Saturday, July 17, 2010

Healer of Hearts

Kara is a friend I met at church a few years ago.  I had the opportunity to know her better as I was part of her Child/Parent Relationship Therapy group last spring.  She is a play therapist and soon-to-be college professor, and she led this group as part of her dissertation studies.  It was here that I discovered many things--lessons about myself, tools for my family, and the truth about our leader.

You see, Kara is a rock star.  She has made her life's mission of reaching children deeply impacted by trauma and loss, and works to provide a roadmap to healing for the families who love them.  She has a unique understanding of small people who have led painful lives overwhelmed by big problems, and her approach to helping them heal is inspiring.  Through the therapy she leads and the classes she teaches, she is putting families back together.  The compassion, respect, and patience she applies as she connects with each child is amazing, and she provides skills for their parents to do the same.  I came away from this experience knowing the world would be a better place if we all treated each other with the same principles taught in this special group.

Kara recently graduated with her PhD in counseling.  I was honored when her husband asked me to create an art piece for her as a graduation gift.  He wanted something related to her field of study, but left the rest up to me.  As a play therapist, Kara teaches "play is a child's language, and toys are their words", so when I came across my stash of old toys, I knew they had to be part of her piece.  The doll shoe in the center has a tiny heart inside, complete with copper wings so it may soar.  Inside the tin cup on the K block below is a line of text from a 1910 book that reads "she likes to play".  Oh my, how I loved making this piece.  As each part came together, my awe and appreciation for Kara led the way, and so did my passion for the work she is doing.  (I will be making more assemblage boxes soon to sell on Etsy and at art shows this fall.  I also have a custom order in the works with a pair of baby shoes for a precious little girl's 2nd birthday, CUTE.  :)

We will say goodbye to Kara and her sweet family soon as they move to Wyoming where she will begin her job at a university.  There she will reach more parents and children, as she teaches her students to do the same.  We will miss them all.  I will always be grateful my path crossed with Kara's.  She is a Healer of Hearts, a Soother of Souls, and I know miracles will continue to happen under her care.  Rock on, dear Kara.  You will bring goodness and hope wherever you go.   Thank you for everything.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

She Dreams Big

When I first met Tori she was an impish and adorable 6 year old with the longest eyelashes I have ever seen.  One of my earliest memories of this sweet girl was the day I was crammed beside her in the cab of her dad's old pick-up, her mom at the wheel, as we dashed away to save a dog who was living on a short chain.  Tori's mom and I were Humane Society volunteers, and by a very young age, Tori was skilled in the ways of animal rescue

When we arrived at our destination, we found a beautiful young German Shepherd mix, sorely in need of love and attention.  She was so happy at the sight of us, this unruly and neglected pup was WILD with enthusiasm.  Her joyful mania could not be contained, as she bounded and wiggled and leaped in the sky as high as our heads.  She was intent on licking every square inch of our bodies.  Tori was unfazed, this seasoned rescuer knew just what to do.  She sat on the ground and quietly waited.  She held out her hand and remained still.  It took a long time, but Tori's state of calm took over and our overwhelmed pup settled down.  I was impressed.

This would not be the last time I would be impressed by my friend, Miss Tori.  Now a stunning eighteen year old, she recently graduated from high school.  She will be leaving for college in Indiana next fall, where she has a major scholarship to study classic ballet.  Along with other talents, Tori is an amazing and accomplished ballerina.  To watch her dance is to instantly smile, as you feel your heart soar!  Having my own dancing daughter now, I appreciate her love of dance even more.  She has also been my daughter's tap dance teacher for the past two years, and what a wonderful teacher she was.  Patience, kindness, creativity, and a sense of delight- all are strengths she instilled in her young students, and skills I've seen in Tori since early on. 

I made this collage for Tori, "She Dreams Big", using one of her old pointe shoes.  I plan to make more to sell at upcoming art shows and on Etsy.  I can also take custom orders using personal photos, pointe shoes, and other keepsakes, too.  I have a college in the works now using my daughter's first pair of ballet shoes, hopefully one day I will actually finish it.... 

Tori's collage has a quote by A.A. Milne which reads "Promise me you'll always remember: you're braver than you believe, and stronger than you think, and smarter than you know."  Words so very true, sweet Tori.  We will miss you.  And we will always be in your corner, cheering you on as you take the world by storm!