Oh, for the grace of an 11 year old girl

Last Friday, I had a reading of Leaf at Sunworks in Red Deer.

I wasn’t filled with as much trepidation as usual because I knew there would be at least a couple of people in the audience and as long as there was someone to chat with, I would be fine.

It turned out better than fine.

As promised, our photographer friend, Susan H. Smith, who has taken a our family photos every year since Gabriel was born, arrived with a few of her book club friends,


– oh, most wonderful of surprises –

some people came who I didn’t even know!

Two lovely women brought their six lovely children, a mixture of siblings, cousins and friends who took up the entire front row. I was delighted to see them and had a grand time chatting with the kids for a few minutes as we waited for the 7:00 start.

I learned that one of the girls wrote stories, a boy painted pictures, another boy played the guitar and another girl in the group wrote songs.

I was instantly curious.

What comes first, the words or the music?

They kind of come together.

How do you get your ideas?

They just kind of come in,

– she raised her hands above her head as if invoking the gods and then lowered them down to her heart –

and I have to write them down very fast so I don’t lose them.

Do you sing your songs?

Uh huh.

Would you be willing to sing one of your songs for us tonight?

The slightest of hesitations.


And she did.

When I was finished blathering about my writing process and reading Leaf, I asked her if she was ready to sing and she stepped to the front of the room like it was the most natural thing in the world.

Which song are you going to sing?

I haven’t decided yet.

So, we sat quietly for a moment as she thought about it and then she smiled,

Oh, I know.

How did you get the idea for this song?

Me and my friend were on the playground and the wind was blowing through my hair and I felt like I was flying so I wrote this song. It’s called ‘Flying.’

and then she looked at her friend and said,

Remember this one? You could sing it with me.

And she gestured for her friend to join her at the front of the room. And her friend stepped forward – without awkwardness or apology – and even though she couldn’t remember all the words, she followed her friend’s lead and the two of them sang.

I don’t know what was more beautiful,

the simple, lovely song,

or these two eleven year old girls

singing it with such honesty and grace.

It brought tears to my eyes.

I read once that the key to re-connecting with passion and joy in our adult lives is hidden in the memories of what we loved to do when we were ten or eleven years old. That particular age is important because it’s when we are our most powerful. We are still able to live in the moment and allow ourselves pleasure without self-censure or inhibition.

That was never more evident to me than in that moment listening to those two beautiful, young girls sing their song.

Why, oh why must we lose that power and grace?

On the drive home, I pondered my own life as an eleven year old. My greatest joys all those years ago were:

reading books, especially stories about families,

making up my own stories,

surprising loved ones with handmade cards,

and creating cozy homes wherever I could find a likely place:

in a little hollow between two lilac bushes

in an old granary

beneath the boughs of a stand of  spruce trees

and, best of all, in the kitchen of the old farmhouse we used to live in.

And I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, although I’ve often gotten lost along the way, I still

read books (especially books about families and relationships)

I am writing (and now sharing) my stories,

with Elsie’s help, I’m surprising people with lovely cards created from the illustrations in Leaf, (and have ideas for more)

I’ve created a home – a sanctuary – for my family and I’m dreaming of ways that I can extend that, by creating sanctuary for other people who may need a little breathing space in their hectic lives.

It was the very best of evenings. I got to share my passions with a receptive audience and, in the process, was sprinkled with a little bit of magic myself.

Uplift. Inspire. Delight.


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