This morning, as I walked down the hall to the kitchen to have that first sip of coffee...after Ellie and Jon were off to school and I had finished replying to emails while in bed, something I do some mornings after she is dressed with her lunchbox full and out the door with her daddy...these words from Brian Andreas floated through the air from a corner of my mind.
There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling rain & remember it is enough to be taken care of by myself.
Brian Andreas, storypeople.com
The rolodex of memories that is sometimes a bit creaky these days turned to the first time I read that print at a little shop in Berea, Kentucky years ago. I was driving to my grandparents' house, South Bend, Indiana to Spartanburg, South Carolina, all by myself in my early 20s. It was the morning after I'd spent the night at a hotel in a town near Berea hoping that the boy I was friends with in high school would meet up with me and finally act on the feelings he'd told me he had for me senior year. I can hear my younger self wishing for him to show up with all her might.
The little shop in Berea was called Churchill Handweavers. When I was younger, my mom, my brother, and I would drive from South Bend to Spartanburg to visit my grandparents at least once often twice a year. And we would stop at Churchill Handweavers each time. They made blankets and you could tour the factory and see all these women handweaving blankets on huge looms.
When I was really little, I carried my "pink blanket" (that was its name) from Churchill Handweavers everywhere until it became so small that there was almost nothing left. I have the second "pink blanket" tucked away in Ellie's room. It was the one my mom got me as a backup for the day when "pink blanket" needed to move on.
The morning after the friend from high school did not show up to say, "Yes, I'm still in love with you," I stood in Churchill Handweavers reading through Brian Andreas prints, the shop cat "Charlie" brushing against my leg every now and then.
This was the same spot where my mom and I had stood a couple of years earlier just after my parents decided to divorce. It was the first time we'd found Storypeople. We looked through the prints for a very long time, our hearts broken in different ways yet side-by-side. We bought all the books available at that time and several prints and I can remember even in this moment the tangible feeling that some people really did think it was okay to write about the heartbreak of life in beautiful ways.
I read the stories out loud in the car for the next hour or two. My brother must have been playing his Gameboy in the backseat, headphones on, thinking the thoughts that only a 13-year-old boy can think when in the midst of divorce and a family's grief.
And even though all our pain was different and messy and often unspoken, in the midst of the laughter and gasps of recognition and tears these little stories read aloud provided, I felt a connection to my mother and believed that she understood things in ways I hoped she did. (The thoughts of a college freshman unsure if her parents could "get her").
A few years later, when I read those words about remembering "it is enough to be taken care of by myself," I decided to buy a big purple hand-woven blanket in that little shop in Berea, Kentucky. My grown-up "pink blanket" purchased with my own money. I wore it around my shoulders for the six-hour drive to Spartanburg, running my fingers through the fringe and singing George Strait songs on repeat as loud as I wanted.
During that drive, the blanket went from feeling like a cloak of protection that was holding my heart to a superhero cape of knowing I was enough even if this boy from high school never loved me.
I wrote pieces of this story to a friend in an email a few months ago, on a day when she needed someone to remind her that she is so very worthy of all that is to come in her life, that she can face whatever is to come with an open heart and still be rooted in what she knows because everything has led to this moment. I finished the story with these words:
That purple blanket is the blanket that is on my lap right now as I type this. And it is with the love and enoughness and worthiness and kindness that all of that story and this life to this moment holds that I am hugging you from over here and gently but clearly saying, "You are worthy. You got this. I am so proud of you."
As I sit here in my little house this morning with my cup of warm coffee in my hand and my purple blanket tucked around me, I'm giving myself the gift of believing these words, "You are worthy. You got this. I am so proud of you."
Maybe you need this reminder too today. Tuck it into your heart.
All of the moments before this one bring you to right here, to this moment where you can make a choice to believe: You are worthy. You got this. You can be so proud of yourself today.
(I am so grateful to Brian Andreas for his words and art and the way he tells the true stories. If you aren't familiar with Storypeople, I'm a bit envious of you in this moment because your life is about to be changed. Head over here to read so many of his incredible stories.)
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