Friday, May 08, 2009

Little By Little

What an interesting few days I've had. I've been being crafty. See, I'd decided to join Ken in the body art business. I'm not quite ready to start tattooing, so I thought I'd began gently. I wanted to get an airbrush tattoo kit. Airbrush tattoos are pretty fun, and my kids loved getting them at the Ann Arbor Art fair, but the cost for supplies is prohibitive, especially with a pending move. I also thought about doing henna tats and promptly bought an inexpensive kit. And in the process of researching I stumbled upon glitter tattoos. Every girls needs a little sparkle sometime, don't you think? For the last two days I've been busy trying these things out.

First, the henna. It's harder than it seems, lovies, but I managed to get a few good designs done. Abbie has a tiny flower and vine on her tummy. It turned out pretty light, and I thought it'd be dark on her because she's so fair skinned. Next was Nia. A paisley design on her leg turned out pretty terrific. ZZ got a vine on her hand that was so so, and I put this design on my own hand.
This one stained best of all. I wish I'd have used a pattern instead of doing this one freestyle, but I'm acquiring a taste for it. Still, I won't quit my... um... day job. Or 3 am job, depending on where my brain is stalled.

This evening's experiment with the glitter tattoos was pretty bad. You'd think I could handle a little glitter and glue, but I couldn't find the right type of glue. Not for glitter tattoos. It has to have a little staying power while not being toxic. Initially the designs looked amazing. But not many moments later they were gone.

This is the star on ZZ's back, after she took a nap.
Sigh. It really was beautiful, at first. And this is with a more heavy duty adhesive. The gel glue I tried initially was a total wipe out, no pun intended.

I suck at these things. At least I do right now.

I can't say I wasn't discouraged. Then reflective. I asked myself why I was doing any of this at all. And then I started thinking of money. See, my boyfriend had been giving me little tokens. And I'd been giving myself little treats. Just as few things I hustled for, taking pop cans back, for example, and taking my mother-in-law ALL OVER THE EARTH! At least it felt that way for a few days. I wanted a means to be able to treat myself! Who wants to be a kept girlfriend? Or full time cabbie. And since I still appear to be unemployable, I thought a little body art on the side would be the ticket.

Money has never been a big motivator for me. I've always been attracted to jobs that pay NOTHING but have glorious spiritual rewards. I lose steam midway as a sales person, and it's all I can do to write a proposal and market my books. I'd rather write them! Dream them! But sell them? I'd just as soon let someone else do that.

When I was in the chrysalis I told you about I read one of my favorite spiritual writer's newest release, Robert Benson's, The Echo Within. It's all about vocation and calling. He said there is a Word God's speaks when He makes us. It's our Word alone. We often hear the echo of it. It points the way to who we are. I mean who we really, really are. This book was so important to me. It clarified so many things. It confirmed, so beautifully, that I've been on the right track all along, though I have my doubts some days. I am a writer, loves. That's who God made me to be. I've prayed so many prayers asking for a job, and the only one that has opened is the one God gave me. I sold a book this year. I'm working on it now. My publisher has expressed interest in another book. I've nearly earned out my advance on Wounded and Zora and Nicky, and while I won't be on the New York Times Bestseller list for those titles, people are still buying them. I'm still in the game.

I'm also an artist. No, I don't think I'll be having any exhibits, as you can see by my crappy henna design. But some of my most fulfilling moments have been making art for my friends in the last year (even the art I haven't mailed yet). Sorry Mich and Ali. And Ali, I'll give you yours in person!

I didn't get paid to do those things, but God, in that funny way of His, kept providing for me. People sent me checks to buy art supplies. People prayed for me. The two icons I painted for friends made them cry. There is great value in their tears, lovies. They are priceless to me.

I also am made to welcome the stranger. If you've read Zora and Nicky you know my definition of "stranger" is the person who is cut off from love. I've talked endlessly about houses of hospitality, and written about them in Zora and Nicky and The Exorsistah 2. I even wrote a house a few months ago and asked how I could begin the process of starting my own. Turns out I've been offering hospitality for at least 13 years. One after another "stranger" who was a sister, nephew, cousin, neighbor, and wayward teen has dwelled in La Casa Burney. It was so effortless, I didn't see it for what it was. It took a few people doing community to say to me, "This is what it looks like. You're there."

With all this in mind, I knew I needed to release my worries, greed, and stress. I settled myself. I breathed in and out. I asked myself if I would trust my Good God. And I will. How can I help myself? He just doesn't fail me. I don't live large in possessions (new blign from Target, notwithstanding) but I do live large in love, or try to. And God rewards me again and again. Besides, what was I thinking? Like I'd really make big money doing henna and glitter tats.

But this is what I can do: little by little I can decorate my lovies with attention and compassion. Little by little I can work through the minutiae that is uniquely, authentically mine to do. It's a small thing to put a little something pretty on someone, but the love I give with that service will mean a lot, both to me, and the person I adorn. It's a small thing to open my door to a homeless young man who can' t find a break anywhere else, but to watch the rough edges of his past soften, and see him less angry and more hopeful. That's pretty amazing. I don't get paid big money to do these things, but I always get back for my little kindnesses. God takes care of lovers. Don't you forget that.

So, I'll just keep practicing, keep writing, and keep welcoming the stranger. Most of all, I will keep trusting that if I ask God for bread He will not give me a stone.

That's just His way.



Heidi Renee said...

haven't finished reading the whole post - but here's a youtube on how to do glitter tattoos - thought it might help?

ragamuffin diva said...

Thanks, Heidi. My biggest problem was the adhesive I used. I found out medical grade acrylic adhesive gives the glitter staying power and it's safe for people with latex allergies. Gonna try that. You rawk for finding me a video.

Alison Strobel Morrow said...

Girlfriend, I am just so happy for you. I'm so happy you're writing. I'm so happy your books are selling!! I'm so happy you're finding your way and are in such a good place right now. I can't wait to see you!!!!

ragamuffin diva said...

Soon, Ali! Can you believe it???

Tracey Michae'l Lewis-Giggetts said...

...sigh...I don't know how this is going to sound, Mair, but the struggle that your write about with such transparency is really quite beautiful. I see God in it and in you and its fascinating, inspiring. I'm from Louisville, Kentucky. Went to school in Lexington at UK. Going to put my feelers out there to see if there is anything that I can do to help the move. Don't know what or how or even if. But all I know is that I have to try and help. Keep you posted.

Robert Benson said...


Thank you for your reading THE ECHO WITHIN in the first place, and for your sharing it with your friends. I am honored by the first, grateful for the second, and humbled by both.

Namaste —

R. Benson