Thursday, September 20, 2007

On Being Invisible

This story was emailed to me by several people this past month and it really touched me since I've been feeling a little invisible myself. Several have asked about it so I thought I'd post it here so you can copy it for yourself if you want it.

I'm invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?"

Obviously not, No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask , "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."

And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Not sure who to give credit to for this post since it was a forwarded email but whoever wrote it made my day and hopefully it will make some of your days too.
PS. A friend sent me this link to the article with this story in it. Would like to give credit to the author. Check it out at:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Learning Something New for September

I've been taking an online class this month with one of my friends from England, Shimelle Laine. I love her classes because they help me to get out of my scrapping ruts and try something new with some mini albums. I started this one a little late because of missing the original sign-up post but I decided to start my album on September 8th and go through October 8th instead. The idea of the class is to learn from life and record your lessons in a mini book for a month. I decided my blog was the best place to add pictures of my finished pages. I'm a little behind right now and hope to finish about five pages today and tomorrow. I used a K & Co. Life's Journey stand up album because I found it has almost the right amount of pages. I will have to add about one or two pages at the end but that's doable. I set mine up with the main lesson on the bottom and above it I placed an envelope page telling the story behind the lesson. Rather than using the sticker sheet that the rest of the class is using, I opted to use some of my Making Memories clear creations quotes. I've been amazed at how after I do the page I'm able to find a quote in there that seems to go with my theme for that day so they are working out great for this project. It also lets me use my own stash. So here it is, my "learn something new" mini book:

This is my cover page. The book stands up so this is actually the cover of the album. At the bottom it says: "a journal of learning from life". if you can't read the stamping.

This is page one. The story behind this one comes from a conversation with a friend while we were scrapping. She keeps telling me I should submit my scrapbook pages to a magazine because she thinks I could be published. She started mentioning it again that day and I told her I had a fear of rejection so if I don't submit, I don't get rejected. She then showed me a page in one of my other mini books that lists some of my goals for the future and one of them is to be published in a magazine. She simply asked me how I intend to do that if I never submit anything. So I took my first day's "lesson" from that and it says "you can't score a homerun if you never get in the game. The quote on the above envelope reads: "If someone believes in you and you believe in your dreams, it can happen." by tiffany loren rowe. The picture is of my daughter practicing for summer softball league.
I've used papers from the "my mind's eye" Kaleidoscrope" collection. The papers on the cover are from Daisy D's.

This is page two. It read's "I am not invisible". This lesson comes from an email that I received about a month ago and then from another friend just a week ago. It talks about a woman who is feeling like she is invisible to everyone around her because her life consists of cooking, cleaning, sweeping the floor etc. One of her friends comes back from a trip to England and brought her a gift. It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. Inside the friend had written: "to charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees." She goes on to discover that although many people admire all of those cathedrals in Europe today, no one really knows who built them. The people involved in the building put their whole selves into their work knowing that only God knows and sees how hard they worked to achieve something great. The story touched me when I read it since I'm kind of going through the beginnings of the empty nest syndrome coupled with the change of life. My cousin sent me an email on this particular day and said. "you're not invisible to me. I see all you do" and that just made my day. I need to remember to let those younger housewives and mothers know that I see all they do as well and maybe make their day brighter someday. The quote on the envelope above says: "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." by Winston Churchill.

This page was just a lesson I already knew but hadn't put into practice for awhile so I tried it out for the day and felt pretty good at the end when I had accomplished so much. It reads: "My day is more productive when I have a plan". On the side is a list of the things I accomplished that day with my list and each one crossed off. The poem at the top envelope reads: "The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is" by C.S. Lewis

This page reads: " There are still a lot of good people in the world and they inspire me to be a better person." The story behind this one comes from my youngest daughter who works at a clothing store. She told me about a young girl in her store today that wanted to buy some underwear and when she was checking out realized she didn't have enough money for the purchase. My daughter said that the lady behind her in line told my daughter to put it on her bill and she paid for the girls' underwear. She was amazed that a complete stranger could be so nice. The next day she had the same type of thing happen where she was 10 cents short of the money needed for a snack in the lunchroom and one of the guys gave her the extra needed even though he didn't know her. She simply told me that "nice people make her happy." I told her she needs to learn from them and when she finds herself in a similar situation to find a way to do something nice for a person. Basically a "pass it on" mentality. I thought it was a nice lesson to remind myself that there are still some great people out there doing kind things everyday and I need to learn from them to do likewise. I put a picture of my cousin on this page because she's one of the most giving and nicest person I know. The quote on the envelope above says: "there are many things in life that will catch your eye but only a few will catch your heart. Pursue these" by Michael Nolan.

This page reads: "Cookies on a dreary day, makes the blahs go away." The quote at the top says: "A Rainy Day makes a sunny day all that much more enjoyable."
It was one of the first dreary days of fall and I decided to bake cookies to surprise the family when they got home. I watched their tired faces perk up as they walked into the kitchen and found fresh baked cookies. I made my daughter pose for a picture with her most excited cookie look. It's another good lesson to remind myself. "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade". But I chose cookies instead.

This is the last page for today's post. It reads: "Sometimes you have to sit back, relax and let it heal". This is something I have to remind myself of often. I have scoleosis which is a curve of my spine and every now and then it acts up and puts me in quite a bit of back pain. It's hard for me to sit still and just let it heal. I still feel the need to get something accomplished with the day. This particular day I decided I just needed to allow myself the freedom to just sit and do nothing for a day to give it a chance to heal. So I spent the day on the deck reading a book with an ice pack on my back. It definitely helped to get the inflamation decreased. The poem on the above envelope says: "One can never consent to creep when he feels the impulse to soar." by Hellen Keller. That's the way I feel sometimes. I don't want to just sit around while everyone around me is having fun but that's just what I have to do once in awhile. I had to set the timer on the camera to catch a picture of me relaxing and the funny thing was I had to run to the chair and try to sit back and look relaxed before it actually took the picture. Needless to say I had to do a few takes to get it right. The outtakes were funny of my butt trying to get in the chair fast.
That's all for now, will try to share the rest when I get it finished. I'm happy to be semi-keeping up with the class. I know I'll be proud of the book in the end.