Threads ~ We are all connected, We all have a story

Have you ever noticed how your mood is lifted when you spontaneously catch the eye of a stranger and share a smile in passing? So often, we stay in our own private worlds, our defined spaces of friends and family, of familiar routines. But once in a while– sometimes on purpose, sometimes by serendipity– we connect to someone we don’t know and it lifts us up. To me, those moments are the small reminders of a big idea– that we are all connected and that behind the face of every smiling stranger, there’s a story.

A couple of years ago, in a Tai Chi class I was taking, my curiosity was piqued by a woman I hardly knew who had a hobby I never imagined I would find fascinating. She was a quiet presence in the far corner of the room, taking the same spot each week, as we all seemed to do. Tall and slim, with her long gray hair pulled back in a pony-tail, she moved gracefully, purposefully, silently.

One day, I happened to overhear her describing her needlepoint projects and was captivated. I edged to the outskirts of the group that had gathered around her as she showed her work and described it. Listening to her speak, it was almost as though her philosophy of life unfolded in every stitch of her work.

A few weeks later I gathered the courage to approach her and ask a favor. I wanted to tell her story, to record her voice, to photograph her work, to let her wisdom unfold through her description of her hobby. At that point, I was only just beginning to explore the realm of mixed media storytelling. I had barely any samples of my work to show her to give myself some credibility in asking. I asked anyway. And she said yes. I was stunned that she would trust me with something so personal as her own story when I could only give her a vague notion of what I wanted to create.

I had envisioned a story based on audio and images featuring her face, her gentle countenance, her words, and the colors and textures of her needlepoint projects. In my original plan, her voice and face would be at the forefront and I would be invisible– an unseen editor creating a vehicle for her story to tell itself. Yet the day I interviewed her, I learned that she did not like being in the spotlight and would prefer that her face and name not be featured in the story I would create.

So I did the only thing I could think to do– I became her narrator. While those who know me best will tell you that I am not shy about hamming it up and being the center of attention in small gatherings of close friends, when it came to this realm of sharing stories of heart and substance, I felt shy and was more comfortable being an invisible hand behind the story. But the thought of letting a good story go untold was too much for me and nudged me forward.

I first mixed this story in 2009 and shared it with family and friends. The anonymous subject of my story became known as “The Threads Woman” amongst my friends. Several said they wished they could meet her, have coffee with her, learn more about her, be her friend. They, too, had been captivated by what I saw and heard.

Remixing the original materials with the newer software and techniques I now use, I was pleased that the heart of this story is as compelling to me now as it was when I first heard it.  And just as “The Threads Woman” said yes to the story idea originally, she has graciously allowed me to share her story more widely, reminding us that we are all connected and that we all have a story to share.

10 Comments on “Threads ~ We are all connected, We all have a story

  1. Lady…you’ve got talent!

    I get goose bumps when I see “We are all connected, we all have a story.” You express that beautifully and that sentiment is what first drew me to your work.

    The 5th century Catholic saint and scholar, Augustine said, “We are all as one.” I’ve always taken that to mean, “We are all as one. In our joys and sufferings we are all of each other, connected.” You beautifully capture the essence of that in your work and in your spirit, Lucy. Thank you for that.

    Charlie

    • Charlie, Thanks so much for your gracious comments. I appreciate your linking the St. Augustine quote to the story, as well. Beautiful! You understand this landscape perfectly! –Lucy

    • Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed the video! I know the subject of my story will likely stop by here and will appreciate seeing how her wisdom has touched so many, as well. And thanks for helping share the story! –Lucy

  2. I have never really liked needlepoint until now. I learned it as a child from my stepmother and I loved the attention she gave me while teaching me but the confines of the diagonal stitch in the predrawn picture lost its appeal for me pretty quickly. Your women, her story, redefines this craft. She has found a way to create in what I had decided up until now was an uncreative task. I find this dichotomy of this piece interesting. Needlepoint is a particularly “conservative” craft and yet she is seemingly pushing this craft to a “funky” place, a truly creative place. I did not know needlepoint had this capacity.

    • Martha, I love your memory of learning to needlepoint from your stepmother and what that meant to you. Conjures memories for me of those moments of care and attention as a kid that make us feel special. Like you, I never suspected I’d find needlepoint so fascinating, but in reality it’s not the craft itself but the way this particular woman chose to use it as a tool for personal expression that struck me as so meaningful. A reader who saw and commented on my blog at a site where it was reposted compared this needlepoint project to the way young girls in the “old days” in his culture used to tell their parents their feelings and wishes through the pictures they wove into their Kilim rug creations. Makes me pause and consider how much more vast the possibilities for creativity are when we let ourselves color “outside the lines” and use traditional techniques in new ways or for new purposes. Fun to think about! –Lucy

  3. This is truly beautiful and amazing. While watching your video with her work – I felt like being under some divine spell.

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