Saturday, December 02, 2017

Celebrating / Pondering Turning 42 & Challenging Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

There are six days til I turn 42. I’m sitting at the long wooden community table at Stories Café in Echo Park, my cup of tea in a cream coffee mug with green stripes to my left, my journal open to reveal my scrawl of writing. There are the regulars checking in on the life of the barista, who is working double shifts and starting back to school, the woman with the friendly terrier mix ordering a coffee, the toddler stopping at a shelf to pull down a heavy art book that caught her eye with its bright colors, her mother catching it before it hits her head. I’m here to write about what it means to turn 42, the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, according to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and author Douglas Adams.

Years ago, my sister asked me, “What is your word?” What one word encapsulates, sums up how I see the world, and my place in it. Thinking about it, looking at themes in my writing, I landed upon *connection*. And community, because I’m wordy. But connection is tied up in community, so connection it is.

As I turn 42 and think about the answer to the ultimate question of life, I find myself once again answering – connection. Hearing people’s stories as I’ve traveled through this corner of the universe, from strangers on the bus in Los Angeles to new friends at the café in Kosovo, from the Project Runway interview room in Atlanta to the community center in Congo, my belief is affirmed, to paraphrase Madeleine L’engle: That which connects us is far greater than that which separates us.

On this birthday, I’m asking for the gift of you to join in this global connection I’ve found in my work co-founding and running Action Kivu. Finding this place, where I have the amazing opportunity to connect with and share the stories of the women and kids of Congo, has been some of the most meaningful moments of my life.

I’m raising money to provide shoes and clothes for 300 children in Mumosho, kids who often do not get to eat every day, and for whom this day is the when they’ll get their only new outfit and pair of shoes for the year.

I’m also raising money to help graduate 42 women from the Sewing Workshop. Just a beautiful gift of the universe that for my 42nd birthday I can help raise money to give 42 women the gift of meaningful work as well. I met graduates from previous classes while in Congo when I was there this last February, and to say that receiving the sewing machine that our graduation kit provides is life-changing is an understatement. The (blurry, joyful) photo below is me reuniting with Ernata, whom I'd met on our first trip to Congo in 2012. Her strength and joy is astounding. Many of the women start co-ops together, and not only find the pride and joy in feeding their kids and sending them to school, but find the joy in sisterhood and community in working side-by-side. They are creating connection.

In his letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

I invite you to help me celebrate community, connection, and my 42nd birthday on December 8th by donating to Action Kivu.

For 2 more days(through Sunday, Dec 3rd) your donation means you will be entered into Alissa Haight Carlton’s amazing annual Giveaway & Fundraiser. There are so many beautiful prizes that you will be entered to win – check out her site for the various levels – even if your art is not sewing or quilting, many of these make gorgeous gifts for this season of giving!

I am so grateful for you, my community, some of you new, many long-time friends who have known me for years and walked beside me in my search for connection. Through it I’ve discovered so much love, so much joy, and so many opportunities to feel deeply woven into that garment of destiny MLK wrote about.