Her blog is Artymess, though her name is Lorna, and I feel certain I'm not breaking a confidence by sharing that. I've followed her for quite awhile and I visit that blog because it never fails to give me purest joy. The place is a riot of color and one imagines music and happy, loud conversation. Invariably there are smiling faces, and when she posted photos of her house, the rooms screamed color, too. There are trips to the seashore and to Wales - have I ever mentioned I am a confirmed, lifelong Anglophile? But, best of all, Lorna is making the things I want to make. I began e-mailing with her early on, telling her of my extreme frustration at finding myself in a state of acute creative constipation I cannot seem to shake. She teaches textiles at the secondary school level, crafts beautiful items for pure pleasure, exchanges her creations with other artists, and runs contests on her blog so she can share the productions she makes from her head with others. I visit her for that injection of positive energy.
It happened that Lorna was running another contest, and I always join in ~ hey, I want beautiful things! By a finger fumble on the keyboard, I actually sent my comment twice which may have looked as if I were trying to double dip. I wasn't. I swear. My picture looks too much like my other picture. I can't fly beneath the radar. When Lorna announced the winner, I sent a comment to say I felt like I'd won a prize just from being able to see the photos. I meant it, too. I didn't have to actually own the pieces awarded. I just wanted to see them.
It happened that I had posted to my blog - a piece that took a lot out of me. It doesn't matter which one. Lorna e-mailed me to say how much my post touched her, and then my comment to her comment touched her even more deeply. The e-mails began to fly between the U.K. and Las Vegas - experiences shared and how those experiences formed us as people. Pretty soon, Lorna said, "We're making quite a connection here." I agreed and said so. A little later, Lorna said, "There is magic in the air this afternoon." I agreed and said so. At some length. And finally, Lorna said, "Leslie, you are a lovely lady. Send me your address, please." I didn't agree. I have rarely felt like a lovely lady. I did ask her not to tease her elders, but I was a sport and sent my address.
Now I am the happy owner of beautiful Lorna articles! For in my parcel from England is a shining, iridescent zipper bag with "Love" and a turquoise heart on the front, Buddha, lace and ribbon embellishments on the back, and a reminder to "Do all things with love." Yes, I do try to keep that in mind. The bag is fully lined, beautifully sewn, lovely sturdy zipper . . . ah! But there is more. There is a wonderful, shining, vividly constructed bookmark. And written on the back of the bookmark is "To Lovely Leslie, Stitched with love for you. Lorna X"
Mostly, one doesn't want to assume that I am stupid. I know what a bookmark is for, certainly. I'm a reader! I also know the zipper bag was likely designed to be a toiletries kit or a sewing kit or for carrying an eyeglasses repair kit or just any of the stuff we stuff into our purses. But that's not what I'm doing with my bright, shiny boosts of colorful energy. You see, I got sick last year. Seriously ill, terrified. I had to find some way I'd never found before to deal with illness. Being scared nearly catatonic, I have investigated eastern and western medicine, medication, meditation, spiritual theories, new age latest hits, reading until my eyes nearly bleed, visiting gatherings of other afflicted, and much gnashing of teeth. This has taken me awhile, as I have sought the answers while in very low condition.
So, I've landed gently, though I still seek. Some days it feels like I'm walking on eggshells, but at least I no longer taken one step and splat. It's been awhile since I spent one full month sitting in a recliner sobbing and sleeping 24/7. I've landed on a few tools that help me make it through my days and nights. I consult a couple of books of daily reflections, I specifically set aside time to meditate, I take all the medications prescribed in the way prescribed, I remind myself to eat and exercise. Sometimes I visit support groups for "others like me", take classes and offer my support to someone who is suffering. Once I simply cooked a meal for someone because I didn't know what else I could do.
Though I do not fancy myself either proselytizer nor revelator roaming the plain, I do carry books I refer to frequently, for my own edification. One of these books is quite recognizable to many adults, even though cloaked in a plain, dark cover. While not as well-known as, say, the Bible, it is not uncommon. I am not ashamed of my book or ashamed that I am required to read from it. But maybe I just don't want to talk about it with my barista at Starbucks or with the pharmacists as I wait for my meds. I'm not the paid spokeschild. I don't wear a size XXL T-shirt with an announcement in huge lettering. It struck me: the size of the most frequently consulted book vs. the size of Lorna's zipper bag. I placed the bookmark between the two pages that have aided me most. I slid the book into the zipper bag ~ perfect! Secure, not bulging. Encircling, not hiding, the peace I've found, in the brilliant hues that speak to me of peace, joy and harmony. I do not want to be a secret keeper any more. But the glorious bag protects my privacy as I make my way along.
I walked into a gathering of others who suffer the same disease as I. I did all the usual distracting (to others) things we do when we arrival somewhere for a purpose. Jacket off, purse under chair, get coffee. Then I pulled out my zipper bag. Stares. A few murmurs from appreciative females. "What do you suppose . . .?" Oh, this was good. Like being on stage! I purposely drew the zipper slowly and placed my hand inside the bag. I slowly withdrew my book - the one that all of the afflicted would so immediately recognize. "Whoa," I heard. Not yet in full control of that annoying show-offy tendency, I removed my bookmark with a flourish and looked up expectantly, ready to begin. "Hey, Les, want to share anything today?" [Grin.]
Lorna (lovely lady in red, above, right), truly from my heart, I thank you for your spontaneous act of kindness. Once again, I feel like the messages between us went deeper than our surface actions. True story, from not very long ago: "Do you hear sounds that probably aren't real?" asked the doctor. I replied that I hear only the usual ones, not anything like voices telling me to take over the Pentagon. He looked a little startled and I explained. I have always heard tiny, almost imperceptible tinklings from time to time, rather like a small, glass Chinese windchime. It is a signal to me from a place I don't know. It says,"Pay attention. All is not concrete." I heard tinkling, Lorna!
In my ears right now: An old, much loved favorite.
Something that charmed me: Well, everything about this story charmed me. I think I can sum it up very concisely. "Though cold today, spring approaches. Things are better than they were. Pay attention. All is not concrete."