My smile space has always been books.
Books. Books. Books.
I’m obsessed with books, always have been but not for the reason you would think. Growing up in America people were constantly handing out these little colorful New Testaments. I regularly took one and my mom always said: “That’s not our bible.” And I always wondered what she meant by that. Later I learned that it was Gideon’s bible not the King James version. I took them not because I wanted to read it but because I wanted to touch the binding, see how well it was made, to look at it and hold it.
It looked exactly like a big book but smaller. The perfect size for a small girl obsessed with small things too. These books were the perfect package.
I would carry that little book around with me. Putting it in my handbag of the moment, play with it until I lost interest and eventually it would disappear. Out of sight out of mind right.
Even though I’ve not thought about those little books until writing this post, the love and obsession I have for books remains. In fact, its grown.
Early school years were tricky for me. The things that seem to come naturally to the other children, I struggled with. It took me ages to learn how to read. Our teacher would have us take turns reading out loud a sentence each. I didn’t even understand what a sentence was. I only knew it was my turn when the person next to me stopped reading and everyone looked at me. I felt sick, nervous, and anxious. My whole body shook as well as my voice as I read aloud. I always mixed up the words or couldn’t pronounce them and it was only a matter of time before the kids snickered. I even caught the teachers exasperated expressions.
We didn’t really read at home but I remember my mom reading ‘The Monster at the End of this Book’ to me. I asked her to read it over and over. I loved it. Even though I knew what was coming, I lived each page as if it was the first time I’d heard it. I had her read it so much that I memorized it and could read it to myself. Maybe she thought I was really reading it?
I don’t remember taking books home from school to practice or even reading out loud to my parents at all. I remember trying to read about Jack and Jane and their dog Nip at school. “Run, Jack run”. “No, Nip no”. “Stop, Jane stop”. They were very simple with only a few words on each page. Easy for everyone to read I guess but I didn’t understand them. There was no story on the page. They were boring and uninteresting. I could sound out the simple words but I had a hard time with the vowels. Back then we didn’t learn with phonics and it was just all confusing to me. The words I knew how to pronounce correctly, I memorized. I was too little to understand that I needed to ask for help. I was too young to understand that I was behind the other kids. I was too young to realize how important reading was. I don’t even know if my teachers even talked to my parents. I was a kid left to her own devices.
I grew up knowing I was not smart. I grew up knowing I was different. I had a slow leak and my confidence secretly escaped undetected. I was quiet and shy, I didn’t know how to make friends. The thoughts I had about myself kept me away from others. Everyone knew I was dumb. It’s as if I walked around with a huge billboard over me that read:
‘This is Kaylynn, she is dumb. Don’t be her friend or else you might catch what she has”.
Did I mention I was crap at sports too? Always the very last to be picked. But I was good at noticing the other kids who felt the same way about themselves and I started friending them and I learned from them. Some were smart but socially awkward. I learned how to fake confidence until one day I just was.
It wasn’t until year nine that I read my first full novel. It took me forever but I did it and I was very proud of myself. It was also then that I learned I struggled with dyslexia. The letters or words kept changing their order. As an adult, I would borrow books from the library but have to return them before I finished because I was such a slow reader. It was embarrassing.
So really books could have been something I ran from but there has always been a special feeling I get when I step into a library or a bookshop or a room with a big bookcase full of books. They call to my heart somehow and I come back to me. My heart settles and I feel right at home. It’s almost like these places knew something I didn’t know about myself. I held onto that feeling until I figured out a way to keep it. I always felt happy when I wrote. I didn’t know I was a writer. I never thought of myself as a writer. It was only two years ago that I started saying it out loud.
So what space makes you happy? Think back about when you were small. Do you remember what made you happy? And how do you recreate it as an adult? What takes your breath away with awe? What do you do just for you? For many years I struggled with what made me happy. I just didn’t know and stopped chasing it.
Create a space that makes you smile. Could it be an area in your house where the sun shines through the window on that comfortable chair that you can relax on? Is it a picture you inherited from your grandma that hangs on your wall? Is it going for a long drive alone with your music and your thoughts? What is it for you? And will you share it with me? I’d love to hear your comments. xoxo Kaylynn