Finding Strong

In what feels like another lifetime, I was the co-owner of a t-shirt company, Bee Attitudes, with two partners, Lizzie & Merissa. We worked often with Thistle Farms, a non-profit that helps women who are recovering from life on the streets. I wrote many blogs for Bee Attitudes and the one most similar to the personal writing I do now was about visiting the Paper Studio where they make handmade paper from items such as grocery bags or shredded office paper. Paper that could be easily discarded but instead is made into gorgeous paper imbued with their symbolic healing thistle, a wildflower that shoots through concrete and survives drought.

The woman we met in the studio talked about how healing it was to turn paper that otherwise would be discarded into something beautiful. It was a metaphor for her life and I understood.  Although on the outside, we may have different life circumstances on the inside, I could relate. There have been so many moments in my life where I have discarded myself. I have thrown out an apology or thrown away a feeling or a want or need or thought or opinion or thrown in the towel because I felt that was the safer route. It has been my way of discarding myself before others could. 

I dropped into Thistle Stop Café for the first time in a long time today and I came here to do what I feel like I should be doing and that is go through emails so I can finally catch up on my life.  I sat on a couch in a corner of the café by the sunlit windows where a couple years ago I had many Bee Attitudes meetings with my partners and our friend, Penny, who ran the Paper Studio and I had to write. And while maybe I should discard wanting to write so I can catch up on life, I think by writing, I am finally recycling the words of my life into a story that is beautiful.

I think most of us have beautiful stories and many chapters in our life that we revisit in our daydreams and often they are surrounded by a halo of light and leave us with a longing to go back in time and be with someone we love or a moment in time when life felt more carefree or a memory that reflects a glimmer of every new beginning that we wish we could capture again.

Today I miss the days of meeting with Penny and my partners. I miss Penny’s slow, raspy voice and her hard living stories of life under a bridge. I miss this being a period where life felt normal. We were a family grilling out and looking forward to being home after a long week on a Friday night like tonight and going to movies and talking throughout the day. “Hey babe. I am in a meeting. Can I call you back?”  I would hang up and then jokingly complain to my partners about Jay calling too much.

Maybe it was the magic of the Paper Studio or the warmth of my partners or the spell of Becca Stevens', founder of Thistle Farms, famous words "love heals" because it was in my work at Bee Attitudes that I began to see what life would feel like if I stopped discarding myself. I was the student who did not feel smart and the employee who did not feel focused. But as a business owner, I found my passion. I voiced opinions and ideas (lots of ideas to my patient partners) and today as I sit at Thistle Stop Cafe, I see the faces and I hear the echo of laughter and Penny’s voice who died a couple of years ago and I see the glimmer in time where Junebug began to find Strong.

The 4 of us in our Bee shirts. Brave by Sara Bareilles