a heart carved in a tree trunk

Soul Story: Hollow Wood and the Heart of Amber

To unearth a soul story, sit in quietness, reflect on your past, and retrieve a gemstone.

You’ll know once you find that gem and polish it bright in your memory.  You may feel integrated in your body, fully alive.  You’ll remember how synchronicity lit a faint pathway forward, and warmth directed each step.  A deep connection with a fellow human being developed; while purpose came along for the journey.  Yes, pain may have made appearances.  But love and beauty remained the starring roles.

Once upon a time, I lived a radiant soul story.

soul story: a lightbulb with the planet earth inside

In my late twenties, I worked in Hollywood as a story analyst for the top talent agency, CAA.  I read and critiqued stacks of screenplays per week.  Nurturing a love for story since cognizance, I enjoyed dismantling a script to identify its strengths and flaws.  But after five years analyzing stories crafted by others, I craved a story of my own.

From my studio apartment, a view of the iconic Hollywood sign eyed me each day, kept me focused.  However, the longer I stared at it, and the more time passed, it reflected back to me as Hollow Wood.  I needed to alter my soul’s scenery, climb a different hill.

soul story: the iconic Hollywood sign

Not an impulsive person by nature, I toyed with the idea of substitute teaching for the Los Angeles Unified School District.  I had worked with children before in my early twenties and it brought me joy.  Nonetheless, I didn’t anticipate making a split-second decision when interviewed to accept a full-time position as a kindergarten teacher in Watts.

Still, my soul spoke and my body listened.  Intuition lit me up with a resounding YES.  And this light bulb moment, in a sense, delivered me home.  That’s because it directed me to her.

Amber.  Part old soul.  Part angel.  And parts yet to be discovered.

Honestly, I could write hundreds of soul stories about my time teaching kindergarten at the 109th Street School, and the beautiful people who populated it.  But this one, it connects to my daughter.  This one is a mom soul soother.

soul story: a sunlit girl

There are moments in life when you meet someone like Amber and your soul actually shivers.  Not in a cold way.  But a first-snowfall-sparkling-in-the-sunlight sort of way.  A way that tells you, right here, right now, everything is beautiful and meant to be.  My heart couldn’t articulate this knowing; but my soul could.  It told me my soul story had begun.

Indeed, Amber and my students jump-started my life into action.  My first week offered a rainbow of emotions, as well as challenges and small victories, insecurities and wishes, fatigue and energy.  Miraculously, I leaped from the pages of a screenplay and landed feet first into a story attuned for my soul.  I woke up each day excited to teach my students who I’d already grown to adore.  The immediate future danced before me with hope and light.

That is until darkness shrouded our country…9/11.

soul story: dark clouds

Hatred’s predatory tentacles pulled all Americans out of our stories, soul-made or otherwise.

When life seems ephemeral, truth hasn’t the will to hide.  On the morning of 9/11, I wanted nothing more than to touch every person who had ever touched me.  I longed to fly high through LA’s eerily silent airways and rain down decency, healing, to reverse time.  I didn’t have the power to do any of this.  No one did.  But I did hold the ability to comfort terrified parents who delivered their children into my care that morning, including Amber’s parents.

As the day progressed, fear vied for my attention.  But I placed it aside.  Instead, like all educators, I stood as a leader, protective.  I eased my students’ worries.  Cracked the window to imagination’s respite.  Soared above the unthinkable to prove Love will always serve as the intersection of all hearts.

And I did it in the midst of Amber’s grace.  Despite the circumstances, her old-soul aura moved me, as she sat grounded, so pure.  If 9/11 raged as the embodiment of hate, then Amber glowed as Love’s answer.

And Amber continued to glow in my life…

Two years later, I listened again to my soul.  It urged me to leave Los Angeles, return to Maryland, marry my soul mate.  I was now meant to be a mother.  I left my students with a heavy heart.  But I remained in touch with so many, including Amber.  She became my part angel/part old soul pen pal, and I kept every letter and card she sent my way, including this song she created for me.

Even though it’s different now.  You’re still here with me somehow.  My heart won’t let you go and I need you to know…I miss you.  Sha la la la la.  I miss you.

soul story: hands making a heart with an amber ring

Amber remained with me in that somehow-space even as I birthed my daughter, Summer.  At eighteen months, I experienced inner turmoil as it became apparent Summer wasn’t typical.  Fear struck like a knife and my soul couldn’t seem to pull it out.  But Amber continued to write to me.  She even created A Poem for Summer.

On the darkest day, I look to the summer light and see hope at the end of the tunnel.  No matter what I know that Summer will triumph over darkness.

I pinned this poem to my bulletin board near my desk and read it every day.  Amber’s wisdom and grace resonated with me once more, across the years, across the miles, across our soul span.  Light absolutely arrived at the end of the tunnel–through Summer–once fear fell to the wayside.

Then came the soul shiver once more.  The first-snowfall-sparkling-in-the-sunlight moment.  The reason Amber felt like home.

soul story: sunlight and the snow

You see, Amber was home.

When Summer turned four, Amber chose to attend the University of Maryland.  Amber.  Part old soul.  Part angel.  And no longer a part yet to be discovered.  Because now I met that part…

Soul sister.

Amber is the most heavenly sibling I could ever dream up for Summer.  Now a part of our east coast family forevermore, Amber radiates laughter, light, love to all of us.  We are so grateful to her wonderful west coast family in Los Angeles for lending her to us.  Summer also has honorary soul sisters in Amber’s siblings, Autumn and April.  In unison, they are a sisterly quartet to represent all seasons.

To unearth a soul story, sit in quietness, reflect on your past, and retrieve a gemstone.

For me, my precious gem will always be Amber.

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souful quote with sunlight and a forest path...When you live a soul story, synchronicity lights a faint pathway forward, and warmth directs each step.

When you live a soul story, synchronicity lights a faint pathway forward, and warmth directs each step.

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