Staring up at the mountain

I got some unexpected news over the weekend.  I was selected for a fellowship from Zero to Three, the nonprofit that coordinates training and research about and lobbying for children from birth to age three. I applied back in November but it had been so long that I had pretty much counted myself out and forgotten.

It's a two-year fellowship and I will meet periodically with the other fellows to support each other in our individual projects and present and publish our results. My project will be to expand the guide and assessment I worked on in Guatemala to be used in different settings & other places in the world to train volunteers and temporary caregivers of infants and young children.

I really am excited. Do I sound like it?  Cause I am. I did about 26.9 minutes of celebrating, took a big breath and started feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I will have benchmarks and deadlines and expectations to meet. Yay! And: Oy.

* * *

The lesson yesterday in the young women's church class I taught was about courage.  We talked about the story of Esther.  And about trying difficult things and getting help when we need it. About not letting fear get in the way of good things. I read this poem to them at the closing and suddenly it felt like just what I needed to hear:

how to climb a mountain

Make no mistake. This will be an exercise in staying vertical
Yes, there will be a view, later, a wide swath of open sky,
but in the meantime: tree and stone. If you're lucky, a hawk will
coast overhead, scanning the forest floor. If you're lucky,
a set of wildflowers will keep you cheerful.  Mostly, though,
a steady sweat, your heart fluttering indelicately, a solid ache
perforating your calves.  This is called work, what you will come to know,
eventually and simply, as movement, as all the evidence you need to make
your way. Forget where you were.  That story is no longer true.
Level your gaze to the trail you're on, and even the dark won't stop you.

* * *

This was funny timing, though.  I had been feeling at a bit of a standstill in my PhD program, trying to decide whether to keep going. This felt like a nudge to keep going. Also, as if in ironic response to my desire for a 40th birthday trip, the first fellows meeting is over my birthday in October.  Somebody out there has a sense of humor.