I feel lucky to be a person of many passions, but my two most ardent passions are probably reading and writing.  Some years ago, while reading a book about writing, I came upon a quote that ultimately inspired the title of a talk that I give frequently to teachers and parents – Nurturing a Passion for Stories.  The quote (and I cannot now remember who wrote this) is “while our addictions diminish us, our passions enlarge us.”

I think this distinction is one that we can and should share with our children.  When I go to schools I love to talk to children about what inspiration is – what inspires me and what inspires them.  I start by telling them that the word itself comes from the Latin word – inspirare – meaning TO BREATHE LIFE INTO.  Isn’t that a great definition?

So then they tell me many of the things that inspire them – that make them feel more alive, that BREATHES LIFE INTO them.  Their answers usually run the gamut of: singing, dancing, basketball, horse riding, tennis, biking, art, reading, being with their family or friends or pets, baking a cake or playing the piano.

And then, we agree that all these things they have mentioned are PASSIONS – they are all the same, because they are all things that they love, but they are also different, because we all love different things.  We talk about Inventor Inventor McGregor and his passions- singing, fiddling, dancing, mending, painting, walking down the winding lane behind his house, inventing, and of course….his family!

Hector McGregor plays a rousing reel or a sweeping strathspey!

With older children, I share the quote about addictions diminishing us and passions enlarging us… they usually “get” it at once!  McGregor is a wonderful example of someone who indulges his PASSIONS and in doing so – makes the world a brighter place…..

He invents some helping hands for the triplets!
and monky tails and balloon books!

Recently, I was exchanging some emails with the wonderful Barbara at The Corner on Character, and she shared an amazing video with me – check it out to see all these kids KNITTING caps for babies in developing countries.  I am an avid knitter and have been since I was 7 years of age – all children in Scotland learn to knit from an early age – so….you could say it is one of my PASSIONS!  But when Barbara mentioned its addictive quality (and I know what she means), I had to share with her how I see knitting – and especially in her case where all these children are knitting for such a great cause, as a PASSION – you are creating all kinds of things that make life better for other people….it is BREATHING life into you and into those who benefit from the knitted piece!

The idea for Inventor McGregor actually came to me when I was in my kitchen caught up in a frenzy of creativity: knitting- well, I had my knitting projects all over the kitchen counter ready to sew up, I had bread baking in the oven, a calligraphy project that I was mulling over  (I was taught Italic handwriting at school in Scotland, so I use it to write out little poems or quotes and give as gifts), and of course, I had several books scattered here and there, along with my writing notebook.  I was having a wonderful time, when it suddenly occurred to me that I had better be careful, because maybe I would “use up” all my creativity on this baking and knitting and calligraphy, and then not have anything left for my writing.  As soon as I had that thought, I sat down and began to write fast and furious – the outline for what became Inventor McGregor

I realized that creativity is of course, INFINITE – and the more you create, the more there is to create…sort of like the magic well in the fairy tales – as long as you keep dipping your ladle into the well, it will never run dry.  Inside all of us, I tell children, there is a magic well – your HEART.

For as long as you keep using it, it will not run out of love – as a matter of fact, it is quite the opposite. I share with children, the example of my grandmother who had 9 children, and my mother who had 3 children.  Yet, my grandmother did not love her 9 children any less than my mother loved her 3 children – a mother will love all the children she is given to love…..

As dear Vincent Van Gogh said, “The best way to know God, is to love many things!”

So, I believe that stories are one such way of teaching our children to LOVE many things, and when they learn to do that, they will discover their own PASSIONS, that in turn, will make the world a brighter place for us all.

At day’s end, maybe we should ask our little ones that question, “What inspired you today?  What breathed LIFE into you?”