Thursday, November 23, 2006

T is for Thankful!
B is for Blessings!

While our turkey is cooking, the joyful smell of its crackling juices pervasive throughout every cranny in the house, it seems appropriate to make a gratitude list. Mine is random, unedited, in the order conceived… and incomplete.

I’m blessed with a wonderful family. We all like each other; we’re all friends!

Mom, photo by Robin Atkins
Mom ~ who is nearly 90, amazes me constantly. She’s totally deaf, lives across the country from me, and doesn’t do computers… so we communicate the old fashioned way – with letters. Her extensive vocabulary, flawless grammar and love of books have undoubtedly contributed much to my appreciation for good writing.

Mom and Dad, photo by Robin Atkins
Dad ~ and Mom had a rare and envious kind of marriage that was rock solid, founded on deep mutual trust, respect and regard. Together they set a golden example for their family, and provided a road map for navigation through difficulties, illness and loss. For this I am incredibly grateful!

Family gathering, Thanksgiving 1998
My siblings ~ Thom, Matt, Jon and Roxy, their spouses and their kids – I’m so proud of them all, so happy to have their friendship, to have this lovely sense of community, support and family, even though we’re spread across the country! The picture above is from Thanksgiving (in Minnesota!) 1998, when Mom and Dad were still in their home.

Robert Demar at Work, 2005
Robert ~ I’m equally blessed with a wonderful husband. At age 54, I thought I’d never find anybody with whom I could share such a relationship as my parents had. Better to never marry, I thought. But all that changed when I took a photography class at the Coupeville Arts Center and just happened to sit next to Robert Demar. He made me laugh then, and he still makes me laugh. I adore laughing, but am a serious soul… so I need him to fodder the chuckle within. Companions, partners – mates for life– that’s what we are!

Many friends have blessed my life… Here are a few of them:

Liz and Robin, photo by Robert Demar
Liz ~ I’ve probably talked more, revealed more, listened more and learned more with Liz than anybody else in the world. We go back 36 years. We read our morning pages out loud to each other. That’s trust!

Creativity Sisters
Creativity Sisters ~ This group goes back a long time too. Formed early in Beadland (17 years ago), we do art together and encourage each other, especially when life gets in the way of our art.

Quilting Sisters
Quilting Sisters ~ Together, we do lunch and work on our art/quilt projects every Tuesday. I’m so grateful that finally, after living on this island for 8 years, I found local girlfriends. They enrich my life more than I can say.

Friends who invested in a rental property together
Slum Lords, Inc. ~ Well, we were actually really good landlords, but we got a chuckle out of calling ourselves “slum lords.” Four friends (Doug, Anne, Liz and me) back in 1982 bought a duplex together as an investment. The real investment was in our friendship. The duplex sold many years ago, but we still meet from time to time, our bond strengthened by the trust that comes with shared business and money experiences.

My Hungarian bead sister, Anna, and her kids
Anna and Jinghong ~ During my traveling abroad years, I was fortunate to acquire two sisters. Anna, my bead sister (pictured above with her kids), lives in Hungary. Among other things she learned English so we could talk and correspond. Jinghong, my soul sister, bless her heart, knew English so well when we met (Beijing, China, 1991) that she could have been a professional translator. Sensitive and expressive, she wrote beautiful long letters, all of which I still have. Now we communicate more often on the phone.

Many others have and do touch my life in a special way, including all of you blogging friends. Friendship and sisterhood are huge blessings!

My hands doing finger weaving
Hands and eyes ~ a pair of each to make art possible… Oh my goodness, what would I do with out them!

Robin, cycle rider, on her way to Jasper, 2006, photo by Robert Demar
Balance ~ Maybe it was years of dancing that gave me good balance? The blessing of it now is that (at age 64) I can ride my motorcycle! Here are pictures from our recent trip to the Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. What a delightful way to be in the world!

Beaded Blessings, improvisational bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, bead artist
Beads ~ Precious beyond their cost or merit, every little bead (and all my time spent with them) is a treasure, inspiration, and gift. Fabrics, fibers, tools, buttons and paint are right up there as well.

San Juan channel, photo by Robin Atkins
Home ~ Our lovely 5 acres in the middle of San Juan Island, Madrona trees, moss and wildflowers, deer; our sweet and funky little house; our island community; Mt. Baker and all the mountain majesty surrounding us; the beaches and ocean waves; eagles, fox, rabbits, orcas… These are riches beyond measure!

Hollie on the trail to our studio, photo by Robin Atkins
Hollie ~ Our delightful feline, Miss Hollie Three-Bell-Huntress, is a clown and born entertainer... How would we ever manage without a cat in the house to boss us around?

Elections ~ The fact that we can (and do) vote and this year’s election results are small blessings in the thorn of media propaganda (especially prior to elections).

This list could go on and on… but the turkey needs my attention. So adieu my good friends…

Blessings to you this Thanksgiving Day!


  1. I really enjoyed reading your list of thanks and seeing the photographs. Your life is blessed and amazing.

  2. Thank you for sharing your beautiful Mom and loving family. You are fortunate indeed -- a a very wise lady because you know so.

  3. I enjoyed reading this list and seeing all the photos. You have such a rich, full life filled with many blessings....most importantly lots of love.

  4. What a wonderful gratitude list, robin...hope the rest of the holiday season stays joyful for you...

  5. To Susan ~ Welcome to my blog and thanks for your comments. I enjoyed your blog too, and will return for more.

    To Gram, Janet and Beadbabe ~ My husband always says, "You're a lucky woman." He's right. Yet there have been hard times and sad times too (such as when my biological father died when I was 5 years old, and the two years following that when my Mom went back to school and left Thom and me with our grandparents)... Maybe the real blessing is being able to let go of those times and look at my half full cup with appreciation? Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  6. What a wonderful post. Your pictures of family and friends are especially priceless.

  7. Robin,

    Just how beautiful! Thanks. Just got home from the kids and not yet thinking clearly, but what a lovely gift when I got home. Thanks again.

  8. Your gratitude post is wonderful. I truly enjoyed "meeting" your family and friends. And wow do you look sexy on that bike! I too am a Jill of all Trades; painting, drawing, collage, beadwork, but unfortunately have not settled on one thing. Guess I will have wanderlust forever! I have had your book "One Bead At A Time" for quite awhile and am thinking about getting the doll book. I have also been making "spirit" dolls (Beadlocks) for awhile, but not nearly as wonderful as yours. But plenty beady!! I do have a question I hope you will answer for me. (I looked for email on your profile but didn't see it). So...I purchased a package of easy threader, large eye needles (I too am 250!) and they are certainly easy to thread, but I didn't realize the end was not sharp enough to go thru fabric. So...what are these needles for? Just stringing? Drat! I am always buying the wrong things! Will so much appreciate your help. My email addy is on my blog. Thanks Robin. :)

  9. What a thoughtful & poetic post Robin. Lovely.

    I'm a little envious of the balance thing. I'm a Clutz! Tripping over my own feet! I've only ever felt safe & gracful in the water. I should've been a dolphin!

  10. A quandary - What to write about one of the most, if not the most important person in my life. The gift of your friendship is most precious to me. You have listened to me, advised me, loved me, understood me, laughed with me, worked with me, made art with me, had patience with me, taught me, fought with me, made up with me, forgiven me, encouraged me like no one else in my life. You have set such an example of excellence in how you make things and how you do things. I have been the lucky recipient of many wonderful hand/heart made gifts from you that I treasure. You are a risk taker. That picture of you on your motorcycle reminded me of that. You are always stepping out there into the unknown but you do not chastise me if I cannot go that far. I am thinking of your getting me involved in the process poetry class and encouraging me to read my poems out loud. I never got the nerve to stand up in front of a gathering and read them like you did, but I was able to reveal more of myself by reading in class. You have helped me get jobs, do my art work, survive visits home to my parents, deal with my depression, and heal from broken hearts (I’ve woken you up quite a few nights asking you to listen to me. You never turn me away.) You introduced me to cats and taught me the wonderfulness they possess– I cannot imagine living without one now. You introduced me to my first husband – a smart, talented man whose friendship I still value. You helped me through affairs and break ups, memorial services, jewelry shows, speeches, and resume writing.
    Well the frustrating thing about this is that it in no way says what you mean to me, but I had to write something. I love you Robin. Thank you for being my friend.

  11. To Barbara ~ Yes, I think they're priceless too. I'm the picture taker in our family, and glad to have that role.

    To Mary ~ Oh what a sweet thing to say... thanks!

    To Judie ~ Thanks for visiting, and for saying I look sexy on my bike... Yippeee! I went to your blog too, and enjoyed getting to know you a little. I answered your needle question privately, but will also post some tips about needles one of these days soon.

    To Deb ~ Well, I'm a klutz big time when it comes to holding onto things.. I get the worst case of "dropsies" sometimes! But, yes, I'm glad for the balance thing.

    To Liz ~ Goodness, you make it sound so one-sided... you've done all the same things for me thousands of times!!!! What we have is a precious,life-time friendship that runs deeper than deep. Thanks for saying all those wonderful things.... Just turn them around and take them into yourself as well, because it's true.

  12. This is a wonderful post:) It is good to recognize how lucky we are....

  13. Lovely and wonderful! Thank you so much for opening the sweet doors into your life for us....

  14. I love your illustrated thankful list. The attitude of gratitude is one of the best signs of good mental health. Your Mom has great taste in vests, so pretty.


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