Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Inspired by Lucy

It's hard to believe that 6 years ago, in 2014, I launched "Fellowship of the Flowers." This was a year long adventure in which every week, for 50 weeks, friends, who joined the adventure, would visit my blog to see and be inspired by how I stitched one of 5 flowers.

I designed 5 flowers and used each one of them ten different times throughout the year. No two were alike and I used various colors, stitches and embellishments on each one.

In addition, participants also received 12 different projects as part of the fellowship. My "Beekeeper Pincushion" was one of the most popular projects. When the fellowship was over, I went on to teach this design in my "Play Dates" all over the country including the Houston International Quilt Festival.

This was our grand finale project, which included lots and lots of bees in addition to the flowers. It still amazes people when they see it in person as each flower has so much detail and each and every one of them was entirely stitched by hand.

This brings me to my dear, sweet, friend Lucy. She was one of the lovely friends who joined the fellowship and stitched along with me for the entire year. Lucy had so much fun making the flowers and projects and being a Master Quilter, she was inspired to create other projects for herself using them.

Lucy and I kept in touch over the years since the fellowship via Facebook and blogging. She is also a loyal customer who supports my small business and my work. Not long after she retired from her job, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and began treatments.

Last April, I received this email from Lucy.

"Hi Michelle,

I'm feeling hopeful for more years, not just months. I have felt so at peace with my situation from the beginning, since I know God is in charge of this. My treatments are what is called 'maintenance' right now, so chemo every other month, but the doctor is really happy with how it is going. The same drug combinations are still working and she said there are at least 6 other drugs we can try if needed. Also, there are two new trials being tested that I might qualify for, where the treatment is totally targeted to my individual cancer cells. This cancer that started out without a cure just may have one before I am finished with it! 

I wanted to tell you one other thing, not to make you sad at all, hence the warning. Largely due to my great faith in God, I am perhaps more open about my cancer challenges then some people are comfortable with, but I like to share the peace and comfort I have felt with the whole situation.
I am a naturally happy person and I can be happy through this also. I am fighting to stay here as long as I can, but I also know God is blessing me all along the journey. 

One thing I wanted taken care of, since I never married or had children, was all my final arrangements. So that things are done the way I have chosen, and the burden wouldn't fall to my mother or siblings. There is a reason I am sharing this with you as I finalized things with the funeral home last week. 

It occurred to me that since those gigantic sprays of flowers, that go on the coffin, are usually over $200, and I have always been allergic to flowers anyway, that my beautiful Fellowship of the Flowers wall hanging would look beautiful draped over my coffin. 

I have chosen a very simple, but beautiful and natural pine coffin which is definitely my style. I am making a patchwork quilt with the word Faith to be be pinned into the lid and my wall hanging will be draped across the bottom. I think it will be so like me and look just beautiful and since I will be wearing my temple clothing (Lucy is a Mormon), as is tradition for my faith, I will be in all white. So all this color will be lovely and peaceful. 

So don't feel sad that I am telling you this. I think it will bring happiness and joy to others at just the right time. Not doing this right away, but years from now. It just brought me such comfort to know everything is planned.

It's amazing how we can feel such a kinship with someone we have never actually met in person. I think that is one of the amazing things about blogging and Facebook, it truly can help us find our kindred spirits even when they are far away. I know you are one of mine. 

Bunny Hugs,

This was my reply to Lucy.

"Oh my gosh Lucy... I am crying, but they are tears of happiness. I cannot begin to tell you how much this means to me. There are days when I want to just give all of this up. It's not an easy business and some days, the amount of theft of my hard work and designs steals my joy and my desire to ever teach or design patterns again. It makes me want to go work at Starbucks where at least I will gt paid for the work I do. 

You telling me this reminds me that at my core, I am here to inspire people, share joy with them and give them moments, if even for a brief time, to be happy and creative. 

Thank you dear friend. You have truly blessed me today!


Fast forward to November 25th of last year where twice in one day I received emails from two different people, in two different parts of the country, telling me that my "Beekeeper Pincushion" design had been stolen, reproduced and distributed to members of pincushion groups to do gift exchanges for Christmas. The two people who told me about it, actually came to purchase the $10 pattern as they knew it was stealing. It clearly states on my pattern, on my website and in my thank you letter that the pattern is copyrighted and my not be reproduced in any form whatsoever. It also says that you agree to use it for your personal use only.

So yet again, right before Christmas, I was out hundreds of dollars and feeling once again that I wanted to just throw in the towel and go work at Starbucks. I mean, I don't know anyone who goes to work and says oh yeah, you can just steal several hundred dollars from my paycheck to give it to your friends for Christmas!

What was also upsetting is that this is just two instances I knew of at this time. I have had stores steal from me and large groups and even other teachers. It gets to be exhausting. It is especially disheartening when people steal from designers to make things for charity! Sorry, that cancels out your good deed!

I spent the next few weeks having some meltdowns, crying to my friends and David and taking some time to think things over. I wondered if I should try a new direction or just call it quits. Did anyone even care? Would anyone miss my designs or me? Has the whole creative world gone mad with stealing?

Then, just as I was about to give in and basically say, "I'm done," I received the news that Lucy didn't react well to the new drug trial and on December 16th, she lost her fight and became an angel.

At that moment I thought of Lucy and her quilt and our journey and our "Fellowship" and friendship that grew through the flowers. At that moment, I was reminded of the reason why I do what I do. At that moment I was reminded of the gifts I was given. Gifts that are meant to bring joy and inspire others. At that moment I figured out how to move my business in a new direction with my "Shadow Box Blocks."

At that moment... I was inspired by Lucy. 

Light, love and hugs,


MacMom said...

Absolutely beautiful and inspiring story of your friendship and journey with Lucy. God Bless you both here and in Heaven. Keep on believing and stitching!

Fee said...

Such a beautiful post Michelle. Like you I became very disillusioned with our industry. Just lately I have felt that I might give it another crack. Thanks for the inspiration to maybe give it another go. Hugs, Fee x

Jeanette said...

Beautiful post Shell. I'm glad you didn't give up as i would surely miss you & the wonderful patterns you create. Hugs, xx

kc said...

Beautiful story about 2 beautiful, strong and brave ladies. Bee creative, bee courageous and keep Faith. Know that you are true to yourself and an inspiration to others. Know, too, that you are making the world more beautiful with your life's work and you have blessed many with your generosity and heart. Those that steal are those that live in shame, or should. They know it's wrong.

Kristen said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I am inspired by both Lucy and you. Your designs are lovely and you deserve to be paid for your creativity. Please keep designing and teaching. One day I hope to join you for a class, but right now I am teaching and living above the Arctic Circle. You and your bunnies bring me joy in a very cold and lonely place. Remember that you never know how many people you touch and inspire, especially in this digital world.

Kaisievic said...

Oh, thank you so much for sharing this story of Lucy. How wonderful to think that the Flower quilt is still keeping her warm, even in heaven.

Erica said...

Michelle what a beautiful inspiring story. Please don't ever ever give up. Your designs are inspiring, your stitching is amazing and to go with all that you are are warm,generous person! What a wonderful combination.
Love you lots and happy to call you a friend

Sparklyjools said...

Truly inspiring, my dearest!x

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...


Well, to me, this is what life is: a gift from the highest power, the highest form of frienship, and love itself: God.

Again, WOW. I too have this faith and as I age, I am grateful for the opportunity to experience this life and to tell about it. I love how all of us have different ways of communicating the joy and wonder of living in this vessel we call a body; your talents and joys have reached many hearts dearest Shell, and to think that this wonderful woman requested that your art be the blanket that covered her on her last "farewell."

Art makes a difference when it comes with friendship. YOU ARE LOVED!

Barb said...

First off, I knew that Lucy was LDS even before you told me, what an inspiration her story is and you should be over the moon with the fact that she draped her coffin with your design. What comfort you gave her. Second, your designs are out of this world wonderful, I am sorry people are stealing from you, it is disheartening but I will tell you this, not only are your designs wonderful but you bring comfort and joy to those around you, so don't stop....keep on a trucking.

Createology said...

This post has me reading with tears...of sorrow and of joy. Lucy is a Godsend in our World and will forever be an Angel here and in Heaven. Her Friendship of Flowers draping is such a tribute to handwork and design and inspiration. I am grateful you have not given up in spite of those who have no integrity and prefer to steal what they cannot do for themselves. As I am slow stitching on your Wonderland Woods design I am ever grateful for YOU and your amazing talent you so generously share with us. I shall always support Raspberry Rabbits and many other small independent businesses. Thank You Sweet Shell. XO

Robbie said...

OMG...this was such a touching post!!! God bless Lucy...and you for giving her this gift of working on her beautiful pattern...I'm sure it was lovely over her coffin...thanks for sharing with us!

Rabbits' Guy said...

Yes well I suppose in your sort of business where "imitation" is so easy it does pay to have a fairly thick skin and press on.

When I was a working stiff we had the saying that one "oh shit" from the boss took more than 10 "attagirls" to make up for.

But you report on one "attagirl" which makes up for all the bad stuff in total!!! You work with some nice people! It must feel well worth it.

Other than that get over it and on with it - bunny people are tough. And the cat needs food.

Judy1522 said...

What an amazing story. I am glad that Lucy inspired you to keep going because you have a wonderful talent and creativity. I am so sorry that people think that it is okay to share your patterns for free. I have seen one online seller charging for patterns that were offered free by fabric companies and were still available for free. I did contact the fabric company about it but don't know how it was resolved.

Three Sheep Studio said...

What an incredible story. I am so glad you shared.
It really is a choice to have joy and happiness each day.
Your work is truly lovely, Michelle.

Shasta Matova said...

A wise man once told me that if you have a retail store, you have to make allowance for theft. Theft will happen and there is no reason to let that demoralize you. I have a feeling that the people who were sharing your pattern did not realize they were breaking copyright. They probably thought that it fits the "personal use" idea.

The Bubble

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