Old English flEogan to fly -- more at FLY
Friday, September 19, 2008
This started out as an email response to someone whose acquaintance I recently made over this Internet medium. I got a little carried away, so why not just post this on my blog? There is a bit of financial TooMuchInformation, but I already blasted that number inadvertently to a Yahoo!-Group. Sheesh. So why not tell the rest of the world? The person intended for this email works also in a labor of love that is focused on children. A pretty darn cool thing she does. A thing you will have heard of and see around. I'm not going to name drop. Just pique your curiosity, sorry. It's just that it is a thing you can just tell is all about love for kids. Anyway, she found parallels between what we do here at Farbenmix and studioTANTRUM/fledge and her work.
Thank you for your email. It blew me away. It's like this gift you just gave me, this great, special thing. And I can almost hear you say, "Shucks, tweren't nothin'."
Some frame of reference: There have been two numbers floating around in my head this week: 1377 and -129. 1377 is the square footage of our house. Sewing requires me to set up folding tables smack in the middle of the living room and spread out cutting mats on the floor. The heart of our home is littered with pattern pieces, stacks of fabric, fabric scraps, Works In Progress... Then there is the business part of this, the desk and papers and binders and office falderal, which resides in the area the architects (did Post-War tract homes have architects?) intended for the dining area. And then manufacturing and logistics: Actual sewing and warehousing, picking and packing ... that's all in the garage. Does my work area surround me with objects of beauty and inspiration? Highlighted by sunlight falling through 12 foot windows of a downtown loft? Um, no: I'm surrounded by poking bike handles and looming surfboards and bags of lawn seed illuminated by the flickering of an overhead fluorescent light. For me, the die-hard aesthete, this reeeeeally messes with my juju or puts too much wind Qi in my water Qi...anyway, it bugs me. A lot. I want things tidy and pretty. And they aren't.
The -129 is dollars, my current P&L.
So that much for frame of reference.
I'm happy, really, really happy (like JUMPY! HAPPY!) that you, a stranger to me, see that this work is done out of love. First, out of love for these kids. I am crazy in love with my kids. I didn't really envision motherhood for myself, so this comes as a surprise, a very pleasant surprise. I know what love is. It is this boy and this girl. Through them, I know what love is and I like it! And through the Internet and Internet sewing, I have found find other moms crazy in love and wanting to envelop their kids in love all day.
Yeah, admittedly, we sewists get some ego-stroking ourselves when we receive the affirmation from others that we made something good. Because, let's be honest for just one minute: A mother's work is not really appreciated or respected the way other work is. Would our husbands ever imagine leaving a newspaper lying about or a dirty coffee cup sitting in their boss' or client's or subordinate's office? No, they have the frame of mind to show respect to that person and pick up after themselves. Yet, at home? And the kids? At school, they know exactly where to hang their jackets and where to put the recess balls and where to put their pencils and crayons when they are done with them. But at home? Only with a great combination of cajoling, reinforcing, rewarding and reminding do these members of our family do what seems to come naturally once they exit the house. Why is that? And we have all heard or even muttered ourselves the word "just" before "housewife". Think about it: When will you hear the word "just" in front of an occupation? "Just" an attorney? "Just" an electrician? "Just" an administrative assistant? "Just" a sales rep? You just don't hear "just" muttered as easily as in front of the word "housewife". Some housewives do have it pretty good: Nannies and spa treatments and lunch dates ... I've seen a number of senior executives whose day-to-day doesn't look too different. But, most moms I know, whether they also work outside the home or stay at home full-time, do some real honest-to-goodness work to create happy families and healthy communities. Those do not come from nowhere.
Crafting and creating with our own hands and then coming up with something we know is good can be really empowering. I think we all can use little "Atta girl!" now and then. Crafting can be a source of personal joy and empowerment.
And that brings me to the second kind of love. I work mostly with these ladies in Germany. Some I have never spoken to; it has all been done through email. Some I have spoken to once or twice on the phone and those phone calls are like a high school phone calls that will go for an hour ("You hang up first!" " No, you!"). And I love to see a new idea and I love to see one of these fantastic women put it out there and watch it succeed. I love being a part of that.
And then there is another part of this love-fest. It's these little ways we seem to connect with each other. Threads. There is another email here in my box this morning. It is from a mom whom I only know from the klickundblick forum. She likes to sew my patterns and she has the prettiest young daughter you ever did see. I lurk about her blog to see what she says about the patterns, ref. above ego-stroking. In her blog, I learned that she is battling cancer. An aggressive cancer that is requiring her to think about who will take care of the children when...
My heart is breaking.
At the time I made TUOLUMNE, I made it to be the prettiest dress I could think of for my girl. Sabine, Anja-the pattern drafter, Claudia-the test sewist and I made it a pattern, so that other moms could make pretty dresses for their girls. And this mom now struggling with cancer and its treatments made pretty dresses from TUOLUMNE for her girl. She made this dress a few times for her girl to wear on very special occasions. Despite my P&L, I am rich because of this sort of thing. Rich beyond imagination.
This mom wrote to me to tell me how much sewing for her girl has meant to her. And how the encouragement she has received from mothers she has met through Internet sewing has given her strength and determination to overcome her cancer. I'm tearing up as I write this. You will likely not meet anyone as cynical or sarcastic as me (I love and hate that about myself, as only my sense of irony should have it). But I am really very touched that a little bit of my love for Anna was translated into a dress pattern and that pattern was translated back into another dress made by another mother for her precious girl out of the same kind of love. I don't know for sure, but I think creating opportunities for happiness is a good thing.
I see quite a bit of a sense of entitlement for personal happiness. Me. Me. Me. And that's not all bad. And my man Thomas Jefferson got it right when he wrote the following and then immediately thereupon when to war with the most powerful nation on the earth at the time:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
But beyond the "me", and what makes the self happy, I think there is something important in offering something that gives somebody else an opportunity at the pursuit of happiness: The dress we give our child, the pattern we make for some one else to create and give that dress to another child.
Sarah "Stinky Pete" Dukehart I met through Internet sewing. I like her. She's ultra-funny and extra-smart and über-creative. And she got a bee in her bonnet to raise money and run a triathlon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. And she did it. She really, really did it. She finished her first triathlon about in the middle of the pack, which is an amazing feat for a first-timer. Some of her Internet sewing enthusiast friends around the globe got together and helped her raise that $3000 with Ebay auctions. I'm proud to know Sarah and proud to have participated in this tiny way in helping her reach her goal.
It is a thin thread, a thin but strong sewing thread that is connecting Sarah to me to this lady battling the disease. You reading this know what a thread sewn carefully will hold together. A dress. Each other. Maybe something greater.
Flying is easy.