Monday, June 09, 2008

Footprints in the Sandbox

by Karen D. Swim

This weekend I had the opportunity to catch up on blog reading, and I'm so glad I did. My friend Nadine Touzet, wrote a guest post for The Passion Project Blog which discussed Where You Go to Discover Your Passion.  Nadine shared that childhood memories offer a multitude of clues about your passion.

The post inspired me to dig for treasure in my own childhood, and I discovered that my passion for the written word has been a constant presence in my life from early childhood.  I have memories of reading Shakespeare with my dad, climbing trees to read a book, making my imagination come alive with stories and poring over the dictionary with excitement wanting to learn every word.

My first day of kindergarten Mrs. Sonnenberg stood at the door to greet her new students, many clinging to their parents in tears. I was normally shy but on this day I strode up to my new teacher and with a huge smile announced: "My name is Karen Denise Wilson and I know how to write it too." I launched into a litany of my other reading and writing skills as my mother gently ushered me into the classroom.   I later learned my mother was surprised (and amused)  that I never shed a single tear and was all too ready to take on this school thing without her!

All of these memories validated (for me at least) that indeed we are born with our unique seeds of greatness. We are blessed with those special traits, characteristics and talents that make us unique. Sometimes we go off track and must find our way back to that child who will remind us of who we were truly meant to be. Over the next several days, we will take that journey together. We will retrace our passion footprints and revisit the lessons learned in the sandbox. I look forward to your comments, suggestions and stories as we share a few laughs this week.

What about you? Can you recall vivid clues to your passion from childhood?  Please feel free to share in crayon or ink. All discussion is welcomed. :-)


Steph VanderMeulen said...

Almost all of my memories are of reading and writing. I had the most learned words in my Lipton Soup box in kindergarten. I read so much my gr. 6 teacher sent a letter home to my parents telling them to restrict my recreational reading to half an hour a night so my other subjects, particularly math, wouldn't suffer. I won a gold medal for reading the most books in a month. In gr. 4 my teacher wrote on a story I'd written: "cheers to our future novelist!" I took books and a journal up to the Lone Tree on our ten acres and wrote and read there. I remember reading sprawled out in sunbeams on the floors in the house. I wrote twenty-page letters and stories to my friends.

All my childhood was about writing and reading. Those two passions are the only two that have remained constant in my life. Every job I've had except two in my entire life have had to do with books in some way. The other main passions, theatre and singing, I seem to have given up. for now, anyway. I've often fallen back on looking into my past to see what my passions were and might still be, especially when I'm feeling doubtful about what I "should" be doing.

Words For Hire said...

@Steph, this is a story I would love to see in print! (hint, hint) I was also fond of the arts and did some acting in young adulthood. You are a talented writer so don't put that on the back burner but perhaps make time for community theater to stretch your creative passions. :-)

Anonymous said...

I always liked drawing. My earliest memories are from age four. I liked to draw Volkswagens, houses on fire and exploding volcanoes. My Mom still has my old pictures.

I started copying cartoon characters in Grade 1, like the Road Runner and Woody Woodpecker. I started drawign my own cartoon characters around age 9.

I've being doing some kind of art, in one way or another, ever since.

Fortunately, I got a "day job" as an engineer, so I dont' starve.

- Friar

Words For Hire said...

@Friar, I bet many people can relate to a passion that they chose not to pursue as a career. Art has such a close relationship to math, did you also show early signs of your career path?

Joanna said...

I can just picture you at the first day at school Karen!!

My childhood memories are all about reading: whenever, wherever I could, as fast as I could.

I couldn't wait to get to the library on a Saturday afternoon to get more books, I'd always finished the pile long before the week came round again. And the delight of moving up to the adult library when I was about 10, and had exhausted the junior shelves. It was like a whole new universe opening up in front of me.

Funny, I find it so hard to find a fiction book that engages my attention now. I mainly read non-fiction, except for crime stories.

Maybe I should go back to reading children's books?

Is there a career you can make from being a reader?


PS That's also a question in A Prayer For Owen Meany... have you read it?

Nadine Touzet said...

I'm thrilled that you mentioned my post Karen, Thank you so much!

I do believe that there is a connecting thread in every thing we do in life, even though it gets hidden at times. It's always worth digging for it.

Brad Shorr said...

Like you, Karen, Joanna, and Steph, I have many early memories of reading and writing. A good deal of my free time in grade school was spent writing poems and short stories. About that time my father gave me an incredible adventure story, "Captain from Castile." It was about Cortez and the conquest of Mexico. I couldn't put it down, and it turned me into a lifetime reader. I still have the book in my library!

Words For Hire said...

Reading all the posts makes me think that we would have all been
great friends growing up!

@Joanna, I love that book! I think they also made a movie of it but for the life of me I can't remember who was in it. One of my favorite places is the Library. I still get very excited going there, and I always enter with a big loopy grin on my face, they probably think I've been drinking. LOL! Next time I go perhaps I'll check out a few children's books. :-)

@Nadine, your post really resonated with me and I know that so many others would find it beneficial. Thank you for inspiring me!

@Brad, I have not read that book but it sounds fascinating. We are truly blessed to have a love of reading. I know that it has helped me to be successful in life. Do you still have any of your old stories? I still have lots of poems and stories, it's fun to read them on occasion. It might be kind of fun for us to post old stories on our blogs. :-) You first! LOL!

Daniel Smith said...


Thanks for doing this post. I know your mention of the sandbox was meant metaphorically, but for me one of my clearest memories and important lessons from my childhood was actually in a sandbox!

I remember I was playing with dinky cars and building sand-villages with my younger brother and our neighbour at the latter's home. We got into some argument (I can't even remember what about), and in the end my brother left for home crying, but I told him he was being a baby and stayed to keep on playing.

When I got home, boy was I in deep... we'll say sand. In the course of the lecture I got that day, I remember my mother saying:

"Your family, you are stuck with for the rest of your life. Your friends, you may not know a year from now. So when you have a choice, that's why family always comes first."

I never, ever forgot that lesson.

Oh, and on a less sentimental note, one time playing in that same sandbox, an egg landed on my head.

I was just building away, and all of a sudden, splat, an egg landed right on my head. We couldn't figure out how or from where, but there it was, on my head. The best theory we could come up with was that an egg had fallen out of a nest in the forest a good 20 feet away and somehow blown across the yard and landed on me. Or that a bird was carrying it for some reason and had dropped it from above. The mystery remains unsolved.

If you have any information that may lead to the closing of this case, please call 1-888-123-TIPS - Help Crimestoppers Help your community.

Daniel Smith
Smithereens Blog

Words For Hire said...

@Daniel, I laughed so hard when I read your sandbox story! I have no information on the egg but will call if I discover a clue. :-) It's funny how parents' lessons really stick with us. We can recall the moment something really sunk in and stayed with us. I also laughed as I imagined the scene between you and your little brother. Don't be surprised if this story somehow finds its way into another post, it is really good. :-)

Daniel Smith said...

@Karen - I'm glad you laugh at my childhood misfortune...

Just kidding of course, it is a pretty funny (if inexplicable) story. And I would be honoured to be the subject of a future post. Please just blur out my face in the accompanying pic to prevent further embarrassment.



Anonymous said...

Karen, yes, from kindergarten and on. You know the little book you make that has pictures in kindergarten to tell about your family? Usually a page or two? Ms. Verbose wrote and illustrated a mini novel. Pages and pages, as if we were the most important family in the world. I remember my pretty teacher's eyebrows raising up. "Oh..we have a writer in the classroom, this is niiicccee."

The die was cast.

Words For Hire said...

@Daniel, LOL! See the story continues to give providing laughter for all. LOL!

@Wendi, ROFL! I can see the look on your teacher's face! That is hysterical and something I can totally relate to! I was the kid who considered extra credit part of the normal assignment. :)

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