I have always loved books. From a very early age they were both a friend and a gateway to something bigger. They connected me to whomever was reading to me in a new, secret-society kind of way, where we were on a journey together. They increased my vocabulary, my vision, my understanding, my curiosity, and my imagination. They made me ask the questions “Why?” and “Why not?”
It was no surprise that I toyed with the idea of being a Reading Specialist at one point. Instead, I was a third (& fourth) grade teacher who would religiously have story time in the afternoon. My former “kids” still remember “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
Later, when I became a mother, I would read incessantly to my children. I still have most of the books. There were many rocking chair readings intended to soothe and center (them and me). And bedtime adventures with Harry Potter & company.
And now I get to do the same with the next generation. Nothing makes me happier than to see a child connect with a book, either the illustrations, or the words, or the sound of my voice bringing it to life. To have my new grandson be engrossed at 2 months is a total joy. And my 16-month-old granddaughters bringing me books to read to them made me ecstatic. Even more exciting is seeing the 3 ½ year old “reading” a book on her own!
And what do books continue to do for me now? They bring me hope. They bring me understanding. A welcome reprise from reality. And a dose of “if they can do it, so can I”.
Reading books also led me to writing books. “Cathy the Crayon” was my first gem in 5th grade. My students (aka my little sisters), when playing school, had it as required reading. My academic focus naturally bent towards those subjects involving words, not numbers. In college I became an English major and actually loved writing essays. Post academia I’ve written poems, a few books (two of which are published), and a number of children’s books, which some day may see the light of day. But beyond my own works, reading someone else’s does two things for me: It either totally inspires me to put my message out there, or makes me cower with the thought that I could never measure up. A phrase like this from “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Kate Morton did just that: “Juliette glanced down. The blouse she was wearing was not her own and she wore it like an apology.” How could I possibly write anything as perfect as that? As my fellow writer kindly said in reply when I shared the quote and sentiment: “Write anyway. It’s your voice that counts.” And so, I write.
A book my eldest liked as a child was “The Little Engine that Could”. I used to think it was the train that appealed to him but seeing where he has gone in his life, he just may have been taking in the message as well. And I believe I did the same. Recently I saw a job posting for a job I KNEW I was perfect for. But who, at age 66 ¾, who has been an entrepreneur for 20 years, goes and fills out a job application and actually interviews? What company hires a woman 66 ¾ years old?
I got the job. (Way to bury the lead, Janet!) Kudos to them. Kudos to me. And thanks to all those who have written words that have gotten me to this point in my life and will bring me forward through my next phase. Stay tuned as I write this next chapter!