Updated: Sep 21, 2020
First of all, please call me Liz. I suppose you're wondering why I'm writing in Joy's stead today. Well, she's asked me to share a bit about who I am and about my passions in life. She wants you to get to know me and my backstory better. That's difficult to do, you know, to summarize a life in a few short paragraphs. But I'll give it a shot.
I'll start with some demographics. I'm a middle-aged woman, at present 51 years of age. I live in a small town, Grand Marais, Minnesota, on the north shore of beautiful Lake Superior. I’m a textile artist, I live alone, and one of my greatest joys in life is sharing and teaching my art to those who, like me, find deep fulfillment in creating beauty with a threaded needle. Before I venture more deeply into any one of these snippets of information, you also need to know that I’m Christian, redeemed and made whole by Jesus Christ. Taken together, these are the basics of Elizabeth Talbot.
Grand Marais is a charming little town, and I’m a fairly recent transplant. I grew up in Duluth, a Minnesota harbor city at the head of Lake Superior. After high school, I attended college at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. It was here that I met the love of my life, Eric Talbot, an architect in training. Eventually, we both ended up at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, he to finish his professional degree in architecture, me to pursue a Master’s degree in human resources (this was not my first love, but that’s a story for another day). Long story short, Eric asked me to marry him and one sunny day in August we married in Duluth.
Eric pursed a career in architecture and I pursued human resources in several corporate settings in Minneapolis and its suburbs. But I wasn’t happy. If I had a passion in my field it was labor relations, not compensation and benefits. My late father had worked in labor relations, but even three decades after he started his career, it was a field still largely closed to women, with one exception---women with law degrees. So, in my early 30’s, I went back to school, this time to pursue my Juris Doctor. By the time I was 35, I'd added more alphabet soup to my name and all thoughts of practicing employment law had vanished. I’d found a new passion---religious liberty law. While in law school, I’d been the only second year student admitted to the Religious Liberty law clinic and I never looked back. After I passed the bar exam, I founded my own firm and worked with several major religious liberty organizations in the US. I was a member of the Federal Bar and had even argued before the United States Supreme Court. Eric was a partner in a mid-sized architectural firm and as we entered our 40’s we were busy, mostly happy, and shared a good life.
I was the one with health issues. I don’t want to focus on them here, but you need to know that neither one of us was prepared for Eric to die first. In fact, I ended up selling my law practice at 42 because my lifestyle was slowly killing me. It was choice between work with its stress or living to see 45 years. So, on that late September night when Eric dropped the book he was reading on the floor, I thought clumsy, sleeping, unhappy with me—anything but dead. But as it turned out, my husband had suffered the fatal coronary, not me.
I was angry and hurt that God had allowed this to happen. Why hadn’t He taken me? I was the one tired and, dare I say it, ready to go. I was broken-hearted because I didn’t even have a child to remind me of Eric. I felt like such a failure. Yet, I was the one left alone. My only solace was my artwork. I loved to embroider, to do bead work, to paint fabric and to sew. Already an introvert and now in pain, I withdrew into myself. I left the house to go to church, to buy groceries and reached out only to talk with my elderly mother, who was also a widow. I know my self-imposed cloister worried her, but I hated being alone in the city. My home became my familiar prison while my pile of completed textile projects grew exponentially. My friends and family worried. Eventually, I ran out of excuses and had to face what I'd become. Finally, with Mom’s encouragement, I I gathered what was left of my courage and sold our---my home. I'd decided to move north. I missed the big lake and I needed to be somewhere I could breathe---and somehow find a way to start again.
At first I’d planned to relocate to Duluth. That’s what Mom wanted and I knew the city. Thankfully, by this point, I’d resumed talking to God. After all, it was only in God that I could make any real sense of Eric’s death, my health, or my future. I was still a relatively young woman---43 years old. Thanks to Eric’s life insurance and the sale of my law practice, I had some financial resources. After praying about what to do, I took a chance and shared my needlework portfolio with several galleries along the north shore and did a teaching proposal for the North House Folk School. (Look them up, they’re a great organization!)
That’s how a widowed attorney from the big city ended up an artist in Grand Marais. It’s been eight years since the move. I’ve grown used to living alone, even if I don't like it. I'm so grateful God gave me the chance to love and to be loved by an extraordinary man. My memories of Eric will see me through until we meet again. I've made wonderful friends through my classes, church and the art colony in town. I have my family. My health is somewhat stable. I have a great career that puts groceries on the table. I have my faith. I now consider myself a blessed woman.
What do I see in my future? For obvious reasons, I try to stay focused in the present. When I do look to the future, apart from class proposals and teaching contracts, it’s mostly in the context of what the week ahead holds. For example, I plan to teach a Hardanger class this weekend at the North House. Then on Wednesday, I’m heading for Duluth to celebrate Thanksgiving with my mom. That’s enough in the way of planning, because we never know from one breath to the next what God has in mind. I trust Him to see me through.
It’s been great meeting you all! Thank you!
All my best,