Sometimes, a story just tells itself, with some help from the artist and very little from the editor. Jackie McMiullan's story is one that should be told in her own words; here it is.
My name is Jacqueline McMillan and I’m an Army brat from Lawton, OK. I’m a proud Eisenhower Eagle from the class of 92’.
I have always had an artistic side and love creativity! I love expressing that love through music, dance, painting and cooking.
I entered the restaurant business after I finished high school and thrived in the industry for years. I moved to Mobile in 1998 and worked my way to the General manager at Applebee’s, a manager at O’ Charley’s and a bartender at Fabachers.
I had a life-changing bout with Sepsis in January 2009 here in Mobile, AL at Mobile Infirmary West. Dr. Daran Mason and his team saved my life when I had a 15% chance of survival. I was in the hospital for 6 months, 2 weeks of that I was in a coma, and the rest was over 20 surgeries trying to save as much of my limbs as they could. I ended up losing both of my hands and both legs mid-calf. My 10 year anniversary of extended life is Jan 14th as a quadruple amputee.
I am currently a unique "hands-free" wood flower crafter. I found these flowers while looking for decorations for my wedding in June 2017, which I planned, catered and decorated with the help of some great friends.
I dye and arrange these flowers made from balsa wood, and I create arrangements, wreaths, functional crafts and art. All of these creations are made hands-free by me.
I work from home with a bamboo stick strapped to my arm and (using) a battery-powered hot glue gun while listening to music to help motivate and inspire my creations.
I currently attend Loda Art Walks every second Friday in Cathedral Square. I have a small space displaying my crafts at FLI Studios, a paint party studio on St Michael St. I also sell my loose dyed flowers at "Wooden It Be Fun" in Fairhope, AL.
Ed. note: On December 8, Jackie will be at Mistletoe Market, Saraland; she'll be at Walk every second Friday (in Cathedral Square, downtown Mobile); and at OK Bicycle Shop, downtown Mobile, on December 16th.
To continue Jackie's story:
I was ready to express my creative side with these wood flowers because I loved to cook and dreamed of opening my own restaurant. I was about to focus on my restaurant dream but I was hit with Sepsis. I definitely still tried to pursue work in this field but found it difficult to manage in this state.
I decided to be creative and return to my artsy side. I experienced such an outpouring of support and love from my Mobile family and I think it inspired me to want to share my talent in creating to share love and beauty. I love to smile and would love everyone to share theirs by seeing my work!
After lots of moving and rehab, I lived on my own close to family in Oklahoma City for two years. My desire to get my life back on track took over me and I met husband online. I ended up moving to California and found, with his help, that I was still a strong independent woman that had a lot to offer the world. We moved back to Mobile, AL in November 2017.
I decided in March 2018 that I wanted to start creating again and the beautiful wood flowers I used for my wedding was a perfect example of what I could do! It’s great because I can do it at my own pace and it satisfies my need to create and spread the love.