August 10, 2007

Facing fears, fabricating fashions facilitates finding friendships

Editor's note: In a previous post I told you that I was working on a commentary about attending various activities on post and writing about my experiences. Last week my boss decided that it was such a good idea that I should make it a series and write a commentary each week. This is the second of that series. I'll post pictures later ...

-- Published in Fort Polk Guardian (Aug. 10, 2007) --
By: MICHELLE LINDSEY, Guardian staff writer

Starting something new is always exciting for me ... until I get to the class. Then the fear of being "the new kid in school" kicks in and I hang back hoping to blend in.
In my quest to explore programs and activities to occupy my time during my husband's next deployment, I put aside my insecurity and signed up for the deployed spouses craft class.
As I walk into the Army Community Service Center I can feel the excitement build, like a child in a candy store. As I open the large, white door, the cool air hits me, pushing away the heat of the Louisiana summer and a little bit of my confidence.
"I have been here a thousand times, why the hesitancy now?" I chide myself as I inquire about the class. But still, as I am directed to the classroom, I can feel the insecurity creep in as I take a seat in the back of the empty room.
"What if I'm not good at this project? Will I be the only new person?" The questions race through my mind. "This should be fun," I say aloud hoping to regain some of the confidence from earlier.
I place my bag on the floor as staff members and a spouse enter. "Hi, Michelle," a staff member calls out to me. "We're going to be in this classroom," she adds, pointing to the partitioned area beside me.
I smile and offer greetings as I grab my bag and walk to the smaller room. I take a seat as staff begin unloading plastic containers with beads on the table next to me. My curiosity piqued, I begin craning my neck trying to get a preview of what we will be doing.
"Hey, Booger," I hear from over my shoulder. I look up, smiling because I'd know that greeting anywhere –– Sammie Rogers, Relocation Program manager.
"Hey, Mrs. Sammie."
"I'm glad you could take time out of your busy schedule to join us," she jokes.
I'm glad I was able to get out of work," I reply with a smile.
“That’s always fun,” she says, laughing.
The door opens as two more spouses arrive to take their seats. Sammie greets each of them with the same cheerful attitude. I recognize one of them, my neighbor. We haven't interacted much –– just to wave in passing.
I move to sit beside her as the class starts, a bold move for me. The chattering and laughter are almost immediate, more like a group of old friends than people I had just met.
I start slow, pulling a few pink beads from the plastic boxes on the table. Others jump right in placing a variety of colorful beads on the plates provided. I’m unsure of where to start and decide a pair of pink earrings are in order because I didn’t want to take all of the pink beads.
“I made a bracelet with those beads and they break easy so be careful,” one spouse says to me.
“Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind,” I say with a smile, recognizing her from another class.
I quickly bead a short piece of wire and another spouse shows me how to hook them onto the earring loops. I decide to make a matching bracelet and start gathering beads as I talk with my neighbor.
“You know, my puppy loves to watch your girls play. I can’t even distract him with treats,” I say.
She laughs and tells me about a recent trip to the park with her daughters. We talk about the Louisiana heat and how it limits the time we can spend outside, occasionally stopping to remark to other spouses about their projects.
As we work on our projects, staff members from other ACS programs stop by to chat and offer comments about the projects.
“It’s great that the spouses become used to the staff in a setting like this. They may feel more at ease if they need to use a service here because they’ve already met some of the staff,” I say to myself as I watch a staff member and spouse discuss what beads would look best on a necklace.
“Ugh, my fingers are so numb from trying to get this clamp on,” I remark, turning to my neighbor with a laugh, “I would never have the patience to do this professionally.”
“Try it with this,” she says, handing me a small link.
Mrs. Sammie stops in front of our table to look at our projects and proclaims them “just beautiful!”
As I begin gathering beads for a necklace, Mrs. Sammie tells us a story of her grandson and a friend visiting over the weekend. We laugh and share stories of our own childhood antics and how our parents dealt with them. Some spouses share stories about their children.
I look at my watch and notice that the two-hour class is nearly over. I begin another necklace as other spouses comment on my previous one.
“I like her earrings and necklace,” I say pointing to another spouse’s black and brown combination.
“Hold on, let me see your earrings. I want some like that,” one of Mrs. Sammie’s staff members says.
“I used these beads,” I reply pointing to the pink beads, as I start on one last bracelet before class ends.
Mrs. Sammie joins us again as we show off our jewelry like it was worth millions.
“Those are beautiful!” She exclaims. “Oh! I am so jealous!”
“Well if people ask me where I got them, I’ll just have to say they are Michelle Lindsey originals,” I say with a laugh.
As we start to put the crafts away, we show off our handiwork to each other, exclaiming how creative the pieces we made are.
“When is the next class?,” I ask Mrs. Sammie.
“August 20 at 6 p.m.,” she said, checking with her staff.
“I’m definitely coming,” I remark with a laugh. “I don’t know why you didn’t tell me about this class before.”
“Booger, I’ve been telling you about this forever,” she says with a smile and hands on her hips.
“I know. Why did I wait so long?” I exclaim while putting my jewelry on and gathering my bag.
“I don’t know, but you’re always welcome,” she says.
As I walk to my car with my “Michelle Lindsey originals” proudly displayed like a little girl at a tea party, I make a promise to myself to try new things and not let my fears stop me. I’ve missed out on a lot in the three years I’ve been at Fort Polk because I was scared. But with a new resolve, I’m off to find more adventures. Who knows what’s next.

For more articles in the Fort Polk Guardian, visit our web page.

3 Tea Party Guest:

ABW said...

I should follow your lead and not be so scared to try new things. We have been here 5 years and besides the gym which is off post I have tried next to nothing. My kids keep me busy, but not THAT busy! I think I will have to set some goals for this next deployment and get moving!!!

smilnsigh said...

Yeaaaaaaa for you writing a series!!!


stitcherw said...

Fun entry, with write ups like these hopefully a lot of the people will try new things on the base instead of keeping to themselves. However, watch out for the beading, I've heard that it can be quite addictive, LOL.