When our youngest daughter moved off to college on June 1 (she’s in a special program that started early), I woke up to a silent and empty house, learning firsthand about empty nest. I sat down to my summer morning ritual (which consisted of the New York Times crossword puzzle) and couldn’t even begin. Completely unable to control myself (so that I was bawling ridiculously), I grabbed my car keys (and, unfortunately, my credit card — bad combination: tears, keys, credit card). I don’t remember how I got there, but I found myself in a sewing machine shop. I didn’t even really like sewing. I was never very good at it. I always just wanted to finish something. I got home with a magic machine that embroiders (and often, takes off on its own) and does what I tell it to.
First, I made a bag (the size of Manhattan) out of an old pair of blue jeans that embarrassed my daughters when I wore them. It took two days and nights (it was summer, and I had NOTHING to do) because, much to my surprise, I took it apart and put it back together about eight times. I never had that kind of patience before when I sewed. Where did that come from? I lined it, hated the lining, re-lined it a few times, and got it to looking pretty decent (I claimed it, anyway — I’m pretty sure everyone else was wondering about me). Then, I made a second smaller one, again from a pair of blue jeans. I took a day and night. I took it apart only once, but I made the bottom three times before I got it to looking sort of decent. Weird thing about purse bottoms. The first one is the only really good bottom I made. The rest are horrible. And, I don’t even know what I did. I kept thinking I should write this down, I should take pictures as I go, but I couldn’t stop. I finally did take pictures, but I still haven’t learned to write anything down.
I can’t measure, either. I might as well not have the dang measuring tape for all the good it does me. I measure away, several times, and mark stuff, and still, I cut crookedly (is that a word?). I know exactly how long and how wide I WANT something to be, only to measure and re-measure, then find myself with the cut pieces that aren’t even close to those dimensions. I finally gave up and threw out the measuring tape (well, not really — I walk around with it hanging around my neck when I’m sewing or cutting so that I look like a real seamstress). I started just looking and cutting by intuition, which worked. I know that sounds jedi-like, but it really did work.
Somewhere between the two blue jean purses and the ones I made this weekend, I discovered the towel things that we women like to wear after a shower. They wrap around you, fitted with some elastic, and they velcro shut. I told my magic Jedi machine how to spell the names and what font to use, and voila, my first towel thing. Then, I went to put the elastic in, only to discover that it was ugly. Besides that, it scratched my back, but mostly, it was ugly. I had some nifty ribbon left over from years and years and years (and more years) ago of sewing. I covered the ugly, scratch elastic with the old ribbon, and re-voila (all over again), I was holding in my hands a towel thing that I made that I even liked. A lot. I then examined the elastic and ribbon, deciding that they were too far away from the top of the towel, and thinking the towel thing would be cuter if the elastic and ribbon were about an inch from the top (so that the top would be all ruffly), I took it all out. Voila³, I held up high a towel thing that I could believe in.
I started making towel things for the people I love (inflicting my silly ideas and dream on perfectly good, wonderful people). After making about 10 of them (which calculates roughly to about 42 mistakes that had to be taken out and re-put back in a different way, some of them not necessarily better after that, so taken out yet again and put back a completely different way — ahhh, you really do live and learn and you really can teach an old dog — me — a new trick or two). Anyway, after 10 or so towel things, and full of compliments and more dreaming, I decided to maybe start making them for money.
I can’t remember which project I was on when I got the “ask for a MIRACLE” logo-idea. After our youngest daughter’s brutal car wreck this spring, I learned that miracles do fall from Heaven upon us. Not just miracles, MIRACLES. I didn’t have sense enough to ask for a miracle, but thanks to the good people in Petal, MS (where I work), MIRACLES came in layers. I struggled with receiving all those gifts from God, because I didn’t think I deserved them, and because there were so many grieving parents out there who didn’t get to take their kids home from the hospital after a wreck less brutal than our daughter’s. Every time I thought about all the miracles and layers of miracles, I just cried because I didn’t know what else to do. One day, instead of crying, I looked into the mirror, and thought, I guess I should just accept the miracles and be happy. I did not ask for them, I did not deserve them, but they weren’t mine to give in the first place. They were God’s miracles, and if He wanted to give them, I better accept them happily or be like Job (who got told for questioning God). After that epiphany, I started asking for more miracles for other friends (and strangers I would see that just looked like they needed their own set of miracles). While I was working on one of the towel things, all that was running around in my weary head, and ask for a MIRACLE became a label.
Eventually, I’d like for my sewing to become a non-profit somehow. I don’t know if that will ever work because the stuff to make the towel things and the purses cost a fair amount of money. I haven’t given up on that idea yet. I just don’t know how it will materialize.