Paper Bag

Photo credit: Westminster Books

Kerry Clare recommended Amy Rhoda Brown’s newsletter and I signed up after reading an article about how why talented people don’t use their strengths Since then, I’ve been thinking about how we often undervalue things that we inherently do well.  I see it a lot. I overlook it a lot.  Personally, I often push myself, measure myself against things that are difficult for me and focus on shortfalls, frankly, rather than acknowledging what I am naturally drawn to or good at.

I was thinking a lot about this while I was dissecting cloth bags from the dollar store and making the costume my niece is wearing above.  The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Marchenko celebrated 40 years of publication yesterday and my local bookstore celebrated with the book and cake.  

My niece was excited to go to a party with me and asked if she was going to wear a costume.  Sure!  I thought about it a little while I went about my business on Friday.  I considered paper but she’s three so I decided to look for cloth that looked like paper. As soon as I saw the brown Easter bags at the dollar store, I knew what to do.  I bought two, cut off the Easter themed fronts and let the pieces sit on my table overnight.  My brain figured out another piece of the puzzle while I was asleep and by the time I set up the sewing machine in the morning, it was a twenty minute job.  The crown is made from a roll of felt from the dollar store and it took about 30 seconds to sew it closed after my niece tried it on.  

The costume was a hit and she wore it for over an hour without complaint.  It was comfy and she enjoyed herself very much at the party.  Later, she wore her crown and Dave wore mine while they watched hockey.  

My point had something to do with remembering that what’s easy for us may be hard for other people. That talents and skills don’t always intersect. The problems that aren’t problems for me might be impossible or even invisible to other people; and vice versa. And that if I look at this costume through that lens, I can also see some of the strengths I bring to my paid work.  Creative thinking and problem solving. Using the tools I have. Remembering what’s important to whoever I’m working for — in this case, a three year old who wants a “tostume” and wears pigtails and plays hard. 

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CBC ran a great story this week about Ruby Cousins, a PEI woman who has kept a daily journal since the 1970s. I’ve got a long way to go.

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To recognize International Women’s Day, a friend sent me a link to a powerful and beautiful song by Eastern Owl and the Lady Cove Women’s Choir. 




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