The smoldering seeds of our dreams

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My toes had gone numb from the cold but the tip of my nose was burning as I listened to the lapping of tiny waves against the shoreline. Kneeling on the damp sand, leaning over the short concrete barrier, I blew small puffs of breath into the glowing embers of a bonfire. Squinting to avoid the emerging billows of smoke, everything I saw was through an orange tinted filter. As I continued to blow on the embers and the small pieces of wood, the flames grew taller, brighter and warmer.

Bonfires are a tradition in the beach towns of southern California that I have grown particularly fond of. Something about moonlight makes the ocean that much more regal and S’mores always satisfy the sweet tooth in me. I learned how to start a fire back in my days as a Girl Scout. I even have a badge to prove it. Though I don’t particularly like hauling the wood or having the smell of smoke coat my clothes, breathing those first breaths of fuel into the sparks of a fire is empowering. With a whisper from my mouth, flames arise.

Which makes me think about dreams.

Like tiny sticks and tinder, we collect ideas, goals, and visions of what could be. We stack that all up and pour on some lighter fluid in the form of advice, wisdom, research, and funding. We then strike a match, say yes, sign the documents, open the doors and get started. We step back, expecting an instant burning, hoping for sky-high flames, waiting for a warming glow.

But perhaps your sticks just sit there, soaking, and the match has burned out. The knees of your pants are getting wet and your toes are just too cold. The fire is not igniting.

And that’s a very hard place to be. We’ve all been there, at some time or another. We’ve done everything right, everything we were taught, everything they told us to do, and… nothing. No fire.

Did you breath on it? Have you knelt down, gotten really close, took the time to get lower, and breathed?

Perhaps it’s time to stop collecting wood, to stop relying on the lighter fluid or the gasoline. Perhaps your dreams need a little bit of your own breath. Perhaps your breath could help ignite the dreams of other people. By breath I’m referring to pep talks, prayers, positive reenforcement, and petitions. What’s the one little thing that could turn dreams into realities, turn the embers into flames? Maybe it’s asking someone for help, encouraging a friend, asking yourself hard questions, offering advice, listening to your heart.

Making dreams come true is no easy feat. You might get some smoke in your eyes, singe your finger tips, get your knees dirty. But our best dreams are like embers, smoldering little seeds of possibility just waiting to be kindled into reality. Chase your dreams. Help others achieve theirs. Don’t forget to take deep breaths, and figure out the little fuel that your fire just might need.

Back to School, Uganda Style

Back to school, Uganda style
Photo courtesy of Emily Goodrich

School in Uganda isn’t like school in America. The kids actually want to go. It’s a privilege.

And it’s expensive. Many Ugandan families can’t afford to send their children to school, or might be able to educate only one of their children, especially at the high school and college levels.

This month Ugandan schools will reopen for a new term, and the 28 women we partner with there will see over 100 children off to their first day of classes. Many are entering new grades. Some are starting school for the first time. All of them are on an educational path that opens into a world of opportunity.

Our partners have long dreamed of educating their children. We are proud to run alongside them as they make this dream come true.

Down from the door where it began.

Hi There, I’m James

James A. Pearson Ember Arts

Hi there, I’m James (I’m the one in the front). Starting right now, anytime you hear from Ember through Facebook, emails, or on the Twitter, it’s me you’re hearing from.

A little about me:

  • I’m farsighted. My glasses will hurt your eyes.
  • I’ve been in and out of Uganda for about seven years, and I still haven’t seen the gorillas.
  • I thrive on ridiculously long and involved email chains, so be careful what you write me.
  • If there’s one thing I believe in, it’s supporting the best dreams of the people around me.

Ember started when some Ugandan friends sent me home to America with a box of jewelry for my mom. She fell in love. Little did we know that five years later we’d be sending jewelry to stores all over the US! A lot of you know that Ember is a family business. It’s me, my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and a bunch friends who have become like family: Joey, Emily, Anne, Cheryl, Karina, Max… this list goes on. And of course our partners, 28 women in Uganda and their families.

And then there’s you. We wouldn’t be here with out you. You’re like our very extended family. Thanks for being a part of this adventure. I’m looking forward to sharing with and hearing from you!