I decided a gift I would give myself would be to take the time to sit down and make a list of everyone I am thankful for, past and present. The people on the list are the gifts this life has given to me and for whom I will always be grateful.
I believe genuine and loving people are in our lives to enhance it, bring us joy and bolster us up through the hard times, and we can bring the same to them. There are those who come into our lives and they actually bring darkness and hard times with them. I suppose without them we might not appreciate the beaming rays of light, warmth and comfort our loved ones are for us. We would have no comparison, without the darkness we might take the light for granted.
I lost a very special person recently, he was warm and loving and funny and the kindest man I ever knew. When he knew he would not be here much longer, he planned his own memorial service. He wanted it to be a Celebration of Life, his and all the people he held dear. He chose the music and wrote what proved to be an uplifting and inspiring message to all of us. People would get up to speak about his life and the stories all had the same thread running through them, he was a magnificent human being and yet he was humble. He was generous and thoughtful and yet never boastful. He was genuine and generous and his many acts of providing pro-bono work for the less fortunate were never broadcast. He left us too soon, the good ones always do.
I overheard friends after the service saying, although they will miss him, they felt comforted and even uplifted by his words. His life was a great testament to how life should be lived and celebrated, and a lesson for all who knew him. I was reminded of how I felt when I was with him and it brought me comfort and though there will always be a sense of longing and loss, he left behind memories to cherish and love that never leaves.
Everything else can be taken from us and if we love and are loved it is the best part of life, the greatest gift. My friend called me shortly before leaving, to tell me he would always love me. He was Irish, like myself, and so I end this with a piece of a beautiful poem by the Irish poet W.B. Yeats.
“...How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face...
I am missing my Dad on this very special day we have set aside to honor our Fathers. My intelligent, tall, handsome, extremely witty Dad passed away just four months ago.
Losing my Dad made me feel as though I was a lost little five year old at first, I felt this same way after losing my Mom five years ago. I am ten times (plus a little bit) past that age now, and yet I feel orphaned. I know time softens the pain and yet it never leaves completely.
The memories that remain, the lessons I was given to learn, the love that was shown to me, these are the gifts I cherish always.
I carry you in my heart and feel your presence in my life daily, I am forever grateful you are my Dad.
The same wise person who taught me this valuable lesson of letting go in order to move forward, and holding on to what is before me, has also challenged me with a deadline to finish an art piece, (I work well with deadlines).
I have been completely absorbed in this creation, the power tools are humming and the clay is flying. I am in a beautiful mess.
I can't wait to share the completed piece with you.
Find what gives you passion.....and you feel you can fly.
My little angel turned 11, such a magical age, full of passion and possibility. My daughter often comments on how much alike my granddaughter and I are, we are interested in the same things, we have the same sense of humor, we both love being creative and we both love shoes and hats!
She has such a sweet loving spirit, she is a wise soul for her age and is full of compassion for others. I adore her!
Isabella spent the weekend with me before her Birthday Party so my daughter could redecorate her room as a surprise. We had so much fun, shopping, baking, watching movies and re-organizing my sewing room, (Isabella's idea), I didn't want the weekend to end.
We made Marie Antoinette cupcakes, (Thank you Constance for the inspiration), and she modeled one of my hats.
When I took her home my daughter surprised her with her completely remodeled bedroom.
This was done by my daughter after she completed a three tier deck off the back of the house, what amazing girls I have.
I have always been fascinated with angels. This fascination came from many hours spent at mass in St. Mary's Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Jackson, Michigan.
These images are so ingrained in my mind they are a part of me. As a very little girl whenever I would get fidgety, which little girls often do when required to sit for long periods of time, my Mom would bend down and whisper in my ear, "Just look at the stained glass windows". I became mesmerized by these images, they were hauntingly beautiful. The way the light shone through them illuminating every intricate detail.
I remember thinking about how powerful and yet sad the angels were. One window depicted a battlefield with wounded soldiers and nurses attending to them with angels hovering above, and so began my fascination.
As an adult these images never left me, when I began to sculpt I was drawn to sculpting these magnificent winged creatures. These are just a few of the small angels I have done, they are not magnificent in size they are what I call my angel sketches. I sculpted them directly in stoneware with a sewing needle and then fired them in my kiln, they are about four to five inches in size.
I call the last one "Guardian". Growing up in the Catholic faith there was always a lot of talk about Guardian Angels. I used to wonder what mine looked like. What I have learned since those very innocent times is that if you want to know, you have to look in the mirror. I have learned that sometimes you have to be your own guardian and protect yourself, trust your instincts and try to make good choices. There have been times I have failed miserably at this. Once in a while though when life knocks me down so hard I don't think I can get back up, a strength comes that I didn't know I had.....you never know..... maybe an angel, helping me up.
I sometimes daydream about living in an old country estate in France. Today as I was traveling through blogland, I stumbled upon a post about Madame de Pompadour's country house being on the market. This fueled a search for real estate in France. I got lost for a couple of hours just wandering through magnificent estates. I tried to imagine what it would be like to live in one of these amazing, centuries old places, somehow held in a time and space that no longer exists, like living in some sort of alternate universe.
Daydreaming can certainly be a sweet and brief departure from reality and just like coming back from a vacation, it is always good to be home. I love my petite space on the planet!
A peony in my garden.
A Tiramisu Cake, made with love for my family.
An antique cement planter.
A place to hang my necklaces.
A trinket holder that belonged to my Mom.
A funky antique hand mirror.
A precious lamp my sister gave me for my birthday.
The beautiful silver wing, a gift from my son.
It is great to fuel the imagination and bring pieces of it into reality. I may not live in an old stone farm house in France but I can create a bit of the feeling it evokes. I think I may start in the garden!
After a while you learn the subtle difference Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning And company doesn't mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts And presents aren't promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats With your head up and your eyes open With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn... That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul, Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth...
And you learn and learn...
With every good-bye you learn.
by Veronica A. Shoffstall
I find myself turning to this poem at difficult times in life, when I need to remember that once, I believed anything was possible. I have to dig deep sometimes to find my youthful self, the part of me that had confidence and wasn't afraid. That sixteen year old who ventured out into the world not minding what other's opinions of her were. I miss that part of me.
I think as women who have come to a certain age, there is a lot stored in that mind of ours by now, some of it good, some of it not so good. Time to do some sweeping away of all the negative build up from others and from ourselves. Sometimes we don't even realize we have taken things in that don't belong to us, hurtful things, damaging things. Some major spring cleaning is in order.
I am moving on with the grace of a woman and I am taking my youthful confidence with me.
I love to create little vignettes. I worked for many years in visual merchandising, first for a large department store and then for an art gallery and gift shop and then I had my own boutique. I then worked freelance for a couple of shops, in a nearby resort town, creating their seasonal window displays. I guess you could say I am a frustrated shopkeeper.
Telling stories with the things that we hold dear, for whatever reason, is a little like journalling using three dimensional items.
This vignette is made up of a set of Book House Books that had belonged to my mother as a child, an antique framed print of "Hope", by George Frederic Watts, two McCoy cornucopia vases, a cement garden angel, Mccoy bookends and some dried branches.
I always find myself drawn to winged creatures, angels, birds, butterflies and such.
This is not part of a vignette, just a favorite antique hand embroidered pillow on linen.
Another vignette with books, branches and a little girl.
It is nice to have things around us that are aesthetically pleasing and so often those things hold sentimental value, usually because they remind us of a person or event we hold dear. I have many of my mothers things around me, she has been gone for four years now, there is not a day that goes by that I don't miss her terribly.
When I was about eleven I asked my mom if I could please put her silver and onyx baby ring her father had given to her as a gift when she was born, on a necklace chain and wear it. She said it would be fine. I cherished it, and then one day it was gone, the chain must have broken and I didn't notice. I searched everywhere and agonized over how to tell her, then finally one evening, when she was saying goodnight, I burst into tears, I could barely speak. She grabbed me and hugged me close and asked what was wrong. Through tearful sobs I finally told her about the precious baby ring. She hugged me even tighter and said,"It is just a thing and things don't matter, only people".
This has helped me so many times, to put things in perspective, especially when life can so easily go askew.
The most precious vignettes are the ones with people in them, so I will leave you with a picture of me with one of my favorite people, my sweet, beautiful daughter, whom I cherish deeply.