The Parrot by Author Gayleen Rabakukk

Leaving a doctor’s appointment, I noticed a police officer walking along behind an emerald bird about six inches tall.

I paused.

Photo courtesy of  Sara Rolin on

Photo courtesy of Sara Rolin on

I recognized the bird as a Monk parrot. More than a dozen years ago I’d had one as a pet and had read articles about feral colonies of these brilliant-colored birds living in Austin. Was this an escaped pet or the descendant of one who traded its cage for freedom?

“Have you tried to pick it up?” I asked the policeman.

“No, but you’re welcome to give it a shot.”

I knelt down and extended my index finger, waiting for the bird to step up. The parrot immediately wrapped its slender toes around my finger and held on while I stood up to give him to the officer.

“Are you going to call animal control?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Guess I should.”

I held my hand out, trying to transfer my feathered passenger. The bird reached out a foot, and then withdrew it. This happened a couple of times: a tentative inquiry, then a refusal to move.

I don’t know if it was the uniform or the mention of animal control, but Birdy wasn’t having it. Being passed off was not part of the parrot plan.

Midnight eyes turned on me for just an instant, and then Birdy’s gorgeous wings spread to reveal more perfect avocado color. With a leap, long wing feathers fanned out.

I held my breath as the parrot soared to a nearby live oak.

The moment when the bird climbed up on my finger had been exciting, but seeing this creature take flight was even more glorious. It reminded me that reaching and stretching out of my comfort zone can lead to amazing things.

By nature, I am a rather shy person. I’m fine chatting with a few friends, but if the group gets larger than a handful, I barely utter a peep. Afraid of saying the wrong thing, I end up saying nothing at all. In the past, that fear had become my cage and each time I avoided speaking, the bars grew thicker.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been spreading my wings by speaking up and sharing my thoughts. No one has booed my ideas or asked me to leave the conversation. I haven’t yet become the life of the party, but it is getting easier – sometimes I even introduce myself to new people (because maybe they’re nervous about talking too?). Escaping my shyness feels fantastic!

Photo courtesy of  Gareth Davies on

The limits we put on ourselves often hurt us more than anyone else ever could. Each time we turn away from things that scare us, we give them more power. Only by taking that brave leap can we learn to soar. Is there a fear you’re inadvertently feeding? What courage-filled steps could you take to spread your wings?

According to Gayleen, why small moments matter: Our lives are composed of small moments and each one gives us the chance to begin again.


Bio:  Gayleen Rabakukk is a freelance writer now based in Austin, Texas (though she spent much of her life in central Oklahoma.) She's published articles on just about everything from cattle ranching to cardiac surgery, but is now focused on exciting the curiosity of young readers. She is active in the children's literature community as an intern for the Cynsations blog and as a fellow at The Writing Barn. She is also involved with SCBWI and serves as moderator for the Austin chapter's middle grade book club. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is represented by Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Agency. Find her on Twitter @gayleenrabakukk

Brave Tutu Note: I met Gayleen through our Austin SCBWI chapter. I feel fortunate to be a fellow with her at The Writing Barn. Through our love of books and supporting our literature community, our friendship has grown deeper. Gayleen, thank you for bravely spreading your wings. Thank you for "sharing your soar" with Brave Tutu readers!


Your Brave Tutu (You’re Brave Too-Too)

-Take Courage in delight. Discover power in small moments.