Over the past three weeks, we've been installing hard wood floors on the top floor of our house. Any of you that have done any home renovations knows that involves a lot of packing up and moving around. Last Monday when we were home for Martin Luther King day, the girls and I were charged with clearing out our guest room and closet. I keep most of our memories...scrapbooks, high school yearbooks, my wedding dress in a bridal chest, and several boxes of my mom's things, including pictures...in the guest room closet. Well, you can imagine how distracted we got.
At one point, Olivia and I were sitting on the floor surrounded by old pictures. As Livvie was looking at an old picture of my mom, she asked that question again: How did your mama die? I talk to the girls about my mom quite a bit; I want them to at least have my memories of her if they can't create their own. They've asked me many other times how my mom died, and each time I've just told them that she died of a broken heart. I knew they never fully bought that line, but I just didn't think they were ready...or I was ready...to learn the full truth of that statement. But that Monday afternoon, surrounded by old pictures, something told me it was the right time.
I hesitated for a moment before I finally said, "Livvie, my mama took her own life....she killed herself....do you know what that means?" She hesitated for a minute before she quietly answered, "Yes, ma'am." After another moment, she asked me "What did she do, Mama?" I told her that Mom swallowed several bottles of pills, and she just sat there quietly for a minute absorbing that. After a few more minutes of distractedly looking through pictures, she quietly said, "I'm really sorry, Mama. I know you really, really miss her."
Several minutes later, Sarah came back into the room and started looking through the pictures. And then as if on cue, Sarah asked again how my mama died. Livvie looked at me like "Well, you gonna tell her the truth this time?" And so I did, in the same words I told Livvie. And Sarah said, "You mean like Ivy on Smash?" "Yes, sweetie, like Ivy on Smash." (If you watch Smash, you know that last season's cliff hanger ended with Ivy sitting at her dressing table about to swallow a bottle of pills.) Sarah thought quietly for a minute and then just gave me a big, long hug.
I still don't know if they fully understand what suicide means; I didn't use that actual word with them. But now they know my mama took her own life. That I think they understand. In that moment, I realized that I didn't want to wait until they were teenagers to finally tell them the hard truth, and then have them be angry with me that I hadn't been completely honest with them for all that time.
Today is my mom's birthday; she would have been 68. I had pulled a couple of those old pictures to share with you on her birthday and I've unfortunately misplaced them already. So I chose this one of my girls, taken on the first day of 4th grade. I chose this one because they are starting to look so grown up, so much like they just might understand a hard truth like that. A couple days after I told them, Sarah was sitting at the breakfast table with me when she told me she had an idea. She said that I could write a letter to my mama and we could tape it to a balloon and send it up to Heaven for her. I thought that was a fabulous idea. I am so blessed by these girls, and I know Mom had her angel's hand in bringing them to me. Happy Birthday, Mom. I miss you every day.
I shared my mom's story here.
At long last, here's the final page in my drawn out Sketchbook Project Fun Journal! I finished this page in late November but just got around to sharing it. The center of this was actually a waste print (proving there is no such thing as a waste print). I had stenciled the angel wings on another page and then just turned the stencil over onto a random sheet of deli paper to transfer the extra ink. I liked the way it looked so I set it aside to dry, rediscovered it weeks later and added a bit more to it. I've art-ed up the covers of this journal as well and will photograph that on a sunnier day to share with you.
This journal has definitely been a learning process. I can look back to the very first pages (when I actually thought I was going to do a page a day and finish this thing in a month in order to actually send it off to the Sketchbook Project....ha!), and see that I have made tremendous learning gains. It's fun for me to see the progression and how I've definitely loosened up. The book spans two years, so I hope I would show some growth in two years! You can go to this Flickr set to see all the pages.
I wanted to send out a special hello and a thank you today. The girls and I popped into Zaxby's today for lunch while out running some errands. A lovely woman named Britta asked me, "Aren't you Kelly from Happy Shack Designs?" When I answered yes, she said, "I read your blog! I love it!" Britta, you truly made my day! Thank you so much!
Are you familiar with Lori Vliegen? If not, you should be! Her blog is a wealth of inspiration, and she teaches wonderful online courses, which you can find on her blog. And to top it off, she's one of the sweetest ladies I've ever met! I signed up for Lori's coptic journal class and, with a lot of help and patience from Lori, completed my first four-needle coptic stitch book. Yep, that four needle thing had me paralyzed with fear when I first watched the videos, but with a little help from Lori, once I got the hang of it, it seems like it's actually easier than a one-needle coptic stitch. Not that I'm an expert at that either!
I gave this book to a friend to continue her art journaling journey. The covers are from some of my spray paint and stenciling adventures. Now I'm ready to make more and have been thinking of ways I can use some of my cereal box stash...Hmmmm...
This past week, we've been installing hardwood floors on our third floor (two bedrooms and an office loft), so our world has been in a bit of chaos! Hopefully by the end of this week, we'll be back to normal craziness around here.
I spent yesterday morning at the shelter photographing sweet furry faces. This is Hanna. What a sweet, sweet girl! She loves to play ball, and not only will she fetch, she'll also bring the ball back to you and drop it at your feet to throw again. I often wonder how dogs like Hanna end up at the shelter. She's a great looking dog, great temperment, and obviously someone took some time to train her. I'm not sure if she was an owner surrender or a stray, but she's a wonderful dog.
Since I love my weekly visits to the shelter so much, I decided to see if I could get more involved in Friends of Jacksonville Animals. FOJA is the fundraising group that supports Animal Care & Protective Services. Since ACPS is run by the city, they often don't have the budget for heartworm treatments or any surgeries the animals may need other than spaying or neutering. FOJA raises funds to make sure the animals have what they need. I reached out to FOJA'a president, the lovely Jill Mero, and I'm now the official FOJA Photo Advisor! I'll be trying to recruit new volunteer photographers and orienting them to photographing the animals. I'm looking forward to my new role!
I've actually finally finished up this journal but still have a few more spreads to share with you! I did this spread back in October. I collaged the background first with various origami papers. That circular piece is an inked and stenciled coffee filter! I played around with it a while before I decided to turn it into a sun. The writing around the rim of the circle says "bright sunshiny day." The blue paint is true to form finger painting. I'm definitely more of a paint with my hands and fingers than a brush kind of girl. The black accents were done with a Sharpie paint pen. Looking forward to sharing the last page and a review of the whole book with you soon!
On a side note, I started teaching my ENC 1102 class tonight. I'm hoping I haven't scared them all away! We are writing blogs as part of the class! Hopefully they will stick with me. I think once we get into our groove we'll have a fun with it, but I can understand how writing a blog for an English class can be a bit terrifying at first! Off to write them a "please don't panic" post on Blackboard!
Time for my monthly Free Bling Friday giveaway! Random.org picked comment number 12 as the winner of my December Free Bling, so congratulations to Kris from Louisville, Kentucky!
For January, here is my "Breathe" photo as a 1" glass tile pendant. To be eligible to win, simply visit either of my Etsy shops (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a comment in the comment box below with the link to your favorite piece, your location, and a way to reach you by midnight February 7. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via random.org Friday, February 8.
Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email updates or subscribe in the reader of your choice over there in the right column. And be sure to like my Facebook page for specials. Thanks for stopping in! Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents only.
**Note...Free Bling Friday is taking a break for a few months.