When I was a little girl left to my own devices, I created entire cities out of dirt and sticks and populated these villages with rock people. I would scour the ground seeking just the right elements to build my town. I made my own paper dolls and played school with them on the winding part of the staircase in my home and played hospital with my dolls in a bedroom I still remember with longing, a tiny room with a window that overlooked the New England street below.
I had a healthy overactive imagination and preferred play time alone. I wanted my mind to run uninterrupted and free in my play.
Like many children, growing up meant leaving that spirit of play and imagination behind in order to manage grown-up things like work and marriage and home ownership. I let go of play and became serious and responsible.
I became who I thought I should be, not who I was.
This was not magical.
My younger self was so very wise. I decided to seek her out again.
I worked hard to learn to let myself play again and let my imagination run wild and muscled my way to operate more on yes than no and possibility over impossibility.
Over time, I learned that magic was all around me, it was living and breathing in ordinary moments.
The most magical moments in my life involve watching a butterfly land on a flower, feeling my boyfriend’s hand cover mine, hugging my daughters, and a random smile from a stranger.
The most magical moments in my life are the ones when I remember that I need to tend my internal garden, the one that is made up of words and art and that is still learning, and will always be learning.
To let my magic find me, I had to learn to let go of outcome and accept failure alongside success and fear alongside courage. I needed to focus less on control and get cozy with uncertainty. I needed to play more.
Amazing things began to happen the more I played.
Magical things began to happen the more I let myself be me.
I felt like I was growing wings and my heart was so full of joy that fairy dust sprang out of my mouth.
We always have magic inside of us. We just lose it a bit along the way when we grow up.
We forget how to play fearlessly like we did when we learned to ride on two wheels or built sandcastles or while played tag at dusk. We didn’t think of outcome then, we just enjoyed the magic of play. Remember skinned knees, mosquito bites and sunburn? That might have been our outcome, but it didn’t keep us from playing.
As a child my artwork was rarely praised and my writing was unimaginative and trite but I kept at it for the joy of the doing.
There is no other reason to do what we love. We deserve to do what we love.
If we begin a creation with outcome in mind, we often miss what happens in the middle, the stuff that is unexpected and without gravity and that shines with an otherworldly light. We miss the magic in our process and over time, we risk losing the joy when our art does not meet the expectation we set for outcome.
This is not why we do what we love.
I call myself a fairy godmother because I see magic in the creative process and in most human beings and I want you to see it too. I call myself a fairy godmother because when we let ourselves be true, magic happens. And it’s often the kind of magic that we could never have dreamed up.
A new year will be upon us soon. Allow your magic to find you once again.