My jewelry instructor and mentor is an onion, a sweet one, but an onion, nonetheless. You’ll see.
Debbie is quite petite, She has a soft voice and a timid air about her. Her long salt & pepper hair is pinned up under the ever-present visor. Her glasses have a slight tint of color.
But Debbie’s work is exquisite. In many of her pieces of art, she uses numerous natural elements, frequently has multiple metals, does symmetrical and asymmetrical equally well, planning and re-planning designs until they are “right”, and uses her nimble fingers to caress her creation to her satisfaction. Now peel away layer one.
After two life-threatening, debilitating accidents. Debbie has limited vision. Her visor and tinted glasses protect her eyes from the light. Threading tiny pearls with thin wire is a task that most of us, particularly “of a certain age”, find challenging. Because she has lost depth perception, it is even more difficult for this lady, but she manages to accomplish it, often more quickly than those without her disability.
Peeling away another layer, I discovered that Debbie is an animal lover extraordinaire. She has had her yellows-nape parrot, Jo-Jo for 44 years. This bird is its own story. Because she got her at Christmas time, the bird knows Christmas carols, and when she covers her cage for the night, Jo-Jo hums “Silent Night” to herself. And cats…this lady has such a passion and compassion for felines. One of her kitties lived happily for 27 years with her care and the help of a holistic veterinarian.
In an earlier life, Debbie worked with developmentally disabled students. I’m sure she was fabulous. In her jewelry classes, she works patiently with every skill level; many times everyone will be working on a different project, and each gets her individual help. Almost diffidently, she apologizes for not getting to every student first, certainly an impossible undertaking. I can picture her doing this in an academic setting, with each special needs child needing her “right now.”
Off with layer three. While discussing LGBQT issues, Debbie revealed that she had worked for the rights of LGBQT developmentally disabled people in Pennsylvania. Further peeling of the layers uncovered extensive work for the marginalized and/or underrepresented, long before it was recognized as a critical need. She has worked on many committees in Pennsylvania and Canada concerning issues that dealt with mental health and sexuality issues. She did staff training in Pennsylvania, New York and Canada concerning sexuality issues and persons with disabilities. She also did group and individual counseling.
Another layer off. She is imminently qualified to fight for and with a wide range of individuals. She has master’s degrees in special education, habilitative services, blindness and visual services, orientation and mobility services and a M.Ed in sexuality education and counseling services. She is a certified rape crisis counselor and is certified to work with sexual predators. She has worked in all of the above areas. One of the above-mentioned accidents halted her Ph.D dissertation, or I would be calling her Dr. Moser!
After retirement, Debbie received certification in jewelry repair, jewelry design, and metal-smithing. She currently has a studio at The Hub on Canal in New Smyrna Beach, FL and teaches jewelry classes there (where I was lucky enough to meet her!). She has received awards in pottery, watercolor, sculpture, and jewelry.
Still one more layer: I didn’t know this until two days ago. My sweet teacher and friend is working on a book entitled The Loves of My Life which will tell the stories of all the cats she has loved, starting with her first love, at age one.
Of course, every individual has layers that don’t appear on the surface. It takes time and interest, and sometimes a bit of probing, to uncover people’s passions and history. I plan to spend a little more effort getting past the top layers of people I associate with, but don’t really know. I’m just glad I have had the opportunity to spend many hours with, and to get to know, at least partially, Debbie Moser.
Written by Donna Bradley
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