Sunday, May 22, 2011

Embracing the Light (finally!)

We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light. ~Mary Dunbar

My favorite thing about these photos is the light. The beautiful sunlight streaming through the studio windows made the girls faces glow. It accentuated their beauty and the natural light that was pouring out of each of them. I love the delight in their faces. Their peals of laughter lit up the room as we created and played together for the last time as a group. My very first BraveGirlsArt class came to a close and it has taken me almost 2 months to write this post. . . .

I think I needed time to process all that happened during the eight weeks. And time to reflect on how much I loved this class, what we accomplished, and the special bond the girls formed. I needed time to comprehend how much it meant to me to be their teacher and how blessed I feel for the lessons they taught me.

We spent the last class finishing up their art journals and making one last project--(I didn't take a single photograph! Whoops!)--we made lanterns out of glass jars. When we visited Jennifer Levine at her studio she showed them the wine bottles that she recycles and paints. They saw a beautiful set that she was commissioned to do for a wedding gift. She explained her technique and they loved it, so I decided for our last project I would give them a chance to try and do it themselves. We collected jars and during the week I went to the studio and painted them all with a coat of white acrylic paint (so we wouldn't have to take up class time with this extra step and drying time!) Each girl planned a design and began painting. There were flowers, beach scenes, abstracts and even secret messages.

When they were done painting we let them dry while we sat together in a circle for a few minutes. I remembered a song from my childhood, "this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Everywhere I go, I'm gonna let it shine." So I talked about how it feels to be a light in the world. How we can make a difference if we are putting out happiness and grace rather than negativity. We talked about how we all face dark moments: bad things happen to everyone, but we can face them with light and love and laughter to ease the pain and take away some of the hurting. We are capable of doing that for others and for ourselves. I explained how we would make their jars into lanterns and that the light inside would serve as a reminder of their own internal light and how they can make a difference in the world. They are already making a difference in the lives of their friends with Rett Syndrome. I am thrilled that they have formed a bond with these girls and that our Garden of Hope is blooming...

After a few rounds of musical chairs, some snacking, a bit of hula hooping and a lot of giggling, we ended our time together the way we started 8 weeks before, with our belonging ceremony. We tied our wrists together with colored yarn once again to remind us that we are forever linked. Brave girls and someday, brave women! I'll never be able to thank these girls for the gift of their light--my life is forever brightened!

Also special thanks to Mccabe Russell for believing whole-heartedly in me and telling me I could do this. You were right. To Wendy Cook and her Mighty Girls for mighty inspiration, encouragement, and shedding light on many great ideas. To my brave assistant Courtney for showing up on Saturday mornings and helping me in countless ways. To Ingrid Love and her Girl Power 2 Cure organization. We have formed a bond with you and your families that I hope will last until every girl with Rett Syndrome is cured! And most important to my family and my family of friends (too many to name but YOU know who you are) for giving me so much love and encouragement and for always believing in me, even when I wasn't sure of myself. And lastly, to the families of my first group of Brave Girls, for sharing their incredible daughters with me. I am forever grateful to all of you.

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.
~Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross


  1. this and you! thank you for the inspiration!

  2. Simply reading this has lightened up my world