This week as part of my Music Together Online classes, I offered a Sunday Storytime to my families. I read the book, Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett with dreamy illustrations by Jon Klassen. It’s a darling story about a girl who found a magical box of yarn that never emptied. She made hats and sweaters for everyone who lived in the dark, dreary town, and once everyone had one, she began knitting sweaters for the trees, and houses and fire hydrants. Noone believed she could keep making so many items, but…she did. Her town changed from a dark, dreary place to a color-filled destination where people came from far and wide to meet the amazing little girl. But there’s a twist… An evil duke was among the visitors, and he made an offer to buy the box of yarn - an offer which she refused. He stole the box and to his astonishment, found it to be empty and tossed it out the window. We, the readers, see the box float across the sea back to its rightful owner, and she is seen on the final pages, amid a rainbow of colors, knitting a sweater for the trees.
The repetitive line in the book, “…she still had extra yarn” is a fun one for little pre-readers to “read” on each page, but I secretly have been thinking something different – something “extra” I have: “She still had extra worry.” It seems like my magic little box is just full of an unending supply of worry.
And I know I’m not alone.
The IRONY of it all is I first had this idea of “extra worry” about 5 weeks ago (before quarantine) when my daughter brought this book down to read. I actually started writing this piece 5 weeks ago and here’s how it started…
It’s been a long couple of weeks in the Fischer household, as I know it has been for many families struggling with the flu, fevers and stomach bugs – not to mention sleep deprivation, tantrums and overall winter blues. Throw in the fact that I am dealing with ants in my living room, squirrels in my attic and both sets of grandparents have extenuating health issues. An active shooter just miles from our home…and now the idea of “coronavirus” coming to America?
I had a LOT on my plate heading into quarantine, and I never allowed myself to feel it – I had to keep moving forward. And so my box just filled with worry.
Not a good place to be in when the entire world shuts down.
And although my children and immediate family were safe, my business, which is an extension of my soul, was at risk, and I spent the next 10 days rescuing what I could of my passion – because I don’t know how I’d get through all of this without it. Oh, right and let’s not forget THREE SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN were suddenly at the mercy of “Home School Mommy” (as I’m now affectionately called). EXTRA WORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So much extra! I could weep from the weight of it, but I’ve been so busy with my family and my work that I didn’t have extra time to sit and weep. But a few days ago, on a drive to pick up a prescription for my dog (more worry), I caught sight of our empty school playground. Even the cautionary tape looked dismal, half torn and ragged from it’s obviously hasty application. The worry found a crack and seeped out of my box…and I wept.
And I had a thought…that maybe I need to let it out – to make room in my box for something else. If the archduke stole my box, I think he’d find it empty, too – you can’t see worry - but I most certainly wouldn’t want that box to float back across the ocean to me. I’d want a box that’s filled with hope, or generosity or creativity to find its way to me. So today, I’m making a decision: I’m going to start emptying my box, so that the box that follows me around has what I WANT IN IT. I’m going to make the CHOICE to replace every worry with a hope for the future. To replace every worry with an act of generosity. To replace every worry with a creative spark in the world (this blog entry is step one). Maybe if I let the tears come, they will wash away a bit of the worry, and I’ll make the choice to NOT LOOK BACK at the waters I’ve left behind me.
What will the world look like after all this is over if we start replacing our worries with the very best energy of our souls? To take the words of Mac Barnet, “Things [might begin] to change in that little town.” I think our world might get a lot more colorful, and people from far and wide will want to be near us, once again. She still had extra…what? What’s in your box?