Last year a friend said to me, "I never really understood the title of your blog but now it's beginning to make sense." I sort of chuckled to myself; I hadn't really ever considered it. I was a pack-and-go kid, uprooted yearly to new places, to faces, new schools and new horizons. I think from that, I learned early in life that the snapshots of our lives are ever changing: what is difficult will eventually pass, just as what is easy and abundant will also pass. People get weighted in material things. Over the years of my adult life, I have learned that to hang onto material things will only weigh you down in the journey that is this life. I think of life as a relay race, we each have to give each leg of the race all we've got and pass the baton to the next runner to do his part, and have faith that another baton will come our way to continue our journey.
In 1993, my Bonnie Mommie and I set out on an 18 month journey through 38 of the United States, selling crafts (home decor items - country decorating was very popular at the time) wholesale to retail stores to pay our way. This was the second trip we had made like this - the first being a one year escapade that came fresh off the heels of our 15-minutes of fame, when some clay sculpture catapulted us into "the Collector's Art Guide", a prestigious Santa Fe art publication, in which I was the youngest artist to have ever been featured. That led to some work in museums and a brief bit of fame and publicity that caught us completely unaware. We would sell by day, and gather fabrics and materials along the way to cut and sew at night and on weekends in hotel rooms to be ready to go again.
We had a tiny, 1993 Toyota Tercel with our entire lives packed in the backseat and the trunk. Mostly we had crafts to sell, supplies to make more, a sewing machine, iron, electric tea pot, and hundreds of Zip-Loc bags with tiny cut pieces of fabric that were bits of the patterns we would sew up every night. Bonnie swears to this day that the people who sell vacuum-seal storage bags on television saw me packing our car in a hotel parking lot and made millions on the idea. Could be! Zip-Loc bags are very handy when you have to vacuum-pack your life. Behind each of our front seats, was a bag Bonnie made to fit the tiny back seat floor space, that held our changes of clothes. We put about 70,000 miles on that car in those 18 months and we paid for it along the way. There is a life story behind all of this that I wont share because it's not mine to share but there is also a life story that evolved from it and that story is mine because kooky little road trips like this have indeed shaped my life.
Last year we both found ourselves simultaneously out of work, bills mounting, facing eviction, and like people the world over dealing with this global economic downfall, we were at a total loss. We packed up our car and our two kitties, Corn Bread & Apple Jack
It took seven weeks to complete work on the house, and by the time we left we had around $600 in wholesale inventory to leave with. We started driving, first toward Texas then east, and stopped selling to stores along the way. Each day's sales paid for food, motels, gas - all of which were often wretched and led me to re-name a particular hotel chain "Crackwhore 6". When each days expenses were settled, we would take whatever money was left and re-invest in whatever beads I could find on whatever clearance rack happened to be in whatever town we were in. At night, we would unload: kitties, kitty food, litter boxes, and countless plastic grocery sacks that at the time served as our luggage. We would scramble through the mess of bags to find our tools and get busy until the early morning hours, turning each days bounty of beads into jewelry to sell the following day. By mid-summer we were still making rings, but we had also expanded our designs to include anklets. By early fall we had built on our rings and anklets and included earrings.
We trekked East - along the Gulf Coast states, and north through the Southeastern U.S., then up the Atlantic Coast and back through the South. A year has now passed and we are a full-blown business. That original investment of $12 and a lot of gumption has morphed into a full line of jewelry including: rings, anklets, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, gypsy sandals, eye glass lanyards all in everything from acrylics to semi-precious natural stones (turquoise, amethyst, citrine, carnelian, labrodite, coral, lapis, agate, aventurine, just to name a few) to Swarovski crystals and crystal cut glass.
We left in a 20-year-old car with 140,000 miles on it, and survived the hottest summer on record - triple digit heat over 100 days in a row and temperatures reaching 114-F. At one point the A/C went out in the car and it was a week's drive to find parts. We kept the kitties cool on a bed of ice wrapped in towels, lots of water, and lots of shade. We spent months in hideous motels and often times driving on fumes. And we've had exasperating arguments with foreign owned hotels over everything from their crack whore infestations to their "pet friendly" intolerance of our pets. Seriously, if you don't have a hospitable bone in your body then get the heck out of the hospitality industry. Some personalities are better suited for bill collector's a bouncers. Every day I say this prayer over and over, "Dear God, please lead us to someone who needs us as much as we need them.".....and without fail, every day He does.
Every day we talk to people who are struggling and NEVER do we EVER say a word about our circumstances. As much progress as we have made, the more I see of this country, the less hope I see. I don't know how or where this will all end for any of us but I do know this, as long as we all keep going, keep working together, keep learning and challenging ourselves to do more, we will find a way.