Thursday, December 3, 2015

Gifts from Rosie

In a late-fall funk, I'm finding I have to make a major effort to reach my spirit out to something larger than myself.  I've been reaching for The Soul's Companion.

I've been using it every day as a way of focusing on issues outside the mundane.  The other day, whn I was roiling with an exquisitely bad mixture of fatigue and anxiety, the day's reading happened to give me an insight that was breathtakingly applicable to the emotional desert of the moment. The reading ended up reframing my day and transforming it into one of deep spiritual enrichment. I'll tell you about that later if you really want to know, but now, I need to say that this book, and the sustenance it provides, are a gift from my friend Rosie, who died in 2010.

Rosie was a quilting companion, and an art companion, and a sojourner along The Artist's Way.

It was in the context of The Artist's Way, a class based on the book by Julia Cameron and offered at the Unitarian Society of Hartford,, that Rosie mentioned The Soul's Companion, saying that she read it every day.  I bought the book on her recommendation, and so the spiritual skyrocket it gave me the other day was a gift from Rosie.  This extension of her influence beyond her death gives her a type of immortality.

Another gift from Rosie:  this apron.

The apron was pristine when I got it, stiff red cotton duck.  I received it when Rosie's husband handed off Rosie's sewing equipment and supplies after her death. 
Rosie had christened it with a stylized graphic of her initials, RWR.  But she kept it pristine, and even though I'd never seen the apron before, I knew why she kept it that way:  It was a hard-won apron.

She got it at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, establishment in Maine to which she had applied multiple times before being accepted into one of their summer programs.  It was an accomplishment that made her proud, and the apron was her emblematic souvenir.

But it wasn't MY emblematic souvenir.  To me it was an artist apron, and I needed one, so when it came to me, I used it. 

 And I know Rosie would be okay with that, because a few months before she died, I had a first: one of my art quilts was accepted into a juried show.  When Rosie learned this, she told me, "You're the real deal." Her statement warmed me, and her confidence in me boosted my own.  I think of this, and of Rosie, and Haystack, whenever I put the apron on, and again, it warms me, every time.

 The Soul's Companion, another Rosie bequest, gave me a bespoke gift of courage and grace the other day, tailor-made to the spiritual and emotional exhaustion I felt at the time.  

I'd just been to the Chrysalis Center, a Hartford nonprofit serving folks with mental illness, substance abuse, and a number of other needs.  I've been teaching fiber arts there once a week, and the experience gets my adrenaline going far in advance and leaves me drained and useless in the aftermath. 

This adrenaline rush makes me feel something like the way I did when my girls were young and I was about to host one of their birthday parties.  I switched myself on to become a fountain of fun and activator of activities.  As activator of activities, I was responsible for all materials and instructions, and as fountain of fun, I was responsible for the having of all fun.  

I would get the same adrenaline buzz before going to the Chrysalis.  And the same drained aftermath.

It was in that post-teaching drainage mode the other day when I read the day's entry in The Soul's Companion, which stated that receiving is a form of giving and advised me to open myself to the gifts of others.  

Then I was able to see my work at Chrysalis as not only an act of giving on my part, but one of receiving, too, when I see folks' reaction to my offerings.  Yes, I'm giving, but look at the results, and those results are my gift in return.

I wouldn't have been able to reframe the day in such a soul-satisfying turn if I hadn't read the November 30 entry in The Soul's Companion, and I wouldn't have read it if not for Rosie.

Rosie, thanks for the book, the apron, and the inspiration.  In those objects and their recurring effects, you live on.


  1. Hi Diane, I love how you write! I always find that when I give I get, it's just not something you expect. But it's a wonderful side effect of giving.

  2. Beautiful remembrance and extension of Rosie's caring heart and hands. Thank you, Diane.