Calling On Dorothy Alice Anne

Cat Fink 'What Gives Me Joy (Anne)'.small
‘What Gives Me Joy (Anne)’

I remember.

It is late afternoon, Saturday, the end of September. I am twelve years old. Starting Grade Seven.

I’m halfway across our property, deep in the woods, being Robin Hood.

Mom is calling us for supper. “Cathy Carrie Paul!” One long name, as though my sister, brother, and I are a single child.

Half the years of my growing up, I answer to Cathy Carrie Paul. Who I really, secretly, am (besides occasionally Robin Hood) is Dorothy Alice Anne. Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz. Alice of Wonderland and the Looking Glass. Anne of Green Gables. My heroes.

Dorothy Alice Anne have adventures. Things happen, not necessarily what they want. They do not sit around and wait to be rescued. Dorothy Alice Anne get up, find allies, create friends and solutions. If the first solution does not work, they figure out a second, or third, or fourth, and get where they need to get.

In the ongoing saga of writing my first book, I am channeling Dorothy Alice Anne and their get-allies-and-get-it-done attitude.

I am not sitting around waiting to be saved. I am off my butt (again, again, and again), and doing the work (again).

I have my allies and friends, artists and writers and readers like me. We are meeting weekly. We started yesterday. Each of us has a project, a big one, big enough to be both amazing and scary. Big enough to need allies.

We have done this before. We have walked each other through getting stories written and published, and solo art exhibits proposed, created, and shown. We are doing this again, starting now.

I am playing with the fourth solution to the structure of my book, and this one feels like a keeper. My allies, both fiction and real, helped me get here to something workable.

Yay, Team!

Here is the thank you, my friends and allies in creating, for opening your hearts and minds to my creation. For opening your courage to share your creations with me.

And thank you, Lucy Maud, Lewis, and Frank, for imaging Anne, Alice, and Dorothy. For sharing your words with kids like me and my friends. For inspiring us to create our own adventures, find solutions, and save ourselves.

_________________________

In this post:

Heroes, allies, and friends are everywhere. Here is where I first found Dorothy, Alice, and Anne.

Dorothy – The Wizard of Oz, the 1939 movie by Metro Goldwin Mayer, based on L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz which I finally read last year.

Alice – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865, and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, 1871, both books by Lewis Carroll aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. The editions I read were a boxed set published in 1946 by Random House.

Anne – Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The edition I repeatedly borrowed from the library was published in 1967 by Ryerson Press.

Words From My Silly Putty Heart

Drawing For AnnaThere is a pastel drawing on the wall in my Dad’s room at the seniors’ home. Three tall yellow roses standing amid coloured stones, and a backdrop of words repeated over and over. A mantra. ‘I need a shatterproof heart.’

The yellow roses are my Nana, my Mom, and me. The title is ‘Drawing For Anna’. The drawing is fifteen years old.

I wake this morning, thinking exactly that mantra.

I convince myself to write morning pages. What comes in my pages—I need a heart made of silly putty. Bendable, squishable, stretchable. Break silly putty apart and it always smooshes back together again.

Yes, I say in my pages. I need a silly putty heart.

It is late afternoon now, as I write this blog post, and I decide I already have a silly putty heart. All this summer, my heart has been squashed and broken into every shape of every emotion between joy and grief. And every time, somehow, my heart moves back into the shape of love.

A silly putty heart in love shape, I decide, is two hands cupped together, large enough to hold with care all that shows up.

Right now my silly putty cupped heart is holding a lot.

There are today’s naked feelings around my parents’ aging and illness. There is the wanting of a good life and graceful leaving for them, and the feeling this is not terribly possible despite the best we do.

There is the knowledge of being parent to my parents, making difficult decisions, not something I expected.

There is the desperate need of doing something, anything, creative. My heart knows drawing and writing hold me together.

And in this moment, in my silly putty heart, here is the mid-September sun warm on my bare feet, the breeze that smells of the ocean, the rocking of the porch swing as I sit and move my pen across the papers in my lap.

My heart offers me words that soothe and settle the naked, painful feelings. Offers me this moment of beauty. Sun and breeze and the porch swing.  The loud cricket choir that begins singing in just this moment.

I wonder, in my morning pages, what to call this mess of feelings that touch all places between joy and grief.

I have my answer.

It’s called life.