Recently, a good friend I’d known for over 20 years, passed away. Our communication hadn’t been as frequent as it had once been when we lived in the same city, but she was one of those friends that you could just pick up with wherever you left off- no matter how long it had been.
I’d received a text from her asking if I had any cards she could buy from me. I didn’t. I had exhausted myself trying to sort something out on Etsy, but had grown frustrated with the platform and its mounting fees- so I had decided to leave it and find an alternative. I just hadn’t figured out what that alternative was going to be yet. Feeling a bit burnt out, I think I had lost faith that I ever would.
No, I didn’t have any cards at present, I texted back. But I could make her some. She replied she wanted 6 different designs. So I set to work on them.
It took me longer than it should’ve. I was struck with a bad case of bronchitis, and for a couple days, I was useless. And since I was using a different printing company than normal, I had the cards shipped to me to see the quality before sending them on to my friend.
Once I received them and gave a mental thumbs up on the quality, I repackaged them and included a short note. I mailed them on Monday, not realizing how ill she was, or would become, the following day. On Wednesday, she was gone. She never had a chance to see the cards I’d made for her. In my note, I had thanked her for the opportunity to create something. With some sadness, I had admitted that it had been a very long time since I’d been creative at all.
To honor her memory, I spent a day doing things she and I used to do together. It was both a painful and joyful experience. I drove all around Seattle visiting quilt fabric stores I’d never been to, and purchased a multi-media art journal at a woman owned, small business art supply shop. I even walked around Juanita Park in Kirkland and took photographs, happy to be out exploring:
I hadn’t done any of these things for a long time and felt a little ember somewhere deep down inside of me glowing a bit stronger. Why hadn’t I? For one, I haven’t been surrounded by creative people for years. I dove so completely with all my energy into figuring out how to survive, first from my divorce, and then, for a pandemic, that I must’ve forgotten to include the living part.
Unlike the connection with my friend, it’s a bit harder to pick up with those activities and events that I used to go to. They no longer exist. Connections have been lost. The world has changed (and continues to be in flux). And despite these things, the ember that has started to glow again needs to be fueled with something, somewhere, somehow. I don’t believe that I am doing a full start over, but I am taking what I already know, and can do, and showing up in new places as my authentic self when I don’t know what the outcome will be. I think that sounds a bit like courage.
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
My friend’s last request of me now seems greater to me than just designing a few cards. It seems more like a big universe-sized ask (compared to a bite-sized ask) to not give up on what brings me joy. So, I’m going to start. Simply start. And then start some more as needed, and see where it takes me.
Welcome to a whole new beginning.
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The art store mentioned in this post is called “An Artful Touch” located at 12437 116th Ave NE, Kirkland, WA 98034. No website that I can find. They mostly fill art kits for surrounding schools but if you’re looking for something specific and live in the area, it’s a great place to begin. (425) 823-2336
A new start:
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