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Happy Friendship Month!

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that making friends is not easy, and it only gets harder the older you are. As this month is drawing to a close, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the people I’ve met in the world that helped shape who I am. Since September is Friendship Month, it seems only fitting to dedicate a moment or two to those friends I’ve made that have stuck by me through thick and thin and have left a lasting impression on my life.

I moved to Boston in 2011 from a relatively small town in Virginia. Eager to get a foot in the door of the publishing industry, I transferred schools and packed my entire life into a storage pod. I never even met my roommate before she opened the door to let me into our dingy apartment in East Boston, and when my mom boarded her return flight to Virginia, I was truly on my own and alone for the first time. It was terrifying.

When I was younger and my friends couldn’t come out to play, books were where I turned. They were a constant companion in childhood that came along for the ride into adulthood. In fact, it should come as no surprise that I met my first two friends in Boston in one of my first literature classes. We didn’t become close until the following year, but we bonded over a mutual love of all things literary, and we still make jokes about that class, eight years later. Most of the friendships I have made since moving to this city have been joyously book related in some way. My current roommates and I bonded over our book hoarding tendencies, another dear friend is always telling me about the most recent audiobook she has listened to, and here at Curious George, Rosa and I banter about the latest YA novels and subscription boxes all the time.

If I’m being honest, I would be lost without these people in my life. The connections that we have made were sparked by a mutual love and have grown deeper over the years. While I know it isn’t easy to conjure up a friendship, every relationship is built on a foundation of common ground. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone over a shared interest – you never know what best friends you might get out of it!

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So Hum

In yoga and meditation practice, the mantra So Hum is commonly used.  A very basic yet incredibly powerful mantra, it is made up of two Sanskrit words. The literal translation of those words;

So: “That”

Hum: “I”.

When the words are put together in a phrase, the translation is understood to be, “I am That”.  So, if I am That, what’s the that?  Just what, exactly, am I?

Ah yes, the age-old question of self-identity. Truth be told, we are all many things.  I am a mother, a business owner, a daughter, a social worker, a novice kiteboarder, a lawyer, a woman of color, a fun awesome person… I could go on forever 😊.  But, although I am all these things, not one of them alone sufficiently encapsulates the entirety of who I am.  

In Vedic philosophy, So Hum is generally interpreted to mean, “I am one with the universe or ultimate reality”.  Putting religious or spiritual beliefs aside for the moment, it is the concept of “oneness” that resonates most with me. While we all have various roles and functions we fill, those roles and functions are in constant flux; shifting and changing all throughout our lives.  I’m a mother but will that role and function always look the same? When my kids (god willing) move out to begin their next chapter as fledgling adults, I’ll remain a mother but as an “empty nester”.  When I worked full-time as CEO of our household, I was a “stay-at-home mom”.  That role has now shifted to “working mom” and hopefully, at some point not too far off, that will be replaced with, “retired mom sitting at home and eating bon-bons”.

So, despite the ever-changing pieces we believe make up our “self”, it seems there’s something more to it: if we’re constantly changing, then who the heck are we really? For myself, I believe that the “who” of who I am is down underneath all the other stuff.  It’s the solid surface on which our lives sit and shift.  I am the being that lies below the ever-mercurial roles and functions of my life.  That I never changes; That I remains the one constant as life swirls around me.  And if my true self is what remains after all else is stripped away, then wouldn’t that be true of everyone?  Wouldn’t our “I’s”, in essence, all be the same?  The way I look at it, regardless of your individual experience, role, function, purpose, we’re all essentially the same. And when we recognize that sameness in others, we collectively form a “oneness”; we form humanity.

I choose to believe that the Reys created Curious George in this spirit as well. I think we love George the way we do because he captures and so vividly illustrates the same universal “kidness” we all share.  After all, it was Margaret Rey herself who pointed out:

George can do what kids can’t do. He can paint a room from the inside.  He can hang a kite in the sky.  He can let the animals out from their pens on the farm. He can do all these naughty things that kids would like to do.

Fundamentally, Curious George represents us all.  And, fundamentally, we each see ourselves reflected in him. 

And so, it’s through this lens I look when I say The Curious George Store belongs to all of us.  Because if it belongs to me, it belongs to you too.  I’m still joyously learning the ways Curious George and The Curious George Store will elucidate my roles and functions moving forward. And, because I’m loving this experience so much, I would like more than anything to share it with you.

So, with that, I ask You:

  • What role or function do you want the Curious George Store to play in your life?  In your family life? In your community life?

And

  • As yourself, how are you going to show up?

You may have no opinion whatsoever and that’s good too – we still want you to enjoy the experience with us. But, for those of you who do want to chime in, let’s hear it.  Let’s have the foundation for this new incarnation of The Curious George Store be, and reflect thereinafter, our oneness. 

I invite you to join the conversation – leave a comment below.