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.

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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.

Inspired by Anne of Green Gables

anne-of-green-gablesI’m in the midst of creating a mixed media drawing for the local gallery’s summer show.  Their theme is the story Anne of Green Gables.

The entire gallery, upstairs and down, will be filled with mannequins and miniatures by artist and costumer Korene Kidd of Prince George, BC.  The walls will be hung with artwork by local artists.

I read Anne of Green Gables four times, probably more, as a child and teenager.  Anne was my kind of hero.  She had red hair which I longed for.  Funny, that I had the raven hair she wished was hers.  I grew my hair long just so I could have braids and pretend they were red.

Although I didn’t get into Anne’s kind of scrapes, I did have the same imagination, loud and busy.  Beauty would stop me in my tracks, literally, as it did her.  Cherry blossoms against a blue blue sky.  A thrush deep in its morning song.  The stream that moved through the dark of the trees beyond our house.  Wonder and joy.

I’ve been reading bits of Anne’s story as I make my drawing.  I’ve discovered something.

When I read Anne years ago, I focused on the actions and thoughts of the characters.

When I read Anne now, I am pulled in by the emotions expressed in the story and mine arising in response.

Anne lives her life wide open to the world.  Her heart feels joy and sorrow, love and pain in ferocious, instant, equal measure.

As a child I read the words but did not understand.  I was cautious with my heart.  I kept my feelings private.  There were emotions I didn’t know what to do with.  They were either too huge or too terrifying to set free.  Love.  Joy.  Anger.  Grief.

I am no longer that child.  My heart lies open to my life, as Anne’s does in her story.

I learned to be open.  I began with feeling love and joy, and now I also know what to do with anger and grief.  Emotions no longer mystify me.  Well, most of the time.

This, I am sure, is why I am reading Anne in a different way.  I am reading with an open heart.

It’s the same story, same words.  It is me that is different.

Anne was written with an open heart.  I get to feel that now with every word I read.  What perfect joy to have discovered this piece of Anne’s story that had previously passed me by.  A gift.

My Anne drawing is titled ‘What Gives Me Joy (Anne of Green Gables)’.  It holds a list of joy that begins with ‘blazing red hair’.

My drawing ends with what I’ve learned from Anne, what has nestled in my heart.

Notice beauty.  Notice joy.  Cradle anger and grief, for they too need to be loved.  Find people and places and things to love in your life.

Thank you Anne and Marilla and Matthew and all.  Thank you Lucy Maud Montgomery, for letting Anne into your imagination and out to the world.

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In this post

L. M. Montgomery, 1874 – 1942. Book Anne of Green Gables, Running Press, 1993.  ‘I wrote it for love…’ page 286.   http://www.lmmontgomery.ca/

The Station House Gallery, Williams Lake, BC.  https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/