The Blue Bird Princess

At Carnival jump-up morning, the school broke into teams.  Each team was given a box of materials, a stopwatch, and a goal:  come up with a theme, transform a student into a carnival queen, and design her imperial attire.  Like an international, intergenerational crew of Project Runway wannabes, we got to work. The queen-to-be bravely and patiently endured prodding and primping and even a couple of glue gun burns, all in the name of carnival fashion.  As we were headed out to the field for the judging, she confided that she didn’t know how to dance.

Enter: The Blue Bird Princess.


  Whether the queen’s last minute declaration of two left feet  was truth or modesty,  Nicole, as Maraval’s newly appointed blue bird princess,  took it as her personal mission to make the queen feel less shy about dancing by leading the way.  She told me she danced extra hard, to make the queen feel more comfortable.

 Her plan worked.  Before long, the two of them were parading down the runway in grand carnival style.


There was so much I loved about that morning.  When asked who wants to be the Queen, this shy high school girl raised her hand, just like that.  The fact that she couldn’t dance didn’t darkle her sparkly yes, nor did it keep her hand from shooting up.  When Nicole found out she was parading with a possibly introverted queen, she bumped up her extrovert and danced the queen to life.  Just like that.


I think there is a bluebird princess that resides in some hidden corner of everyone.  She is the part of us that gathers the nanoseconds of compassion and joy and good things, and cobbles them together to make a nest of safety that protects us during moments of self-doubt and panic. She pumps up our extrovert and dances us up.


Our bluebird princess gives us strength and courage to continue when the situation might be less than perfect.   So maybe the running surface is slick.  If your thirsty, go grab that water.  Maybe you’ll fall, maybe you won’t.  In any case, your very own bluebird princess will help you through, keep you moving forward when you might rather stop.


 Maybe your mind’s eye has gone temporarily blank.   Just imagine you’re inner avian princess, dancing you alive. Pick up the brush and start painting, see what kind of door you create.


Got potatoes to sell?  Don’t have a store front?  Well by all means, sell them from the roof of your zebra car.  Your avicular empress will oversee operations.


Our two years in Trinidad have made us realize the importance of keeping our inner bird-duchess alive.  When we arrived in our own version of a zebra car, we didn’t know exactly what we were getting into, but we knew we wanted an adventure, a new outlook, and some warm weather at the very least.  When we arrived, these two children were much smaller, younger, and less worldly.


Now they are sitting under the mango tree eating Trinidadian bread with Equadoran jam on a March Sunday morning,


playing ball in far away places,

eliasbball quito

and making friends from all around the world. Here is a United Nations pyramid at the park, with three continents represented.


We are beginning to sew up our last few months of our perfectly imperfect Caribbean adventure, and piecing together our former lives, like the Carnival queen’s costume.  Raising our hands to the yes of re-entry into the our lives in Vermont. Our lives in Vermont, our box of materials we are given for the next step, is not flawless, but it is ours.  We will rummage through, knowing that important pieces are missing, and some will need to be reconnected and invigorated.  Nothing that a little glue gun and royal bluebird karma won’t fix.

We will maintain confidence that if we begin to feel the groan and squeak of the hamster wheel in our ears, our inner bluebird princess will come hopping


or charging into our mindsets with reminders of how all those nanoseconds add up over a life time,


and there is no need to get stuck on any thorns or hamster wheels unless by choice.


we  are grateful to be


on this amazing planet


with so many more crevices to explore.


3 thoughts on “The Blue Bird Princess

  1. I certainly have had a wonderful, ongoing, vicarious vacation with your family these past two years, as I have been caregiving for my mother in my home. My world has certainly opened up, as I have seen Trinidad through your eyes. Thank you for a lovely, occasional respite, and I look forward to seeing you when you return to Vermont! Love, Sue Murray

  2. Ellen, I love the weave of messages, written and visual, especially a familiar Alive! sign. I hope this blog becomes a book some day. Love, Mum

  3. Lovely! We look forward to a long dinner together when you return; we look forward to it very much. What a perfectly beautiful collection of photos and thoughts you have shared over these two years.

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