My Name is Sarah

MY NAME IS SARAH. I am a quilt designer and the sewcial director of Sarah's Sewcial Lounge. I also have a business called Down Right Charming. I sell my quilts mostly on etsy and I make pillowcases to donate to patients in the hospital in memory of my friend Kristen Kirton. I am a young adult living with Down syndrome. I hope you enjoy reading about my life journey.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Golden Gift..."Allow her to rise above them"...

a message from Joyce: First, please let me thank everyone for all the well wishes for my birthday. It was absolutely an amazing day and weekend. I recognize that not everyone wants to celebrate or even acknowledge their golden birthday, the big 50. And I will admit, I was not especially happy when that first envelope arrived from AARP. Why does that launch at 50? No one I know is ready to retire at that age.

The truth though, I was really looking forward to my 50th birthday.

For me it symbolized a new beginning, the fresh start to the next half of my life. A few months back I identified January 15th, as the day I would be waking up, free from the previous pains that were plaguing me. If you are a loyal follower, you may remember that back in August I had a relative call me and say some very mean and nasty things about a blog post I had written. I understood the core message she was trying to relay, but she laced her tirade with some hurtful threats and tried to twist and manipulate my love for my husband into her demands. Although on an intellectual level I recognized that her tactics were that of a bully, on a personal level I had trouble shaking it. Her words were haunting me like a low budget horror flick.

Then other things started happening. Phone calls, emails, and text messages until one day I just had enough. Something had to change. As a person trained in social work, I know there is really only one person you can change. Yourself. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I talked to professionals, clergy, friends, other relatives, and of course my husband and kids where appropriate. I studied research journals, twelve step programs and self help manuals. I joined an online woman of faith support group and read the bible. I also read your blogs. Many of us as it turns out, have the same type of struggles.

What I discovered during this process, has been truly life enhancing. Over the years I have engaged in many different workshops and instruments that helped me identify what my personality and work types have been in the job environment, but never on a personal level. I'm not sure why I did not embark on this self discovery process years ago, but then again, I probably was not ready. I will say that it has been the most uplifting thing I have ever done for myself.

I am going to share some of what I have learned that might be helpful to others. If not today, then like me, one day in the future. I am going to start with a story that you may have read before. I have had it neatly tucked away for years and from time to time I would read it. As I began this journey there was a sentence near the end that became very important to me, almost like a mission statement.

So I now have it prominently displayed on the white board in my creative studio with one of my favorite photos of Sarah and me. It is one of my favorites because it was taken at a fashion show that my mother worked hard to organize. For many years she was on many different boards and committees in her home city that supported individuals with Down syndrome. Sarah's health did not often allow us participate in her activities, but this one May, we made it to the mother/daughter tea.

(click picture to enlarge or
I have retyped it below so you can copy)

by Erma Bombeck

Most women become a mother by accident, some by choice and a few by habit. Did you ever wonder how mothers of children with life threatening illnesses and disabilities are chosen? Somehow, I visualize God hovering over earth selecting His instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger..."Armstrong, Beth, son, patron Matthew." Forrest, Margorie, daughter, patron saint Cecilia." "Rutledge, Carrie, twins, patron saint Gerard."

Finally he passes a name to an angel and says, "Give her a child with Down syndrome." The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She is so happy." "Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a child with Down syndrome to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel." "But does she have patience?" Asks the angel. "I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she will handle it. I watched her today." said God. " She has that feeling of self independence that is so rare and necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has it's own world. She has to make it live in her world and that is not going to be easy."

"But Lord, I don't think she believes in you." said the angel. "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness." The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"

God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes here is a woman I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take anything her child does for granted. She will never consider a single step ordinary. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice...and allow her to rise above them."

"And what about her patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air. God smiles and says..."A mirror will suffice."

On this 50th birthday, I recognize once again that I have been given a gift so great in Sarah. I have seen the ignorance, the cruelty and the prejudice and I have been allowed another gift, the ability to rise above them. I am grateful.


Heather said...

"I have seen the ignorance, the cruelty and the prejudice and I have been allowed another gift, the ability to rise above them. I am grateful."

I too will "rise above them" and be better for it.

Love this poem.Have read it many times.Different parts have spoken to me at different times.In light of the recent ugliness my way,grateful you shared ... for this part,this part will carry me.

Love to you and your beautiful Sarah.

Sonia said...

Thank you Joyce and Sarah! I am eternally grateful for you both!

ABandCsMom said...

Such a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing!

Karen said...

I've been a fan of Erma Bombeck since forever, but I somehow missed that. Thank you for sharing it.

The VW's said...

The best gift EVER!!!

Love and Hugs!!!

Anne and Whitney: Up, Down and All Around said...

I have not seen this poem before, thank you so much for sharing it and for sharing your perspective!!!! great post :) happy 50th birthday, too!

starrlife said...

Except our children ARE perfect aren't they. I'm so glad that you have found your inner peace with all of that family stuff Joyce.
PS- didn't know that you were/are a SW? Me too! I know exactly what you mean about self application.

stephanie said...

I was given this poem by a friend who has a special needs child. It was one of the best gifts I've ever received.
Beautiful post Joyce. i love the way you look at turning 50. A new beginning, I think I will adapt that way of thinking too.

Lacey said...

What a great poem. I'm fortunate not to have delt with much hatred, but it makes me sad that my friends do. We love you and Sarah!

Rochelle said...

Awesome post Joyce. You & Sarah continue to be a blessing and inspiration to us. I am thankful that you have risen above ~ I have always loved Erma Bombeck. This poem is just one example of her outstanding work.

Tsquared417 said...

I love this. I'm typing it up and putting it somewhere where I can read it often. I definitely don't think I'm a saint, but it's a nice reminder of what a gift we've been given. Thanks, Joyce! Glad you had a wonderful bday!

Scarehaircare said...

I have never read that before. I shall make sure to copy it. Joyce, thanks for breaking ground every single day. It sets an example for me.

Anonymous said...

Love it. Will send many folks over to read it...thanks.

FBF Rothkopf said...

One of my favorites. And a belated Happy Birthday to you!