Tag Archives: learning

Structured rambling


If the past few weeks has taught me only one thing, it is that time waits for no one.   I have some serious goals for myself, including getting the book I have been writing for years, done!     So I am setting structure for myself.  I will be painting, walking, writing each day.

I have always steered clear of structure.   I guess I think if I don’t do it, I am a free agent and no one is telling me what to do.   But doh!   What if this is good for me?  And I know it is, so get out of your own head and make it happen!!!  (me to self)

Thoughts today have been on my mom.   Missing her.   Her Siberian Irises are in full bloom, as well as the Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart, and more.      I talk to her when I am outside because that is where she spent the majority of time when she was here.

As true with any loss, if only we could have “one more” everything.    I was fortunate to have her for so long, but it wasn’t long enough.  And then a friend and I were walking our dogs and talking about how difficult it is when a parent dies.   It really is so hard.   The day after my mother died I woke up and the world was a different place for me.  There is no other way to describe it.  I felt vulnerable, because my biggest protector in life was no longer here.  My girlfriend described it this way.    When you have your family, your parents, it is like you have this safe house with loved ones.  When a parent dies it is like the roof is blown off.     I nodded.   Vulnerability.

Those closest to me know how difficult the first year has been without her.   Winter was hell.   Also as true with loss is the painful reality that we feel on the first birthday, holiday, without them.   The “firsts” of everything hurts.   Sometimes I feel her essence and I am very grateful for this.   Until you lose a parent, you will not fully grasp how hard it is.   The day we lose my father will be a frightening day for me for several reasons.   I pray it isn’t soon, but I also pray he will not suffer with this “Lewy Body Dementia” shit.    But I know too much on it.

I have been thinking about life.   You are raised, schooled, taught, and then you start your own life.   You find a spouse, or significant others, and  most will have their own families, children, and then grandchildren, etc.    With this life you are constantly growing, learning, because there is no quicker way to learn than to teach something!   I wasn’t able to have children.  So my life has been different, but not bad.    I believe in “What’s meant to be will be”.   Children for me, was not meant to be.   Have long since accepted that.   But I have been active in my nephew and nieces life and always will be.  They bring me much joy, they are entertaining, they are perfectly imperfect beings.  I just love them.    But they are busy with their own lives.    As they should be!

A lot of my friends are single.   A lot of my friends are childless.  Many of us have furry kids.   Lilly brings me much joy.    It wasn’t that long ago I had two dogs and three cats.  I used to say “Every single self employed artist needs five animals!”    But truly, they were so important to me, and I was fortunate to have them, and had friends and my mom to help me here.   My animals probably spent equal time with my mom when I travel taught.    It was funny to see the “loyalty” shift back and forth.

With the exception of my australian shepherd “Brody”, all others were rescues.   And it’s interesting when you rescue an animal, or so you think, and then you realize that they rescued YOU!!   I had to put my cat Zoe down because she was sick and I didn’t have the money to get her treated.  It has tortured me.   I feel like I failed her, and while she lived 14-15 years, my other two cats were 19 when they died.   Anyway, I prayed daily for them all to stay healthy (I had adopted them when I was in a relationship and we lived together).    Little did I know Brody would outlive him!

Rambling, and that’s okay.    Doesn’t matter if you are single, married, straight, gay, white, black, I hope you do have loved ones in your life.  I hope you have experienced this.   I believe there is only a couple things we take when you die… love and love!    I hope when it is my turn, I will take with me much love.   Peace to all reading this.      xx


Self Respect


I have been in a very uncomfortable space.   I thought it would rectify itself, after all, avoidance works sometimes!  (sarcasm)   But nothing was changing, correcting itself.

I’m going to be cryptic here purposefully.    Because the end result, the important message comes in the the understanding of self, acceptance of self.

Far from perfect, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt.   I also, naively at times, look at the good in others.    Here’s where it gets sticky.    But I am REALLY GOOD about looking at the bad in myself!    I once walked this earth apologetic for my existence.  You can imagine how plowed down I found myself, by others.  People close to me took advantage of me, because they could count on my beating the shit out of myself for something, anything I did that may have caused the problem, or at minimal, participated in the problem.  While their bad behaviors went unscathed, unaddressed.

As mentioned above, I have been at odds, and out of sorts.   The first few weeks I ignored and and the next couple weeks I started to look at my part, and today everything came full circle for me.

I can handle a lot of crap, I have, in fact.   I have accepted unacceptable behavior by many, including and most importantly, MYSELF.  But today I realized that I was at odds with MYSELF, not because of something I did or said, but that I was allowing another persons behavior to define how I felt about myself.  I was feeling sad, bad, guilty, and once I realized this, everything came together for me.

It’s called self respect.  No one has the right to make me feel less than (including myself), and I realized today that I was accepting behavior (from another, but more importantly MYSELF),  that I swore I would never do or tolerate again.  I know, I know, be careful saying the “never” part.   But today I realized, it is that I’ve allowed this situation, certain treatment, that was similar to previous experiences, to dictate how I felt about myself in a negative way.  Am I perfect? Nope!  Never will be.  Anyone can think of me what they want to.  I have absolutely no control over this and today I’m finding peace in that reality.  But when I allow anything, something, or someone to alter how I feel about myself, well, it’s a no win, lose lose situation.   It is vital that I look at my own behavior.  It is acceptable for me to tell someone else if their behavior is bothering me, but it is NOT my responsibility to “make anyone see” or “punish” another.       It’s all about keeping my own side of the road clean.  When I err, apologize, do what I can to correct, and then move on.

So now I will sleep.   I will forgive,  as I always do, and tonight I will forgive myself, and now that I’m aware of it, conscious to it,  I will cease involving myself in this behavior.    It’s that simple.

Moving on!  And tomorrow I will practice self discipline!

On love


It seems much of my life I have spent questioning my decisions.   I’m sometimes afraid to make decisions for fear that I’ll regret them, rarely has anything to do with the consequences.   I guess, in short, I lack self confidence, in some things, and then in others, I stand strong, tall, stoic to criticism with the ability to see clearly and fully that my decisions are just, sound, right.     Why the variance?

I had some crap dreams last night.   I will include that Trump was in one of them.  Rolling my eyes.    I don’t normally dream about our 45th President!   So why now?

When I access the parts of my life that include pain, disappointment (and we all have it), I weaken and have a tendency to “feel it” emotionally.

I’m reminded of a poem I came across at the young, ripe age of 15 that finds its way back in my life on occasion, and when I need it most.   The woman who wrote it was young at the time, and I remember reading something she had written on it saying she has never understood the depth of interest and popularity of it.     I found that interesting, because for me, this poem helped me stand up after assaults to my being or character.   I’ve shared this poem with many people during challenging parts of their life.   So why would it mean so little to her and so much to those of us who used to it carry us through difficulties?

She wrote about specific things that I have experienced, and I suppose, love and youth, or youth and love.   Earlier times in my life when love was defined differently than it is today (Thank God!).    “Kisses aren’t contracts”, we all “get this” when we experience the end of relationship, of death or loved one and we find ourselves alone.    The most important part for me was and still is ” So we begin to bring ourselves flowers”.    Hence, what I still continue to learn, to love and take care of myself versus others.

Of course I still lend a hand and my heart to others, but I’ve learned to first make sure I’ve filled my own needs.    I’ve also learned that it’s okay to have needs, it’s not selfish to take care of yourself, or put yourself first.    So perhaps, the answer to the author of the poem not understanding how or why her early poem was so popular is because, she learned with only one lesson to give to herself, or to love without losing herself.  And then there are many people like myself, who only after heartache and discord, learn, and even after that, continue the cycle until we finally “get it”.    Our hearts want one they want, but what if our idea of love is whacked?    I’m reminded that the “definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over hoping for different results”.

For whatever the reasons, I still love this poem, and while I no longer cling to it like I did as an innocent 15 year old girl, as a 55 year old woman, I reminisce and bathe in the memories of “love”, and how over the years I’ve learned to accept self love!

Here is the poem by Veronica Shoffstall

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Artistic growth


As I continue with the art challenge to post pictures of my artwork for 6 days on my facebook page, I am having an internal conversation with self.

I look at the scenes and see how much I’ve grown as an artist, and always, as a woman.   I have been trying to find my very first painting to post, alongside my last.   I think what I need to do, for my own sake, is to repaint an earlier piece.

I know it’s important that I honor every part of my journey.   I am mostly self taught, with a few classes with awesome teachers.  I’m now looking to take some classes on painting animals, because I’m enjoying it very much.  The roosters I’ve been painting have come easy for me, but when you add the body, the sprawling and presence of many beautiful feathers, I become perplexed and sometimes, overwhelmed.  But I know I can do it, I can learn this.  I know i will.

Most of my earlier Santa’s have taken on a provocative look.   I will share this lightly.   Most of my Santa’s noses ended up looking like male genitalia.   My students and I would laugh over it, and many comical, highly amusing stories have come from my earlier work.   Perhaps now I can paint noses as I’d have to reach deep into my long term memory to paint male genitalia!   I say that laughing, laughing more, and laughing loudly.

Just like our growth as a person, an artist has to start somewhere.    The ideas and things that I have in my head that I’ve yet to put to canvas are so different from my paintings of past.  But that’s because I’ve changed, we all change.   I’m not the same person I was when I designed and painted prior.   I see things differently, and my colors and interests have evolved.   Honor the process, Donna, honor the process.

God speed to you and yours



Sometimes I think about saying or doing something not particularly nice, but then that five letter word comes up that keeps me somewhat straight…. Karma.  I want good  ju ju coming my way, baby! So I try to keep my nose clean.   I am however human, imperfect, and I tend to have a big mouth at times, and it sometimes gets me into trouble.

Tonight I was thinking about situations when I had judged someone on their actions.  Then days, months or years later I found myself placed into an experience where I suddenly saw the other persons side and  I was no longer judgemental of their actions, in fact… I understood them.    My jaw hits my chest and two states over they can hear me utter “WOW” when this happens.   Until we walk in another persons shoes, we no not what they feel, think, or why they made the choices they made or make.  Sometimes I think experiences like these are brought on as part of Karma, other times I believe they are given to us as gifts to further deepen our human experience.  It truly does blow me away when this happens to me.   How many times will this happen before I learn to stop judging others?  Apparently a LOT!

I used to call Jim (my former fiancee) the Karma Kid.  Things would come back on him instantly.  One day we were in a long line at a bank waiting to use the ATM machine.  The guy in front of us decides to get out of line, so without thinking he puts his car in reverse and nearly backs into us.  Jim blew his horn, called him a name under his breath,  along with a few other judgemental statements.    I reminded him of Karma… and he said “Yah yah, he’s still an idiot.” About 20 minutes later we had stopped at an indoor flea market.   Jim parks the car.  He decides he doesn’t like where he is parked so he puts his car in reverse and WHAM backs into a parked car behind us.  I still laugh about this some 9 years later.  The car he hit was a bondo baby, a piece of crap.  The impact wasn’t much but it made the car shake, rattle and roll, which sounded like metal on metal (or rust on rust).  This woke up the kid who was asleep in the back of the car.  His head came bouncing up from the back seat like a jack in the box.    The look on Jim’s face was unforgettable.  He wouldn’t look at me as I looking out the side window smiling.   Our dog was taking full advantage of all this excitement, running from window to window, barking.    Jim goes inside to find the owner, explains what happened.  The guy holds his hand up and waves him off, he said “Oh please, that piece of crap car?  Don’t worry about it!”.  This is one of the many examples of why I called him “The Karma Kid”.  His karma seemed to come instantly. 

Tonight I regretfully participated in sharing some hurtful words with someone.   I should have had better control of myself.   I did not.   Words are quick and easy weapons to sling at someone.    Sarcasm, in greek means “to tear flesh”.  Words tear flesh, they cannot be taken back.  I typically stay clear of this type of confrontation, of mostly all confrontation.   I dislike confrontation, it makes me very uncomfortable.  I am no angel when it comes to warfare in the word department.  For the most part, I do not participate in it.  If I am defending myself, if I feel fearful, I will bite back.   I feel sad for myself that tonight I participated with angry words.   I am disappointed in myself that I slung crap back.  After being hurt from the response, I quickly gained composure.  This is not healthy, nor is this where I’m going.  Some things you cannot fix.  I can, however, restore my sanity, my peace of mind, regain my serenity.

So, I’ve sort of duped myself with some bad karma coming my way.  I’m not pleased with that.   Will it come in form of a meteor?  Another appliance or mechanical device breaking?  More hurt feelings?    I don’t know.  But I do know that if I focus on that and stay in the negative, I am creating for myself a negative environment.  So I need to brush myself off, forgive myself, find my center, and get back to creating a happy, safe, serene environment for myself….  It’s doable!

Then tomorrow?  Back to random acts of kindness……

The fibers of my life


I have shared in earlier posts about how much joy my 6 year old niece brings into my life.  This is also true of my nephews… though they are now adults, have their own busy lives and Auntie isn’t as important as she used to be… and that is okay.  Sometimes I do get the pleasure of spending time with them, and I look forward to every minute with them.  I have been thinking about my life in terms of experience, growth, changes.    There are moments or periods in my life where the texture of the experience was abrasive, difficult to rest on.  Other times I would classify textures as soft, rich, delicate and inviting.   These are the fibers of my life.   These are the very defining moments that have made me who I am today.  And I LIKE who I am today.

All of these “fibers” or fabrics are mere pieces or portions of my life.  No single fiber defines me, but all have  played an important part in shaping me.   I can only be defined as a  conglomeration of all my experiences.   Humans will and have judged one another on single experiences, but a higher level of consciousness would look at me in my entirety.   In times of difficulty, I have questioned the purpose of such.  In better times I basked in the moment, savoring each breath, each step.  I have found my life to be continually revolving.  I am guided off course to unfamiliar territory, yet it always comes back around to the one constant in all of these experiences….me.  How do I handle things?  How do I feel about these experiences?  What did I learn from them?  What do I choose to carry forward with?  The lessons ?  The moments?  The joy?  The pain?   What is most  beneficial for me to retain?  Let go of?  Certainly there have been times in my life that I would gladly forget, and there are things I have forgotten, but I believe that there is positive in everything if we are openminded and willing to look at it.  To not only feel the varied textures of our experiences, the light and darks, but to piece them all together defining or telling the story of MY life.

There comes a point in our lives where we take responsibility for our actions, feelings, decisions, etc.  There comes a point when we realize that there are loved ones who may and have in past played an important role in our lives, decisions, etc., but at some point we have to stand on our own, one with ourselves.   Standing not in anothers shadow, but in our own truth.  And over time we will probably learn that our truths of yesterday are quite different than that of today… for this is growth, knowledge…the connecting of all our fibers and experiences.  For me, that makes up one crazy quilt!

My heart has been a barometer for the warmth or coolness of my experiences.  Together with my thoughts I can choose some of the fibers, the colors, the hues… but other times I am not given a choice.  The only control or power that I  have is how I handle the situation.   This is where I accept the will of my higher power (faith) and resign my own.  I can either accept the truths or realities that are placed in front of me, or I can live my life in discord with my heart and head at war.  Surely there will be battles that I choose to participate in, but I want to believe that everything happens for a reason.  At the very minimum we can choose to look at the positives or dwell in the negatives.  There are no right or wrongs, only choices.

Today I am choosing brighter softer fibers for myself.   I work hard to accept the woolens of my life but I have to believe that in the end my life in its entirety will make up a beautifully painted portrait of a woman who did her best, who always tried to better herself, to gain knowledge and become the best person she could be…    That there will be a nice balance of MANY textures, colors and shapes, and most important for me, is that the thread that ties it all together is bound with the strength and beauty that comes from a place of love.

Working on acceptance


Today I am doing the tedious and left brained task of last years taxes.  This is never any fun for me, but it needs to get done.   As I am sorting through the many receipts it has been taking me back to the past year.  I shed some tears at some, and others made me laugh.  I remind myself to “keep walking, keep walking” through all of this.  This helped me get thru the last year.

When I think about Jim’s death I sometimes am still shocked.  But last night I forced myself to read my journals from before we split, what had been happening, up to about a year later.  I was raw, emotionally exhausted.  But even then I knew my powerlessness over his decision to drink.  I worked through a lot of anger in that first year.  Reading some entries brought me right back there, and I realize how far I have come, how much I have grown since.  For me I saw our ending as his “leaving las vegas”.  I really did.  Conversations that we had, things he was doing, saying.  I was very pleased to find an entry that he had told me “I do love you and I always will”.   No matter where he is.  And I have to believe that he is in a better place now.  I have to believe that.   I am finding some acceptance by believing that.   The disease doesn’t have him anymore.  He is finally free of the obsessions, the chaos, the immense aftermath he has left behind.

I am so grateful for the time we had together.  I am grateful for what he brought into my life, taught me, gave me.  I’m just really sad that his life ended the way it did, and the reason why it ended.  And I’m crushed that I will never see him again.  The finality of death is so cold.  Yet for those “believers” and those with faith, I’m sure it isn’t the emotional turmoil that I feel.  The disease doesn’t have him anymore.  He is not crazy trying to live his life around the disease.  His life is not in any disorder anymore, he is at peace.

My mom and I decided to plant wildflowers under my “tree of life”.  When my ex husband and I moved in here back in 1988 we planted a small (5″ high) tree that came from the land we owned.   Over the years I have watched that tree grow into the beautiful stately tree that it is.  At times in my life when I am struggling I go and sit under that tree, meditating, praying, reflecting.   The ashes of our furry kids that passed are buried/scattered around that tree.  I sit sometimes and read quietly underneath it, or lay on the ground with Brody and look up at all the interwoven branches.  The larger trunks for me signify relationships, the smaller ones anywhere from acquaintances to strangers whose life has crossed over into mine.  This is MY tree of life.  I have watched this tree survive cold long hard winters, and flourish in the spring and summer.  Amongst all the storms it still stands, more beautiful than ever.  It serves as an example to me of how I want to live my life, how I have lived my life.  I have lived in this house over 22 years.  I really have grown mature here.   Sometimes of late and past I have wanted to sell it, to run from it, as there are so many memories that did not end happily.  I remind myself that this does not take over nor invalidate all the good.  Quite the contrary.  It is those very memories that I cling to and think about to help me turn this pain into gratitude.  And I will do it.

I feel so fortunate that I had worked through my anger at him the year after we parted.  And that I involved myself largely with AlAnon, learned about the disease of alcoholism, addiction, and started to recover myself.  The faces of alcoholism do not stop with the alcoholic.  I have worked hard on myself, my wreckage, and yet there is so far to go.  But then I remind myself, this is not a race, this is life.  My life will play out as it is supposed to.  All I can do is my very best, and I do that the majority of the time.

The purpose of the wildflowers under my tree of life is because Jim loved to garden.  He loved his yard.  He surprised me one year with wildflowers he had planted around our greenhouse.  Some of those still come up today.  Every year he would plant more wildflowers.  He thoughtfully planted them where he did so that when I looked out the kitchen window that is what I would see.  So wildflowers is what I have chosen to plant under my tree of life, in honor of his memory.

In a strange sort of way his death has helped me get HIM back.   Critics (and those who have commented negatively about my sharing) may call this sick.  But he isn’t self destructing anymore.  I am grateful for this.  So in a strange sort of way, the chaos the rollercoaster has stopped, I no longer have to detach from his actions.  I can just simply be one with my memories and find some peace in knowing he is okay.

Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries.  This I have learned.  I can only do my very best.  As a person who strives to grow, to be the best person I can be, to learn from my experiences, I have learned that some you just have to walk through.  That the lessons are unknown, the strength that you dig for to get you through turns into faith, and while your heart is battered and hurting, your self confidence in knowing your own strength rises.

Today I am grateful for my life, for my lessons, for my losses even, as they serve to remind me of all that I have been fortunate to have in my life, and all that is really important to me today.  It isn’t about material things.  It isn’t about suffering or feeling only happiness.  It is about being able to get through whatever is put in front of you by doing your very best.  Today I am doing my very best.  When I lay my head on my pillow tonight I will celebrate this day and look forward to another.

Today is the first day, of the rest of my life.  The players have changed, and even the scenery, but the birds are still chirping, the sun still sets and rises… my life must go on.  I take with me on this journey however short or long, a lifetime of love, wonderful memories and valuable lessons.



Monday, March 15th

I’ve been looking at the amount of time I actually sit down to paint and design versus all the “other” stuff I have to do to keep my business afloat, and also…. the time that I waste.  Ugh!

I recognize that I need to set time aside EVERYDAY to paint… Even if its just an hour, but chances are, once I sit down, I’ll just keep painting…  But maybe not.  This weekend I did paint, but I feel like I wasn’t painting or designing well.  And one thing I realized in this is…. I have unrealistic expectations of myself!  (again) Rolling eyes.

I put so much pressure on myself when I sit down to design that it has to be GOOD, that I don’t allow myself the time to just paint… and see where it takes me!   I knew I did this, but I had no idea the affect this has on my painting/designing….  When I go here, I am not at my best!   So one thing I changed over the weekend is to just paint….  So what if the new design isn’t coming out well, not every piece I do is going to be a masterpiece!  And I so want to continue to enjoy my creativity, painting, writing… so beating on myself about when I’m not at my best only serves to stiffle my creativity…. and that’s not a good thing.

So, I had two pieces going this weekend, and as I stand up and walk away from one and come back to the other one… I’m much happier and much less critical of self.

Another thing I am aware of, is its time for me to take on some challenges… to learn some new things… I spend so much time teaching others, and I need to give myself the joy of learning!  After all, there is so much to learn, and I really do feel alive when I am learning….   So, I’m going to look around for some art classes for myself!