I want, first of all, to thank this lady for the use of her "Frozen Charlotte" photo. I have one too, and mine is a little different, having wings and no body, but a head and a flat piece of metal with a piece of writing paper inside so that a message of condolences could be given to a parent or relatives who had lost usually a child or baby. These Frozen Charlottes were a late Victorian art form for Children mostly and they had bodies with solid forms and no movement at all. The fad lasted into the 1920's, but the idea of people preserving memories of children that had died very young or perhaps were stillborn persisted into the 1950's. One of my best friends had a photo taken holding her stillborn baby, I am sure something she would always preserve. A friend with stage 4 cancer made mine for me and for years it has sat on the edge of a ledge with my collection of angels and beautiful crosses. I am spiritual, but I don't attend churches, and I have always loved these things. But for years, these lovely things in my collection have sat protected on shelves and on top of a shelf and hanging on the wall. They sat there, inanimate and going largely forgotten but still loved, as happens with many of our collections. As I took them down one by one to pack up to go to our new home, a transformation began to take shape in my mind. I intend to put my Frozen Charlotte and all the birds of all kinds I have collected for years into my peach tree, where they can move with the breeze and bring life to the area. As for my angels and crosses, I intend to put them up on a high cement wall behind our home that separates us from neighbors way above us. It will become my Garden of Angels, and when one of our beloved pets passes on, I will have a box to put it in and bury it there and it will have an angel or a cross above it. In this way, I can keep my family with me, and someday when I pass from this plane, I told my significant other, Richard, to put a cross down near my family for me too. I am donating my body to Life Science, and I really believe in that, for it will be used for study if not for replacement parts for others, and when they are through studying or using it in important ways, they will cremate it at no charge for me. Richard will do the same, and if a person is a male or female vet, they can have their ashes transferred to a VA cemetery. I have their number and they come and pick up the deceased at no charge to anyone. In this time when life is changing so much for all of us, perhaps one of the best ways we can manage is to find ways to help others. I am glad to see that happen. Something about transforming things into a sort of living "Garden" really appeals to me. Over the years, I have received a lot of bullying from grade school to being a senior, but I am letting go of that too as my personal transformation. Like my Garden of Angels, I want to live a life free of unnecessary worries and anger at others for having power over me. No one has power over me except me, myself, and I. I am ready for the future and whatever comes from it. Being a lifetime victim serves no one, and definitely not me. Some of my goals right now are to become a volunteer for CASA (Court-appointed Special Advocate) for foster children. I just finished reading two books I could not put down by David Pelzer, who was one of the worst cases of child abuse to ever happen in California, and I have read another tragic story of another foster child who became a victim of the system, which happens often. If I were not older than dirt, I would definitely become a foster parent myself, but since I am a senior, I will be an advocate instead. I have already done my training and they have advocates in every state almost. I also want to become a volunteer tutor again for special needs children and young adults and ESL students, as well as illiterate adults. And I want to finish some of my art projects to donate to worthwhile charities. There are so many needs today, so I feel that is the best use I can make of whatever art I can finish. And I want to finish a book I am compiling of all the poetry I have written over the years and hopefully benefit some worthwhile cause with my earnings. Having goals in life is important. Whether we can realistically finish them all or not, the key is to have goals and dreams to reach for as we go forward in time. You all likely will not hear from me again until we are through moving and I think we take possession of our home on the 29th, but whether we have our computers hooked up or not is unknown right now. Because we are just moving in, we have to show proof of our title and our ID but they say they can turn everything on in one day. We will see. It will all work out and things tend to do. Love and hugs to you all always, Anne
The last few days have been a true challenge in my life. My art quilting career has spanned nearly 20 years, and though my work has not been award winners, it has made me very satisfied, for I am not a person who wants to ever be competitive. It is not who I am. I make things that speak to me spiritually or in which I find humor. I have participated in group projects or challenges, but they are not competitive in nature.
For some reason, I suddenly wanted to access my quilts for I have a few that I have out next to my sewing machine that I have worked on or thought I could get to working on soon. Being a caregiver for my significant other has not left me much time or energy for such things, but it has given me a great desire to create again. When I think of how I feel when I am creating, I guess it is somewhat like Peter Pan and how he could fly away to places unknown where adventure always awaited him with opportunities to be who he really wanted to be.
I looked in the places where I would have kept my quilts, and I realized that they were not there. And as I looked in other places where I might have been able to store them, I realized that they were not in those places either. I have had quilts I collected and used in my studies and giving talks and teaching quilt restoration classes stolen so theft is not new to me. But this somehow struck my heart like the sharpest of arrows, for I just posted one of my mother and me, and another I wrote some words on about death shortly after she died.
This time I am not sure if it was the people where I lived in Calimesa – a bunch of senior bullies and drug addicts and drug selling/human trafficking people who had, back in 1994, assaulted and bullied me until I developed severe PTSD. I am just giving a tiny bit of what was done to me, but to this day, it still comes back to haunt me at times. I have my second degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in law, and I had thought I would become a mentor/advocate for juvenile delinquents, but the cancer surgery in 2016 and my age then – 74 – was against getting hired for that even though I have previous excellent experience when I worked with a high school department for juvenile delinquents.
Right now it appears that a large number of my art quilts have been stolen. The reality or possibility of that was overwhelming, and I just had to lie down and sleep, or try to meditate for the last couple of days. Today I am moving forward, working on my Pumpkin cookbook, which is in its 3rd revision, and I will likely put into print before the end of this month. Yes, my heart is somewhat broken from things I put my love and best efforts into, but at the same time, here I am going on 78 in November, and I believe that I can make more quilts if I so choose. Perhaps not everything we create is meant to live on forever, just as we don’t likely live on in our present life form forever. I feel more saddened for the people who do these evil deeds, for they have lost something that cannot be regained when they continue to do these things – their compassion and humanity.
I have lived a difficult and challenging life, but I still have compassion for others, and I still do work or deeds every single day to try to help others in this lifetime. So I have only to look back on life and see how far I have come, and to thank those who did such terrible things directed at me, for it is those people who have made me strong. Yes, I will cry at times, and I will mourn, but I will get back up again and start over as many times as I need to and am physically and mentally able.
If you’ve never been a quilter, you might not have no clue of what an “almost” or UFO is. How many things in life for you have been “almost’s?”
I used to beat up on myself for not finishing things, but I look at them differently today. I am glad that I started something I had in my mind, and I also realize that I don’t need to finish every single thing I start. Sometimes it is enough just to bring the idea into reality, or I do this with techniques too, seeing if I can do something, or if I enjoy doing it, and then that is quite enough.
I remember when my former husband and forever friend, Spencer H. MacCallum, an anthropologist who discovered some now famous potters down in Mexico, talked about the way that the potters, without any aids, could create the design on a round pot perfectly from one side to the other so that when you looked down on the pot, it was identical on each side. I wanted to see for myself, so I made a pot and tried to paint a curvilinear design on each side that would be identical. I could not do it and it showed me that it takes some time to develop such a skill.
The important thing to remember is that if you start something and don’t finish it, don’t beat up on yourself. You can never fail when you are trying to discover something. The only failure is the failure to try at all.
This is who I am. I love to recycle things that have meant something to me. I found these shoes in a thrift store years ago. I fell in love with them because the shoe brand was something like Sam and Jane and they were about the most comfortable shoes I ever had with a soft sole and leather that seemed to breathe. The original shoes were brown, not gold. But one day as I went to get my shoes to go someplace, the sole of one was literally falling off of it. Of course I was heartbroken, but then I had this idea to make a play on words and to give one of the shoes a whole new life, so I came up with this idea.
The “wings” are on a base which is made from the sole of one shoe, and I found the most wonderful colored organiza with a nice stiffness to it that allowed me to cut out the little leaves. The leaves seemed appropriate to me because shoes wouldn’t tend to go up in the air (except for the kids who throw them over the telephone lines). And I remembered in the compass of my soul how much fun it was as a kid (and ok, I confess, as a grownup too) to jump in a pile of leaves). And I had to make her a happy and bright color full of life, for that is how I remembered those old comfy shoes.
It’s so many years later since I made her, “My Shoe’s Got Soul.” She’s still with me, and I imagine that she will still be when I take my last jump into those leaves. And it’s funny because she led me to write a story called “Tenshoes and the Skittyfoot” about ten orphan shoes who live in a trash dump, and every Saturday, the animals up in the meadow above hear “sootspeak” because the dump is putting out ugly smoke and it is mixed with the angry and sad words from the ten orphans arguing because they were just thrown away like they never mattered after living lives with adventure. They were never appreciated for who and what they were, and the dump is a horrible place to live.
The Skittyfoot is a little boy with red (really red) hair who comes to visit the creatures in the meadow every day, and the little boy can talk to them and they to him. They tell him about the Tenshoes, and that they want him to go and rescue the Tenshoes from the ugly dump and bring them up to the meadow where they can live safely. But before they can come up to the meadow, they have to find things and fix themselves up as best as they can. Just because they are orphans doesn’t mean they cannot have pride in themselves.
So the Skittyfoot goes down to the dump, and ultimately gets the tenshoes to clean and fix themselves up, and help each other, which they do. Ultimately they go to the meadow with the Skittyfoot, and the little creatures in the meadow all make them welcome and they will have a forever home where they are loved and treasured.
No, I never published Tenshoes and the Skittyfoot though I guess I could have. Some things just live on in our hearts and in the compass of our souls. I’ve been a sort of orphan too, and it took me awhile, for I didn’t have a Skittyfoot or other orphans like me to help, but I fixed myself up nice and clean (there is not and never has been anything related to drugs or other similar things but a transformation from being a childhood orphan), and now I can make things like “My Shoe’s Got Soul” to help others to feel good about themselves too.
Isn’t it strange how life brings little things into our consciousness to help us learn to grow and to care for ourselves, even if we were a kind of orphan in our younger lives? And using art to fix up an old shoe that brought happiness to a life can be a symbol of that. We don’t have to find fancy things or to do anything special to make it up to the meadow from the dump. The recognition of value in little things is what brings a true transformation to us in our lives. Your life, no matter how small you may think it is, is a miracle. Live it like the true gift it is.
There are several specific things that you can do in this life to help yourself heal from trauma or other things that happen to us in this life. 1) Pray about it, thanking your God or Spiritual Being for the experience. 2) Meditate about it, understanding that life’s challenges are important for us because without them, we could never learn compassion for others. We would also not have such a meaningful journey in life because it is the challenges that help us to appreciate the beauty that exists in the world. A life that is totally flat and without challenges is like living in a land without valleys and mountains. 3) Create, create, create. No matter how bad I might feel at any given time, creating is always something that gives me a true sense of magic, spirituality and gratitude for this life with which I have been gifted.
Creativity comes from the innermost part of our souls, whether we are dancing with joy or our eyes have cried forth many tears.
Life is so short, and I think one of the reasons we are here is to work on “getting it right.” That means that we come to terms with where we are, who we are, and what we choose to do with our lives. You can take whatever you do in this life, from being a cook in a fast food shop to being an airline pilot and everything in between. If you are a cook, know that you are doing it because you are comfortable with it, and become the best cook you can possibly be. If you are working as a cook and are not happy, what do you need to do in order to change that? It isn’t just a matter of going out and finding another job. You need to figure out who you are and what you really want to do in this life.
I’ve never been wealthy; far from it. I have worked hard all my life for a little. But the whole time I ever worked once I grew up was spent doing things I wanted to do, things I believed in most sincerely, which was about serving others in ways that might make a difference in their lives, and doing things that I loved so much that I looked forward to going to every day. Money was always secondary for me to providing services to others, especially anyone with physical, developmental, emotional or other challenges.
At the end of the Vietnam War, my younger brother returned 100% physically and mentally challenged. It gave me the heart to help others the rest of my life who have had any kind of challenges. I don’t regret a single second of my work with others. It has been as satisfying as watching one of my most gorgeous flowers come into bloom.
It has been a good journey. I am not saying it has not been a challenge, but isn’t anything worth doing a challenge? And you know, when we change, an interesting phenomena takes place. Other people do too. When this 22-year old car (as of 2018) was still in its original form, people treated me as if I should get out of their way and get off the road. The transformation was amazing. People on the freeways and roads gave me the peace sign or thumbs up or high fives. And when I stopped in a parking lot, people came up to me and wanted to take photos, and wanted to know the story of the car. And I made a LOT of friends over the years that way.
Make someone or a bunch of people happy today. Sometimes it can be as simple as smiling at them and saying “Hello,” or you could do a random act of kindness such as going into an old people’s home and taking a bouquet for the people who live there. Or you could thank a police person, fire person, nurse or doctor for doing what they do. True, it is what they have chosen to do, but many times they work when we are asleep or having a holiday, and they sometimes risk their own lives to do it. Creativity doesn’t have a specific face.
This is one of my favorite eye candy places to go in Riverside, CA. It is a tiny taco restaurant, and looks like any old tiny taco house, but once you step inside its walls, everything around you is art, all of it made from trash, literally.
Folk artist, Martin Sanchez created Tio Tacos Dream Garden, expanding out from his restaurant to the whole block and back courtyard, filling the whole area with junk art sculptures, towering garbage giants, and and a church made out of bottles.
This is absolutely one of my favorite places to wander. I cannot imagine that anyone can go in here and come out feeling gloomy.
In 1984, when Sanchez immigrated from the village of Sahuayo,
in the state of Michoacan, he was shocked by what people threw away. “I don’t throw away nothing for 18 years,” he says. He doesn’t plan anything ahead, but will suddenly get a creative bug, and perhaps create a 20 foot-tall wire figure with two years-worth of cans.
When he first came to Riverside, he sold peanuts and ice cream in the park before he bought a hot dog cart in 1989 and began to sell tacos outside of Tio’s Tacos. He bought the restaurant and the clapboard house next door in 1995, which became his family home. The adjacent parking lot and house, currently used for storage and a gift shop, was purchased in 2000. His creations include more statues on the roofs and on top of palm trees.
Sanchez built his chapel out of multi-colored bottles and other recycled materials as a gift to his wife, Concepcion. The chapel, which was consecrated by the Catholic church, has water springing from its walls and a ceiling painted like a miniature Sistine. Light filtering through the bottles gives a stained glass effect. Today the chapel is used for weddings, quinceaneras, graduations, and just private quiet moments.
Tio Tacos is located at 3948 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501, 951-788-0230. It is right down the street from the historic Mission Inn, another of Riverside’s wonderful stories just waiting for you to visit.
This is one of my many collaged “Soul Cards.” I wrote a poem to go with it.
I thought Source
Was a God
A God who was perfect
A God who could do no wrong
A God pure and dressed in white
Floating somewhere above me
Above the world
Above the universe.
But the Bible says
God created us in his image.
And so I thought about that.
There are people of every color
Every belief system
And there are all kinds of strange things
And strange people
That got put together on this earth.
And what does that say about the image?
Who is this God – this energy – this creator – this source?
Maybe he, she, or it
Is creative in the wildest sense of the word.
Maybe this Source has a sense of humor.
Maybe Source is capricious and doesn’t stop
About whether anything matches, or whether it fits
Or whether it will even work or whether it will be destructive.
Maybe everything really belongs
And it is our consciousness
That is a mistake. – Anne Copeland December 1, 2008
This may end up being a series post because it involves the story of a life. It is my hope that this may serve to help anyone who is having difficulty coping with life. It is a true story. It is my story. And I am feel blessed to be able to share it.
I was inspired to write my story when I read a beautiful and touching post by a person whose blog I follow, http://www.3Bones.wordpress.com. Almost everyone in this life goes through some sort of tragedy or issues that can change a life forever. Challenges, no matter what the nature of them can be, are a blessing. The reason they are a blessing is that without them, we might never learn compassion for others, or how to help them when they need it most. We might never experience the beauty of life because life is full of valleys and mountains, sunshine and shadows and darkness. And we might never develop a sort of strength and true understanding of a journey. We might never develop faith in some form, from a belief in a God and a loyalty to that belief, or a sort of spirituality that we recognize in the things, people and places that surround us every day.
And lives – all lives – are sacred in this world. They are here by design – all of them. All forms, all shapes, all colors and names we have made to categorize each of them. They are needed to help the earth and the universe to survive. Even the smallest grain of sand is sacred. It has a special function though it may seem insignificant. Nothing is insignificant in this world.
I want to let you know that this story contains elements of life and death. It contains elements of goodness and love and kindness. And it also contains elements of evil and hatred and the horrible acts that human beings are capable of enacting upon selves and others. This is an opportunity for anyone reading it to perhaps change your thinking about human life on this plane.
The Tin Lady is not only an art doll that I created from found objects. If you look at her carefully, you will see that she is imperfect. Perhaps we can all be both imperfect and sacred a the same time. Most of my art falls into the Wabi Sabi category I have written about in the past; it is an appreciation of the imperfect, the impermanent, and the miracles that can be appreciated in the simplest of things. It serves to remind us that we are all here but a short time in the overall scheme of things, and that life is not a destination, but a journey every day that we live.
So with this brief introduction, the next part of the story will be told in a second post. I do not have a schedule for this. I will write more as I am able to continue. Thank you one and all very kindly for being here.
Elizabeth Jameson is an magnificent imperfect human being – or as she puts it, a human being living in an imperfect body.
Elizabeth married the love of her life and had two boys. She had a degree with honors in law and was a human rights attorney. She was in the prime of her life, and looked forward to serving others with a variety of needs.
Then one day, when she took her boys to a playground, she suddenly suffered from an attack on her brain. It turned out to be a rare form of MS that starts at the brain stem, and it very quickly took hold of her body, ultimately leaving her a quadriplegic. In the early stages of her illness, she became depressed because she had been living to be able to help others and to serve in the best ways she could. She first turned to fiber arts as a way to express having a body that no longer communicated properly with itself.
As her body’s functions continued to malfunction, she turned to another art form – the MRI’s of her brain, and they became her way to link science and art and to see her brain in positive ways.
I have known Elizabeth for many years; she is one of the artists in the book that I edited with other assistance from Barbara Williamson, Artful Alchemy: Physically Challenged Fiber Artists Creating.
One of the many things that I love about Elizabeth is the way she continues to evolve as her bodily functions are continuing to deteriorate. Her latest art endeavor is called “The Waiting Room.” She got permission to leave paper for notes in one of the medical waiting rooms she frequents, and the medical facility now has an exhibit of people’s thoughts on visiting the waiting room.
You can find a talk by Elizabeth about her challenges on Ted.com, and you can get a copy of the book in E-book format or paperback from Amazon.com. The book has the inspiring stories of some 23 physically challenged fiber artists, and the ways some of us challenge the nature of what constitutes a physical challenge and the use of the word “disability.” Thank you very kindly.
Although I am normally of a cheerful spirit and am always trying to provide inspiration for others, today is a truly difficult day.
I have been working with physically/developmentally/emotionally challenged children and adults perhaps since the 1970’s when my younger brother came home from Vietnam, 100% disabled with a TBI, a spinal injury, and permanent PTSD. It gave me the heart for this work and I have done it ever since.
It has been a good journey, and I am glad that sometimes in the face of tragedy, we are led to do things to help our communities and to help others who are going through challenges.
Yesterday morning very early, I got a call from one of my best friends who helped me to create and run our tiny, but successful nonprofit for some 15 years, providing exposure and professional development for physically challenged artists. Barbara Williamson is a paraplegic lady I met more than 15 years ago when she was looking for help to become a professional with her own business selling her fiber arts work. It was natural that we came together to do the work we did with virtually no money for all these years.
Barbara Williamson, “Buddha’s Garden,”
one of three pieces left because they are in an exhibit in another town
Barbara was shot point blank by a felon when she was in her mid 20’s; the bullet missing her heart by one inch, and leaving her permanently physically challenged. She was approximately four months pregnant at the time, and miraculously, the baby was born early, but survived, so today she is a mother and grandmother. All these years, Barbara has been a productive fiber artist, a writer, and she has contributed so many things for her community and for others in need.
The phone call was short; she, her caregiver, and her dog had to evacuate their town. There was a huge fire coming up the mountain in the valley below her home. As we tried to hear the news throughout the day yesterday and today, we heard that the hospital has been destroyed (all patients evacuated) two blocks from her home and the fire is blazing through the entire town. My friend is presumably safe for they got out early, but all of her artwork and her sewing machine and everything else had to be left behind. This is some 15+ years of art quilts that have been in many exhibits including international ones, and which we were preparing to sell on a website we were creating for her.
But they were more than just that. They were the reason she has survived cancer, a burst artery, a stroke, and any number of other physical challenges through these many years. There are tears in my eyes, but there is joy in my heart, for what is taken from us today will live on in our memories over the many years. Perhaps I have impacted her life in a positive way, but she has brought so much more to mine.