Bethany Thompson of Georgetown, KY

By design or by destiny, my life has been a series of circles. Born on the same day as Beatrix Potter, in the Chinese year of the rabbit (charm #2264 - rabbit), this gentle creature has always been a symbol of who I was. Born in Mississippi, I spent my first years living in Louisiana, not far from where, 24 years later, I would meet my husband. Moving back to Mississippi (charm #3417 - mississippi), my childhood was spent with many pets, from a puppy (for my third Christmas to the three cats I have had with my own family. I spent those first years on farms with a variety of animals-cows, sheep, horses, rabbits, and pets, and even a cranky old goat. I've always considered my childhood idyllic. My parents raised my brother and me to be hard workers.

We had a big vegetable garden, my mother made my clothes, we cared for our church (charm #5482 - cross), where my great-grandfather had once been the pastor, to save money for college, and that training has served me well as a wife, a mother and a teacher/librarian. While we were not rich in dollars, we were rich in love, imagination, and family. My summers were filled with fireflies, swimming, climbing trees, riding bikes, swinging in my grandmother's porch swing, and reading-always reading (charm #3160 - book). My maternal grandmother insisted on piano lessons (5465-music note), and "handwork" as she called needlecrafts (charm #0434- thimble) and those skills are ones I have passed on to my own daughter along with the love of cooking (charm #3014 - cooking utensils) from my paternal grandmother. My father passed on his love of the outdoors and gardening (charm #3730 - gardening tools) and his uncanny ability to make things seemingly from nothing.

My two favorite teachers encouraged my writing, a skill I planned to use as a career, but my college years at my parent's alma mater, Mississippi State, were filled with changes, and developing my artistic talent as I marched through the late-60s with a sense of awe and sometimes dread at the changes happening to my world. The times were challenging and left me with a sense of restlessness and I found myself yearning for a chance to spread my wings and to find a place of my own in the world-one separate from my close-knit family.

As a nanny in Colorado, in my early adulthood, I left the nest and my comfort zone. Living with a free spirited couple and their children, I tested my talents and skills, learning to ski and hike in the Rocky Mountains and drive in snow. But my life seemed a little empty without family and back to Mississippi I went to meet my guitar-playing husband, also a teacher and an artist, and to start my own family. When our children (charm #0474 - baby shoe) were born we moved for my husband to work on his Doctorate in Education and I saw the circular patterns in my life grow like ripples from a skimmed stone. I became the stay-at-home mother, cooking and sewing and learning new "handwork" skills. Our son, Matt, showed early on where his love would lie-writing, art, and music and our very independent, very verbal daughter, Katie who rarely failed to make her point seemed destined for the law.

Arkansas was our next stop for my husband's first college professor position and where the house of my dreams became a reality-my own cottage (charm #0733 - house) with a screen porch and a swing. But circles never end, only widen and the next move to the heart of the Bluegrass of Kentucky brought me to graduate school in Library Science and my jobs, first as a collection development librarian and now as an elementary school librarian.

I don't have much time for cooking and needlework now, but I do write whenever I have a chance and reading is a love I have instilled in my own children and now to the children I teach. My garden has become one filled with flowers rather than vegetables and my time outside is spent on my porch swing-reading, crocheting, and enjoying time with my family. While our careers are coming to an end, those of our children are just beginning, Our son is studying psychology-perhaps to understand this fast paced-often frantic-world we live in while playing drums in a band and painting. Our daughter is in law school looking forward to the day when her cooking skills and even a little sewing will take a part of our heritage forward with her own children.

Step by gentle step the circle of my charmed life can be seen in this bracelet I've designed and this life story I have told.

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