My Great-Grandmother’s Magic Pencils

When I was a child, my favourite pastime during Summers at my grandmother’s house was to go through her drawers. They were packed with beautiful treasures from all over the world, as well as from generations of my Polish family.

When I was maybe 8, she gifted me with two of my great grandmother’s mechanical pencils. I loved them beyond measure and wrote every day with them until the lead ran out. Then, they sat, nothing more than trinkets of the past.

Until today.

My great-grandmother’s mechanical pencils. One even clips to a Chatelaine.


In a few days, we will honour the fourth year since my mother’s passing. I have struggled deeply in my relationship with her before and after her death.

This past year, the work my brother and I have done to reclaim our roots, heal generational wounds, and pull ourselves out of shadow has transformed that struggle into understanding and my own ability to step beyond what was never spoken between her and myself in life.

These pencils, tools of the storyteller I never knew, surfaced today without explanation at a moment when I required a provocative sign. From there, I understood what my mother and the women before her had waited nearly 50 years for me to hear.

Magic is always with you—even when it lays dormant until you are ready for it.

Day 31 – Productivity& The Collapse of Time

Productive days are the best kind. The total absorption into material and storytelling becomes meditative.  The devotion to ideas and evolution of that story sparks a magic. When it was all over, I couldn’t even remember which Writer’s Studio day it was.

In the midst of it all, my brother and I even managed to fit in an Insta chat on living magical lives.

Both seekers, we’ve dabbled—or even more than dabbled—in a wide range of ideas, practices, and philosophical perspectives. He just relocated to the remote island of Wrangell, Alaska, and the world is on fire for him right now. The conversation took on its own personality, moving through fishing, friends, lost civilizations, myth, the spirit of the land, and our own sense of self.

I realized that days in which articles are read, poetry is shared, a friend leaves you a sweet voice message, your brother answers the call when you have something bizarro to share with him, are true source magic.

From that, the construct of time drops away and all that lives in that space is a direct channel to the imagination.

Words hold the greatest of power.

Here’s a quick wrap-up from my crazy-productive day:


The Imprint of Flowers

As a child, nothing ever manifested in quite such a glorious way as our backyard garden. If there was one thing my mother could do, it was to grow beautiful things (she had many talents). Our eclectic, high-altitude heaven included everything from blooming cacti and yucca plants to lilacs, Iris, and my personal favourite, the Bridal Wreath Spirea.

When I came across it this morning as bees and butterflies danced their way through the masses of blooms in our neighbour’s yard, I found myself slipping through time back to the concrete steps in Colorado Springs where I would belt out You Light Up My Life while the couple next door regretted their lives. Upon completion of the serenade, I picked unending mitts full of delicate, ivory sweetness to stuff into my mother’s best vase.

A few dog walkers and runners asked if I was OK? I couldn’t move, mesmerized by the blankets of blooms.

From today, courtesy of my neighbour’s stunning garden.

Explaining the method of transport I took back to my 8-year-old self proved awkward. How can one’s mind be heaved through time with such drama in a mere second, with a mere whiff, at the whim of a mere 1cm-by-1cm of flower?

The power within that moment awed me, as if the tiny buds spoke a bit of Zagavory word magic (Kat used the ancient Slavic charm in Geist) to enchant me, offer me a reprieve from the grumpiness lingering after picking up my taxes from the accountant, and deliver a message from my mother whom I lost four years ago.

After my visit to 1979, I stood in my own garden, amongst the valerian, poppies, and lavender as usual, so grateful for the quick trip. Sweet spirea portal, how I will always love thee. 🙂