Life Revised

Hi Everyone,

Sorry I was MIA for a couple of weeks. Life is never a straight smooth road and ours took a very sharp turn last week.

After a long battle with a progressive disease, my sister-in-law lost her war last Thursday. The week leading up to that had been an EXTREMELY intense and stressful one for Danny and me.  My SIL left this world never acknowledging the fact her death was imminent and there is now a big ball of tangled affairs left for us to unravel. 

We currently have temporary custody of her ten year old daughter and are seeking full custody.  Today I turn our newly remodeled guest room into a tween girl’s room. And I thought I had survived the last teenage driver this past year after my bonus daughter got her drivers license.  Someone please tell me that I will not be teaching a teenager to drive when I am 70!!

As you can imagine, we are stressed, sleep deprived, behind on work and hoping we will not be racking up anymore attorney fees. Bear with me as we all transition into a new life. Didn’t I just do that last year?  There may be more skipped blog weeks as I do the executor legwork for my SIL’s affairs and get a grieving little girl settled into an completely different life. Prayers and good thoughts are appreciated. 

Spend some extra time with your family this week.

Back Story – Fulfilling a promise. Part One.

I don’t make promises lightly.  I take them very seriously, put a great deal of thought into them before I commit and at this point in my life I only know of one promise I have been unable to fulfill due to events beyond my control.  A promise may take longer to fulfill than anticipated, but it is always in the back of my mind and will nag at me until I can follow through.

Starting this week I thought I would give you some back stories about why I write this blog, why I do some of the things I do and what is behind some of my artwork.  What goes on here often feels random to me so I imagine it does to you too if you take the time to read this craziness, but there is a constant thread running throughout.

From my earliest memories I only remember wanting to do one thing consistently and that was to make art is some form or fashion.  The smell of crayons still invoke memories of mark making by my tiniest self.  There were complaints from my family members when I would ask them not to move while I drew them watching TV in the evening.  I spent hours hiding under a tree making tiny stick villages and stories about the people in the village.

It was always in my head that this is what I would do all my life.  Keep in mind that I grew up in a rural community and art was not accessible except in books, so where this ability or notion came from had to have been genetically installed somehow.  I did not have artistic family members to learn from.  As my Mom has said of me, “she was born with a pencil in her hand”.

I am not one of those people who will say that they had supportive people surrounding them.  Quite frankly, I had very little support.  I had a couple of teachers that encouraged my work, but otherwise I was expected to shoot for a practical career, so for a compromise I got my art degree, but with a concentration in graphic design instead of the studio art I would have preferred.

After college, life kicked in full force.  I got a job as a designer/illustrator with a newspaper and eventually was an art director at a small ad agency.  There came marriage, kids, a printing company we owned and eventually a divorce and a life reboot.  All this time I squeezed in drawing, painting, making of some sort wherever I could.  A couple of large sketchbooks full of future paintings were often my only art. It was not unusual for me to sell a piece of work here and there or get a commission on a fairly regular basis if once a year is regular.  Trying to keep two kids in food, clothing and shelter often required me to work two jobs and I was too darn tired to pick up a paint brush.

Try as I may, I could not find any regular time to do what I loved to do the most.  I can’t tell you how many times I almost threw away all my art supplies because I found it so depressing to see them and not use them.  At some point when my kids were young and busy, busy, busy I realized that I had to quit beating myself up for not being able to create lovely artwork while sitting in a minivan at an hour of soccer practice five days a week.  Trust me, I TRIED!

I couldn’t tell you the date, but somewhere in that era of time I made myself a promise.  I promised my exhausted, stressed, often depressed, over worked self that I would do everything in my power to raise these two lovely humans I gave birth to, into good, kind, productive members of the human race and THEN, God willing, I would let myself have the time to draw, paint, make, whatever my heart desired.

And that, my friends, is where I find myself now.  I would love to tell you that it is easy and perfect fulfilling this promise to myself, but I am finding that a promise to myself may be the hardest promise I have ever had to fulfill.

I will leave off here to continue next week for Part Two of the story.

Have a wonderful week!

Photo credit

 

Stepping up

Hi Everyone,

Hope you had a lovely week.  Here in North Carolina we are alternating between Winter, Monsoon Season and Spring.  In other words, every day is a weather adventure. nc-weatherI just logged in to write a new post and realized that this one did not go out last week.  I am so sorry! Darn it, I was even ahead of myself for once.  So, here is what you were supposed to have last week and I will now go and write this week’s post for next week.  So much for the best laid plans.

This past week became a big decision week for me.  I have been sort of lost as to what direction I need to go in career wise for the past six months.  Usually I have my design business plus a side job for backup.  I lost my office manager job when I got married and moved to the hills and have been wandering around somewhat aimlessly since then during the hours I would normally be working there.

As D.s retirement is upon us the end of next month we have been going through the budget with a fine tooth comb and checking it twice. There are not many part time employment opportunities locally and we both still need to work (even if we didn’t financially then for our sanity).  So, I’m going to do what I have always wanted to do and that is to see if I can make a decent income from what I create.  I’m making this art/craft/maker/designer gig full time now.

I have started on a new work schedule.  Those of you who work from home probably know, it is easy to lose focus when the laundry/dishes/yard all need attention. I have to write it down and look at it several times a day until it becomes a routine.

There have been hours of research the past couple of days.  Thanks to a nasty head cold and guilt for being sick, research has been conducted from a prone position on the sofa, but surprisingly productive considering.  I have a long list of sites to sell my work, boat loads of info on SEO, hashtags and social media strategies.  You will probably see a new website and blog layout here soon.

I realized that I have stacks and stacks of work already that with a little more attention could be good work to put out there in the world.  As most artists/creators are, I’m very critical of my own work and often get frustrated and shove it in a drawer before it is either finished or given a fair evaluation. Here is an example of a piece I started last week and sort of like, but then again…

Along with the career decision, I have started, once again, to clean out and organize all our stuff.  I say ours, but most of it is mine.  There is a box of paper scraps getting donated to a friend who works with kids at her church and old magazines and reference photos going away, dried up paint and markers have been cleaned out.  Here are some of the harder things to let go of…   

And now that deer season is over it is time to get back to house remodeling, garden planning, barn, chicken coop and dog fence building.  Nope, BOREDOM is never mentioned here!

Join me and go do something this week you have always wanted to do, but scares the heck out of you!

 

Photo credits…I have no idea about the NC weather, but all others are from yours truly.

Life – Phase 4

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Slowly but surely some semblance of order is taking shape around here.  I say that while our washing machine sits in the kitchen.  The laundry room is getting it’s new floor finally.  The whole floor tiling ordeal began because of the laundry room when there was water damage from our leaking hot water heater.  I have been looking a subfloor all these months and am beyond ready to have that covered up.  Then, all I have left is our powder room.  You would think a tiny little bathroom would be easy, BUT I wanted a new cabinet in there and if you are going to have to take up the toilet, you might as well replace the child size one with an adult size one.  So, this week there has been a chunk of bathroom improvement shopping.  Our poor bank account!

I titled today’s post “Life – Phase 4” because as I settle into my new life I realized that we don’t actually break our lives down into neat little bits anymore than life ever goes completely aggravation free even during the best parts.

In my head, Phase 1 was childhood through my early 20’s, Phase 2 was married life and early motherhood, Phase 3 was divorced and single mom and now I am at Phase 4, remarried and empty nest.  There are varying numbers of years in each phase, but the common denominators are big life changes.

How many times do you hear people refer to their lives as, “after I got married”, “when my second child was born”, “after I lost my job”, “when Mom was sick”, or “after my husband died”?  The big, pivotal life events are our markers.  Sometimes we can’t even remember the year all that clearly, but the event is burned in our soul.

These time markers aren’t planned either.  I’m sure the 2016 Summer Olympians will always mark these couple of weeks on their life calendars, but I suspect they will not actually be the beginning of a new life phase.  Probably in many cases it will be a moment like, “the first time I swam the length of the pool when I was seven” or “after my shoulder injury I had to make up my mind to keep going”.  Time markers are deeply relational and/or deeply emotional.

Sometimes we get stuck in a phase.  I know people who seem to be stuck and unable to move forward in life because of grief, unforgiveness or fear. In limbo is not a good feeling. I have been there.  The problem is that you can’t rush it, but you do have to deal with it.  Head on.  Running away or avoiding just makes it worse.  Wallowing in it should only be allowed for a limited time. Two weeks most likely, not two years.  People start avoiding you if you wallow too long.

If you have some down time this week, kick back and think about your life phases.  Enjoy the memories of the good ones and pat yourself on the back for surviving the bad ones.  If you are in a bad one, be good to yourself and know that you will get through it. You probably have some work to do, but are capable.  Don’t think you aren’t and there are people who can help if you need it.  We all do sometimes.  Life ain’t for sissies!

Have a great week!  I am working on my writing skills and subjects, so if you have suggestions or ideas please let me know.

 

Photo by Brooke Campbell