Cultivate Your Story

Last Thursday marked a historical moment for me.

I picked up my daughter, for the final time, from a daycare center that has cared for both my kids for the past nine years. As much as my kids, I’ve grown up at that center, and it felt strange to walk away.

I honored the day as most moms do: I brought cupcakes, and I bought a new book as a gift for her classroom. Decorating the cupcakes was easy; choosing the book was difficult.

But, the one I found bestows a message that’s been sitting with me for days.

In The Curious Garden, Peter Brown writes a beautiful story about a boy who discovers a treasure, a tiny garden in an otherwise barren piece of land. With little knowledge about gardening, but a passion to grow something new, this young boy weeds and trims and waters and sings to his little patch of green. The plants come to life, and they begin take root in new places.

Then, winter sets in, and the boy can no longer get to the garden. He doesn’t despair, though. He turns to books on gardening, and, by spring, he is ready: armed with more knowledge and better tools and an even stronger drive to foster his plot into something bigger and more beautiful.

By the book’s end, the small patch of green has flourished and spread, and the boy’s spirit is contagious. I love this book, for everything it represents: nature’s resilience, the fruits of our labor, the persistence of a young boy who knew nothing in the beginning but did the work anyway.

You can see where this is going, right? Walking away from one phase in my daughter’s life pains me, but the message I discovered in the process was worth it. Not only am I extremely grateful for the gifts of knowledge this daycare center, and the teachers, have given me and my kids. But now, I leave there with yet another lesson: cultivate that which you love.

Here I am, trudging my way through this novel writing business, perseverating (some days) on the fact that I have so much to learn about the craft of writing and story structure. But, the passion is there, and my story is taking root and flourishing, little  by little.

What about you? Are you fostering something new today?

* Read the New York Times Review of Peter Brown’s book here.

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13 responses to “Cultivate Your Story

  1. I too picked up my daughter for her last day at preschool on Thursday.
    Second child, and another to go through pre-school, but finding it a very touching moment. Excited and sad for her (and me, and all of us really) all at once.

    The book sounds great. Is it a Barefoot Book?

    • Jennifer,
      Exciting and sad, that’s exactly it.
      The Curious Garden is a wonderful book, published by Little, Brown. I think I’ll have to go back and buy a copy for our house, too.

  2. Vaughn Roycroft

    Wonderful post, Christi. Must be such a bittersweet moment. I love the book. The boy’s arriving to work on the garden without knowing how or what would come of it (blind faith), is so like my writing journey. I didn’t tell a soul about my work, for some months not even my wife. I like the winter portion of the story too. When I finished my first draft of that first story, I knew it needed work, and that I needed grow to continue. But I also set it aside for a time, and like the boy, I studied. When I went back to it, I more clearly saw it’s flaws, but, more importantly, I also saw its potential and flashes of excellence, stubbled upon with blessed steering from a muse. I’m in awe of what’s beginning to grow, and more determined than ever to work on its cultivation.

    What a great gift you left for a place that will live on in your childrens’ memory for a lifetime. Bravo! Thanks for the beautiful post, and the reflection it bestowed. Have a great holiday!

    • Vaughn,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I love how you describe that moment when we return to a work we’ve let sit for a while: the discovery of flashes of excellence. That energy definitely drives us forward — I’m so excited for you!

  3. Pingback: Blogosphere Shares | Finding Meaning with Words

  4. Congratulations on a lesson learned. And synchonicity is at work here because “cultivate that which you love” is exactly the conclusion I came to yesterday. So, in answer to your question, yes, I am fostering something new. It feels great, doesn’t it? :-)

  5. Reading both your blog and Victoria’s has allowed me to remember so many of these precious moments from my own son’s childhood and wish I had recorded them as you do. I think that writing allows you to slow down and notice these experiences in a unique way, not to mention the gift they become for your children. The Curious Garden sounds delightful.

    • Lisa, I just love this book — been thinking about it all weekend. And, what you said about writing, how it slows us down, just adds value to an already treasured form of creativity for me.

  6. I haven’t read this book, yet, so will have to check it out. Yes, I am fostering something new, and it’s so much fun. Although, sometimes I feel like I have too many seeds going at once…

  7. I went to my local library yesterday to get The Curious Garden. The children’s librarian picked one out for me, of the 5 on the shelf, and I was pleased to see that it is autographed by the author, Peter Brown.

    I just sat down and read it through. What a wonderful book – inspiring! And the illustrations are precious. I’m so glad I stopped by your blog and that I found this book here.

    The lesson you learned is touching: “cultivate that which you love.” Best wishes for your novel writing…

    catherine

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