Today I’m happy to welcome guest blogger Devon Barta with her beautiful essay inspired by Kelle Hampton’s debut memoir, Bloom: Finding The Beauty In The Unexpected. **Want to hear more about Bloom? Please listen to my interview with Kelle Hampton! **
The Beauty of Uneven Stitches: Learning to Embrace Imperfections with Bloom
by Devon Barta
I am a horrible seamstress.
Even though I’m good at coordinating colors, matching patterns, even piecing together a design, when I sit down at the table, the bobbin wound and my foot on the pedal, I’m at a loss. It’s as if there’s a disconnect between my vision and the sewing machine. I fake it of course because hell, I’ve come this far, I have to do something now. But the finished product is never as I envisioned it … not even in the ballpark.
Like my kitchen valance, the one with the uneven pleats. The one that’s slanted and barely hanging by a thread. Sure, I could pull the seams and fix it, but I kind of like it the way it is … Off-center. Crooked. Imperfect.
That’s my style; it’s genuine, even kind of beautiful.
That valance reminds me of motherhood; the uneven pleats protectively fold over some of the moments we prefer to keep to ourselves. The re-stitched hem marks a brave do-over, the time we chose to swallow our pride and accept help.
And the parts we got right? Oh yeah, there’s plenty of that. You might have to squint to see it, but I can run a straight hem. It’s there, hidden among the clutter of the other distractions. I’ll show it to you next time you’re over because I’m damn proud of it.
Motherhood, like life, is about perspective. And no one captures that NO, no one celebrates that – like photographer and blogger-turned-author Kelle Hampton in her debut memoir Bloom: Finding the Beauty in the Unexpected.
Touching, emotionally gripping and oftentimes downright funny, Hampton’s prose and charm will have you evaluating your own outlook through the telling of her personal story.
Even though most of her book is centered around the Down syndrome diagnosis of her second daughter and ensuing process sometimes struggle to learn to live within and outside of the parameters of that diagnosis, so much of what she writes can be applied to aspects of each of our lives.
I’ve often thought that one of the biggest compliments a fiction writer could receive would be that their characters meant something to their readers. In that regard, memoirs must be tricky. Their characters happen to be actual people, whose stories are also quite real and have shaped someone else’s life. Hampton navigates those difficulties with elegance and ease, breathing authenticity into her real-life cast of characters, allowing their stories to shape countless others’, my own included.
Take her dad, for example. After reading the first few pages of their story and pouring over his own words, I realized I was gripping my cell phone my direct link to my own father. Reading about her father and the special relationship they share reminded me of how much I rely on my dad’s guidance and his thoughtful words as I navigate my own journey of motherhood.
Of all the things Kelle shared about her father the tumultuous times during her youth, his work as a pastor, insights into his fun and quirky personality I am most grateful that she shared pieces of his own writing. As evidenced on page 53, it is clear that artistic ability is, indeed, genetic.
Her husband, her mother, her network of friends, and ohmygod her sister … the people in Kelle’s world are brought to life for us, her readers, through her stunning photography and graceful writing. Although many of us are familiar with Kelle and members of her family through her blog Enjoying the Small Things, reading about them in book form feels more formal, intimate even.
Like it was for me with Carin.
It’s fitting that her sister had an entire chapter devoted to her and the role she played in Kelle’s turning point the night after the diagnosis for a couple of reasons: One, it makes it easy to reference, and I would know; I have now read and re-read Chapter 4 at least 37 times. And, two, because Carin’s words should be catalogued, archived, and referenced for years to come. They are more than just a passing thought or even a nugget worth quoting. Her “I Have a Dream” speech as Kelle has referred to it is moving and powerful and will have you evaluating your own life and struggles.
I could go on and on, describing in detail how each of Kelle’s references to her friends and family members made me ache for my real-life counterparts.
Which is exactly the point.
Kelle’s words are universally applicable because, much like my lilted homemade kitchen curtain, we’re all stitched together. Some of us hang a little more evenly than others; some like mismatched patterns, perhaps; or a zig-zagged hem. But we’re all bound by a common thread: The power of perspective. The influence of outlook. The gravity of viewpoint. Whatever you want to call it, it’s really about one thing: Choice.
And I choose to smile every time I look at my valance.
About the Author: Devon Barta and her husband Alex are small business owners; Alex works all day and Devon writes about it on her blog The Paperhouse while their three children run around the house. Naked. True story.
Don’t forget to check out Meagan’s podcast interview with author and blogger Kelle Hampton!
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