Two days after my most recent post, an EF5 tornado devastated our city of Joplin, MO.
Thankfully, my home and family were spared. However, many of our friends were left homeless and in shock. Since then I have spent many weeks grieving, supporting friends, volunteering and celebrating the resilient spirit of a city I am proud to call home.
For some reason, the event pulled me away from my illustration work. Looking back now, I find that a bit strange, since drawing has always been a wonderful solace for me during difficult times. I think I was just so overwhelmed by the emotions around me that I was unable to focus. If truth be told, I was also suffering from a bit of survivor’s guilt. I find so much joy in creating my illustrations… living out the experiences of my characters… knowing that they will be enjoyed by the people who see them. In some small way I think I may have been denying myself that experience and the happiness that process brings to my life.
Instead, I began making jewelry which I have been selling to raise money for relief efforts. Many of the pieces I created were made using debris from my friend’s homes. The process has really helped me in my own emotional recovery. It provided me with a way to give back to those who were in so much need. I raised a lot of money. I provided survivors, volunteers and generous people across the country with beautiful reminders of the devastation and the message of hope that followed. I had the privilege to meet and correspond with inspiring and courageous people. But most importantly, I was able to reflect on what is really important in my own life. The entire experience has changed me forever.
My friends have all found new homes now.
Each of them are putting the pieces of their lives back together.
I am deeply inspired by their strength.
And as each day goes by, I am beginning to feel like I can return to my own life again. I’m looking forward to what the next few weeks will bring…
All the proceeds from my jewelry sales go to the Joplin relief efforts. You can visit my Etsy store at http://www.etsy.com/shop/JipsieLane