Love of Words: Rediscovering Whimsy

Taking Life off Autopilot

Taking Life off Autopilot


Nearly every week my husband, Greg travels.  Ryleigh and I quite frequently make the drive dropping Greg at the airport.  It’s like we’re on autopilot as he packs his suitcase and loads it into the trunk as I buckle Ryleigh into the car.  We seem to have this thing down to a science, leaving Greg with a quick kiss and a hug as he rushes to make it through security just as his plane begins to board.

Three weeks ago, our trip to the airport was no different.  Except that it was.  We drove together and quickly said our goodbyes waving to Daddy as once again Ryleigh and I drove off.  I checked into Foursquare while Greg unloaded his bags.  Ryleigh chatted like she always does pointing out cars, airplanes and asking me a string of seemingly random and unrelated questions.  You see, to her there is no autopilot.  The world is new and full of mysteries and adventures at every corner.

A Less Whimsical Time

I remember sitting in my bedroom at age 13 working feverishly and with passion often over tears as I worked to craft my first fiction book.  “Love Struck” was the rough title.  It was a story of young love based on my own story.  Ben White had been my first kiss and my first love.  For nearly a year we were hopelessly in love until the day we no longer were.  The short story is he was entering high school and was too mature to be dating a younger woman (who was in junior high).  I was crushed and spent most of my summer crying as I worked through my first ever heart break.

In the summer of 1991, my breakup with Ben was hell.  I cried for days, and my mom sent me to the doctor for fear I was depressed.  Antidepressants were prescribed and I struggled getting over young love.  It was there during that summer I fell in love with someone new.  I fell in love with the written word, and I began the healing process through words opening me up to the world of creativity, self-discovery, and imagination.  Except that it was more, it was writing as therapy.  That single choice to write was more as I sit here and reflect on those moments and teenage trauma.  That one moment led me onto a path and my love for the written word to the very blog you are reading here today.

Love of Words & Whimsy

Three weeks ago I re-entered that world of self-discovery and possibility as I heard my daughter, who is nearly 3 from the back seat of our car as we made our way along the highway from the airport.  Her voice awoke me from autopilot as I heard her exclaim full of whimsy, passion, and pure excitement, “Momma, there are letters everywhere!”

You see, Ryleigh had awoken to discover the new world around her just the same as myself at age 13 I had fallen in love with a world of the written word, but those worlds were filled with whimsy the same.  Her world like mine was full of letters words, self-discovery, and a lust for learning.  She proudly exclaimed during our ride home. “I see an A for Aimee,” and “There’s a P for Pom Pom,” and “I found an M for Momma!”  The sound of her voice as I heard her self-discovering, learning, and living had me in tears.  I thought to myself this is what an epiphany must sound like.  Imagine her delight when we drove by Radio Shack.  “Momma, there’s an R for Ryleigh,” she shouted.

Autopilot Disengage

It’s amazing what happens when we disengage from autopilot and look beyond our lives, our choices, and see the world in a different way.  Regardless of our age we can choose go through life making choices, looking beyond the horizon, and opening ourselves up to new experiences, learning, and life lessons.  Some of them are profound and some not so much.  Sometimes in the moment we don’t know how profound those lessons or choices will or can be and yet we choose to fear them because those choices and their risk of the profound nature makes them uncomfortable and unknown.

Yet people often wonder, wish, and dream for a different, more fulfilling or better life.  They stand atop their castle waiting, watching and dreaming for their prince to come.  They fail to open their heart, eyes, and mind to the possibilities and taking these decisions, these choices in stride along the way.

Later that week, Ryleigh began to see numbers alongside those letters equally joyful and excited upon this newest discovery.  She doesn’t know it but she inspires me.  She inspires me to choose whimsy, leaving the autopilot behind.  She inspires me to keep on blogging, speaking, and being myself because life is best lived fearless and full of passion.  Yes, thank you for the reminder, my daughter.  I choose whimsy.

Learn more about Ryleigh here and here and the life lessons she teaches me everyday.

Posted in

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Thanks Rayanne. This post was an idea in the making as I marinated on it. My love of writing and words is something Ry is seeing. I love watching her learn, grow, and discover. Makes me appreciate life so very much.


  1. Monali Parmar says

    Love this! Ryleigh reminds me of my almost 3 year little girl who sees the world differently than the adults. I love the amazement in her voice as she sees something familiar yet still new to her. Thanks for sharing this and enjoy your holiday!

  2. Anna says

    This is why everyone needs to spend time with small children! They help us be sincere and to see the world again! Thanks for sharing your beautiful girl with us!


Pin It on Pinterest