One thing I do with great resolve is to treat my students — though they are only 5-6 years old — as colleagues who can and should, ask for and offer help to one another and to me. I do my best to create relationships, and lead by example. I model respect, kindness, curiosity, and seeking and giving help.
My young colleagues often think of things in completely different ways than I do. That is part of the power of a culture of helping. Their ideas and ways of helping are insightful and fascinating. They may not always be the best way to do something, or the ultimate answer. But, they always lead to something more — growth, deeper relationships, insight, joy, learning, and new possibilities.
So, I’m thinking again — after re-reading the HBR article — about how I might continue to encourage a culture of helping in this unique educational landscape we find ourselves in today. What sort of infrastructure might I establish — remotely or in person — that would afford each of my students the agency to be an active member in our culture of helping.
I’ve been learning from my experiences with the medical community these past few weeks.
In order for a medical center to run well, there has to be some sort of culture of helping. I see it on many levels — from the people who greet me at the door, constantly clean the seats, check me in, do my tests, to the doctors and nurses. In all instances relationships, trust, listening, opportunity, commitment, and a beautiful balance of courage, vulnerability, humbleness, and power are the key.
My doctors and I have worked, listened, and leaned into our relationship with one another, and have established a pretty sweet mini-culture of helping. They are always willing to listen, brainstorm, and even learn from the things I have experienced, read, and heard. It’s great to be able to work with people who are curious, humble, and always striving to learn. I am incredibly grateful.
But, I only spend a short time with my doctors. The rest of the time I spend with the nurses. Talk about a culture of helping!
I’ve been going to my infusions alone — just to reduce the risk of any family member being compromised. Because of that, I have more time to simply be. When I’m not knocked out by the various medications, I do my best to relax. I draw, breathe, and just take things in. I hear the nurses laugh, chat, look for things, and encourage one another. They ask for, and give help — without, it seems, consideration of rank, or age, or years of service. They learn things about their patients, and remember them. And not just important medical things — but things about us as human beings.
I like experiencing all that. It makes me feel safe. Clearly they have a culture of helping which is deeply ingrained within their very beings.
And then there is my personal nurse — I mean they all help me, praise God — but there’s been one assigned to me these first two times i’ve gone. She has been remarkable. From the very beginning Carmen established a culture of helping with me. She let me know — from the moment we met — that we were colleagues and partners in this great journey of health and healing. And for that I’m very grateful.
She didn’t call me her colleague and partner. She showed me — in a way that to me, seemed incredibly purposeful and intentional. When we met, Carmen sat down to talk with me, looked me in the eyes, listened, attended, and responded to the things I said. After listening to me that first time, she moved me to a new station so we had easier access to one another. She explained things, and asked for feedback. She made it clear I could trust her — and her nursing partners — from the very beginning. It was fantabulous.
I’m not sure what creative possibilities and discoveries come from this culture of helping that they have established with one another, and now with me. What I am sure about is its great benefit to me as a human being, and to the complex problems we face together.
And, I am grateful — not only for the ways Carmen has helped me in my healing journey — but also for the things she has cemented in my heart and brain. The infrastructure of my classroom has to do with me. It has to do with me being purposefully, and intentionally, available, trustworthy, curious, and present.
This is my infusion doodle from this week. I made it to occupy my mind and hands, and to bring peace, joy, and creativity into the moment. As I look at it now I’m struck by its representation of a culture of helping. The various elements have similarities, and differences, but the same purpose. They occupy their own space with power, and beauty. They overlap one another without diminishing the another. Depending on my focus, different elements recede and push forward. And finally, the various elements combine to create, a dynamic, beautiful, complex whole.
So, in the infusion room, the classroom, wherever — purposefully, and intentionally available, trustworthy, curious, and present. Always open to creating and being part of a culture of helping.
I breathe best in a space of imagination, curiosity, creativity, possibility, hope, peace, joy, and faith. In some way, my breath supports each one, and each one supports my breath. In an equally powerful way, each moment of imagination, curiosity, possibility, hope, creativity, peace, joy, and faith, grows from, and feeds each other.
IMAGINATION is a mighty force. Sometimes it seems like a playground in my mind.
CURIOSITY often produces a laugh, entices me to exploration, and calls to my creativity.
CREATIVITY (thinking and doing) is looking with new eyes, open to the surprise, uniqueness, and possibility.
POSSIBILITY (thinking and being), is for me, the food of hope, peace, and joy.
HOPE, PEACE, and JOY are everything. They keep me going, and help me impact my world (inside and out) in positive ways.
FAITH – in myself, others, God, things larger than myself, the process, imagination, curiosity, creativity, possibility, hope, peace, and joy – makes it all possible. It encourages me to try when it seems I cannot, to believe when I do not, and to take another breath, and just be.
The other day, as I finished up my 9 hour infusion, a little loopy, and frankly, a little desperate. I didn’t feel like I had imagination, curiosity, creativity, possibility, hope, peace, joy, and faith, but none-the-less, I reached for them, and thankfully they were there!
I hadn’t brought much with me, just a small notebook, and a pen. What could I do with that?
I could occupy my mind and my hands, and fold an origami crane and a simple rectangular box.
I tore out a page, ripped it in half, and began to create. I made one of each. Then I took out another page. I decorated the page before I ripped it in half and folded another.
My breath eased a bit.
They say if you fold a 1000 paper cranes wishes come true, luck, and hope abound.
I say, 2 cranes and two paper boxes, folded with imagination, curiosity, possibility, hope, creativity, peace, joy, faith, and simple presence, might hold the same power. I took a photo to keep with me, and left the cranes, boxes, and any good they hold, for someone else to find.
I had the opportunity to chat with two of my colleagues this morning. It was a great exchange. It was wonderful to see one another (virtually), to listen, and to share. I left feeling connected, encouraged, and uplifted, with lots of things to think about.
One of my colleagues shared that so many people she’s communicating with now have heavy hearts. I could feel the weight as she spoke. People are struggling to feel joy. In the face of so much discord, difficulty, fear, injustice, illness it makes sense to feel a powerful incongruence. How might one legitimately feel joy, or be justified to do so, when so much is wrong around us. Everyone is dealing with such strong feelings – many of them less than positive. It’s a struggle to figure out how to sit with it all.
Thinking about it, I responded. “Maybe it’s because I’m a Kindergarten teacher, but my first thought is to quote Mr. Rogers. — Look for the helpers. There are always helpers.”
For me that translates into look for the good, the positive — there is always good and positive. I thought for a bit and continued. “I think if we don’t look for the good, if we don’t experience, embrace, and celebrate whatever good and joy we find, then evil wins in an even stronger way.”
We must continue the fight. We must acknowledge the things that are not right, the things that anger us, frighten us, or sadden us. We must sit with all those who suffer. We must cry out for justice and mercy. But, at the same time, we must, I think, continue to look for, and find, joy. We must continue to hope.
After talking, I resumed a yoga and mindfulness course I’m taking with Little Flower Yoga. It included a video of children and parents sharing their experiences with mindfulness. I was struck by how much they were speaking to my conversation with my colleagues, and the one I’ve been having with myself as I prepare to start my cancer treatment again this week.
Mindfulness, they said, helps us understand where we are now. It affords us the opportunity to notice everything, and connect with the now, ourselves, and others. It was a real aha moment for me. Sometimes I feel like I need to remind people of how tough things are. Other times I think I shouldn’t feel joyful when things are so uncertain and potentially dangerous. But, as I take a breath and try to see things in my here and now, with kindness and curiosity, I notice that those thoughts and feelings are only part of my now. There is, even amidst the difficulties, many points of light, hope, peace, joy. In mindfulness, I must see and explore everything, give everything voice, light, time, thought — and even in my darkest moments that includes joy, goodness, and hope.
This photo reminds me of some of the reasons I have for joy, hope, peace, gratitude.
There are so many people choosing to help, to love, to pray, to do what is right – in my life and in the world. There are many reasons to be grateful. I am using my breath, my body, and my mind to connect to those truths, and to allow them to inform my feelings and action. I texted a friend that my to do list today includes — see the good, the positive, the blessings, the strength, the safety, and the helpers; speak of them in some way (to myself and others); and let it inform and bless me, and the world.
No matter what, this is my mantra. It is me encouraging mindfulness in myself.
I hope to see the world, and the situations I am in, in the fullness of truth. I know, for myself, it is the only way I will have the strength, courage, and ability to be, and to do, what is best.
There is a mindfulness practice one can use to counter anxiousness and worry. Become aware of what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you feel. By doing this you gently remove yourself from the world of your fears. As you notice more and more, you are brought more deeply into the present moment.
I need to spend more time in the present moment, and less time in the future which is not yet here. So much can change between now and that future moment. Why do I fret so much about it? I want to begin to spend more time in the present, aware of its goodness and beauty. I took a moment to do that today. It rained yesterday removing much of the humidity from the air. Today is spectacular — breezy, clear, cool.
I was encouraged to do a bit of writing that uses some sort of stacked words — alliteration, repetition, whatever worked. It seems apropos to use the repetition of small phrases to encourage mindfulness and call myself back to the present moment and all that surrounds me there.
Breezes blow. Breezes blow softly, then vigorously.
Breezes blow. Breezes blow, and soothe my soul.
Breezes blow. Breezes blow, and my breath grows in depth and ease.
My eyes. My eyes gaze up from my computer screen, and soak in the verdant green that surrounds me.
My eyes. My eyes rise higher and admire the beautiful blue sky accentuated by clouds slowly moving by.
My eyes. My eyes notice the birds who join me on the patio — as if we are friends.
My ears. My ears hear the distant rumble of cars, and the sound of my vertebrae straightening as I lean back and stretch.
My ears. My ears delight in the sweet songs of my bird friends.
My ears. My ears react to the soft worship music on my laptop, and mysteriously slow my breath.
My mouth. My mouth feels the smoothness of the coconut cream in my afternoon matcha.
My mouth. My mouth tastes the delicate sweetness.
My mouth. My mouth enjoys the green goodness of this delightful drink.
I choose. I choose to embrace and encourage peace.
I choose. I choose to believe the best.
I choose. I choose to live — as much as I can — from a place of trust, peace, and positivity.
This year we ended our time together in Kindergarten without being in each other’s physical presence. That was hard. During the preparation for our end of year celebrations, and during the many goodbyes, I had to deepen my breath, and hold onto their bright eyes in our zoom calls.
True to form, it was a bittersweet moment. My love and respect for them always intensifies the bitter. But this year, their thoughts spoken during our celebration intensified the sweetness, and soothed my aching heart.
Yup the bitter remains, but the depth of bitterness only reflects the depth of our love and the sweetness we shared. We are a community. We love one another. We have shared so very much. To honor all that, I’m choosing to embrace the bitter, and lean into the sweet.
It was wonderful to see each Kindergarten face, and hear their shouts of greeting on our end of year zoom call. But, my favorite part, was listening to them share about Kindergarten — this was a new addition to our end of year celebration.
Each girl shared answers to one, or all, of these questions. What did she LOVE about Kindergarten? How did she surprise herself? What is she most proud of from Kindergarten?
As each girl’s face popped onto the screen, I watched them intently from afar. I leaned into the screen as they spoke. And, I celebrated!
I want to share our celebration with you. Here are just a few of the things that were shared and celebrated.
My favorite part of Kindergarten was dance. I thought I couldn’t do dance moves, but I did it!
My favorite parts of kindergarten was doing math sentences, publishing my writing, coloring, and art.
I enjoyed “play to learn” because it was mostly playing with my kindergarten friends.
I didn’t think I would be able to learn how to count coins, but I tried really hard and I did it!
I thought Spanish must be hard as it is a foreign language. Turns out it is not so hard, and now I know I can do it!
I never thought I could make the art pieces that Ms. James made, but she taught us how to make them, and I did it!
At the beginning of the year, I could only go 1 bar on the monkey bars, but now I can go across the whole monkey bars.
I am most proud of being able to present in front of a crowd of people. I do not get nervous anymore!
I love Science, we did lots of activities, we put the white thing into the cola, then it exploded. And we had safety goggles.
I didn’t think I could, but I learned how to tie my shoes.
I didn’t think I’d be able to do 3D shapes in Math class. It’s hard to remember names of 3D shapes but I did it.
I am most proud of learning to read.
What I LOVED about Kindergarten was being together! Working hard, playing fair and being AWESOME together!”
I am most proud of all the math I learned.
I did not think I could draw, but I can, and l love art
I loved that all my friends were in my class. I loved that I was still able to see my friends on zoom.
I surprised myself by making new friends and writing poetry.
I’m proud that I made it through the whole year of kindergarten!
This year in Kindergarten I am so proud that… I NEVER GAVE UP!
Sharing them here allows me to listen once more to their words. My celebration is even deeper the second time around. I hear their joy, pride, and confidence. I am buoyed by the many ways they have grown, overcome, learned, and discovered — and any part I played in that.
Spring 2020 remote learning/teaching was different, difficult, time consuming, and energy draining. But it was also profoundly wonderful, beautiful, creative, and filled with reasons to celebrate. It was filled with learning, thinking, wondering, joy, discovery, growth, and beautiful relationships.