When is the last time you fully embraced your imagination?
Oh, I’m not talking about sitting down and writing a story that comes completely from the realm of imagination. A story that has mythical creatures or a story line so fantastic it could never happen here on earth.
I’m talking about letting your imagination wander. When is the last time you saw shapes in the clouds? Paused to appreciate the beauty and the wonder of a place? Looked at the beauty of the mountains and wondered how many other people have walked the path you’re now walking?
When is the last time you allowed yourself to name a bird that visited your backyard or come up with a beautiful name for some place and shared it with the world?
The Lake of Shining Waters.
The White Way of Delight.
A good imagination is such an incredible thing. And you know what else? It’s contagious and endearing! Think about it: When you are around someone who likes to use their imagination are you more likely to join in and use yours or more likely to brush them off? It makes you want to join in, doesn’t it? Are you more likely to stick around and hear their stories or pass them off and go somewhere else? My guess is that you’ll probably stick around.
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The Beauty of Imagination
Imaginations are incredible. And you never know what a person with a good imagination will say next! Maybe this is the reason Anne Shirley is a household name. Or maybe you know her better as Anne of Green Gables.
It’s no secret that Anne has an imagination – an almost over-active imagination at that! She sees beauty where others cannot and she sees dangers where there is only the whisper of wind. Yet, it is in this imaginative mindset that Anne is able to see the world with fresh eyes. She sees what other cannot simply because she chooses to look around her and observe. But not only that, she chooses to see with her imagination.
And you know what? The world is a better place because of Anne Shirley and all those who are like her who live in it!
The Personality Holding the Pen
It’s interesting to see how some authors create characters that are a reflection of who they are. You can start reading some books and clearly see how the personality of the author comes through in the main characters.
Lucy Maud Montgomery, or LM Montgomery, created the character of Anne Shirley and wrote the entire series. She grew up on Prince Edward Island and because of how much she loved this tiny piece of land, she decided to set Anne’s story there. You can see the love and the enjoyment she feels for this beautiful island in every world she writes. You can feel Lucy’s connection with this particular corner of the world as she describes it to you through Anne’s eyes.
But did you know that LM Montgomery was a self-proclaimed introvert? It seems almost odd to realize this when you think of how extroverted and exuberant Anne Shirley is, and yet it’s true! It almost got me thinking that perhaps LM Montgomery created Anne as a way to experience life as an extrovert without having to become an extrovert herself.
What’s really interesting is that finding out more about the creator of Anne Shirley has given me a whole new perspective on the book ‘Anne of Green Gables.’ You see, with all these thoughts rolling around in my head about who LM Montgomery truly was, I picked up the book once again and started reading it, this time out loud with my daughters. But this time, the book took on a deeper meaning. This time, I realized that through the fun, imaginative, and truly entertaining story of Anne-with-an-e, there are many lessons to be learned…
Embrace Life, No Matter What It Looks Like
Anne fully embraced life. It’s almost like she didn’t know how to do anything half-way. She threw herself into everything she did with her whole being. If Anne did something, she was going to do it completely!
When is the last time you allowed yourself to fully embrace an area of you life? So often there seems to be this self-protecting tendency to hold back instead of allowing the sheer delight and magnificence of life to wash over you. When is the last time you fully embraced even an area of your life?
Being an orphan, Anne did not always have the best situations to call her own. Yet, she looked for the good in everything. She had to endure difficult things, but she never allowed that to break her spirit. Instead, she looked for ways to brighten her situation. She used her imagination to have friends so she wouldn’t be lonely. She used her imagination to make her smile so that she could endure difficult things without complaining.
Do you use your imagination to look for the good in every situation? Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s far easier to complain about a situation than to search out the good in it! But do you try to look for the good in any and every situation you are in? Do you teach this to your children? Do you find something to be thankful for, no matter how small?
See the Beauty All Around You
Anne used her imagination to make her world a better place. Now, sometimes she lived in her imagination to a fault! But on the other hand, it’s better to enjoy imagination than to let it sit and forget how to use it in the first place! A healthy dose of imagination never hurts anything, it can only make life more interesting.
Take when Matthew Cuthbert first brings Anne home to Green Gables. On their way from the train station to Green Gables, they pass through what the locals call ‘the Avenue.’ Well, that name just doesn’t bring up any pictures to your mind other an a dirt road people travel along, does it? But when Montgomery launches into a description of the way the trees reach over the road and how their branches meet, making a sort of natural tunnel where the light filters through the leaves to gently brush the traveler with a luminous green light, the Avenue starts to take on an entirely new meaning. Add to that the white blossoms all over all the trees so it almost looks like it has snowed in the branches themselves and you start to get a sense of the beauty and the wonder of this naturally occurring place. Anne’s name for this road perfectly captures this incredible quality: The White Way of Delight. And yet, if Anne did not use her imagination, she never would have come up with this incredible name for this spectacular place.
When is the last time you let your imagination run wild and gave a beautiful name to a place that holds a special meaning in your heart? Or even a place you come across that makes you pause and catch your breath?
Be Real, Be You
Anne was supremely human. She did her best to learn and to be good and yet she made a great many mistakes. One of the things I like best about Anne is that she owned up to her mistakes. Oh, there were many times her imagination took over and she gave a rather dramatic retelling of the adventure that led up to her mistakes (the mouse in the cream jar springs to mind). It’s also true that her apologies were rather dramatic. But no matter the case, Anne did own her mistakes. On top of that, she bore her punishments extremely well because she knew she deserved them.
When is the last time you owned up to your mistakes? Yup, that one hurts, doesn’t it? Admitting that you’re human and you’re not perfect and you make mistakes is hard, but it’s supremely honest. I know I would rather think of myself as perfect and never needing to apologize! But at the same time, I know that’s not reality! I mess up all the time. And looking at Anne reminds me to be intentional about owning my mistakes and apologizing when I do make them. Although, maybe I’ll leave a bit of the exuberant apologies to Anne!
What about you? Do you own up to your mistakes and apologize when you need to? Or do you try and run as far away as you can to keep up the image that you’re perfect? Wanna know a secret? It is in our imperfections and our mistakes where we learn the most. Think of it as being perfectly imperfect.
Be Fully Present, Every Moment
Anne had an exuberance about life. She lived and loved with abandon. Once you were in Anne Shirley’s good standing, there you remained no matter what happened. This fierce loyalty is seen particularly in Anne’s friendship with Diana Barry. Anne decided to love her best friend Diana and she loved her fully, opening up her entire heart and soul to her.
But if you got on Anne’s bad side, like Gilbert Blythe did when he called her “Carrots” and dipped her ribbons in the inkwell, there seemed to be no convincing Anne to change her mind about you! Anne gave all of herself to every situation. She gave all of her heart to the people that she loved. And she gave all of her anger to those she hated!
It’s interesting how this opened Anne up to some unique situations. Loving with abandon opened Anne up for some deep disappointments, for hurts and sorrows, but at the same time she was able to embrace people simply for who they were and simply because she loved them.
Can you honestly say that you do this? That you give all of you to the people that you love? Or do you try to hold a little bit of yourself back just to be safe?
More than anything, I love how Anne embodies finding Inspiration in the Everyday. She is forever looking for something to do, for some place to explore, for something to imagine. She is the fairy queen floating down the river. She is the girl desperately looking forward to her first taste of ice cream. She is the girl who’s so glad that she lives in a world where there are Octobers and the leaves on the trees change colors. She is the girl who finds great beauty in a pond.
Anne is not content to see the world simply as it is, but she must look around, draw inspiration from the everyday things around her and see the world for what it could be.
What about you? Do you look around you and seek inspiration? Do you take the everyday things of life and allow your heart and soul to be inspired by them? Do you try to not just see things, but to really observe them? To take time and marvel at the beauty of creation. To enjoy laughing with a friend. To join in on the playful imaginings of children.
Life is challenging, there’s no doubt about that! But what would it look like if you simply grabbed your cup of coffee and looked around to really see the inspiration that’s all around you?
- Roald Dahl: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary
- Life Lessons from an Unlikely Source: Elizabeth Bennet
- Escape in the Pages: 21 Books for You to Enjoy
- How to Overcome Perfectionism and Mom Guilt
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Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.