Editors’ Blog

December’s Member of the Month: “Believe,” aka Elizabeth Kalman

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

By Larry Smith

“I had a college professor that I loved. I hung on her every word, and she told me that I used too many words.”

December’s Member of the Month, Elizabeth Kalman, aka Believe, is known as much for her words online as she is for her wears offline. Kalman, a piano teacher, wife, and mother of two budding wordsmiths from Virginia Beach, VA, is the creator of the “Believe Hats” that now adorn so many SMITH member heads (including editor Larry Smith’s, pictured here). She’s sewn some fifty hats so far, each with the member’s nickname embedded, and shipped them off to people she’s solely met in this community. “The hats have taken on a magical quality that the community is responsible for, not me,” she says. Maybe so, but seeing, as the saying goes, is believing—and Elizabeth Kalman gives this community much to Believe in. She recently took time out from her busy life and put her rarely idle hands on the keyboard once again to answer six questions from SMITH.

Name: Elizabeth Kalman
Town: Virginia Beach, VA
SMITH member since: January, 2011

How did you first hear about SMITH?
I came across the site when I was googling for ideas for New Year’s toasts. One of the firsts toasts that I came to was Contemplative’s, “To inspired beginnings and captivated endings” on the Six-Word Memoir project. I was instantly hooked. I have always loved the idea of keeping a journal, but never actually had the focus/consistency/patience to do so. Six Words filled that void for me. I find the boundary of using limited words inspires my creativity.

When did you start writing and what have been turning points in your creative life?
My life has been one long creative journey. I fell in love with stories very early on. My mama was (and is) a magical storyteller. My bedtime stories were elaborate. There were always the classics, Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows, but then there were the ones that she wrote for me and my brother. They were filled with dragons hiding in hollyhocks and talking snapdragons. I have been playing the piano since I was four years old and teaching since I was sixteen, so I’ve always loved the way lyrics and music work together. Writing came a little later. I had a college professor that I loved. I hung on her every word, and she told me that I used too many words. She was the first person to be interested in my written story. I’m new to the actual writing scene and so far I am most comfortable writing in increments of six.

Your family has also gotten into the six mix. Care to tell us anything about that?
Well, my husband has actually been on six for over a year now. Of course, I was not aware of that. All I knew is that there was this one guy who seemed to be on at random intervals and would generally dedicate a small amount of time to harassing “Believe” among others. To say that he is a practical joker would be an huge understatement. He was actually found out by the resident sixer detective, L2L3. She and I have both agreed to protect his identity, but my fingers were crossed when I promised that.

My oldest daughter was inspired to start a profile when we met Larry Smith at a speaking engagement in Virginia Beach. She writes under the name pipedream. She is a brilliant writer. Her basic English assignments read like poetry. My youngest has recently started her own account, but she has been writing sixes for a while now as she was part of the class that went by the name TheOceanFlora last year. I am on a mission to promote Six-Word Memoir writing in classrooms and I was lucky enough to be able to practice on her class! The six-word concept works so well for high school students. I’m testing the waters with a younger group of writers and I am already amazed at the progress they make with, not only writing in general, but self-expression.

You’ve forged many bonds in the SMITH community and have become famous for your “Believe Hats.” When did you decide to start making hats for fellow Sixers. Who got the first one?
Who got the first hat? Tricky question. The first hats were sent to Wench as a “Welcome to the world, Constantine” present. But the Believe Hats really started a life of their own when I sent one to DynamicDbytheC and her beloved James.

What got you into the hat hobby?
I started making hats a few years back when I was sick. My immune system crashed in a major way. It landed me on my couch for an extended period of time. It was during the summer and my little girls were stuck inside on the couch with me. So we taught ourselves to knit. There is a song by Stephen Sondheim titled “Finishing the Hat” with lyrics that go, “Finishing the hat / How you have to finish the hat / How you watch the rest of the world from the window while you finish the hat.” And that is what we did that summer: we watched the world from a window and finished hats. But we really wanted to do something more. And that is what happened with DynamicD’s hat; I was watching her world from a six-word window and wanting to do more, so I made hats. The hats have taken on a magical quality that the community is responsible for, not me. And there is lots of magic out there. Larry is wearing the fiftieth hat. And I even have a hat of my own, courtesy of NumbrOneAunt!

Finally, Elizabeth Kalman, what’s your Six-Word Memoir for today?
Long on passion, short on time.

31 responses

  1. JAD says:

    Congrats! Believe, member of the month for December is very appropiate for someone who’s always giving. Just received my color request and looking forward to a Believe Hat. Happy sixing!

  2. L2l3 says:

    So glad to see the spotlight shining on you as you shine your love and generousity on others. You are a very special human being and it is with much appreciation and humility that I call you my friend.

  3. bevvie says:

    Kudos on the feature! I love my Believe hat which you know already! Wonderful to see pictures and to learn more about you and your family!

  4. Ctgoods2 says:

    Shine on Be…you are a special star!

  5. DynamicDbytheC says:

    Look out Frosty, you have nothing on Believe.

    “There must have been some magic in that
    Old silk hat they found.
    For when they placed it on his head
    He began to dance around.”

  6. oopsalittle says:

    Congrats Believe! Loved reading your story. I love my Believe hat and got to wear it a few times before the warm weather hit - but it’s there on standby once summer ends! Cheers :)

  7. MsKillie says:

    Believe, congrats and it was fun learning a bit about you! These MN winters are brutal, wonder how I could get one of those magical hats? :)

  8. LadyMac says:

    I love learning more about the regular members of this online community. Congrats on being member of the month!

  9. Loon says:

    you are as lovely as your famous ( and worn as) your hats

  10. Redx3 says:

    Aww, Believe, just as lovely in pics as you are in six! A well deserved feature for the lady who is the embodiment of peace on earth, goodwill toward all. A joy to learn more about you and the girls! Happy Holidays, shine on little star!

  11. AT says:

    I love everything about this…the story of you, the comments of your fans and friends, and the special magic that came with my hat. You rocked our world….it will never be the same.

  12. Believe says:

    All of your comments mean so much to me. This community and its individuals mean a great deal to me. Thank you for all of your kind words.

  13. Wolfie says:

    Kudos and hats off to you…

  14. marymc says:

    How adorable are you??? Glad you received some much deserved recognition. You’re awesome.

  15. jl333 says:

    It’s really nice to put a face (and name) to your Smith Profile. If anybody deserves to be in the spotlight–it’s you! I Believe! I Believe! And oh, I get many compliments on my hat You should see the look on peoples faces when they hear the story of how a ’stranger’ made it for me! They are blown away. Wishing you and your family Happy Holidays. Cheers! –JL

  16. Bullitt says:

    You are a class act, lady!

  17. canadafreeze says:

    For me, the word ‘Believe’ will forever more be associated with you and the magic hats. Congratulations. It is an honour to know you.

  18. StephanieTor says:

    I’m so happy you are the Member of the Month! I enjoyed reading more about you and feel lucky to have a Believe hat. Congratulations!

  19. Autumn22 says:

    Congratulations on your recognition! I’m new to the sixword memoirs, and saw so many comments from members about your hats and just yesterday, I was wishing I could know more about them, and you, and then Voila! Very nice.

  20. KharisJo says:

    Lovely to put faces to the sixer’s identities. What beautiful portraits, B and what a loving and warm hearted person you are. Your many gifts are truly inspirational. Congratulations on feature. (Am trying to work out who your husband is and have so far eliminated Loon, Steve Anthony and Dean…..six word clue maybe?)

  21. mourningdove says:

    So excited to see Believe as the Member of the month! I treasure my hat, and feel it is magical!

  22. notjustagirl says:

    Late to the party, but I second everything above and more. You and your hats are heart of this community. You have made Believers of us all, card carrying cynics included.

  23. Level1 says:

    What a nice way to start my day, to read about you :-) I always thought you were magical and now after learning a bit more about you I am sure of this!

  24. BanjoDan says:

    Ms B, it sure was great to learn more about you!

  25. Wench says:

    Very nice to meet you, Believe. It was great to read more about you!

  26. hieronimo says:

    congratulations on the wonderful feature story. you are one of what my friend calls the “Great Souls”, who are scattered around the earth.

    regarding the professor who said you used too many words, do you remember the scene in Amadeus when Emperor Franz Joseph II criticized Mozart for using “too many notes”? seemed to work out ok for Mozart.

  27. Hannahmo says:

    Amazing! Great writer, great hat maker. Congrats. :)

  28. Mzejay says:

    How wonderful to learn more about you. You are spreading sunshine a lot a bit at a time.

  29. TawnyPort says:

    You are an inspiration to us all!

  30. Lovely Lizard says:

    Well, it’s about time that BELIEVE was featured for both her writing, which is wonderful, but also for her generous heart. I am lucky enough to be a hat recipient also, and I’m telling you, there really is magic in these hats. Love this community of interesting characters. Rock On!

  31. Amapola says:

    So wonderful to meet you and congratulations with this beatufil candid portrait of you. Your hat has inspired me so much, and I have a little surprise for you coming very SOON ;-)

    You are amazing. Thank you for your loving presence.

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