Tag Archives: memories

Cds, cassettes, lps, dare i say 8track?

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I was going to work on writing up and illustrating a painting lesson tonight, when I got side tracked on YouTube.  Now I have been on YouTube to find out how to fix my washing machine, break open a safe (hey, it was cool!) but I really haven’t been on it for music in almost a decade.  Wow!   Where does time go?

I was happy to find Bob Seger, because you can’t find his on Spotify.   And it brought back fond memories of my teens, and the music that spoke to me and played loudly while I cruised throughout the Town.

Yet further down the road, my 20’s, my 30’s, when my sister would come visit, she would snag a cd, leaving the cover empty, and for me to find later!     That girl had probably 12-15 of my cd’s including and not limited to:  Harry Chapin, Bob Seger, Tina Turner.     My favorite cd’s.

The other day I was going through my collection (long standing collector of music which started at the age of 15 when I bought my first pioneer receiver).  It cost about $600 then.  I’ve long since replaced them with Bose.     But what I found were the empty cd cases of the ones my sister had stolen.   And I say that lightly.    She could afford her own, she just liked to do this!   I shed a tear or two, because she died over a decade ago, and I held onto those cases because I never wanted to forget her, or any of her little tricks.    Believe me, I’ve learned that I need nothing in material form to remind me of what a beautiful, wonderful person she was.  I miss her every day.

I neatly placed the empty cd cases back on the shelves, because I just love to remember the funny things she did.   Like putting confetti in cards, and crazy little antics that made me laugh.

Life is short, Where did all this time go?   And where the hell did these wrinkles come from?   I still feel like I’m in my teens when I listen to music of the 70’s.    Grateful, very grateful for this form of art and the many artists who have touched me through their words, tunes.

I didn’t get my lesson plan done, but I sure did enjoy the cruise down memory lane!  Do yourself a favor.   Skip the dishes or chores tonight, visit YouTube and go listen to the songs of your youth.  I bet you’ll be glad you did!

 

 

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Acknowledgement

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For those of you who have experienced the loss of someone close to you, you will understand what I am writing about.     It never goes away, at least not for me.

Fourteen years ago today my kid sister died at the young age of 38.   She had been diagnosed just ten months before with Ovarian Cancer.   I’m not sure what hurts the most.   The journey through it, where we did our best to comfort her and bring her to any treatment allowed, or the endless missing.  I think it’s the missing.

Fourteen years and I still cry when I acknowledge this.  But if I don’t, it makes its way through illness or pain, so it’s best to nod to the memory than deny it, at least for me.

At 37 she and her partner had just bought a house and had moved in just two weeks prior to the emergency surgery that was previously scheduled a week or two later.   I remember it all so well, and I’m trying hard to not go there today.  To just honor her, and tell you what a great person she was.

I can tell you that she worked very hard and knew how to play.  She had a boat, snowmobiles, a toy for every season.   She loved to fish, to play sports, and was a natural athlete.   She had an old soul, I think about this often, wondering if this played a part in her short life.  A natural observer, she was always warning me when to shut my big trap, or when I had gone past “obnoxious” she called it.   Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.  It’s one that I experience a lot when I think about her.

One would think that after fourteen years you wouldn’t on occasion say to yourself “I have to call her, and tell her this!”    It happens less each passing year, but it still happens.

She was my dads bud.  I mean that with every part of my being.  She loved hockey, she loved fishing and shared these things with our dad.   We all share memories of this with her.   It was rather comical last year when my father admitted one day “Okay, Darlene was my favorite”.   The three of us laughed until tears came out of our eyes.  “What?”  “I’m sorry” he said.   “Um dad, we have known this FOREVER!”    I think he really believed it would shock us.   NOT.   I was sitting beside her on her couch the day she learned she was not going to recovery from this, and she called dad to tell him.  “I’m sorry, dad, I’m so sorry”.

So it was on this day that my, our lives changed.  For years I described things as “happened before she died, or happened after she died”.   I didn’t mean to.  It was just a game changer.    My life changed.  I changed.

I remember asking my cousin Marie, who came down to sit with me just hours after I learned she had died “How am I supposed to stop loving her?”   “You never will, Donna” she said.   How did she know?    It was through my sisters death and living life without her that I learned, love doesn’t stop just because someone you love died.   Nor does life stop, as cruel and vulgar as it seems at the time.   “How can the birds still sing?  How can people laugh, how can anything go on when my life has just come to a screaching halt?”   But it does.  But I have learned something beautiful within all the sadness and that is that love doesn’t ever stop, for me it continued and miraculously grew and still does, all these years later.

So on this day, I acknowledge that hope changes.   At first you pray for a cure, you pray for treatment to work, and then when that stops working, you pray for strength and a new doctor, another treatment, and more.   That is until you realize the suffering is going on too long, and you start to pray for God to be merciful with her, with them.  Please, take her soon.   Yes, hope changes.

I miss you every day.  There hasn’t been a day in fourteen years you’ve been gone that I don’t think of you.  You are part of me, you always will be.    I can still close my eyes and see your face, the little tiny mole above your eyebrow, and see that beautiful smile that radiated wherever it was shown.

Time does teach us how to coexist with such loss, but it doesn’t heal the broken heart.  I think because even when you pray for an end to the pain, and there is relief when that happens, the missing?  It never stops.

 

(end note:  I wrote this and posted it on 4/8 but for some reason it’s showing the 9th which I find interesting, because I actually found out about it just minutes after midnight on the 9th)

 

 

Like sand through the hourglass

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The past couple weeks I’ve had to take a hiatus from working on my house, given that I lifted my mantle off the gas fireplace and wrenched my back.   So I have found myself sorting, tossing, and thus, revisiting my life with notebooks of writing, poems, boxes of pics, and more.  Where the hell did the last 54 years of my life go?

Further depth came after the tragedies in Orlando.   I will not even go here.  I will say that I have been and am praying for all those affected by such monstrosities.   I am saddened beyond words, of what has and is transpiring in this country, in this world.   I pray for ALL of us.

But I will admit, there is something more going on with me.   I don’t fully understand it, nor am I questioning it, but I am at peace with so much, even in spite of all that is going bad in this world.   I FEEL something coming.   I have random thoughts of what it may be, but I’m not going to go here either.  What I want to share is, I’m accepting myself for who I am, where I’ve been, and finding peace with all that I wanted to be, do, but probably never will.

While looking at pictures from my past, I feel the moment, I recall the times, the feelings, the good, the bad, and the beautiful.   I am aligning with who I am.   And while I want to lose 75 lbs, and more, I am finding peace even with that.  What if I don’t?  Do I want to spend another minute of what’s left of my life worrying about or condemning myself for NOT  BEING PERFECT?

It’s interesting, the story of my life told in pictures.   I have known great love.  I have known great pain.  I have accomplished a lot on my own, without formal education, and I have met SOOO many wonderful people in my life.   Many friends have come and gone, and that’s okay, it is just the ebb and flow of life.  Today, tonight, as I write this blog, I am right with all that has transpired in my life.   I have found peace, and for that I AM TRULY THANKFUL.  If my life ends tomorrow, I am okay with it, because this place where I am is amazing.

I am grateful I was there with my sisters through the illnesses that stripped them of life.  I am grateful that I spent almost a decade of my life with a man who shortly thereafter, drank himself to death.  I am grateful for this “fat” that encompasses my body, because it helps me feel protected from an uncertain world.    Feeling safe anywhere today, is a big thing.   But most importantly to me, I am thankful that I am a good, honest, hard working person who finds pleasure in the simplest of things, in nature.   I don’t spend my time wishing I was in a relationship, or with anyone else, I am happy with my life.   I have learned the most through every tragedy and laughed immensely through much.

In many ways, where I am right now reminds me of surviving and completion of treatment for breast cancer.  It was freeing.   I had (and still have) no room in my life for luxury drama, or bull shit.   It’s actually a little frightening how vocal I can be now regarding this.   The tiny filter that I once had is almost entirely invisible now.   The older I get, the freer I feel about speaking my truth.

Long gone are the days when I worried about someone liking me, or what they thought of me.   I’m right with myself, with God.   I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and it feels good.

I hope that you are finding peace in your life.  I hope you are, too, realizing how precious life is.   How every second of every day is not promised to anyone, and in the blink of an eye your life, and those lives around you, can be altered drastically.  Anyone hearing of the massacre in Orlando, can you help but think this?

Sending you love, light, and as I mentioned earlier, prayers for the world we live in.

 

Sophie (Loren)

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It’s not always easy doing “the right thing”.   The past week I have been thinking about a german shepherd that I rescued, and eight months later placed into gsd rescue program.   The past couple of days I’ve been thinking of her non stop.  When I went on facebook tonight, I realized why.  It was one year ago today that I placed her.

I didn’t want another dog, but she needed help, so I took her in.   She was just 14 months old, missing half of her fur, her ears were angry red, she cried if you touched them.   She scratched herself ALL THE TIME.   Sophie had major allergies and did so well on GOOD dog food ($50 a bag).  But I didn’t have the means to give her this.

The morning she left we laid on the couch together.  She rested her head in my chest and just looked up at me with those big brown eyes.   I couldn’t hold back the tears.  Goodbyes are so hard.    In my life I have learned, even goodbyes that bring relief are not easy, and for me, not painless.  I’ve had a few.

I’m trying to hold onto gratitude.   How well she looked, last time I saw pictures of her, and how happy she looked.  She was one smart dog.   She was just so big and strong, and at the time I was having physical problems, well still do, but I remember how bruised I got a couple of times with her.  She didn’t even know her size, her strength.   The fastest dog I’ve ever seen, and my aussie was a tennis ball and Frisbee chaser.  Sophie had it all over him, hands down.

So I’ve shed a few tears tonight, thinking about her, I do miss her.  I never thought I would give up an animal, ever, always had them.   Last year at this time I had two dogs and three cats.  Every woman needs this much responsibility!   Now I have one dog and two cats, and my cats are geriatric.  In fact, my Maine Coon who spends summers outside, hasn’t shown her face in the past couple days.  I am concerned.  But I remember being concerned one time when I hadn’t seen her for a week (We are talking probably 12-14 years ago now), and she came crawling back.  I think she got locked into a building across the road, and finally found her escape.   I am thinking back on the tears I shed that day when she came home, tears of joy.

My little terrier was groomed the other day.  I typically do it.   Can’t say as I like the looks of her head the way it is, I prefer the ragdoll look, but she sure does smell good, and her fur is so soft.   Unlike my aussie who pranced around and thought he was the cats meow after he was groomed, she ran under the ottoman and stayed there for the day.

I know I did right by Sophie.  I know because it was one very hard decision to make and follow through with.  I’ve found that doing “the right thing” is typically the hardest choice, and the most difficult to do!

Time to go to bed, and hopefully sleep will come.   I hope! I hope! I hope!   And I hope you have a great day!

Is there alcohol in heaven?

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Today has been a hard day.  No particular anniversary, minimal physical pain with the exception of that place that resides in my chest and harbors my heart.

My sleep schedule has been largely disrupted, but that’s okay, I am getting A LOT of work done.   What happens, however, is a crash and burn.    But it’s the best sleep next to anesthesia!  I am one who loves being knocked out.  LOVE it!   When my time comes to die, I hope to be wide awake, waiting for that light.

As I slept hard, and what feels comatose, my dreams consisted of people and places in my past.  People who have passed.   Normally I wake up, can shake off the initial pain (remembering… realizing…  reality) and be grateful that I saw their face, eyes, smile, heard their voice once more.  But not today.  Today I am lingering in a world that no longer exists.  My head knows this, my heart doesn’t want to hear it.

A friend, consoling me said “It doesn’t matter how long it’s been”.    I thanked her for that.   No, it doesn’t.    Last night’s dream still has me walking on shaky ground, many hours later.  I know I can’t go back, if I could, I would’ve by now.  Someone I need to walk through this day, embrace what is, be grateful for what WAS and is, and let it go.   But that’s much easier said than done, at least today it is.

I wonder, is there alcohol in heaven?    Hiss at me for suggesting such.  But when you’ve loved and lost someone who is or was an addict, there is some peace in knowing, their fight, their plight with their demons has passed.

We drove past a church where a service was being held for a young man who died of an overdose.    My heart hurt for his family and friends.   “His mother said there is some peace in knowing, it’s behind him”.  I nodded, thinking about what I said above.   Yeah, I said to myself, and I pray that it will carry her through the hard days ahead.

To grieve, to mourn is not anti God.  It is not a horrible thing to do, and while it is hard, for me, apparently today, it is necessary.   For those who have on occasion suggested differently or in a bit of kinder, less harshful words than “Move on”, I bid you, how the hell does one do that?

Last night I visited the past.   A past that ended tragically, but one that was also filled with immense love, memories, and some of the best times of my life.   Today I’m trying to get back to acceptance, beyond the pain of loss that revisits on occasion.   I know I will find my way, but right now?   Right now my heart hurts.  I am longing for acceptance, and soon.  I know why I’m feeling this way, I know that I have to face one of my own demons…. fear.  Fear of being hurt again.     But will I?

Missy Higgins “Scar”

My kid sister

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51 years ago today, a beautiful soul was born into this world.    She was as cute as a button, and a very happy baby.darlene3 001

My sister had an old soul.   She was chronically wise.  A natural observer, she would often sit back and watch me open my big mouth, or do something that would inevitably get me into big doo doo’s.   We were 2.5 years apart in age.   When it came to common sense, she was born with it.

She had the biggest brown eyes, beautiful woman.   She had a great smile and she wore it more than most.   She was a happy person.  A hard worker, who equally played hard.   She lived wisely, she lived well.

It has been twelve years, maybe more since she was taken out of this life, too young.   Too young.   But when I say that, and I do feel that way, I am reminded of one of the many trips to Dartmouth Hitchcock for treatment, when we walked into the chemo ward and there was a child, a baby really, being infused with toxins to save his life.   “I guess I don’t have anything to complain about, do I now?”    I think of those words often, not to dwell, but to remember her strength, and to learn from her courage, her wisdom.

She died 10 months to the day of diagnosis, ovarian cancer.   She was 37 at diagnosis.    As I sit here typing this, all these years later, the journey through treatment, the painful truths that were worded carefully, revealing her fate, fills my chest cavity with void, with pain.    I don’t believe I will ever “get over” this.   And that is okay.   Death is a part of life, an important part.   I have come a long way in my grieving.   I seldom cry anymore, tonight I am.    Because I’m remembering the difficult journey she walked, and she did it amazingly well.  I never heard her complain.  Ever.  Please don’t say “I’m sorry”.    I was so fortunate to have known her.

I remember walking into Higgins Hospital in Wolfeboro NH, she was getting a transfusion.   I walked into her room, and she was white as a sheet,  double fisted in pain.   I asked when her meds were due.   “I could have them at 3pm” (it was 3:45)   “They’ve been really busy”.    I stood up, walked out into the corridor and down to the nurses station.   “My sister is in pain, her meds were scheduled for 45 minutes ago”.   “Yes, we’ll be right there”.    5 minutes later, 10 minutes later.  I walked back out into the corridor, this time offering no kind tone “MY SISTER NEEDS HER MEDS….. NOW!”     Within a couple of minutes she was given her meds.      I sat beside her bed, rubbing her arm, talking to her, trying to distract from what was obviously horrendous.  But you don’t really distract from that, do you?  Can you?    “Donna?”   Yeah, I said.  “Thank you”.    If you knew my sister, this spoke volumes of what her pain level was.   She didn’t like discord, and certainly didn’t want to ruffle any feathers.   She would roll her eyes at me when I would.   Night, day.

This woman meant the world to me.  If you have sisters and are close, I needn’t say more.  She lives on, in my heart, and my memories have faded some, but not drastically.    I can close my eyes and envision her sparkly brown eyes that lit up our fathers eyes, soul.   I remember that she didn’t like to try on clothes, so when we shopped, I would slide the pant leg up my arm.   If it came to the end of my fingers, they would fit her.   Laughing now.

Sometimes I think about the loss I have experienced, and I am not seeking sympathy, but reflecting on my life, on the lives of those I’ve loved and lost, and I just cannot believe I survived it.   But when I wrote her eulogy, I vowed to live every day of my life to the fullest.  I wanted to live a good life, to live a purposeful life, in her honor, in her memory.   Sometimes I think I’ve fallen short, I don’t think she would agree with that.  Sometimes I feel my best isn’t good enough, and it is.   I can hear her saying that to me.   “It is!   All you need is encouragement”.

So on this day, her birthday, I am going to do something kind for another, randomly, for her.   And I am going to do something kind for myself.    I am a better person for having her in my life for 38 years.   I know I, we, truly were fortunate to have her in our lives at all.   She was everyone’s favorite.

If you want to do something kind for another today, in her memory, I would love that, she would love that.  Remember, kind can be just a smile!   I will light a candle, and I will follow the ritual I have done since she passed.   It is a special day.   Today, 51 years ago, a beautiful soul was born into this world.  I know, because I was fortunate and blessed to call her my kid sister.  Today I, my family, will celebrate her life.

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Secret stashes

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The past year I’ve really been cleaning out my house.   As an artist, I don’t want to throw anything away because I “might need it”.   And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve tossed things I’ve had for a decade, only to find 2 weeks later that I wish I had it!  Yes, I’m a mental case, but that isn’t the point I’m trying to make.  Not even sure what is!  Oh yes, DE cluttering!

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been living in this house since 1988.    So you can imagine the collection I had.  I’ve never been materialistic, except when it comes to art supplies, music.   Don’t get me wrong, I love nice things, and my taste is certainly larger than my pocket book, but I have a knack of finding things inexpensively.  I also do not compromise on some things.   I don’t want to listen to music through tin sounding speakers, or bead with acrylic.  I paint with acrylic, but I bead with gem stones, crystal.  No plastic for me!     Add to this my return to needlecraft design, I rarely buy acrylic yarn.  I want fibers.  Wool, silk, cotton!       Felting has brought new joy into my life.   As the snow accumulated last winter, I made these sweet roses and flowers, felted them, and they sit in a box next to me.  A little box of sunshine just for looking!  I guess what I’m saying is, I’m fussy?

So now you know I’m a craft hoarder.   But I don’t think I am.   Honestly, if you saw what I got rid of?    I am downsizing, however, and numerous surfaces, canvas, tools that I no longer use are going to be going to a good home.    So I have piles started.  Piles that are going to the hospice thrift shop, a pile started for a couple of friends that I know would appreciate this stuff, a pile to go to the Senior Center, and a large pile to try to figure out where the heck to put it!

But something very cool is happening as I go through this process.   For everything I get rid of, I am gaining back freedom.  I don’t know how else to describe it.   I feel lighter, and lighter each box that leaves, or is scheduled to leave.     It’s kind of funny when you think about it.  We spend years accumulating things, and yet it feels so good to get RID of things!  One less project “owning me”.  Every project I had planned to do and didn’t, owns a bit of me.  By getting rid of it, it frees up my head and time, gives me what feels like really good juju!

There is also this fun aspect to cleaning out.   Things I forgot I had, or did.   It is like a treasures box!   Now if only I could find some moola!   But I did find brushes, brushes and more brushes.  A secret little stash I forgot about from days of working with several brush companies and a box of samples a girlfriend sent to me that include some kick butt dry brushes.    It’s funny how a finding like this can be so inspiring.    When cleaning out my Uncle’s apartment last year after his passing, I found some things that he had held onto that made me smile.  imageOne being the book I authored in the early 2000’s.  Going to try to attach a picture of it, but no promises!      I’ve always had an Americana style, and my work typically represents country living.   Yep, the possum is on the stove top boiling!    I was particularly proud of this book, because my sister was able to see that, and the first time my artwork was on the cover of a magazine.     She was one of my two biggest fans, supporters when I started down this path of decorating painting.

In one box I found a toy of my Brody boys.  An Australian shepherd who died a couple of years ago.   That dog was something else.   I miss him everyday, but I know I was truly blessed to have such an intelligent, articulate, bossy dog in my life for almost 13 years, but it’s never long enough, is it?   Finding his toy hurt at first, like I was just sucker punched.  But it quickly turned to smiles as I found pictures of him, and remembered his funny ways.   My bossy aussie.brody 002

This is an adventure!    One with fabulous memories and pride, which I choose to look at versus the mess that my studio has been.   I really have NO business being in business for myself.   Honestly, I am more organized than I have ever been, but that really isn’t saying much!

Today’s song….     U2 “Pride”,  Hope you’ve had a great day!

My dad

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In a couple of months my father will turn 81.  My father, a Navy vet who served his country, sent home money to his parents to help raise his younger siblings.  He is one of six children, the second oldest.

He and my mother had five children together.  Their oldest, my sister Karen, took ill at the age of six with meningitis. From that diagnosis she spent months in a coma, came out of it with the ability to only move her eyes. Intensive rehab brought her back from that, but she started seizing, (Seizure disorder) having numerous grand mal seizures a day, which reared her paralyzed on her left side, unable to speak, walk. The seizures slowly and continually kept taking from her.

My father became an apprentice, and learned to be an incredible carpenter.  He did this so that he could build a home for us.  He (and my mother) built two beautiful homes. He worked more hours in one week then I’ve probably ever put into a job in a month, and I don’t consider myself lazy.  A very meticulous carpenter, and a house filled with four other children, weekend runs to pick up my sister and bring her home and back, proved difficult for everyone, including Karen.  The more seizures my sister had, the more it took from her.   I cannot imagine having a child and having such an awful thing happen to her.  I cannot imagine what it must have been like having made the decision to turn your very ill and medically needy daughter over to the ward of the state.   I remember judging my parents.  Asking them “If I get sick, will you send me away, too?”   Now I cringe at the very thought of asking that.  I cringe at the slightest thought that they could have chosen better.  Who the hell am I to ask such a question?   How much their hearts must have hurt.  But responsibility of four other children, and having worked night and day to pay off medical bills that today would have been covered by insurance, my parents made a difficult choice.  A choice that I believe was right for Karen.  A choice that I now believe gave me and my siblings, a more “normal” life.  If you can define normal.

My father has a wonderful sense of humor.  My whole family does, really.    And no matter whose company I am in, it is with my family that the laughter is the strongest, loudest.   I learned at a very young age that laughter heals.

My father became a plumbers apprentice and then went on to work for a company who sent him (foreman) and his crew many hours away, which they drove back and forth each day.  My father made a good living.  We always had a balanced nutritious meal on the table, a warm bed to sleep in and even “space” of our own.  We never needed for anything, and were taught that it was because of my fathers hard work, that we had the good life we had.    We also were taught that we lived in the best country in the world, and that our freedom is due to the many men (and now women) who served our country, many whom never made it home.  It’s sort of ironic how the man who gave most of his life to a job for his family, had at one point became invisible, absent.  But working for this company enabled him to give his children a good life, a good start.   His absence was only because he was working to give us this.  The company didn’t appreciate him.  They offered his little for pension.  But he kept going, day after day, for his family.  I know not how to live so selflessly.

He was our loudest fan at softball games, my brothers hockey games.   I always knew I was loved, and while I didn’t agree or like some decisions he made, including ending a 27 year marriage to my mother, I humbly have long since realized, I have no right to judge him or her on that, either.  What do I know about

He and my youngest sister, Darlene, were particularly close.   He admitted to the three of us remaining children last year “Okay, okay, Darlene was my favorite!”   He looked at us like it was an awful thing to say, only to find the three of us bent over laughing.   No shit, Sherlock!   The truth is, they were great buds.  They fished together, they did so much together.  It is nice to look at pictures of the two of them together.   The way Dad looked at her, she was “it”!   And this is not to imply he doesn’t love us, or look at us with swelling pride.   They had something very special.     I remember sitting next to my sister when she made the phone call to dad to tell him that her cancer treatment wasn’t working.  She said “I’m so sorry dad”.    I recall a conversation she and I had, one of our last and she said “You know Donna, he came to every ball game of mine”.  She was talking about after my parents split.  “He would get there late from work, but he always came”.   I am teary eyed thinking about her smile when she said that.  For whatever he didn’t do right (you know what I mean), being her loyal, faithful fan made it ALL right.  My sister was an old soul.  There was and would never be any jealousy there.  She was ALL OF OUR favorite.

I’ve spent a lot of time reminiscing of late.     I do not know what it is like to be my dad.    I know what it is like to watch him age, lose physical and mental strength.  I sometimes have to look away so he doesn’t see my tears.  And yet, I know how very fortunate I am that at the age of 53, I still have both my parents.

I always thought I knew it all.   And for a long time I chased “his approval” foolishly.   That ended about a decade ago when I was unpacking my van, having been travel teaching.  He was helping me.  I pulled out a new painting and he looked at it, didn’t say anything, just looked.    I was tired, disappointed that he didn’t respond the way I wanted him to.  “Am I EVER going to do anything that makes you proud?”  I said with the sharpness of a razor.  I will never forget his expression.   His jaw lay on his chest.  It was that very moment I learned, my dad would probably never shower me with the compliments the way I once wanted him to, but he was proud of me.  And the chip I had on MY shoulder that day, hurt my dad.   “Of course I’m proud of you, Donna.  I love your artwork, I think you are very talented and I’m proud of all of my children.”   I have not, nor will I ever again question his pride for me.     I am SO over judging my parents on anything.  Thank God!   And now, I am working on doing the same for myself.   The crap we get into our heads!  It’s static!    It’s all just frigan static!

It’s funny as I age and realize just what an ass I have been in my life.  I’ve put my parents through some major worry, particularly when it comes to depression and mental illness.  I remember my second hospitalization.  My sister was with me at the phone.  She had brought me a teddy bear, I named him “Arthur”.  I think I was 24.   “Dad, I need to tell you that I’m in the Brattleboro Retreat.   I am getting help for my depression”.   “You have to pull yourself up by your boot straps Donna!”.   Of course I took that wrong, and he, being the age group that he was, wasn’t as educated on mental illness as he is now, 30 years later.     I was so hurt and angry.   Now I know, in HIS head and heart he was fearful.   My father “pulled himself up by his boot straps” over and over and over his entire life, to give to his children.    His heart, his head spoke from his experience in life, to hide the fear he had of what I would or have done to myself.  He wasn’t judging.  He was saying the only thing he knew to do!

I’m not sure why it’s taken me all these years to figure out how intelligent both my parents were and are.  And as I watch them losing ground, I am fearful of losing them.    I’ve been single for over a decade now.   My dad has always been there for me, to help me in any and all ways he can.   “I’m sorry, Donna, that I was focused on your brother’s education, and not yours.   I ignorantly thought that you girls would be taken care of, in marriage”.      There was once a time, and probably too long a period of time, that it angered me that I was raised with this mentality.  That the only way I would have a home is to have a husband.   But that has long since passed.   I am responsible for my choices.  I am responsible for marrying children, two of them!  I am responsible for where I am in my life.   If I had to do it all over again, I would have sought out college.   I know I could have made better choices for myself, could be financially secure, but I’ve also come to realize that even that isn’t as important as being a good person.   Doing my best, day in and day out, and living within the morals that I was raised and were taught.    The day I bought my house out from my ex-husband was one of the proudest days of my life.  I AM responsible.   I AM who I am because of the stable childhood I was blessed with, I learned the importance of family, and while I have no children or even husband of my own, I sometimes think about how difficult it is to keep my head above water.   I take pride in caring for and giving my animals a wonderful home.   And that is NOTHING compared to what my dad gave.    I am the strong woman I am today BECAUSE of my experiences.    I understand, now, why at the age of 30 when my 10 year marriage ended, how come that was so hard for me.  Because I felt like I was nothing without someone.    Oh my god have I grown.  Thank God!    And for all the things I thought my mom or dad did wrong, they did TWENTY TIMES that right!

I’ve watched my parents bury two daughters, their oldest and their youngest.  No parent should have to bury a child, but sadly, well, too many do.  I’ve watched both my parents battle cancer, and seen the anguish and hell it brought them to watch their three remaining children battle it too.     My dad has not had an easy life.  Like all of us if he had it to do over again, I’m sure he would have made some different choices, but my dad?  He’s only human.   My dad has led a good, honest life.  He knows what it is like to work hard for your family, to start over, and he will always remain “our father” in worry for his children.  My dad, what a great human he is!  He is visiting with my sister right now in NC.  I know he chose fathers day visit to mask the fact that I am his new favorite!   🙂

I have been blessed in life with an honorable man as my dad.  He really is my hero.    I am very grateful that I have had 53 years with my dad.   I am the good person I am today largely due to the good person my dad is.  Thank you dad.  I love you and you will always be my hero, and I, your little girl.

What a great time!

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Five minutes after I arrived home from a painting convention today I fell into bed.   I was so tired but fell asleep and woke up with a smile on my face.    What a great time.  I taught three classes, had AWESOME students who kept me entertained and were ever so willing to hear my funny stories.   It’s so good to laugh, isn’t it?

My first class I was 5 minutes late to.  I got caught in city traffic.  I’m not used to that!      I refused to get upset about it, and when I arrived at class my students were happy to see me, they all pitched in, got everything together, helped set everything up and we were off.    Only help, love… no criticism, anger.   It was a very nice way to start the convention.

The first day I left my purse in a public seating area.  Fortunately one student (who was actually in my class last night), brought my purse up to the desk, very wisely took action and it was returned to me while teaching a class.   I wasn’t even aware that I didn’t have it!   Now move forward to last night and one of my wild friends from upstate VT had left her purse somewhere and they had it in lost and found.  How VERY NICE it is to know that there are still honest people out there who care.   It renews faith in humanity, ya know what I mean?

The first class I taught was Sallie Snow woman, everyone did great.   I suggested and they were excited about getting prints made of their painting and making their own Christmas cards!    I look forward to seeing them…. (Hint Hint…. send with chocolate!)   No, just kidding.  I’m off sugar.

Also during class a friend, fellow artist stopped in to visit and gifted me with a pack of her cards which are prints of some of her many beautiful paintings.  It was so nice!    It really made me smile!

I also realized that I had unintentionally left two pertinent colors at home on my table.   Well, I didn’t fret.  Two crazy assed friends from Maine were able to help me.  As we went up to their room they were entertaining me with a very funny.    I see panty shields in my future conventions!

Things worked out smoothly, without planning that I was able to see girlfriends and spent time with them between classes and commitments.  I love it when things flow with little or no effort.

Last nights class which we named “Saturday night live!”, we were laughing so hard that the teacher and students in the classroom next to ours ran over to find out what was so funny.     I love it when everyone is comfortable sharing funny stories, particularly female stories.  My goodness, it is so healing!

All day Saturday I was feeling “dizzy”.   Sort of “falling over” feeling.   About an hour into class last night my students were busy so I sat down, threw one leg over the other and realized that the sole of my dansko had disintegrated.    CHUNKS of rubber were missing, and the thick sole on the heel was gone!  No WONDER I felt dizzy.    I had seen all this black stuff on the carpet and wondered who the heck had taught in there the class before!    It was chunks of my sole!     Today as I walked around the trade show my every other step my shoe would stick to the cement floor.   It was so funny.  I drove barefoot on the way home, afraid that my shoe may stick to one of the peddles.

Another time I was trying to get my girlfriends attention who was sitting at one of the front tables.  Gail!  Gail!   Gail?   It was like she was in another world.  Even the girls sitting behind said “Gail, Gail” and she didn’t respond.  I just figured she was entranced in her “ever so her” usual acts of helping someone else, in this case the woman sitting next to her.    A few minutes later I was talking to her and said “Gail” again and she said “Michelle!”    I KNOW HER NAME!   I KNOW HER!   We are twin daughters of different mothers.  Why the heck did I do that?   Have you ever been so tired that you do such stupid things that it makes it all the funnier?    She also told me that she told her husband if something should happen to her, he is to split her painting supplies up between her friends and call me….  FOR A DATE!     Is that not the sweetest thing ever?

Yeah, it was a wonderful time.  A very busy time but many great memories were made, beautiful paintings were done, lessons were learned and laughter could be heard all over.  It rocked!     As I drove home, I thought about how kind, caring, and the sisterhood that decorative painting industry holds.   Helping one another, sharing stories, supplies…  What a great group of people.   I will remember more as I unpack and get back to my life.  I know I am forgetting to share other funny stories.   These are gems nuggets of gold that will keep me warm in the coldest of winter to come.

I am so inspired that I want to stay up all night and paint, but I’m just too tired to unpack my jeep!   But what a good tired… what a good tired.

Yes, I am one fortunate woman to have god given talent that I can share with others.  For all the wonderful and long term friendships and new ones started that have sprouted from teaching.   I feel very blessed.   As I head out to Long Beach, CA in 10 days to a Nerium convention, I know that there I will be with childhood friends, long term friends and will meet new friends as well.   I’m a very fortunate woman.   God has blessed me with so much.

Love to all…..

“Why’s” are meant for children…..

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For the most part I’ve been doing very well.  Have been under the weather for a couple weeks, and this wreaks havoc for me.  Still, I’ve managed to keep a positive attitude and focus on all the good in my life, and there is much to be grateful for.

Today I’ve been thinking about someone I loved very much.   We were very close to a decade when things progressed with his drinking, I chose to say goodbye and I learned 4 months after he passed that he had passed the day after he turned 46.  To be perfectly honest, I think of him everyday, typically I can smile when I think about something he did, but today?  Today my heart is wrapped around questions that will never be answered.  I know better than to ask the infamous “WHY?”.   It only leads to more pain, endless tears and a heart that hurts so much, callousing seems to be the only relief.   That is no way to live.  At times I think it’s necessary to block off our heart until we heal, but to be longstanding, I don’t think it’s healthy.   In some instances, in most, asking “why” serves to push myself into a pit of pain, to which coming back from is harder each time I go there.   I have done this.  I am not living this way, I do not feel this way everyday, but today?  Today it’s a challenge to not go back to the second to last letter in the alphabet!

Life has a way of throwing us curve balls, doesn’t it?   I remember going through divorce, feeling hopeless, helpless, and comically (now) that my life was over…My feelings and thoughts were FAR from the truth.  My life began again.   My life got better, I got healthier, I was able to expand my horizons and open my heart again.   “We’ll make new memories”, he said to me as I worked through the crap.  And we did.  We made some wonderful memories.  Little did I know that they would have to sustain me the for the rest of my life without him.  Plans, yah, I’m here to tell you that plans have a way of falling down in midflight.  If you believe that everything has a reason, a purpose, then it does make the whole grief process easier, once you can get past the initial suffocation.   “Just don’t think about it”, I’ve been told repeatedly over the years.  I nod, sometimes I silently walk away pissed off, sometimes I turn my head and cry.   Sometimes it’s okay to think about painful parts of our past.  For me, it serves as a progress report of where I came from.   In sharing with a friend today I said “I know my life has gotten progressively better, I know this, I should feel nothing but gratitude”…True, I should.

The thing is, I never thought it would be forever.  I thought our lives together had come to a halt, but would eventually turn the corner and back around again.  Yet this is foolish thinking.  How many psychiatrists tell you “If it doesn’t work the first time it surely won’t the second”.  But what if?  What if?  On and on and on.    My life changed the day we parted ways and it changed further the day I learned of his death, a mere 4 years after we split.   To his parents I guess I was far gone.   For me, I sadly realized I had never left.  Still, life goes on.

Was watching an episode of 24 the other night and Jack (my hero) was asked by a very distraught agent “How do I live with this?” having acquired information that sent her into sadness and guilt.  “You just do” he said.   I nodded.  Yeah “you just do”.

Today my mother was told she was “legally blind”.   She can see things, but not well.  She shouldn’t be driving.  Fortunately they believe it’s all cataract related and she will do fine after surgery(ies).  Her first being next Thursday.   My comment to her “Well no wonder you haven’t been telling me how beautiful I am!”   Where would I be without a sense of humor?

For those who have and think there is nothing to mourn.  An alcoholic, an addict drinks himself to death, what’s to feel sorry for?   Having gotten in touch with the severity of my own addiction, learn more everyday how deeply rooted it is, all I can say is “You’ve apparently never lost someone you love to such an awful disease”.    Yet who am I to say that?  Perhaps they have?  Perhaps that is why they feel this way?  Still, it will always serve as a solid oak tree covering part of my heart.  Protection.   If that’s what you can call it.

Letting go, accepting doesn’t mean you never revisit the past.  A very intelligent man said something to this effect the other day, and it has stayed with me…”Every step you take, your past changes too because you see things differently than you did the day before.   Every step you take your future changes, because again, you see things differently than you did the day before.  Life is about a series of steps, not leaps, bounds, steps…”  I find that profound.  I can look back now without the intensity it once had, seeing things differently, and sadly having more compassion now for what I could not tolerate then.  That doesn’t mean anything would have changed with us, that the chapter of us wouldn’t have closed, but to see things differently means growth, perspective.

I’m off to get ready for a fun day tomorrow in Boston.  Am very excited about this.  Spending time with girlfriends, meeting new friends and getting reenergized to dive into my new business.    Very excited about this.   The decision to do this changed everything for me.  My situation hadn’t changed, but my perspective did and has.  Hope, it’s called hope and it’s a wonderful thing!   Life isn’t always fair, it isn’t always easy.  It is, however, worth living.  It’s about reaching out to others when you need encouragement, help.  It’s about helping others when they need it.   I’m starting a new chapter in my life, a fun one, one that I know is good for me and one that I know I will succeed at.  I need this.  I need this challenge, I need this newness.  I am grateful for this opportunity, and more grateful that I’m open minded and willing to go on this ride! ♥♥♥