Tag Archives: art

Preparing for the unknown

My heart is elsewhere this week.  Not that I don’t want to write, but I just don’t have the mental capacity to put together anything substantial.  I’m just so incredibly tired.  I can’t believe this time last year I was preparing for my own surgery and here I am less than a year later find myself preparing for another.  Not mine this time, however.  Craig’s.   He awoke one Sunday morning with a strange pain in his side.  Five weeks and a multitude of tests later, here we are – preparing for exploratory surgery.  Craig has sat around long enough reading, researching and scouring the Internet to feel pretty confident in knowing exactly what it is that he has:  a spigelian hernia.  Never heard of those?  That’s probably because it only affects 1-2% of all hernias found.  Still, he’s convinced  this is what he has.  The surgeon doesn’t think so, but has tried to remain optimistic saying that he’ll do his best to look everywhere he possibly can to find the problem and fix it.  I can’t put into words how much I am hoping that Craig is part of that 1-2%. 

As for me, I’ve been doing whatever I can to make him comfortable for yet another week until his surgery.  I won’t admit this to him but I will here – I am concerned; petrified.  This is a guy whose been for the most part, pretty healthy and I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that he will be cut open with no plan beforehand.  Who knows what they’ll find – if anything?  These thoughts I keep to myself. I push them out of my head, but the only way to do this is to keep myself busy.

Craig can’t ride in a car without getting physically ill; nor can he eat solid foods without becoming ill, so I have been making him protein shakes and soup, while I forget to eat altogether.

I take that back.  I don’t forget to eat; I just force myself not to think about it.  My urge to binge eat has increased over the past couple of weeks but I know this is a result of my anxiety and the fact that I can’t control my immediate surroundings.   Fear of the unknown.  I’ve spent much time thinking about ways to distract myself.  Of course I feel incredibly guilty about this.  Here Craig can’t eat and all I want to do is overeat.  So far though I’ve managed to redirect myself with laundry, tending to the dogs, the yard, planning Craig’s meals, planning ahead for his recovery, and working on my art as the rest of my time allows.  So far though, I am doing well.  I’ve actually managed to lose a couple of pounds, but this is attributed to my increase in activity over the past couple of weeks. I am moving from the moment I get up to the time I go to bed at night.

I have a meeting tomorrow afternoon with our veterinarian to discuss the possibility of supplying her new building with some of my artwork.  She’s giving me a tremendous opportunity and I hope it works out.

Speaking of art, I’ve been doing something completely different lately.  Needing something that is relaxing and easy to do anywhere and these work really well.   I call them my Doodle-birds.  I’ve done a robin (below), bluebird, peacock and hummingbirds.  I’m not having prints made of these nor am I selling them on Etsy right now.  Just paint/draw and frame. 

What doesn’t sell before this weekend will be taken down to the gallery in Indianapolis.  I have to admit, they do make me happy~

I will be in touch either before or right after his surgery and will write as time allows.  Until then, I’ll most likely be taking photos for Instagram (EllenBrennemanStudio) and spending time on my Facebook art page (Facebook.com/EllenBrennemanStudio) which follows my painting progress.  I love seeing readers and friends visit me over on my Facebook business page.  Such an inspirational lot, you all are Smile


Anxiety vs. Food

If you’ve ever watched The Biggest Loser, seen a weight-loss commercial or an interview of someone who’s lost a significant amount of weight, you’ve probably heard them say, I’m never going to be heavy again!  Personally, I’m too afraid to utter those words.  Rather than test fate, I know that I still have to take things one day at a time.   2012 has taught me many things – mainly, that nothing in life stays the same.  Never before have I been more aware of that than the past few months.

I spent the majority of this weekend working at Patty’s house, removing the last of her belongings and saying goodbye to the one remaining thing that linked me together with her – her home.  I’d been dreading Saturday and Sunday, becoming increasingly agitated as last week drew to a close, but attributed my emotions to a host of other, unimportant things.  With my anxiety building, I found myself wanting to reach for copious amounts of comfort food before the weekend even arrived. 

This time I tried to think ahead and made a plan to busy myself with painting instead of eating.  By the time Thursday arrived I was furiously working in my studio, finishing three watercolors before the day was over (quite a feat for me.)  All three paintings had themes that were specifically chosen to give a calming, zen-like feel.   Here are two of the three that I finished:



Thursday came and went and I climbed into bed exhausted.  I wish I could report that I didn’t give in to numbing my grief with food, but I’d be lying. 

On Friday, I woke up determined to not only begin, but complete a very tedious art project.  Working solely with cut paper and glue, I pushed myself for over 12 hours until I finished this: 

I regularly post photos of work in progress on my Facebook art page (which you are invited to ‘Like’ if you’re a Facebooker) and I love receiving comments and ideas from people.  On this particular project I had several comments from some very wise people who saw things that I didn’t.  Well, not until it was pointed out to me:  one – she’s a young Patty (who used to wear a red hat every time she went out) and two – she is me.  Two people combined to make a self portrait. 

Well now, that ought to make a good topic for a therapy session, no?

Again, when I was finished I’d hoped that the anxiety I was feeling would be gone and that I could wake up on Saturday and put myself into full work-mode.  The weekend came and went, leaving me feeling completely drained, both emotionally and physically.  I didn’t binge (I didn’t have time), but I did make extremely poor choices and ate without regard to any consequence. 

Today, I’m feeling disappointed in myself; I really wish I’d been able to channel my emotions strictly into my work – to completely lose myself in distraction.  After seven+ years in maintenance, you would think that I’d have worked out this part by now. 

If anything, this experience has shown me that I will most likely always be a work in progress.  Now that the crisis has passed all I can do is pick myself up and try again next time.  Until then I’ll just keep reminding myself that at least I haven’t thrown in the towel.  I’m still fighting to figure things out and hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to say that food and I have a very healthy relationship with one another.

Have a good week, everyone. 





Do I hear crickets chirping yet? 

It feels like it’s been ages since I’ve posted anything relatively interesting on this blog and sometimes that thought makes me wonder if it’s still worth reading.  My slow recovery has made me feel like the leader of Dullsville.  All Hail, Queen Boring!!   But here you are reading and keeping me company, and I thank you for that.  The fact is, I don’t have anything happening in my life right now, yet I have a LOT happening in my life right now.  It just feels as though I’m in a waiting period, somewhere between Come and Go

When Patty died, I wondered what would become of me.  My career as her caregiver fell into my lap, and 12 years later here I was, grieving and on the cusp of my first major surgery.  Not having a job to return to these past six weeks has provided me with both pangs of worry and feelings of extreme relief.  I still think of Patty every day and I miss her terribly; but I’ve also given plenty of thought about me.  About what my new purpose is going to be. 

I received a phone call yesterday evening from a friend of Patty’s.   Judy was her masseuse. She and I crossed paths on many occasions over at Patty’s house and eventually we became friends as well. A few years ago Judy moved away, yet whenever she came back into town she always came over for a visit or the three of us would have lunch together. When Patty died in May I tried contacting Judy but couldn’t reach her. Then out of the blue, she called last night and said that she had recently moved and tried calling Patty’s house, receiving a message that the line had been disconnected. I had the unfortunate task of breaking the news to Judy but she took it well and we shared some memories together.

But then, Judy said something that I didn’t expect. She asked if Patty knew about my plans to have surgery before she died. I told her that yes, she was aware, and it was strange the way everything unfolded. I’d postponed my surgery for years, partly because I knew that it would disrupt my job of taking care of Patty. Then, when my body forced me into making the decision to have surgery, she abruptly died a few weeks before. Judy said she felt that Patty died because she didn’t want to be without me; that maybe, somehow, she knew my recovery would be longer than expected and felt it was her time to go. I told Judy that Patty died from complications by acquiring the MRSA virus, but that didn’t seem to waver her opinion.  I don’t necessarily share Judy’s view, but I haven’t been able to get that conversation out of my mind.


I used to be a working artist in a previous life.  My first paid freelance job was given to me by a local child’s advocacy program.  I was hired to illustrate a coloring book which would be used as an aid in teaching children how to prepare to testify in court.  From there I was commissioned to paint murals, and then had my own furniture painting business for a while.  When I decided to work one-on-one for families who needed me, I kept my foot in the painting pool but it took a backseat as I devoted more and more time to my new career.   

In the weeks before my surgery I started thinking about what I was going to do with my free time.  I’d been working since I was 16 years old, and exercising almost daily for the last decade of my life.  I needed a plan to stimulate my mind while waiting for my body to heal.  Time is precious I would suddenly have plenty of it.  I didn’t want to squander it away.   Then, it hit me.  I could stop dangling the foot and throw my whole body into the painting pool.   Per my usual Ellen Style, I worried and fretted.  It’s been so long since I’ve worked on my art full-time.  I don’t know if I can pull this off.  I’m too rusty.  I no longer have the knowledge about what it takes to succeed.

And it was right around that time when Kyra began reading my blog and made her first comment. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Kyra is a very talented and highly regarded artist (you can check out her art at Kyra Wilson Studio).  Her kindness and the knowledge she’s shared by virtually holding my hand these past several weeks has been invaluable.  Kismet, maybe?   Even my husband who can be a bit of a skeptic agrees that the word coincidence doesn’t quite describe the events of the past couple of months. 

So, what have I been doing these past few weeks?   I’ve launched a shop on Zazzle that features my work for sale. I’ve created a Facebook Page featuring my artwork. I am building my own shop on Etsy and hope to have it open by the end of next week.  All of this information will be accessible from a new tab that’s located at the top of my blog. 

Also, this week my domain name came up for renewal once again.  That was one decision I didn’t have to sweat over.  I happily renewed and in September this blog will be celebrating its second anniversary. 

You all know how I feel about labels, but right now I’m pretty comfortable in labeling myself. 

I am a health conscious blogger.  I am an artist.  And I’m going to be okay.