Indy at Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, touching a "Peace Now" graffiti on a broken piece of the Berlin Wall / Photo of Indy: Priscilla Obermeier
Location: My desk in the living room, Dubai
Whereas winter invites me to reflect on the months that have gone by, spring is the season that makes me want to set things in motion. In a way, every spring is an origin story. The air bright with possibility. No matter how many rocks the world throws at us, nature whispers, “A new chapter is here!”
Breathing in the light, warmth, and promise of spring, I hope for many magical moments, small wonders, new questions and family adventures, and most of all – new ways of sharing the Frederick & Sophie stories with a larger audience. Last fall, I started to wonder if I could turn the world of Frederick & Sophie and their absolutely awesome adventures into a book? Yes, I was born a serious bookworm, and yes, I had worked as a journalist, columnist, brand writer, and even had done some screenwriting, but… could I I captivate young children (and their grown-ups) with a Frederick & Sophie picture book?
In the last 6 months, I deepened my children’s book writing skills through Gotham with two of their 10-week online Children’s Book Writing Courses. I as well explored the publishing world with their Publishing Course. Work and Indy’s online schooling continued as usual, so I studied, and worked on my homework and manuscript writing in the evenings and weekends. It was both exhausting (Ah, coffee, dear friend) and exhilarating to step away from reality and follow the endless views into my imagination. Yes! An endless ride along that little known 100 mile trail of wild landscapes, lost castles, and strange creatures. It’s here that I met George and Mr. Tubby!
As I write this post, my hope springs into the dazzlement of what could be a series of Frederick & Sophie books. It’s not just about publishing for publishing’s sake. It’s about the opportunity to create something that shows the joy and strength of diversity, cross-cultural friendship, possibility, connection, and the power of imagination and play. Themes that are dear to me. You see, I started writing the Frederick & Sophie blog stories to express the themes that are part of my both/and life in many worlds as a cross-cultural mom of a third-culture kid, and a proud member of a rather nomadic-entrepreneurial-online_schooling-mixed family. Filled with magic and wit, the stories are made of pieces from all the different places that my family is, lived in, and traveled to. To me, Frederick and Sophie, George and Wally, all highlight that common thread between all of us: childlike wonder, curiosity, optimism, empathy, perseverance, a yearning for the freedom to be your best self, and a belief in our ability to change for the better. I simply wanted kids (and their grown-ups) to join me in this both/and place where their voices matter, and it is okay to reach for something beyond the here and now.
I don’t know where my storyteller’s journey will lead me, but I know it will be a splendid adventure. I have taken a first step and most of the time, that makes all the difference (unless you walk in really uncomfortable shoes, or run into a Gobbledycrank. Horrible smelly creatures with a bad temper).
In April, Markus, Indy, and I found ourselves more busy than usual as we changed homes in Dubai, and we welcomed the Easter Bunny and his loyal assistant, chick Phil, to our new home!
We also experienced the magic of Ramadan. There was the quietude in the streets during the day, and the mouth-watering smells and chiming sounds of the many Iftar dinners in the evening. I couldn’t help but feel how this time of renewal, reflection, compassion, and (re-) connection for the Muslim community around the world, could not have been a better indicator of spring’s message of hope.
We enjoyed a beautiful and delicious Iftar dinner at the The Palace Downtown’s Ewaan, and it’s here that I felt hope bloom. I listened to families and friends, parents and kids from different cultures, religions, and countries, speaking different languages, laugh over Lentil soups, lamb, and beef dishes, and add another spoonful of Umm Ali (one of my favorite desserts!).
I watched kids of different races and ages negotiate with their parents about the number of ice cream scoops they could eat (Why not 12? Why? Why not?). I watched kids dance their sugar rushes away and make funny poses in the moon’s light. This is the multicultural society I know the world can be. Driven by the simple idea that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart.
There is so much ugliness in the wars and losses that we endure. There is ugliness in pain, devastation, and division. I have had my confrontations with the ugliness of prejudice, racism, and micro-aggressions at airports, in hotels, stores and on streets. Yet, at the same time, I have found beauty, strength, generosity, and incredible kindness in so many different people around the world. People whose appreciation of life and all that it holds in it, was a reflection of my own.
I have no solution for the ugliness. I wish that just like George, I could change the world for the better of all with a flick of my i-Wand 340. But I can’t.
I can keep my imagineers hat on. Because one very wise Cheshire Cat did once say that “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality,” and I might not be able to wave a wand, but I can wave my pen and continue to spread the joy of diversity, curiosity, imagination, and friendship through my Frederick & Sophie stories and the wondrous products that fill them.
This season, my Frederick and Sophie stories are built around hope. Hope to save the Easter Bunny from Snark, hope to find the Magic Spring Tree House, and hope to make you smile and connect with your little ones as you dive into the stories together, keeping your eyes (and heart) open for wonder.
As we move deeper into the season, I know that I must continue to nurture that spark of wonder, hope, and possibility. I remind myself of that captivating sentence from the Kakawin Sutasoma, an old Javanese poem: I”Bhinnêka tunggal ika tan hana dharma mangrwa,” which translates as “They are indeed different, but they are of the same kind, as there is no duality in truth.” It’s a sentence that continues to put a smile to my face as I keep writing and trying to build Frederick & Sophie into the story-driven retail brand I know it can be.
Because the truth is: Hope springs from that part inside of us, made of many pieces and places, where we are one. Where we are aligned with all that is best in us.