Category Archives: creativity

Freshly WHAT?

Today I was Freshly Pressed.

Naturally, I called my husband right away, to tell him the good news.

“You were freshly WHAT?!”

I suppose it does sound a little unsavoury, if you don’t know what it’s all about.

It’s something I put on my list of 37 birthday wishes this year, right after Snorkle on the Great Barrier Reef, before See Les Miserables (which is coincidentally coming to Vancouver in June, just in case my husband is reading this). It’s like a pat-on-the-back and a see-you’re-not-just-kidding-yourself-about-this-weird-hobby, all rolled into one.

What I didn’t anticipate, is how incredibly intimidating it is. is a powerhouse online. They also happen to host my blog. From time to time they pick a blog post to highlight/promote to other bloggers in “Freshly Pressed.” This week I participated in a poetry writing challenge, and my poem was one of the ones chosen. Which is, like, totally awesome (and apparently has me regressing back to my valley-girl days).

All kinds of writers and artists and creative types have read my words. And poked around my blog. And some have even started following it.

Which is wonderful, of course. They’re all very encouraging. I’m kind of amazed at how many there’ve been. I’ve looked at some of their blogs and I’m impressed. I like these people.

The intimidating part, however, is that all kinds of writers and artists and creative types have read my words. Are reading my words. Right now.

And I realize that I start way too many sentences with the words “And” or “But.” And I tend to ramble. And I talk about snot a lot; and other bodily fluids which aren’t nearly as cool as snot. And I rarely post poetry, because it feels more likely to be misunderstood, more naked, than my usual. And part of me wants to duck and hide and change how I do everything from now on.

My words aren’t always pretty.

My life isn’t that glamorous.

My ideas aren’t new.

I’m just me.

But that’s always been the point of this blog. So it’ll have to do. And that’s all there is to it.

So here’s me.

Thanks to Freshly Pressed for the somewhat intimidating, but ultimately thrilling compliment!

And thanks to my long time readers, who’ve given me the confidence to keep trying all this time. I like you best of all!

Once Upon A Time At Our House

I can feel the sun, warm at my back as I push through that final kilometer. My muscles are pleasantly loose. I’m invigorated by my early morning 10K.

Body and soul in perfect unison. The half hour I spent praying in the quiet of my beloved garden, while the sun inched its way up the horizon, has worked it’s magic. This is why I never miss a sunrise.

I sneak into the girl’s bedroom hoping to wake them myself, but they are already up, as usual. L is helping her little sister study for her french quiz while making her bed. C’s voice still sounds a little scratchy, so I suggest she stay home and take it easy. But she can’t be convinced, she’s committed to her school work and hates to miss a day.

After a long, hot shower I lean my ear against the door of the little ones. Not a peep. They are deep sleepers, and rarely stir before breakfast.

I pull out the loaf of bread I made from scratch yesterday. We’ve tried bread machines, but they just aren’t the same. The yeasty smell always puts a smile on my face. Free range eggs, whole grain toast and organic fruit salad are plated and ready to serve when Daddy carries the sleepy-heads to the table.

Our leisurely family breakfasts are always full of laughter and emotional connection. Together, we pray about our worries and hopes for the day, especially for the struggles of those less fortunate than us. I am humbled by the selflessness and empathy my children display.

The ticking of the clock seems louder and we realize it is time to head out the door. I’m so grateful that Glen has time to get the children ready for school each morning. They eagerly scramble into the clothes I carefully chose for them the night before. B is excited to be in panties “like a big girl.” The boy entertains himself quietly while we gather our school supplies. We get hung up making lunches; there are so many choices and they love them all. But this becomes a teachable moment about nutrition and wise decision making.

The kids groan in complaint as I lay a steamy kiss on their Dad. We’re running ahead of schedule again and he’s in no hurry to leave. When I turn around, my offspring are all buckled in to their seats and waiting in the van. We sing silly songs all the way to school.

The best part of the day so far is still to come: the hug and kiss I get from each one before they dance off to their class. “I love you Mom. You do so much for us and I’m going to miss you all day long.”

No wonder I’m a morning person.

Ha ha ha ha ha!

The Weekly Writing Challenge at Word Press this week is:

Try a different genre of writing

This is mine:


My true story bears no resemblance to this one, at all.

Except for the part where I woke up before dawn. That happened.

In the true story my day started at 3:30 with a wet-through-her-diaper bed change, then again at 6:00 with a poop-tastrophe. A husband away on business. A sick and crying toddler. A headstrong 8-year-old who refuses to wear socks (panties – don’t even get me started). An eldest daughter who leaves everything to the last minute and forgot to take out her contacts last night. A girl-who-has-too-often-cried-wolf insisting she’s really sick this time. And a Mom who made her go to school anyway, but got called back to pick her up after 1 hour.

But it also includes: the smell of freshly washed hair, footie jammies, a boy who just wants his Mom to hold him and no one else (as a new adoptive parent this is all kinds of awesome), a joke about cats partying which I didn’t understand, but made B laugh and laugh and laugh, a once reluctant reader who is happily ensconced in her bed devouring her 5th Percy Jackson novel right now, a big sister who asked “what can I do to help Mom?” without being prompted AND a man whom I love more than life who is coming HOME tonight!

Oh, and since everyone is in bed and it is quiet right now. A nap!

So here’s me, and life is good, even here in reality.

Breaking Up With Normal

From: Christie
Sent: Monday, September 17, 2012 4:27 PM
To: Normal []
Subject: It’s over.

Dear Norm,

I’m sorry. I’ve chased after you most of my life. But I’m done. We’re through.

I know it’s not cool to break up by e-mail, but it’s your own fault. Despite your constant presence in my life, you’re hard to pin down. We don’t really talk. It’s all hidden pressures and unspoken expectations. Not healthy at all. I’m not angry. Really. I’m just done.

It’s not you, it’s me.

After all this time, I’ve outgrown you. I’m finally ready to admit after more than 30 years that you’ve never been my type. Because a relationship like this shouldn’t be so hard.

I’m tired of checking with you about what I should wear – sometimes your suggestions are uncomfortable. And I know we never saw eye-to-eye on hair. You make me nervous when we go out. What should I talk about? Which opinions can I share? What parts of myself should I hide? I know you’re thinking “the hair, that crazy hair” – but I kind of like it the way it is. So there.

You’ve changed.

It’s not all bad. I’m glad that you are recycling more and have dialed back the racism. But I hate the unhappy marriages, the workaholism and anorexic body ideals. Democracy is great, but it’s not always the best way to decide what is good and right and true.

If that’s not enough, you’re constantly reinventing yourself. And it’s exhausting juggling the different versions of you. There’s “Church Norm” who’s really into Jesus-talk, but kind of gossipy and judgmental. She tries to do a lot of good, but is arrogant and clumsy about it. “School Norm” talks a good game, but expects everyone to act and learn and regurgitate in exactly the same way. She’s inflexible and competitive, and sometimes more of a hindrance than a help to learning. “Hipster Norm” prides herself on being edgy and enlightened, but often forgets to be kind. Cynical and sarcastic makes for a funny punchline, unless you are on the other end of the punching.

Without even realizing I was doing it, I’ve tried to keep up with you. And I don’t like juggling the different versions of me either.

I’m ready to just be. Rough edges, awkward pauses and comfortable pants… the me who isn’t trying so hard.

I’ve met someone.

I’ve met a lot of someones, actually. People who dance with their dogs competitively. People who sell their belongings and move to Africa. People who dress up in costume for movie premieres. They’re offbeat. Out of step from the rest of us. Flat out weird sometimes. Which kind of freaks people out.

But here’s the thing: they’re awesome. They are fun and passionate and not afraid. And that’s looking pretty good to me right now. That’s what I want.

I hope we can still be friends.

There’s nothing wrong with you. I’ll raise my children to respect you. I’ll teach them to be appropriate, even socially acceptable. But they are special and unique and ultimately, I don’t see you as a life long companion for them, either.

We’re just not that into you.

I’m sure we’ll run into each other from time to time. After all, you’re insanely popular. That’s kind of your thing.

So, no hard feelings, k? I wish you the best… or the average, rather. Cause that’s more “you” after all.


Book Review: You Are A Writer

When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up. I think, “at age 36, WHY on earth are they assuming I’m ever going to grow up?” Then I think, “I want to be a writer.”

But I never said it out loud. It seemed akin to saying, “I want to be an astronaut.” One of those wacky, ridiculous pipe dreams that’s too embarassing to admit past the age of 8.

Then I started blogging. My mom read it. My friends read it. I wrote more and more. People who aren’t even related to me started reading it. I met an english professor who believed in me. That whispered dream was getting louder.

One day last month a stranger asked, “What do you do?”

I answered “I’m a writer.”

Turns out, I am.

Jeff Goins is like a personal trainer when it comes to writing. Not the harsh, yelling-in-your-face kind of trainer who makes you feel like a flabby, pathetic worm, but the other kind: the one that inspires and motivates you to become your best self.

I have learned so much about writing, blogging and this weird little world of social media from his blog, When I had a chance to read and review his new e-book, I responded with a dignified and professional, “Oh yes, certainly”… okay, fine, I jumped up and down waving my arm in the air: “I’ll do it. I’ll do it. Pick me! Pick me!” – like the total nerd that I am.

You Are A Writer (So Start ACTING Like One) is both the shot in the arm and the kick in the pants I need in this creative lifestyle. It is a toolbox of ideas geared specifically towards writers, but anyone with an artistic calling could benefit.

His premise is simple: “Believe you already are what you want to be. And then start acting like it.” I can’t think of an area in my life where this isn’t good advice – as a writer, in my faith, as a parent, or as a human being.

So here’s me; I am a writer.

The Ultimate Punishment

I passed a group doing community service near their “Correctional Services” van yesterday. Not exactly a chain gang, but they didn’t look all that thrilled to be picking garbage in bright orange vests. I’m sure there is some value in the task; after all, picking up toys and clothing is considered a Very. Terrible. Task. in our house. Coupled with tacky fashion options… yes, this would be punishment indeed.

I realize I spend a lot of my blogging capital on moaning and b… complaining. I apologize, but you’ll have to give this one to me, because there is nothing, NOTHING that can compete with the sheer pain and frustration of the task that has sucked my day away.

I spent the afternoon trying to print out my cousin’s wedding invitations.

I was excited about it. I got it all set up. They look really great. All 10 of them. The ones that actually worked. Only, she wanted to invite more than just 10 people, it turns out. So… I have to figure out how to get the stupid printer with the stupid ink cartridge and the stupid paper tray to do WHAT IT IS SUPPOSED TO DO!

I am convinced that setting delinquents up with a line up of clunky old desktops, past-their-prime ink jet printers and a list of crucial printing tasks would be a far more powerful deterrent than any amount of neighbourhood clean-up. Is there anything more frustrating? Anything?

When everything works tickety boo, technology is a gift. The other 93% of the time, it is the bane of my existence.

This is the part where I usually add some pithy, transcendent moral about life or God or the beauty of the universe. Not today. We have friends coming over soon and I am going to eat muffins and pretend that none of this ever happened. Tomorrow is a new day. And Staples is only a short drive away.

So here’s me, formulating plan B. Yellow post-it notes, red crayon and the words: “Wedding. Be there.” I think it has a certain charm.

What other creative punishments is the modern correctional system overlooking?

How Do You Find The Time?

It’s a question I’ve asked many times. I ask people who garden, people who decorate their homes, people who floss… How do you find the time?

It’s also the most frequent question I get about blogging. How do you find the time? The answer is simple.

You don’t.

Time does not spontaneously appear when you say the magic words. (Unless they happen to be “we-don’t-really-need-TSN-in-our-house”, because I’m sure my husband’s free time would grow exponentially at that point.)

Time is a limited resource, and often one that feels out of our control. I’ve always admired those buttoned up, disciplined souls who manage their time with military precision. I’m an orderly person, but trying to emulate them leaves me exhausted, cranky and desperately unhappy. Usually I find myself somewhere in the middle – enough routine to keep life moving, but margins for the unexpected (and the occasional hour of blissful uselessness).

Whether you wing it from one moment to the next, or plan your day down to the minute, we are all subject to the same limitations.

86,400 seconds

1,440 minutes

24 hours

Each day, everyday, it’s all we’ve got.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. In this day and age, we can do almost anything, but we can’t do everything!

When I choose to make something a priority, then I am going to have to sacrifice somewhere else. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with this necessity. No one has it all together – even if they look the part. Look at Martha Stewart. She has a large, talented staff and a bazillion dollars to help her get things done. But even she drops the occasional ball along the way. Her foray into white collar crime wasn’t terribly successful.

This is why my backyard looks like the set of Jurrasic Park. Who decided grass was the superior weed anyway? Dandelions are cheerful and prolific, plus my kids love them. This is also why I have boxes of pictures in the garage, not from our most recent move, but from the one before that nine years ago. I’m honestly working on the flossing thing. My brother-in-law is training to be a dentist and I don’t want him to know that I’ve had five cavities in the last year. Shhhhhh.

You don’t find time for the things that matter to you, you make it. In my busy life stage, this tends to be in bite-sized pieces scattered throughout the day. We pray in the van on the way to school. While driving, I’ve also found time to discuss important issues with my kids – like sex, work ethic, the value of money and whether American Idol is better with or without Simon Cowell. I talk on the phone while I fold laundry. I write my blog posts anytime, anywhere… there are notebooks all over my house, in my purse, in the car. I have written entire posts in blue crayon, because that was all I had at the time.

This is my very first blog post.
Written in my daughter's My Little Pony colouring book.

Right now:

Mount Clean Laundry is mocking me from atop my bed.

Life-Span in Human Development is taunting me from the kitchen table.

I can hear echoes of crucial sibling posturing in the hallway.

So here’s me, quite happily blogging away. THIS is how I find the time.

How do you find the time to do what matters to you? What are you willing to sacrifice?

The Great Educational Debate: Grades vs. Learning

I’ve had a recurring nightmare for the past few weeks. Perhaps I should call it a “day-mare” since I’m usually awake when it slithers into my conscious mind.

I’m at the University, where I started taking classes in January. With shaking hands I turn in my Developmental Psychology paper, worth 60% (60%!!!!!!!) of my final grade.

In the inexplicable way that dreams often do, I skip ahead to the return of my graded essay. On the top is a giant red F.

F for fraud. F for faker… F for Failure.

The teaching staff morphs from my likeable Scottish professor into a group of angry, faceless beings. They shake their heads in disgust and instruct security to escort me from the premises immediately. I am ordered never to return again.

This neurotic little fantasy has not inspired me to greatness. I stare blankly at my laptop with the words 60%, 60%, 60%!!!!! echoing through my mind. After two weeks of false starts and half-hearted research The Impact of the Environment on the Cognitive Development of Preschool Children is no closer to being done than when I started. The pressure is paralyzing.

On the other hand…

It’s so different with my English assignments. I was thrown the first time I received one back with only witty comments and suggestions scrawled in the margins. I looked carefully through each page and even on the back. No mark.

I’ve been conditioned to work for a grade. I was slightly miffed. If I am not being measured, does it even count?

But I find myself craving these assignments. They flow easily. I enjoy them. It is some of my best work.

Because I forgot…

I attended a workshop at school last week: Study Skills for the Mature Student. Despite my penchance for slurpees and children’s fiction, the university has decided I am “mature”. It sounds so respectable. I’m not about to argue.

The speaker reminded us that we are here to collect knowledge, not grades. Marks do not always reflect learning. And my GPA is not a measure of my worth.

She seemed like a nice kid. And frankly, it’s the same advice I’ve given to my own kids. I know this. Now that I’m “mature” I shouldn’t need to be reminded of the obvious. But I do.

So I set aside my need to get an “A” on my psych paper, which somewhere along the way became a way to prove my worth to the entire academic community (who, I’m sure, are on pins and needles wanting to know just what I have to say). In fact, I chucked the whole topic and started over again. Successful Ageing: the Cognitive, Emotional and Social Effects is working out much better for me. And no, the irony of the topic does not escape me.

What works and what doesn’t…

The entire educational system is structured around extrinsic rewards; the carrot and the stick, so to speak. Jump through these hoops and you get such-and-such a number or letter to reflect your value. Do not perform according to some, often arbitrary, standard and you will be punished.

This kind of conditioning works fabulously for simple, mechanical tasks. Eat your supper, get dessert. Ignore your chores, no TV. But it doesn’t work so great for anything that requires creativity and complex thinking.

In fact, studies show that incentives, especially high value ones, have a very NEGATIVE effect on creative productivity. They are not the motivating factor we expect. Rather than performing better, people perform WORSE when a reward is on the line. The “carrot and stick” of extrinsic motivators inhibits innovation and discourages critical thinking.

People are inspired to greatness by intrinsic motivations: curiosity, imagination, creativity, and personal satisfaction, to name a few. We were designed to learn and grow. In a pressure-free, encouraging environment we do this so much better! This is the reason my ungraded assignments excite my best work, while the high pressure paper overwhelms me entirely.

Dan Pink gives a brilliant talk called The Surprising Science of Motivation which makes this point better than I ever could! He is mostly interested in its application in the business world; companies who make amazing strides by loosening control. Instead of bigger incentives, they are giving autonomy and a sense of purpose to their employees, with remarkable results.

What would happen if we did the same thing in education? Students who learn because they are interested in the discussion and excited to play a part, not merely regurgitating what the teacher wants to hear. Nurturing thinkers and artists and builders, not a pecking order based on a narrow set of skills.

I’ve had a few teachers who truly believed this over the years. They seem revolutionary, more interested in what I had to contribute, than in measuring me (or themselves). There’s a reason they make so many cheesy “teacher-inspiring-a-tough-inner-city-class-to-greatness” movies. Because teachers like that really do exist and they make all the difference.

So here’s me, 60% certain that the grade on my paper does not define me.

Christmas Countdown: Fair Trade Style

We are a family that counts down. We start young with “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, We’re Going To The Moon,” and it never stops. Ask my husband, at any given moment, how many days until a long weekend, our next family holiday or the massage his doting wife promised him, and he can tell you accurately without a moment’s hesitation. One wonders what he might be capable of if so much valuable brain power wasn’t constantly engaged in keeping track of the minutes and hours… but I digress.

So, advent calanders, ya – we’re all over that. We hang a tiny little ornament on the quilted tree Oma made each night. The girls faithfully cross the days off their calanders. And we fight about which daily christmas devotionals we are going to use for the month. Right now it’s a throwdown between the cheesy, but beloved “Adornaments” and “What God Wants for Christmas”.

But the MOST crucial countdown of all is the cheap cardboard chocolate calander we get each year. I’ve been informed by experts in the field (a 9-year-old girl and her Dad) that it is not really Christmas without it.

One of the very first wails of protest when Mom’s fair trade crusade began was about this very important issue.

I was tickled to learn that there are, in fact, fair trade chocolate advent calanders to be had (Divine). Not only that, but these contain ACTUAL chocolate to pop out each day. As opposed to the brown coloured, chocolate scented ear wax we are used to. Not a bad option.

But as committed as I am to my family’s happiness and the end of child slavery, there is another virtue very near and dear to my heart.

I am cheap.

At $8-12 each, these are not unreasonably priced. BUT when each member of the family (including the one with facial hair) must have their own, that’s 8…16…24… way-too-expensive-for-mom-to-swallow Dollars.

This is not a blog where you will learn how to turn a shoebox and 4 pennies into a fully functioning shoe rack. I cannot tell you how to create the perfect turkey dinner for under $10 – I have never even roasted a turkey at all. But this is one crafty/home project that fits my profile: simple, fast and foolproof. So here it goes:

I bought this advent cupboard on impulse (it was on sale and I’m a sucker for deals I don’t really need). But a stack of envelopes would work just as well. There are SO many amazing advent projects that it is overwhelming. I say, keep it simple. Who need another reason to Grinch out this Christmas.

In each “day” I put:

  • a mini muffin cup
  • filled with 5 Cadbury’s FAIR TRADE chocolate buttons (1 per person)
  • an advent verse and/or prayer (free printables)
  • a fun family activity, outing or service project for that day (written on a strip of leftover wrapping paper)
Glen and I had fun brainstorming simple things to do as a family to honour Jesus and teach generosity, without driving us to drink (well, anymore than usual).
  1. Call GiGi (great grandma) and sing her a Christmas song.
  2. Christmas party tonight – have fun!
  3. Decorate the Christmas tree.
  4. Bake Gingerbread Men with Mom.
  5. Collect as much change as you can find around the house to give to the Salvation Army Santa at the store (winner gets hot chocolate to share with everyone).
  6. Drive to Candy Cane Lane to look at the Christmas lights.
  7. Go to the store and buy food for the Food Bank.
  8. There are 12 cherry Candy Canes hidden throughout the house. Ready, set, go!
  9. Draw a picture/write a letter to our sponsored children (World Vision and Compassion).
  10. Create an e-vite and invite friends to our New Year’s Eve party.
  11. Make Christmas crafts with Aunt Judy!
  12. Everyone give a foot rub to someone else tonight.
  13. Christmas Shopping date with Dad.
  14. Paint your own pottery at the ceramics store – make a special gift for someone you don’t normally exchange gifts with.
  15. Celebrate Grinch Night – everyone wear green, eat all green food and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Invite the neighbours to join us!
  16. Pick a project from the World Vision Catalogue to donate your charity money to (our kids save some of their allowance each week to give).
  17. Plan games and food for our New Year’s Eve party.
  18. Create a “Welcome” banner for all the family that are coming to stay with us – especially your brand new cousin.
  19. Pack for our trip – we are driving to the timeshare today. Pick your favourite carol to sing in the car (even Dad will join in) (Dad’s Note: he will??? Doesn’t sound like something he’d do.).
  20. Movie night with the Aunties – wear pajamas, eat cararmel corn and watch Sound of Music.
  21. Choose Christmas e-cards to send to Grandma Lindsay every day until Christmas.
  22. Play Christmas song charades.
  23. Chowder Party at Oma and Opas.
  24. Build a Gingerbread house with Uncle Miguel

Advent Box – $20.00

Muffin Cups – $1.00

Cadbury’s Buttons (2 packages) – $8

This is the part where I should say “Advent family fun….ah…priceless!”

But it was actually $29.00 plus tax, which is a pretty good deal in my book and can be used for years to come.

So here’s me, 18 days until I get to snuggle my brand new nephew for the first time, 32 days until I pack it all back in rubbermaid containers and 366 days until we start it all over again.

Everyday Adventures

20111116-225159.jpgWe almost gave up. The wind was picking up and I could feel the damp seeping into my wool socks. We had slid down icy embankments, skirted the semi-frozen river and scrambled up the snowy hillside half a dozen times. All we had to show for it was frozen fingers and scratches from the thorny branches.

While their baby sister cried from the cold, the two big girls started bickering and I began to seriously question whether I was even fit to parent. I know Glen was wondering the same thing. Whether it was kindness or survival instinct that prevented him from voicing it I will never know, but I could see it in his eyes. This expedition into the snowy wilderness had been my idea… for fun… on our holiday.

Then it happened! The moment that changed this train wreck of a morning into a cherished family memory. Stories will be told through the ages about the greatness of this moment. It will long be lauded in poetry and song.

She found it! Nestled amongst the roots of an evergreen in the middle of the forest. A small weather-proof tube wrapped in green duct tape. C has an uncanny ability for finding things, and she cemented her place in family legend by finding our very first cache.

I have always wanted to try geocaching, and for some reason a trip to the mountains in the middle of winter seemed like an ideal time. We have tagged along with friends before, but this was our first attempt at the hobby. Basically, it’s a treasure hunt using a GPS and co-ordinates you can find on the internet. (Or, download a totally cool app onto your totally cool iPhone and it will walk you through the whole process.) Enthusiasts have hidden caches of all kinds all over the world. When you find one, you sign the log, take a “treasure” and leave a token of your own behind.

A small plastic frog is hardly booty to write home about, but to my kids it has inestimable worth. We did that! Together! Against all odds! Through rugged terrain (if you’re 7-years-old) in a harsh climate (if you are a west coast wimp like us), undertaking the daunting task of navigation with a team leader who has the directional ability of a… (what is something really dumb?).

We were so excited, we decided to keep going. While Glen and B went back to the cabin to prepare hot chocolate and compliments for my brilliant, brilliant idea, we found two more caches. The girls and I have caught the bug!

Why do something as mundane as take a walk, when you can hunt for hidden treasure? It may seem a bit silly, but that’s the beauty of it. Sometimes we get so caught up in the serious business of living that we forget that adventure lurks around every corner.

Suddenly, getting lost is a chance to explore a strange new land. Who knows what you may find? I explore a lot. See above re: directional ability.

My mom used to say that only boring people get bored. I may have repeated this a time or two thousand to my own kids. I think it’s time I took my own advice. Life is mundane only when I forget to look for the magic and the miracles.

So here’s me, finding treasures in normal life.

Imagine That

When I was a child, one of my best friends was a girl named Casey. She looked just like me; she had short red hair and even a matching jean jacket. She was tiny; in fact, she only came up to my waist. She didnt speak much at all, but she always thought my ideas were great and played with me whenever I needed her.

When I was a child, there was an elevator in our downstairs bathroom. I was the only one who ever used it. It took me anywhere I wanted to go. My favorite destination was Mrs. Kangaroo’s highrise apartment, which seemed like an exotic locale to a suburban kid like myself.

When I was a child, I lived a double life: mild mannered school girl by day, crime-fighting dog in the afternoon. It was hard work defeating the forces of evil, so when Mom starting doing afterschool care I recruited a whole team of yapping police puppies. Together we brought villians to justice and imprisoned them in the guest room closet.

One of the best things my parents ever did for me was to nurture my imagination. They did not dismiss my flights of fancy as childish and unimportant. Instead, my mom set a place at the table for my invisible playmate. She overlooked my damp socks from playing in the shower stall downstairs and holes in the knees of my pants from crawling around the house for hours at a time.

They fed me a steady diet of books and unstructured free time. My mom freely contributed old blankets, sheets and clothespins to the fort building cause. Somedays I ate my lunch in a cave of wonders than bore a striking resemblance to the underside of our dining room table. I remember her packing snacks in the backpack of this intrepid explorer and listening patiently to the blow-by-blow of my adventures.

While I grew up with fond memories of imaginary friends, my sister Esther had an imaginary enemy. We used to choke back our laughter as she would angrily recount her latest fight with The Girl. “You won’t believe what the girl did now!” I remember watching her stomping around the backyard, yelling at thin air.

My other sister Colleen played pretend in her own way – fashion shows, tea parties and impromptu concerts. She spent her childhood decked out in lace and jewels, wobbling around the house in my Mom’s shoes. There was no such thing as too fancy in her book.

I’m sure there were times it was inconvenient and downright messy, but my parents knew that this was the important work of childhood. We were flexing our creative muscles and practicing the people we were going to become: me, bossing folks around and making up stories; Esther (the law student), railing at the injustices of society; and Colleen (the musician), bringing beauty into the world.

I’d better go now. There’s a little tiger in my living room and she’s getting hungry for lunch. I hope she doesn’t eat me!

So here’s me, years later, still talking to myself when there’s no one around.

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