Monday, May 24, 2010

The Sisterly Bond

I remember when she was born.  I came home one afternoon and she was there in my mothers bed, nursing.  I was allowed to hold her over a pillow and she rewarded me with the strangest little sounds.  She was my sister and I instantly loved her.

Little blond hair sprouted out of her head and she grew to be so friendly with my brother with whom she would always seem to get into some kind of mischief while I read my books.  She also made me the older sister, a title I was doomed to accept although I was not always successful in being the example my parents expected me to be.

She continued to grow and got much attention from all of us including my grandmother and my parents, in addition to a neighbor’s house where she spent many days of youthful bliss while we attended school.  She was fond of the cool shade of  their veranda, of the grapes hanging from their trellis and their current maid, soft and gentle.

She eventually adopted my friends as hers and accompanied us on outings to the beach or the mountains.  She was beautiful and married young.

After both of us found our husbands we really became good friends.  Back from South America I landed in Haiti with a leap in my heart remembering people I had not seen, along with places and cities where my memories were left untouched.  We spent long evenings talking late into the night bringing to life the things of our childhood. Back in South America such long talks stimulated memories of home and brought tears to my face with my throat constricted and dry.  They were things I longed for while I led my life in Peru or Bogotá.

We visited as sisters, but were also surrounded by our kids; and her husband would catch moray eels or else would talk to my husband while fixing some long rum punches. We talked as we soaked in the waves.  He  would also drive us to some hidden river where we met some long green snake that would scare the hell out of us and we would take refuge with bare tops in the green flow of the waters.

At times, we would both put on our makeup in the two vanities of her bedroom, each  under a different light and talk until our mouths went dry.  This house that both she and her husband designed created a U where the pool stood like an ancient blue lagoon graced with blooming hibiscus and Bougainvilleas with many hummingbirds turning around her head in the morning light to my total astonishment.

We grieved together when my parents died and when many of our loved ones disappeared.  We went through the pain of the years  growing up together under a dictatorship with its killings, its horrors and multiple crimes.  We also witnessed together the birth of our first grandchildren and shared the fun of a trip to Paris.

Now in Colorado, we meet to tell stories about life and we laugh together.  We remember the many memories of a land long ago left behind which will never be what it was before. The country of our childhood is gone.

Her strengths are in interpreting, in designing and growing great gardens, in people and stories and in writing like many others in  our family had done.  She balances my seriousness with her vitality and her laugh and her gift for people while I work alone in my studio!

But there is a reason why we are sisters; our family left us a legacy of pride, learning and the teaching of many principles and wisdom that we carry within us.   At times it seems a burden, but we honor  it the best we can.  She is my sister of beauty and knowledge and our common roots run deep.

2010 Copyright Micheline Brierre

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I opened my door and she stood smiling in front of me.  I had the eerie feeling that I knew her from before -- I mean from another lifetime.  We became friends right away. Her blonde hair was curly then, permed like a little lamb, one of my favorite animals. 

We visited so often over a cup of tea and talked for hours.  I loved to go to her house because I had to cross a great deal of open fields and nurseries that refreshed my mind and soul.  She was the one who announced the change of seasons to me.  “There is a scent of Fall in the air,” she would say.  I though it was a great feat of perception for someone who lived in Miami where one barely senses the change of the seasons, unlike other parts of the country.

We traveled together. Went to Texas together, to Haiti together. We toured Florida for the Inner Peace movement and we went to be interviewed together to appear in radio shows.  Our friendship was complete then as it is still now.

When my mother died one evening after I traveled to Haiti, I was so awfully stricken, taking care of all there was to do after her death.  It was not until midnight that she called me from Miami and asked in a gentle voice “Did you remember to cry?”  Her words gave permission to let the tears flow and grieve as I should.

Back to Miami on a bench park in front of a lake, we talked about our most intimate thoughts; sex, life and about what we wanted out of living.  We walked out of there a bit elated; a weight was taken out of our chest.  We could breathe again.  Our life was difficult then, we both considered possible divorces and indeed, she accompanied me to see the judge to get the final word on a divorce that was sad after a long marriage and she got divorced as well.

Life separated us.  She went to live in Alaska and I moved to Colorado.  We both remarried.  Computers or phones linked us so we could communicate as before but with much more acquired wisdom and always the yearning to spend an afternoon over a cup of tea.

When I got sick, she came from California to be with me.
Her presence was a healing balm.  So many years of togetherness have joined our spirits and it seems like we are more sisters than just friends.  I have my real sister that I love but I will write about her later.

She was always one of these bright lights sent by the universe and I knew she loved me as I loved her.  She also adopted my sister as hers, my daughter as hers and she was always present, ready to add her input if I needed it.

Friendship is sometime ephemeral like the passing of a comet in the sky of our lives.  People seem to enter our days for a certain duration and once this time is passed they leave us to move to what they need at this moment of their lives.  Some rare ones are planted like a tree who stand firmly in our lives and accompany us through our joys and our sorrows and the little inconsequential things that makes us laugh.

For me a true friend is rather like a rare hot house bloom.  Someone to be nurtured and kept in my memory as a fine companion that life has provided to smooth and share the current of events and enchant our dreams.  

I call her my soul sister and there is a laugh in her eyes.

copyright 2010 Micheline Brierre

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Power of Little Things

So many disasters happen every day in the world!  Besides the devastation in Haiti and the war in Afghanistan, the bombings in Iraq, the killing of the children in China, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the conflict in Thailand, and so many other atrocious news stories, we have many reasons to feel that we are a very fragile, a most vulnerable specie.  We, humans, are at the mercy of the next event and it makes us contemplate the little things that bring a light to our eyes and that can create an inward smile.

I had a friend who used to tell me “Don’t touch that plate, doing the dishes is my meditation!”  Now every day as I do the dishes I think of her and indeed the dishes have become my meditation also.  The water flows, the detergent is running down the sponge and my mind is far away, lost in bliss.

Some little things are more potent than strong discourses; like waking up and while still under the covers, warm from the night, I feel the joy of being alive and I imagine myself sending love to all I know and all I will meet.  This is a moment of pure bliss that transports me to visit my friends and family even though only through my senses.

I am never too busy to water the plants and as I do so, I marvel at each new leaf, the growth reaching for the ceiling and a miracle, the buds on one my orchids.  I anticipate the blooms and the beauty that it promises and the colored petals freshly arching toward me.

I love to take a break from my studio and watch the birds on the deck.  They come to eat, of course, but the collared doves just linger as a pair on the railing and even look straight at me and make me wonder.

Life is full of disasters and horrible crimes but it is also full of beauty for us to absorb and let travel slowly through our soul.
What about the simplicity of a smile from a total stranger at the super market; the minute power of such an innocent gesture so endearing and so life affirming?  It freshens my mood and resets my day very much for the better.

There is also the strength of the written word.  A simple and marvelous comment on my blog or an email filled with words that embrace each other and make the marvel of a sentence.  For me, a real delight.

As I look at my computer I find the news from a dear friend and I transport to their window with a photo of a tree, a flower, or a precious pet and best of all a new child in the family or a cherished grandkid.

And of course there is the presence of the one we love, the hand encircling ours, the pure pleasure of being together and laughing at the same funny thing.

The list could continue over miles of paper or a lot of memory on my laptop.  The truth is that each person has his or her own secret joy that is offered by very simple but potent things.  We are aware of those things or we aren’t.  For me, bringing my total focus on these little happenings is relief from death and disease, wars and world news.

So next time I do the dishes I will let my thought go to sleep and it will be once again my meditation. Think of what is the little things that makes you marvel at the world and laugh.   I’ll bet you have a long list already.

2010 Copyright Micheline Brierre 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Preparing for an Art Show

 Everyday I have worked in my studio and now my signature is needed for most of my jewelry.  This is a job that Barry my husband does.  I do the signing on a special background and he places the signature on the suede on the back of the pieces.  Once it is done, we will start gearing up for a show this weekend in Wichita, Kansas.

It is organized by the Museum of Art and I hope their publicity will bring us lots of buyers and lots of sales.  We have never done this show before and we have never been to Wichita.  So we are going on a real adventure.  Discover Wichita and discover what makes the people there respond to my work or ignore it.

The life of an artist is rather solitary.  I work by myself all the time.  Almost.  I don’t need to mention my inner voice that leads me to new designs to new ways of creating a piece so as to keep my work always fresh, always new.  After all, the pieces are all  one-of-a-kind.  My customers expect it.  And I am so glad not to have to repeat myself.  It would be a bore.

Breaks are like a breath of fresh air.  I come up to listen to the birds, see the garden, see the light and the mountains, let my mind pause and reflect.  It is good to take a look at the world that constantly changes at every moment.  In the afternoons after three I listen to NPR on the radio and strangely it does not seem to affect my work when I make jewelry; but when I paint, I need the silence of the soul as each stroke leads me to the picture I want and see in my imagination.

As I listen to the news about the world, I shiver as I hear some and rejoice at others.  News is someone’s rendition of the facts; I take it all with a grain of sand.

Then there is all the jewelry to price and tag.  A job that I do alone knowing about what the gemstones are, the elements I bought at the last bead show, the amount of work on each piece and finally putting a price to what I have done.  It goes very fast.  I listen to my inner voice as a price comes to my ears as if I someone had placed it there for me to transfer to the paper. The wonderful intuition in action for which I feel blessed and that I trust completely.

Then I organize everything by colors.  It goes in a box, well cushioned, ready for the trip.  Then there is the project of loading everything in the van.

We use it just for traveling to shows and it is crammed with light racks suspended from the ceiling, bins of gift boxes, a collection of pens, little bags I use for earrings I sell, plus my cards, tissue paper, display material, extension cords, bins with table covers, photos of my jewelry enlarged for the walls, and of course the canopy and its covers.  Walls and roof.  And there is more.

We also need to pack our credit card machine, our calculators, my tools and of course the findings to change earrings to clasp or to post and to create a smile on the faces of our customers.

Did I forget anything? We need to pack our clothes for warm and cool weather, our meds or food supplements, our shoes and all the necessary paraphernalia to look good or decent.

And there is the house, watering the plants, securing the doors, the lights, holding the mail, the sprinkler system and at last sometimes let the neighbors know we are leaving.

Finally we review our show checklist to make sure we do not forget anything.
One time we forgot the roof to our canopy.  Another time the covers for the tables.  So we learned and have made a list to ensure we forget nothing.  Hopefully.

When we get in our van ready to leave, I get to anticipate the road ahead.  The beauty of the earth as we go along and I marvel at the curves of the land, blades of grass bending under the wind and birds flying off as we approach the arc of their flight.  When I drive, I focus on the road and my mind is free to imagine.  A trip to a show is for me a hard working vacation, a break from my studio and once at the show, the joy of meeting strangers, people who can become friends or remain clients.  I smile at them all and rejoice, no matter how early I have to start the day, it is a fantastic adventure, a new city, and the promise of a new experience with all that the word entails.

The tough work does not matter.

I still remember the field of sunflowers on the way back from Omaha displaying their petals as far as the eyes could see. The yellow on the bright sky crying for joy.

Traveling by road has its infinite beauty, a chance to visit the places of the earth that we know or the ones reserving their grace for our eyes. 

Our show will bring just that. Time to go!

Copyright 2010 Micheline Brierre