Raising 4 kids around the world, we “lived off the land.” We did NOT take “America” in a container overseas to outfit our home. We went on treasure hunts & searched for “what’s this culture make that’s uniquely theirs, tells a story, shows their art & skills?” If jute carpets were the thing, we hung them on the walls of the tall tropical ceilings. In former Russian Central Asia, Saturdays were treasure troves. I’m no garage saler but I wandered streets filled with antiques once gracing dachas (private cabins), mansions and more. Carved mirrors or desks inlaid with leather no longer cherished, were sold for pennies to make room for uber-modern. Crystal decanters became our flower vases. Chandeliers lined sidewalks. Elegant china no longer fit their modern dream. Oil paintings, leather bound classics, silver work stuffed in cardboard boxes was cheaper than any Walmart wannabe.
My own parents raised me overseas too. For my high school graduation in the lofty Himalayans, they bought me a set of hand carved chairs and tiny table from Peshawar in the Vale of Swat in the Khyber Pass where Osama Ben Laden hid out in caves. We got carpets and brass for birthdays. There were no game boys, tv’s or apple products in the Himalayas.
Moving back to the USA, our children’s friends that flowed through our home called it a museum asking for the stories behind the furniture, wall hangings, table ware, water pitchers, foot stools & more. Most everything has a story, a life it lived before us and then with us. If it doesn’t, it probably doesn’t belong. Those stories get asked over and over and over. Things don’t really matter to us. Stories and the lives lived do!
An inventory of our home would be brass, oil paintings, leather, carpets, tapestries, carvings, china, collections of painted fans, mirrors, eggs, spoons from dozens of lands, weird trash cans, funky table games in bone, ivory, marble, jade, agate, blown glass, brass, sandalwood, stones from Israel, Samarkand, the pyramids, Mount Nebo, the Taj, the Bay of Bengal and more. A head count found throw pillows each with a story from 14 of 86 lands we’ve roamed, décor from 67 & jewelry from 48. Each corner you turn hides another treasure and story.
I have been asked to tell YOU some of those stories. The way I’m asked to do this is by making some of my personal possessions available to YOU. Yes. You read that correctly. Things don’t really matter to us. Stories and the lives lived with them do. So, WAR is going to start making available my own personal collection of artifacts, treasures and particularly my jewelry.
Many pieces I wear are made by survivors as personal gifts. Often I’m asked if I’m wearing one we carry. If it is board or staff come and remove it to sell “on the spot” while I stand talking to someone. I’m used to being stripped of my jewelry OR often give it away while traveling. When a flight attendant compliments it, I give it to her. When she asks to pay for it, I say, “No, just tell the world that it was made by a precious survivor and they can shop the work of her hands at warchestboutique.com.” Sometimes it is a piece we’ve never carried or no longer do.
No matter what, these pieces have traveled the world with me. They’ve run through red light districts, hugged crying children offered to me in sale, giggled with girls in a safe house while we talk about their dreams, or sat faithfully on my sink in the hotel or guest house at each stop along the way. I’ve worn these pieces in palaces with Princesses and attended royal weddings with them on. I’ve worn them to humble widow homes where the only place to sit is on the mud floor. They’ve attended banquets for hundreds of rescued where we twirl, dance, giggle, play games and dwell in the joy of being girls set free. They’ve sat through graduations of tiny girls and a few boys now raised to be doctors, lawyers, seamstresses, engineers, nurses, teachers or precious mommies that are to their babies what no one was to them. They’ve had soap bubbles and baby spit on them when we taught teen moms how to bath their babies. They’ve hugged a child with polio being hidden by her mom under her bed to protect her from predators. They’ve had too many tears on them to count and listened to the cry of my heart as I wept with, prayed over and comforted. Some times they’ve heard me fight my way through a crowd of angry men or stare down a predator that is daring me to pass him. Then they become my warrior jewelry, mighty and fierce shouting to those around me, “This was made by broken hands now set free, I dare you to defy that freedom.” Ah…If my jewelry could talk…
Click the picture above to find out how far our newest featured piece has traveled!