Wildly Improbable Goals

Out of the clear blue, this message popped up on Instagram from Monique, my sophomore student eleven years ago. Eleven years ago I didn’t know that she had failed almost all of her freshman year classes in California, and I didn’t know she would only spend one year in Texas. All I knew was that she had an amazing gift in the written word and that we shared a love of English. Now she works as the Head of Community Relations for Get Lit Words Ignite in Los Angeles and empowers young people to use their authentic voices. Monique is a freelance writer and an agent for social change. She teaches writing workshops globally, speaks at conferences, and leads seminars. Her hustle landed her in Houston to close out the March for Our Lives summit.

Maybe you have heard of March for Our Lives?

In Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the site of one of the worst mass shootings in American history. Seventeen students and teachers were killed and seventeen more were injured. In the aftermath, a group of students channeled their sadness, pain, and rage into action, and created one of the largest youth-led movements in history. Monique would be a guest speaker closing the summit. Her topic— “Dealing with Trauma in Healthy Ways.”

In 2018 Monique spoke to the California senate influencing their decision to pass Senate Bill 933, a $50M arts education bill. As her proud former teacher, I just happen to have a YouTube clip. Meet poetry-in-motion Monique Mitchell, or as I like to call her, the next Maya Angelou.

When I met up with Monique in the lobby of the Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush International, she embraced me with an energy of love and light.

The reason I teach.

We sat down in the hotel restaurant, perused the menu, and ordered a drink. “It’s been so long. Tell me. What’s going on with you?” she asked.

If you happen to have me in an intimate one-on-one setting and ask me how things are, I will tell you without the gloss. It just so happened when Monique said, “Tell me. What’s going on with you?” I laid out my truth—the current shit show of my life, Acts I-V with the grand finale of me quitting my job the week before. (That blog post remains unpublished and password protected).

And you know what? I believe in God’s perfect timing to bring people into your life when you need them. Monique counseled me with her radiant joy and the insight of a licensed professional, and she made me feel like the thousands of students I’ve taught over twenty years stood behind me cheering me on. “What are your Wildly Improbable Goals?” she asked.

Most people my age stop talking about goals, not that I don’t have any. I just keep them to myself, you know, in case I fall on my face. “Well,” I hesitated, “I have been accepted into graduate school. It’s an MFA program in Creative Writing. I have to figure out the money part. I don’t like the idea of student debt at my age, and the university is private.”

“That’s awesome! Don’t let the money stop you. You’ll find a way. So what will you do when you graduate?”

“Well, I hope to publish at least one book.”

“No,” she cut me off, shaking her head back and forth. “Don’t use those limiting words. Instead of ‘at least one,’ you should say ‘the first of many.’” The student had become the teacher. “And where do you see yourself ten years from now?”

 “Well, with my masters, I could teach Creative Writing at the college level. Before we moved to Houston, I taught Creative Writing at my last high school, and those were my favorite classes ever.”

Monique sat for a moment processing all the words that had passed between us. “Tomorrow is the new moon,” she said. “A new moon represents the ending of one cycle and the beginning of a new one. For a while I’ve been writing out my intentions on each new moon. You can google the dates. I had been wanting to move to Africa and spend time writing a book, and I wrote down my goal on a new moon, and a path opened up for employment in Ghana.”

I stared at her halfway disbelieving, simultaneously knowing of her upcoming move and contemplating all of her success stories. “Are you serious? That’s amazing!”

She searched my eyes and found the connection. “When you set your new moon intentions tomorrow, open your journal entry with ‘I now declare all of this or something greater for my highest good and the highest good of all involved.’  Speak in the affirmative like ‘I now receive’ or ‘I am thriving in my master’s program.’”

And through my transformational reunion with Monique, I became acquainted with Martha Beck’s article “Dream Big: Why You Need Wildly Improbable Goals” from the September 2002 issue of O. The Oprah Magazine.

Before we parted ways that July day, Monique hugged me one more time and said, “We are blessed to be here. The world needs your voice. I love you!”

And oh my gosh, I love that girl, too. On 12/12 she heads off on her next most excellent adventure to Ghana, which reminds me of a wildly inspirational memoir I just finished—The Heart of a Woman, by the wildly talented Maya Angelou, who had one wildly improbable goal after another. Her story begins in 1957 Los Angeles, hosting Billie Holiday in her home, and ends in 1962 Accra, Ghana. Coincidence? I’m telling you, Monique Mitchell is the next Maya Angelou.

And as for me, I received a little scholarship, applied for financial aid, and found my way. I’m now officially registered at Houston Baptist University for classes that begin with a retreat to Galveston on January 5, in the new year, the new decade, seven days after my 50th birthday. How wildly improbable!

Speaking of wildly improbable, you’ve reached the end of my 75th post. Thanks so much for reading, supporting me, and sharing in my formula: Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope

(If you have another few minutes, I happen to have one more short film produced by Lexus for the holidays starring the wildly talented Monique Mitchell. Grab a box of tissues.)

36 thoughts on “Wildly Improbable Goals

  1. Wonderful, exciting and inspiring! Bravo for you for saying YES and registering, and going forward. Having an idea, or intention and implementing a plan to match the vision are two different things!
    I am looking forward to more information. How long is the course? Can I look forward to periodic posts as you complete the course? or program?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Dave! I should finish the 48 hours in May of 2021, with a possibility of work to complete that summer, and officially graduate in August. I hope to keep up the blog. I have homework already to complete before January 5.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I had what I feel are wildly important goals like others list. I always feel guilty my goals are simple and hardly ever met. I’d like to have a more financially stable and rewarding pastorate along with a wife and kids. Other than those goals, I’m about where I want to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ryan! Thanks for reading and sharing. Click the link to the Oprah article. I tried the activity answering those questions with my left (non-dominant) hand, and it helped me clarify and specify. It sounds like you know what you want. All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this. Intention is the portal that allows the ecology of self and universe to interact. This post is an excellent reminder that knowing and making intention as real as possible is a great tool for actualization.
    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow!
    Great post I must say.

    I am most amazed at how your student turned out. And more importantly is how years after she could be a major source of encouragement to you.

    Indeed, we must deal with everyone that comes our way with honour irrespective of the level they currently are.

    We never can tell, they could hold the key to some place (I mean this figuratively)we need to access later.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love you Crystal ❤️ always such a kind, loving, compassionate soul. Those are the character traits of our family, forever. We learned from the best and we, as a family will continue to be the best. A wonderful gift from our family to all of us. Happy birthday love. Peace.

    Like

  6. I appreciate this post. My grandmother, after raising a family and in her mid-50s, enrolled in college and became an educator. Now in my (almost) 50s, I find that life has more curveballs up her sleeve. I think, as long as we’re alive, we’re meant to keep ‘becoming’, which is terrifying…but in a good way 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you, April. I appreciate you for reading and sharing! My sister went to law school when she was 50, and I’ve wanted a masters degree for awhile. Here’s to women who continue becoming at any age.🍷

      Like

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