WTF- Why The Feather?

It’s clear that the logo has a feather, but why? I’ll explain. It’s not because I love actual feathers per se- the feather in the logo is actually a culmination of a number of experiences I’ve had with them and the overall meaning and connection they have together.

My host-mom in Australia (mom in the family I lived with as an exchange student) has a disease that reduces her muscle function and she walks with a hand crutch to get around. When I went back for the oldest daughter’s wedding this year, Sherree took me on a walk to the local park near their house. I was jetlagged and exhausted but thrilled to be back in the place I’d developed so many memories. The magpies and macaws, galahs, & noisy miners overwhelmed my senses in a soundtrack  I hadn’t heard in two decades. As we got to the pond, Sherree pointed out all of the native birds and plants- most of which had medicinal or spiritual value to the Aboriginal people. Sherree is one quarter Aboriginal; something she didn’t know most of her life but has embraced fully and educated herself about since discovering.  Always keenly aware of her surroundings, she saw a bright purple swamphen feather in a somewhat inaccessible area past a fence. Her good friend, an Aboriginal artist, uses the feathers in her work.  I didn’t put two and two together right away and was startled when she leaned her crutch against the fence, delicately maneuvered around the end of the fencepost over the water and to the other side to retrieve the feather. I offered help in a flustered way, but was too late. She was determined to get it and most certainly did- and carefully climbed back around to where I was to show me the feather- a gorgeous feather from a gangly, odd looking bird with a red beak and giant pterodactyl sized feet. The spirit of this woman hasn’t changed! 20+ years later, ever the teacher, she overlooked her disability and retrieved the feather so it could become art. I loved her moxie and unwillingness to let a disability, water OR a fence stop her. She gathered her feather; it had an important future-her spirit guided her and her disability was irrelevant at that moment- she used the strength and dexterity she had.

While on an anniversary trip to Iceland, my husband and I found our way to the little town of Vik (sure, it sounds like I travel a lot—but keep in mind we’re broke…  and it’s not gambling or drugs that we’re addicted to- it’s traveling. Gambling and drugs would be cheaper, silly.).  Vik is popular because of the black sand beaches and beautiful views, as well as being nesting place for Puffins. Iceland is always windy, always chilly and humid in a way that only wool gloves and hats can temper the resulting cold.  My feet crunched the thick sand, far too cold of a day to walk barefoot. Thousands of birds were circling the cliffs nearby—although they were too far to tell what type of bird. The ocean roared and crashed against the shore in an unpredictable, uneasy pattern, the sun bright. This beach wasn’t like any other. The waves brought pebbles in with each surge– fine sand and pebbles all the way to the dunes. I stopped when I saw a bright white feather delicately embracing a gold rock- as if they’d belonged together. While I like to collect rocks and pebbles from trips, these two clearly belonged together and were to stay there. The juxtaposition of the soft and delicate feather, wet from the waves and air, delicately wrapped around the hard, smooth rock pleased me.  It is as if it were nature’s yin-yang, two worlds seemingly so different, yet perfectly in harmony with one another. The world of airy flight and the world of dark, deep earth brought together by the ocean.

Speaking of going broke while traveling, this feather story is from Tuscany. Several years ago, we packed up the kids and my mom to go to Italy for Christmas.  We rented a car and drove from top to bottom of Italy’s boot in a trip worthy of National Lampoon’s humorous bloopers. Somewhere in Tuscany, we’d stopped in a village and my husband ran into a building to see if they were open for lunch yet. While waiting in the car with my mom and kids, my mom gasped and said, “Oh my goodness! Look at the chicken on top of that house! It’s a chicken way up there- how’d it get there?!!” I glanced at the old stone home and saw the poof of feathers she was referring to. It looked chicken-y, but small. I thought, man, that wouldn’t make much of a dinner, but hmm… maybe it’s not a chicken. “Mom, that’s not a chicken. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not a chicken.” “BECCA! IT’S A CHICKEN. LOOK AT IT.” As if the universe wanted this settled right away, the bird took flight and landed on the fence next to us… it turns out it was a white dove. My mom admitted defeat, and we laughed and laughed… thereby proclaiming that they’re not doves after all, but instead “Tuscan chickens…” I still can’t see “Tuscan chicken” on a menu in a restaurant without chuckling about our disagreement. That poof of white feathers provided the humor we needed and a break from deciphering the Italian GPS.

When we’re anywhere with a beach- whether it’s a lake or a pond or the ocean, my youngest daughter gets to work building sandcastles and gathering nearby beach detritus with which to decorate her abode. Shells and sticks and seaweed are fair game and often surround the perimeter, but the feathers she collects always take center stage and mark the castle as flagpole. Of course while I love she’s creating, I silently curse the amounts of sand we’ll find later in her suit or shoes. I know she’s done once the feathers are in place, marking her creation and signaling her readiness to move on. The feather becomes both a finishing point and a starting point.

When it comes to friends and feathers, I have a friend that collects them while traveling and keeps them in clear tubes and bottles on a shelf and another friend that hates birds with such a passion that even a bird meme will make her cringe. I love and appreciate both of these friends and see their motivation for their feelings about feathers.

The feather has become a myriad of symbols to me through the interactions I’ve had with them. Moxie, and me, are a sum of all of these things, collecting for hopefully greater meaning, humor, balance, creativity, readiness, and a handful of feelings and viewpoints.They all bring together a symbol of flight. As a Moxie recipient, I want you to know that the symbol is to represent gathering your own feathers for your wings. Gather your strength, confidence, and connection through interaction and connection with those around you.Time to collect your feathers, you’ll need all types for flight.

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