I have always loved looking at Ukrainian Easter Eggs. I know precisely where I saw an Ukrainian egg for the first time. It was at my Great Aunt Doris’s farm home.
Someone had given her two Ukrainian eggs. After she showed them to me, she often caught me looking at them. I was mesmerized by the colors, perfect geometry, fine workmanship and artistry.
It wasn’t too many years after Uncle Ing died before Aunt Doris sold her farm and moved into town. Those eggs went with her. There behind the glass of her china cupboard in her dining room those eggs remained prominently on display.
During the winter of my freshman year in college, due to circumstances beyond my control, I lived with my Aunt Doris. Many times she caught me admiring those eggs. Well, Aunt Doris had no idea how to make Ukrainian eggs, so she decided that I should learn how to crochet lace doilies instead. Both were symmetrical, required skill and a certain amount of artistry. However, where those eggs beat doily making hands down, was in the department of color.
Not to be deterred, Aunt Doris produced a skein of bright gold crochet floss and said, “Here you go!.” As she handed me a pattern book, string and crochet hook, I immediately forgot farm rule number one, panic never helps, and exclaimed that she must be dreaming if she thought I could make one of those complicated things. We had a good laugh and then she responded, “Nonsense, just focus on one stitch at a time and before you know it, your doily will be done.”
Sure enough, that is exactly how it went. Never again was I ever intimated by a lace doily pattern. Over the years I have probably made over a hundred doilies. Many of which were quite complicated.
I bet the one stitch at a time rule of Aunt Doris, could be translated to one stroke of paint at a time in Ukrainian egg making. I do know that whenever I have had a major project or challenge in life, Aunt Doris’s doily management skills have often come to the rescue.
Whether it was getting legislation passed at the Capitol; project managing Minnesota’s World War II Memorial Dedication; formatting a four-hundred plus page statutory legislative manual; working on voter outreach; being a press secretary; being bedridden for years with Multiple Myeloma and a broken spine; or any number of other situations that have been thrust upon me in this life, staying focused on the present and not becoming overwhelmed by the future made all the difference between success or failure, and happiness or or distress.
If I added up all of the times I forced myself to focus on just one project, one event, one committee, one bill, one legislator, one candidate, one campaign, one press release, one voter, one constituent, one veteran, one child, one word, one sentence, one page, one chapter, one day, one step, one stair, one medical test, one round of chemo, one illness, and one pain, the sum total would be equivalent to a very strong person who has lived a remarkable life one stitch at a time.
Of course, there were moments when doily management skills were just not applicable. The horse was let out of the barn before you got there, kind of times. The Franken-Coleman Recount comes to mind. For those times I fell back on some good advice I once received from a young air force pilot who was trying his best to convince teenage Pat to accompany him on a ride in a jet. He asked me if I was too scared to go with him? When I replied in the affirmative, he gave me the cutest grin and said, “What do you have to be afraid of? All you have to do is hang on and remember to breathe.”