Learn and Earn – A Personal Perspective

Learn and Earn

A Personal Perspective

Written by Sharon Cecil

Growing up in a dysfunctional family and my mother’s death my senior year of high school set me on a journey full of exploration and discovery that included a failed marriage, multiple moves and several jobs.  I was full of doubt, had no self-esteem or confidence in myself. But, I knew that I had to learn in order to earn my way in life.

While married to my first husband, I experienced a turbulent yet MIRACULOUS pregnancy, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, bouncing baby girl in 1972.  Whew—after experiencing a Postpartum Depression, I was in need of a full body wellness experience.  

In order to be a good mother, I knew that I was going to need a lot of guidance.  Mental health seemed to be what was needed the most.  Part of the health care plan was to become engaged in therapeutic crafts.  This seemed to be the most beneficial part of my care plan, it was important to learn as much as I could.

In 1974, I started a craft class at Bardstown Road Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY with the Highland Community Ministries.  This class lasted until the mid-1980’s.

During this time, I found myself to be a single parent after a difficult divorce.   I learned how to barter, and sell consignments utilizing my craft skills.  In order to supplement my income, I began:

  • doing cleaning at a local sewing center in exchange for sewing lessons and material to make my daughter and myself clothes 
  • making craft items to sell at a shop in St. Matthews, KY
  • learning a simple painting style while talking ceramic lessons in order to teach lessons for a craft shop in Jeffersontown, KY.

In 1979, an opportunity was available for me to go to college on a grant. During the discussion with my advisor, I shared that I would like to do hair styling, be a seamstress, chef or baker—something artistic.  He said that the only college course that would fit the list was chef through a Culinary Arts Program, which was not recommended.  He said that if I wanted to do something artistic, “you need to minor in art and get a traditional degree.”  He pushed business.  

I decided to get an Art Degree with no business in the mix.  

Some years passed, and I became a Registered Nurse. Since then, I‘ve applied my art and nursing skills as a psychiatric nurse, university lecturer, health educator and social advocate to design creative programming that benefit others.

As cancer survivors, my late husband, Moody Cecil, and I co-founded We Survive in 1994.  In 2012, Moody became dependent on me for much of his care.  Choosing to keep Moody at home was a choice I don’t regret making. Although it drained our finances and I am now experiencing financial fragility, I am a fighter who will not sit back with self-doubt.  That will not get me anywhere.   

In 2014, it was decided to re-ignite an event that was originally held in 1997—LIGHTFEST.  By 2015, we became less involved in the community because of both of our medical challenges.  But it was still possible to keep LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited (LFR) viable.  In 2017, LFR was celebrated in over 70 cities and 2 countries. It has been the goal of LIGHTFEST to reach an international level whereby everyone around the world will shine a Light of HOPE.

I faced life’s tragic obstacles that came with a dysfunctional family, the harshness of not being loved by a parent to watching people self-destruct through poor choices. Once I married Moody, I learned how to be loved unconditionally, believe in myself and dare to dream. 

Moody and I faced many obstacles and yet never gave up our passion to help others.  We blended our talents and created We Survive.  Our obstacles were many but our resolve was strong.

My actions have been from acquiring a deep-seated desire to never have another person feel alone or afraid.  As my husband would say to me and I now say to others, “I will believe in you until you believe in yourself. “  

Moody passed away in December of 2016.  Today I sit here writing this story thinking about the Business Degree I didn’t pursue and the lessons I have learned along the journey life has taken. Having personally experienced the power of hope, I am inspired to share that message with others through art and nature. I believe that “Art Saves Lives.”  It has saved mine numerous times.  

This year, We Survive is kicking off a Social Entrepreneurship Initiative—Learn and Earn which had gained momentum due to We Survive’s Voices – Passport to Art that took place in March 2018.

It is important to do what gets you excited–Purposeful Living is about living a life that you love.

I feel that Learn and Earn is not just about the potential to earn money. It’s about earning self-respect, self-confidence, recognition and support, and learn entrepreneurial skills. If some money can be earned, great!!!

Watch this short video to learn more about We Survive and some of its programming.


 

A Picture Perfect Day

A Picture Perfect Day

Remembering Moody and Day of Hope

March 25, 2017

A Picture Perfect Day

Written by Sharon Cecil

Father Bob Mueller, pastor of Good Samaritan United Catholic House Church and Vice President of Development at Hosparus Health presided over the Remembering Moody portion of this celebratory day.

choir 1

Wayside Christian Mission Choir – Sang at Remembering Moody

A BEAUTIFUL Day in every Way

The Day of Hope that followed Remembering Moody, honored Moody’s passion for the underserved children and families that We Survive serves. These children and families were always near and dear to Moody’s heart.

Moody believed that when you give, you are given an opportunity to change lives.  He knew it takes a village to make things happen.  We Survive volunteers continue to be a testament to the power of service.

Words are powerful, but I am lost for the words that convey the GRATITUDE I feel at this moment.   “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Painting Rocks Music Eating and fun Portrayal of Hope tapestry Playing Frisbee Making Gods Eyes at the creek GS Troop 476

Special THANK YOU to all our supporters and volunteers for making this a very special day for everyone!
In case we have missed anyone, please know we appreciate your help.
 
Sponsor
Sedulo Group
 
Supporters and Volunteers
Wayside Christian Mission Choir
Rachael and Jeremy Hunt
Heidi Joy Stenson
The Wildflower Chronicles
Girl Scout Troop 476
Jacqueline McMillian-Bohler
Debbie and Bryan Lewis
Robertson Family
Fr. Bob Mueller
Sunshine Joe Mallard
Mary and Gary Jewell
Jacqueline “Blue” Browning and Family
Anita and Tony Seekins
Jenniffer Truitt
Hometown Pizza
We Survive
Honoring Someone’s Wishes Gives Respect

Honoring Someone’s Wishes Gives Respect

Honoring Someone’s Wishes Gives Respect

Respect“I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. … The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.” – Robin Williams as Lance Clayton in World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

In today’s social and economical environment, there are people (young and old) who are feeling as if they are all alone due to the fear of the unknowns in their future.   Will the outcomes bring devastation and destruction to their world order as they know it!!

Life throws you many obstacles, health and finances can be challenged.  This can lead to a downward spiral if you feel that you don’t have any resources available to you.  That is when you need to take a chance and talk— let yourselves be known.

Moody Cecil, the love of my life, was to a point in our life’s journey that I had to assess our situation and made some difficult choices.

In 2014, Moody and I began to experience financial fragility in part due to my decision to no longer work and be with him 24/7. moody-cecil

It was important to Moody that the legacy he started at the farm would be continued. Therefore, my priority was to keep that vision alive.

I approached the family to see what we might be able to do to keep the property, known to most as Haven of Hope, in the family.

There were two family members that stepped forward to help devise a plan if we should we find it necessary to sell.

What a blessing!! 

When it comes to Moody and his wishes, the following stories regarding his vision brings to life the impact the Haven of Hope has had throughout the years:

I am honored and full of gratitude for the opportunity to have been part of Moody Cecil’s life long vision.  He taught so many that it is important to “Realize the Power of the Dream.”  Thousands of people got the chance to know this loving, caring, gentle man.  To see the twinkle in his blue eyes as he watched over and taught about nature.  Knowing that he was never alone is inherent in everyone who got to know Moody. What was admired most about Moody was that he continued to be a champion for causes in which he believed. This allowed those of us around him to Celebrate Life.

Amazing Vision offers Guiding Light

Amazing Vision offers Guiding Light

Amazing Vision offers Guiding Light

Moody Cecil 3-23-1932 to 12-19-2016

Moody believed that when you give, you are given an opportunity to change lives.

The family farm, which was passed down to Moody, was where he took his children and grandchildren fishing and hiking on the same ground he walked on as a small child. By the time the house had been passed on to him, it had been vandalized and burglarized. It was all grown over and you literally “could not see the forest for the trees.” But, Moody had a vision for the land.

HPIM1257All possibilities were explored to see how the land could be best utilized. Moody wanted to take the gift he had been given and share it with as many people as he could. Working with the Kentucky Division of Forestry, Moody realized that he didn’t have to plant walnut trees or any other trees. He already had beautiful gently rolling woodland that has since been designated as a Stewardship Forest by the Kentucky Division of Forestry- creating a “legacy for future generations.”

In 1994, Moody and Sharon co-founded WE SURVIVE, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide education to the community, break stereotypes, inspire strong youth leaders, and bring hope to others. We Survive’s headquarters is located on the land Moody so dearly loved, Haven of Hope. Over the years, the Haven of Hope has welcomed thousands of people to explore nature and bond with others when they have attended a Day of Hope, seminars, workshops, and weddings. There are plans pending to establish the Haven of Hope Arts and Cultural Center.  There will be a formal announcement at Moody’s Celebration of Life the Spring of 2017—date to be announced.

 

moody-and-michelleMoody cherished the time he spent with his daughter Michelle and grandson Kyle when they were young.  As Michelle says, “My Dad was the most patient and kind person. There wasn’t a child or animal that didn’t like him. He had a special calmness that made everyone that met him feel comfortable. He loved nature, and I am honored that he passed that quality on to me. I loved skipping rocks, taking walks together, or just sitting together watching nature around us. My Dad taught me what the truly important things in life are. I will cherish all the memories we had together, and the love you showed me. I love you Dad!”

Moody’s passion was working with children from all walks of life. He enjoyed planning and participating in Day of Hope.

Help us keep Moody’s vision alive with a contribution to the We Survive – Moody Cecil Haven of Hope Memorial Fund.

To share a message with Moody’s family, go to the Fern Creek Funeral Home site.

“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a
thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our
actions run as causes and return to us as results.”  –Herman Melville

HOPE is the Thread that Pulls us TOGETHER!!!

Life Can Smother the Light

Life Can Smother the Light

Life Can Smother the Light

Written by Sharon Cecil

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

 

handoverballoflightIf you haven’t figured it out, life is not easy.  As you travel the journey of life, there is not anyone that hasn’t faced some dark moments during his or her life.  But we need not let life smother out the light.

 

When approaching the topic of poverty, we see and hear the feelings of hopelessness. Collective hopelessness is NOT acceptable.

We learn from each other and need to respect each other’s differences.

We all have childhood memories.

I grew up during a time when everyone was like family, whether you were a visitor in their home or they were visiting you, you went outdoors to play, got dirty, drink Kool-Aid and eat ice cream.  You would want to play outside until dark so you could catch lightning bugs.

Neighborhoods were small communities.  Everyone tried to look out for each other.  We knew to respect each other and help one another.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Barbara Anderson

In talking with, Barbara Anderson, who is a LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited Ambassador on the Board of Directors of the National Coalition for the Homeless and the Executive Director of Haven House Services, I learned that,  “Despite five years of economic recovery, poverty is still stubbornly high in America. More than 45 million people, or 14.5 percent of all Americans, lived below the poverty line last year,” according to the 2014 Census Bureau

Realizing that we are in a time in history when need to be healing and honoring our differences, I was reminded that I didn’t like having to do memorization assignments for school.  I do remember enjoying memorizing the Gettysburg Address.

The Gettysburg Address started by saying,  “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”   The teacher who had us memorize the Gettysburg Address emphasized the fact that we are all “created equal.”  That statement gave me a feeling of empowerment.

We know that there should not be power over people. Yet, there are situations where that happens.  There are instances such as abuse, abandonment, discrimination, neglect, or war just to name a few that are only part of the multi-situational issues that face those vulnerable to poverty and feelings of hopelessness which makes them feel powerless.

youarenotalonemuralBy letting our neighbors know that “You Are Not Alone,” communities need to come together to use their knowledge to find solutions, share resources and educate on the importance of respecting people’s differences.

Let’s NOT Let Life Smother out the Light!

LIGHTFEST Re-ignited has a de-LIGHT-ful message.

This is a great time to for you to a join the growing list of 2016 LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited communities. Together, we will LIGHT and UNITE to make the world a better place with this simple message of HOPE on November 5, 2016.

As a nation, it is important we end poverty

 

Life is indeed a pleasant road.

To those whom fortune blesses;

But ’tis a thorny path to those.

Whom poverty oppresses.

~ James Lendall