A Collection of Poetry, Essays & Articles ~ by Mary Pettigrew
I’m an avid viewer of the CBS Sunday Morning Show & thanks to DVR, I rarely miss a show. I was especially delighted to see the 1/27/19 segment about Jessica Frank, the “keeper of the suns.” For 20 years, Jessica has been collecting and “handpicking every shining example of sun artwork to appear on the program – about 9000 and counting!” I absolutely loved this segment & the story is fascinating!
I immediately called my mother, told her about the show & asked her to send me a photo of the ceramic sun I had made when I was a little girl. She has had it hanging in her kitchen for years. So, in addition to a little background story about my art and the inspiration behind it, I eagerly submitted my sun to CBS Sunday Morning. Maybe one day it’ll make its television debut!
~ It was summertime in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I believe I was in the second or third grade at the time, so I suppose the year was 1973 or 1974. My parents were in the midst of divorce, so my mother made sure my brother & I had a variety of activities to keep us busy… including art classes. At the time, I didn’t realize just how powerful those art classes were & how they would end up affecting my life today! I’m forever grateful for my art teacher, Rusty Garner. Everything about her was pure magic (at least in my eyes)! Her studio was a large barn-like structure, detached from the back of her house. I remember the musty smell of clay, paints & other art supplies – This aroma permeated the entire studio, our clothes & I loved it all! I couldn’t wait to enter Rusty’s world! She made sure there would always be something new in store for us to create & explore.
Sadly, my summers with Rusty came to a close in 1976 when my family moved to Texas. To this day, all my pottery & artwork lives with family, so I get to see it all the time. In my childhood works, I also see Rusty & realize I never had a chance to thank her for all she had taught me. I never had a chance to tell her just how much of an impact she had made on me all those years ago – An impact still palpable to this day.
Rusty had a “larger than life” personality – she exuded joy, passion & purpose. She was an enigmatic light in my life which continues to shine as bright as the sun!
ABOUT MARY ~
Mary is a patient advocate for MS, chronic illness & disabilities. She is a freelance writer from Texas who enjoys exploring a variety of different styles & genres, however her deep passion for creative writing (poetry, essay, narrative interview & non-fiction) remains unwavering & purposeful. Mary's personal & professional background is an eclectic compilation consisting of the fine arts, civil rights advocacy, fundraising with 15 years in sales/marketing & event planning in the private club industry. Mary is a 1990 graduate from The University of North Texas with a B.S. in Hotel/Restaurant Management. In 2001, Mary was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Within a few years, health issues forced her to resign from the career she loved. As her marriage began to crumble, Mary was keenly aware of the emotional & mental crisis firmly taking hold. Eventually, she sought the help of a professional therapist which helped her learn the important coping skills needed to tame/calm mood disorders & to encourage healthy ways in which to purge the noisy chaos inside the brain. This loss of reality, normalcy, & PURPOSE needed to be reinvented, renewed & rewritten...NOW! The divorce & all related proceedings lasted an unfathomable six years, yet it was the therapy, communities & her writing which kept her most grounded. Each poem a cathartic purge, each word a therapeutic tool meant for healing & to inspire resilience. Blindsided by this newfound purpose & passion, Mary continues writing & exploring a plethora of multimedia outlets to this day. Her writing, networking & advocacy projects target the MS, chronic illness & disability communities. Her interactive presence can be seen throughout social media. Although MS is the primary community in which she advocates, Mary enjoys playing an active role in other patient communities (bloggers, writers, music, live chats, special events, & many more. One of the key messages Mary continues to emphasize is how chronic illness can affect everyone differently. MS is a prime example in that we are not a "one size fits all." This disease called MS is a conundrum in every which way. To this day, research continues, yet we still don't know the root cause for MS, yet current findings now show "risk factors" for the disease. MS can morph as it sees fit to do so. Unpredictably, silently, sometimes relentlessly this MS becomes an uninvited, unwanted "internal room-mate." Mary's overall background & her desire to discover herself & new creative outlets was a plus. A renewed student for life, Mary continues to explore the unknown - Once you switch off your "auto pilot" it's amazing what you can see & do. Place focus on learning, consume new information & participate in activities uncharted or foreign (The science of Neuroplasticity). All of this is most DEFINITELY a work in progress, but remember to focus most on the important things in life. Laugh out loud & live selflessly with compassion, purpose & unbridled passion.
Connect with Mary at:
🔸Twitter: @pettigrew66, @MSpals
Acknowledgments and Press ~ UPDATES TO COME
* Creator & Co-founder of MSpals: A Global Organization (2014 - present)
* Administrator & contributing author of content, posts, & interviews: MSpals blog:
~ The Summer of Sport: Forward Poetry 2012
~ Poetry Rivals Collection 2013
~ Something On Our Minds Vol.III
~ Something On Our Minds Vol IV.
Interviews: National Multiple Sclerosis Society's "Momentum Magazine"
~ 2013 = Art Therapy & MS
~ 2015 = Connecting Via Social Media
Other works also featured on a variety of blogs, websites, videos, as well as other multimedia platforms including:
iConquerMS/The Accelerated Cure Project
WEGO Health - Patient Leader
HealtheVoices - Patient Leader
MS Focus - Monthly contributor
View all posts by Mary