E is for Elly-ville

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge and I am looking forward to posting my way through the entire alphabet. 🙂
Yesterday I wrote about my middlest sister Denise, today is all about my sister Angela. It isn’t here birthday or anything, but I thought I would give her a shoutout too. (Don’t worry, I only have two sisters, the sisterly posts end here.)

So, you are probably thinking, ‘Angela doesn’t start with E! What the hell is Elly-ville?’
Elly-ville is Ange’s business – she creates multimedia artwork and she makes crocheted stuffed animals and sells them at craft fairs and the like.

I love to see little kids come to her table and check out the animals. The kids are all so joyful and it is like they connect with the animals on a whole different level – Ange puts joy and whimsy right into them, I swear.

And that’s maybe the first thing you need to know about Angela. Ange is super good at making people happy.

She picks up on the little things that bring a smile to your face. She notices when you grin and she keeps track of why and then she will help make that happen again. I think that she has some sort of connection to a type of happiness that the rest of us can’t even see and I think she channels that into her various creations. I’m sure that’s why kids find so joy in her stuffed animals – she has poured that happiness right into them.
Now in the spirit of my post about Denise I’m going to tell you about the ways that I wish I could be more like Angela

Ange is really good at going along with things – a joke, a plan, a way to goof around. I don’t mean that she’s a follower because that is definitely not the case. If you engage Angela in the MAGIC of what you’re doing she will make it bigger and she amplifies it in a way that that doesn’t diminish your efforts at all. It’s a skill she has always seemed to have but I think that her improv training honed it even further. She is an expert at ‘Yes, and’* – for her the world is a a collaboration, she will build on your ideas, you can build on hers, and everyone wins. Ange sees all the interlocking pieces and she strengthens the connections between them. I can do it sometimes, but Angela’s ability to call it forth at will is astounding.

Ange also rocks at being interested in what you are interested in and giving you the chance to share why you love it. For example, when my sons talk to her about video games, or wrestling or whatever they are passionate about in the moment, Ange gives them her full attention. It doesn’t matter if she is not actually all that interested in the video or playing with playdoh or whatever, she is interested in her relationship with the person and that is what matters most. She is interested in their excitement about the thing at hand and it shows in the attention that she gives them. It is a kind of love and kindness that you don’t often see. It makes the other person in the conversation feel valued and respected and Ange is just incredible about sharing it.

Another way that I would like to be more like Ange is in her capacity for emotions. Angela can go fully into her feelings like no one else I have ever met. I’m sure that is a pain in the ass for her sometimes, but there is true beauty in it from the outside. When she commits to a feeling, she goes all in with it. If she is proud of you, she is the proudest person EVER. If she loves you, then she loves you all the way. When she’s excited, she’s over the moon. It feels really great to get carried along with those feelings and to be around someone who is okay with surrendering to them. A lot of people fight their feelings all the time and if you ask me, that causes a hell of a lot of problems. We’re often taught that we need to ‘keep control’ or not be so emotional, but that cuts down on the good as well as the bad. I would like to be more like Angela and just have my heart open to the elements.

I can remember the night that Angela was born – me and Neece being rushed over to a neighbour’s house so Mom and Dad could go to the hospital. I remember Dad coming into the room where we were sleeping to tell us that we had a new baby sister.

I can remember making up stories for her and bouncing her on my stomach in time to the rhythm of the story while I talked.

I can remember the smell of Kool-aid in the house when she took to dyeing her hair wild colours when she was in junior high.

I remember watching her do improv and being so damn impressed that she could be RIGHT there on the stage, making stuff up in the moment and she did it without any sort of stress or strain.

And to this day, I am floored by how damn capable she is when she steps up to take charge of things. She can create order out of chaos – a room full of people, a pile of ideas, a tangle of wool – and she does it with flair and with a smirk. It knocks me right out.

So, there we go. Angela doesn’t start with E, but Ellyville does and so does engaging & emotion, so writing about Ange today makes perfect sense. Happy Wednesday, kid – I am  proud of you. I love you.

D is for Denise

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. You can find out more about the challenge here.


Through a stroke of good fortune, the day for the letter D falls on my sister Denise’s birthday!
So, in honour of my middlest sister’s big day, I am going to write a bit about ways that I would like to be more like Denise.
1) Adventure: Denise is one of those people who greets new experiences with enthusiasm. She is ready to try the new dance, take the different path, check out the new band. I tend to face new experiences with apprehension, but Denise embraces them, gets inside them, and figures out how she can enjoy them the most. I would love to have a touch more of that in my life.

2) Both feet in: When Denise does something she goes all in. When she dances, every molecule of her body is involved. When she sings, she pours herself into the music. When she runs, jumps, skips, or hops, she does them with gusto. When she loves something, she loves it fully and completely.
I do those things sometimes, but overall, I am more of a cautious person, I tread lightly at the beginning. And sure, there can be advantages to that, but I would love to know what it feels like to just jump right in.

3) Get out: Denise has real affinity for being in nature and being outside. She feels drawn to being outside and to go for hikes and to just enjoy the fresh air. I like all of those things I just don’t feel drawn to them – I don’t HAVE to get outdoors the way she does. I mean, I like it when I’m out there but the transition going from inside to outside sometimes seems like a lot of work and it doesn’t always seem worth the trouble. For Neece, though, it is just such a natural thing to be outside that it even doesn’t occur to her to to hesitate. She just heads on out the door when the mood strikes her. I really admire that about her.

Now, I am not being hard on myself here, I like the way I go about things and my methods and inclinations serve me very well. But I really, truly, admire Denise’s attitude toward these things and I would love to be able to borrow her approach when I need it.

I’m so super happy that Denise is my sister and I’m glad that the magic that she brings to the world gets sprinkled on me sometimes.

She has the most incredible ability to find fun in any situation, and I am always astounded by how much energy she brings to things. If you could see her with a group of kids, it would almost bring you to tears – she LOVES them, dearly loves, each and every one of them. She wants to teach them all about the world and she makes them excited about learning and about the part they play in the group she’s leading. The positive energy that runs through a group she is leading is almost tangible – it’s amazing.

Speaking of leading, Neece has that rare ability to be equally good at being a leader and at being a supporter – which is a tricky, tricky thing to do. She takes charge when she needs to but she can also be your right hand when you are the boss and you never have to wonder if she is going to have your back.

I can’t remember when Denise was born per se but I can remember when Dad and I went to pick my baby sister and my Mom up from the hospital. Denise was a little bundle in a blanket on my Mom’s lap on the front seat (it was how things were done in 1977 – odd hey?). I can remember thinking how silly it was that she was so small – how were we going to play?

And I can remember sitting on the edge of Mom’s dresser talking to Denise while she was in her crib. I can remember reading One Fish, Two Fish to her before bed when she was 7 or 8. I had the book memorized so she could turn the pages and I could act as if I was reading from across the room. Come to think of it, that dramatic presentation of One Fish, Two Fish was probably my first experience in storytelling.

I can remember when Denise and I were teenagers and I would come home late from being out and she would be the only one up. My bedroom was in the basement and we would get to talking when I was on my way down over the stairs. We would end up sitting on the steps and talking for hours as if there would be no other chance for us to talk if we didn’t grab it right then. It was a like a secret conversation, like stepping out of time. We were so tired but neither one of us ever wanted to end the conversation.

To this day, when Denise comes my house, even for a little while, we end up in big, deep, important conversations – me sitting on the steps and her standing in the porch. I know that we should just come in and have tea or something, but that would change the nature of the conversation and something would be lost. Even if we have already been talking for hours, there is still more to say while she stands and I sit – we always find more to say, more giant problems to wrestle.

I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

Happy birthday, Neece. I’m proud of you. I love you.

C is for Cake (having and eating)

This post is part of the 2016 A to Z Challenge. I am looking forward to having a new post up every day in April. I look forward to reading everyone else’s posts, too!


I was, of course, tempted to say that C is for cookie (that’s good enough for me), but I opted for cake instead.

I cannot resist cake.* Usually when I bake something, I don’t feel compelled to eat it. I make great cookies but I can leave them on the plate forever.

Cake though?

Cake is not safe with me.  I will slice off sliver by sliver of a cake I have baked and eat standing up at the counter.

Is this evidence of an appalling lack of self control? Probably, but I’m not sweating it.

The other thing I can’t resist is a good turn of phrase.**

I hate the situation but I love the fact that the phrase ‘wanting to have my cake and eat it too’ exists. It so perfectly sums up that kind of situation where you really want to keep all your options open even though you know that you can really only choose one thing.

A lot of the time that phrase is used to criticize people for wanting too much but I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we decided to expand that phrase a bit. What if we expanded our view so the phrase became ‘How can you change things so you can have your cake and eat it too?’

I’m intrigued by the possibilities there. What would it mean to give yourself more choices in the kinds of situations where that phrase comes up? What would it feel like to tell yourself that it isn’t either/or? How can you make it possible to keep the things that are important to you while having the freedom to let parts of them going?

So, what would YOU do to try and have your cake and eat it too?
*I mean, obviously, I *can* resist cake sometimes but I usually don’t and it is more fun to pretend to be swept along in a cake frenzy. Meanwhile, Cake Frenzy should be a band name. What kind of music would Cake Frenzy play?
** maybe I should have used a SEGUE WARNING there? Sorry!