Talismanic Objects

My dear friend and neighbor, Linda, sent me this rubber duck, which she made into a duck reading my book. Reading Duck oversees the bathroom and cannot be moved. If he left the room, my sense of safety would be shaken.

This morning I drank coffee from my Stephanie mug—the mug I bought the day I shook virtual hands with my literary agent (named, um, Stephanie.) I was in Rhinebeck visiting my sister—which made the entire episode extra special—and flying on the wings of love, I drifted into a gift shop where I saw this mug:

Being that my agent is French and we’d just had a conversation as smooth and delicious as chocolate, this mug was bound for imbuing with magic powers.

To me, talismanic objects are those that go well beyond visually pleasing—they’re emotionally pleasing. Losing them would break my heart if lost—even more than misplacing money-valuable items. They are the things that soothe me, and that radiate a power to my space.

These perfume bottles remind me each day that my husband knows me. He, who could care less about either perfume or glass, knows I enjoy both and spent enormous energy seeking these as gifts. I look at them and feel his love.

The Russian nesting dolls tell me that he also listens to me—even my sad sack stories about never having money to buy tchotchkes on school field trips. When you grow up in NYC, you visit  the United Nations almost yearly.There was nothing I wanted so much (why?) as the Russian nesting dolls they sold in the UN gift shop. Now they sit on my office bookcase.

My husband’s boss and friend, Dave, gave me this paperweight, and from the first day I held him, Teddy conveyed caring—probably because the bears were cast as a fundraiser for a learning center for children with dyslexia. Teddy has a place of honor on my desk.

Above is my women’s group. We’ve met for over thirty years and celebrate each other’s birthdays with an outpouring of joy. I look at the box made by Susan, the red glass chosen by Ginny, and the mug made by Diane, and friendship surrounds me. Every room I visit, there they are.

My younger daughter, Becca, made these. Each time I see them, I am reminded of her spirit and creativity. Joy fills me when I picture her making them and when I miss her (every day) there they are, just a few feet from my desk.

My older daughter, Sara, made this necklace for the day of my book release. Even when not wearing it, I have it on my desk as a reminder of her thoughtfulness, sweetness and generosity—and that she introduced me to etsy.com, where one can buy straight from the artists. (Oh, and the bird is yet another talismanic object, a gift from my friend, Iris Gomez, writer of the brilliant Try to Remember. It reminds me not to be afraid to fly.)

This collection of objects is from Gateway Arts—a store for talented artists with disabilities. They force me to remember how hard folks struggle to bring their visions to life.

My favorite wedding gift was this photo from my sister, Jill. Besides being beautiful, like her, and showing her talent, it also reminds me of who she is: adventurous in ways I’ll never be, filled with a love of the outdoors, and open to new passions. I’m transported when I see it and reminded how her excitement ignites my own happiness.

My oldest friend, Debbie, made  this ceramic pen holder back in high school and it has moved back and forth across the country, through five states, countless apartments. It has always lived on my desk and always will. It represents a link to the best part of my past.

I guess that’s what why we hold onto these totems and talismans–they link us. What links you? What items hold your magic?

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