Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Invisible Cape

Last year for my birthday, I wore a cape with my age sewn onto it. It was my way of facing off with my new decade. I called it my SuperZero cape. 

Zeroes are hard, especially on women. Time can be tough on us in the appearance arena, and it's a mighty strong woman who can claim to not have that affect them. 

I am not that strong.

But I am willing to fight!

Last year on my birthday, I went for a run in my SuperZero cape. I flew around a restaurant in it. I laughed and pumped my arms and in general acted proud of my new zero, announcing to friends and strangers alike, "It's m'birth-day!"

It was a defiant strategy--the best one I could muster in combating the terrifying truth that Big Zeroes represent: time is ticking out.

This year I did not wear my cape. I thought about adding a "+1" to it, but decided to keep the cape boxed for the remainder of my present decade. I did go for a run (counting every step as a blessing), I did pump my arms at the top of the ridge, I did go to a restaurant...but the cape stayed at home.

Then during my birthday dinner my sister gave me a superhero birthday card with the message "Be your own superhero every single day." It made me laugh, remembering the fun we'd had last year.

It also got me thinking.

"Be your own superhero" can mean several things. There's the Take-Charge-of-Your-Own-Life interpretation. You know, take action. Don't wait for someone else to rescue you. Be fearless in the pursuit of your dreams.

It's a good interpretation!

But there's also the Be-The-Superhero-In-Your-Own-World interpretation that I like even more. After all, superheroes are supposed to help others, not themselves.

I do try to live my life in consideration of other people--I try to tune in to what they're going through and help/support/encourage them however I can. A lot of people do the same, and I'm always grateful for the friends--in person or online--who take the time to say or do something kind. It's amazing how a nice comment or compliment can buoy you through your day. When people swoop in and lift me up, it makes a big difference in my life!

Last year, I wore the SuperZero cape to help me get through that one day. It's bright and red and you sure can't miss it.  But it's the invisible cape I want to put on every day. The one that lets me move around without notice. The one that lets me do things for other people without recognition. The one that makes me feel like I really can fly.

The incredibly cool thing about the invisible cape is that it's not the property of Marvel or DC or Warner Brothers or anyone else. Everyone owns one.

And every one has power.

We just have to remember it's there and use it.

Whatever your interpretation, here's to being your own superhero. Every single day.


Penny Wadham said...

Wendelin, you ARE a superhero! <3 <3

Caradith Craven said...

You are definitely a superhero who takes charge of your life and works hard to make your dreams come true! BUT it's the invisible superhero who quietly finds ways to make a difference in the lives of others that stands out the most! These acts of kindness quickly come to mind to name just a few: "booking" strangers, creating special moments for family and friends,keeping a daily journal for each of your sons that you bind and give to them on their 18th birthdays, writing books that touch the very soul of your readers, traveling across the country (with midnight flights sometimes involved)to meet and inspire your readers, winning the Schneider award for TRD and giving the cash award to the victims of the Boston marathon bombing, surprising others with unique gifts, or making a foster kid having a hard time in life (named Chris) find laughter and joy in The Gecko & Sticky series and then surprising him with an original framed drawing by the illustrator of the series. By example and with your poignant, eloquent words you inspire others to follow your example. That's a superhero (with or without a cape) in my mind and heart.

Caradith Craven said...
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Wendelin Van Draanen said...

What I mean is, thanks for all the wonderful things you said, but the goal is to keep the cape invisible. :-) <3

Jessica said...

We spent last semester in youth group talking about various virtues as exemplified by different superheroes. This would have been the perfect concluding lesson for that, especially since the point of youth group is to challenge the youths to really live the things we talk about. I love the idea of the invisible cape.

Jessica said...
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Caradith Craven said...

Wendelin, I understand and love the invisible cape idea. I also firmly believe that in this negative, point out the faults of others, culture we live in it is important to honor those to whom honor is due. And not just for their outward appearance and successes, but for their selfless, giving spirits. It is important for our youth to recognize the kindness in others, and as Jessica said, encourage them to follow those examples. I challenge myself to be less negative and appreciate others more.

Mark said...

Caradith, you're one of those who wears an invisible cape, too. When I think of all the selfless things you've done in service to others (starting with leading countless kids to learn - and love - to read, and a zillion other things...). You rock!

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

And what's funny is, Caradith never wants to take credit for any her incredible good deeds :-)

Caradith Craven said...

Okay, I'm hearing both of you invisible cape wearers! I accept your kind comments, and this blog post reminds me how important it is to reach out to others in simple ways. Some days it's just handing out suckers, giving away a free book, or listening for thirty minutes to an excited young man talk about the drone he got for Christmas but now it's caught in a tree branch, and he can't get it down. It's a great life!

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Because you never take off your cape :-)

Shaina said...

I love this. And I agree that a small kind comment really does have the power to lift, inspire, and motivate. One of my goals is to take the time to write comments online in order to be less passive and more kind. Thank you for your bright perspective!

Shaina said...

[and happy late birthday--I've been out of town so I'm late to the party]

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Thank you, Shaina! And I'm glad you're making time to leave comments. Here's to the power of simple kindnesses :-)