An Invitation from The Wild Things

Author’s Note: This is the first in a series of pieces inspired by or reflective of my painted work. Some of my contemplations will lead me to the work of others. Some will feature mine alone. Some will do both. I hope you enjoy all of them.

I missed most of my childhood. Where was I? I don’t know. Maybe I was minding my mother when she was too unstable to take care of herself. Maybe I was practicing the penance of perfection. Oh, or maybe I lost it when I was trying to figure out what my cousins thought was so funny as they locked me up in a dark closet. I was four, and by then I was already trying on my big girl pants. Life wasn’t so funny. And if I laughed, I’d pay for it.

In that race to be a big girl, dressing and acting older than I was, behaving perfectly, I lost something.

But here I am, many, many years later, searching for a place called a childhood where I can wonder, laugh, create, and be curious.

This big girl took a big step and snagged a children’s book. I bought a copy of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I gently opened the cover, hearing the subtle whispers of crackling coming from its new binding, each one an invitation to a newfound adventure. There aren’t too many words, mostly beautiful illustrations. But that’s all right with me. My language of expression is pictures. By profession, I’m a designer and an artist. For enjoyment, I get lost in painting, cooking, gardening, and yoga. I communicate one-on-one with color, texture, shapes, and objects. My canvas can be small or as big as a whole house. I converse with structures and images quite nicely.

I was blocked because of the voids in my childhood. Well, not anymore. So, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to take that gift that Maurice gave the world in 1963 and go to my room and travel! I’m going to play with the wild things every day for a little while and go where trying new things are curious experiments filled with wonder, not failures. I’ll laugh and know that I’m safe from being mimicked or ridiculed. And yes, my momentary adventure won’t need to be logical or perfect, just creative.

Come on, take a trip with the wild things. Maybe I’ll meet you there?


Anne O'Brien
Anne O'Brien
Anne is the founder and Principal of The ArtFitters. At an early age, she found herself drawing house plans, enjoying visits to the furniture store, even staging and re-staging her bedroom. At the age of eight, she was more interested in picking out wallpaper, reupholstering furniture, and re-decorating rooms than going out to play. Over the course of her professional life, the scopes of her projects grew larger. Her exposure to styles, materials, and furnishing became more broad. Today, with more than 20 years of experience behind her, Anne is a visually inventive conceptual thinker who always sees the big picture. From residential re-design and staging to managing a $190 million dollar commercial property portfolio, artful re-creation and adaptive re-use inspire her. And she’s worked with franchisors to implement design standards that have been applied nationally. While managing commercial facilities and designing interiors, Anne always made time for art. She’s had instruction in sculpting, pottery, Norwegian folk art, wood carving, dress design, jewelry design, and interior design. She’s studied painting at the Borgo Rinascimento International School of Art in Farnesi, Italy, and with numerous artists. You can see a selection of her work at PaintingsbyAnne.

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  1. Hello Anne! I love this, and am dancing with you into the world of Wild Things. This was one of my children’s favorite books as they were growing up, and still a favorite of my daughter, who is now a librarian! Thank you for the beautiful words & expression you placed here.

    I am relentless at inspiring adults to be full of wonder, laughter, creativity, as well as the other simple joys that we often forget to notice as we grow into adultism. May your inner child shout with glee as you nurture her wildness.

  2. Welcome, Anne! I love your words and your brush strokes.

    “I was blocked because of the voids in my childhood. (Me, too!) Well, not anymore.” (Me, too! Well, usually.)

    As I read that sentence, though, I paused to wonder how many of us are still locked in that closet? How many are still looking for the key – a book, a kind word, a painting (!), an experience – to release them and their creative spirit; to release them from a life of seeking perfection?

    May your continued words and brush strokes offer a key.

    • Jeff, funny you should mention a “key”. My high-school motto was “to find the key that unlocks true freedom”. Since then, I have collected old keys. I find them interesting and often wonder what magic they hold. Maybe it is a treasure box, a door, a clock. So symbolic of the things that are locked inside us. I also found a very unique antique key in a store in Italy and had to buy it. I was in art school at the time. I often loop it through a chain and wear it as a necklace. It has become the symbol of my artistic journey. Thanks for your inspiring words.

  3. Again, welcome, Anne! I Do not have to tell you about this fantastic community. I enjoyed your story. As you know, sometimes earlier adversity opens up a world where beauty makes its way out of the darkness, as you nicely demonstrate. Thank you for revealing this lovely piece.💖

    • Darlene it is a pleasure to meet you. A agree that adversity does have beauty, we just have to look for it.

  4. Wonderful!! Welcome to BizCatalyst360, Anne! I will join you where the wild things are!! Most definitely. I do this through dance, yoga, feng shui, introspection, laughter, being in nature, improv… I enjoyed your essay very much!!

  5. Your work is absolutely beautiful, Anne! My mother is a painter and I grew up with an appreciation of the artist’s eye and ability to see the world more deeply than others. BTW, are you the same ravioli-making-Anne? If so, I am already a huge fan (and I’m coming for dinner – did Mark tell you?!

    • Yes, I am the ravioli maker and the big kid with the paint brush in her hand. Mark and I would love to have you join our table. It is a pleasure to meet you.

  6. Hello, Anne.

    I used to work lots and lots with kids and now mostly work with tall children – adults. It took my a while to understand that the childlike in each of us abides. We just need to back off from our own ego and fear and – voila!

    My friend Bruce introduces me to new friends as “the oldest kid I know.” Spot on!
    Even with executive types, if I can create a context of permission, they loosen their ties, roll up their sleeves, and we’re off to the races.

    My painting is music.

    Glad you’ve joined us.

    Be good. And well.


  7. “I’m going to play with the wild things every day for a little while and go where trying new things are curious experiments filled with wonder, not failures.” That’s sort of how I’ve lived my life (so far), Anne — and your words are a wonderful reminder of that. Looking forward to seeing more articles!

  8. Welcome, Anne! Beautiful art and wonderful message! We all deserve to be innocent, expressive and inquisitive children. Unfortunately, many of us are forced to deal with adult problems at an age when our brains and emotions are not able to process them. So happy that you found a way to recapture those lost times. Take a deep dive and soak in all the joy, all the warmth and all the innocent security that childhood provides. You deserve it! Thank you for bringing us along to share your joy.

  9. I often wonder what the world would be like if more of us… or, even more intensely, MOST of us… were allowed to experience childhood in its assigned place and time. Beautiful thoughts, incredible art. Look forward to reading more.

    • Sarah, I do believe it would be a much different world. This welcoming group sets the table for the open exchange of thought. How valuable. It is nice to meet you.

  10. I love that book so much that our younger son is named Max. Yes, for THAT Max, and yes, he fits his name, even at 18. Wonderful things happen when you make the choice to move forward, when you make the choice to be curious and creative, no matter what age. I continue to find great entertainment and inspiration in books for children and young adults, Anne, and highly recommend the Peter & the Starcatchers series, as well as the Inkheart series.

    Thank you for sharing your transformation with us, your readers, and welcome to BizCatalyst!

  11. Anne, welcome to the BC360 family congratulations on publishing of your first article which was a pure delight to read. Rediscovering your lost childhood as an adult must have been a wonderful experience. Your paintings reveal you have a zeal and a talent for painting. All in all your article/painting are a much need breath of fresh air in this rather dark time period.

  12. Oh Anne!! We are big fans of “Where the Wild Things Are” and even have a little song for the rumpus. <3

    I also love the idea of reliving your childhood. I think having my children has provided me that exact outlet. Being for them what I always wish I had growing up has helped me with some inner child wounds. They are my greatest blessing. Although they don't allot me time for my own creativity, but that'll come later in life. I'm just going to enjoy what we've got now.

    • Thank you Joanna. My little travels are just what I need to get my creative juices flowing. You are a wonderful, emotionally healthy role model for your children. The two of them are just the best treasures.

  13. Excellent idea, Anne! I believe this time beckons us to heal our inner child. Your art is beautiful. I had the same childhood experience At 61, I am just discovering how precious being childlike is. I work with solar color energies that the eyes cannot see and there are no words but feelings which I believe is a more powerful, healing experience. Your art does the same thing. So, go wild! I love that book too. Thanks for sharing.