Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Behind the Scenes

   
I am a very lucky woman.

A little over four months ago, RA Guy, Cathy and I decided we wanted to work together, leapfrogging off of RA Guy’s wonderful community collage. What exactly we were going to do was still up in the air. By the time we settled into an official structure, discussed options for our next project and decided what that project was going to be, it was February.

And now, a mere three months later, we have released Our Hands Can!, a photo book featuring stories and images of very capable hands that also happen to have a form of inflammatory arthritis.

Those two paragraphs don't begin to capture the magic of this project.

The first part of the magic is the Show Us Your Hands! team. Every now and again, I meet a person who feels known to me already, as if we were old friends from a previous life and now just have to get to know the surface structure that we are wearing in this one. Through a crazy happenstance, I have ended up working with not one, but two people who I'm sure have been my friends for decades. We clicked in so many ways, starting with the way we approach our RA.

And they are evil friends. Enabling friends. I don't remember ever working this hard. I really thought I was working as much as I possibly could with my regular roster of HealthCentral/The Book/committees and whatnot. I wasn’t. Not by a long shot. Because another way in which the Show Us Your Hands! team clicked was the way we all tend to get a tiny bit caught up in work. And as we hypered each other into a frenzy, we balanced file syncing notifications popping up like mad, multiple simultaneous e-mail conversations, consultations regarding photo, editing, and design choices and a multitude of other tasks like a team of circus plate spinners. It was a bit of a blur, both from within and, I'm told from loved ones, from those looking on, as well.

But it wasn't just about us coming together in a perfect storm of workaholism. This was about a project that was meaningful, inspiring and important. Every photo from every participant moved us, often to tears. Every story told of resilience, strength and the determination to continue living life, no matter what. Each profile on its own is powerful, but when we put it all together and I clicked through the final draft on my monitor, I got chills. I fully expect to bawl like a baby when I hold my copy of Our Hands Can! in my hands.

Creating this book was pure joy. Working closely with a group of participants to guide them through photography and writing was a privilege and I hope that each and every one of "my peeps" will continue to be part of my life. And finding two friends who also make great project partners has been like winning the lottery. In the near future, we will be going forward with our application to become a nonprofit and I can't wait to dive into other exciting projects with Cathy and RA Guy.

Okay, so maybe I can wait a little while. I need to rest first. We all need to rest.

Our Hands Can! is available in both hardcover and softcover. And if you missed the preview yesterday, here it is again. Because I'm such an extreme nerd that I keep clicking through it, getting all verklempt


  

6 comments:

abcsofra said...

Even though I participated in a page on the book, I was brought to tears when I first viewed it. And this was the photo view only as I couldn't enlarge to read the print. I am soooo looking forward to getting my book. I have no doubt it was done from the hearts of many. And I have no doubt that with your loving hands, guidance and perseverance to get it done...it will speak volumes about the lives of those living with autoimmune arthritis. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing so much!

AlisonH said...

Wow.

Loved that I Love You sign-language hand.

Lisa Emrich said...

Congratulations! Wish I had known, such a great project. :)

Diana Troldahl said...

My Great-Aunt Ruth had the most beautiful hands, twisted and knobbly but kept flexible by tatting, making person-sized dolls and by teaching whoever wanted to learn how to do one of the multitude of needle crafts she knew. She also wrote hundreds of letters gathering our family history (and the history of her brother-in-law's family, my grandpa) and typed it all into a book as well as typing stories and articles for Guideposts magazine.
I have some of her tatting shuttles, but most of all I have a deep love of needlework and writing.

Kate said...

It looks wonderful and so nice to see such a positive celebration of a community and those amazing hands!

Cathy said...

He-he! I had so much fun working with you Lene. And RA Guy too! I feel really proud of the book and hope others enjoy it.