I was lucky to have a pretty uncomplicated childhood. Like most kids who grew up in the '60s and '70s, ours was a much simpler life. No computers or cell phones. No social media accounts or online bullying. No permanent online photographic records of every foolish decision I made to forever haunt me! Summer was a joyous time – running and jumping through garden sprinklers to cool off after riding your bike, free as a breeze. Forts were created in fields. When your mom asked you to pick peas from the garden, more peas were probably eaten fresh off the vine than ended up in the bowl! Your only responsibility was to be sure to be home in time to help with supper.
Like most Canadian youngsters, or at least those on the east coast, I read the Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery. No, I didn't watch the movies - they hadn't been made yet. Looking back, reading those books truly shaped me as a person.
When I started working at Avonlea Village, I re-read the books, at first as a way to remind myself of the story and characters and then just for the simple pleasure of reading the stories again. It was so interesting as an adult to read about making cotton warp quilts (they were knitted quilts, not sewn from fabric as we might think), gardening and farming, Anne’s challenges in knitting socks (she always asked Marilla to turn the heel). It was fun remembering why Christmas songs said "presents ON the tree" and not under and how one Christmas present each was a real luxury. It reminded me that, as much as life has changed so much since Anne’s time, much has also stayed the same. It opened my eyes to the simple things – to gratitude, to perspective, to the value of good friends, to doing things to help your neighbours, to having the courage and strength to speak out if you feel something is wrong, to following your dreams.
Living in rural PEI has allowed me to adopt a simpler lifestyle and truly appreciate the value of keeping things simple. I oftentimes laugh at the daily “commute” from house to studio – a far cry from my corporate life when I lived in Toronto and faced that daily commute across the 401 and down the Don Valley Parking Lot. Living in Toronto, I dreamed of one day owning perhaps a small townhouse with a tiny plot of land where I could plant some flowers. Now I have a house on one acre with a home-based studio, a garden, 3 apple trees and my summer chickens! And there are plans for a dye garden and berry bushes.
Of course there are challenges. Life isn’t a daily stroll through the White Way of Delight. I constantly struggle with setting boundaries for myself – especially when it comes to running my business. If you sent me an e-mail and got my reply at 1:30 a.m., you know what I’m talking about! (original artwork credit to Island artist: Maurice Bernard)
Anne’s love of nature is always an inspiration to me. Walking on the beach and stopping to listen to the waves. Sitting on the porch with my knitting and breathing in the scented air after the lawn has been mowed or there’s been a rainstorm. Watching the bumblebees and butterflies enjoy my less-than-perfect flowerbeds and the clover in my lawn.
I am thankful every day that life has brought me here. Like Anne, I have made some colossal mistakes! But each mistake, each misstep is an opportunity to learn something and to grow. My wish for all of you who have taken the time to read my ramblings is that you find your path and follow your dreams to your own fully authentic life.
Live life luxuriously! Classic simplicity is what I enjoy the most - in clothing design, home decor and in life!