Thank you, Lawrence Wishner & Elizabeth Taylor

What does it mean to be authentic? Does it mean that you have to share every passing thought, desire, opinion and passion with whomever will listen? Do you have to follow every fancy, eat whatever you’re craving because well, you gotta be you? Not for me, no. “To thine own self be true” is something I try and live every day which is not to be confused with self-centeredness, narcissism or lack of self-restraint. Sometimes it involves making life-altering choices; other times it’s seemingly inconsequential, however when such “little” decisions are strung together over time they look a lot like a lifestyle. 

So why then do I sometimes feel like I need permission to be myself? And from whom does this permission need to come? What if it never comes to pass?

When I first became friends with Chippie, may she rest in peace, I didn’t even know I needed her. Suddenly I was filled with wonder; my deck became an enchanted place. I wanted to know more about her and the other chipmunks in my yard. It was then, after an online search, I discovered the book Eastern Chipmunks: Secrets of Their Solitary Lives by Lawrence Wishner. As I wrote in a past post, his book inspired and encouraged me to pursue my interest in my little courtyard jesters that inhabit my yard. He spent his retirement years documenting and photographing the chipmunks on his property. Each had a name like “Lady Cheltenham,” “Fenwick” and “Mistriss Earwicker” with a biography at the back of the book. He was like the Gladys Kravitz of chipmunkville but with a scientific spin. I never thought I’d be able to tell one chipmunk from another but I learned to strengthen my observation skills and pay even more attention to detail.

There was a throwaway line in his book, something about “much to the chagrin of my neighbors” before he proceeded to describe laying on the ground with the chipmunks as he photographed them. The takeaway is that he was having fun and didn’t let the opinion of his neighbors stop him. He wasn’t hurting anyone by following his passion, yet to stop it would have meant not being true to himself, not writing a book to be published. But he did and it wasn’t just the knowledge in the book but his self-confidence that really inspired me. I named Wishy, may he rest in peace, after him. Wishy now lives on through my children’s book, Wishy the Bookworm Chipmunk. Thank you, DeeDee for sending me this photo of how Wishy’s e-book is bringing smiles to new generations:


When I discovered that Elizabeth Taylor also loved chipmunks and at age thirteen wrote a charming book about her chipmunk named Nibbles, I was beyond delighted!

Nibbles and Me

Now if you have never had a chipmunk, you won’t know what you have missed. That is why I am writing this, because I think a chipmunk is the nicest little pet and companion anyone could possibly have.

As a fan of Elizabeth Taylor I noticed I felt even more justified in my love of chipmunks. You don’t have to be a lonely old lady sitting on a park bench to appreciate them.

Then I realized what I had been doing. I had been waiting for permission to be me. “Well if ___________ thinks it’s cool, then so it is.”

So I’m thankful to Ms. Taylor and Mr. Wishner not just for sharing their knowledge and love of chipmunks, but their inadvertent permission to be me, that I now realize I never really needed.

Don’t wait for permission to be yourself, for it may never come!

In the meantime I’m contemplating growing into a kooky old lady who wears chipmunk earrings,  knit tops with chipmunk appliques and a CHIPMUNK vanity plate if not already taken.

4 thoughts on “Thank you, Lawrence Wishner & Elizabeth Taylor

  1. Go for it! LOL! What a delightful post on authenticity, and enjoying your life in your own home! This was a great post to remind us about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
    My uncle, may he rest in peace, was a Lt. Col. Of the Marines who led the Marine Corps version of the Navy Seals during the Vietnam war. He retired and indulged in a passion for wild ducks. He had duck wallpaper, hand towels, bath towels, bed spreads, sheets, dishes, calendars, office desk paraphernalia, drinking glasses, coffee mugs,…… always knew what to get him for Christmas.
    It never occurred to me to question the man’s love of ducks. (He also had a giant Kodiak bear skin hanging on his wall he had shot in Alaska, and could probably kill a person with his thumb.)
    I like these posts on your chipmunk friends. It’s very Beatrice Potter-y, old fashioned nature-y, and good vibes-y kind of thing.
    I often wonder too why we’re not more authentic with others, but I think there’s a measure of self-protection in not airing all of our personal preferences. ‘Cast not yet pearls before swine lest they turn around and rend you.’

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    1. Thank you, Vienna! I love all that you shared, especially about your Marine Uncle’s bravado not being even remotely tempered by his wild duck home accents. 🙂 People like the Lt. Col. are my heroes. I’m so glad you like my chipmunk posts, too!

      As for what Jesus instructed, I wrestled with that for a long time in relation to blogging and publishing books. My understanding of it at this time is not that we shouldn’t share our metaphorical pearls with others, but rather we should not engage with those who would trample upon them. We can put our heart and soul into what we do and say as a reflection of our being, but we don’t hand over our heart and soul. Anyone who says anything online will have to deal with trolls, and I’ve been writing online since the early 2000s. It’s not always easy!

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  2. I’m so sad that “online” has become such a rough place- people who don’t even know you will say ugly, hateful and even threatening things. BUT, I adore you for your love of all things vintage, Maine, chipmunk, royals and so on!! I appreciate your kind posts and beautiful photos- especially the research that goes on behind the scenes. Please keep being you!! Please also be even MORE YOU!! Your friends here- and in person- are all the better for having known you!!
    Andrea 🙂

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