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.


 

Homelessness Can Happen to Anyone

Homelessness Can Happen to Anyone

Homelessness Can Happen to Anyone

A letter from Sherry P.

Dear Friends and Family

Unexpected happenings can take you from stability to fragility in a matter of moments.

Have you or anyone you know:

  • ended up in the hospital for an extended period of time,
  • lost his or her job and can’t find a job at his or her same pay grade,
  • graduated from college and has enormous tuition expenses and can’t find a job,
  • an elder person who is on a fixed income or health is declining?

Many years ago as a college student, it wasn’t unusual to see a woman who pushed around a grocery cart with sacks of stuff in it.  She was referred to as a “bag ladies.’  What was in the cart was everything she owned.

Men would hang around the area fast food places near the college begging for money, saying that they wanted food.  These men were referred to as “pan handlers.”

One day in Sociology class, there was a discussion on how did these people wind up on the street.  There were many perspectives to that question.  Primary, the perception was that they were either lazy, mentally ill or on drugs.  A discussion ensured that didn’t bring about much change in the negative view towards their situation except to say that they were living on the street.  Could not say with certainty that the words poverty or homelessness were even used.

The issues surrounding poverty, hunger and homelessness need to be address.  The are a leading issue of today and is not going away.

No one is immune.  The potential to the vulnerability to poverty, hunger and homelessness impacts each and every single one of us in some way be it environmentally, economically or overall health.

There is an estimated 15% of the homeless who have jobs, but do not make a living wage.  Then you have retirees who are on fixed incomes who watch their benefits get cut while the cost of living continues to rise.

Infants to the elderly are struggling to maintain their basic needs – food, clothing and shelter.  Children and the elderly have the most difficulty surviving the devastation of poverty.

In 2017, the access to healthcare is a big issue.  With the potential policy changes to Medicard and Medicare, healthcare becomes an even bigger uncertainty for those who are medically fragile—which lead to financial fragility.

We need to become advocates for our fellow man.  It is the simple things that make a BIG difference.

As an avid volunteer, I want to tell you there are so many organizations that would love your help.  Find something you enjoy and then see what you can do.

soupkitchenBeing able to interact is rewarding.  Working in a soup kitchen has been rewarding over the years for my husband and myself.

You will be amazed at the gratitude that you receive when you are serving others.  In our case it is serving times two.  We are able to serve a population in need while serving up a hot meal.

What a blessing that is for everyone.

 

Luminating Letter to a Young Newlywed

Luminating Letter to a Young Newlywed

Luminating Letter to a Young Newlywed – Inspired by a difficult marital journey

Written by Ginny C.

Dear Newlywed,

As a teenage bride over 50 years ago, knowledge of the real world was lacking.  Financial difficulties, a miscarriage, isolation and depression were sitting on the doorstep. Due to a problem with the premises, we had to move from the apartment we had only been in for a few months.    Tension was mounting in the marriage.  This all happened within the 1st year.

Life’s challenges continued and seemed to become more complicated. The biggest problem facing the marriage was the lack of communication. Coping mechanisms that had been learned kept us entangled in a quagmire of gloom and doom due to multiple family issues.  Neither one of us knew how to begin to untangle the mess we were compounding due to lack of experience and resources.

I kept hearing the term coping mechanisms.  It seemed that no matter with whom I spoke, I was told that it was normal to have problems when you are young.  In the late 1960’s early ‘70’s there were not many places to turn.

Being a sporadic writer, I would keep a diary of sorts.  It would help a little since I really didn’t have anyone to talk with that I felt I could trust outside of someone that was clergy or medical.  The resources that I felt I had just made me feel that it was my problem, get over it.

needleworkI had an aunt that taught me to knit as a child. I learned to sew in Home Economics in high school.   Neither one was of much interest to me.  But, I needed something to occupy my time and utilize some form of talent I was hoping to find within myself.

Knitting seemed a better alternative to sewing.  Yarn was cheap and you could make something that could be given as a gift.  Knitting ended up not being so helpful, because, I would drop stitches and I would get pretty far along and there would be a hole in my work.

I switched to crocheting.  It was faster than knitting and if you made a mistake, you knew it pretty quickly after you made it and correct it without feeling like you had to start over.

The crocheting would go into full swing for Christmas presents and I would start right after Christmas for the next year.  Then I found
myself mixing in some knitting again.

After putting items in a small store on consignment people started placing orders.  The money that I received helped me buy materials for the gifts I was making.

When you are young there are a lot of baby showers and wedding gifts to be made.  I became pretty proficient at knitting baby sets (sweater, hat and booties) and crocheting afghans as wedding gifts.

The beautiful thing about needlework, I could keep my hands and my mind busy, which became very therapeutic and I was able to give a lasting gift made out of love.

I have come to the belief that giving of yourself and using the talents you have is both healthful and hopeful.