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Play the Hand You're Dealt

Play the Hand You're Dealt

One of my favorite movie quotes is simple but not without deep meaning: “Yeah, well, sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.” It comes from Paul Newman’s character in “Cool Hand Luke,” the “natural-born world shaker” who bluffs his way into winning a high-stress poker game. He delivers that line with his signature grin and nonchalance. It just goes to show that in poker, as in life, sometimes you have to make something out of nothing.
When I was diagnosed with a serious chronic disease in 2005, I found myself perpetually house-bound and sick for months that turned into years. It was a stark contrast to the New York lifestyle I had known and loved, one full of wonderful jobs (sometimes five or six at a time), socializing with many friends and eagerly exploring my city. Depressed about my health and helplessness at the age of 23, I tried to find happiness in what I did have, even when that meant a scant hour or two a day where I wasn’t in a ton of pain or discomfort. It was a tall order, to say the least, never knowing if I’d get better…ever.
Once I reached a point where I could tolerate my physical ailments, I realized how much I missed my friends and despite never feeling up to having company, let alone going out, I needed them. I could never get used to what felt like hospital visits (trips my friends made to see me because I was sick) so I decided to start a crafting event out of my apartment where I would bake desserts and my girlfriends would come over with their knitting or craft projects. I could sit down the entire time and because everyone occupied themselves and conversation naturally flowed, it took the pressure off of me as hostess.
Much healthier these days, my “Crafts and Crumbs” has grown into a dynamic group of women, all friends or friends of friends, and just yesterday, it made the pages of TimeOut New York! Two ladies from the magazine paid us a visit a few weeks ago, falling right into place at my homey apartment as I did my domestic goddess thing. Every time I hold a Crafts and Crumbs, I remember those sick days where I could barely stand up long enough to take the cookies in and out of the oven, when I put on more makeup than ever so that my starkly anemic face didn’t show through, and how I taught myself to breathe through pain all the while still smiling and talking. It was a difficult, and sometimes a forced attempt to enjoy myself, but deep down I knew it lifted my devastated spirits and contributed to my desire to keep on fighting.

—Alicia Kachmar

* Photo from timeout.com/newyork

Posted: 12/18/08

Thanks, ladies! :)

  • By aliciak
  • on 12/19/08 11:58 PM EST

I can personally attest to the awesomeness that is Crafts and Crumbs. Whether you're struggling with an illness or not, getting together in that way with good friends is a great way to re-connect. Highly recommended. And Alicia, I'm so proud of you for never giving up, and always being joyful. You're amazing!!!!

  • By kristen
  • on 12/19/08 9:14 AM EST

What a fun group that sounds like. Crafts and Crumbs. I love it!
(And I'm glad you're feeling better these days!)