Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Being Open

Jessica Brogan and I became friends on Facebook through our mutual interests in art, creativity, and business.  Jessica created The Altered Card Deck Swap (http://www.carddeckswap.comwhere people from all over the world made 52 pieces of art out of a deck of cards to exchange with one another.  Somehow I got involved, and have participated in a number of swaps.  Once I made 26 cards for the families in Newtown, CT that lost their children in the horrific school shooting.  Jessica put together 26 decks of individual cards for the 26 families. This has been an opportunity for me to learn more creative techniques using the small canvas of cards in a deck, to meet people throughout the world,to give to others without getting anything in return, and to develop a special friendship with Jessica.

It has been easy to encourage this young single mother of one strong four year old son to keep sharing her gifts and talents with the world. Jessica is someone confident enough to write about her life in the most authentic ways, and I have been captivated by her ability to write out her thoughts and feelings so beautifully.  Not only a writer, but a photographer that has been able to share through her photos her life experiences as well. Enjoy her website and blog:

How excited I was to find out that Jessica was coming out west to teach at her first art retreat, and wanted to begin her trip by staying with me in San Diego, CA.  Not being sure how she'd feel about spending too much time with someone 30 years her senior, I gave her the option to back out :) She seemed shocked that I'd even suggest such a thing. So, on March 19, I met my friend in person for the first time at Lindberg Field in downtown San Diego.  I definitely was not meeting a stranger, and from that first moment it seemed as though I had always known Jessica Brogan!  

Now for the gifts she brought to me, and the world around her.  For starters, she had a treasure box for me of cut out hearts that had been sent to her from another artist, and other thoughtful gifts including my own handmade inspiration card.  

These tiny cards were like the ones Jessica would abandon in stores, on benches, and share with someone she thought might need some encouragement. She generously shared the website with me that printed the cards:  On the back, she would stamp an inspiring quote. Such a simple way to give, yet one that could potentially change someone's day or even a life.  I kept tucking Jessica's ideas away like she tucked these cards in secret places for just the right person to find.

Here are two more surprises that Jessica had hidden away for me to find. Now I'm showing them off to friends, people I've just met, and/or anyone that will pay attention.  

When Jessica was here I dared to be brave enough to show her my cluttered art studio/office.  It was a danger zone, a place I had almost broken a limb or two.  It was a huge area of stress for someone that could be in there for hours intending to organize, yet could not seem to find "homes" for all of my treasures.  When Jessica saw the room, she expressed her passion for organizing, and immediately began putting like supplies together.  She gave me a job, too, of deciding what I only (not the groups I imagined being in there) needed to create.  With a bottle of Tommolo from Trader Joe's, the two of us worked magic in that room.  Well, Jessica worked magic, and I did what I was told.  Here is my room after my new friend's visit.  

Jessica's gifts keep being discovered even after she has been away for weeks.  I want to share another gift/talent that she has. She is a writer with a degree in English Literature from Notre Dame University.  For some fun, creative reading, pick up one or both of these magazines.  While she was with me, I got to witness the signing of another contract for another one of my favorite magazines.  I believe this is only the beginning for Jessica as her wings are starting to spread wide, and she is beginning to soar. 

This blog post feels important for me to share for different reasons.  When I told a few people I was having a house guest that I had not met in person, they were amazed, and said they could not do that.  Thanks to social media, I did know my house guest, but just had not met her in person.  The reason I shared the age difference between Jessica and me is that age doesn't matter if people have interests in common.  As I've stated before, I am a constant learner.  I learned so much in the time Jessica was here, and have grown in ways that are benefitting my life,and, hopefully, the lives of others.  To watch Jessica give anonymously thrilled my heart, because that is one of my "love languages."  Jess taught me a new way, an affordable way, to give.  Although we have differences, I was beyond blessed with all that we have in common.  I believe those differences can teach people to learn from each other if we are open to new learning and growth.  So, I end this post filled with gratitude for the gift of friendship in my life, a gift that can arrive unexpectedly like Jessica Brogan coming through my door. 

Photo by Michelle Adamski Jones