Create a Beautiful Life

Shavawn - Original Collage by Amanda M. Berry
Shavawn – Original Collage by Amanda M. Berry

Day 3: A – Z Challenge

Be Who You Are.

Yesterday, I turned 55.


(I can’t believe it either.)

For my birthday, my 80-year-old artist/quilter/mother extraordinaire created a ‘book’ to celebrate my early life. (She plans to do two more: child and maiden. She told me, “You’ll have to do the crone version yourself as you age.”)

Shavawn - Original Collage, View 2 by Amanda M. Berry
Shavawn – Original Collage, View 2 by Amanda M. Berry

Never Stop Creating.

When I opened it, I started to sob.

In fact, I couldn’t stop crying.

I heard her saying, “I know it’s not perfect. I made a lot of mistakes. The next one will be better…” her voice trailing off, as if she owed me an apology for creating something priceless and astonishing for my birthday.

“It’s beautiful, Mom. It’s so beautiful,” was all I managed to choke out.

Shavawn - Original Collage, View 3 by Amanda M. Berry
Shavawn – Original Collage, View 3 by Amanda M. Berry

Follow Your Better Angels.

The piece is a box, shaped like a book, with black binding on the spine. The cover is a shot of a baby’s chubby hand, dimpled and clean.

When you open the cover, an accordion of paper is nested inside. On both sides, she collaged images from my early life. On the back, she used one of my favorite photos; it is one she took herself on a day when we visited a beach in Washington State (La Push) when I was, perhaps, 18-months-old. She glued wings and a tiny halo above my head.

I still tear up now thinking of that image.

Inside, a photo of me wearing a party dress, one of my oldest friends, Cheryl, sitting on the ground behind me. Above me, pink wings.

On the next page, there’s a copy of my first baby portrait, next to a lace strip and a tiny rosebud. On the final panel of the first side: a photo my granddaddy took of me at the age of four, juxtaposed against a pen and ink drawing of a rose, and a Japanese illustration of a geisha, likely a reference to my middle name.

Shavawn - Original Collage, View 4 by Amanda M. Berry
Shavawn – Original Collage, View 4 by Amanda M. Berry

Bloom Where You’re Planted.

When you turn the page, you see a photo from my first birthday and two others from my first year of life. Inside the back cover, she strung the letters of my name. There are lotus flowers blooming across the pages, representing my Buddhist practice. There are more images of me: one in my stroller and one of me learning to crawl. The final images are of an open door, a starfish, and a bird house.

Anyone who knows me, knows how spot on her choices were. She knows me like no other human being ever has or ever will.

“She is the creature of life, the giver of life, and the giver of abundant love, care and protection. Such are the great qualities of a mother. The bond between a mother and her child is the only real and purest bond in the world, the only true love we can ever find in our lifetime.”Ama H.Vanniarachchy

And again, I come back to the notion of how truly blessed I am.

I love this terrible, chaotic, messy writer’s life.

Even more, I love the woman who made it all possible.

© 2015  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

Feel free to share this post with others, as long as you include the copyright information and keep the whole posting intact. If you like this piece please share it with others. You can like me on Facebook  or Twitter to see more of my writing and my spiritual journey on my website  at

6 thoughts on “Create a Beautiful Life

  1. How lovely! Your mother is very creative, and I know you will treasure that card and pass it on to your children, no doubt. I, too, am nearing a birthday, but it will be number 82. I like to consider myself “crafty” because I’ve been into them all my life. I’ve made many quilts (I’ve lost count). You have your greatest treasure in your mother and her love. God bless you both, my dear. Ruby aka “Blabbin’ Grammy”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s