It’s always risky. Opening your home (your kitchen! your bathrooms! your closets!) to strangers. Saying “Come in” and “Take off your shoes” and “Tell me your life story”. But it’s always, always worth it.
I could talk for hours about all the things we discussed + places we went + discoveries we made + food we ate. But the best part (the big ol’ helping of whipped cream) is the people we shared it with.
They are storytellers, dreamers, and doers. They know how to welcome and be welcomed in return. It was one of the highlights of my summer to get to spend a weekend with them, singing in the car and passing around popcorn on our upstairs couches. And it was beautiful to hear them, on the last day, talk about each other.
“I know you to be” is a big deal for me, and for all of my co-theater and story makers at school. “I know you to be” is affirming. It’s truthful. It’s full of the best kinds of things–joy and honesty and soul-building life. There is nothing casual or soft-around-the-edges about saying “I know you to be”. And so that’s why it’s so big for me to record these words here. To capture these girls’ beings. To remember them for who they are and how they see the world. It’s one of the greatest forms of storytelling we can share with one another.
Emily is sweet tea–the cool, icy, sugary kind. When she talks, her voice is soft but articulate, her words tinged with a glow of Southern, old-fashioned nostalgia. Mary described her perfectly when she commented on Emily’s “quiet but beautiful self-assurance” and the way she will “apologize over little things and not wish anyone to really go out of their way for her”. That’s Emily to a T. She takes care of herself and others. She’s quiet, but watchful. She knows how to “make-do and mend”. I’ve been reading her work for years, and I remember a scene she wrote once that was just brimming with twilight fireflies. Emily is a twilight firefly kind of sweetheart. A Georgia peach. Everything about her is gentle and nostalgic in all the best kind of ways. She’s the kind of girl the term “old soul” was coined for.
(Check out her blog here!)
Justice was our wild hippie child for the weekend. Named after “a John Cougar Mellencamp song!”, she bursts with light and color. Too much light to be contained. Light pouring out of her fingertips and the roots of her hair and every fraction of her smile. Olivia commented on Justice’s captivating words–on the way words flowed from her like music. And I can’t think of a more appropriate way to describe her or her work. She’s captivating. Words sound sweeter when they come from her mouth. She’s mostly quiet–thinking, watching, dreaming. But when she talks everyone stops to listen as she waves about her hands and tells a story from her head to her toes. There’s magic in Justice’s heart and in her words. And there’s still some leftover stardust lingering around our house that must have fallen out of her pockets as she left.
Strong. Stately. Determined. Mary makes me consider the word “thoughtful” and what it really means. This was her second Dream Factory Workshop, and I’m amazed at how much she’s changed and yet stayed the same. Mary is a person who puts thought into things. Who considers her words before she shares them. Who considers deeply the things that matter to her, but still laughs at the world she faces. Emily described the way people have a natural tendency to lean forward when Mary speaks, and the way she’s “forever looking for the beauty in things, and when she finds it, tells you so.” Perhaps one of the physically strongest females I’ve ever met, Mary knows what it means to be clothed in strength and dignity. Her head is always held high, but she is continually the first to go last. Her exuberance is contagious. Her resolution is unnerving.
(“Like” her photography page here!)
The “smile-er” of the group, Olivia lent an un-matched enthusiasm to every activity we engaged in together. Rachel described her as loving and sweet, noting that she “always wanted to help somebody with a task”. Olivia was gifted with helping hands. I can’t count the amount of times she asked me if I needed help with dishes or cleanup or meal preparation. I’ve never met someone so eager to be a part of the “dirty work”. When Rachel assigned her the adjective “observant”, everything clicked into place. Olivia is always observing the next opportunity to serve. To laugh. To share. To bond. She notes every little detail of the day and records them for her own memory. It’s just who she is.
Justice described Rachel as “the last heat storm of the summer. The perfect definition of what August should be: intense and exciting. Breathless and unforgettable.” How could a tiny body hold so much life and energy? How could a young mind conjure up so many jokes and sarcastic remarks and unaffected compliments? Rachel was the dash of cayenne pepper in our sweet group of dreamers. The kick of life we needed. The burst of sun and color and bouncy brown curls. The voice I could hear laughing in the backseat of the minivan. The biggest heart in the smallest vessel, overbrimming with solid goodness.