Last night I taught my 5th grade Girl Scouts how to embroider.
As I planned for the meeting, I was reminded of the artists in our family who use thread or yarn as their medium of choice – from my great grandmother, Charlotte Kimball Stratton, who literally wrote the book on rug hooking, to my mom who needlepointed and now knits, to her sister and my aunt, Mary Burke, a gifted and talented embroiderer who, in addition to her own original designs, has rendered many of great grand mother’s patterns in miniature.
It’s Aunt Mary who, when I was in high school, taught me how to embroider, and while I can not claim to have anywhere near her skill (or patience), for a few years I used what she taught me to express myself on a jean jacket.
The jacket is one of the few things I still have from high school, and reflects a combination of things I was interested in (theater, comic books, the zodiac, reading, college ) as well as other cliché pop culture symbols (seriously, a peace sign?).
Talking to the troop parents about the jacket, I remembered how I not only wore my work-in-progress everywhere, but I also worked on it anytime I had a little downtime – in the car, at chorus, at school.
This was not what the cool kids did.
But I think by this time, junior & senior years of high school, I had figured something out – I was not cool, but I was crafty. Unique. And trying to be confident.
And I wasn’t afraid to carry sharp objects in my pocket.
Along the way to this “year of epic,” I haven’t always succeeded in remembering that it’s okay not to be cool. That, at the end of the day, I’m always happiest when I stick to being authentic.
My daughter asked me yesterday if she could wear my jean jacket when she got to high school. To the surprise of some, I told her no – not because I don’t think she’ll take good care of it, but because this jacket illustrates my story. Instead, I told her we could get her a jean jacket of her own – so she can write her own.