Sunday, August 15, 2010

Family Heritage

I have wanted to post for so long, but it seems I have to steal time to do the fun stuff.... is that just me?
Since I last wrote, so many wonderful things have happened, and some very difficult things as well.
Some of my work has just been published in Altered Couture, the Mermaids Mercantile has grown and flourished and I am running to keep up with it. My shop has been on the cover of a magazine, and there are more magazine features coming!
 After 40 years of searching I have found and met a whole new family, including my biological father,  I have been given an indescribable gift, an immediate bond with this wonderful, creative, inteligent, funny and irreverent man who was only a foggy image in my imagination for so long. The rest of this new family is also wonderful, crazy, entertaining and full of life... and it is like..... well  it's like coming home.
As I write this I am torn because I want to be respectful of my parents who couldn't possibly love me more, A father who always made me feel like I was own his flesh and blood, my hero Dad. My parents are very conservative to say the least,  and I have tested their patience,  I don't think they knew what to do with me, my wild imagination  my inappropriate comments and my unconventional way of looking at life,  even now as an adult they support me, encourage me and sort of shake their heads in confusion as I excitedly tell them about newest 'big idea'.
I am proud and blessed to come from both of these families.
Last Mother's day I meet my 93 year old Grandmother for the first time! and last week I lost my 94 year old Grandma who I have known all of my life.
My aunt  Linda asked me to put together a collage of my Grandma's life for her memorial service, as I was sorting through stacks of old photos at 5 am,  frantically trying to put something together on the morning of my Grams service, I was muttering under my breath and asking God why there is never enough time to do all of the millions of things that are required to survive this life, why is everything so rush, rush, and why no matter how hard I work do I feel  as though it is  never enough?
 I wanted to create something beautifully detailed for my Grams Collage but the reality was that I had only a few hours in my packed schedule to put together such an important tribute to a long and beautiful life.
  Unlike me, my grandma,  always seemed to have plenty of time, she dedicated her life to loving all of us,  and she was most happy when her family was together. I found myself quickly gluing the vintage photos of my Grandma's life to poster board, when what I really wanted to do was slow down, study each one and daydream about the details of her life.
The stacks of photos were mesmerizing, she was stunning in her high heels, hats, and pretty outfits, there was a photo of my Gradma and my Aunt Rachel in their swimsuits posing at La Jolla shores in the 30's,  both of them beautiful, and poised with just a slight smile. In their time you did not ham it up for the camera, photographs were serious business.
 As I took the jouney through my Grams life, I wished for a life more like hers, not just the dreamy fashions, the pretty details..... details that are  often over looked today, the charming cottages, the furnishings, the hats, the shoes, the gloves, but most of all the way of living. A time when women made tortillas from scratch, and hand stichted sweet little aprons to give to family members at Christmas time.
 Women would gather together and create for their families out of love,  it was a bonding experience....
I am an artist and in my life I have made and sold many things, (thousands of things) but rarely do I have the time to create a gift to give, ' just because' .
 A few years ago one of my designs , a seashell embelished letter,was featured in a national magazine, it was a much needed blessing,  I spent the next three months filling orders as fast as my hands would make them from morning until night I made thousands of  letters until the thought of making one more.... brought me to tears..I had to remind myself to be grateful and not weary.
I buy, sell, and repurpose vintage items and handmade goods for a living,  I get to see the excitment when my customers find some amazing old relic that will fit perfectly into their home. Every month I see my customers line up with their purchases at our Mermaid's Mercantile and I see the smiles and the joy of finding a lovingly  hand made item or a beautifully tattered remant from another era. I share their excitment and I am thrilled that there seems to be a new appreciation for vintage goods. 
 I began to understand, as I put together the collage of my Grandma's life,  it's no mystery why we are so drawn to vintage momentos...  Today  it is so easy to get weary, we sit in traffic, spend hours answering emails,  we work in cubicles and under florescent lights, its run here,  run there, and it never seems to be enough.
Time to create, time with friends, and family is a luxury and a necessity.
I think we all long for simplicity, and more time, in one way or another. I think that bringing something into your home that holds history and true craftsmanship, is a way to claim some of the  magic of my Grandma's era for ourselves.
I dream, I wish, and I long for more time with my family ,  I daydream of long afternoons spent creating and chatting with  friends,  it seems to me that a lot of us are struggling these days, many of us are faced with challenges, the likes of which have never seen before, I cherish the memories of the past, and I am grateful for all that I have right now.
  My Grandma  Anita Lujan Beard lived 94 years, because of her and the time she spent with me,  I will always have some of the magic of her life in my heart. I have memories of patting masa dough between the palms of my hands, the anticipation of waiting  to eat tortillas with a little butter and salt as they cooked on the skillet, the aroma of her kitchen and the giant hydrangea that grew on her porch will forever be with me.
 I have memories of crossing the border to Tijuana with to run errands with my Grandma , long before one could buy everything at Costco, my Grandma and I would travel across town,  to the panderia , to the butcher, to the produce trucks  piled high with hundreds of watermelons, and my Grandma manuvererd the crazy busy streets of TJ fearlessly.  The same streets where my other Grandparents, my Father and Aunt who I would not meet until decades later, ran their businesses.
I hold on to the memories as I make new ones, I have a brand new sister, and we speak on the phone almost daily, we laugh at our similar ways of thinking, and compare notes about our chilhood upbringing.
Last weekend I had dinner with my new family at  Ceasar's, a historic landmark in Tijuana,  a fitting place to learn more about my history and discover the traditions of my new family,  A family of retailers who used to own shops next door, across the street and anround the corner from where we ate. My Aunt Nora who was queen of the bull fights, more black and white photographs to daydream about, more memories to share, new traditions, and a whole new language to learn, (I am dying to have a conversation with my new 93 year old grandma who only speaks spanish).
I had dinner with just some of my family, three cousins, an aunt, an uncle, my birth father and my adorable nephew Nico all of which I would have never met with out the invention of facebook... yes the  benefits of modern technology are priceless as well.
Each morning I get up take a deep breath, and tell myself, Debi, it's Ok if you don't get it all done, enjoy the moment, live in the present, honor the past, and cherish your loved ones.
I am blessed.
 Although there doesn't seem to be time  for sewing circles, I am surrounded by the most talented and supportive group of women, there is rarely time to get together outside of work, but we do share our excitement with each other every month as we gather to sell our wares at the Mermaid's Mercantile.
 With out fail each of my friends and fellow artists will pull into my parking lot with a truck load of treasures declaring, "you will never believe what I found" or "look what I just made!" and we all ooh and awe and somtimes we buy or trade for each others work.
 I am blessed.
In a time where it seems we are all just trying to hold on to our homes, our businesses and even our cars, we have found a way to capture simplicty, and bond with each other as we share our passion for  rusty tattered, chippy treasures.
 We are blessed to be supported by our community, to have customers who travel long distances to support the work of our hands, who share our excitement for the treasures that we hunt down and revive.
I am blessed,
I am grateful
I am surrounded by love.
to all of you who read this  blog and send me kind and encouraging comments I don't always find the time to reply but you are so appreciated.
To the artist who make my shop come to life,
To the customers who support us,
To those who lift me up when I am exhausted,
To those who have been there to hug away my tears
To amazing women have inspired me to rise to their level and achieve more that I ever thought I could,
To my new found Family,
To my life long Family,
To my Grandma,
Thank you,
I am so blessed....


  1. So beautiful Debi,
    Life truly is a journey.
    Love you,

  2. You write beautifully, Debi..I am incredibly happy for you. You have always been and continue to be an inspiration and a reminder to me to never give up, to focus on the good in life and in people and to take each day as it comes, trusting in God, leaning on family & learning to love and forgive. I love you and am proud to be one of your sisters. Danielle

  3. The joy is in the Journey for sure
    and it is good to steal away whatever time we can (even at 5 am in the morning) to reflect on the blessings and people life has given us.
    Much love,

  4. Debi: I shop at your store and love Mermaid Mercantile. I knew you were creative the moment I walked into your shop. I love "your story" and can imagine what a journey this has been for you.

    I try sometimes to explain or fathom why old, rusted, chippy things make me happy and evoke memories and you are right, they remind us of calmer, simplier times. That's sometimes hard to convey to others but you say it perfectly.

    The journey is not over so each day we can find out more about ourselves and trust friends and family to be there to support and cheer us on.


  5. Debi, so sorry about your Grandmother. I know how you are feeling, since mine past away not too long ago. I'm glad you have been able to connect with your family. I'm sure it helps and is such a great feeling. Hope all is well.

  6. Slowly but surely you are transitioning from being "My new sister Debi" to simply "My sister Debi". I am so proud of you and sooooo glad you found me.

  7. You're story is so inspiring and heart warming. When I was a little girl my half sister was killed leaving her only son to be raised by her ex husband in Puerto Rico. I am 29 years old and for the past 10 yrs I have played with the idea of trying to find my nephew. I have half heartedly tried several times all the while worrying about what it would do to my family and his if I did find him. Thank you for sharing your intimate family story and giving me the courage to start a new search in a new avenue. I have not met you yet or been to your store, Marie Vollaire has told me all about your beautiful work ... I am so excited to finally visit your amazing store this weekend!

  8. You are truly blessed. Enjoy ALL of those relationships & treasure each one for it's own. I just did a post & gave you & the store a little advertising. HUGS!

  9. You are a woman of many blessings and talents. I don't know how you do it all and so well at that. Your life is so interesting and I love how you are able to use all the talent God has given you. I live just up the way in SB and get over to your shop as often as I can. I love seeing all your new transformations. Next time you're there I'll introduce myself. I'll be Tia from Cottage By The Sea. See you soon!

  10. oh wow, i really enjoyed reading that. what a spring gift.

  11. Debi - Wow I have have I found my bio mother story similar to you - we instantly bonded and have a seaside lovong bond - SO happy for you and I am so happy to have found your neat blog store and you tube channel : )
    You new friend follower, Cheryl : )