Validation

I didn’t expect to be writing again so soon, but as always I write when I am moved to by the universe, recent events, or sometimes because I need to blow off steam. This morning I write for a different reason. For many years when people asked what I did I would say, “I am an artist”, while the entire time in my heart and mind I felt like a fraud. Last year in one of the earlier posts of this blog I wrote about a woman I met who in a way challenged me on calling myself an artist. She asked if I had sold any work, the implication being that if I hadn’t, that somehow I couldn’t claim the title. I have also heard of others being called “professional artist”, again the implication being that unless one is earning a living by selling their work, they are somehow an amateur. I was angry about it for some time, that is until I came to understand that the proclamations of the judgmental crowd are merely words of jealousy cloaked in self-righteousness. Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Wood, O’Keeffe, names sound familiar? There was a time in each of their lives when they didn’t earn a living as artists, they still painted, they were still artists, they just weren’t selling any work yet. I guess if you read my blog you know by now that judgement is a sore issue with me.  I honestly didn’t intend to head down the rabbit hole of defending myself to these people, but I feel my temper rising when I think about being judged as an artist by people who can’t or don’t create…..breathe…breathe…

OK, so now the real reason for my writing this morning. Last night I mentioned my work on etsy. Again, there are not as of yet many offerings in the way of prints of my work. It is at the moment more crafty kind of stuff. One of the things I have listed is a box. It is called the “Key To My Heart” box. It’s a small box made of paper, not quite cardboard, though it is sturdy, and inside this box I made an accordion of paper sentiments about love. A few days ago a young man on the other side of the world reached out to me. He said that he couldn’t think of a better way to express his love for his girl than with my piece of art. We have exchanged a few messages back and forth. My offer on etsy is to create a personalized version for the recipient, including quotes, verses, song lyrics, etc., anything the purchaser wants included. Last night he told me that the reason he wants this box is to use it as a means to propose on New Year’s Eve. There are no words to describe what this means to me as an artist. That someone is so touched by what I have created means everything to me. I have had to deal with more than a few detractors in my life. People who are not supportive of what I do, and have no respect for my talent. On the other side of the world there is a young man who is anxious, excited, and thrilled in anticipation of receiving my work in the mail so that he can give it to his love. The last page will be his proposal. I am hoping she is as moved by it as I am in creating it for her. When you can create something through words, through music, through painting, photography, or even craft that causes someone else to feel, you are successful, you are an artist. I need no more validation than that. I may not be Picasso or O’Keeffe, but I am no less an artist than they are.

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The Pieces Of Me

I have often mentioned here on these pages that I like to think about where people come from, the who’s and why’s of the person they have become. I find it interesting that so many influences affect the people we are, like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle that never ends, always adding pieces. We continue to evolve due to experiences we have, and by the people we associate with. I’m sure there may have been a moment in many people’s lives where their mother said something along the lines of, “You are the people you are with.” There may be some truth to that. I know that when I see a quality in another person that I like I try to emulate that behavior, and of course when I find a personality trait distasteful I look at myself to make sure that I’m not unknowingly acting the same way. As usual I am off on a physiological rant of sorts, which is never my intention, but I guess part of who I am. My first magazine subscription as a child was Highlights. My favorite parts? The “Hidden Objects” puzzle, and “Goofus and Gallant.” I’m a puzzle doer, love them, I can’t purchase a jigsaw puzzle. If I dare buy a puzzle I can kiss my day, and sometimes my night (all night), and possibly some of the next day off. I have to finish them obsessively. Goofus and Gallant? I think that might just be a little part of my immense sense of right and wrong. I have very little gray area in my life. My next subscription, at about age fifteen was Physiology Today. Even at that young age I was fascinated by the human mind. Just a few of the pieces that make up me.

Then there is Monty Hall. If you are too young to remember, Monty was the host of Let’s Make A Deal. Wayne Brady hosts the show now. When I was five it was my favorite show. My mother once told me that she had a hard time getting me to go to kindergarten because I didn’t want to leave my show. I think I may have loved the mystery of it. (See? Influences. I’m also a Nancy Drew Mysteries girl) I loved the reveal of what was in the boxes and behind the curtain. My sisters and I would pretend to be Carol Merrill, Monty’s sidekick model, we had the hand gesturing down to a science. My favorite part of the show was the end. Monty would travel through the audience and ask people for odd items, and if they had the safety-pin, or Buffalo nickel, etc…they were rewarded with cash. Influences once again. Like most women I carry a purse. My purse is an ode to Monty. I have safety pins, bandages, toothpicks, rubber bands, the list is tremendous. I think somewhere in my developing mind Monty was there urging me to always be prepared. I bring this up because of a situation that occurred over the weekend. I got a text message from my son Brian, it said that he had lost his glasses and did we happen to have a spare pair? Not only to I carry a purse, I also have a bag, let’s call it my Let’s Make A Deal bag. It contains all the stuff that my purse is too small to hold. (Trust me, I have a big purse) We were out in the car when the message came to my phone. Did I have glasses? Yes, six pairs. They were in my LMAD bag. We immediately drove to the winery where he works to drop off a pair. I believe this makes me eligible for “Mother of the Year”, who else can arrive with an assortment of eye wear at a moment’s notice? A Let’s Make A Deal girl, that’s who.

I do try to let the people in my life that I am grateful to know it. There are countless people who have been in my life that have contributed to the person I am, some I have of course known, but so many more that were in my life for a fleeting moment.  Susan Dey on the Partridge Family who I really wanted to be, because she seemed so cool, and I just wasn’t.  Princess Caroline of Monaco for being a princess with brown hair and brown eyes. Mrs. Weclew (I’m sure I’ve spelled her name wrong), she was my third grade teacher. The first to recognize that I had artistic talent. She was a lovely woman who would put her arms around the very shy little girl who became me, because I would cry when I had to stand in front of the chalkboard where everyone could see me. Iris Guerrero, the new girl when I was in 7th grade and had no friends. She didn’t know I was the kid everyone made fun of. She taught me to open my mouth and speak up for myself. Johnetta Jackson. My parents moved in the middle of my 7th grade year. It was my turn to be the new girl in eighth grade. Johnetta saw me the first day, she didn’t know me, didn’t know I was a terrified and shy girl,  she put her arm around me and began to introduce me to people. Turned out to be a good year, probably the best of my entire school career. I would love to thank her for that. There is of course my wonderful husband who has made me feel loved and secure every single day, believe me it makes a difference. Believe it or not my kids as well. Jessica heads out into the world so fearless. I love her energy, her intelligence, her creativity, and her kind heart. She makes me want to try new things. My son Brian, like his dad one of the smartest people I know, which is amazing because he hated school. Funny, charming, with a big warm heart (despite his efforts to look nonchalant). Brian was my sidekick for a long time. Jessica is older, and Dan traveled a lot. There’s something about Brian that makes me want to make him proud of me. I hope he is.

I could of course go on and on. Think about it. Who in their own way, in a single moment or with a single act, be it a moment of kindness or of something unpleasant, made an impression that shaped the person you are. Do we get to say, “Thank you.” or ,”You’ve hurt me.”, do we even recognize it in that second? Maybe all we can do is to try not to spread the unpleasantness, and maybe all we can do is be grateful for the good, thank them in ours minds and hearts, and try to be the kind of person that makes a difference in the life of someone else.

Blowing Off Steam!!!

The weekend open house is over. We heave a big sigh of disappointment. We had a grand total of two people, or one couple, so technically one viewing. They seemed to like the house, we weren’t really sure. What I found particularly interesting was a comment made by one of them about our home being “staged”. Just a few weeks ago I had another couple here in the house. Before I begin my rant, let me say that I have a couple of very dear friends who are realtors, and my dad actually had his license at one point in his life. They are lovely, honest, and hard-working people. My rant has to do with particular people rather than the profession as a whole. My tale of woe has to do with one couple, and an individual realtor who called me last week. The couple are, “the most successful realtors in Temecula”, or so they said. The woman commented that they would supply their staging team. I told her I wouldn’t need them. I mentioned to her that I had gone to interior design school in Chicago, to which she relied, “There’s a difference between interior design and staging.”, and then she turned her back on me. (BIG MISTAKE) If you have seen the video of our home on YouTube, you will see a lovely home. I know what staging is, but the difference between me and the average client is that I live and breathe design. I have a passion for it. I don’t need my house to be set up for someone to dream about living in it, it already looks that way. My favorite class in design school was called “Sourcing”. The entire class consisted of going to the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and visiting showrooms. Furniture, tile, carpet, textiles, etc….I loved it, I obsessed over it. I have a subscription to nearly every decorating magazine on the market. The comment from the possible buyer of yesterday gave me mixed feelings. Yes, there are rooms in this home that have been recently staged for the purposes of selling. Those would be the kids rooms, because I no longer have “kids”, I have adults. The rest of my house is the way it looks all the time. (Of course not quite as tidy.)  Maybe it looks staged to someone who doesn’t live the way I do. I have a need to create in every part of my life, whether it be in the kitchen by baking or cooking, or working on a painting, or even in the way I arrange the pillows on my couch, and don’t get me started on how the bed needs to be made. There isn’t an undecorated inch in all 3036 square feet of this home, or in the garden either. One of the few bright spots in having to sell this home is that I get a new place to get my hands on.  Even as a renter I never left a place in the same way I found it. I put my heart and soul into all I do, including loving my family, and in creating a beautiful environment for them to live in. I don’t take offense to the lady of yesterday, she doesn’t know me or what I’m all about. What I do take offense to is the presumption of someone who walks through my door, and by the way, wants me to hire them, who treats me like I don’t know anything. She also corrected me because I repeated something twice about working from home. When all is said and done I believe I will be dropping this woman a note, something like this…

Dear Realtor (whose name I won’t use),  You came into my home because you wanted my business. If you want my business, don’t treat me like I’m less than you. Don’t treat me like I don’t have a brain in my head, and don’t EVER turn your back on me. Don’t correct me in a dismissive manner when I repeat something. You wanted my business, so if I want to say it ten times you need to listen. By the way, you and your spouse repeated yourselves several times, but my mother raised me right. I don’t embarrass people by correcting them, it’s in bad taste. You were in my home. You need to be gracious, you need to listen, and you need not to insult me. In other words you need to learn some manners.  Your interest in me was only monetary, and I spotted your phoniness two minutes after you walked through my door. I hope you will heed this advice in your future business transactions. Signed,  Not In A Million Years.

Now on to the phone call. We listed the house ourselves, and as expected have been inundated with phone calls from realtors who want us to use their services. Most have been gracious when informed that we are selling it ourselves, and that if we do indeed list with a realtor it would be our friend. Most wish us well, and offer their services if we change our minds. Nice people, respectful people, people who treat me like I have a brain and am not recently recovering from a lobotomy. The morning after we listed I received a call from a man who said he was a realtor, he then asked roughly twenty fairly personal questions about why we were selling our own home. I was honest and gave him several reasons, including that we had a bad experience with a realtor in Chicago. His reply to that was that he wasn’t going to apologize for it since he had nothing to do with it.

A. I didn’t ask for an apology.

B. If I was trying to garner business, and my potential client had a bad experience with a person who happened to share my profession, I would say, “I’m sorry that happened to you. Please don’t feel that it is representative of my entire profession.”

He then proceeded to point out the reasons he felt that my husband and I didn’t know what we were doing. He was rude, and quite frankly the ruder he was the more bitchy I got. He called my home. He wanted my business. It is therefore in my mind his “job” to make me want to work with him. This one would be signed, On A Cold Day In Hell. In the end he said that it was obvious I wasn’t ready to work with people who could help me, and my response? “It certainly wouldn’t be with you.”

Side track alert notice!!!… Makes me think about a phone call several years ago from a certain well-known on-line university. I sent for information for Dan. When I got a phone call from the school they of course assumed it was I that wanted to further my education. I said no and explained it was for my husband, but in the end he didn’t think he would have the time to do the classes due to an extensive travel schedule. The young man on the other end of the phone very abruptly said, “Well, how does your husband expect to do anything in life if he can’t make the time to get an education?” (Oh if they only knew me before they called…) “Young man, my husband is a vice-president at a multimillion dollar company, and you make phone calls for a living. Don’t make assumptions.” Then I hung up.

Think I have an issue? Yes I admittedly do. There have been plenty of times in this life when I didn’t feel so great about myself, but one thing I have always known is that I am smart, really smart. Thanks to my parents and some good genes, my sisters and I are very intelligent women, throw in the finest Catholic education available (that my parents worked their behinds off in order to pay for ), and we are forces to be reckoned with. Of course we all come with the standard fit rod of self-righteous steel in our spines, in other words, don’t piss us off.

Words from my gravestone (If I have one. I believe I will be cremated, because knowing me I’ll have claustrophobia in the afterlife.), “You can call me fat, you can call me ugly, but you can never call me stupid.”

I think that says it all.

Wanted: Friend, Must Love….

Still waiting for our appraisal, so for now all I can do is sit and wait. Sitting isn’t actually a bad thing, I’ve been working myself to the point of exhaustion, I need the break. Meanwhile I contemplate the future. As I move into a new area of California, knowing no one, I began to think about how much my life will change. I won’t know a soul. I started thinking about ways to meet people. I have no little ones to drop off at school, so that’s out. I won’t be working outside our house. I hope to be working inside our home, we would love to find an old house to fix up, and of course my plan to return to art keeps me inside. So where do I go from there? I could of course do my Nancy Drew best and investigate any and all artistic opportunities, associations, clubs, etc., but the truth is that I’m kind of a loner. I’m not a joiner, I lack a certain amount of enthusiasm required for many of life’s group activities. Let’s just say I could never be a game show contestant. It begs me to ask once again, “What now?” Maybe I need a personal ad for friendship.

Wanted: Friend, Kindred Spirit, Chum, Cohort, Compadre, and/or Sidekick

(No creeps or racists need apply)

Must enjoy antique stores, flea markets, and non-toilet paper cover kinds of art

I love art museums, and I like to really look at the work, the brush strokes, technique, and style.

Must enjoy making fun of others in a non-judgmental, only for fun kind of way (This activity primarily has to do with people who really should own a mirror, or have someone in their life who loves them enough to say, “I don’t think that is a good idea.” )

Cooking and baking are activities I enjoy, it would be nice if you did too, or at the very least be willing to take some of it home so I don’t eat it all.

The ability to laugh at yourself, as well as at me as you pick me up once I have injured myself AGAIN.

Understand that as much as I might grow to love and enjoy you and your company, I love and adore my husband and spending time with him, so I really don’t do weekend girlfriend stuff.

I Hate, yes Hate, movies where women dance around together. I have no reasoning for this other than my lack of enthusiasm, and the fact that it causes me to cringe. I have far too much dignity to dance around anywhere, and I really don’t know any women who get together and dance around. If I did I would insist that they stop.

I don’t watch Honey Boo-Boo, Real Housewives of anywhere, or reality television at all, unless it involves actual skill. Top Chef, Project Runway, Chopped, etc., much more my thing.

I love to read and share a good book.

I like independent films, can barely tolerate the sight of Tom Cruise, Bob Redford was my first love, Brad (young Bob) is a distant second, but no one compares to the guy I’m married to.

I was born and raised Catholic, but am very open to any religion, creed, or strange dancing around the fire religious ritual anyone else wants to do (unless of course it is a group of dancing women, because that is a deal breaker)

I can and often do use foul language. I try really hard not to, but I never rebelled in my teenage years so I’m doing it my fifties. (I think it has much to do with being a repressed Catholic)

I don’t particularly care for malls. I actually hate shopping for anything that isn’t beat-up, vintage, or antique. I will however, accompany a friend who wants to partake in activities that aren’t my favorite. I am definitely not an “it’s all about me”, kind of person.

I’m a giver. There are people in my life that somehow misconstrue my generosity as “showing off”. Yes, I can do a lot of things, but I am not doing them to say to everyone, “Hey, look at what I can do!” I really truly actually love to do things for other people, and quite frankly there is nothing so painful for me as being the center of attention.

I don’t consider myself an animal person, but they seem to like me. I don’t dislike dogs, but I do dislike noise, therefore I am a cat person.

 I have a rod of self-righteous steel in my spine. I have a long fuse, but beware the person who lights it, my temper is infamous amongst my loved ones. I am loving and compassionate. I have a huge heart for the less fortunate. I don’t have a single selfish bone in my body. I cry at television commercials, and have a very difficult time with man’s inhumanity to man.

      And I’m nice, really, really nice.

That’s all I can think of in the moment. Hopefully I won’t need to place any ads, hopefully I will meet another slightly klutzy, artsy, nice woman who would like to make a new friend.

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….

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

 

Life Takes It’s Toll

Yet another bad day, many tears were shed, but in the end I decided I needed to cheer myself up a bit by writing something different for a change.

I think we all know by now that I have issues. Yes, I know there are some people who know me and think I’m perfect just as I am (Dan), and there are those who wish I would just stop whining, but the last year and a half have taken their toll. This past year has aged me. The countless sleepless and restless nights have given my eyes a look that Morticia Adams would envy. As I told Dan the other day, “If the circles under my eyes get any bigger they will be touching the top of my lip.” My hair still looks decent thanks to the great kindness of the lovely woman who cuts/colors/styles my hair. She just recently did all three free of charge, and has helped keep my roots in check this past year, again without charge. A kindness I will never forget and greatly appreciate. I look tired, I look sad, I believe the lines on the side of my mouth are close to forming a permanent sad clown frown, and if you understood my deep fear of clowns you would know just how disturbing that can be. I look in the mirror and think that I might just be perfect for next season’s Walking Dead, no makeup required. I’ve gained a few pounds, lost a few pounds, and then gained them back again. My waistline is protesting and has decided to go on what I believe will be a permanent strike. I haven’t been exercising, but with all the lifting and packing I’m sure I’m getting enough of a workout, not that I look like it. I also, as the pasty white woman that I am, bruise easily. I tend to use my thighs and upper arms to balance boxes on. I look as though someone has grabbed me by the arms and given me a good shaking. That might actually be a good thing, sort of a “snap out of it” shake to help me get past my mood. I won’t even discuss my feet, or the gnarled appendages that pass for fingers on the ends of my cracked dry hands. In general I am a mess. Meanwhile Dan looks fabulous, and somehow has hair that appears to have a wind machine built in. He needs no back-lighting as the beautiful silver of his hair has a glow all its own. He has been walking daily, looks tan and fit, and could be easily be cast as the son of the “most interesting man in the world.” Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

You may wonder what prompted all of this. It was Alicia Silverstone. She is in a new issue of one of my magazines. She looks amazing, she is of course much younger than I, and a vegan, to which I say, “Good for you Alicia. I like my steak medium rare.” But there is more. She is in soft focus, and she is back-lit. I remember seeing Julia Roberts many years ago (on Oprah I think), she said every woman needs a fan for that windblown hair look. (Or something very, very close to that) I think what I need is a tan to hide my bruises, a little back-lighting, a soft focus lens, and a fan to blow my not so luxurious locks about…and then I need to remember to not lose sight of some of the things I like about myself. One of which is my sense of humor, and my ability to Photo-shop myself into Alicia Silverstone wonderfulness.

She’s Gone Missing

So I sit here as I have been for more than an hour pouring my heart out on this page, and then it was gone. I keep saying that things just can’t go right and here we go again. I will try to recall what I wrote…

She’s Gone Missing…it’s me. The me that I was discovering in the last year with this blog. If you read this blog you know our situation. It has been more than a year now and Dan is still unemployed. We are both unemployed. We have tried. He has had many, many interviews, filled out countless applications, and nothing. Dan has been the breadwinner of this family for most of our relationship. I contributed in a small way, usually around Christmas via small holiday church shows, but now I have been looking as well. No one wants to hire us. I worked at a grocery store for more than eighteen years, yet not even the grocery stores that I have applied to want to hire me. I think it has to do with our age. Most of the applications are on-line. I have put way too much of my personal information out into the cosmos in hopes that someone might call me. No one calls. I think they see a date at the top of the page and decide we are too old. If anyone would just take the time to meet me they would see that I look much younger than my age would imply. If they would give me a shot they would see that I am never late, that I err on the side of being early, that I am impeccable in my appearance and in my work ethic. They would see that he can help their brand, their product, succeed.
We are losing our house. We have been aware of the possibility for some months now, but we held on to every ray of hope, grasping with everything we have, but in the end…disappointment. Yes, we need to downsize, but not like this, not without a choice. This house that we worked so hard on, working to make it a home has become yet another weight pulling us down. We could do as some do and stay, stay and not pay and wait, but that isn’t us. We are ethical people, we are people who do the right things the right way, but that doesn’t seem to matter anymore. It has hit us hard, but it is time to go. She’s gone missing, the girl who was finally finding her way, who was discovering the passion long since lost, she is gone. She is buried under the moving boxes and the dwindling finances. Buried under the stress and the worry, the sleepless night and nightmares. Stress and worry do terrible things to people. At night she reaches over to feel the movement of her husband’s breath rising and falling because she has lost so much that she is worried that the one she loves the most will disappear. There is no work tonight, there can’t be. The weight of our situation has filled my head and heart, there is no room for creativity for the moment.
I told my sister the other day that it is like a seesaw. One day Dan is down and I am up, assuring him that all will be OK, the next day it is me hitting rock bottom grasping his offered hand to pull me back up. Now we are adrift in our life, hanging onto each other looking for the hope that will keep us afloat. Situations like this can tear people apart, not us, we just hold on tighter. Next Tuesday is our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. It won’t be the celebration I dreamed of. Twenty-five years ago we were broke and decided to get married, twenty-five years later and things haven’t changed much. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. So we move on. We sell this house and take half of the money and roll the dice on our future, our business. There is one thing I still believe in, that’s us. I hope to have the opportunity to show people who we are, and how much we care.
I mentioned our business before, I’ve asked before, and I’m going to do it again. Our daughter set up an account to help us in our dream. If you are in any way inclined our appreciation would be immeasurable. I’m posting the link once again.

http://www.gofundme.com/8jgl04

I will post a photo. A piece I did in Photo shop. It was meant as a gift to a friend. So many people in our lives have reached out with love, with prayers, with much appreciated financial help. I am a person who is quiet in their faith. Some people take that as non-belief, it isn’t, I pray every day. I pray not for my house or “stuff”, I pray for answers, I pray for those I love, I pray to understand. Hopefully someday I will.
Gratitude

Finding My Way Back…Once Again

I was going to name this post “Did You Miss Me?” The truth is that I’m missing me. The year I spent on my artistic project and blog had re-energized my creative self. It had, as I expressed before, become a lifeline, but then I let go. I allowed the waves of misery, depression, sadness, and self-doubt take over my life. It has now been almost fourteen months since Dan lost his job. There is an interview on the horizon, and it looks good, but I think the hope has been drained out of me. Our plans for the business are still alive, just far more complicated than we had anticipated. And now for the positive. I refuse to give in.  I kicked myself in the backside (which would be quite an accomplishment if I could actually do it), I decided to focus on what I can do in the midst of this beyond my control situation. I realized not only had it been days and days since I posted on this blog, but also that I hadn’t done one artistic project in the process. In fact I have three projects all started in the last six weeks that are languishing in my studio. Yesterday I was adding items to our etsy shop when inspiration struck. A Majolica plate that I was on the verge of listing spoke to me. Last year I posted two table projects I had painted. As it turns out both will be part of the furniture for our shop, but it is a cafe/bookstore therefore I need more tables. I ran to the home improvement store and grabbed a circular wooden tabletop. Using my plate as an inspirational starting point I sketched out the design, grabbed my wood burner, and went to work. When I was finished with the burning (I still don’t have full feeling in my finger tip), I used my Martha Stewart Pearl, and Martha Stewart Metallic to paint my waterlily design. Dan and I decided that we didn’t want the entire table to be painted, but that we liked the look of one of my other pieces where the pearl paint was set off by stained wood. I think we were right. I’m very happy with how the tabletop looks. A little touch up tomorrow when the stain is dry, and a mission will to be to find just the right piece to create the bottom.

Today felt good. It’s time to grab the lifeline, time to get back to what kept my head above water, art. My lifelong best friend, the one thing that has always been there for me. There is also my husband, Dan, the guy on the other end of the rope pulling me back in. He reminded me how focused I was while I was involved in last years project. Good days and bad I worked, maybe not always my best work, but I created every single day. So here is the commitment, it’s to myself, minimum twice a week for posting. As for art, something creative every single day. Unfinished work, new work, things for the business. No more feeling lost when what I need to find myself is right here in my hands.

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Day 365

Today is day 365. I did it, a year of writing every day, of not giving up on myself, of pushing myself on days that I didn’t want to do anything, and keeping my promise to create every single day. In retrospect there are days when a bad mood, a bad attitude, laziness, or frustration presented itself in the work I produced. I can tell what days those are by looking at the work. I can also say that I am proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished. This blog evolved into a much more personal diary than I had ever intended. I have more to say about all of this, but as I’ve so often mentioned here on these pages, life sometimes takes turns that you never expect.

There was a tragedy in my family today. My beautiful niece was in the beginning of a new relationship. The young man was killed early this morning in a car accident. My heart breaks for her, I love her like she is my own daughter. I have no words to comfort her, and I am too far away to wrap my arms around her. I didn’t know this young man, I only saw photographs that showed two young people happy, and read messages on Facebook that made me aware of just how crazy he was about her. His brother was injured as well and is critical, he is the father of two young children. My heart bleeds for this family. I have asked for prayers before. I’m asking again. This time for some people I don’t really know, and for my niece. Ask God, whatever God is yours to help them through this terrible time, to bring them peace, to help that young father heal. As I told my niece a short time ago, hopefully she can find some solace in knowing that her boyfriend passed away at a point in his life when he was happy because of her. It is a day like today that puts so much in perspective. My life isn’t perfect, far from it, but many miles away from me is a lovely girl with a broken heart living a nightmare, and parents who are mourning the loss of one son, and praying for another to survive. I cannot even imagine their pain.

I’m still working on Maddie’s portrait. I redid entire portions of it, but I won’t be posting it tonight. I decided instead to go through this past years work and choose the pieces I’m most proud of. A retrospective if you will…later… I began to look at my work, and I did more pieces of work that I love than I was aware of. Tonight on a night when I think about life and it’s sometimes very sad turns, I will post portraits and figures, but on this page the three that mean the most. My son, my husband, my daughter. I love you all and thank you for your support and encouragement over the last year. A second post to follow with the rest.

Honestly, nothing seems important right now. I just want to say to my niece, “I love you. I wish it were in my power to make this all better for you. To change the last twenty-four hours. To give you whatever you need to heal. To give those two young men back to their families. I am praying for you all.”

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