the 2 envelopes

reading about choosing here at the red thread studio (scroll down to the post on 2/19 on pattern recognition) and lisa call’s articles on holding intention and christine kane’s talk of making a visualization board and the series on the secrets of wellbeing at good life zen led me right straight into a moment or two of existential angst yesterday. “yes, it’s time to choose,” i told myself firmly, and promptly took myself in hand and set about the wearying task of trying to choose.

wearying because i am a kitchen sink girl.

i can’t help myself. i simply enjoy way too many things.

i am in love with learning. in graduate school, we had to declare a focus – the equivalent of an undergrad declaring a major, and i just could not do it. i just couldn’t do it. began calling it my “f-word” and dodging, skipping, and tap dancing with great charm whenever asked the frequent and ubiquitous “so, what’s your focus?”

well, all that delicious blog reading enkindled the dreaded question of what on earth do i do and/or have to show for my life. i am married to a man who has, over all the years we’ve been married, developed a fine, admirable reputation in the southeast region and beyond for what he does. my friend, carol from grad school enjoys a reputation on the national level in the field of geriatric substance abuse. jude hill writes evocatively about her relationship with old cloth and folks (myself included) from around the world check in with her daily to see what she’s sharing du jour. my friend laura went to work several years ago as a paraprofessional in the school system working with children with autism, and she’s become a resource for parents and teachers alike. debbie and karen both teach at the collegiate level. every chance i get, i watch these csi-type shows, looking for my friend-since-first-grade, jane in one of the lab scenes or at least her name in the credits for consultants. i could go on and on.

now let’s stop right here and get one thing . . . okay two things clear: (1) i am not jealous. any of you armchair psychologists, don’t start with me about the well-of-course-you-are-too-jealous-or-you-wouldn’t’ve-mentioned-it. take that somewhere else cause it won’t sell here. (2) i am not saying in any way, shape, or form that these friends are one-dimensional. i just mentioned one thing they are known for – they all have other interests and talents and jobs and abilities that make them no less than brilliant, and . . . well, you know what i mean, so enough said.

i respect and admire all my friends who are at a point in their lives where they are sought-after resources. they have developed a deep knowledge about something particular and are sharing that particular passion and knowledge. me? well, for starters, let’s just say that i have heretofore lived a life driven by estrogen.

in other words, i have taken care of people.

among other things. i’ve written a book, done freelance graphic design, web site design, sewing, embroidery, needlepoint, crochet, and pottery, to name a few. i have taught smoking and book-making. i have been a teacher, a personal historian, a professional speaker, have written books and seminars for foremen in construction, and well, that’s enough about that. you get the picture. some might understandably wonder if i have trouble holding down a job.

i did try my hand at collecting a few decades ago – collected rug beaters, of all things – but i got tired of dusting them so i quit.

i have what i like to call an insatiable curiosity. “insatiable curiosity” is nothing more than slapping a sunday dress on the fact that i can talk to just about anybody about a vast number of things. but ask me a hard question, and it’s time for me to go fetch somebody a drink or grab a napkin to mop up that spill – or if nobody is thirsty or messy – go to the bathroom. i have notes, notes, and more notes that i’d love to corral into a book on different ways of knowing . . . but i first have to get friendly with the fact that it’s okay to write a book about something even if it shows and you readily admit that you don’t know everything there is to know about said subject.


so it was with all this tangle of turmoil that i went to bed last night. it took me a long time to get to sleep, but i sure am glad i finally did ’cause this dream was oh-so worth it . . .

my friend and i were attending a well-attended, international conference at a plush hotel where she was a presenter. (a presenter at the conference, of course, not at the plush hotel.) (well, technically yes, she was speaking at the plush hotel, but. oh, forget it.) the conference hotel had ceilings that scraped the sky, high, arched ceilings. each arch was trimmed in gold and on the apex of each arch was painted colorful botanical images on a buttercream background. the floors were carpeted in rich, jewel tone colors that kept the sound level bearable. (the carpets, that is, not the jewel tones.) people filled the place, but given the size of the structure, there was plenty of room to move about freely.

a spacious open-air area separated the conference hotel from the equally opulent hotel that housed conference attendees. this outdoor area was filled with big old trees that provided shelter for the small gathering areas peppered throughout.

i stepped out into the sunny open area, and hadn’t gone two steps before i noticed an envelope laying atop the lower branches of a tree. my friend noticed it a nano later, reached for it, and began to open it.

okay, maybe i was the teensiest teensy bit envious of her way of confidently reaching for then opening the envelope when we’d both seen it, but that passed quickly and was immediately replaced with anxious curiosity about what on earth was in the envelope.

friend opened that envelope quicker than you can catch a cold in the winter in alaska, and was thrilled beyond description to find: a certificate promising her an all-expense-paid trip to next year’s conference. congratulations from people all around created a palpable ebullience.

when we managed to extricate ourselves from the amassing throng of people, another pair of trees bent their branches down low enough for me to see yet another plain white envelope resting there. the trees coughed – or at least cleared their throats of sap – to make sure i saw. as friend busied herself putting the certificate back in the envelope and putting the envelope in a safe place in her pocketbook, i grabbed this 2nd envelope that was so flat and light it was surely empty.

but no.

inside this plain white envelope was a small, beaded rectangular bag with a frail gold clasp on top. the bag itself took breaths away, its unidentifiable, unrecognizable image created in shades of gray and brown and cream and rust with an occasional splash of green conjured feelings of slow, sure smiling whispers. i opened the gold clasp and peered inside to find a rich jungle of solid, deep colors. and pockets, pockets everywhere. inside the first pocket was a teardrop-shaped piece of amber (no bug trapped inside). in another pocket was a more rounded jewel. another pocket housed small sparklies. each pocket contained a jewel, and to each jewel was attached a metal piece – as though each jewel was actually part of a larger piece of jewelry, maybe a brooch.

that dream has kept me in smiles all day, and i’ve even tinkered with it to see if i can shape it into a story.

maybe a children’s book.

or maybe a children’s story for adults.

or maybe i’ll quilt it.

[insert sigh.]

some things, my friends, some things are just never ever gonna’ change.

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5 Responses to the 2 envelopes

  1. I love this post. I can appreciate the meanderings you have had. I, too, have not kept to one thing for long. I keep finding new exciting things to interest me. I think of it as always having something new to learn! It’s who we are! 🙂

  2. Acey says:

    Wow this post was just like looking in a mirror and talking to myself! I do not have any clearcut answers for myself at this exact moment, but it has been immeasurably helpful (and comforting) to read this post as well as the one at Red Thread Studio.

    Maybe there is an entire tribe of us asking these same sort of questions and reaching similar conclusions about how we best serve ourselves creatively and elsewise …

  3. I have to say you made me chuckle! It all sounded too familiar. Loving many things means that we are very well rounded individuals that just love life! In a way we are also blessed to have the luxury to be able to diddle daddle in 1000 and 1 things, because if we were poor we would only have 1 thing in mind. Mainly, where is the next meal coming from?!

    I have also discovered that multi tasking means there goes an extremely adaptable individual. Often we get so busy with all the stuff we are involved in that we don’t even realize all the accomplishments we have thus far reached.

    So, it sounds like you are pretty cool individual and I am intrested to see what new discoveries you end up making.

  4. jeanne says:

    fran~i definitely always have something new to learn – in fact, i learned something new from your blog just yesterday.

    acey~i think you’re right: there is an entire tribe of us out there. here. ever read barbara sher’s book, refuse to choose? she calls us
    scanners and makes it sound not only better than okay but desirable. ha.

    enzie~you sure are right about us being blessed. i dwell in my head a lot, it’s true. but i decorate it with thoughts of abundance. the way i figure it, the more i am grateful for, the more i’ll have to be grateful for.

  5. jude says:

    the comment about dusting,well that just got me. and you know, i felt so much the same for so long. it is quite ironic to me that i really started focusing on my textile thing and really started to feel centered…when, of all things, i was sitting bedside with my father. maybe taking care of people is life’s way of leading us somewhere.

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