Today I'm going to tell you a story about loss.
Over the past couple of weeks I've thought a lot about what I was going to share with you after unveiling the photos of our kitchen renovation. There hasn't been much over the past year or so that has equaled the excitement we felt as we finished that enormous project.
Thank you for the kind comments and emails...I remember all of you. I feel like I've returned once again to the company of an old friend. I've been away from HOME for a long, long time.
I'm a fairly passionate person...but if you've read my postings over the past several years then you already know that. You also know I love my family and my Mr. AGP Man, my La Chaumière de Briarwood (that's my home, remember?), my little Yorkie dog named Mollie (who is now 13 1/2 years old), old lace, tag sales...and well, just creating.
It's in my blood.
Has been for as far back as I can remember.
A couple of years ago I fashioned several vintage style Tote Bags and offered them up for sale. I sold a couple of the larger ones on Etsy and several of the smaller ones on my website. The one remaining Bag, a smaller one, I showcased in my local booth. I had it draped over a mannequin and if you look at the center photo in my header you can see how I had it displayed.
The Tote Bag wasn't very large...but it spurred a great deal of conversation among the shoppers who stopped into my booth. Unlike my website I don't offer a lot of handmade lace-based items to customers. Those types of things sell OK for me locally...but, unless you know firsthand the cost of old trims and lace it's easy to misunderstand the the reasoning behind the asking price of an item.
To some people, lace is lace.
To the keen or trained eye the great vintage stuff can readily be identified. And it's often costly.
Three weeks ago I was in my booth chatting with a very nice customer (who is now also a friend) when she commented that she was happy to see the Tote Bag had sold. Immediate panic set in because I knew it wasn't on my sold items report from the store. From that very moment I knew it my heart it had been
shoplifted stolen ripped-off! I tried to make small-talk with my friend, but my mind was racing. After she left I did a fairly quick, but detailed, look around the entire store and proved my first suspicion...
The pretty vintage lace Tote Bag, the one that took me hours to create, was gone.
Now...I guess it's important to tell you here that I am very aware that part of selling in retail means accepting the fact there will be loss. I've had small things taken over the years and I suppose if you add up the value of all of them together the final tally would be fairly substantial. Years ago when I was in retail management I caught many, many MANY people stealing from the store. The loss came primarily from young boys who were fascinated with early gaming cards (like Yugioh). But, we also busted middle-aged women for lifting greeting cards (yeah, I know!) and tiny little stuff that honestly made no sense to me. By far though, the most difficult loss to swallow was when it came from my employees. I better understand today the mindset of most shoplifters. Generally it's isn't about need...it's about the thrill of taking something you don't have to pay for, getting away with a crime, or the false belief you are owed something.
Anyway...back to the missing Tote.
The store has security cameras and I have a couple of great ones pointing directly into my booth. The eye-in-the-sky rarely disappoints...and we are dealing with it.
It's taken me a few weeks to
get over accept this personal loss. No...my house didn't burn down, my car wasn't stolen and no one I love was hurt. My body wasn't violated.
But, my heart was.
Anger absolutely engulfed me and every time I thought about the work that went into making that petite little bag I was left feeling sick. Honestly...I make things by hand because I love to create...the money I earn, although needed and appreciated, is not what drives me. The actual hourly profit is so incredibly low (especially when making soft-goods) I've sometimes wondered over the years why I've continued.
When terrible things happen to us, whether it be something TRULY tragic or something fairly minor, our hearts ache.
Mine aches for fairness...justness...but mostly for healing.
Like I said...I've been pretty angry.
This morning I picked up a piece of aging lace from an ever growing pile of vintage finds in order to begin again. I wondered for a moment from whence all the laces, trims and bits of fabric came. Were they fashioned by hard working hands? And how on earth did they find their way to me? Most were discovered nestled amidst boxes filled with hoarded mementos, gathered or created over decades by the women who have gone before me.
Years of collecting led me to them.
I suppose, not unlike the beauty found in the scraps of lace used to create my offerings, I've always believed it's possible for God to take the tiniest of scraps and unworthy pieces of my life and create something lovely from them if only I would allow Him to do so.
And so, I did what I always do when discouraged and broken. I returned to the embrace of the Master-Creator of EVERYTHING to trust Him to straighten the narrowed path I've found myself traveling upon...to make right again my journey... to soften my anger, quiet my spirit and restore my floundering faith in others.
Someday, somewhere, I hope my lost Tote Bag will find it's way to a worthy person's hands...and in turn inspire them to continue on as I am continuing on...
To go where they are led.
Serve where they are called.
And once again be found.
Love to you...