Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Quilted Icon"

Seth Godin's business blog post, "I Quilt", reminds me of my grandmother, Cora Bess Campbell, and the patchwork quilts she made for all her grandchildren.

The youngest of twelve, born and raised on an Arkansas farm, Cora Bess Yingst (age 16) married LeRoy Campbell (age 19) shortly before they hopped a train to California. Roaming like gypsies, picking crops with migrant workers up and down the West Coast, they fished, camped and made life-long friends along the way.

They settled in San Bernardino, California. Nightly, he used Lava soap and a brush to scrub the auto-shop grease from off his hands and under his fingernails. Even before he'd spent a chunk of his weekly pay at the bar, it was hardly enough to feed, cloth and house a family of five. Cora Bess chose to rise to the creative challenge of turning scraps into things of beauty, form and function.

Grandma Bess, a meticulous seamstress, made my large, colorful quilt out of little scraps of material left over from the perfectly-fashioned cotton dresses she'd made for me from flour sacks. I'd sit on the floor next to her, cutting fascinating buttons from old clothes I'd never seen, and add them to the glass jar of her enormous collection. I'd sort and stack various sizes of empty wood thread spools while her fingers expertly guided the flowered fabric under the bobbing needle of her foot-powered shiny, black Singer sewing machine. I was enthralled by her talents. I can still conjure up the aroma of pinto beans, cornbread and greens cooking while she taught me how to take remnants of seemingly worthless material, and come up with a creative, beautiful and functional design.

Seth's, "I Quilt", helped me view circumstances and/or relationships like precious scraps of unique materials with the potential of special uses and re-uses. Cora Bess's gift to me is now a "Quilted Icon" - symbolic of my perpetual option to create beauty with whatever, as little or as much, is at hand. Like scraps of varying weights, textures, weaves and sources of materials are sometimes difficult to stitch together; so, too, are some jobs, people, and circumstances. I'm grateful for the compatible remnants with which I've been able to design, handle and stitch a life together. I want to make the most of what I've been given - and I'm remembering how to do that by visualizing my grandmother creating my very own "Quilted Icon".

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sex Appeal for the Cause

Mary Travers gave “If I Had a Hammer” sex appeal with her silky, swanky, swinging blond hair – those amazing Cleopatra eyes; and that expressive mouth and gravelly voice. It seems to me that her sex appeal helped deliver the “Peace and Equality” message of my generation. Sex appeal helped the movement to magnetize and reach critical mass.

Peter, Paul and Mary, JFK, Bobby, Martin Luther King, Dylan, Baez even Mother Theresa and Ghandhi had it! So what is my definition of sex appeal? Sex appeal is not about the appealing for acts of sex. Sex appeal is that God-given mysterious transmuted powerful energy-source that once harnessed to visions and goals, can help accomplish great things.

Like Mary Travers, I want to use all I am and have been given for the benefit of my circle of influence - however large or small that is.

Carpe Manana - Again

I pray for the visitation of my childhood dreams - those I incoherently long for in my exhausted-adult sleep-state. I want them back! The ones that woke me up early - excited to play my guitar before breakfast. The ones that gave me energy to walk several miles home from school, eat a quick snack so I could sing and play for hours at my beloved piano - the huge old upright given to me by Maida Mark, my grandmother.

Are those dreams still hovering there in the ether? The ones that kept me believing that someday I would write and record songs that would be played on the radio? Those dreams came and inspired me to give myself to the discipline of the doing, the reaching, the persevering, the believing and I did it! I wrote the songs, recorded them, and heard them on the radio!

I did all of that before I was twenty-four years old. If I did that then, I should be able to do all of that and more, now, as a middle-age woman. Have life's experiences worn me so far down that I don't dream anymore? Is it simply about energy? Do I have a certain number of bars on the battery and that's it?

I once fully believed it was possible to do what was revealed to me in the night. What changed? Are my dreams and visions now dulled, blurred by the need to grasp at security? Helen Keller once profoundly stated that security is an illusion.

I need my dreams on perpetual-recycle to keep reminding me that I can still, at any age, live the life I was conceived and born to live. Carpe Manana

Pam Mark hall