Casey's and Sloane's Blog
Today is World AIDS Day. It is a bit of a high holy day for me. I take serious time to think about what my commitment to the AIDS battle is on a local level and how HIV/AIDS ravages communities and the world. It is, by sheer numbers, a global pandemic.
It isn’t hard for us to find reasons to be thankful. We are truly blessed. Yet some days it is harder than others. Sometimes the din of daily challenges drowns out the good in our lives. There are days when we are just trying to get to the end of the day without stumbling and landing flat on our faces.
This year we have had many challenges and many blessings. The most notable challenge has been having both our father and our mother fighting cancer. They are vibrant, strong, and engaged parents. They both have big personalities. They both are very strong-willed and opinionated. They are both loving and actively involved in our lives and our children’s lives.
You can imagine how scary it is to have them both facing life-threatening diagnoses. It has been humbling and all-consuming at times. Our parents have always set their expectations for us very high. They have led by example. They insist that we suit up, show up, and engage in our careers, our family lives, and our community. They have very different personal motivations and beliefs, but they share the same core value of being accountable and present. There is no “wall-flowering” allowed in the Simmons family.
STUFF celebrated its 20th birthday last week. Since our store’s birthday also falls on the anniversary of our younger sister’s death, we do not make a big deal about it. However, we do enjoy the feelings of success and pride in having built this amazing business that shares so much with so many. We mention this because this year we were given the opportunity to expand our footprint in Brookside and move our store to a larger space up the street. It was exciting and inspiring. It was a dream come true. It was also a stressful and overwhelming decision about our future in business. In the end, we decided to stay put. We are happy with our choice and know the dream will continue to grow and thrive.
I can remember it well:The day I couldn’t take one more minute in my minivan with Disney songs on the CD player. Being the driver did not mean I chose the music every time. Many were the days when I pushed my young man too far and crammed him into the car seat one too many times. To appease him and soothe his crankiness, I played Disney music. He loved it with his every fiber.
When we purchased the CDs, my husband and I chose well, knowing we would be surrounded by these pieces for a while. They were recorded well and sung by professionals. Sure, Mickey performed some songs, as did Donald Duck. OK. But great orchestrations and orchestras moved it along, All fine and good.
Until your beautiful child wants to hear “There’s A Hole In My Bucket” performed by Goofy for the ten-thousandth time in a row in one day. I was beginning to hate Goofy.
Let’s start with the simple truth: Both of our parents have cancer. At the same time, in their separate homes. One is in chemotherapy for a cancer that has been battled four times. One is in a remission that will not last. Heck, it’s not really remission. It’s just a wonderful string of days that lasts until the cancer pronounces itself and the chemical treatments resume.
But what they are both doing beautifully is living with cancer. Truly living. And the gift they have given us is that they have let both of us in for the private appointments, the fears, the sickness, the good, and the bad. The days that seem numbered, and the days that never end.
This past week has been crazy busy. And crazy.
I looked down in my closet today and saw the whole week – and every event I attended and every hour I worked – in one pile. Shoes right where I had left them the minute I took them off.
“I…can’t…talk…about…this…right…now.” My words were choppy as I tried to catch my breath with my voice wobbling into sobs.
In my marriage, we divide and conquer. We share a great deal of the responsibilities of owning a home that’s over a hundred year old. In fairness, my husband takes on more of the burden in the fourth quarter, my busiest. I, however, rule the other nine months.
Coordination of the trimming of our three large, old trees fell to him. He called the arborists, set the appointments, kept the appointments, and booked the work.
I am buying myself a new piece of jewelry today. I know many of you know I am being completely serious. But, for people who don’t know me as well, let me explain.
It is a well-known fact that when you are under-the-weather you can look a little homeless.
This past Tuesday, after being at a local cancer center for a family visit for a little over four hours, I stopped and picked up a sandwich at a place where I have eaten for years and years before returning to my work. Early that evening, it was all I could point to that could be possibly making me feel pretty yucky in the lower regions, besides a slice of banana bread at 7am.
By the next morning, I was spent. All signs pointed to a “little food poisoning”, of which there is another well-known fact that “little” has no point in that description. I steadied myself enough to take a shower and head on into work, where I lasted ten whole minutes. I aborted my mission, canceled two imperative meetings, and drove myself back home. Slowly.
To digress: On my drive to work, I had phoned my sister and told her of the night’s excitements. She listened, she told me to stay home, and we hung up. Since she was my sister, I had regaled her with details about exit strategies my body had available and my thankfulness that only one had been utilized. I was yet to be visited by a quick and high fever, so I we didn’t talk about that.
When I arrived at work, she handed me this amazing flower in a wine bottle. True beauty, that flower. She told me I looked like I had been as busy as I had said and that she still thought I should head home. I glared at her with eyes that reminded her that I was the boss of me, not her. Then I cancelled my meetings, grabbed all my things and my wine bottle friend, and said goodbye. By then, leaving was entirely my idea, not hers. See the difference?
The rest of that day, while I battled my sheets and a fever that slightly scared my husband, I carried that hydrangea from room to room with me, but mostly we resided in the bedroom. It stayed upright. Me? Not so much. I would occasionally find myself begging for mercy, but it was all mostly calming down and I was sleeping.
Slow and steady won the race, and I was back at work on Thursday at the meetings I had moved. Rip-roaring and ready to go; that was me. Lie. I moved tenderly and precisely as I relearned my body and her edges.
I had left the flower at home, which was actually hard to do. This sucker is huge and beautiful, and it saw me through a day like no other in the last ten years. I don’t do sick, but I know I looked homeless carrying a wine bottle stuffed with a perfect flower with me for a whole day. It’s a pure certainty.
More lies: That first sentence should also lose the word “little”. You look homeless, plain and simple.
Truth: I mean no disrespect to any homeless people anywhere. Ever.
We are excited to launch a series of blogs about the creative people we represent.
The 10 Questions for Artists, Creators and Inventors Series will feature ten questions – chosen by our employee team. The ten answers have been written by the artists, creators and/or inventors who make the work we proudly sell. We have included a photo of the featured person, supplied by them, and a few images of their work currently available at our store.
10 Questions for Amy Meya: Ceramic Artist
1. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
From the time we first worked with clay in elementary school I told my mom: “if I could just be in a room with lots of windows and work with clay all day, my life would be fulfilled”, she said “yeah, well, that is a nice dream”. Dreams can come true!
2. Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
When my first son was only a few months old NCECA, the ceramics arts conference was here in KC, one of my best friends, Angela, and I took him to all the galleries to see the work. The following year Angela and I decided to do all the gallery shows again, this time the conference was in San Diego, my sister was living there, so we had a free place to crash. We took my then one year old with us and went to all the gallery shows, he must have picked up on all our ooooohhhing and aaahhhhing, when we walked into the 6th or so gallery he pointed to a large red platter hanging on the wall and said “oh, wow!” These were his first two words strung together. That moment inspires me.
3. What’s your favorite book or movie of all time and why did it speak to you so much?
One of my favorite movies of all time is “Mr. Mom”, my sisters and I would watch this over and over, we could quote it the entire way through. I love this movie for so many reasons, but now, (I re-watched it when it came out on Netflix) I love it because it is a movie that demonstrates that staying home with kids is also a full time job and families need to figure out a work/home balance.
4. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
The “Nature Island” Dominica in the West Indies. Rainbows everyday, waterfalls, black sand beaches, steep mountains and a thick lush rain forest. Heaven on earth!
5. What’s your favorite smell in the whole world?
6. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I can’t pick just one, I have a deep seated wanderlust. Lately I have been wanting to go to New Zealand and Thailand, and Indonesia, I guess generally Southeast Asia. Also, South America, I would love to go to Peru and Argentina.
7. Which fictional character do you wish you could meet?
Here I go again dating myself, but Indiana Jones.
8. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Work on your goals everyday, even if it is only a little bit some days, just do something to move yourself toward your goals because it all adds up in the end.
9. Cake or pie?
Definitely pie, sweet potato pie that isn’t sweet, a more savory pie spiced with lots of rich favors.
10. What is your dream project?
My dream, and current goal, is to figure out a way to work in the Caribbean for four months out of the year, the extremely cold four months to be exact.
– Amy Meya, September 2016
We hope you enjoy this new series. Stay tuned for more. Pursue good stuff…
I haven’t posted to our blog for a long time. If you follow our blog you may have noticed or maybe, if I am lucky, you didn’t. I left you in very good hands. My sister, Sloane, has been keeping our blog well tended with her lovely writing and unique point of view.
I have been overwhelmed. I don’t feel pressured to have an excuse. I am just ready to write it down and share it. Life has been challenging for me. I am no different than most of the people I know. Everyone is busy living fast and furious it seems. And, sometimes circumstances can knock you on your ass for awhile. That is what happened to me.
When I have challenges that I cannot change, or I am not in the position to change, I rage against my impotence. I am conditioned to my high energy “get it done” personality. So when it is ineffective in a situation I burn ruts in the ground just trying to move something, anything, forward.
I could not change the hurdles that were placed before me this past year. I flailed about grabbing for something to change. My frustrations finally landed on my home. As time marched on I became laser focused on everything wrong with my property. I fed my pain by blaming myself for my inability to find the time and energy to get any projects done. Top of my list was my yard and gardens.
I would drive up my drive and say to myself, “See those weeds and those overgrown vines, do you see them? You are right, your life is awful. Why can’t you get your shit together? Look at your yard. It’s a mess.” You see, that is what I do when I feel helpless, I beat myself up.
I felt so overwhelmed. I began fantasizing about selling my home and moving into a small apartment with no yard, where everything was brand new and I lived on the 130th floor where nobody could find me. I appetite to run away from home was insatiable.
I was advised to sit still and let time help me get to the other side. I wanted to scream. Sit still? Screw that! There are things that must be done. Can you not see the weeds in my yard? I am being covered by weeds Why can’t you see the weeds? Doesn’t anyone see the weeds? I have to pull the weeds.
It was grim.
A few weeks ago, I took this photo with my phone one morning when I was impatiently waiting for my daughter to get out the front door.
This beautiful vignette of my courtyard. I started pulling the image up on my phone to view it randomly. I found it captivating. I wanted to know why I couldn’t avoid sneaking a peek at it a couple times a day. It soothed me.
There was that vine that had slowly and patiently, over the entire summer, crawled it’s way from behind a big planter squeezed against my fence, climbed over two plants, around a metal sculpture and was reaching down to the ground to find it’s footing. It is beautiful.
It began to validate me. I realized I was like that vine. I just need to give myself time to find my way.
I am now pulling a handful of the weeds each day. I am going slowly.