Time seems to pass at a higher rate of speed as we get older, does it not? Christmas used to seem like it took an eternity to get here when I was young, as I would anxiously await the dawn of Christmas morning. Now I am anxious about the quick arrival of that very same morning. Weren’t we just making our goals and our “what we are going to change in the new year” lists? But with the quick passing of time, there is something that remains constant over those ticking of seconds, minutes, hours, days and years… and that is women. Yes, we might look different, our fashions have changed, the acceptance of our roles has changed, the societies in which we have lived even more so, but women, in their base creation, are linked together and much more similar than we often think. We come at life from a vast array of life experiences. Our backgrounds are different, from financial to family life, religions to lifestyles, to the workplace or lack thereof. The countries in which we are raised are from across this beautifully wide vast planet that we live on. Even with those differences and the passing of time… we are still very similar; the woman who labored and birthed her fist born at home in her own bed, the woman who sent her first born son off to war and the woman who went to work in a factory for the first time in that very same war. The woman who hugged her first born daughter as she went off to live life with someone other than her. The woman who marched in the first mass display as a women’s suffragist and who still continues to march, in this country or in another. The list is long, of experiences, challenges and emotions that bind us through the span of time.
If you are a mother, birth or otherwise, once you become so, you seem to wear your heart outside of your body, as I have been told so very many times and feel that I emulate that. It is beating deep within, yet feels as if it is strapped clumsily onto our bodies getting in the way of so many of our decisions and sometimes even feeling as if it’s hanging right in front of our eyes where it’s hard to separate from it and see past it. Sometimes seemingly hanging as a target with a big old bullseye on it. Funny though, if it resides outside of our bodies, why the wounds from its deep hurts, worry, and arrows that hit that target, are not apparent? A question to ponder tonight when that heartbeat slows down, preparing to sleep. Yet those strings that are attached to that heart sometimes pull it causing sleep to evade.
My experiences over the last month have blown me away in cementing my thoughts on the similarities of women and their strength in those similarities, which rests not only on their emotionality but in their intuitiveness, their enduring strength, their resiliency and their recognization of eachothers strengths and sometimes, although it needs to be more, their own value. A pile of carefully wrapped newspaper clippings and magazine cuttings that I found in a trunk that I purchased from the Hires Root Beer family a few years ago began this train of thought and the experiences that occurred afterwards kept bringing my thoughts back to it. The pile had been carefully wrapped in a very large piece of smooth cream paper and had resided in the bottom of a steamer/ storage trunk that had not been opened most likely, since they were placed there in the 1920’s. That pile of carefully curated articles read as a testament to the woman who put them there. Each one highlighting what was important to her, what interested and intrigued her, and what she wanted to learn more about. Some contained notes in pencil on their surface. As I sat cross-legged on the floor spending much more time than I had anticipated, reading the articles, it struck me on how much her “tear sheet” files looked like mine… almost 100 years later. (Albeit hers, a lot more glamorous… ohhhhh… I do love those vintage days of glamorous fashion.) I am a confessed tear sheet junkie. I have a Pinterest board as well, but like Facebook, I went kicking and screaming towards its creation and cannot, nor will not not let go of my tear sheet habit. There is just something that speaks to me when I feel the paper as I read from the collected sheets. I make notes on those sheets, file those sheets, hang them on my inspiration board and let’s face it, old habits die hard! Regardless of my tear sheet issues, this woman obviously faced them as well… in a time when that was the only means to collect the things that spoke to her heart, that she wanted to hang onto.
Please indulge me in letting me back track a bit here. Back in the beginning of this year, I was both shocked and flattered when I was asked by Susan Rocoo to be a guest on her radio show, Women to Watch Media. We had a delightful conversation on the phone, the date was scheduled and due to the “putting out of fires” in my life mentality that I often live by, the date fell to the background of my mind. Thus any preparations for it did as well. As the date of the recording loomed, an opening opened up in a medical/therapy program that we had been contemplating for our youngest son to participate in in Dallas, Texas. Hopefully, it would enable him to potentially return back to school after a year and a half hiatus due to his diagnosis and journey with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia and EDS. The program would require him to be down in Dallas for 10 days. The opening also happened to fall over the time period that my interview had been scheduled to be recorded. My husband and I worked out a plan that enabled him to bring and stay with Cameron at the program while I stayed behind to do the interview. I would then leave the morning after the interview to switch places with my hubby.
Susan had made me feel quite welcome and her prowess at lining up women who really are something to watch is quite astounding. “Why was she interviewing me?”, I asked myself many times. “What do I have to say that would be of merit, that would be valuable to others?”. I had not moved mountains, caused reform, started and ran a large public company, made amendments that would change the world, and so on and so on, like many of her past guests had. I had just spoken of my life experience, some of it filled with challenges and some of it filled with blessings, which is not that much different from thousands of women out there. Women who are following their passions, listening to their inner voices rather than the exterior voices, who listened to that heart that hangs outside of her body and acted upon what it told her, lest she drown in the aches that it feels as it sustains her. I was honored and humbled by the experience as I listened to it with my youngest son while we were in Texas. I wish that I had said much more than I thought of on the spot.
After the interview, Susan and I chatted away and it truly felt like we had known each other in another time. We went to grab a coffee in the Bourse building and outside of it she stopped to show me an exhibit that was installed on the street. It was entitled Sara Berman’s Closet…A Small and Monumental Story. What a phenomenal title with the timing being so apropos for it spoke to the interview that we had just had. One of Sue’s goals in her interviews is that through listening to the stories of other women and how they have accomplished their goals through their own challenges, for everyone has them, the listener might hear or see themselves in the speaker’s story and while being inspired might turn that inspiration into actionable steps.
The amazing thing is that when I started researching this installation for this post, I found that when the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC opened this exhibit they described it in this fashion. “With its neatly arranged stacks of starched and precisely folded clothing, the closet is presented as a small period room in dialogue with The Met’s recently installed Worsham-Rockefeller Dressing Room from 1882, which features clothing from the 1880s of the type that Arabella Worsham, a wealthy art patroness, might have worn. Despite vast differences of scale and ornament, and the separation of 100 years, the two rooms show there were similarities between the life stories of Berman and Worsham (c. 1850–1924). Both began as women of limited means who, by their own ingenuity, created new lives for themselves in New York.” This concept uncannily touched on the very idea behind this post that I was in the midst of writing!
Since that interview, my past month and a half has been a resplendent display of the strength, the power, the passion, the bond AND the similarities of women… regardless of their background and their differences. When we follow our intrinsic characteristics, often not recognized until we are faced and motivated by the difficulties, challenges and the sharp edges of life, they are displayed. How apropos was it that right after the Women to Watch Media interview, I headed to Texas where I entered into a world of women who emulate the traits above.
In the middle of our Texas trip, we had a weekend free where Cameron was not undergoing treatment. When putting the trip together in a little over a week’s time, I had reached out to a woman who owned an importing business in La Grange, Texas, Amy Kleinwatchter, and her super competent Wholesale Manager, Teresa Mandala. Talk about a Woman to Watch… I had been dying to get down there to see her treasures since I had seen their showroom in Atlantas few years before. Time constraints had made a visit to Texas fairly impossible up until now. Now that I was going to be in Dallas unexpectedly, the following conversation occurred with my husband: Meg saying nonchalantly, “Hey hon, do you know that place that I have been wanting to see in Texas? You know, they are only a three and a half-hour drive out of Dallas.” Patient husband responds, “And…?”. Meg responds, “AND guess what? You drive straight through Waco, Texas to get there! You know… the home of Chip and Joanna Gaines?” Patient husband puts down his glasses,as he was reading at the time of the big announcement, and responds, “Let me guess, you want to drive out there when we are down in Dallas?” BINGO!
Thus the follow-up meeting with three women, who have definitely listened to their heart’s voice earnestly by starting up and creating two very successful businesses along with a lifestyle… which, in my book, is even more admirable. “There were no stodgy business plans for this ride . . . just grassroots dreams and a whole lotta faith! We set out to find a great business, but instead found a great life,” out of the mouth of Jolie, one half of the junkin duo sisters who along with her sidekick, Amie, and spurred on by their mom Janie, have created just that. While making that trip to La Grange, Texas, we had the pleasure of staying at the Junk Gypsy Wander Inn which sits back behind their flagship store. Its spirit is felt as soon as you drive up as well as their big as the sky Texas hospitality.
The Junk Gypsy Wander Inn is filled with everything they embody, served up in comfort, wrapped in delicious scents of their own bath and body products and tasting of their sweet-and-salty homemade buttermilk biscuits delivered to your door in the morning in a galvanized lunch pail. Oh my gosh, what an adorable treat!
This beautiful country stay was just what we needed as a midweek break between the ten days of the program that my son, Cameron, was participating in. Cameron and I sat on the big wide porch at night, listening to the strong breezes blowing through the trees as we gazed out at the starriest sky we had ever seen. Unexpectedly meeting Amie and Jolie, outside of their Inn, was a treat that let us meet and experience, in person, the authentic women behind this lifestyle brand who were as warm and open as the fields in which their cattle roam.
I was over the moon with my experience at the Inn that was led by women who are living their joy, who I felt a sister hood with, most likely because we share the love of junk and old stuff and wallow in it daily, but also because they have followed their hearts even when their brains were telling them otherwise. They were open, warm, approachable, inviting and just so gosh dang inspirational! Amy, Amie, and Jolie… you girls rock! Throw in a visit to Chip and Joanna Gaines Magnolia Silos and one, okay maybe two… of their decadent bakery cupcakes… and you could not have had a more perfect pick me up in the middle of a more serious reason for traveling to Texas.
During the days of this trip, the announcement of my Women to Watch interview generated congratulatory comments. A beautiful post that Maggie wrote on our Instagram account upon my return, instigated a slew of just “gosh dang” (Texas has rubbed off on me) awesome responses from our readers. I was humbled and flattered and thought to myself that every woman needs this kind of affirmation and a pat on the back every once in awhile. Let’s face it, when you have family, most likely not many of the members, if any of the members are telling you that mom, you rocked it with that beautifully clean floor that they are standing on. Nor do you receive a text when all of their sports equipment and uniforms show up miraculously clean in the laundry room when they swear that they had put them in there dirty. Miracles do happen and they often come in the word mom.
At the same time all of this was happening, the social media posts started flooding in on the dropping off of college age children and the emotional fall out from those departures. As I read through them and commented to a few friends who were experiencing this for the first time, my thoughts circled back to Sara Berman and her closet, the Junk Gypsies, Amy from Old World Antieks, Mrs. Hires whose trunks inspired this train of thought, my friends whose hearts were being stretched a little further outside of their bodies, my able co-hort-in-crime, Julie, who was back home accepting, opening and pricing all of the new orders that we were getting in so that I could take the time away that I needed to with our son, the friends who were staying at the house holding down the fort, caring for our animals and bringing food to another son, who often needs assistance… and then back to my interview of which I had said more.
What and who defines success? Why hadn’t I spoken about that? I had wondered what would I have to say that could possibly compare to the successes of the women who have been interviewed before; C-suite executives, leading journalists and news anchors, peacemakers, women who are top in their chosen fields, and the list goes on. Are all successes to be viewed and determined in the public eye or by the public or can they possibly be measured in our own eyes? I am not lessening the value of successes made in the public eye, but rather just suggesting that success comes from a variety of angles. Might successes be conquering fears or challenges that face you personally? Might they be applauded by you and only you and be just as important? Might that once freckle face kid, who you birthed, raised and are now taking off to college be a sign of success? They are on the right path and on the natural progression of growth. You have given them roots to take off and further their growth on their own and those same roots will bring them back home. Might the woman whose tear sheets were carefully cut out and left in the trunk, have faced the same fears, joys, and worries over the meaning of success, and “heart outside your body moments” as Sara Berman, the executive, the peacemaker or the woman carrying her baby on her back across the dessert? (Thanks Brandi Carlisle for that line… another woman who solidified my thought process of the strength of women while viewing her concert). The college-aged parent, the friend, the newborn’s mama just beginning to travel down this road. The woman who started her own company with an idea and the woman who works for a company who has plenty of ideas. We ALL feel the same pain, we ALL face fears, some unfortunately more frequent than others. We ALL grieve, we ALL jump with joy at times and cry with abandon at others. We ALL base our happiness on the happiness of others if those others are our children. We ALL bleed the same. Our hearts ALL beat as long as we are living on this Earth.
We ALL can love… we ALL can hate… What do you choose for that is one of your powers. We ALL can bond together in these great similarities… in this great power that women have in recognizing these similarities and celebrating them while maintaining the fact that their differences are to be respected.
~With love to my fellow women… YOU ROCK!
P.S. It is no coincidence that our upcoming non-profit Cuddle My Kids, for our Fall Barn Sale was founded by a woman in response to fill a need she experienced during a crisis in her life. To learn more about her and her organization, click here.
P.P.S. Our Fall Barn Sale begins this week and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see all of your shining faces in our barn again so soon. Click here for barn sale hours and to learn more.