GentleSoul Arts

Living a Creative Life


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The Inevitable

Two weeks ago my mom passed away.  I thought I was ready.

I had visited her in the hospital for 3 days prior, seeing her mostly unconscious, bruised from IVs and the respirator on her face (she had very thin skin from sun damage as a child and would bruise easily just brushing up against something).

She had degenerative disk disorder and arthritis in her hip which made sitting for any length of time uncomfortable, even when she was younger.   In the hospital, she would try to toss and turn, but was so weak she could barely move.  We would shift her around as her breathing shallowed indicating she was in pain.  She’d settle down and breath deeply for a while, until that position became uncomfortable.

She had congestive heart failure, had a heart attack 17 years ago or so, continued to smoke afterwards.  She had COPD and breathing problems over the last few years, and kept smoking.  I think cleaning out her dresser & purses, we found 5 packs of ‘stashed’ cigarettes.  She told the doctors she only smoked 2 cigarettes a day.  It was closer to a pack a day.

She also lost her eyesight to macular degeneration. She had told me it’s hereditary but I can’t recall anyone else in the family with it.   I honestly think it had more to do with sitting in a 900 square foot house, windows and doors shut, with a haze of cigarette smoke lingering in the air.

In the hospital she was in pain, annoyed with the respirator and during one days when she seemed more conscious (although I still doubt she knew who was who) wanted to go home.  I wanted her to recover and go home, but I think part of me knew it was the end. I thought I was ready.

Part of my anger in the grief cycle is why didn’t she take better care of herself.  Why continue to smoke after such drastic health events. I never saw her exercise for the sake of exercise.   I really don’t understand it.

I know everyone dies, and no one lives forever but Mom could have lived another 15 years easily.  Well, maybe not easily if she had no desire to change her lifestyle, quit smoking, move more, eat healthier.  I’m not sure how many fresh fruits & veggies she ate.

As I am approaching 50 years old, I’m making a serious commitment to moving more, eating less sugar, and more fruits & veggies.   I’m not going to live forever but when I’m 72 yrs old, I’ll be able to get out and continue to geocache, hike and be social.

As much as I love my mom, I’m not ready to become like her as I get older.

 

 

 


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Broken again (sort of)

I’m actually healing but last week my left knee was very painful.  It was hard to transition from sitting to standing/walking, but once I moved it would feel better.   After work one day I went to the store to pick up healthy joint supplements and pain relieving cream, and as I was walking out to my car, my knee popped, and I couldn’t put weight on my leg.  I was stuck at the edge of the cross walk, and a car was trying to turn into the handicap space.  I waved at him to park and he waved at me to walk across.  But I couldn’t move, shuffling baby steps that were excruciatingly painful.  I think I yelled “JUST PARK!” at the guy, which he did.  Getting out of his car, he tells me he’s had problems with his feet too.  I explained it wasn’t my feet, my knee popped and now I couldn’t walk.  He wished me a nice evening and went on into the store.

I managed to put weight on my sore knee leg if I tippy-toed, and I managed to get to the car.  Which is a manual transition.  I need my left leg to shift.  To fully engage the clutch, I have to straighten my leg…  luckily the store is only 2 miles from my house but that was the most painful 2 miles I’ve ever driven.

I get home, call my oldest son to come outside and get the shopping bags, bring me the crutches from when I had broken my foot, and take me to the after hours clinic.  After a 2-3 hour wait, I go back to see the PA.  She pokes at my knee,  it doesn’t appear to be any bone issues. I haven’t fallen (apart from tripping over Vision and breaking my foot in July), nothing hit my knee…   She explains a x-ray wouldn’t show what’s wrong with the ligaments and tendons, so there was no point in doing one since the bones were fine.  I’m prescribed some anti-inflammatories and pain meds and told to follow-up with my primary care physician.

Next day, call to get into see my PCP (same clinic after hours, just a different side of the building).  Again, pokes at my knee, bones are fine, probably the ligaments or tendons.  She can’t put an order in for an MRI until I have an X-ray.  Which I was told only 12 hours earlier would be pointless .  I get the x-rays and of course, nothing wrong with the bones. A touch of arthritis and a bone spur but other than that, everything is fine.  I’m told I’ll be called for an MRI within 72 hours – since it was Thursday, it wouldn’t be until the first of the next week.

Well, I’m not getting an MRI.  I don’t feel like paying whatever it will cost me, since I have a high deductible on my medical insurance and they only cover ‘well visits’ 100%.   I’ve been icing my knee, taking the anti-inflammatories and if it starts getting sore, usually with a turn or pivot, I try to stay off of it for a bit.    Plus, if I opt for the MRI and they tell me it’s a strain or sprain and to RICE it (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) then I’ve thrown away money.

I think part of the problem with my knee is having walked awkwardly while my broken foot was healing.   I’m more mindful of how I walk, and sit.  And I need to walk more.  I’ve sat around too much lately and I can feel the difference.


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Ready for Fall

The last month has been busy, a lot of ups and downs for me emotionally.   After a minor … okay, more of a major… meltdown regarding finances I decided I’d take a 2nd job.  I decided to apply for a retail job with the upcoming holidays and was emailed to set up an interview.   After contemplating working 40 hours a week at my normal job, and then 20+ hours at a 2nd job, holiday hours and weekends, Black Friday and the rush of Christmas shoppers, I cancelled the scheduled interview.

I’ve re-discovered geocaching and have picked up a few on my way to & from work.   There are upcoming events, on the weekends, that I would have to opt out of if I were working on weekends.   I’m 3 caches away from hitting my 200 mark.

I’m also planning on attending some Sketch Meets.   The Oklahoma Arts Guild group meets on one Saturday a month and the OKC Urban Sketchers group meets on one Sunday a month.

Then there is the once a month art journalling group ladies I meet.  I so could not give up that time. It’s a recharger for me, able to get with like-minded people, and journal.  Sharing ideas and inspiration when I feel worn thin from daily life.

So with my creativity boosted, I’ll be listing my paintings for sale to make some extra money.  I’m getting photos and will calculate prices.  I’m not sure yet on how to ship them but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

On the Puppy front, Vision was 6 months old last week and is scheduled to be neutered tomorrow.   He’s getting a bit of an attitude when playing with Jarvis and there’s been a couple of times when Vision got a bit snarly.   Jarvis is 14 months old and has mellowed out quite a bit.  He is good at tattling on Vision though.  If Vision is into something he shouldn’t be, Jarvis will bark until I go check to see what’s going on.

Spiritually, I’m back into the “I can’t deal with church” mode.   I attended one church consistently until I broke my foot.  David took me a couple of weeks but once I was able to drive, he didn’t go back with me and I couldn’t muster the incentive to go on my own.  I went back today and I was bored.  The sermon didn’t do anything to me.  I played on my phone and gazed out the window.  I thought of going back to another church I had attended in 2012 but had a bad experience.  Then I thought “Why!?”  I’ve tried, it just doesn’t click.   I would love a small group to study spiritually with, but without the baggage I’ve experienced in “organized religion”.

I’m still craving community, but perhaps I can find that with the sketch groups and geo-cachers.


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Healing

It’s been almost 2 weeks since I fractured my foot.   I think it’s healing very quickly, and I’m going to try to drive tomorrow with my husband as a passenger, in case it gets to be too much.  I’m walking with less limping and I can curl my toes under without pain.

I’ve tried to do as little as possible in the last fortnight.  I’m not patient when I want something done and I can’t do it myself.   A lot of normal household maintenance was neglected while I sat with ice on my foot.   Now I’m ready to catch up.

This morning I weeded the front garden.  The gladioli are beginning to bloom but the grass in the flowerbed was obscuring them from view.   I weeded the brickwork and edged the walkway.  I really want to mow, but I’m waiting.   It’s the hottest days of summer so far, with temps hitting 104 deg F (40 deg C for my Postcrossing friends).

The easement needs mowing the most.   With erosion from flooding, the ground is full of ruts and dips so I’m not keen on doing it myself. There are other yard chores in the backyard I can do. Cutting down trees growing up on the fence line and trimming the hedges. Mostly stationary work.

In the evenings, as I’m laying in bed, I visualize all the errant healing energy in the air gathering to me.  Those prayers for healing and the sick that are non-specific.  I visualize them coalescing into a blue and gold swirling ball that engulfs and permeates my foot.  The bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  Every cell, molecule, and atom.  I visualize quick and complete healing, walking normally barefoot or in my flats, heels, or boots.  I fall asleep with these images in my mind. It’s a nice way to drift off and if it helps my healing faster, great.  If not and energy work is a bunch of woowoo hokum, I really haven’t lost anything anyway.

Namaste.


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Broken

After my last post I put my small laptop away and walking back to the living room I tripped and fell. Fractured my 2nd metatarsal.  I’m in an aircast now, with a knee cart and spent yesterday laying in bed. Crutches were difficult and awkward to navigate on so I didn’t move anymore than necessary. 

It’s made me appreciate my mobility more and how many other things have I taken for granted. 

Namaste.


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Balance

Last weekend was wonderful.  Art, spirit, cleaning up my art area and hanging paintings that have been stacked up.  It caught up with me though and Tuesday I was exhausted.   I wanted to keep up the momentum but I’m learning that I need to honor those cycles of energy and rest.

Luckily it was a short work week but I can’t take days off every 3 days in order to rest and recover from activity.  I’m hoping to find more balance where I take times daily for rest, but not idleness.  My phone doesn’t help.  I waste so much time browsing social media.  I’ve debated uninstalling those bothersome apps but then I feel so disconnected.  As an introvert, most of my interactions are online and I don’t want to cut of my nose to spite my phone.  But true connections and conversations are different than checking pictures on IG of people I barely know, if I know them at all.

I did finish up my 2nd moleskine sketchbook this week, and I thought of starting my 3rd one, still freshly wrapped in the plastic covering.  As I was going through my cabinet, I found many partly filled sketchbooks, visual journals, altered books.  Those books I started for a specific reasons then neglected.   I’m setting a goal to complete as many as I can before the end of the year, and before I open and start a new journal.  I keep a small 3×5 sketchbook in my purse I’d like to finish up as well.

I feel like I need to work on completions.  I’ve posted on my previous blog that I’m good about starting projects, but finishing has never been my strong point.

I’ll see what I can finish this week.

Namaste.

 

 


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The Muse is Back

Today I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind.  I woke up later than normal since I have the day off work.  If you can call 7am late.  I fed the puppies, made coffee and my breakfast, and began my day like normal, checking social media and getting my 3 Duolingo lessons in.  [I’m working on learning Dutch currently. A lot of my artist friends are Dutch.  I want to be Dutch in my next life.]

I shared a post on my FB artist page that Chris Zydel had posted about not feeling guilty for not making art.  After I stopped bawling [sseriously ugly cry bawling] went to my studio to do half-ass something with paint.   My puppy Vision was under my feet the whole time, so I slowed down instead of the frantic paint flinging I so often get into.  That slowing down made me really look and think about my process.

I’ve taken so many workshops. Painting Big with Connie at Dirty Footprint Studios, Visual Quest with Pixie Lighthorse, Bloom True with Flora Bowley.  I’d love to take (and a bit scared to) an in person class with Chris.  I have a feeling I’d do a lot of [good healing \crying there. Plus a lot of little 2-6 week sketchbook workshops.  Art on a smaller scale than the big canvases favored by Connie and Flora. But with all these workshops with various artists, I feel like I’ve never found my own style.   I was constantly stuck on the Image portion of Flora’s technique.  I’m not overly fond of painting faces or figures.

But oh, mixing colors. Seeing how they blend, and contact, and complement.  For me it’s the most incredible experience. I’ve loved painting backgrounds, mixing and smearing, blending and scrubbing.  Then I tried to add some images and boom – STUCK.  I hate this, this painting sucks, why am I bothering, I suck.

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I become mesmerized by the blending of these colors

I get the ‘ugly teenage phase’ of a painting, but it seemed I lived there.  I would become discouraged, seeing the finish products of friends and think if I just show up, that’s an important thing is seems no matter show shitty my art was, I’d get through it.

So today I showed up.  I don’t HAVE to paint images.  I can paint the cool or warm backgrounds, and leave it at that.  I can paint my feelings with colors and blending, not faces, or pods, or leaves, or feathers.   Looking around at other paintings I have, which I’m not fond of, I’m getting ideas of how to rework them, and I’m excited about painting for the first time in months, if not years!

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This ugly painting is getting a do-over

I want to finish one canvas today before I start reworking one with an idea I have.  I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.

Namaste.