How my friend makes magic and underwear

Magic is a big topic of conversation in our house these days. I stumbled upon it as a great way to explain to Jo some of the finer mysteries of life. A tree’s magic is that it can grow up so strong and tall and not fall down, the power-drill’s magic is that it can make screws turn around so fast. Lo and behold, Jo has magic of his own. I like dwelling on his more utilitarian magic–turning anger that wants to kick me into punching a pillow. He prefers more, well…magical magic. Like spinning a necklace into a ninja fire ball thrower.

I bring up magic, because I want to tell you a story about my friend Lauren.

Lauren has lots of magic.

I’ve known her since early days—when glasses with patterned pastel frames were commonplace. She wound up being the one person from my hometown who went to the small college I chose. And during those confused, elated, depressed years, she was my touchstone. I would call her sometimes just to say, “I need you to remind me who I am.” And she would.

Here we are. I remember how excited we were that we made the very privileged, all-color pages of our high school yearbook.

She also saved me once. My senior year of college, I careened into this stark reality: if one doesn’t work over Christmas break and has very little savings, then one will not have money to pay February’s rent. In a panic, I dropped my part in the student-written play (a modern take on math and iambic pentameter!) so that I could take on as many extra hours at the coffee shop as they could give me. Even so, I knew I’d still come up short.

Lauren was one of the people I confided in about this, because I knew she knew. Unlike many at our fancy liberal-arts college, she knew the pit of worry called “I’m almost out of money.” That’s why it was particularly unexpected when she stepped into my frenzy and said, “God wants to give you $200.” I laughed. Great. Where do I sign up?

She repeated herself, and held out a check to me, signed by her hand.

She explained that every month she saves a little bit of “God Money” and waits for inspiration on what to do with it. She knew I needed it, and it was mine, no strings attached. It was exactly how much I needed to make rent. Her mercy left me in tears.

This is Lauren’s magic.

It inspired me to start my own God Money account. Now I too get to wave a wand over the person of my choosing and sprinkle God Money on them when they most need and least expect it.

Lauren lost her job 3 months ago. It was this really awesome job sewing prototypes of bags for people who need a prototype of a bag sewn up for them on some big industrial sewing machine. Turns out that there isn’t enough work sewing bag prototypes, and so she was laid off.

To say the least, it has been a sucky time for her, but she’s still doing her thing. She stares reality right in the face, feels every jab it has to offer and saves back enough lightness for her magic.

As she recently wrote in a blog post of her own,

i could tell you all the things i’ve done to meet people and make connections and find work, but this isn’t really about that. i just want to tell you how it feels.

job hunting is like doing a job i hate and am terrible at and then not getting paid for it. it’s grueling, merciless, impersonal. i want connection and satisfaction and rest. i never imagined a full-time job would feel like rest.

In the doldrums of The Grueling and The Merciless and The Impersonal, she makes underwear. Awesome, up-cycled underwear that has its own personality and name. Meet “Let’s Get Physical.”

(YES! We made it to the underwear part of the story.)

I keep expecting, week after week, to get a text from Lor with lots of exclamation marks, declaring that she finally got one of the jobs she’s applied for, but no dice.

What I do hear from her is that she’s having to move out of her apartment and into a friend’s basement to save money. And then I pop open my Instagram and see that she just made these:

Name for these beauties? Green Milk Glass.

I think even Jo would agree with me–that there is some magic.

Lauren is the brand of Creative Person who has remarkable patience and attention to detail. She reads all the instructions before she tries something new. And then she goes slowly. With intention. She’s inclined towards things that require a calm, precise, steady hand like sewing. (I am nothing like this. And that is one of the reasons I adore her. I’m the bull in the china shop. She’s the … er … china maker?!)

I remember her telling me about this pair of underwear she had made for herself months ago and how insanely comfortable it was. I chuckled. Homemade underwear and comfort were not two ideas I had considered in the same sentence before.

She kept at the underwear thing in exactly the same way I’ve watched her quietly stick with things I’d give up on after 5 minutes. She kept slowly and deftly improving, until she was so reliably churning out delightful, comfy undies that she decided to hang up her shingle.

Lately, she gets some satisfaction in creating these beauties. Thank God, in the dark times of unemployment and job application rejections, that she has her underwear.

You may be picking up on my original and very sneaky reason for telling this story. I wanted to throw a virtual underwear party–to inspire you to buy some of Lauren’s Superpowerstudio Underwear for yourselves and for your homemade-underwear-loving friends, because I adore Lauren and want her magic to circle back to her so that she can, say, afford an ice cream cone now and then during these heavy, unemployed times. I do hope you’re inspired, and that your bottom and your friends’ bottoms get to share in the joy.

I mean, wouldn’t you shriek with delight if someone gave you these?!

I mean, she even folds the stuff like origami.

But after telling her story here, I see that the magic I can offer her is much bigger than that.

Lauren, I started out wanting to motivate underwear buyers (and I hope they come in droves!) but even more than that, I want to give you the gift of being seen. I have watched you these past months. You’ve shown gratitude and honesty in the bleak face of uncertainty. I know the days have been heavy and long and lonely. And in the midst of it all, you keep showing me what grace looks like. (As if teaching me mercy was wasn’t enough!!) Grace looks like creating dinosaur underwear in the midst packing up the apartment you love but can no longer afford.

DinoPow indeed, old friend.

You flounder and flail just like the rest of us. And you spin unemployment into underwear.

I could watch your magic show all day.

13 thoughts on “How my friend makes magic and underwear

  1. If I said am inspired by this story, I would be truly lying. Because it’s an understatement. The fact is am super inspired. Am one person that loves creativity and this home made underwear thing has touched my heart. I like this piece. I want to read it again and again. Big time inspirational story of rare creativity.

  2. Found you via your Stigmama piece on Zoloft. Just checked out your friend Lauren Carroll’s Etsy shop and noticed that she ships from Petaluma. My husband and I had our son at Petaluma Valley Hospital back when we lived in Petaluma. I have fond memories of Sonoma County.

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