“There’s too much hate and bad shit in this world. Ya’ll be good to somebody when you can.”
~ Catfish Cooley
One of the best things about Marcie’s hen henna party last week was her willingness to be a blank canvas for anyone willing to try their hand at henna. Deb Chenault was, of course, the perfect person to give it a go. She is maybe best known for her jewelry, but she’s an incredibly gifted visual artist as well (she’s also a gifted writer). Also, it spoke volumes about Tammy Cornett’s character that she would be okay with someone else working alongside her. Not only was she okay with it, she encouraged it. Yes, the hen henna party was pretty clucking cool, and I was fortunate to be amongst such generous, open, kind – and arty – hens.
“The beauty of life lies not in eliminating what we consider troublesome,
but in learning how to grow using turmoil as a tool.” ~ Terry A. Gordon
My friend Marcella Christensen has been undergoing chemo and radiation for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for several months. She got the diagnosis just a week or so after we attended the Death Cafe back in September. Looking at the link you’ll notice she was walking with a cane that day. She thought she had a knee going bad. It turned out to be far worse. This was a profound diagnosis given that Marcie lost her husband to cancer; a battle with which she is intimately familiar, and certainly not one she expected to deal with again. Yet, as Marcie is wont to do, she pulled-up her big girl britches and headed straight for treatment with the kind of life affirming attitude that is nothing less than inspirational.
Marcie’s friend Tammy Cornett does henna. Marcie wanted her bald head adorned with henna designs. She’d planned a henna “hen” party last month, but Tammy got sick, and, well, you can’t be hanging out with sick people when you’re having chemo. But today, the stars aligned, and most all the hens could be present for the Decorating of The Noggin. We met at Ann Daugherty’s delightful house. She’s Marcie’s BFF. The photos don’t do it justice. Inside or out, you don’t really feel like you’re in the city. It was perfect for a hen party. As you can see, we were enthralled with the process. Deb Chenault and Ann each contributed a small design to The Noggin. That’s Marcie’s sister, Linda, taking a picture. Marcie introduced her as “My Linda,” which I thought was sweet as can be. That little person seated to the right of Deb? That’s Kathy Robinson whom I met at the Death Cafe and immediately fell in love with. This was the first time I’d seen her since September. It turns out that she was in the hospital at the same time as Marcie (but not with cancer)! I hugged her extra hard when I found out how lucky we were to still have her, too.
I didn’t get to stay long enough to see the finished product, but I’ll see it soon. For however short my time, I was extremely grateful to be in everyone’s company, and witness this moving event. There was nothing but love and gratitude swirling around in that room. I met new people, and hugged old friends. Their gentle spirits and kind energy lifted me so much, as I’m sure was true for each of them as well. The best news of all is that Marcie’s cancer is gone save for a few small spots that will be eradicated with a final round of chemo and radiation. What glorious, hopeful news. This day definitely goes in the win category,
“Our reaction to a situation literally has the power to change the situation itself.” ~ Unknown
I had the opportunity to go to KY Crafted: The Market. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I met Annie Bassoni at the venue and off we went a-lookin’ at glorious art. For three hours we went a-lookin’, and along the way we ran into lots of friends, old and new. David Campbell (above) finally found a way to elude my lens, although it took hiding behind the black curtain to do it. I love David and Rebecca so much. This was her first year at The Market and she won KAC’s Accessibility Award. David also pointed out something really special about this year’s event. “There are three artists here from Morgan County. You’re in the exhibit, Dean Hill is down the other aisle, and here we are. I texted Pam (Oldfield Meade) and told her next year she has to be involved so Morgan County can just take over the whole thing!” Speaking of Dean Hill, he took home a purchase award from the Chamber of Commerce. Rebecca and Dean, way to represent Morgan County! I’m awfully proud to be among such gifted artists from Morgan County, and the Commonwealth overall. There’s just so much good in this state that I have to pinch myself sometimes to remember that I’m here, too, and I’m part of it. Pictured below are just some of the wonderful people I saw today: 1. Judy Sackett and Nancy Lewis 2. Deb Chenault and Annie Bassoni 3. Rebecca Miller Campbell and her beautiful creations.
“Let today be the day you finally release yourself from the imprisonment of past grudges and anger. Simplify your life. Let go of the poisonous past and live the abundantly beautiful present.”
~ Dr. Steve Maraboli
The Michler’s Christmas Fair – way back the first of December – doubled as an excuse for the Happiness Gals to convene for our Christmas celebration. Not all of us could be there (we missed them), and none of my shots are very good. So, since I’m rarely in the group photos, I thought I’d lead off with a blurry self-portrait courtesy of the fair’s tuba player. That we’re missing excellent pix of the day is irrelevant really. What mattered was that we were together sharing conversation, laughter, and good cheer. I love my gals. They’re such a blessing.
“Something powerfully good and infinitely expansive is seeking to breathe through you, lifting your life to its highest possibility. Say yes.” ~ Marianne Williamson
If you’re in the Central Kentucky area, and you see that Bruce Lewis is playing at a club, you should really go hear him. He’s a fabulous singer and a killer guitarist. Bruce was amongst the musicians that entertained us at Erin’s dinner party last night.
Bruce can play anything, and he played quite a range of genres for us. He moved seamlessly from Hendrix to some little jazz number. The room was captivated by him. Did I mention he’s Erin and Whit’s cousin? The whole family is a talented bunch I tell you. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re as sweet as they are gifted. I was honored to be in the audience.
“Fear has two meanings:
‘Forget everything and run’ or ‘Face everything and rise.’
The choice is yours.”
~ Zig Ziglar
Erin Chandler had a gathering to say goodbye to 2015, welcome 2016, and bring together a few family and friends for laughs, food, and music. Indeed, we had all of that and more. Some of us met for the first time. Others of us knew one another from various and sundry parts of our lives. And many of Erin’s closest family joined in the celebration.
Erin’s first cousin, Whit, confessed to me as we stood in the kitchen. He confessed that he attended many a Stealin Horses show at Café LMNOP during his youth. He was the guy doing the pogo. If you’ve ever seen a Stealin Horses show, you’ll know that during our take on Gloria, Kiya would pogo at some point, and always the dancers would join in. Whit was one of those Solid Gold Dancers! He made my night with that story. Plus, I realized that I hadn’t been crazy all these years by thinking I knew him from somewhere. I really did.
Whit’s mom, Erin’s Aunt Toss, was drawn to the music. She was also drawn to Silas House. She was very cute about it, too, making her way around the room quietly, weaving in and out of the crowd, until finally, she made him scoot over so she could sit beside him. She’d had her eye on him from the start. Ultimately, however, she was in it for the music. The bottom photo with Whit warms my heart so much. He is so tender with her in the way he talks with her, the way he touches her. Frankly, I think Whit hung the moon. That he’s also one of the world’s best huggers is just icing on the cake.
It was a great evening just as Erin intended. Before dinner we each said what we were grateful for in 2015 and what we hoped for in 2016. I’m blessed in so many ways and grateful for every bit of it. That’s true in 2015, and it will be true in 2016 come what may.
“The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit.
Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
~ James Allen
I had a guest register available at the reception. I didn’t realize I’d forgotten it until I went to bed Friday night. I attended All Saints Day service this morning and picked it up afterward. Sixty people attended Friday’s reception. Sixty people took time out of their lives to come see my work. Some I’d never met before Friday. Some sneaked in and out without my seeing them though they were kind enough to leave their signature. Some drove nearly two hours to be there. Some took off work. Some were recovering from major surgery. Some couldn’t stay long, and others stayed the whole time. Someone pointed out how many segments of my life were assembled in that room: family, close friends, old friends, new friends, co-workers, writers, actors, artists, musicians, librarians, bankers, software developers, railroad men, professors, social workers, therapists, pathologists, nutritionists, the list goes on. They’re not all represented in this collage, but I couldn’t think of a better way to have a group hug in the outhouse. Sixty people. I may be speechless for a week I’m so overcome with gratitude.
“Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.”
Look at those smiles. This was exactly what I’d hoped for at the reception, and every picture I have from last night shows nothing but smiles. I’m told Stacy Yelton was so proud of me and the work that she was fluttering about singing praises to everyone who would listen. She played tour guide and took my family up to the sanctuary where they all sang Amazing Grace together. I’m really sorry I missed that. How do you repay that kind of support? I’m speechless yet again.
“Remember when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received only what you have given: a heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
Deb Chenault (right) is responsible for a lot of happiness in my life. She included me in her Happiness Project gang years ago that has since shaped my social calendar quite joyfully. More importantly, however, are the women Deb brought into the group who have shown support of my work, and me personally, in a way that’s nearly indescribable. My love and appreciation for Deb’s friendship, artistry, and heart have only grown over time. She shared with Stacy and I tickets to attend this weekend’s art fair in Berea where I met her kind friend whose name I no longer remember (it’s a problem I’ve always had). Deb has many friends, and many loyal customers. Her work is beautiful like their maker. It seems one can never say ‘thank you’ enough to friends like Deb. She’s a keeper.
“Consider becoming the type of energy that, no matter where you go,
you always add value to the spaces and lives of those around you.”
This was a big, nervous day for me. If you’ve been following the outhouse, then you know I’ve been working on a series of photos called Sacred Spaces. The first exhibit of the work was scheduled to hang today at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Lexington. Because God and the Universe love me, it just happened to coincide with Sandy Davis’ first return to Lexington since moving to Boston. Sandy has been a big supporter of my work and she always had my back when it comes to all the things I’m horrible with, like marketing myself. I’ve leaned on her artistic senses to put this exhibit together, so it was only right that she should be there when it went up. I trust her eye, and I trust Marlon Hurst, so I stepped aside and let them hang the show. It was a huge load off my shoulders, frankly. I get too close to the work sometimes to know what’s best. I’m indebted to them forever for helping me. And while they did the heavy lifting, Harriette Swart and Stacy Yelton talked to me at length about the work itself. Their conversations were so cathartic, so soothing, that my nerves calmed and I felt more confident about the work, and most importantly, the impact of the work. It was a truly special time that I will never forget (Sandy insisted on the Kopana style selfie, and Sandy gets what she wants!).
My day wasn’t done. No, this great day was meant to be a spectacular day! We left the exhibit and met our Happiness gal pals at National Provisions for a late brunch. This was the first time we’ve all been together since Erin had moved before Sandy, Annie, and Jeanne Marie joined us. Plus, we’ve added Harriette Swart and Marcie Christensen because they are meant to be here. We’ve all had a big year, but most of us have undergone big life changes; from moving homes to changing careers to adult responsibilities, and so on. I just can’t believe how lucky I’ve gotten to find these friends. It’s mostly thanks to Deb Chenault for putting her Happiness Project out there and letting us be part of it. Every one of these women is talented, unique, big-hearted, and smart. I’m just happy and in love with all of them. And Marlon, too, because he’s cool enough to be a gal pal… if he was a gal. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.