I am currently working on writing a full-length, creative nonfiction story of my life. Having grown up in a large and complicated family in Minnesota, lived in different countries and having had many careers, I’ve maintained a longing for a mother, sisterhood and love that is woven into and throughout my writing. With a Masters in Education, I taught for many years and then opened a boutique in Boulder, Colorado where I live. I am a yoga teacher and life-long student. Today, I see my job as telling my story honestly and creatively to touch readers who crave soul and beauty. ~ J.W.
Bats have always given me the creeps. But, they must know what’s up. Or what’s down. Or the real meaning of mixing the two up on a regular basis.
When we were little and had tummy aches, my mom would make us do headstands. As she did the dishes, my brother and I would stand on our heads side by side, up against the brightly colored wallpaper of our kitchen. It made us fart, then laugh and fall down. And if our tummies still hurt, she’d yell over the running water for us to go right back up.
As a girl, I spent a lot of time hanging upside-down on our chocolate-carpeted stairs leading down to the basement. The stairwell was lined with three-story windows on one side and the indoor pool-room windows on the other. I’d tuck my legs through the opening in between the first and second stair, hug my knees tightly around the second stair, and then carefully lie back, my torso extending down at least three more stairs.
If I lay there long enough, everything I saw became believably right-side up. A bustling miniature society with miniature people – an upturned world only I could see. The wood crowning and art-deco details of the walls were homes, trees, banks and post-offices in my miniature community, the base of the tall-windowed skyscrapers in my upside-down city. The ceiling became the ground – what more could one ask for? I’d spend so much time there that I’d come up beet red, my giddiness cured. My curiosity fed.
I was a teacher for years. Some days, my favorite ADHD, slightly autistic third-grade student showed up for school completely scattered, his energy wavering feverishly in and out of his own skin. On those days I had him carefully flip around in his chair, bend his knees over the back of the chair and lower himself down over the front edge, while I set a bolster from the reading center under his head. With Austin in a full back bend, I’d keep teaching. The rest of my kids grew used to it and he’d stay there for ten, twenty, even thirty minutes, digesting my every word. Miraculous.
If you’ve never seen your loved one upside down, go right now into the other room, choose walls opposite each another and kick up, kick up like a bug. See who they are inverted; you may in fact meet them for the first time. Notice how their cheeks fall toward their eyes and what those eyes now tell you. How their smile challenges gravity, how their wrinkles look when their skin drops the opposite way.
It’s like driving a different way to work or taking the alleys on your way home. Opening the cupboard with your left arm or starting with your other foot first down the stairs. Eating dinner buck naked. Jumbling the rules, blending and confusing the patterns, challenging the routines of your life and flipping them on their heads – it all makes you more vital.
Start by getting upside down.
You’ll see things in a fresh way. What you hate, you just may love. What you could not stop thinking about, you might forget. Drop the weight of your head to let go of the weight on your shoulders. Time might stop ticking. See if the blue of the sky gets any deeper, or changes color completely. Watch the orange leaves fall up off the tree. Become aware of how your brain goes happily numb – feel it literally soaking, floating in its own fluid. Notice how this slows your mind and your speech, and how much calm it brings to the space behind your eyes.
Let go, hang and sway from the swing. Ring out your organs, flush your adrenal glands, enliven your spirit. Feel the child inside of you wake up. Experience your own weight in the world and remind yourself how capable you are of holding yourself up.
Be a bat. See the world upside-down. Be wrong side up, and make it right.
I dare you.