Thursday, August 9, 2007


Wildflowers are what they are. They are not necessarily cultivated or protected. But their unpretentious beauty and spontaneity is what makes them wonderful. They can tenaciously grow in rocks on the side of a cliff or in a meadow, or in a neighborhood. Imperfect and sometimes considered a weed; they are unapologetically themselves wherever they spring up. Scattered color and fun in unexpected places.Their whimsy combined with their strength makes them what they are.
I have a sister named Heather. Here she is putting my socks on. In a lot of my childhood memories she is my mom. Nurturing comes easy for her.With her tireless and cheerful nature she provided endless hours of fun and adventures to me and my younger siblings. The nature park, the backyard, under the table...anyplace was exciting if Heather was there. And she taught us, too. Her creative imagery always made the lessons stick. Her mind works in metaphors and analogies...presenting deep connections to my young mind. Come to think of it, I still think in types and shadows...she probably has something to do with that. At night she cuddled and sang to us in her bunk bed. She spun magical stories of fantasy and legend as we would lay in rapt excitement; safe, loved and entertained.
If there was ever somebody you would want behind you it is Heather. A quixotic champion and fearless warrior, she will always encourage and tell you anything is possible. She finds good and beauty in situations seeming bleak- on the stony cliffs of life. She was born with an instinct to protect and a stubborn desire to succeed. She meets life head on and with open arms. Sometimes that backfires.
Someone like that is not always understood. As adults we sometimes have a hard time getting in touch with that innate part of our nature. Often, as we age, creativeness is viewed as overly dramatic or childish and optimism seems naive. Anyone sensitive and open to more love and verve for life is also more vulnerable to deep sorrow and hurt. Survival demands we evolve away from that as we grow. That is what losing innocence and our childhoods is all about. Giving up those joys in order to protect ourselves from, disappointment, pain, failure, looking foolish, or being tricked. We become jaded and expect less than the spectacular...shreds of faith slip from our grasp because we believe it is not safe to keep our feet in both worlds; the child and adult. But despite what we give up and despite our efforts, we are still subject to the things we fear and try to protect ourselves from. So we end up only avoiding the good things in life.
We all like to act like a kid again- let our sense of fun and hope out for a run now and then. And I have learned to do it more and more. Life is wonderful despite it all. We were born to smile and be delighted, be curious, have big dreams and love easily and often.
I see Heather bravely straddling the gap...letting her inner child bloom where planted in her grown up life. Focusing all that energy and creativeness toward the efforts of her adulthood and having child- like fun doing it. She is a very good example of courage and light hearted living; whimsy and strength. She is either nuts or brilliant. Whichever it is- Heather is a splash of color, imperfect, unpredictable, unique, beautiful. She is a wildflower.


Claremont First Ward said...

How lucky you are to have Heather, and how lucky she is to have you. What an incredible post!

Maribel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maribel said...

Jo, you are an amazing writer. Your thoughts hit home with me. I've actually been dealing with exactly what you wrote about;being too safe in what I do. Too often I do (or don't do) things out of fear and not faith in order to avoid doing the "wrong" thing or pain or embarrasement of some kind. But, you're right in stating that by doing this we also avoid beauty, growth, and joy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

imageseer said...

so, wildflower....did you delete my comment? Shame on you, isn't this all about freedom of expression? ;)

Jo Schaffer said...

believe it or not- I didn't! I have no idea what happened- the boys could have accidentally???

Kathleen and Stephan Seable said...

Has Heather seen this? I hope so. It is a wonderful tribute. Thanks for focusing on the positive experiences of life. It is so refreshing. Love, mom and dad

Mark and Kiss said...

I love this! I totally agree with how fun Heather was with us growing up, she is the best! I love the imagery with the wildflowers, it also goes perfectly with our long summer trips as a family, mmmmmm... Yes, I agree that being childlike is risky as an adult, but extremely rewarding and liberating.

So, Jamie, what scandelous thing did you write that had to be deleted? Actually, you don't have to tell us.