Editor’s Note: Our First Place Winner of a $150 Gift Card is Erin Litchfield, who is currently serving our country in the Middle East and we are grateful for her service. Following is her amazing artwork and entry, along with some follow up questions we had to get to know her better.
“I sit in my aircraft preparing to take off in a country far from home. I watch the temperature inside steadily climb, 115, 116, 117… Memories from home flash through my mind and I dream of new memories to be made when I return. Memories that include painting pottery with my mother. My first experience with As You Wish began six years ago when my mother asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate my 18th birthday. Little did I know that this small decision to try something new would lead to a multitude of precious memories created during countless visits with parents, siblings, and extended family and ultimately lead to a most revered mother/daughter tradition. Without a trace of painting experience, my mother and I embarked on our As You Wish adventure. We had such a blast our first day. We listened to music play while the friendly staff walked us through the process and complimented us on our treasured masterpieces. Two years later, I embarked on another great adventure and joined the United States Air Force. Since then the time I have to spend with my family has become increasingly limited. However, we continue to find time to get together and paint, especially before and after my deployments. The happiness I feel that comes while painting with my mother before I leave is something I carry with me the entire time I am away. I am currently serving my second deployment in the Middle East and I look forward to the moment I will be able to return home and paint once again with my family. I am grateful for the platform As You Wish has and continues to provide for the building of memories that fill my mind, uplift my spirit and give me the strength to continue to serve my country while I am away from home. As You Wish will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Getting to know Erin:
AYW: Are you originally from AZ? Did you grow up here? I was born in Washington but raised in Arizona since I was about 2 years old. Most of my younger years were enjoyed in Tucson. My family and I later moved to Maricopa and after a few years there I joined the Air Force.
AYW: What is your official title with the Air Force? I am an Acquisition Operator on the EC-130H Compass Call. Ed Note: Erin provided us this link so we can learn more about what she does: (http://www.af.mil/AboutUs/FactSheets/Display/tabid/224/Article/104550/ec-130h-compass-call.aspx)
AYW: What made you decide to join the Air Force? After a few years of college I was ready to find not just a job, but a career I could enjoy and be proud of. Wondering what I might do, I remembered an experience I had as a young teen. I was waiting with my family just outside the airport terminal to pick up my sister. As we waited, a Soldier came down the concourse. His family was waiting for him with signs, balloons and open arms. As they embraced the entire checkpoint filled with cheers and applause. I remember being amazed, thinking how meaningful that reunion was. At that time in my life I never would have guessed I would one day experience that same type of reunion myself. I knew my father had served in the Air Force before I was born and knew that my family would support me no matter what I did. So, I decided to look into the Air Force. I really enjoyed the idea of having a job that allowed me to fly. As I began the process every little detail fell into place like it was meant to be. Looking back at my journey it’s easy to see how blessed I’ve been and that I’m on the right path for me.
AYW: What is your favorite part of serving? My favorite part of serving in the military are the friendships that form between the people in my unit and especially the bonds made with my crew during deployments. I get to know each person on a deeper level when we live, fly, eat, play, and spend each day together half way across the world. These guys and gals become a part of my family.
AYW: What do you miss most when you are away from home (besides As You Wish of course!)? What I miss most when I am away from home is physically spending time with my family. The technology we have today is incredible and allows me to speak to them and see them each day. However, I miss being able to embrace my parents with a hug, wrestle with my nephews, play a board game with my siblings, pet my dog and sit down together for a family meal; home cooked meals are #2 on the “Things I Miss List!”
AYW: What is your favorite piece you have ever painted? My favorite piece is a black oval platter with a melting Rubik’s Cube in the center. It was the first piece I ever painted at As You Wish. It reminds me of that first experience and the joy I had creating it. Being my first time painting, I was uncertain what the finished piece would look like. I wanted to be happy with what I had created and when I saw my platter for the first time after it was glazed, I knew we would be back!
AYW: Do you have a special piece that you can’t wait to paint? My mother and I bought a couple of platters before I left. They are ready for us to paint as soon as I come home! Even though I have ideas of what I might want to paint on my platter I won’t know for sure until I start to paint. Many times I have changed my mind moments before my brush touches the piece! I can’t wait to paint it!
AYW: What other interests do you have? Other things I enjoy include Rugby, paintball, ultimate frisbee, basketball (basically any sport), chess, board games, card games, puzzles, hiking, shooting, camping, 5k mud runs, drawing and creating home movies.
I’m so glad my family and I discovered AYW! We always look forward to creating new works of art! You have created lifelong painters out of us! Thanks again AYW!
AYW: Thank you for your service and dedication to our country Erin!