Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How Amish & French women, along with Jamie Lee Curtis, inspired me to dress “plain”

Okay, for starters, I don’t wear a bonnet and dress, like the Amish. The only reason though is because I’d look pretty odd, not being Amish. But I do have to admit, I envy how they can just get up in the morning and take an outfit off the peg and, viola, are dressed in no time. No wondering if clothes match, no tripping over the shoes left around the house etc. But I’m not Amish…

Well, I got the opportunity to visit France three years ago. I gawked at the women. All solids colored clothes with colorful scarves. Something clicked. After a week of talking to locals, I found that they don’t have room for many things, living in small flats. They think Americans have too much of everything and make fun of us.

I was so taken by these women in France, as they dressed so stylish, but I needed more advice. I read an article about Jamie Lee Curtis in a magazine about her wardrobe. She is so funny. She opened her closet for the world to see, and she had blacks, navy blues, and whites…all solids. Then she pulled out a purple shirt and said in her signature funny tone about how she does use other colors. Jamie Lee is gorgeous and black definitely brings out her features. For me, I look dead in black or navy blue…Now what?

I’m writing about homelessness in Amish Knitting Circle, and I just can’t ignore my wasteful living anymore. So, I’ve taken the plunge to dress “plain”. My closet is looking more like Jamie Lee’s with lots of solids, but in browns, creams and blues. For my black clothes I need a scarf to tie around my neck so I look alive. I do have a weakness for tweeds and plaids, so I indulge myself, if the colors match my color scheme.  

I gave 2/3rd of my wardrobe to Salvation Army. This awesome ministry helps the homeless in many ways, so I thought it fitting. I have to say, I feel lighter somehow. It’s taken me a few years to figure it out, so I thought I’d pass the info on to you. Now…to get rid of some shoes!
In this picture for the back of Knit Together, I wanted to be in black. My husband, who took the pic, told me to put on the scarf my aunt made me. "You look dead!" he kept saying. The picture's a little too foo-foo for me, but I do look alive...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ex-Amish speaking out on Amish: Out of Order…but is it right?

I’ve thought long and hard before writing this post, as I know there are two camps on the issue of former Amish going on television airing their dirty laundry on an extendable 20 foot Amish clothesline. Some think it’s setting the Amish “free”,  while other see them as perfectly peaceful people in an almost fantasy world, and are appalled.  I’ve come to the conclusion I might be in a camp all by myself.

From what I’ve seen of former Amish on television, it’s very high drama. I mean, the people complaining about their heritage have quite the chip on their shoulder. I don’t think that’s healthy for anyone. And there is no culture that doesn’t have its down side.
To help explain what I mean, I was raised Catholic by a wonderfully devoted mom. She was First Generation Italian, so I told her she was "doubly Catholic". When growing up, I was told we were to hear the Bible from the priest. When I was fifteen, The Good News For Modern Man…aka…Living Bible came out. I asked my mom if I could read it, and she agreed. It wasn’t called "The Bible".

I took it everywhere, but especially babysitting. As the kids slept, I found such peace in this book. So, I wanted to go to a church where I could join a Bible Study, but wasn’t allowed until I left home for college. So, I attended the Catholic church, got involved in starting a folk music “contemporary” service. When I went to college, I went to a Baptist church, but felt torn. A Catholic priest told me I needed as an adult to make a decision, so I became a Baptist. Now I’m non-denominational.

Do I feel “shunned” by other Catholics? Well, no, only when I meet someone who really has their dander up. Like the priest who came to see my mom in the hospital only 4 years ago. He was giving her communion, and assumed I would partake. When I told him I left the Catholic church, his eyes shot fire at me. I mean, this priest was not too nice. My mom, although ailing, tried to defend me…”She’s a good Christian woman,” she said. He started arguing with my mom….
These are the “horror” stories I hear from Ex-Amish. “The bishop told me I was going to hell if I left…” Who hasn’t heard that from some outspoken, self-righteous pastor in a Christian denomination? Let’s be honest here. As for all the media slam about Catholic priests being sexually abusive, only a tiny fraction, maybe .001 percent of priests are cruel or unkind. Most are to be admired. My Amish friends always say, "You'll find a bad apple in every bushel." Well said.

I thank God for my Catholic upbringing. It set the moral bar high and I could clearly see what it was. There’s comfort in structure. I can remember days when I’d just sit in a Catholic church and pray. I couldn’t even imagine going on television and telling some of the ugly things that I’ve seen, because I can barely remember them. My Bible says, “Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs…” Just as I wrote that I remember the priest who balled my mom out for not going to confession for three years. I mean, she was sobbing and I wanted to deck the guy. So I do keep a mental record of sorts, being human.
There are problems in the Amish community and in every church in the world. Because where you have people, you have problems. From what I’ve seen of the Amish in W. PA and W. NY, I can honestly say they seem happy and peaceful. I don’t see women and children with black eyes. I wouldn’t be this fascinated with their culture if it was abusive.

It took me going to Italy and visiting relatives, going through the Vatican to see the beauty and the light the Catholic church is. I hope angry Ex-Amish will someday see this about their culture….
A picture perfect church in rural Pennsylvania. I've gone to small country churches,
and some should be a warning sign...enter at your own risk. So I understand that not all that's whitewashed
and clapboard doesn't mean peaceful and simple.

This is my favorite picture I took of an Amish farm in Smicksburg, PA.
It's peaceful, as are the people who live there...but they do have problems...since they're human...