If you follow our shop on social media, you might have seen me post this photo, letting you know that I'd be sharing more of the story behind it in our newsletter today.
The surface story is that I asked Jason (my husband) to take a photo of me in the shop several months back, and since he rarely takes anything seriously, our short photo sesh soon turned into me cracking up over some sort of his ridiculousness. I honestly can't remember how he got me laughing, but what I can remember was looking at this photo afterwards and being hit with the crazy twists and turns of life. A silly photo of me laughing, so freely and in the place where a distant dream had become a reality; I would never have envisioned this just 6 years ago.
Let me preface this next part by saying I'm going to get all sad and serious for a brief moment, but stick with me here & remember the laughter. Trust me, we're going to get back to the laughter.
Rewind 6 years ago, and you'd find me with my mom, in a hospital room watching my dad slip from this life. Tomorrow marks the anniversary of his death, and on that day, there was nothing we or any specialist could do to stop it. After a short 2 month battle with brain cancer and surgeries, and rehab stays, and so many meds, and in-house therapy sessions, and more appointments and consults then I care to recall, it all came to a sudden halt and just like that, but not really just like that, my dad was gone.
World rocked, shaken, turned upside down.
And in looking back, I can't recall a lot of laughter from that time. Actually, the one time I do recall is an instance where a friend recounted a funny story about her kids and I laughed out loud, and abruptly caught myself... because in that moment, the sensation of laughter felt so foreign to me. And realizing that made me sad, which inevitably led to tears.
There were lots of tears during that time, lots of worry and heartache and just plain survival to get through the day, but laughter? Not so much.
"A good laugh is a mighty good thing, a rather too scarce a good thing."
- Herman Melville
There is plenty in this life that steals our laughter. There are times and circumstances we find ourselves in where tears are a heck of a lot more common than laughter.
Have you ever been there?
Or maybe you find yourself there even as you read this (if so, my heart goes out to you).
Apart from my faith in God (which at times I've held on to if only by a thread), what's proved most helpful in the struggle has been friends who have chosen to meet me where I'm at, no matter how messy or numb I've been: those who have shared their hard stories with me and who I've seen come out the other side better rather than bitter.
Here at the shop we emphasize that every product has a maker and every maker has a story. And be you maker or otherwise, we each have a story to tell. As I look in our shop at photos of our artisans, many with huge grins, some with noses wrinkled and eyes squinted in laughter, I pause and wonder about their stories. Many have faced circumstances far more difficult than I could imagine - abuse, exploitation, dire poverty, addiction, incarceration. Yet seeing these faces now - they radiate joy!
|A few of our beautiful artisans
|I'm sure these woman still have their struggles, but I also know many have what they were lacking previously: a community, support, dignity, stability, and hope.
Although I would never have wished to go through what I went through with losing my dad, looking back, I wouldn't be where I am, or even who I am, without experiencing those months of his illness and the grief that followed his loss.
For me, for these women all over the world in so many places and circumstances, and for you; there is hope on the other side of the hard. I encourage you to find someone you trust and share your story, the real and hard; and when you come out on the other side, to use that story to encourage someone who needs it. And trust, even if it takes days, or months, or even longer; that one day, you'll find your laughter again.
"A smile starts on the lips, a grin spreads to the eyes, a chuckle comes from the belly; but a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, overflows, and bubbles all around." - Carolyn Birmingham
Wishing you laughter, overflowing and bubbling all around, but most of all, friend, I'm wishing you hope. Never discount your story. Each piece of it holds a valuable place, for today and for what's to come.
All the best,