Monday, December 22, 2014

Jewel


I was upstairs in my studio working.  It was late in the afternoon and it was that time of day, not long before the sun sets. I didn't need a light, but I would need one soon. 

I was taking apart the seams on a white eyelet jacket. It was well made and the seams were double stitched. The material was going to be used to make pendant necklaces and ornaments and I needed to be careful as I worked. 

A few days earlier I was given the jacket along with three more tops by Beth. The clothing belonged to her mother, Jewel, who had passed away about four weeks earlier. 

Beth saw my crafts using old quilts.  She contacted me and we arranged to meet.  She wanted Jewel's siblings, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and close friends to have something to treasure and hold dear this first Christmas. The moment I met Beth, I felt the kindness in her. She is a lovely woman and I knew this was going to be a special project.   

As Beth was bringing out the clothing, she shared her mother with me.  She told me how it was for her mother growing up and what it was like for her to be the wife of a career military man.  She told me that Jewel loved to knit, read and travel.  She said her mother was small in size, but just full of spunk. As I listened to Beth, I could see the love in her eyes. Her mother was clearly a woman who loved and was loved in great measure. 

I felt it then and I feel it now as I work in the waning light. I appreciate the softness of the clothing and the faint, gentle scent of Jewel. I think about the woman who wore these tops and how I have been invited to be part of her memory. 

I create because it fills me with joy and it truly nurtures my heart and my soul.  To be asked to create and be a part of someone else's life is gift I will treasure forever.  








Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hope

As long as church bells ring on a Sunday morning, young children say "please" and "thank you", and families wait outside the Humane Society to adopt a family pet, I will have hope.

As long as men and women place their hand over their heart when they hear our National Anthem, young people continue to enlist to fight for our right to live free, children sell lemonade in their front yard, and people go out of their way to buy it, I will have hope.


As long as little girls make fairies, little boys play fetch and children still desire to grow up to be teachers or nurses or police officers, I will have hope.  

As long as families bow their head at meals, strangers hold the door, families dress up for church and children play with grandma's button jar, I will have hope.

Hope, by definition, is "an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large"  When used as a verb, hope means to "expect with confidence" and "to cherish a desire with anticipation".  
 
As long as people send hand written "thank you" notes, libraries have patrons on a Saturday afternoon, people buy products made in the USA, and laundry is hung on a back yard clothes line, I will have hope. 
 
As long as older couples hold hands, people continue to pay respect at funerals, leave flowers at grave sites and close their eyes to make a wish when blowing out their birthday candles, I will have hope.  
 
As long as people still laugh at corny jokes, bake apple pie from scratch and sell tomatoes from farm stands, I will have hope. 
 
Hope.  What a lovely word. Hope. "The feeling of desire for something, and confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment".  That is hope.
 
I still have hope. Somewhere along my journey, I lost my way. I hurt those I love deeply and I have been hurt deeply by others. But I have hope. I have hope in people and I have hope in myself.  Hope.  I still have hope.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 



 

 


 







Monday, August 11, 2014

Phyllis Goodman

Wednesday evening I attended a memorial service for a woman I never met, but who has touched my heart and stayed on my mind since. The service was for Phyllis Goodman and she was the 85 year old mother of our friend Jeff.
 
I didn't know Phyllis, but I know Jeff and I know you can not raise such a fine man as Jeff without being pretty spectacular yourself.  I knew I needed to pay my respects.
 
I was late because I couldn't find a parking spot, and as soon as I walked into the facility, I understood why. The seats were all full and people were lined up along the walls and outside the room.

As I looked up at the front of room, I saw tables filled with scrapbooks, crocheted hangers, necklaces, party hats, framed pictures and paintings.  Sherry (Jeff's wife) was speaking about Phyllis and at that point was explaining what the items in the front of the room represented. These were just some of the things that Phyllis loved and held dear.  These were some of the things that made Phyllis "Phyllis". 
 
As I was looking at the treasures on the front tables I felt tears come to my eyes. I was not fortunate enough to meet Phyllis, and yet, my heart was filled with such love and kindness for her.  I truly felt honored to meet Phyllis and get to know her in this special and lovely way.

After the service I was driving home still teary thinking about the evening. We live in a very different and fast paced time. I know that I am guilty of getting caught up in my own life and sometimes forgetting to pay attention.  I don't like it and I try hard to stop it before it gets away from me.

Knowing that there are people like Jeff and Sherry in the world gives me hope.  It gives me hope that we really are connecting and making a difference. We will not be forgotten. 

Thank you Jeff and Sherry for sharing Phyllis with us and showing us special she was. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ft. Jackson - Victory Tower - Pride




A few weeks back, Ft. Jackson was open for the public to take a tour. 

Ft. Jackson in Columbia, SC was where I did my Army Basic Training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) in 1984* and I was thrilled to have the chance to be able to see it again.  (*I will save you the trouble of calculating my age:  I was 9 at the time and the youngest trainee they ever processed)

I arrived at Ft. Jackson 9 days after the start of 1984. When I left there on August 23, I believed that I would never see that base again.  Here it is 2014 and I'm living in South Carolina going back to Ft. Jackson. Thirty years is a long time and I was curious to learn how much, or in some cases, how little I've changed. 

What I did not expect was how much Ft. Jackson changed. The military base is undergoing a 100 million dollar renovation and it looks absolutely nothing like it did when I was there. The only thing I recognized was one of the original wooden chapels.  Everything else has been torn down and rebuilt, in some cases multiple times.   

I started out thinking I would write my blog about the day as a whole, however I find that my mind keeps coming back to one portion of the day, and back to one female soldier in particular. 

One of our first stops was "Victory Tower". Soldiers are brought to Victory Tower within the first week of their arrival at Ft. Jackson. The rope bridges, ladders and rappelling exercises are designed to instill confidence and build teamwork in new recruits. It also gives the Drill Sergeants an opportunity to observe and recognize potential leaders and non-leaders.   

Soldiers go through various exercises and drills designed to build up their strength and confidence before they finish with rappelling down the 70-foot tall wall that is "Victory Tower".


One of the stations is an exercise to get you comfortable with gripping the rope and jumping off and swinging. 

It is a fairly easy exercise and most of the soldiers did it with ease.  Except this young female soldier.

I don't know if you can see it in her face, but she is terrified.  Absolutely terrified and it was only about a 6 inch drop.  She stood there with the Drill Sergeant telling her to "Jump Private Jump".  She was scared and frozen in place and she wasn't jumping. 

She started to cry and the soldiers behind her were shouting encouragement and cheering her on.  And she still wasn't moving.

And neither was I.  I was drawn to what was going on in front of me.  First of all, it was a very peculiar situation.  Here we were, 40+ adults standing there watching them, and in my case, taking their picture, and they had to act like we weren't there.  Very few of the soldiers looked at us and absolutely none of them talked to us, as I'm sure they were instructed. It felt very much like watching people behind a two way glass.

My heart went out to this young soldier and I couldn't stop from watching her.    

After a lot more tears and a great deal of encouragement, she finally did jump. And she fell.  Actually, it was clear that she didn't even try.  She had convinced herself she was going to fail before she even began and she did.

The Drill Sergeant told her to get back in line and she was going to do it again.  Our group was already moving onto the next station, but I stayed behind because I wanted to see what happened next.

Would she get to the rope and allow her fear to paralyze her again?  Or would she get to the rope and stand proud and strong and say "I can do this.  I am going to do this." and then jump off with confidence?

The group was moving towards the bus getting ready to go to the next destination and I had to leave.  I didn't get to see what happened next.

Since I didn't get to see the ending, I get to write my own. I choose to believe she did it. I believe she walked up to the rope with her sassy self, grabbed hold of that rope and showed them how it's done. And then she looked over at ole "Victory Tower" and said "Bring. It. On." 


 
 

 



Saturday, February 15, 2014

"A Chance Encounter"

I was at the library this morning.  I usually go every few days.  I love the library.  I love the books of course, but mostly I love the library atmosphere.  
 
This morning as I was leaving I saw a woman sitting in the sun room at the entrance of the library.  It is a pretty day here in South Carolina, but the wind is overpowering the sun and it's cold.  The sun room was a lovely place to be.
 
It is not uncommon to see homeless people at the library and I find comfort in the fact that there is a safe place for them to gather.  The woman was wearing dirty clothing and had a big canvas bag at her feet.  As I got closer to her I noticed that she had a little hand mirror and she was applying lipstick.  With great care.  And my heart just melted. 

I know nothing about her, but in that instant I saw and felt her pride.  There are some things she may not be able to control, but she was trying to do what she could and I felt that. 

I have been thinking about this woman all morning.  I have been thinking about the feeling and emotion that passed between us for that instant when our eyes met. 

This woman in the library touched me and has me believing that I should try a little harder to take great care with the little things in my life too. Sometimes I get caught up in the big things that I need to fix, when sometimes, fixing a little thing is good enough.