It has always been an interest of mine to consider the nuances involved in my encounters with others, those that are nourishing and even those that are more distasteful for some reason. In recent years, my interest has broadened to include encounters with animals, nature, books, movies and now, online conversations with people who I treasure yet may never meet.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I am delighted to have as my guest, Charlie Plunkett, a British mum who commemorates the milestones in her life by writing. She is the author of 3 popular true-to-life books: The True Diary of a Bride-To-Be, The True Diary of a Mum-To-Be and The True Diary of Baby’s First Year. Charlie lives in Brighton, England, with her lovely husband, Dave, and their gorgeous son, Cole.  

Charlie has just published 100 Little Words on Parenthood, a compilation of anecdotes gathered from parents, grandparents and experts. This 5* review captures it's essence: “Charlie has managed to pull together a rich variety of writers to contribute to this masterful collection of parental reflections. It’s genuinely funny, often heart-breaking and always honest.”  There's quite a lot going on in Charlie's world, including a few more blog stops. Take a moment to visit her website  Here.
Connect with her Facebook page here.
Connect on Twitter @charlieplunkett

Charlie describes herself as a ‘wanna-be domestic goddess.’ Many of us, however, know that Charlie has already met this challenge; she is a domestic goddess! Welcome to Treasured Encounters, Charlie.

Hi Dody and thank you so much for the wonderful introduction.

 You’ve written 4 increasingly popular true-to-life books yet stated that your most amazing achievements to date are, “marrying my soul mate, Dave, and becoming a mummy to my adorable son, Cole.’ What is the reason that you describe marriage and motherhood as achievements?

 I suppose many people when they hear the word ‘achievement’ automatically think of academic achievement or of attaining a goal, such as getting a promotion at work. For me, achievement encompasses anything in life that I aspire to and that brings me a feeling of joy and happiness. To me, finding my ‘soul mate’ is an amazing achievement. In the huge sea of fish, I have found my perfect partner and I count my blessings every day for our relationship. Shortly after Dave and I were married, we started thinking about having a family of our own and it was a very bumpy road for us until little Cole came along and made our lives complete. Without wishing to sound corny, motherhood is the most fulfilling thing I have ever experienced in my life. I think many parents and people who work with children would agree that children bring love, laughter and an opportunity to connect with your own inner child. I honestly believe if you are surrounded by people you love and who love you, you can achieve anything.

The titles of your first 3 published books are quite fascinating: 'True Diary of a Bride-To-Be,' 'True Diary of a Mum-To-Be' and 'True Diary of Baby’s First Year.' I am fascinated because the words, ‘true diary,’ suggest that readers will have a front row seat, have an up-close view of very personal segments of your life. How did the idea come to you and more so, did it take a ton of courage to share so openly?

 The titles of my books are similar to a famous advert for wood varnish that states ‘It does what it says on the tin.’ I am a very open, honest and sensitive soul and so it made sense to me when writing my diaries that my life be laid out like an open book. There has been no creative license or extra drama added solely for entertainment as I feel non-fiction should be totally honest. It is strange when I meet people who have read my books and we slip into an easy conversation as they know so much about me. I think my close friends would say that I am the type of person they feel they can call anytime and I will always try to offer help and support; so when writing these ‘true diaries,’ I have also included tips and advice that have helped me. Funnily enough, my dad is one of my biggest fans, but when he heard I was writing my pregnancy journal, he did say he probably wouldn’t read it as it may be too much information for him!

Your latest publication, '100 Little Words on Parenthood,' is a collection of anecdotes, advice and wisdom from parents, grandparents and experts. I’ve read that you compiled this collection when you were in the midst of writing another ‘true diary’ book. What inspired you to write '100 Little Words' and ‘change horses in the middle of the stream?’

 Wow, I’m impressed you noticed that Dody; not many people have picked up on that little fact. I was working on a book called The Toddler Files which was intended to pick up where The True Diary of Baby’s First Year left off and continue right up to Cole’s first day at school or his 5th birthday. I am still working on it but I stopped purely because I reached a point where we hadn’t experienced those things yet. The idea for 100 Little Words on Parenthood was like an itch that just wouldn’t go away and I thought I could write the two books in unison. The reality of coordinating nearly 100 contributors and sourcing quotes meant I ended up being fully enveloped in that. But once the promotional period is over I shall be continuing the writing  of The Toddler Files.

I was deeply touched by your words in the Dedication section of 100 Little Words on Parenthood. In what way do you see ‘all you mums, dads, and grandparents out there’ as the ‘unsung heroes, the glue that holds this world together’?

When I was a child, if I ever hurt myself my mum would always say, ‘Let me kiss it better,’ and magically, it always worked. Who hasn’t had moments in their life when the only thing that will make things better is a ‘mama hug;’ and I’m forever picking up the phone to my parents to ask their advice. Parents offer unconditional love and support to their children and then they, in turn, pass this lovely legacy on to the next generation. I like to think that I am glued to my parents (not literally but spiritually, hehe!). In my world, they help hold everything together. As my little boy grows up, I hope to be his stability and ‘super glue.’

Many view you as a treasure, as evidenced by the personal remarks of others in reviews and on Twitter. I discovered on your website the evidence which demonstrates that you too, view many others as treasures.  Tell us about 'Three Little Things.'

 Aw, you are so very kind. I shan’t be able to squeeze my head through the door!

Three Little Things is a very simple idea because I couldn’t come up with anything complicated! It is my way of thanking the wonderful people who have helped me with my book; and I also would like to extend it to everyone I follow on Twitter and for them to share it with their followers. It is a way of acknowledging the people whose words touch us, be it our favourite bloggers, writers or authors. I have made a couple of lists of things that I think these lovely people would appreciate: like offering a simple tweet, saying how great they are, buying and reviewing their book, or commenting on their blog. Many people naturally do this already. I just wanted to harness the idea and encourage everyone to take a few minutes to make someone else’s day.

Recently, an author and friend said to me, “I always picture Charlie with a pair of fairy wings.” Do you have a pair and where do they take you?

Hehe! My mum always says she is half fairy so I guess that must have rubbed off on me. I don’t have wings but I do have a beautiful rainbow halo made from colorful feathers that I picked up at Glastonbury Festival! If I did have fairy wings I would do lots of flying around the world (low level as I hate heights) and would love to visit all of my fabulous twitter pals to say hello. You would probably find me playing in the fountain at The Bellagio Hotel in Vegas. I’d like that!

You’ve put a lot of work into compiling and publishing 100 Little Words on Parenthood. Are you going to take a well-deserved break, Charlie? If not, what can readers expect from you next? 

Well, I really do need to finish The Toddler Files now that you have reminded everyone about it! I have a couple of other non-fiction books started that are very different from those I have written to date. One is a theatrical memoir and the other is a secret (hehe!). I also have two ideas for fictional books, both jostling for attention in my mind. I need to create some extra hours in the day, or maybe I should just sprinkle some fairy dust!

 Thank you, Charlie, for your delightful openness. You are a treasure! Lucky for us, looks like those fairy wings are going to come in handy for you!
Charlie's books are shown on the right side of this page. Click on each book to access their U.S. Amazon pages. For access to Charlie's books on the U.K. Amazon site, click here for her U.K. Amazon author's page.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


One of my most transformational experiences occurred when I was a child. For fun, I’ve taken the liberty of changing my name in this post to Lizzie, my middle name being Elizabeth.

    Lizzie was most content when she was outside, away from the cacophony of sounds heard in the hustle and bustle of the city. It was not a bother if others came along yet only if they did not drown out the sounds of nature with all their usual chatter. ‘Nature has a voice,’ she’d say to those who came with her. After work, when asked to go out for dinner and a bit of fun, Lizzie often remarked, ‘I can’t see the stars when in the city.’ Many times, instead of joining her friends, she’d put the top down in her yellow Fiat and drive out from the city for a little night music, of the natural kind.
    When she was a little girl, Lizzie often woke crying and shaking during the night, caught up in nightmares of being chased by some dark monster. In the wee hours before sunrise, her mother often found Lizzie cowering under a blanket or under the bed, her sheets and pajamas soaked through with sweat from night terrors. At daybreak, Lizzie’s mom could usually find her outside, up in the crook of the old oak tree that sat in the backyard. It took a lot of coaxing to get her back down on the ground and into the house for breakfast and on to school.
    It took more than coaxing to get Lizzie to join the family on any outing that occurred in the evening. Fear set in as soon as the black curtain of night fell. Her mother, though often at her wits end from the squabbles amongst her four young daughters, somehow managed to show a bit more patience in dealing with Lizzie at night. The night terrors had begun 6 years earlier, after the tragic death of her husband, Carl, father to the girls. While trimming the high-up limbs of a large oak in town, Carl’s safety line had broken.  His death had been hard on everyone. Lizzie’s mom often talked with her sister about Lizzie, trying to make some sense of Lizzie’s passion to be in trees, ‘just like her father,’ yet wondering what made her so afraid of the dark. ‘Why isn’t she also afraid of those trees?’
    Most of the outings at night involved going to church. Her mom had to literally pull Lizzie out from under the bed and into the back seat of the car then sit her between two of her sisters. Leaving on the inside light of the car helped to ease Lizzie’s terror though not her fear. It was on the occasion of a revival that this inexplicable fear of Lizzie’s was dissipated. The church parking lot was well lit so Lizzie scrambled over her sister and out of the car, running quickly towards the brighter lights inside. Her mom got the girls settled in their usual back pew then pulled out crayons and sheets of biblical scenes that waited to be colored. All of the girls loved to color. Knowing that Lizzie enjoyed outdoor scenes with animals and trees, her mom handed her one that depicted the countryside around Bethlehem. The revival service began as usual with hymns and, for this, the girls joined in. They started coloring when the visiting minister began his sermon.
    Lizzie was intent with her coloring of the tree in the picture when certain words in the sermon began to filter into her awareness. While adding a few more branches to make the tree more magnificent, she became stilled on hearing these words: ‘You do not have to be afraid of the dark. God will take care of you.’ It was as if time was standing still, for throughout the rest of the service, Lizzie felt as if she were in a dream.
    It was her mom’s habit to get the car started and the car light on before Lizzie bounded from the church itself. Though a bit surprised that night when Lizzie walked out with her sisters, her mom was more distracted by two daughters squabbling over which one got to sit by the window.  When the family arrived back home, Lizzie immediately ran into the well-lit house. Her mom then got busy refereeing between two girls regarding whose turn it was to prepare night-time snacks. That got done so her mom called the other girls to the table; everyone but Lizzie showed up. Figuring she was drawing or coloring somewhere, ‘Off in her own world,’ her mom often remarked to others, she got up to look for her. Lizzie, however, was nowhere to be found; not even under her bed. They searched the entire house. Just as her mom was about to make a desperate call for help, Lizzie burst into the house through the back door. ‘He’s right!’ she yelled, jumping up and down in her excitement. ‘I went outside in the dark and wasn’t afraid anymore!’
    Here is what happened that dark night, outside in the back yard. Still in a dream-like trance, Lizzie went out the back door, walked to her oak tree, kicked off her patent-leather church going shoes and climbed to the crook that held her just-so. Standing in the crook, a thought came, You can go higher; she did not hesitate. Lizzie climbed to the highest crook and, though swaying a bit, felt safer than she had ever been. She heard so many new sounds; felt so deeply soothed by these sounds, ones that she later learned came from insects, frogs, and night birds.
     When Lizzie came back into the house, jumping up and down in excitement, her little dress was torn and she was barefoot. Though still somewhat frantic, her mom hugged her fiercely, knowing that something miraculous had occurred. Lizzie grabbed her mom’s hand, pulled her outside near the oak then pointed up to the sky and said, "My daddy talked to me; he’s in heaven!" A catch in her heart, Lizzie’s mom asked, "What did he say, honey?" “Daddy told me that God made him into that bright star in the sky; see it? Daddy’s looking out for me so I don’t have to be scared anymore!” said Lizzie, jumping excitedly, still pointing at the sky. "Oh honey," said her mom, hugging Lizzie tightly, "I know."

     I was 10 years old at the time and, after that night, my fear of the dark disappeared; I've not had another nightmare.