interview with Susan Whitmore
- What inspires you to creat a particular card?
Ultimately, every “Women and the Hourglass” image is a reflection of the place I am holding in my own life. The first creation in the series, “One day she woke up and discovered she’d grown wings,” was an acknowledgement of a turning point in my life. I had navigated my way through a pretty significant storm and was worthy of a medal, I believed. “Wings” seemed to be the most appropriate symbol at the time. The next in the series was “One day she woke up and decided to love herself more than she ever thought possible,” and I have since learned that everything good comes from making this powerful decision.
- Can you tell us a story or two about some images that are especially meaningful to you?
Oh, there are so many. Actually, each one has special meaning to me. The one that says “One day she woke up and decided to trust life” has become a personal mantra. I have struggled, just as every person struggles, to live life without fear of the unknown. The potential for difficult times seems to be equal to the potential for easy times, and that can be frightening. We are fragile and soft. Sometimes it feels like we are living in a dark wilderness and clueless. Ultimately, I have found that life is about having the faith I often speak of…and understanding that sometimes the worst times can be the best times.
On a lighter note, I love “One day she woke up and forgave her wrinkles and her wrinkles said thank you.” I live in the land of facelifts, but have not yet taken part in this cultural phenomenon. My plan for the moment is to let nature take its course, but more recently I feel like I’m wavering.
- I found your cards in a shop in Anchorage, Alaska while at the end of an incredible Alaskan cruise with my husband. It was eight years after Erika died, so your cards impacted me deeply. I bought one of every card! Do you remember? And then I contacted you because I was so moved by the beauty of the messages and the artwork, which is stunning! What was it like for you to receive that call from me and hear my story, and does this happen to you often?
I remember our conversation well, Susan. I was so moved by your story and your openheartedness and generosity of spirit. You helped me understand better the devastation one experiences with the loss of a child. As a result, I am a better listener. You also reconfirmed that out of great hardship comes the unfolding of a life full of service, if we are open to it.
Yes, gratefully, I hear from so many women who have been touched by the “Women and the Hourglass” series. Some are affiliated with non-profit organizations that serve a specific need, like yours. Others are survivors of cancer or abuse or they are just plain encouraged by my words and art. I have learned that pain, acceptance, and growth are the common threads of experience that unite us on this path called “life.” We are different, and yet we are very much the same. The series speaks to women on all levels, and for that I am extremely grateful.
- Who does your artwork, and what inspires it?
I create my own artwork, and my life experiences inspire it.
- You sent me one of the most generous and greatest gifts anyone has given to me since Erika’s death, and that is the framed print about “hope.” It is hanging in our home, along with other art. Can you talk about that particular project?
After our conversation, you emailed me a list of your “One Day She Woke Up” ideas that would resonate with women who were grieving. The one about hope touched me deeply, and I was inspired to create an imageright away. It made perfect sense to send you the print, since you and Erika were my inspiration. One of my children has struggled over the years, and I remember feeling how important it was to have encouragement from others who have met life’s challenges with great heroism. The print was my way of encouraging you and letting you know that both Erika and I were aware of your great loss…and your hope.
- What message would you ultimately like to impart to women who are reading this newsletter, and where can people order your beautiful cards, prints, tote bags, and other items?
The message of the “Women and the Hourglass”” series is that, ultimately, life is an “inside job.” It is natural to look outside of ourselves for happiness, forgiveness, peace, joy or love, but then “one day she woke up” and discovered these things are a choice and must come from within. It takes commitment and focus to transform our lives, and there are so many tools to help us. My series is one of those tools. I like to think of my cards and prints as gentle reminders.
The series can be purchased by going to my website at mfalstreau.com.
There is also a listing of retail outlets that carry the line.