Thursday, September 18, 2008
When I first started watching Martha Stewart, I became very discouraged, and stopped watching for a period of time. I had young children at the time, and I felt overwhelmed trying to "do it all". I would turn on Martha, and she would say things like, "There, that is just perfect.". She was a constant reminder to me of my short comings as a mother and homemaker, and I couldn't listen to her perfection attitude anymore. But as time went on I eased my own expectations, and I began again to watch and enjoy her show. I LOVE her magazine, and think it is one of the best magazines on the market. I don't watch every show, but I watch recorded episodes when I can. I really have grown to appreciate her perfectionist attitude, and I realize that it is the reason that she has been able to accomplish so much. While I realize I will never be Martha, I still am inspired by her example.
Recently I saw that a made for tv movie about Martha was going to air. It is called, "Martha Behind Bars", and stars Cybil Shepherd. Now, I knew that Cybil Shepherd usually doesn't play in roles that portray the person in a good light, so I knew that they would try to paint Martha in a bad light. But I was interested to see what her experience in prison was like. Having watched Martha Stewart's show, I have come to understand the way she looks at the world, so much of Cybil's portrayal I was able to process in light of how I view Martha, not in a negative way.
I read about one part of Martha's prison experience that really impressed me, and what was portrayed in this show also really impressed me. I came away with even more admiration for her than before, even though I don't think that was the producers' goal. Let me tell you some of the things that I learned about her prison experience.
--While in prison, Christmas was approaching, and Martha wanted to make a gift for her mother. She looked in the craft closet in the prison, and found that they had ceramic molds for a nativity scene. Martha made a cermaic nativity set, then mixed colors of glaze to come up with a special color for her mother's nativity set. She said, "Even though every inmate was only allowed to do one a month, and I was only there for five months, I begged because I said I was an expert potter — ceramicist actually — and could I please make the entire nativity scene." You can view the finished project above.
--One scene in the movie portrays Martha's first morning in prison. The alarm is sounded for the prisoners to get up, and Martha's roommate stirs. She sits up and is surprised to see that Martha had already gotten up and made her bed. She was out in the common area doing yoga. It impressed me that even in prison, Martha was still herself. She still carried out her normal life, despite the challenges of a different environment.
--While in prison, Martha taught yoga to the other inmates.
--Another scene portrayed her complaining about the dirty floor in the shower area. She was then given a job to clean that area, and was paid 25 cents an hour. I imagine that no one ever saw the floor that clean before or since Martha.
--As part of her duties to clean, Martha had access to the guard breakroom. She found they had a microwave in there. She began to take extra apples at meal time and store them in her locker. She also was able to get sugar packets, and cinnamon. She would go to clean in the break room and use the microwave to make baked apples while she cleaned. She was eventually caught by the guards, and accused of "contraband". This made headlines in the papers. But this contraband included apples, cinnamon, and sugar. Not your normal contraband. :)
--Another scene in the movie shows that one of the inmates gave her a hand knitted sweater before she left prison. I think they learned to appreciate her.
--Another part of the movie showed that at Christmas, each block was given the task of coming up with a theme to decorate their living quarters. They were allowed a budget, and they were having a contest to see which block had the best decorations. After some persuasion, Martha agreed to help her block come up with a theme. She taught them to make origami paper cranes. They hung them from the ceiling by ribbons.
I think others belittle Martha because they are jealous that she has been so successful. Because most of us can't be like Martha, many people choose to cut her down. But as for me, I appreciate her talents and will continue to enjoy her example.