You’re not allowed!

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How many of these did you hear when you were a child?

  • You’re too small
  • You’re too big
  • You’re too young
  • You’re too old
  • It’s too far
  • It costs too much
  • It’s too dangerous
  • Girls don’t do that
  • Boys don’t do that
  • It’s too …

Sometimes it was difficult to find an activity that, like Baby Bear’s bed, was just right. Oftentimes it was only ‘just right’ in the eyes someone wielding the power; and not always in the eyes of the one wishing to have, do, go, or be. Setting limits is often easier than chasing possibilities.

starr-cline-creativity

Many years ago I read What Would Happen If I Said Yes?… A Guide to Creativity for Parents and Teachers by Starr Cline.  Cline writes about creativity, emotional intelligence, giftedness, intelligences, diversity, and the power of “Yes”. On her website, she makes this statement:

“After years of observation and research, I have drawn the following conclusions:

  • Everyone has the ability to create.
  • The external environment is critical in the development of one’s potential, whether it be in mathematics, language, the arts, etc.
  • Individuals may have one or more areas in which they excel
  • IQ scores do not reflect specific talents or abilities
  • Creativity begins diminishing at about third grade”

I’m inclined to agree, and feel especially sad about the last point she makes.

What Would Happen If I Said Yes? challenged me to think about ways in which I could parent (and teach) more positively and encourage, rather than inhibit, creativity; encourage a willingness to try new things; and to avoid placing unnecessary limitations upon others and myself. I can’t say I was entirely successful, but I did make some gains.

In the book, Cline suggests that you “STOP every time you are about to say no. THINK about what might happen if you said yes!”  Consider the worst scenario that could occur if you said yes, and whether it would be really that bad, or even likely.

She says to consider why you may say No.

“Is it because …

You don’t want to be bothered

It wasn’t your idea

It’s a habit

Someone treated you that way

It makes you feel powerful”

She reminds that the messages saying “No” often sends are:

“Your idea is stupid

You are stupid

You’re not capable

You’re not worth it.”

In the long term, are these negative messages more important than a temporary inconvenience, or than the benefits that would accrue from positive responses?

But don’t get me wrong. Cline doesn’t suggest you just say “Yes” to everything. She says that sometimes you may need to come up with a creative way of saying no. She provides many ways of doing so in her book, which I recommend as a great read for both parents and teachers.

Even as adults we can find ourselves in situations where certain things are not allowed and rules are imposed, such as in the workplace or in clubs and other organisations.

Sometimes the things we are not allowed to do are self-imposed limits; we may not allow ourselves to do things because:

  • It’s scary
  • It’s unfamiliar
  • We feel uncomfortable
  • We don’t know anybody there
  • It costs too much

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Sometimes, as I explained about my attitude to camping in a previous post Around the campfire, we make choices and find ways of justifying our decisions, at least to ourselves if not to anyone else. There are many reasons I choose to avoid camping, many other things I’d prefer to do, and I don’t often consider myself to be missing out.

Although I can appreciate camping’s appeal to others, it was only when I read a late comment by Bruce Mitchell that I began to consider some of the wonders, including Antarctica, I had missed. Maybe I’ll be more adventurous next time round!

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about something or someone not allowed

In her post, Charli speaks of many injustices, including the rules that say who is and is not allowed to vote in elections in the United States. The rules affect many, for many different reasons (or petty excuses based on power) and tend to be divisive rather than inclusive.

charli-mills-gift

Charli says that,

“The greatest gift you can give is to allow another. Allow someone else to listen to their favorite music. Allow someone else to tell you their story. Allow someone to connect to you even if you feel harried. Smile back, nod, acknowledge, empathize. Be loving. Some among us have denials you can’t see stamped upon their countenances because of circumstances.”

While deciding what we will or will not allow our children to do may seem trivial in comparison, surely bringing up our younger generations to be confident, independent, responsible, and accepting of others, allowing them to join in; creating an inclusive society, is something to strive towards. Perhaps if we allow our children, they will allow others.

For my response to Charli’s flash, I’ve gone back to childhood. Where else? I hope you enjoy it.

Not allowed

She knew they were in there. She heard their chatter. Her knocks began timidly, then louder. The room hushed. There was rustling, then padding feet. She waited. The door opened a peek. Her loving sister’s smiling face appeared, then contorted unrecognisably.

“You’re not allowed!” the monster screeched, and slammed the door.

She froze – obliterated, erased, smashed to smithereens. She was nowhere, nothing. Why? What had she done?

She could only shrug when Mum asked why she wasn’t playing with her sister.

Later, at dinner, she viewed her sister’s sweet smiles cautiously. Was she real? When would the monster reappear?

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Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

59 thoughts on “You’re not allowed!

  1. Barbara

    Great blog post. I was also very saddened by the finding that ‘Creativity begins to diminish after 3rd grade.’ I am so grateful that in a family that didn’t have much money for ‘stuff,’ both of my parents were hugely creative. It instils a love to create that never goes away. Thank you for the follow by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      That’s right, Barbara. Money is not a prerequisite for creativity. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. Sometimes it is more fun and more rewarding to make something useful or beautiful from “nothing”. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Bec Colvin

    These are such important themes and you have such great insights, as always. I love your FF, though it is sad. I also love Charli’s sentiment about the importance of allowing people. I often need to catch myself before I pointlessly say ‘no’ to something your grandchildren ask. Why say no! It so easily becomes a default. I hope the siblings in your FF made up.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Interesting comment, Bec. Thanks. I hope your tendency to say “No” is not a learned behaviour! 🙂 I haven’t seen you refuse them often. You are a lovely aunty. I wonder would the siblings have made up. Sadly, I think the scar will always remain.

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  3. Kiran Tevtiya

    Loved this article. It is so very aptly written. If we count the number of times we say No to a child vis a vis yes, we may be surprised at how much we underestimate our child’s capability of being inner driven. We may prop up a child on top of a slide (when it is beyond his or her capability) however may sit at the edge of the bench when the child tries to do it himself or herself, shouting out all the things not to do.

    Well said about creativity and individuality of a child getting hampered by the time they reach third grade. In fact the difference is so stark when we conduct art classes for 2yr old versus a 6yr old child. The former would be more than happy to get a colouring brush and start using it not just on the paper but also all over their hands, legs and floor, this vis a vis the later who would wait and enquire- Teacher, what should I make!!
    Unfortunately this is what our current schooling system is doing to our kids. It is trying to box and slot our kids. It is drilling into a follower and herd mentality instead of giving them room to challenge their thought processing and celebrating their uniqueness.

    Phew! The onus is all the more on parents not to let the schooling system do this to our children and to keep the flame of curiosity alive and kicking….

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  4. prior..

    The books sounds great and your 99 words is inspiring !
    I think more teachers can benefit from a lot more yes-
    And as I was reading I thought “wait- there are times we just cannot say yes… we redirect of give fresh options” and then u mentioned the author noted that!
    Right on!

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Patricia Tilton

    Such a beautiful post — an important post for parents, grandparents and teachers. Made me think about how much we are responding to our own needs instead of the child’s needs. Not hard to hear your mother in your own voice too. How different so many children would be if we said “yes” to what they wish. We do stifle creativity. Children are truly joyful and wasn’t to express themselves. Again thank you for a thought provoking post.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your warm and positive comment, Patricia. Oh I do hear my mother in my words. Fortunately I was able to decrease that a little with determination and constant practice, but the traces were still there – learned automaticity.
      Your point about responding to our own needs rather than the children’s is well made. We must consider our needs as well though. We’re no good to anyone else if we don’t look after ourselves; but sometimes I think the excuses are more from laziness than alternate needs.
      Thank you for adding to the collective wisdom.

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  6. Sarah Brentyn

    Great post but do love that flash. Others have said so much already in the comments so I will add my agreement. When we are “not allowed” at home (whether it be to do something, say something, participate in something, feel something…) we build up so much damage inside. Thanks for sharing. ❤

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  7. Pingback: Not Allowed « Carrot Ranch Communications

  8. Sherri

    Oh the pain of not being included…you capture it so well in your flash Norah, that ‘monster’ who changes the sister when her friends are around. It hurts and isn’t forgotten so easily either. It is so sad when we grow up with the message that we can’t do this or that. Your excellent post perfectly illustrates all the many and valid reasons why ‘no’ might have to be at certain times, but so often this is lost and misunderstood and so no becomes no and there is no understanding. We just get the message that we can’t and so we stop believing we can. Helping guiding our children into areas of creativity when they are young and ensuring they don’t lose it is paramount but so easily overlooked when the hustle and bustle and demands of everyday life take over. Thank you for reminding us to take a step back, consider the hugely important considerations we need to make when our children are young and not to make that mistake. Future generations of talented, creative and inventive adults depend on it! I was shocked to think that creativity starts diminishing around third grade…surely this reflects on the way school education pushes it out? The sooner we realise that not everybody is the same but that doesn’t mean we have to push anyone out because of it, indeed accept them and love them for their/our differences, the better. Thank you for another excellent, thought-provoking post Norah… xxx

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for adding your thoughts, Sherri. The collective wisdom of this post is growing. You have added so much to it. It is so sad when “We just get the message that we can’t and so we stop believing we can.”
      I think Cline was talking about schools killing creativity, as does Ken Robinson in his brilliant TED talk. It is not right that some should limit the potential of others by force-feeding uninspiring pap.
      I’m pleased the flash worked. I was that little girl on the outer – many times. It’s not a nice place to be.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Sherri

        Ha…’uninspiring pap’. That puts it perfectly Norah! I can remember many a day at school thinking just that, but in different words, naturally! 😉 I’m so glad to add my small part to the great discussion here. You foster ‘collective wisdom’ with your wonderfully wise approach seeking solutions for education, across the board, hoping to bring so much more than when it is so constrained and ‘force-fed’. And yes…your flash worked beautifully… ❤

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  9. Steven

    On reading the title of this post, another related childhood statement immediately came to my mind, which is something like, “Umm ahh”. Often uttered in the presence of someone who had done something that was not allowed or bad. Thinking about it now, I suppose it is a form of social exclusion (bringing the attention of those nearby that the targetted person has done something unacceptable).

    If I remember, I try to go back to your previous post to look at any other comments. I must have missed Bruce’s comment and it was well worth a read. Thanks for bringing that to our attention here.

    Your fiction would make a good set of scenes in a movie. I enjoyed a little touch of onomatopoeia in there as well.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Oh yes. I do remember that tell-tale “Umm ahh”. What a way to alert others to someone’s failings or misfortunes without actually saying anything. It’s definitely meant to cause pain and humiliation. Not fun. 😦
      Bruce was quite late posting his comment, and it was so good I was keen for others to read it. I had to weave it into the post somehow, and I thought it worked rather well. 🙂 I’m really pleased you went back to read it. Thank you.
      Thank you for your kind words about the flash. I’m amazed and touched that you always see more in my stories than I do.

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  10. Annecdotist

    I hope you don’t think that what is said to children is trivial relative to the “not alloweds” in Charli’s post. As both you and others have said in the comments, secure and curious children are more likely to be open to others. The parents of our generation thought they could teach morality by telling us what we couldn’t do – and some of us did learn this way while also learning to be fearful – the more parents who are able to teach by example the better for all. But sometimes they need support in clearing up the mess. For me, the foundation of a healthy society lies in the treatment of babies, but that’s not going to happen as governments allocate so few resources to this area (especially relative to investment in war). Inspiring teachers can go some way to addressing the damage experienced by some, but it’s quite a challenge.
    Your flash beautifully articulates the mistrust and resentment not allowed can bring.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for adding your wisdom to the post, Anne. Of course, bringing up the young ones is not trivial. They grow up to be us! And you have shown how our upbringing has influenced our attitudes. I’m all for improving on mine! Think of the improvements that could be made to the way we raise children if society cared about it as much as they did annihilating others! As you say, once we pass the baby stage, changing attitudes is a challenge.
      I’m pleased the flash works. I was able to put myself right into it. I’ve been in the exclusion zone many times. It’s not fun. 🙂

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  11. writersideup

    Another excellent post, Norah 😀 I can’t help but wonder about that last statement, that creativity stops about 3rd grade. I don’t get it, I suppose because my own creativity never stopped. Is she referring to kids that are perhaps not “as” creative as some so they let it go? Or is it because most kids’ interests start expanding so stopping to “create” isn’t an activity of choice?

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Donna. Thanks for your comment. Pauline also remarked on the statement about creativity stopping in the 3rd grade. I assume Starr means it is schooled out of them, similar to what Ken Robinson says in his talk “School Kill Creativity”. I think when schools are more interested in uniformity, conformity and regurgitation, they leave little time for creativity, and children don’t get to develop it. Starr is a firm believer that we are all creative in some area, and her book is written to encourage it. The “less creative” is a phenomenon she has observed. I have too. Children don’t want to try, don’t want to have a go, in case they’re wrong or not good enough. They need to be “free to be me”! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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      1. writersideup

        Yes, I agree with the “school” problem of not encouraging creativity (Yay for DOT DAY!) , but I think around that age more awareness sets in and I see it being very much to do with the fear of being ridiculed or not good enough, not just in creativity, but in anything they’ve gotten the impression they are “lesser” than, which is one reason I’m not a fan of trophies, gold stars and such. Accolades are typically won by the “best” or at least the “best for that day” or moment or whatever. The constant competition (reality TV in the U.S. is almost all that) sickens me. And it’s not that I also agree with everyone getting a “trophy” either. I just don’t like the idea of trophies, generally speaking. When I was young I never considered how detrimental this practice can be, but as an adult I realized it, for sure.

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        1. Norah Post author

          That’s a good point – the growth of self-awareness and the fear of being ridiculed. That all comes from a lack of acceptance and appreciation of others and difference. The trophies and awards are given to those who do well in select areas. Sometimes they are not the ones who have put in the effort, but the ones who can do it easily. There’s nothing remarkable in that. Having a natural talent doesn’t make one more worthy than one who works hard to achieve. I’m with you on trophies and awards, unless they are used to recognise effort.

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  12. robbiesinspiration

    I really enjoyed this post. When my boys were younger, I always tried to let them experiment with art and different textures and mediums. We baked and made fondant [although the cleaning up took hours], I taught them how to make all sorts of things out of paper mache and we also built a giant sandpit for the boys and their friends to play in. They absolutely loved that sand pit and made all sorts of creations from pirate islands to forts. Every now and then, my teenager and pre-teen still jump into that sand pit, under the pretext of playing with their smaller cousins, and have an ball covering themselves from head to foot in mud. I never stop them, even though it is a lot of work to clean them up. As they are growing up, I try to let them make their own decisions, with guidance. We will see where we land up but so far they both love reading, art and music and are doing well at school. PS my niece painted herself completely purple the other day – what fun.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I love your stories, Robbie. They brought multiple smiles to my face. Thank you. 🙂
      Oh the cleaning up! It’s always much more fun to make the mess than it is to clean it up!
      What I always loved about having my own children, working with six-year-olds, and now having grandchildren, is not needing an excuse to play and be silly. I can have fun and no one thinks twice. If I was to do some of these things on my own, I can just imagine what people would think!
      A purple niece! I’m not sure how to react to that one. Yes! 🙂

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  13. dgkaye

    Fantastic post Norah. Many times parents aren’t aware just what little sponges a child’s mind can be. Not allowed, not only being stopped from doing, but the reasons behind disallowing are important for a child to know and if a child can’t justify or find validity in the reasoning there are going to be wounds until made to understand. I know the last generation knew less about parenting than this one, but there are still many now who should learn this. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for you comment, Debby. I agree. I think many parents are parenting more positively, but there are still many who parent the way they were. We need each generation to improve on the last.

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  14. codeinfig

    i know that men still outnumber women in the tech industry, but when it comes to these hackathons im not too thrilled that so many of them are for girls.

    id be happy if they were totally slanted towards girls, if you even had to be an “honorary girl” to take part. fine with me. but id go to more of these things if i were allowed, and im being shut out. its not a side effect, its not silent hiring discrimination, and its not people self-identifying (or being told) early on that theyre just not cut out for it– its flat out barring me over gender. im not pretending to be disappointed, i actually am. what exactly am i supposed to do about it? everyone thinks its great.

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    1. Norah Post author

      It’s an interesting take on the perspective of being allowed. There are so many different situations that we find ourselves excluded from. I guess as adults, if we think we are being unfairly treated, we need to stand up,make it known, and try to do something about it.

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  15. Jennie

    Norah, you are spot on. How we interact with children is crucial. Allow! If we smile and encourage, we can make a difference. We can give them the tools to be kind, curious, forgiving, confident, and accepting ONLY if we are the same. After all, we’re the teachers and role models for children. Thank you for a great post!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Jennie. I appreciate the extra you have added to the post. You are right: we are the models. We need to be what we want them to be. How else will they learn? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  16. Charli Mills

    That’s such an awkward transition from sibling-friends to new ones outside the family. Your perspective reminds us how rejected someone might feel even in adulthood, such as being ignored by a co-worker outside the office. Great take on the prompt! I really liked your post and it spurred some thoughts so I rode over to your mailbox (the digital one).

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for riding over to my mailbox, Charli. I feel very special to receive a visit from the lead buckaroo. 🙂
      That isolation can often occur even into adulthood. In fact it was something you said about a workplace that led me down this path. People can be nasty behind your back and smile sweetly to your face. It is sometimes difficult to know who you can trust.

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      1. Charli Mills

        Yes, that classroom isolation can carry over to the workplace when we accept it as “normal.” It becomes entrenched and difficult for those who are different to succeed. Trust can be tricky, but often the act of trust in another can be more rewarding than distrusting. Some people have trouble reading non-verbal cues or understanding unwritten rules of culture (even classroom or office culture) and misplace their trust.

        You are special! 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          That’s a good point, Charli. How much better it would be for everyone if we were taught at a young age to be aware of and accepting of difference so that, instead of ridiculing those who are different (we’re all different in some way) we make an extra effort to support and include them – cut them a bit of slack – especially those who we can see are having difficulties socially.
          Thanks for your support, Charli. At the Ranch, you have gathered a community in we feel worthy of acceptance, affirmation, and trust. To do that requires a special skill. 🙂

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  17. ellenbest24

    The moment that a child realises her friends are there for him/her, This child may seem wicked to her sister who had always been the only friend, but finding you have the power to make and keep your own friends gathered by you, for you, is a powerful feeling.

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    1. Norah Post author

      That’s true, Ellen. Sometimes the bond with friends is stronger than with siblings. You don’t have to battle them for your parent’s attention, you can just be in it together! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  18. thecontentedcrafter

    Oh, I think you drew back the veil on the two sides of us all in this little vignette Norah – and the beginnings of distrust that childish behaviour can engender.

    I rather fear I will go off on a tangent in this comment, but I was intrigued about the last point raised by Starr Cline: ‘Creativity begins diminishing at about third grade’. I pondered a while and find I can’t fully agree with that particular point. I think our BELIEF in our ability to be creative can decline from age 9 on if it is not encouraged. (Nine being a pivotal age in the rise of self consciousness and ones place in the world.) And of course, if we believe we can’t do something why try? But at any age with encouragement and a little help, creativity is always there waiting to be uncovered. I was in my late 20’s when I learned to paint, despite believing I couldn’t. I was 50 before I dared to sell some of my works and heading towards 60 before I believed I could live a truly creative life.

    It’s so interesting isn’t how, sometimes with the best of intentions, we narrow down our own and our children’s expectations of what is allowed. I am always saddened now when I hear someone say they ‘son’t have a creative bone in their body’. Creativity is a direct route to unveiling who we really are – let’s allow creativity!!

    And as Charli so eloquently says ‘Let’s allow another’. What would the world be like if we all said yes instead of no?

    Liked by 5 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Pauline. I always enjoy hearing your perspective. I’m not surprised you picked up on the “creativity” point. I must admit my fingers lingered over the keyboard, I wanted to add a bit more. Her statement included the words “third grade”, and I believe that to be the focus of her point. As Ken Robinson says so eloquently, schools kill creativity. Starr definitely believes that we are all creative in some way. Her book is about ensuring it is kept alive. She sees it diminishing when it is given less importance than cramming heads full of facts that are soon forgotten.
      It was great to hear about your reawakened creativity. It is a shame that it takes so long perhaps, but how wonderful that you can now live a truly creative life.
      Hear hear to your final statement! Say yes to all that is good, positive and creative!
      P.S. I gave some of your beautiful light catchers to my colleagues yesterday. They loved them, and wanted to wear them, as did G2 when she saw them! Thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

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      1. thecontentedcrafter

        Thank you for the feedback about the light catchers Norah – that made me smile! It is not the first time I have heard of the bag being opened and the dangler being wrapped around the neck – my window jewellery may morph into becoming outrageous necklaces some day 🙂

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