Saturday, September 13, 2014

School Days


Every time the new school year rolls around, I am filled with anticipation. I love all of the back to school sales, the excited children (and their exhausted parents!) shopping for school clothes and supplies. I even love buying a little box of crayons and a few notebooks, a little white bottle of glue and whatever ...for me! I can't resist the memories or the fun!

So, with so many teachers in my own family, and so many friends who teach... I also love to give little gifts when I can! And this year I had the perfect fabric purchased from a charming littlequilt shop in Independence, Oregon.

With little stick figures of children and ABC's, pencils and such as a border logo, it was relatively easy to design and whip up a bag.


I had seen a bag that stood up on its own..one of the new modern styles as they are known, but didn't have access to the pattern as it wasn't online and I couldn't drive many hours to where it seemed to originate...so I just made my own inventing my own theory of how one could be made.

It ended up very generous in size..the perfect catchall for a busy teacher to toss her lessons plans, notebooks, lunch bag, even a purse into as she got ready for school in the morning. A bag that might also be used at home. I made it in a day and photographed it quickly and the photos do not do it justice. But there are pockets on both sides..inside and out. The 'School Days' logo for a nod to pencil bags ..one pocket on the front and one on the inside, and another set of pockets made with the ABC fabric.

And then, because I had a big piece of co-coordinating fleece and could, I made a great big fleece blanket to roll up inside.  The kind we all love to make in a hurry and best of all, cuddle up under..for no matter how much we love to quilt and all of our quilts, when we're sick or hurting, or cold..fleece is so nice and quite delicious to wrap up with, as well!




Fabric as long as it is wide, double layered and fringe cut and knotted all around. And because I love deep fringe, cutting 4" deep all along the edges, removing that corner square at each corner and tying simple double knots with every double strand of fringe. Remember to be careful knot to pull or stretch the fringe too tightly as you tie... or you end up with a gigantic fleece bowl instead of a blankie, Ask me how I know and then remember once again ? ;-)



 If you've ever been a teacher or even just know one, they come home exhausted.....especially from the primary grades....when all the little ones are going through so many transitions of their own. So pack up the self standing but still soft bag with your things and go off to work, and then unpack it at home and cuddle up for some R and R under the extra gift of the big, ultra soft fleece napper..for some time of your own!


Hope your back to school week was a good one whether you still have little ones, or know someone who does and whether or not you had as much 'back to school fun' as I did!!


Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Larry and Kelcie's Journey of True Love





This wonderful and amazing young couple, this never giving up young man, Larry was my college best friend's son, Kelly's, roommate at a neurological specialty care home here in Philomath, Oregon.

Both young men were critically injured in two separate car accidents by others and did not know each other before their accidents. Our Kelly by a elderly man driving through a flashing light crosswalk in Corvallis Oregon.

This amazing young man, Larry by a drunk driver just three days after his high school girlfriend, Kelcie's, mother was killed in a car accident that they discovered at the side of the road.

At that accident scene, Larry promised Kelcie that he would be by her side for the rest of their lives, no matter what.

When Larry then, was also hit by a drunk driver in his accident, just three days after her mother, Kelcie knew that she could and would, do no less. She loved him and she stayed by his side for all of these years.
Larry has  had wonderful improvement and was released into the care of his ever loving and completely dedicated, fiance' Kelcie and is doing so very well. And now they are happily married.

Our young friend, Kelly is in a wheelchair and on a feeding tube for life. The elderly man who hit our Kelly, got community service which he served by watching a Sunday school class and never, ever lost his driver's license. 

I am so happy that this young man's and his beautiful and loving bride and their story and that it all ended up so much better and he has so much love and support and a real chance for great happiness and a really good life in spite of his own terrible injuries.

Please watch Larry and Kelcies two amazing clips featured on GMA ..the one with band, Train's invitation to join them on a cruise just this morning. But please hold a thought or a prayer for my dear friend's son, Kelly Ball, who will never, ever have any of this but would..if he could..be so grateful that his neurological care home friend Larry, can and will.

Clip 1)The band, Train, invites Larry and his fiance' Kelcie, on a cruise with them on GMA this morning, and then

Clip 2) their amazing, amazing story of this young track phenom's story from a drunk driver hitting him car accident, his h.s. girlfriend, Kelcie, staying by his side and as I know from my friend, Patti, helping at the care home each and every day ..not just for Larry, but anything she could do to help anyone there.

They took what they were given, they pieced it all together into a new and wonderful partnership of never ending love .Now, they are married and going on their dream wedding/honeymoon thanks to Internet funding, the band Train, and national and international recognition of their amazing story and their deep love for one another..no matter what.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/high-school-sweethearts-surprise-wedding-25126849
and

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/larry-kelcie-wedding-train-sends-special-wedding-message-25263412

It is so good to remember that really good things can and do happen to really wonderful and amazing people, but at the same time to hope and pray that things could only be better for our young friend, Kelly.

note:
the pieced heart is from the Heart Pillow I made when I first heard about my dear friend's son and I filled it with prayers, both inside and out for all of these years. Tutorials for heart shaped prayer pocket pillows can be found at:

Making a Heart Pillow: Breast Cancer, Cardiac or Recovery of Any Kind

String Pieced Prayer Pocket Pillow 
 Making a Heart Shaped Pillow

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Celebration of Life

http://www.with-heart-and-hands.com/2014/08/a-celebration-of-life.html

My sister-in-law, Shelley, along with my youngest brother, Rick, fought a courageous 10 month battle with her Stage 4  diagnosis of small squamous cell cancer. She lost that battle a week and a half ago while staying in Seattle, where she had been going every three weeks for chemotherapy, flying from their home in Juneau, Alaska to Seattle.

They had tried and exhausted every kind of chemotherapy drug, and even tried experimental therapies in hopes of prolonging her life. That she lived a full 10 months with a terminal, late stage diagnosis and survived long enough to meet her first grandson is a testament to the determination of the human spirit against impossible odds.


Now, with her loss, we are all feeling a bit adrift and have banding together as families...hers, in Seattle to says their final goodbyes. Mine....here in my home in Salem, Oregon where we invited my brother to come down and spend a week with us and another of our brothers and his wife to join us, as well....before heading back to Juneau.
http://www.with-heart-and-hands.com/2014/08/a-celebration-of-life.html

We spent a lot of time just talking and sharing the experiences of the past year. It is the caring and in the sharing, that we are able to connect with others, and to feel like we are not alone, and that others truly and deeply do care.


It is a big world, with many experiences and emotions to go through in all of our lifetimes. I believe that it is our reactions to those experiences and to those emotions that shape each of us into the people that we were either meant to become, or have chosen to be, instead.  When we allow our loss, and our deep grieving, even the many stages we all go through with loss..through denial, through anger, through blame, through even great sadness and perhaps even depression, we are doing our own deep shadow work.


Our shadow is the deepest, darkest, part of ourselves. It is the part that we have in common with all others but almost always fail to acknowledge the presence of, always to see another who is this, or has that, or is filled up with-----. We all share the yin and the yang, the sunshine and the shadows. And it is with the out letting, the leeching of all of the darkest parts of our emotional selves that we can once again go into the light. We learn to see the other as the self, to see the bridges and the pathways that connect us ..heart to heart, spirit to spirit.

 Many people believe in a divine being, but those that do not may still believe in the healing power of nature and of love.  So, we go out and into nature, we bring all of that beauty, that immensity, that power back into our spirit until we see and we feel the true connection, the connection that is always truly just there.  Our true nature, as the Buddhists called it, or our soul in other words, is unchangeable and part of all that is. We connect with the healing energies through the heart into the deepest parts of ourselves and we simply release all judgement. We release judgment of  all others and of ourselves. And in that great releasing, we feel so much pain lift from within us.

I have been involved with helping many, many people in my lifetime, sometimes friends, sometimes family, sometimes complete strangers that were directed to the healing energies of my heart and my hands when they simply needed a friend to get through the challenging times of illness, loss, and their own transitions into another place in time and space until they were ready to leave this world and enter the next.



And I have learned to find the parts of those connections and to nurture their growth through love and through our connection with mother earth and all of nature.


We took long walks along the beautiful parks, bridges, and gardens in and around Salem, and an even longer time just gathered in my home and sharing multiple meals and barbeques with my own family as they come up from their homes in Salem and Eugene to share time with their uncle (and my other brother and his wife) and express not just their condolences, but their caring and support.


http://www.with-heart-and-hands.com/2014/08/a-celebration-of-life.html


I know that we made a difference simply by keeping everyone busy and discovering new things to see and do in this world that are not always apparent when our spirits are in pain or feeling great loss or sadness.  By this sharing, and this doing, we create a place away from focusing on the pain, a way to transport ourselves above the body and its pain and into the mind-body-spirit world within.


 My brother had not been sure about traveling down here and staying with us for a week before returning to Alaska, even knowing that doctors and psychologists, ministers, deacons, and good friends had shared their own experiences with the gifts of my own healing heart.  But no one leaves my home without at least having a great deal of fun and feeling loved! And so, I encouraged, and desperate to feel something besides pain and loss, he allowed himself the healing gifts of grace.

  


I have learned from my own losses in life, that is good to let the negativity of those experiences out in healthy ways among people who love you, but even better to stay very busy  and finding ways to still find joy and sustainable happiness. 





Without fail, everyone who visits wanders out to my prayer flag garland. A garland that is added to bit by bit over time. An archway that has its little healing strips replaces once squirrels ...or birds... managed to pry the knots free and send the colorful bits and pieces off into the universe or up and into their own little nests.



 
When our week was over,  I said adieu to my visiting family, and good luck to my own family. Two families to return to Alaska and their new ever-changing lives and  my own three sets of children and my husband, who is now hoping to climb and summit South Sisters, our third tallest mountain in Oregon at 10,000 ft. ..his own dream since his stroke in mid-April.

 
For even in the very darkest of times, we can still feel joy, still feel happiness, still understand the depths of lives well lived by our caring for others. We create our own bridge, our own archway, our path on the journey of transition from one self, one lifetime, into another. We take the first step of awareness and create an opening... and then we just take it the new journey... day by day, one little step at a time.



I look at my prayer arch garland, I think of all of the positive thoughts, the caring, and the prayers and I thank you all for your  kind thoughts, prayers, and comments over the past 10 months of my brother and his wife's journey from terminal cancer to what I believe with be an eventual place of grace and gratitude.  The transition is now beginning and it is a good thing and a good place to begin.

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Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!