Famed children’s book author Eric Carle recently passed away at the age of 91.
His timeless classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” (written in 1969) became a must have in my classroom library when I was teaching preschool age kids many years ago.
Once I had children of my own I began reading it to them as well from a very young age and it quickly became a favourite in our home.
When my kids got a bit older and I was no longer teaching preschool anymore there were a handful of children’s books which I had collected over the years that I knew I wanted to hold onto in hopes of one day passing them down to my grandchildren.
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is one of those books.
It is a whimsical and playful book.
It’s illustrations are fun and bright and captivating.
But it also has many meaningful and teachable moments between each page.
It shows us the importance of transformation and growth.
It shows us the importance of finding our true self.
It gives us hope.
It shows us that in time and with patience we will all find our way in the world.
It shows us that we are all unique and beautiful in our own special way.
And it shows us that we all have the capability to emerge from our cocoon, spread our wings and learn how to fly.
(Oh and it also reminds us that when we eat too much candy we will probably get a stomach ache!)
I’m not in a good headspace. It’s not like this is something new to me or unexplored before; but I’m just not “okay”.
I’m feeling very unsettled and my heart is heavy. If it hasn’t already been difficult enough for me living each day of the last seven years feeling like I’ve lost a big piece of myself then how can I ever begin to shake off this heaviness I’ve felt for the last several weeks? A heaviness that feels way bigger than just one piece of my life has gone missing. In a sense I feel like I’ve been robbed and to be completely honest, in a very real way I believe I have.
I’m turning 50 in just a little over two months. I’ve never really been too hung up on the whole age thing and let’s face it, if I had been then I probably would’ve never agreed to go on a first date, let alone marry a man who’s close to nine years older than me.
My social media feeds have been preparing me for my upcoming birthday since the beginning of 2021 as several times a week I witness one or more of my friends from my childhood and adolescence reach this special milestone. And it’s been kinda exciting and nostalgic to reminisce with many old friends, see old photos and feel part of this exclusive club; the one that significantly links me back to my childhood and adolescent years, a time and place that I have some of the fondest memories of with friends and extended family.
But a few weeks ago when one of my oldest and dearest friends was about to turn 50 I felt a trigger of emotions come over me and it hasn’t left me since. It feels heavy and unsettled and fills my heart with so much sadness, anger, resentment, hurt and emptiness.
These triggers have taken me even further back in my life than just seven years ago, like way, way back; right to birth.
You see I wanted so desperately to pay tribute to my dear friend with a walk down memory lane in the form of a photo collage and to be able to celebrate our nearly 40 years of friendship except, here is where the trigger of emotions really began to go off the rails for me because how can I make a collage of memories from an almost 40 year friendship without a single photo or memory from our younger years.
I don’t want to get into too many details right now as to what actually happened to every single one of my photos and childhood memories I possessed before the age of 19 because well that’s where the triggers really start to go south for me.
Let’s just say that if they had been lost in an accidental fire or went missing during a home invasion I could make room for forgiveness in my heart; but neither of those two scenerios actually played out.
There isn’t one photo of my first year of life to be found, not one school picture or memory from any of my birthdays to be found either. There are no photos of me sitting on my grandpa’s lap playing his trumpet or baking cookies with my grandma to be found. There are no photos of my childhood home in Montreal or Toronto for that matter, no photos of me from the many summers I spent at overnight camp as a camper (I do have a few pics though of my summer as a camp counsellor back in 1989). There isn’t the abundance of photos that were taken of my precious dog who meant the world to me during my adolescent years, no photos capturing the silly antics of me and my brother to be found, no photos of family outings, no photos of family friends or relatives and no photos of me and my besties growing up. It’s as though my childhood has been completely erased and sadly it all could’ve been prevented.
The only photos I do have in my possession now (which I sometimes like to post) are the few that have been sent to me by old friends and family (please keep ’em coming!).
My kids have begrudgingly posed for pictures and may get somewhat annoyed at times by my wanting to document every single milestone or seemingly insignificant moment from their childhood, adolescence and young adult lives but I see them, I see them periodically flipping through old photo albums and the hundreds of saved pictures on their computers. I see them laughing and reminiscing and looking back fondly at those silly memories and keepsakes and I definitely know now that one day they will totally thank me for it because memories may fade over time but a picture will tell a story for a lifetime!
Last night we watched the movie “The Last Blockbuster” on Netflix (a bit ironic I have to say).
It’s a Documentary about the demise of the Blockbuster Franchise (and how they once turned down an offer to buy Netflix; boy do I pity the fool now!). It also highlighted the very last store still in existence today in Bend, Oregon.
To be honest I was never a regular customer of Blockbuster but boy oh boy did this movie ever bring back like a Gazillion or more memories from my childhood and young adult life; so much so that I kept trying to pause the movie in order to share some of those exciting highlights with the kids and Rich as they popped into my head but if you can believe it, they were more interested in watching the movie than listening to more of my silly (and often tearful) nostalgia!
Seriously though, I would’ve thought my kids could’ve at least pretended to show some interest in my stories, I mean like after all, their parents actually met while working together in a videostore and what about my husband, I would’ve thought he’d have been all ears too seeing as he met his future bride over 30 years ago at a videostore as well!!!
They’re just lucky that they’d already gone to their rooms after the movie was over or I may have tried to take them with me on another nostalgic trip down memory lane when, shortly after the movie ended I became aware through Social Media that my favourite (or a very close second to Judy Blume) children’s book author from my childhood Beverly Cleary had just passed away at 104 years young. Boy did they sure dodge a bullet that time!
I am so excited to finally receive my very own copy today of the book I was so honoured to be published in a few months ago.
It’s a compilation of stories, poems and images from individuals around the world.
“The Corona Silver Linings Anthology” captures real life experiences, raw emotions, meaningful issues and life lessons that we have all been challenged by or have had to face in one way or another during this past year while looking for those silver linings.
“The Lifewrite Project” is a non-profit initiative which publishes anthologies “encouraging people to tap into their power to write and share their unique stories” while collaborating with different charities related to the topic at hand and raising funds for many initiatives in the process.
The proceeds from this book are being donated to a variety of charities including “The First Responders Children’s Foundation”.
Check out their website for details on any of their upcoming projects. After all there’s an inner writer somewhere inside of us all just waiting to share our own unique story with the world.
Thank you @savewithstories for allowing me to share my story. Save With Stories was inspired by @jennifergarner and @amyadams during Covid-19 through the Organization @savethechildren to help ensure that the most vulnerable children and their families (in America and around the world) who have been hit hardest by the Pandemic and no longer have accessibility to breakfast and lunch school based programs or access to early learning resources can still thrive.
I hope you can tell from the picture (it’s a glass frame so you may have to zoom in to get the full effect) that the central focus inside the frame is a semicolon with positive affirmations encompassing it. The semicolon has been a huge part of my story for several years now and I have shown my support to the Project Semicolon Movement for close to 4 years now. For those of you who don’t know, Project Semicolon is a “nonprofit organization known for its advocacy of mental health wellness and its focus as an anti-suicide initiative. Founded in 2013, the movement’s aim is presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression,suicide, addiction, and self-injury. They are known for encouraging people to tattoo the punctuation mark semicolon (;) as a form of solidarity between people dealing with mental illness or the death of someone from suicide”, which is what I did in July 2016 (see photo).
I’ve been struggling a lot over the past week and I figured I could use some inspiration today so I made it a “crafty” kind of day. It’s ok to not be ok, it’s ok to talk about the hard days and it’s more than ok to tell someone you’re struggling because we all deserve to feel hope, we all deserve to feel worthy and we all deserve to feel like our story isn’t over yet;
You see, a semicolon is not just any ole punctuation mark that an author would use to end a sentence, it instead indicates a brief pause, and for me that brief pause is a symbol of my life and the need to catch my breath in order to continue the rest of my story. We are all authors to our own stories and it’s ok if you need to take a pause between sentences.
When I first began teaching Preschool aged children many years ago (before I had my own kids) I began a collection of age appropriate books that I felt would be relevant to my own children one day, many of which I have kept to pass along to the next generation too. One such book is the award winning book adapted from a Jewish folktale called “Something From Nothing”.
Once my own kids were old enough I began reading it to them regularly and it never got old. The story begins with a proud grandfather making his new grandson Joseph a wonderful baby blanket “to keep him warm and cozy and chase away bad dreams.” As Joseph grows, his much loved baby blanket becomes “frazzled and torn” (much like my copy of this book) and his mom encourages Joseph to throw it away. Joseph would hear nothing of it and says to his mother proudly; “Grandpa can fix it!” And fix it he did, many many times as he grew. He transformed his blanket into a wonderful jacket, a wonderful vest, a wonderful tie, a wonderful handkerchief and finally with very little material left he made a wonderful button for him to hold up his suspenders with.
That was until one day when the button becomes lost and Joseph searches everywhere for it but can’t find it and Joseph had to come to the realization that even his amazing grandfather couldn’t make “Something From Nothing”.
But maybe there was hope after all because what Joseph learned that day was far more valuable than finding his wonderful button, it was that there still was something indeed that could be made from the material left behind which just so happened to be a wonderful story.
The message of love is abundant in this timeless tale and is such a touching story to see the special bond growing deeper and deeper between a boy and his grandfather. In the end Joseph realizes that it was never about a wonderful blanket or a wonderful coat or even a wonderful button but instead it was about making memories and being able to retell stories over and over again that came with each stage of his life.
It was about creating those memories with his loved ones and holding on to them because truly in the end it is all about the importance of using our imaginations and being able to share our memories with the people that matter the most, no matter how young or old. If we use our imaginations and create the ability to storytell then we will always be able to make “Something From Nothing”.
I learned this valuable lesson very recently when I shared a fun and engaging post on my Facebook page about all the collectibles many of us had in our childhood (like stickers and stationary and cabbage patch dolls). I no longer have any of my collectibles due to several unforeseen circumstances (another story for another time) and at first my fun and engaging post quickly turned my emotions to anger and sadness when others began sharing how they still had their childhood treasures but then I remembered that it wasn’t about the material things itself but more about our ability to create memories, use our imagination and to keep storytelling over and over again with each stage of our lives because that is the material left behind to make for any great story!