This week is my birthday. I have taken 37 turns around the sun. Instead of asking for a pony…like I do every year, and ending up disappointed. Again. I’ve decided to spend the week highlighting things in my life I am grateful for and a non-profit that helps make that possible for other people. If you are so moved by the spirit of #KJCbday, then please make a contribution or donation to one of these groups or volunteer your time with them. Each of them are doing some pretty amazing things.
This weekend, I piled in a car with four of my dear friends and drove to Greenwood, Mississippi. It was delightful. I’ve known one of these women since we were born, another since high school and the other two are relative newbies, about seven to ten years. The connections I have with them are deep. They believe in me. I find them to some of the most amazing people on the planet. They are not only accomplished, but also genuinely beautiful, both inside and out.
Charlie seemed really concerned about our trip. I sent a text to let him know we were on the road.
C: Don’t get arrested.
Me: We’re five middle-aged women in giant SUV. We are the definition of “can’t get arrested.”
C: It’s thinking like that, that lands you in the jailhouse in Greenwood, Mississippi!
(For the record, we returned home safely, having suffered no unfortunate incarcerations.)
We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. ~Anne Lamott
After our cooking class at the Viking School, which was fabulous, I found a delightful book store just down the street. I made a joke later that when I wrote my bestselling book, I would have them all come back to Greenwood with me so we could stay at the Alluvian again, and I would sign books at that store. They immediately started asking me when I was going to write a book. They talked about it in such realistic terms, like they have absolutely no doubt that I could write a fabulous book. There is tremendous comfort in friends who take your art seriously.
They always have. They’ve never acted like my writing was foolish or silly, even if the topics were sometimes. When I said I’m going to learn calligraphy because I think I can make art like that, they accept that as an obvious fact. They are completely undeterred in their belief that I am wonderful, even if I’m super annoying after four hours trapped in a car together.
To find one friend in your life who accepts your dreams as plausible before you’ve ever begun to make them a reality is an enormous gift. I have an embarrassment of riches in this area. I really believe to make art, you have to first believe you can. Being in a place like Greenwood, or maybe just being in a place out of my routine, made me feel creative. There was art of all kinds available: painting, pottery, sculpture, furniture and culinary. It was fantastic.
It refilled my tank. I’m excited about being at work this week. I’ve been working part-time at the Arkansas Arts Center for a few months. I’m the volunteer coordinator. It’s the largest cultural institution in the state. It’s also a unique animal in the world of art museums. It’s a fine arts museum with a studio school and children’s theater attached. Not only can you see world-class exhibitions and performances, you can come and learn how to make art: pottery, painting, sketching, jewelry, etc. Just to add to the awesome, a traveling ArtMobile crosses the state to take art to communities who would not otherwise have access, and a theater group also travels the state to bring high-quality performances to every corner of Arkansas.
I’ve spent my life with friends, family and teachers nurturing my creative spirit. For some kids, the Arts Center is the first or only place that sparks the creative genius in them that becomes a lifelong passion or, sometimes, profession. None of this just happens. I’m charged with building a stronger volunteer corp. Your membership or monetary donations pay for all of these programs I’ve written about. If you can spare time or money, the Arts Center needs you.