When I first became a teacher I taught English as a Second Language in the elementary system. I worked with many newcomer families from all over the world, some with tragic histories. I had just met a girl in grade three, whose smile could light up a room. Truthfully, her grin would make everyone shine. Incredibly shy, with almost no English, she was so much fun to teach, and if I could make her smile, it would make my day. I met her father about a week later. He walked into my classroom with a settlement worker who was translating for him. After polite introductions, he smiled. His whole face beamed. I laughed, “Wow, does your daughter ever look like you!” He turned after the translation, with a very serious stare. I immediately thought I had said something wrong.
Had I offended him? How so? I looked to the interpreter for a clue as to what I’d done wrong. What he said next though, made my hair prickle up on my skin. “My daughter is the most beautiful creature on earth. So for you to say she looks like me, is the greatest compliment one could ever give me.” Sigh. He said those exact words.
No wonder his daughter smiles with such conviction. No wonder, his children play with all their hearts. No wonder his face, despite the pain and loss of his past, shows a calm contentment. I wanted to love like that. I longed to feel love like that. I came to the realization recently though that to be loved the way I wanted to be, I needed to be completely content with me, on my own. I needed to find a place of solitary contentment. Feeling complete wouldn’t come from some person filling a void, rather, it came from me finding contentment in all the ups and downs and crazy curves of this thing called my life. It’s a long journey; an adventure of sorts to find what I call my centre. I visited the dark corners, to understand my fears and weaknesses. This was only possible because I always knew that my glowing centre was still there. I needed to embrace all the quirkiness and goofiness that make me, me. And I had to go solo.
I am happy now on my own. I have a wonderful family. I love my job. I’m crazy about the activities that I choose to fill my days. I love my friends because I chose to surround my self with people who really care about me.
I won’t lie. It was terrifying to leave the trail I had picked so many years ago and embark on this whole different adventure. Equally terrifying was the realization that I needed to feel complete on my own. The isolation terrified me. The miraculous thing is that once I openly accepted my new trail that I had chosen and the whole adventure it led me on, I found that my entire world loved me back. Completely. And so, it wasn’t lonely after all. And that’s just a crazy, cool, kind of amazing.
nina waddington creatives
The birch tree stands out in a forest. Its bark is delicate and was, once upon a time, used as paper to communicate. Albeit fragile and thin, the bark is transformed into a canoe when supported by a framework, transporting people to new places. I love how these symbols connect to my art and my story, linking nature's intricacies and vibrancy with solitude, community, communication, connection, vulnerability, and strength. Enjoy~ nina