An Update From The World Of Uncertainty

It’s been one week since I pledged to start another year-long art project. You may be wondering where all the art is. Some of it is in a box, actually boxes, on their merry way to New York in time (hopefully) for my daughter’s birthday on Tuesday. It’s a big one for her, and for me as well. She is turning thirty. (Sorry Jessica, I know you look seventeen, I’m letting the cat out of the bag.) It has only been a week since I turned fifty-five. It honestly didn’t bother me a bit. What does horrify me is the fact that I am about to be the mother of a thirty year old, because I’m not that old! It will also be a first for us. Jessica and her husband, John, moved to New York in June. It will be the first time in thirty years that I won’t be with my daughter for her birthday. That’s a tough one, so I did what any completely insane mother would do…I sent her thirty presents. Some are homemade (the previously mentioned art), some are silly, some are meant to share with John. I was broke when his birthday came around in August, so I wanted to wish him a little belated birthday. I can’t share and ruin the surprise, so….Tuesday.

I am also at the beginning of the holiday show season. You know what that means, if you come in my house you are guaranteed to leave looking like you’ve just left Tinkerbell’s house. Glitter, glitter everywhere! Which brings me to another subject, my house. We had our fifth week of open house. I am attempting to keep the glitter at bay by working outside, but glitter is the infectious disease of craft supplies. It spreads despite all containment efforts. Every time I walked in the house today there was a sparkly dusting in my wake. There isn’t too much I can do, I need to work, I have a show next week. As for the house…it’s still ours. We actually thought that we had some people interested yesterday, but it failed to materialize. I find myself waffling between being happy that I’m not leaving my house yet, and anxious to move on. It feels like our life is on hold for the moment. I keep waiting for things to get better, or at least different. Believe me I know there are so many people who are far worse off, I am grateful for what we have, but I am a bit of a control freak. We are now into seventeen months of drastic life changing circumstances, I think any normal human being would begin to become a bit frustrated. I long for normalcy, or whatever “normal” will turn out to be once the dust has settled.

As for tonight, I am tired, discouraged, impatient, and a little anxious. I am also hopeful. I had a moment a few days ago when a feeling that everything would be OK came over me. I have no explanation, I only know it changed my mood and mindset tremendously, and for that I am particularly grateful.

It rained Friday and for a bit on Saturday. We need it here in Southern California, but it gave us much more than water, we had incredible clouds yesterday, and spectacular color. Of course I had to capture some of it. I have no paintings or drawings to share yet, but a little bit of God’s handiwork instead. Plenty of inspiration for painting, and more than enough beauty to make me happy just to be alive.911 crop

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Past Midnight

Happy Birthday to me today. Dan and I have a longtime affectionate argument about age. He is four months older than me, or one hundred twenty-five days (not that I’m counting). He will refer to us in age in some conversation, and I will immediately remind him that while he was out on the town (at four months old), I was still in utero awaiting my introduction to the world. Yesterday he said I was fifty-five, I said, “After midnight.” It’s past midnight, actually its five-thirty in the morning so it is official. I’m sort of old. I say sort of because apparently the rest of the world doesn’t know me. I am not in the least bit “old”, I may have some wrinkles, and definitely fifty-five year old knees, but I’d say in attitude I’m somewhere around thirty-five. I’ve been getting a lot of AARP stuff for years now, but my favorite mail is from funeral homes. It goes something like, “Hey now! You’re getting closer to death by the second. Don’t leave your loved ones in a lurch. Plan ahead.” I know I’m no spring chicken, but I’d like to think I have another decade or two. For those of you who are of the gloom and doom persuasion, yes, I realize I could get hit by a car tomorrow, I’m just not planning on it. I also received a reminder a few weeks back from our car insurance company. They wanted to let me know that life insurance rates would go sky-high as soon as I turned fifty-five. I called yesterday…it wasn’t midnight yet. That process was interesting. They are very happy to have you call them, they are very happy to sell you insurance, but then begins the inquisition. A questionnaire about my medical history. It seems that they need to know everything that has ever occurred to me medically. Now at fifty-four (remember it wasn’t midnight yet) a lot, and I mean a lot of stuff has gone on in my life. What I really enjoyed was the section where they asked if I’d ever had any X-rays. Seriously? Who hasn’t, oh the Amish (not to offend, but I’m sure they don’t read my blog anyway). I started filling out the X-ray section, which includes normal X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasounds, and so on. I have had two children, had a miscarriage, fallen down a flight of stairs on my hip, six knee surgeries, broken fingers, and…I could bore you with more medical details, because I am after all old now, and isn’t that what old people do? I won’t, I will remember my thirty-five year old mindset and stop. I called them back. I spoke to a very nice young man. Do they really need every X-ray ever? He was stumped. I have to call back Monday (I guess the inquisitor gets weekends off). I get it if they want to rule out something that will cost them, but if they insure me it will cost them in the end anyway, it’s not like I’m immortal or something. (Of course if my plan to rule the universe doesn’t happen soon I may have to figure that one out.) Rule out the biggies for the moment, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, but why make me relive some rather painful personal moments? Does it really matter that I was anemic when I was nineteen? Or that I was depressed for a while after my mom died, wouldn’t they be too? That I miscarried? What does any of that have to do with life insurance? Who needs to read the gory details of my five decades? Does the fact that I broke my index finger mean I could push the wrong elevator button and plunge to my death? Or will they use the fact that I snapped my ACL hanging a kitchen curtain as a reason for non-payment when I fall off a counter to my demise in my new home hanging new curtains?  I feel like the odds are stacked against me before I even begin. Maybe I should have signed up for life insurance at birth before my total lack of coordination was evident. I guess if I die too soon they will have to pay too soon. I have to say, I’m with them. I hope they make lots of money from me, but meanwhile a little privacy please. (Happy Sunday to all of you, but I feel better now. I needed to rant to someone.)

On to what really matters…

I’ve created a new ad for today’s post. It looks like this:

MISSING: ARTWORK

Last seen several months ago on this blog

Wearing coats of many colors.

Mediums of all kinds.

Subject matter varied upon mood of the artist.

If you have any information please contact the artist and ask “What’s up?”

I started this blog to force myself to create every day. Along the way the original purpose was usurped by my life heading off the deep end. I need to find it again. My art is my life’s saving grace. It has always been the thing that got me through. It hasn’t been a good year and a half for Dan and I. We are grateful for what we have. We talked last night about how close we came to losing everything. We didn’t, and we are stronger than ever, but I have been letting a very important part of myself slip away once again. I need to create. It is as important in my life as food is. I need that artistic nourishment, and I have been living on crumbs. My birthday, start of a new year in my life, an arbitrary benchmark of time passing, but today it becomes my new “start line”, my new 365 day project. Today I will be spending the day with Dan, so I will post a piece from last year. New work begins tomorrow.

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Words Or Pictures?

I had for the first time in a very long time a lazy afternoon. I’m a fidget-er, one who cannot sit still. Like some who talk incessantly with the need to fill the air with words, I am one that needs to fill every moment with activity…and often in total silence. On my lazy afternoon (which was actually forced on me by a medication induced upset stomach), I watched a movie, Words and Pictures, with Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen.  The movie wasn’t a box office success, and after watching I read some on-line reviews which weren’t stellar, but I loved it. Yes it was cliché, but aren’t all romantic comedies clichéd? Aside from the two very appealing leads, it was the subject matter that grabbed me. A battle between two teachers, the Honors English and the Honors Art teachers about what is worth more, words? Or is it pictures? As an artist/writer I have strong opinions on both sides. If I were asked to make a list of my favorite things, art and words would be part of the list, they would actually be at the top of the list. I know such lists would often cause people to choose something more tangible, and although art can be something we hold and touch, it can also be something quite transitory. Art is all around us, and while exquisitely captured on canvas, or on film through movies and photography, I need only look out my window to see art that I will never be skilled enough to reproduce. Words? Yes they can be written down and leather-bound, or recorded as I do in this moment, but think of the fleeting words you hang onto in your life. The first “I love you.” The first word spoken by your child. The last conversation with a loved one. I loved this movie because it opened an internal dialog in my own mind. To choose between two things I love so much would be difficult. I’m sure at some point we have all thought about those who have either been born with, or lost one of their senses. We might wonder if we had to choose which it would be. To never see again? To never look into the eyes of someone you love? To lose your hearing? To loose the sound of laughter, the rustling of the leaves, or a cry for help? For me the ability to express myself in words is like breathing. By the same token the ability to produce art allows my soul to breathe. This movie inspired two things in me. I opened up a new canvas two days ago and have yet to put a stroke on it. Now I feel like painting. I was inspired by the work in the movie to want to produce something. And here I sit at the keyboard the words bursting out of me as the credits rolled. I don’t care about whether someone thought the plot was silly, or the actors had no chemistry, I would watch it over and over if it made me feel what I feel right now. So, I choose not to choose. I do however wish to ask what everyone else thinks. Words? Pictures? Where do you stand? The decision is yours.

Mixed Emotions

The realtors have come and gone. No, the house isn’t sold. We are bravely, or stupidly (depending on your opinion and occupation), selling it ourselves. Still have yet to figure out its worth, somewhere around invaluable if you ask me. I spent the day photographing every room. I’m not ready to put up pictures just yet. My critical eye found something in every shot that needs to be attended to, but it really does look beautiful. We did take the time to have it appraised. All I can say is that by the time the appraiser left I was beaming. Self confidence is not my forte. I have been worrying and fussing for months now, and I am happy to say that someone actually noticed. He still hasn’t given us a price, he said something along the lines of our house belonging in an art museum, and therefore a little difficult to comp. That’s OK with me. I have spent years creating this home, surrounding us with things we love, adding artistic touches throughout. The realtors quite frankly didn’t get it, the appraiser did. He walked through our home and oohed and aah-ed at every detail. He told me that I should decide what I wanted to keep because he is sure that most everyone that walks through the door will want it all. The final compliment came when in lieu of payment for his services he said he would take a piece of art. Talk about an ego boost. So I am happy that someone appreciates what I do, but so very sad to be leaving it. It so happens that my Dad’s house will be for sale soon as well, and it is the last place my Mom lived, so for me this loss is doubled. Not only will I leave my home, but there is a good chance that I won’t get to say goodbye to my parent’s home at all. But it is life, and so as I sat thinking about it all the other morning I wrote a few words. I have put them with a photo of Dad’s house, as I have yet to take a decent exterior shot of my own.

 

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Beginning The Goodbye

I think I might just see the end in sight. As I said the other day, I’ve been dragging my feet, or in my case, my knee. I didn’t want to move, but as often happens, life sometimes makes our choices for us, this one wasn’t mine to choose. I believe we will be for sale by Wednesday. The last few details to be finished in the coming days. The endless weeks of primping my house as if she were going to her first prom are coming to an end. Freshly painted, immaculately clean (OK, so the cat hair tumbleweeds can be an issue), and dressed to the nines. I’m like a proud mother sending my girl off to the dance, and as any mother can tell you it’s never easy, except this time it will be me leaving my nest behind. I will worry and fret that she is loved and cared for in the same way I did. There has been much life lived in this house. My daughter was married from it, my son grew up in it, both Dan and I lost a parent while living in it. We found security within its walls as our life fell apart. As long as we had our home we felt that everything would be OK.  We celebrated our love and marriage of twenty-five years in it. When we left Chicago (actually the Village of Lindenhurst), where we bought our first home, we left behind a piece of our hearts as well as a sneaky reminder of us. Dan carved our names into the bottom of a post he installed between the living room and dining room, and had the kids sign as well. It remains to be seen if we will leave something so tangible here, but we will leave the ghost of us in its walls . The laughter, the tears, the heartaches, successes, and so much love, are the essence of what a home should be, and they are here, and in our hearts and minds. I only wish for those who follow the same kind of bond, the same kind of love, the same kind of precious memories that make a house a home. I will miss this place, my beautiful garden, but most of all I will treasure the memories that were created here.

 

I have made much of how I will miss my garden. I was looking through old photos tonight and thought I would share what our vision created.  A before and after, an engagement party for Jessica and John that we held there, and finally one garden project that will travel with us. The table that Dan and I built together. We will have to build a new garden around it.

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When I Grow Up

When my son Brian was just short of his sixth birthday he came to me with a very earnest look on his face. “Mommy”, he said, “When I grow up should I be a taxi driver or a science test?” I told him that I wanted him to be a “science test”. He is now studying to be a sommelier. The memory of that conversation came to me in the middle of another sleepless night. I really believed for a very long time now that I never figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. There were of course flashes of interest, in the sixth grade it was archeology. I read everything I could get my hands on to do with ancient Rome and Greece. I knew Greek Mythology by heart. Then there was the realization that it might just involve science, somewhat doable, but in a round about way it might also involve (cue the dramatic music of dread)…math…Done! No math, no how! Then there was of course (as any good Catholic girl will tell you) the call to God. I thought for a very, very, very short time about becoming a nun. (Didn’t we all?) Trust me as a romanticizing, day dreaming, fourteen year old, the idea of becoming a “Bride of Christ” sounds wonderful and mysterious. You find yourself praying a lot and feeling very pious. I think a very short reflection on some of the bitter and angry nuns I had dealt with in my academic career brought that idea to a screeching halt. Don’t get me wrong. I have had the immense pleasure of being educated by some lovely human beings, who also happen to have been nuns, but in my young mind the bitter and angry ones far outweighed the nice ones. For a while I thought I might want to be a teacher. I think I would have been a good one, but in the summer that I was fifteen I taught art in a Chicago Park District program to children four through eight years old. I was bitten, kicked, and had my glasses broken by an obnoxious five-year old who thought that while flying high on the swing set it might be fun to hit my face with his feet. I was done yet again. The honest truth was I never really thought about an artistic career. Since I had no training I had no idea of the endless possibilities that were available to me. I did always have a flair for design. I think I may have mentioned here before that I didn’t like playing with Barbie dolls as much as I enjoyed decorating their house. In my sleeplessness last night I did a lot of thinking. I had a complete meltdown right before bed (which robbed my dear husband of some much-needed sleep, sorry Honey). I was bemoaning my fate as a lost human being wandering the earth with no focus, no plan, no home. (OK, so it wasn’t quite that dramatic) It’s just that I, like so many other women, are our families. We lost ourselves somewhere along the way of countless hours of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, laundry, homework, bedtime rituals, etc., we are made up of the pieces that address our family needs, and forget our own. I was feeling angry and frustrated last night. Last year when I started this blog and art project it was the first time in my adult life that I was solely focused on something for myself. Then fate stepped in, appearing in the form of unemployment, it laughed in my face, and it filled my mind with fear and worry and not so much with creativity. So many times over the course of the year I found myself pushing the project to the back burner because guilt wouldn’t allow me to put myself first. I wouldn’t let myself be first. Now Dan has a new job, Jessica has moved away, I am moving away from Brian, and I am also moving away from Gabby and Kingston, the motherless children I care for and have grown to love. The only thing I have been in thirty years is a wife and mother. I dabbled at my art, but I never fully committed myself to me. It all came to a head last night. As I sat here all night (quite frankly despicably full of self-pity) I remembered what Brian had said. In the last few weeks as I have been packing up our lives, I came across my diary. It’s the one I mentioned here before. Along with it were pages from other older, younger diaries. Amongst the writing on those pages were some dreams for the future. First and foremost was my goal of becoming Mrs. Robert Redford (Don’t worry. Dan is well aware of my love for “Bob”), but there was also an entry that while it has the day and month, it does not have the year. My Aunt Bernie had just given birth to my cousin Michael. In my little girl penmanship I wrote about what a beautiful baby he was, and that I wanted to be a mom when I grew up. So maybe I did know all along. I think I was pretty good at it. I’d like to think I’m still good at it, trying my best to not interfere, but to gently guide and suggest. I’m sure that many people would chalk this up to “empty nest syndrome”.  Sure, some of that might be true, but with me there has always been this feeling of unfulfilled promise. God-given talents that are sorely untapped. Dan got angry with me last night, and that isn’t something that happens often, but he was right. He said that I keep throwing up roadblocks for myself. He also said that I won’t let myself be first, and that he is my biggest supporter. All of that is true. It really is time to figure things out. I know I can’t blame anyone but myself, and I know only I can change me. Time to grow up, time for a new dream, and since Bob and I are both already married to other people, that ship has sailed. (Oh come on, Dan knows he is the love of my life.)

After my meltdown and sleepless night I sat on the couch this morning with my coffee and watched last night’s Project Runway. I love the show. I love to see the creativity and imagination at work. I also envy the amazing sewing talent. One of the lovelier nuns I have run across is Sr. Janelle. She was my sophomore year sewing teacher. Try as she might, as kind and patient as she was, I wasn’t very good. I have amazing talent in these hands as long as there isn’t an iota of math involved. Sewing can be very mathematical. On a commercial break in the show came an ad for AARP. (We are not members. It’s honestly a little upsetting when you get your first invite to join. You find yourself feeling angry and insulted that they would presume to think you are that “old”. I know there are many benefits, but my brain just doesn’t want to go there. I am after all, only 54!) The ad featured Tim Gunn, and it couldn’t have been more appropriate. He talks about reinventing yourself, rolling the dice and taking a chance. He was a teacher for twenty-nine years, and he was fifty when Project Runway came along. It was just what I needed to hear. Maybe my former fiancée (God) is trying to send me a message. Now if He could just send me some movers….

Facing My Fears About The Future

Here I go again, whine, whine, whine…just kidding.  Tonight is the result of getting what I asked for. I’m alone. These days if you are in sales more than likely you do a little traveling, or a lot of traveling. Dan has been on the road for roughly twenty years. I know some people enjoy travel, and I think he did at first, but after the hundredth hotel room, hotel restaurant dinner, and all the long lonely phone calls with your significant other, it starts to get a little old. I hate when he is away. I hate going to bed without him. I actually spend most of those nights on the couch. Of course these days are better than days of old. (Boy I’m really dating myself here) When Dan started traveling the kids were pretty young and our only means of communication were beepers and pay phones. Thank God some things have changed. There were days when I didn’t leave the house because I was waiting to hear from him. Cell phones certainly make life immensely better.

On the home front things are still not done. It seems like every time I think we are ready to list I find something else that needs to be done. I know I’ve probably done ten times more than need be, but I really care about my home. As I’ve grown older and realized what’s really important in this life I’ve learned to let go of a few things (I just can’t seem to remember what they are in the moment). I’m ashamed to admit that I had more than one occasion where I was upset with Dan or the kids for bringing someone home unexpectedly. I am again my Mother’s daughter. My house must be impeccable for guests. In all fairness to me I believe what I said to them was true, and that is that Jessica and Brian’s jobs were to be good students, Dan was out working, this house was my job. I always said that if someone came here and the house wasn’t clean they wouldn’t leave and say that Brian was a slob, or Jessica was messy, or that Dan’s house was filthy, I felt it was always a reflection on me. I was sure that Brian’s fourteen year old friends were telling their mothers that his mom was a terrible housekeeper. There were of course times when my irritation was more than justifiable. Like the St. Patrick’s Day when I was on the couch in my messy living room with a respiratory infection.  Dan arrived with a limo full of beer salesmen who all needed to use my bathroom. Sick with no makeup and an untidy house and he is bringing in not one, but three or four strangers, really???? It was definitely not a lucky day for my mostly Irish husband that day. I have come to realize that things don’t have to be perfect, but I think that right now I am having a little separation anxiety. I think I have become a little obsessed with making sure the next family that lives inside these walls loves this place as much as we do. It’s time to set another deadline for myself because I fear at this point this house may turn into my next 365 day project. I also think that I might just be dragging my feet a little so I don’t have to leave. The house is clean, it is beautiful, it is time for me to let go. The truth is that I’m a little scared of the future right now. California was a hard move, leaving behind not only friends and family, but my life, the life I knew. What made it easier was having my children. I think I needed them more than they needed me. Now Jessica is in New York, and I will be doing the one thing I said I could never do, I’m moving away from one of my children. Brian will still be living and working in the Temecula area. He will be only fifty or so miles from where we hope to settle, but it will break my heart none-the-less. It’s taken eleven years, but this is my home. If I feel lonely I can call a friend to meet for coffee, or I can run to the cheese store in Old Town Temecula. I’ve befriended the owner and we have on more than one occasion sat in the back of her shop and had some cheese and a glass of wine. There are also the ladies at my favorite antique mall who are familiar with my roaming the aisles. Even things as mundane as grocery shopping where the cashiers are familiar faces. I am starting over once again, and admittedly nervous.  No lifelines this time, just me, myself, and I, trying to find new friends, and new places to go. Maybe time for a little reinvention as well. I don’t mean as in changing who I am, but more about who I was meant to be. New move, new focus on art. I guess I do have one security blanket after all.

Regaining Control

I’m usually pretty good at coming up with a title for a post. They come to me quickly, and I usually never second guess my choice. Today is a little different. I wasn’t sure whether to title this one as I did, “Regaining Control”, or my other thought which was  “Misconceptions.” What I need to get off my chest has a little to do with both. As I’ve pointed out before, this blog began as a way to force myself to work on my art. The unfortunate situation that we found ourselves in changed that. I still plan to return to my work, but there isn’t much time for creativity these days unless it is in the form of packing boxes. This blog instead has become a catharsis for my emotional well-being in a time of struggle. Pent up emotions do no one any good. I am a very “in your face” kind of person. I don’t believe in hiding the truth, I feel better when I am honest with people. That doesn’t mean that I go around insulting people by telling them something negative about themselves, some things are best left unsaid, but when I am upset with someone I don’t let it fester. When you don’t release your emotions I think little things tend to build into great big things, and then all kinds of unnecessary drama can ensue. I don’t know most of the people who read what I write, and that works for me. It just feels good to let it out, and if by chance someone else relates and it helps them in some way, that is amazing. I also don’t write looking for pity, which believe it or not I kind of think some people who I do know believe that I am. I’m a writer as well as an artist, so I am doing what a writer does, I write. I started keeping a journal at twelve, of course back then we didn’t have fancy names like “journal”, it was a diary. You know the kind where you talk about which boy is cute and how you hate your parents that day? I actually kept that diary for almost seven years. I’ve written a lot over the years. I’ve never attempted to have anything published, that lovely “you are good enough” voice that resides in my brain held me back. Short stories, poetry, and a few children’s books are all in a box. Someday I may let them out, but for now I write here. So with that rather long introduction I will begin.

I’ve had several people tell me to focus on the good in my life. Things such as, “Count your blessings.”,  “Look at all the love and kindness you’ve received.”,  “Stop focusing on the negative.” …and so on. The implication of course being that I spend my life in a complete state of “woe is me.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I guess I’ll address misconceptions first. I am grateful, I do count my blessings, I don’t always focus on the negative, and so on… This blog became a way to vent emotion. My lovely husband was struggling in his own way with his identity as the man of the house, the bread-winner, the guy who took care of everything. Did he need to be burdened with my worry wart ways? The answer is of course not. Venting here allowed me to blow off some worry as well as steam. Not that Dan didn’t always know what I was feeling, but this took the edge off. When I said that I felt my prayers weren’t being answered it didn’t mean that I suddenly stopped being Catholic. Trust me when I say I sometimes envy the faith that some people have. Mine is just a little shaky at the moment. I also believe something my sister said about God giving us free will. God does help them who help themselves, it’s just tough to get it going when no one will give you a chance, because guess what? The multitudes of people who turned Dan down for a job have free will too, the free will to not give him the job. I also in my beliefs think that God is a little busy right now with Gaza, the Ebola virus, the current crisis in Iraq, and the millions of poor starving babies in the world to be worried about whether or not I get to keep my 3000 square foot home. I wouldn’t expect that kind of attention. This is where the regaining control part comes in. I’m a self admitted control freak, and my life was way out of my control, that means I turn into a “basket-case”.  This was never about losing my big house, it was about worrying that I would have no house at all. This was about watching what the situation did to the person that I love, admire, and respect most in the world, Dan. It was about being scared. Loss of control is a big issue for me. It’s why I’m claustrophobic, I need the keys. The house will be on the market within a week. I’m exhausted, as is Dan, but (dare I say) we are also beginning to feel a little excited about the future. We went out last weekend to investigate potential places to move to, and quite frankly we fell in love. I won’t go into detail as of yet, but I am feeling hopeful, and just a little bit more in control. Now that there is a plan of sorts, it means that all is almost well in my world. We are helping ourselves and letting God take care of those who can’t and need Him way more than us.

Finally on this lovely Sunday morning a few words of wisdom from me.March 13 2010 079

 

Breathe

Today was another good day. I think I have resigned myself to the loss of our home. No more crying about what I can’t change. Not that the day I hand over the keys won’t be a difficult one, but I also know that it will be the first day in months that I can breathe. This home I once lavished so much love on has become an insurmountable burden. We can’t move forward or figure out our future until it is gone.

Before I begin to write about today I wanted to write about Sunday. It was a wonderful day and deserves to be remembered. Sunday’s day of rest turned into a very long day, something we hadn’t counted on. Our friend’s flight was delayed, and delayed, and delayed, she didn’t arrive in San Diego until after midnight. I felt for her, it was an incredibly long day of traveling. As for Dan and I, the picnic was wonderful and long overdue. Good food, good wine, and an incredible sunset. Who says my life is bad? (I know… mostly me) For awhile we managed to forget about the not so great stuff in our life and focus on the moment and each other. Then when we realized that we had four hours to kill before the flight came in, we decided to splurge and go to a movie, Begin Again. A very appropriate title for us. It was also another enjoyable two hours that took our minds off our troubles.

I need to step back a day. I had an epiphany of sorts on Saturday. We were at the check out in the grocery store, I glanced over to the register next to us and saw a young family. That’s when it hit me, how much worse this could be. I realize we aren’t the only people in the world going through this, I’ve known that all along of course, but what happened on Saturday was the realization of how much worse this would be if I had kids to feed. I looked at this young couple and their kids and thought about what it would be like for them. This is a nightmare, no doubt, but it is just us, the two of us. There are no little stomachs going to bed empty. It makes you think.

Today… A really good day, another day when I’ve felt really happy for the first time in weeks. I mentioned that I was gathering art supplies for a local foster home. As I sorted through art supplies left over from my own kids days at school, I saw the little individual name tags that I painstakingly taped to each magic marker and pencil. Another epiphany.  There was a pretty good chance that the kids that I was giving the supplies to never had anyone tape their name to a pencil. This foster home is for kids who have been hurt by an adult in their life. It took awhile, but I removed every piece of tape from every pencil and marker. I want these kids to own the supplies, I don’t want them reminded of something that they may have never had. The further I got into cleaning the studio the more I wanted to give. In the end I had four boxes packed to the top, and a couple of bags. When I dropped them off the staff was thrilled. It seems they are in the midst of planning their annual art fundraiser, much of the art supplied by the kids. I had no idea, but when I left there I felt so happy, I felt like I had really done something positive. As I dig my way out of all of the stuff here at home, I’ve figured out a way to catch a breath, by making a difference in the life of a kid. I’ll be looking for more supplies to give away,  its good medicine for what ails me.

A few memories from Sunday to share…

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The Things That Can’t Be Taken Away

No righteous indignation today, no steam to blow off, just some thoughts on what matters, and what I value. We are taking the day off from packing. We really can’t afford to. We are buried alive here, I think the crew from Hoarders should be here any minute. We have eleven years of living in this house, and there is also my stuff. Art is a messy business, and a business that requires supplies, lots of supplies. I am now nearly four boxes full for a donation to the nearby foster home, but that hardly made a dent. I will probably have to let go of more, but my creative brain is in full gear thanks to the reemergence of some long forgotten items. I only wish I had the time to create right now. Instead I have to content myself with thoughts of my artistic future, and write all of my ideas down before they become long forgotten. We decided to relax today because we are honestly a little overwhelmed and exhausted. As a souvenir from my eighteen years at the grocery store, I have tendonitis and carpal tunnel in both hands. My left arm began to hurt a few weeks ago, it is now a searing pain up to as far as the inside of my arm near the elbow. My knee(s) are unforgiving, and quite angry with me for the amount of time I have spent on my feet these last few weeks. Then there is Dan’s back. He of the “I’m fine, I’ll be OK”, gang has been (when he thinks I’m not looking) stretching out and rubbing his lower back.  We have been working nearly twelve hours a day to get this place on the market. We need a break, obviously in more sense than one, but today is the day. When I told my Dad last night he said, “You are burning yourselves out. It won’t do either of you any good.” He was right. Our friend needs a ride home from the airport in San Diego. She doesn’t arrive until 9:30 p.m. which gives us time to participate in a favorite activity of ours, a beach picnic. We haven’t had one in more than two years. Our last was on our anniversary two years ago, when I happened to rest my hand on the car door frame right as Dan was closing it. Ouch doesn’t even begin to cover it. Macgyver that I am, I splinted my thumb and fingers right on the beach using a couple of emery boards, and a band-aid I happened to have on another finger. I tried a brave front for about a half hour, then I caved and the picnic ended. I had broken my right index finger and thumb. A very memorable anniversary to say the least. We have been talking about a repeat ever since. As life would have it the time never came, until today. We are going to go to Coronado Island. For those of you who have seen “Some Like It Hot”, with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe, the Hotel del Coronado is where it was filmed. It is a beautiful place right on the water. We have had a picnic there before, where we can watch the sun go down over the Pacific. These are the moments that I speak of, the moments that can’t be taken away. No matter how much we lose, what we have is unbreakable, a love that has grown in the some of the worst of circumstances. What we have are these moments that we cherish together. A day on the beach trying to figure out the unknown. A picnic made from what’s in the fridge (which I can tell you isn’t half bad, I’m a Macgyver in the kitchen too!), and sitting close, our arms wrapped around one another as we watch the sun sink beyond the horizon. These days, and the memories we take with us, are the things that we will always have, and for that I will always be grateful.

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Just one of many. A beautiful evening on the beach. There’s still a lot to look forward to in this life.