Rantings Of A Not Quite Hypocondriac

Dear Grocery Store Owners,

I am deathly allergic to those hideous scented pine cones that you insist on placing at the entrances of your establishment. The detergent aisle is bad enough, its like running a gauntlet for me. I have to try to get through the aisle picking up cleaning products while holding my breath. Does it ever occur to you that you may be asphyxiating the general public? Or maybe that’s the plan. Get them coming in the door, hit them with overwhelmingly intoxicating fragrance in order to dull brain cells so that they don’t notice that the mayonnaise jar is six ounces smaller but still costs the same, or that they will think the ever so slightly smaller box of corn flakes is an optical illusion. (I realize that the store owners themselves are not resizing the products, but they do have something to do with pricing) I’m just asking if it is possible to limit the “festive holiday aroma” to one door so I don’t need my inhaler by the time I hit the produce section.

…Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. I am admittedly guilty of ruining my own respiratory system with art materials, however between the pine cones of Christmas and the Star Gazer Lilies of Easter, I can barely walk in the store. Don’t get me started on the guerrilla warfare of the mall kiosks that sell perfume and hand lotion. Random people popping out as I walk by trying to slather me with some scented concoction. This is what Christmas shopping does to me. I get annoyed, and that is never good.

The funny thing is that what got me started tonight was a pleasant memory, so let’s go down that route instead. I’m not feeling great today, actually haven’t been for a couple of weeks. I went to the doctor today to get some test results, and you know because I am Irish that prior to my visit I was getting my affairs in order. You know the usual stuff you think about before you get test results, like how will my family go on without me? Who will remind Dan and Brian that we need milk and toilet paper? And of course my worst fear, how much will my family curse me after I’m gone because I have so much crap that they will have to dispose of? Good news, I’m not dying, yet. No actual answers for some unexplained pain, and I don’t get a follow-up doctor appointment for another two weeks, which will fill my days with thoughts of probable diseases. I’ll bet Dan is overjoyed.Wait, wasn’t I talking about a good memory? Yes, it’s this. I miss my Mom. She died six and a half years ago. I particularly miss her when I don’t feel well. She was an avid reader of the Star and Enquirer and probably could have added to my list of suggested diseases. Actually I think we all pretty much want to talk to our mothers when we don’t feel well. Moms just make things better, at least mine did. When we didn’t feel well my Mom made us tea and toast. A hot cup of tea with milk and a spoonful of sugar with a slice of hot buttered toast. It’s still my go to for a not so great day. It reminds me of her, it comforts me. It isn’t of course a substitute for a little motherly sympathy, but it makes me think of her and that always makes things a little better.

I was lazy today. Too much crafting, too much self-imposed worry, too much intoxicating pine cone. A simple little watercolor. I need to get back in the swing of things.IMG_3128

For Mom

It’s early evening here in Temecula and I haven’t attempted anything new for the day. Busy work in the garage, and to be honest a little stressed about stuff I can’t seem to let go of. There is also this, I know I mentioned it earlier in the month, but today is the sixth anniversary of my Mom’s passing. Never an easy day. I inherited “not good enough” from her. She never realized how fantastic she was. I am hoping that this project will eventually free me from myself, and maybe in some way she will gain something through me. I also realize that my daughter has a hint of the “not good enough” and I want to vanish it from her life too.

Speaking of “not good enough”, I mentioned it last night, and boy was it back this morning. I worked on Kelsey this morning because I wasn’t happy about it last night. The other issue is that I wait so long in the day to work that by the time I’m finishing up its dark outside, and I’m tired, and I don’t work with enough light…excuses, excuses, but all true. The stuff I can’t let go of? Perfectionism. I wrote last night of how Kelsey’s portrait didn’t give me any trouble. That was then, this is now. I worked that little baby’s portrait over and over, I almost ruined it by dropping a big blob of water on her poor little face. I finally put it down. I spoke to my daughter Jessica about it later in the morning. She said, “Mom, if they just wanted a picture they’d take one.” She’s right. I need to get it through my stubborn Irish skull that I’m not a Xerox machine (if you are too young to know what that is, google it!) I am an artist, I am evoking a feeling, or an essence, not a Sear’s portrait. I took on the garage stuff today because I needed to shake this off. I was doing so well, progressing and feeling confident. I’m not sure what happened that set me back…ding! Light bulb just went off. Most of the art I have been producing these last few months wasn’t for anyone. There were one or two pieces for Dan and Theresa, but they are like my other halves. It is because it is for someone else. My new family. Do I think they are going to get the portraits and put a big red check in the middle, or publish a bad review in the local paper, of course not. But I’m me, and I want them to love the portraits of their children. I’m sure they will, because this isn’t about them, it’s about me and my issues. I’m sure I’m slightly insane, and that all will be well. I just have to remember that “not good enough” is very sneaky, and will find the crack in the door if I leave it open even the slightest bit.

Two hours later…

I talked to Dan about how I was feeling, and of course his words pretty much echoed Jessica’s. I was in fear of being judged, thus the “revisiting”. Finally I just began to cry. It’s a hard enough day, and I make it harder on myself. In the midst of all of it another light bulb moment. There is always a root for every problem, and sometimes the person who planted it doesn’t even realize they are doing it. When I was a little girl, and had already begun to show talent, my dad handed me a photo of John Kennedy and asked me to draw it for him. In my recollection I was around five, but at the very least I was seven, because I still remember where I was sitting when he asked. He walked away and I cried because I didn’t know how to draw that picture and I didn’t want to let him down. Who knows what he was thinking. It’s a sad memory, but Dan said at least now I know where my lack of confidence started. Maybe I should rename the blog “365 Days to Psycho Analyze Yourself”, lots of stuff going on in my head these days. I want to say right now to my two children, if I have ever said something that made you think you weren’t good enough, I’m sorry. You have both always been amazing and the joy of my life.

Tonight, something for my mother. When she died her coffin was covered in yellow roses ordered by my dad. I don’t remember yellow roses being her favorite flower, they are his. I know that because my mom told me so. I remember lilacs, and that she smelled like Heaven Scent when I was young. I had some small pieces of wood, left overs from something, they aren’t even cut straight. Lilacs in acrylic on wood. Love you Mom.

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Finding Solace And A Lifeline In Art

I had intended today to return to the full figure painting of my daughter, but as usual I got side tracked. Nothing horrible, but something I had intended to follow through on years ago.  Six years ago on  July 22, my Mother died. In the horrific three weeks that she spent in ICU, I passed the time by painting and drawing. I did a series of small, 5×7 paintings that I hung around her hospital bed. All of them painted with her in mind, two of them depicted the area in Southern California where I live, both inviting her to visit when she recovered, which of course she never did. There were two others, a get well card signed by all of us, my Dad, my three sisters, all of our husbands and her eight grandchildren. The other was a vase of sunflowers. I wanted something pretty for her to see when she woke. She did wake, but had sustained a brain injury, so our Mother, as we knew her, was gone. When she passed away and we were taking her things from the hospital, my Aunt Rita asked me if she could have the painting of the sunflowers. I said I would send it to her, I never did. I had intended to mail it as soon as I got home to California from Chicago, but I couldn’t send it. It was one of the last things I did for Mom, and I hoped that on some level she knew about it. I was recently messaging with my cousin Lorna. She has been wonderfully supportive of this artistic and self-searching journey I am on, she is also Rita’s daughter. It reminded me of that painting and I told Lorna I would send it to her Mother.  Two of the other paintings are hanging in my studio, the get well card is framed at my Dad’s house. I have looked for the last several days for the sunflowers and I can’t find it. I know it was there, it has been for six years. Dan said that maybe I’m not supposed to give it away. So today instead of working on Jessica’s portrait I worked on something to send my Aunt Rita. Something pretty, something I hope she will like.

All of the above got me thinking about how often in my life I have taken refuge in my art. As I have pointed out in my earlier writing, in all the years I neglected myself I always did something creative. It has always been my lifeline. As a painfully shy child it was my companion. When my Dad has had surgery, and there have been a few open heart surgeries, I am at the hospital with my pad of paper, pencils and watercolors. I take those same items with me whenever I travel. I don’t sleep well away from home, and I will sit on the floor of a hotel bathroom, drawing in the middle of the night. When I had my last five knee surgeries (I know…you don’t have to say anything), I prepared for them by organizing my “art cart”.  A three drawer plastic cart on wheels, each drawer filled with pencils, markers, paper, paints, and whatever else I can think of, all to fill my recovery time. Propped up on the couch, painkillers and ice close at hand, I ask my family to wheel over my supplies. I am never bored when I have something to create with, and I can create with just about anything.  When my Mother died I came back to California and made a small piece of art dedicated to her. For me art is so much more than what you see on the paper, on the canvas, in the photo, or the sculpture. It is my lifesaver, my friend, my rock, my comfort. I am only sorry that it has taken me so long to appreciate the gift I have been given. And sorry too that it has taken me six years to fulfill a promise.

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