When I was a high school freshman, my French teacher had us write down an I Want list.
Back then I lived in books. I saw the world in books. I conquered evil through books, found magic in books, played make believe in books.
And more than anything my books helped me know I wanted to go to Paris one day.
Back then me going to France was as probable as me playing for a state winning sports team. If you’ve ever seen me walk and talk at the same time, you’ll understand that.
Still, my teacher told us to write the I Want down even if the I want was impossible. I don’t know if she knew it, but way back then she was teaching me the power of releasing something to the universe. I released that dream to the universe, along with a ton of others, then got back to the business of being a kid.
And suddenly it was 2008 and the summer after my daughter’s graduation I took a group of students on a tour to….
I remember walking out of the train station and staring in wonder at the beauty that was this city often considered the most magical place on earth and drinking in the flowers on balconies and the coffee shops and the Parisians. It was all so unreal and beautiful and amazing. But it didn’t really hit me until the next day when our group walked into Notre Dame.
I stood outside those gorgeous doors in awe of this sacred place that had become a tourist destination and grumpily wondered why it was so hot and smelly. Seriously. The place was crazy with traffic and kids were running all over the place screaming and I was hungry and those stupid cobblestones were a pain in every part of my feet. The birds, God, the birds. They were so gross. And people smoke in Paris worse than they do in the Oklahoma casinos.
I mean I said all the right words. “Cool.” “Wow!” “I can’t believe we’re here!”
But they were a front for what I was really feeling, which isn’t appropriate for this conversation.
But then we walked inside and everything changed.
Walking through the doors into the Notre Dame everything changed. The hair on my arm stood on end as I entered this place that is still holy even though tourists visit in droves. I looked at those arches and those statues and those candles and the floor and the rose window, the glass…truly breath taking. Tears filled my eyes and I was so thankful. Thankful to God, thankful to my daughter and her friends and my mother-in-law who was there with me. Thankful to my friends and fellow teachers who were there.
I remembered that kid sitting in French class in Burkburnett, Texas writing down I want to go to Paris on a list of impossibilites. And with that, I lost it. I boo hoo’d like a baby. Tears streamed down my face, and I’m pretty sure I embarrassed my mother-in-law.
I don’t think I understood the power of the I Want list, even then. But over the last few years of studying The Success Principles and The Artist’s Way and The Secret and the bible, I’ve learned our words have incredible power for good or bad. When we release them to the universe, the universe will answer. Even if we don’t really believe that.
So yeah. The lessons I spent twenty forevers building for week one dealt with goal setting, visualization and affirmation. We hit goal setting hard and talked briefly about affirmation and maybe, maybe, two kids wrote affirmations.
But the I want list was a big star of the show because some of last year’s kids still had their’s and they were able to say, “Hey, I crossed some of my I wants off my list since last January.”
I was able to say I crossed five off my list.
And even if the newbies didn’t believe in the power of an I Want list, they were, for the most part, willing to give it try.
I understand the reluctant ones. God, I understand them. The disbelief in the supposed truth that anything is possible. Life makes it easy to NOT believe sometimes. And it’s not like you can wiggle your nose and WHAM, the I want happens. You have to work. YOU have to work hella hard sometimes.
But when you put that I want on paper, you have a destination. You know where you want to go. Now you just have to figure out the right way to get there.
That’s what we did last week.
We looked at where we want to get personally and with the different staffs. This week we’re figuring out how to get there.
It’s easy to get caught up in the ickiness on the road to a goal. The pain and heartache and no’s and failures and drama and conflict and testing and interruptions and the news and cell phones and PDAS and all that jazz. But I hope starting with this will help us all work together to start every day with a destination in mind. I know it will help me embrace the journey.