Category Archives: Personal

Life 1.0

Thank you Vickie for prompting me to connect with my blog this week. I have had little inspiration on blog material these last few weeks due to family issues but since it’s Friday and I’m breathing a bit easier for the moment I thought I’d check in.  I wish I could go into detail about what’s been happening but unfortunately, I cannot.  I am a mere bystander in all of this mess (mostly) and anything written here could be considered gossip so it’s best that I just leave it at that.

I am still pushing onward in my painting and trying to get ready for my next show which (thankfully) isn’t until July.  However, things are constantly changing around here it seems so who knows what the next couple of months will hold for me.  Especially now that the gallery which houses/sells my work down in Indianapolis is closing at the end of the month.  The building has been sold and the new owners will be turning it into a bar :(  I have three weeks to pick up all of my inventory.  Very sad for everyone involved but on a good note, I was able to meet some extraordinary people through this venture and that is priceless to me.

My husband came home ill earlier this week. Today he is back at work and now I am beginning to get ill.  Likely it is the same thing he had.  I have a feeling I’m in for a long weekend ahead.  I pray it does not involve vomiting.  Ugh.  It is a fitting end to a rough week which involved witnessing my neighbor’s dog get hit and killed by a car.  I am still aching over that and have been having flashbacks of my mother’s car accident ever since.

I leave you with a progress pic of what I’ve been working on this week.

Peeking

I’m pushing myself to do more faces because its the one area in which I feel incredibly inadequate.  She will be another mixed media piece and hopefully finished sometime early next week.

Have a good weekend.

E

 

Beauty Underneath

Do women still lie about their age?  When I was small I was taught to never, EVER ask a woman’s age.  “That is rude and inconsiderate,’ my mother used to say.  A woman telling you her true age was about as likely as a woman telling you that she was wearing her natural hair color.  It just wasn’t done.  Some things fortunately do change though, and from my experience women are more comfortable sharing their age these days and don’t bat an eyelash about going from blonde to brunette.

Some things though haven’t changed.  Every so often I receive an email from someone asking about how I deal with loose skin from losing over 100 pounds.  Recently one woman wrote saying that she was embarrassed about her body after losing weight and that she felt unattractive and unworthy of love. How I wish that women would embrace their bodies regardless of what age they are or what battles they’ve gone through.  In such a ‘beautiful’ society it’s not acceptable to talk about the real world that we live in.  Why?  I believe its because the truth is sometimes scary and people don’t want to be burdened with it so they continue to strive for the unattainable: photoshopped models and the leggy, gorgeous exercise instructor at the gym.  But the truth is, our bodies are not designed to look voluptuous and taut throughout eternity.  That is simply not its job.  The body is designed as a vessel to serve us as we pass through this life; its bound to get a bit worn, a bit bruised and beaten.

 

 

One of the best photos ever taken of me (in my opinion) happened to be at the art show I participated in earlier this month.  From this photo you would never know that underneath I have excess skin from my weight loss or that I carry a pretty prominent scar on my belly from my hysterectomy.  Nor do you see the scar on my breast from a lumpectomy or the multitude of scars on my shoulders and back that removed cancerous cells which saved my life.  Yet my smile, my look of contentment – my happiness is genuine.  I am, for the most part, comfortable with my body.

I recently came across an article from The Huffington Post about a woman who has launched a project called Under The Red Dress.  Beth Whaanga is a cancer survivor that bravely and gracefully speaks out about the physical toll that cancer takes on a human being.  The link above will take you to her story.  The following link will take you 7 images of Beth.  The first one shows her in a beautiful dress, hair done and wearing makeup, however as you scroll through the photos you see another side of Beth – a woman whose body has been through cancers, surgeries, rapid weight loss, reconstruction.  The images are not meant to shock but to educate.  You can see these images here.

While the Under The Red Dress project is to bring awareness to cancer survivors I felt compelled to share Beth’s story here on my blog for anyone who believes that she is is somehow ‘less than’, whether it be loose skin from weight loss or heavy scarring from major surgeries.  No body is perfect.  We all have flaws.

I hope the above photos, though they may look extreme, shed some light on what’s hidden beneath and that we continue to break the stereotypes that manipulate women into believing that we have to be perfect in order to be an accepted part of society.  I commend Beth Whaanga and fully support her project.

 

Hear her roar – she’s forty-four

Age is a funny thing.  Kids can’t wait to tell you how old they are, and they’ll even cheat a bit by rounding up to the next number. Teenagers can’t wait to be older.  I think one of the greatest compliments I ever received as a 16 year old was being told, ‘really?  You look at least 19!’

But somewhere in the mid twenties, things start to change.  Suddenly we aren’t so keen on telling people how old we are anymore.

 When I was a small child I had a doll named Johnny.  He and I were inseparable.  I carried him with me everywhere and when he wasn’t with me I cried.  I loved him to the moon and back.  Last year while helping my mother unpack her belongings in a new apartment she’d recently moved into I opened up a box marked winter clothes.  There inside was Johnny.  “I found him up in the attic and thought you’d like to have him,” she said.  “You were given lots of pretty dolls when you were a little girl but they just sat on the shelf while you played with Johnny.”  I picked him up and looked at his worn, plastic face.  His stuffing, once tightly fitted in crisp yellow flannel pajamas was now lumpy and sparse.  His body was now worn and tired; two fingers appeared to have been slightly chewed – signs of a child trying to break herself from the habit of sucking her thumb.    

I thought about what my mother said about the other dolls in my room, all waiting to be played with while instead, I clung to Johnny.  Most of them had long flowing hair, perfectly smooth skin and frilly pressed dresses.  My baldheaded doll-baby may not have been the prettiest thing to carry around but I can assure you that he was the envy of all the other toys in my room – we went places, he and I: vacations, car rides, grocery store outings, restaurants, you name it.  He’d been dragged though the snow, sat in the dirt, left out in the rain and if I remember correctly, vomited on a couple of times but truthfully, as I held him that day at my Mom’s apartment he still looked pretty good for being over four decades old.

Today is my birthday and I have no reservations whatsoever about telling you how old I am (forty-four).   As I reflect on what this new age represents, I guess I’m kind of feeling like my childhood doll: some places are looking a bit worn (wrinkles around the eyes), the stuffing is now a bit sparse in some key locations (slightly droopy breasts) and a few chewed up areas (some pretty impressive scars).  Recently I was scouting for a quote to pair with one of my paintings and came across one that I really connected with; I put it in a little notebook that I keep handy so I will always remember it:

I don’t want another girl’s body.  I want my body – happy, healthy and strong.  

How true this statement is for me.  Sure, there’s still that tiny part of me that wishes I had beautiful, long hair or lean and perfectly toned arms but at the end of the day I’m just grateful for the things my body does for me.  It’s likely that all this wisdom has something to do with the aging process and feeling more comfortable in my own skin; it’s positively true that I’ve learned to appreciate my body through the practice of yoga. I’m just feeling pretty darned lucky to be here I guess; that’s a feeling I never intend on taking for granted.

 

 

 

 

My definition of a Family

It’s no secret that my dogs are a very important part of my life.  Even if I could have children I feel that my relationship with animals would still be a special one.  I understand that not all people are animal lovers and there are those who flat-out don’t like dogs in general, just like there are people who don’t like the color green or straight-legged jeans.  Call me crazy, but if I do happen to like straight-legged jeans, the last thing you’d find me doing is making a thoughtless comment about someone because they prefer khakis.  Sounds crazy, someone being insensitive about another person’s clothing.  I mean, who cares what people wear, right?

Many years ago I was having a conversation with my best friend at the time.  I can’t remember the exact details of the conversation anymore but will never forget a comment she made when the subject of dog owners came up.  She made a flippant remark about how ridiculous it sounded when pet owners discussed their pets as though they were their kids.  ‘I mean, it’s an animal,’ she sighed.  ‘They’re not ‘family.’  Thank goodness you know that your dogs are just dogs.’ 

My friend had a family pet growing up; she had children of her own and yes, she knew that I could not have children.  Do I feel that her comment was malicious?  No.  I do, however, think it was incredibly insensitive.

Does this mean I’m called a crazy dog fanatic behind my back? When I ask someone about their kids do I immediately become offended when I don’t get asked about my dogs in return? Of course not.    But like a parent would for her child, if one of my dogs became sick or needed an operation you can bet that I would spend every spare dime I had in order to give him/her a fighting chance for survival.

Sometimes when I don’t express my opinion to another person whom I feel has spoken insensitively or out of line it’s not because I don’t know how to stand up for myself, rather it’s because I’ve been so stunned by what’s been said that it feels like I’ve just experienced an emotional sucker-punch to the gut.  By the time I’ve collected my thoughts and figured out a proper response the moment is over and I’m left feeling awkward about revisiting the subject.

 

I rarely have time to indulge in television shows, therefore I’m pretty selective – and you can forget about those reality shows.   Well, except for one…..

In late 2011 or early 2012 it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend a solid 5-6 days out of every month on heavy narcotics and curled up in bed, suffering from years of endometriosis that was growing worse.  It was during one of those spells that I perused Netflix and came across the first season of a reality show called Sister Wives.  The series follows a polygamist family as they tried to navigate through life while practicing their faith despite social prejudices.

I became hooked on this show from the beginning and finished the first season within two or three days.  When season 2 was added I quickly devoured that as well.   The series went on hiatus and I eventually forgot about the lives of these strangers as I dealt with my own ups and downs which included an abdominal hysterectomy in the summer of 2012.

To my surprise early last week I noticed that more episodes of Sister Wives had been added to my queue on Netflix.  Yesterday while on the treadmill I picked up where I left off last year: the fourth and youngest wife announced to one of the other wives that she was pregnant, which for those counting, would be the 17th child added to the family.  I watched as the 40 minute episode unfolded with the news being shared among the remaining family members while excitement grew and plans were made.   I watched as the wives described what it meant to be a family – that children made a family possible; children were the backbone of any marriage.

As the credits rolled I turned off the tv, powered down the treadmill and went back to my studio to paint.  Within minutes I felt like I was going to cry.  It didn’t take long to realize what was happening – the last time I saw the show was before my surgery, before my fate was permanently sealed.

I believe that the definition of a family is at the sole discretion of each and every one of us.   I am perfectly comfortable stating that my family consists of my husband, myself and our two dogs.  If we didn’t have dogs we would still be a family, even though we don’t have children.  I am happy with the life that I have, truly; but there are times when I ache to be a part of something larger and still, sometimes, it saddens me.

I have endured more backhanded remarks about members of my family than I can count for things that I simply consider being a responsible pet owner.  Leaving a party early because my dogs haven’t been let outside all evening have been followed with a remark.   When our dog was very ill and we used our vacation money to treat her instead, we were given an alternative opinion of ‘allowing nature to take its course’ instead.

Back to that conversation with my friend.  When I think about it even years later, the thing that troubles me most about it wasn’t so much what she said, but the fact that I didn’t speak up for myself.  I didn’t let her know that I disagreed with her opinion or that her words hurt my feelings.  Instead, I uncomfortably and halfheartedly nodded my head in agreement and sat in silence as she continued talking. I didn’t speak up for me and my family.

Isn’t it a wonderful thing that we are all different, that the word family can mean anything we want it to? No one should have to feel inferior just because they don’t fit society’s description of what a family should consist of.  Before my surgery I had a unique description of family, yes – but especially since my surgery I have felt free to further redefine my use of the word family.  I don’t limit it to who lives in my house or whom I call Sister, Brother, or Mom.  To me, family can be defined as friends in LA or Box Elder, my blog family; even my oldest friendships from high school. Anywhere I feel love is where I feel family.

Family is whatever YOU define it to be.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you any different.

 

 

 

Remembering My Dad

My Dad was a pretty great person.  He was also an enigma to me for much of my life.  Being the sole provider for a wife and 5 children with the oldest one being handicapped, times weren’t easy for either of my parents.  Dad often worked two jobs and the amount of sleep he acquired amounted to a few hours here and there when he could get it.  During most of my childhood my Dad worked.  When he was home, he was either sleeping or too tired to interact with me very much.  He was also the disciplinarian – a title bestowed upon him by my mother who couldn’t handle reprimanding her children on top of tending to our other needs.   This unfortunately didn’t help my relationship with my father for as a result, I feared him more than anything.  He was never abusive in any way (I rarely needed disciplined, rather I was more apt to wish I could disappear and never be noticed than seek attention), nonetheless, I tried to stay out of his way whenever I could, always knowing that he needed as much peace and quiet that he could get.

It wasn’t until I became a senior in high school that my relationship with my him began to change.  Diabetes began to take its toll and he was required to take early retirement which, for a man who’d always defined himself by his job, wasn’t easy.  Here he’d worked all his life only to spend The Golden Years living with severe hearing loss and fighting a disease that was slowly robbing him of his sight, and the circulation in both feet and legs.  Suddenly he had all the time in the world.

 

       My Dad in one of his funnier moments

Dad must have sensed that birthdays were always tough for me.  Being shadowed by a handicapped brother whose birthday was very close to mine always left me feeling a bit invisible.  One year to my utter surprise, I awoke to two slices of cinnamon toast waiting for me at the kitchen table. This wasn’t just any cinnamon toast he would tell me; this was toast from a ‘top secret’ recipe he’d learned from working at the bakery.  That gesture, that bit of extra attention he provided on that day created a common ground with his youngest daughter.  He’d bridged a gap, forming a bond over toasted bread.

We started going out for breakfast every so often.  We’d spend much of the time eating in silence but the act of sharing a meal, just the two of us, remains a very special memory for me. It’s funny how memories of the little things are what makes us smile.  You ever notice that?

Just when my relationship with my dad started to take root, it was time to head off to college.  We spoke over the phone and I wrote home on occasion, finding the courage to end every conversation with I love you which back then, were words never spoken around our home; a phrase that today are spoken with ease from years of practice.

I look back on those tumultuous and painful years in college and sometimes find myself trying to figure out why – how I could have gained over a hundred pounds in a few short years. Was it more than teenage depression? More than the notion that I was a young woman who simply couldn’t handle the pressures of college life?  Likely all of those things are true however parts of me wonder if it was tremendous guilt for leaving home just as my dad and I found each other. Maybe I’ll never know; perhaps I don’t want to know.

Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of my Dad’s death; he was 67.  I am grateful to have an engagement in which to occupy my mind.  I won’t have time to dwell on the fact that he was taken too young, that he never had the chance to meet my husband, or see that I am in the process of turning my lifelong dream of being a full time artist into a reality.

Perhaps what I’ll do when I have a lingering moment is think about how pleased he would have been to have had Craig for a son-in-law; that he’d have loved me whether I was heavy or not; that the simple act of reaching for a jar of cinnamon is enough to bring a smile to my face.   Memories really are what we make of them.

Thank you, Dad, for mine.

Life beyond the words: I Don’t Love You Anymore

In 2000 as few of you know, I was facing one of the worst periods of my life.  In less than two years I lost both my father and grandfather.  Thrown into that mix I was blindsided by the words, I don’t want to be married to you anymore followed by I’m seeing someone else all in the convenience of a moving vehicle headed towards a vacation spot I thought we’d  been looking forward to for months.  When I asked what could possibly coax an individual to choose that particular time to drop such an earth-shattering bomb he simply replied, I thought this vacation would shed some light as to whether or not there was still something left to care about.  

I swear in my mind’s eye I can still see my heart – extracted and bloody from shock, tossed along with thirteen years of love and trust right out the window of our mini-van.

I look back on that first night, wishing I had the strength to follow through with a quick and painless way of ending my existence; it was over because this man was my entire life.  Little did I know something wonderfully unique and new was burgeoning, all because this man was no longer my entire life.  

What nearly killed me saved me.

The abrupt end of that path forced me to focus on a new one.  It was scary as hell –  filled with debt, forced out of my home, and being alone for the first time at the age of thirty.

Once the brunt of the storm had passed however, I realized that I could survive on my own. I didn’t need to rely on anyone to make me happy.  I didn’t have to be afraid of being Me any longer, and so I became my own best friend.  All of these things were forced upon me by the man I thought I knew.  For a long time I felt betrayed and rejected but as I grew into the woman I was meant to be, I became grateful to him.  Grateful that he had (for the lack of a better word here) the courage to do what I couldn’t do for myself.

It’s so easy to see the clear skies above once the clouds have passed, isn’t it?  I’m sitting in a home that I love, blessed by friends near and far, surrounded by a loving husband who totally gets me and spending my days painting.  I can honestly tell you though, it didn’t take me 13 years to settle on the word Grateful for that particular experience.  I knew it the day I gained complete control over my own bank account; the day I started supporting myself; the moment I signed the lease for my very first apartment.  Those milestones were some of the best moments of my life and each one came to fruition from that disastrous day in early August.

Craig and I will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this week.  Every year he jokes that he should send my ex-husband a Thank You card.  We both chuckle a bit at this thought, though secretly I know if anyone needs to send a Thank You card it is I, for if it weren’t for the words ‘It’s Over’ I may have never found the courage for a new beginning.

My wonderful yoga teacher, Sue, read this quote to me during class one day last week.  I’d like to share it with you.  It is from one of my favorite poets and is so fitting for this post.

Birdwings 
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.
~Rumi

A worthwhile look at Anti-Coping

Last week I asked the question, ‘How Do You Deal?’ and received some very supportive, honest answers.  In times of stress I have found myself trying to deal with boulders by trying like hell not to let whatever is happening in my life CONSUME my life. 

Discussing enormous stress-related issues always gives me a reason to use the swimming analogy:

When things are going smoothly, you’re in the shallow-end doing nice, easy laps.  You’re relaxed because you have complete control of your surroundings: you can clearly see that the other end of the pool is nearby; if you happen to get tired you can easily ground yourself by touching the bottom if you’re so inclined.

When stressful or anxiety-filled situations start entering your life, you don’t feel as much in control as before. You may sense that the bottom is still there but it’s harder to see.  The water isn’t calm like before.  You’re fatigued but you know that you can still make it if you keep your head clear, stay calm and maintain a slow but steady pace.  You have an idea where the other end of the pool is but because of all the choppy water it now makes it more difficult to visualize. 

When stress becomes all consuming you can’t see the bottom anymore.  The end is no longer in your sight and you can’t sense where it is.  You feel like you’re swimming against a strong, choppy currant and you start hesitating, wondering – even doubting if you’ll ever make it.

For me, that’s when panic sets in and I begin frantically searching around me looking for stability.  It’s usually around that point when I see what I think is a life preserver floating nearby.  It’s not, though.  It may look like one but this floatation device looks and tastes just like a donut (minus the sprinkles). 

 

doesn't it kind of look like a red and white donut?

 

The trick of course, is to not allow myself to get to that last scenario.  I’ve always said that I use food as a means of coping – a band-aid to help me deal with whatever is going on.  I never realized that my choice of words were utterly inappropriate for what I was describing.  My food – my safety device, my ‘band-aid’ is not an aid whatsoever.  All my band-aid does is cover up the wound so that I can’t see it while I’m busy distracting myself. 

Huh.  Why is this just now clicking with me?  I mean, deep down I always knew it wasn’t a healthy way to cope, but I think that sometimes it’s easier to give simple answers to hard questions because we don’t have the energy to sit down and think about what they actually mean. 

This morning I read Kyra’s post on Anti-Coping.  It resonated with me so much I had to share a link to it from here.  Her words hit me at precisely at the right time and I feel like I have a better understanding of why I use food in times of extreme stress.  It is powerful, direct, to the point and absolutely worth reading if you happen to use food like I tend to do when stress becomes too much:

…from The Never-ending Adventures in Fitness and Life:  Anti-Coping.

How do you Deal?

This is a question worth asking since nearly all of us have some kind of stress in our lives at any given time.  As a kid my way of Dealing was by using sweets as a band-aid.    Looking back I still wonder how I made it through my adolescent years without being labeled as obese.  I was by no means skinny; I think the words ‘slightly pudgy’ and ‘a little chunky’ were used to describe my frame, but I never crossed over into obese, then morbidly obese until I hit college.

I have such sympathy for my 18 year old self.  She was so terribly insecure, scared half out of her wits at the thought of venturing into the unfamiliar, and desperate for a sense of direction. If I could go back to one moment in time it would be then, so I could step in and get that girl the help she desperately needed. 

Some twenty odd years have passed and I feel like I’ve fought and clawed my way to a place in my life where I feel happy, settled, and on track.  But then these curve balls come hurling from out of nowhere and I’m left realizing that I’ve learned nothing about how to deal with stress.  If I had, I’d still be taking time for Yoga – something that I haven’t done in ages.  Honestly speaking though, at this point I doubt if Yoga would work for me right now.  I don’t think I could slow down enough to even attempt it.  Guess I haven’t really changed much over the years after all.   

Stress is still a factor in my life that I avoid at all costs.  I’m an extremist in some ways because at times I avoid those good stressors which isn’t healthy, either.  Finding a happy medium is still a challenge. 

I’ve come to realize that I am a lot like my father.  While he tended to neglect his physical health,  I neglect my mental health. 

My dad was a man who never, ever complained about anything health-related.  Ever.  I remember one night when he showed up from work over two hours late.  He didn’t provide any explanation nor did I see any indication of what could have caused his tardiness other than the smudge of dirt on his shoulder as his only giveaway.  It wasn’t until nearly an hour later that he decided to tell my mother that he was late because he’d been mugged. Mugged, and he recounted the story as though he were recounting what he’d had for lunch. 

If my Dad were suffering from the terrible side effects of Diabetes, sometimes seeing double or triple, we might stumble across this information at the dinner table while watching him spear his napkin with his fork instead of the carrot that sat mere inches away.  Only upon bringing this to his attention would he offer any information that he was having trouble.

Although I am opposite my father in that I am dedicated to my physical health, my mental health has always pretty much taken a beating.  Instead of being proactive about stress and safeguarding myself against risks associated with it, I tend to do the opposite:  I hunker down, drag my body through disasters and ignore the heart palpitations, the sleepless nights, the extreme fatigue – until my body decides that if I’m not going to do something to reduce that stress it will.  Drudging through the muck no longer becomes an option; if I don’t release some of that stress by relying on my old stand-by (food) then I’ll either become physically sick or severely depressed.  That’s generally when I find myself in bed with the shades drawn and sleep for hours upon hours at a time, unable to talk to anyone or do anything but submerge myself in silence. 

Sometimes I wonder what will happen to me before I truly learn how to properly deal with stress. 

On the 15th it will be exactly two months since Craig woke up with pain and nausea.  Several doctors appointments, countless vials of drawn blood, numerous tests and one surgery later and we’re still no closer to finding an answer than we were when this whole thing started.  We have doctors appointments scheduled for the rest of the week and he’ll likely be scheduled for a colonoscopy next   – something he really should have had already, in my opinion – but hindsight is, after all, 20/20. 

Dealing with stress is something that I need to learn how to do now, not later. 

So, this brings me back to my original question.  How do you Deal? 

Self Critique

When I was majoring in graphic design in college I had a class that was titled: Drawing Critique.  It was a semester of insane project deadlines and when it was time to submit the artwork, part of our grade was  standing in front of the class as fellow classmates critiqued the work of the student in front of them.  Rule Number One:  No compliments allowed.  If you didn’t have something bad to say, you didn’t say anything at all.  And if you chose not to say anything? You’d be docked half a grade.  Oh, and if you thought you could get out of critique by not showing up for class that day?  Again, you were docked half a grade. 

I hated that class.  HATED it.  To me, it was much worse than than Public Speaking because not only did I have to stand and listen to 15-20 of my fellow students say harsh words about something I worked hard at creating but in return, I had to say the very same things to the classmates around me. 

I sat uncomfortably and watched as incredibly talented artists stood – some with stunning pieces of art, while others ripped them to shreds. The walk back to was always filled with either frustration and angst, embarrassment or just plain hatred on their faces.  No one left unscathed during Friday critique.

Looking back, I think about what I was supposed to learn from that class.  How to develop a tough skin?  Take criticism like a champ?  Probably; but I also think that my professor didn’t want there to be any shining students.  He wanted all of us to be on the same playing field – as equals.  Still, I never understood why we weren’t allowed to follow constructive criticism with something positive about the work.  Was that such a crime? 

I think the point of Drawing Critique was to teach us that there is always room for improvement.  Always.

Believe it or not, that class has had an effect that’s stayed with me to this day.  I think it’s one of the reasons why it is still difficult for me to accept a compliment.  When someone tells me that they like my artwork or that I look nice, I wait for the ‘….however’ to come.  When it doesn’t, I’m all ready to lend a hand and come back with my own critique so that I can ‘even things out’;  I don’t even need a roomful of students to do it. 

My hair looks nice?  Maybe, but did you see my dumpy clothes?

You like my clothes?  Possibly, but have you seen how lousy my hair looks? 

You like my paintings?  I can find you an artist who does a much better job than I. 

Can I blame all of my adult insecurities on an art class?   Mmm – okay.  Just for today. 

I’m not saying that criticism has no place in this world, because it truly does.  But with criticism should also come commendation and praise.  Otherwise you end up with people like me who fight with the words, ‘Thank you’ at the age of 43. 

There will always be someone out there who’s more than willing to ‘help me’ by telling me that I’m doing things wrong or that I should be more like someone else, but I’m making great strides on that front.  I don’t have to obey a professor’s rules in exchange for a good grade anymore.  My self esteem is worth much more than an A+. 

I love this photograph:

 

Lesson:  Laugh it off.   

And to my college professor, I leave this quote:

I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.
Charles Schwab

Have a great weekend, everyone. 

~Ellen

Much in the Mundane

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  last night I decided to crown myself Miss Productivity which is really just a fancy way of saying that I crossed off a lot of items on my To-Do list over the weekend.  As a result, you’re in for an off-the-cuff post with a few photos thrown in which will hopefully hold your attention.  (that was your warning in case you want to hop past this blog and on to another, but if you stay, you’ll learn something new about me…….nice bribe, eh?)

 

On New Year’s Eve Craig and I went out with our friends Mel and John to a NYE Bash at a local pub where we ate like it was 1999, had a few drinks and danced to a pretty decent band. Did you know that songs by artists like Billy Joel and Duran Duran are now considered oldies?  Seriously. 

(Attention grabbing photo number one):

 

I started imagining myself at the nursing home trying to get the attention of the man on stage at the weekly sing-along: ‘Hey there, Sonny – sing, ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ by Prince!’ 

We had a great time and rang in the New Year celebrating some news I’d received earlier in the day.  The owner of an artisan market down in Indianapolis contacted me via my Etsy shop and mentioned that she liked my work.  She wanted to know if I’d be interested in selling there.  I returned her email and we discussed commission, what pieces she wanted, etc. I quickly realized what an incredible opportunity this will be for me.  Since New Year’s Day I’ve been creating as much as possible for my upcoming trip down there next weekend.

 

 

I am still on Week 5 of C25K because I’ve made painting my priority over the last few days and haven’t had much energy to do anything else.  My friend Laurie emailed me a couple of weeks ago (I promise I will write soon, Laurie!) who is an avid runner and running coach.  When she read in my post that I was doing C25K she asked what/when was my target race.  I wanted to reply with a grown-up, sophisticated answer but honestly, I have absolutely no idea what that means.  The app I’m using is so basic it gives no additional information, so here is my extremely unsophisticated, very green answer to that question: 

When I hear the ‘DING’ sound, I run.  When it dings again, I walk. (hands over eyes)

HOWEVER…

Today I took a break from creating note cards and went down to do my last run for Week 5 and I took note of what rolls across my treadmill screen after each workout.  Including my walking intervals I’m averaging a 14 minute mile.  I have no idea if this is good or bad but I do know this: I am running at 5 mph for 7 minutes straight and that’s better than what I was averaging before my surgery. 

 

(Attention grabbing photo number two):

 

I am showing that treadmill who’s boss! Well, maybe not yet – but it’s coming; I can feel it!

 

 

So, this last photo has nothing to do with anything really, but since you’ve read this far I decided to reward you with a piece of information that I’ve never shared on my blog before – EVER: 

I’d like you to meet Gustav: 

(Attention grabbing photo number three):

 

Pardon the water stains on the aquarium glass and please marvel at his sweet self, instead. Didn’t know I had another male in my life, did you?  We’ve been together for about a year and a half, now.  He’s looking pretty excited because he’s getting a bigger home soon.  He’s completely outgrown his little tank and is more than ready to move up to the East Side.  (See?  Sometimes even mundane posts can unveil magical pieces of information!)  lol

Oh, and for those of you who wonder ‘why the name Gustav?’  he’s named after one of my favorite artists, Gustav Klimt.  You might recognize one of his more famous paintings:

 

The Kiss

 

That’s about it for today.  I’m going to be painting for the rest of the week with a couple of much needed yoga classes tucked in there somewhere to help keep me centered.  I’ll look forward to meeting you back here on Thursday for our first Group Therapy Day of the HL Challenge. 

XO,

~Ellen