Saturday, January 10, 2009
Before we get too far off the subject of "authentic women," I'd like to introduce you to one other person - Maryjane Butters. I was going to sit here and describe her to you, but then I came across this great video on her website that speaks for itself. Check it out!
P.S. Many thanks to maryjanesfarm.com, domicile.typepad.com, and apartmenttherapy.com for the above images.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Not long ago, I stumbled across an amazing little video here, and it got me to thinking. It's called The Story of Stuff and it explains, in very simple terms with cartoon illustrations, how the world got broken, and how we might begin to fix it. This film, in combination with all the simple-green-frugal blogs I have been visiting lately, has me really questioning our tendency to buy brand new stuff hot off the assembly line.
There was a time when most everything I bought came from garage sales, flea markets, auctions, etc., and I made all of my own clothes to boot. And you know what? It made me really happy! I have never been a person who took any pride in buying something with a designer label from a hoity-toity store, but I love being able to reply to inquiries with "This dress? Oh, I just whipped it up from that Indian bedspread my husband had in college." And, I got oodles more satisfaction from spending an entire weekend refinishing the $50 draw-leaf oak table we nabbed at our first ever auction, than I later got from plopping down $1,000 to purchase one hot off the showroom floor. In fact, I wish I still had the original. It would be perfect for our porch. I love the old Bakelite flatware that I scavenged piece by piece way more than I like my fancy wedding silverware, and the day we stumbled across the perfect Jessica McClintock formal for Alexis at a resale shop - purple-black taffeta skirt with lace-up corset - when we happened to be dropping off an armload of unmemorable ones we had purchased at the department store, stands out as one of the highlights of her teen years. So why did I drift away from all that, and begin buying into the "new is better" agenda? I have no idea. All I know is, I sure am glad I'm beginning to wake up again. In fact, I'm thinking I may wander down to the thrift store later, to take a browse around.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
OK, I admit it. Maybe I was a little disgruntled about the 6 different airport runs we had to make this Thanksgiving - four to Austin and two to San Antonio. But now I'm ever so grateful to Mikey for booking their flight into San Antonio. If he hadn't, then I never would have done that double-take as we were zooming past New Braunfels, on our way to pick them up - the one that caused me to say "Uh, John? Was it my imagination, or did I just see a sign advertising Cooper's Old Time Pit Barbecue back there?"
Cooper's, in Llano, was a regular stop for both John and big brother Mike, in the years when they were traveling back and forth between Odessa and UT. I always figured they were exaggerating when they bragged that it was the best barbecue in the world, but they eventually converted both me and the kids to their way of thinking. Many times since buying this place in the Hill Country, we have thought about driving over there for dinner, but though Llano is considered to be in the Hill Country, it's still a couple hours drive from here (No, I'm not kidding - Texas really is so large that it takes about three hours just to traverse the small central portion known as the Hill Country). And, since Cooper's is pretty much Llano's only claim to fame, we just never have got around to making the visit.
However, discovering that there is now a Cooper's in New Braunfels, just 45 minutes away? Why, that's worth any number of extra airport runs! So thanks a million, Mike. We owe you one.
Monday, January 5, 2009
JESSICA! I swear on my Girl Scout's Honor, John was half asleep when I made him stick his hand in the hat to draw a name, so there is no way we showed any favoritism - it just pays to comment often!
Never were any truer words spoken than "You can't please everyone," but that certainly hasn't stopped most of us from trying, and failing, over and over and over. The first and most important step along the path towards good-lifeitude is recognizing the futility of being a "people pleaser" and determining instead to live an "authentic" life - to uncover all the talents and passions you have been gifted with, and to nurture and revel in them, in order to become the wonderfully unique person that God, in all his wisdom, created you to be - even if that means upsetting the status quo.
I was brought up to believe that going off to "find yourself" was just a copout for pathetic losers (and maybe it is if you feel you have to dessert your loved ones to do it!). It wasn't until I read Simple Abundance (the book I gave away last month) in my 40's, that I gave myself permission to start the search, and ended up a much better wife, mother, and friend for having done it. Not only did that book teach me what it means to live authentically, it also introduced me to many shining examples of those who have achieved authenticity in their own right.
First and foremost was artist Tasha Tudor. The name didn't ring a bell when I first came across it, but as soon as I saw her paintings, I recognized an old and dear friend, for Tasha had illustrated many of the classic books that I treasured as a child, including The Secret Garden. That talent alone would have been quite enough to rest her laurels upon, but that was just the icing on the cake, when it comes to the wonder that is Tasha! You see, Tasha always felt that she was born to live the life of a Victorian farm wife, so that is what she created for herself at her home, Corgi Cottage, in Vermont. She wrote and illustrated more than seventy-five children's books, many based on her life there with her children, animals, and her beloved Welsh Corgi pups. Her favorite spot to work from was a cozy corner of her woodstove-heated kitchen, which she referred to as her "chipmunk's nest."
She was born into Boston society in 1914. Her family entertained the likes of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mark Twain and Albert Einstein. However, Tasha felt from a very early age that she had lived before, in the 1830's, and things such as threading a loom, growing flax, spinning and milking cows just came naturally to her. The life she chose was not an easy one, and her husband later decided it wasn't the one for him, so the books and illustrations were a way for her to support her kids and continue on her path. She also made fabulous puppets and marionettes to entertain them, and they sometimes earned extra money by traveling around to put on shows with them.
But wait, there's more! There was the amazing garden that she designed and tended herself, right up through her 80's, wearing her trademark homespun dresses, aprons and caps, usually barefoot. There was the menagerie she tended, in addition to her corgies, that included Nubian goats which she milked twice a day, cats, chickens, doves, cockatiels, canaries, finches and parrots. In her spare time she amassed a noteworthy collection of antique clothing, which her children and grandchildren modeled for her book illustrations, mastered spinning and weaving her own linen, and became adept at cooking on a woodstove with nineteenth-century utensils. She continued on this path, always learning, creating, and ever keeping her sense of joy and wonder, until she passed away not long ago, somewhere in her 90's, having lived a most authentic life!
And so, Jessica, the book I am sending to you is The Private World of Tasha Tudor, by Tasha Tudor and Richard Brown. I hope you will treasure it, find inspiration, and refer to it often, as I have done. Congratulations!
P.S. Many thanks to independent.co.uk for the above image.