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The birth of Alma Gitana (Gypsy Soul in Spanish) came on a recent trip to Mexico, blended with a lifetime of being a creative soul. When life seems too fast or too challenging to me, I love to travel to Mexico. The culture and pace of life is so wonderful. It brings me back to a place where I can have an open heart and trusting soul. The smiles, the attitude in the villages, it’s so special to me. I travel by bus to the town of Sayulita and San Poncho to sew and enjoy the warm air. I run the dirt roads in the jungle in the morning and then do yoga to start my days. Then the real work can truly begin – as I have taken care of myself. For my 60th birthday. I decided to thank all the special women in my life with an individual handmade pillow. I’ve been sewing since I was 8 years old. I love to sew and find much peace there. It is the place I go when I need to take my mind off other things. When life gets challenging for me – I sew! I am what is called a “fabraholic” in the sewing world.

I created the fabric using my favorite quotes, photos, and cards. Each pillow embodied a specific theme, geared toward the memories I had with each friend. The collection of fabrics is a multitude of textures, colors, and prints that I have collected over the last 40 years. This gift was an example of the experiences we had shared together which had brought me so much joy over the last 60 years. The challenges so many of us went through, whether raising children or caring for an aging parent, a divorce or new career paths, loss of jobs, loss of children. With the support of friendship, anything is possible. The quotes depict my appreciation of how special friendship can be. Those quotes and memories began the story and the life lessons that grew into the Alma Gitana Project.

I have always appreciated the mentors in my life, and the people who believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Each of these stories is reflected in the Alma Gitana series as told by Abuela, the wise one. A combination of the life lessons learned from the elders, my mentors and friendships in my life. The combined strength and life experiences from each of these women are built into a storybook of believing in yourself and the benefit of having a mentor or believer in your life. I have asked the receivers of each pillow to share an experience, or story, or hardship, or life lesson.

The Alma Gitana Project comes alive. An ongoing series of short stories and life’s lessons encourage you to celebrate life. We are all unique, with a soul, a heart, and a spirit. The Gypsy Soul reminds you that life is both challenging and rewarding. Live it fully and be yourself.

Our art program at the women’s shelter has received such positive feedback and validation that Art is Good for the Soul. Confidence building, creative thinking, healthy avenues to spend time, a reminder that its OK to do things we enjoy!

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My name is Linda Rodgers, founder of the Alma Gitana Project. I am a gypsy soul, a lifelong learner, and a creative spirit, and I am passionate about helping others accomplish their dreams. I recently decided to learn the Spanish language which has led me on a wonderful new path – and the birth of Alma Gitana (Gypsy Soul in Spanish).

Energetic, wild, independent spirit, with the ability to balance my joy  of personal  craftsmanship, artisan interests, and the demands of life’s hectic pace. For many years, my life was involved with turning my creative talents of sewing, textile art, and floral design into a business that allowed me to be in charge of my own financial future, personal growth, and independence. I learned to keep life’s demands in perspective, balancing business, raising children, and finding the ability to grow more confident, capable, and curious with life.

Never one to follow the norm, I followed an entrepreneurial path from early on and consider myself a serial entrepreneur – always pursuing my passions, embracing new challenges, and living my dreams. I believe that everyone has talent, and I encourage everyone to find out their own personal gifts and strive to reach their individual goals — explore them, celebrate them, embrace them. I parlayed my creative talents into a thriving floral business, designing nearly a million dollars of flowers out of my garage, while raising 2 daughters and being a single mom. Who said life was easy? I have experienced sorrow, joy, hardship, and success. My experiences have helped craft who I am today and I believe in celebrating life.

At the age of 50, when my mother was dying of cancer, she asked me “if fear or money didn’t get in the way” what would you do with your life? My immediate response was “to go back to school.” I had dropped out at the age of 20, after studying wild edible plants, hatha yoga, basket weaving, textile arts, folk dance, and all the necessary skills of life!

Celebrating my college graduation at the age of 51 with a degree in Human Services, my path toward a greater purpose began to unfold — to help women embrace their life, their talents, and raise their children in a way to encourage independence. I found a new passion and a new commitment through teaching classes at women’s shelters, coaching at-risk youth, and mentoring Native American kids about the importance of an education and career tips. I truly believe in the human spirit, and consider myself a cheerleader of women!

Today I am 60 years young. I live life fully. My friends say I never swim in the shallow end. That’s true! I believe in not overthinking things. I have learned the key to expanding my experiences and continuously learning is to have the “Say Yes Attitude.”