Monday, April 26, 2010

Struggling To See the Beauty Through a Less Painful Lens

Today was the last day to see the Tulip Farm, which I had never visited before. I thought the fresh air and beautiful colors of the tulips would be therapeutic for my horrible 3 day and counting migraine. Unfortunately, that was not the case, but with the lens of my camera as my new eye that seemed to feel no pain, we collaborated to capture some of the fading beauty of the Spring tulips, on the last legs of their life. Some of them seem as if an entire universe existed inside each unique flower, and others seem like birds on the verge of flight. I longed to climb inside them and take a brief healing nap like a Lilliputian. The wind and my wrist also added to the challenges of picture taking. I was also craving some peacefulness among the quiet beauty of the vastness of flowers, but unfortunately the other visitors there did not share my need for solitude with the flowers. Expectations..... Again my patience and tolerance continues to be tested.....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Old Window, A New View

Well the window is now completed and hanging proudly. This is its history.......
.........As soon as I was up to an outing after my wrist surgery, Michael and I went for a hike up Multnomah Falls. On the way home, I coaxed him into stopping at The Rebuilding Center, one of my favorite hangouts, to buy an old window. I had plans to make a piece to hang on our front porch. When I was climbing the walls a few days later, I put on my empty backpack and hopped on the bus headed for my first field trip to Kline Glass. The plan was to get enough broken colored glass to create a glass mosaic on the old window. I thought it was a very optimistic move on my part, to have a goal to create something new out of an old window and some broken glass, given my current limitations and rather broken creative spirit. How could I have known that it would turn into so much more for me in oh so many ways? I put a work glove on my left hand, initially to prevent cutting my hand as I dug through the boxes and bins of broken glass, but I know it was actually to keep me from forgetting myself and trying to use my healing right hand as I got lost in exploration of the jeweled morsels. After a few minutes, (ok, truth be told almost an hour!) I had filled my backpack to capacity. I wanted to ensure having enough glass to finish my creation. Well.... you pay by the pound, and when I tried to lift it with my left arm for the weigh in, I knew I was in big trouble. Eleven plus pounds later, my backpack and I headed back onto the bus with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head!

~~Fast forward a few days later, to the morning of February 23, 2010. I began to mourn the death of Jen Warnock who left us at 6:21 a.m. I had to keep busy to survive the anger, shock, and emptiness of this sudden, unfair, tragic loss. Jen touched hundreds of people's lives. She birthed us all in her many ways, as teacher, midwife, dancer, friend, mother, redheaded spitfired spirit and more...............

How does one begin to put something back together again, once it has been broken? My healing broken wrist begins to feel so incredibly small in the big picture of life and death. The limitations present themselves to me, yet I know I must move forward, to cope with and begin to heal the many things I am feeling this morning. It is storming outside and inside. In my studio, I begin to manipulate the vibrant pieces of broken glass with my left hand and work in a frenzy, to create a puzzle of sorts on the old window.I am trying to make things fit. I have always hated puzzles, because there is only one correct solution. This creation however, holds many possibilities, many choices, many answers, many solutions. Some work better for me than others. As I move the glass and each piece begins to relate to the other pieces as they dance past each other, they find their resting place. The place that feels like its new home. It is a meditation for me, as some of my favorite music plays in the background. This process helps me to remember, by trying to forget. It is healing to see that something beautiful can be created by combining broken pieces, each with their own vibrancy, into a new complete whole. The broken can become beautiful. Not the way they were before, but coming together to create something entirely new, yet maintaining the essence of what they once were. I will continue this process of moving and shifting, until it feels complete.

~~Fast forward to April 5............. I have been gluing and smearing and wiping grout frenetically, as I try once again to deal with pain, frustration and a sense of loss of sorts. Adam has had a bad fall the day before he was about meet with the Doctor to be scheduled for invasive back fusion surgery. He has broken three ribs, and the surgery will not be able to be rescheduled for at least six weeks after he heals. Michael and Jenni are both out of the country, and I am stranded home unable to drive. I feel so lost and helpless as a mother, wanting to, needing to, fix my son and take his pain away. More brokenness that cannot be fixed by me. He is not alone though. I am so blessed that he has his beloved and nurturing new wife Tiffany there for him. But still, more brokenness keeps coming up.  I must learn a way to effectively face and deal with that feeling of helplessness, brokenness and powerlessness. Do I try to contact Michael and Jenni abroad, in separate countries, or accept that they too are powerless to change Adam's situation. Nevertheless, it all weighs heavily upon me and I try to have the strength to carry it. I cover the window with grout and wait to remove the dirt that seems to have totally obliterated my colorful mosaic. Does it still exist under all that darkness? It is time to remove the grout. I rub, and wash, and rub and wipe over and over again, and eventually after what seems like hours, the colors begin to reappear. I can see what I have created begin to emerge.

~~The finale...................The  window is completed..............Michael helped me hang it on our front porch this weekend. I am filled with such a sense of satisfaction, completion, and pride, yet still, a lingering sadness. It will be a reminder of so much, every time I gaze upon it in my daily comings and goings. 

......Jen is gone, in body but not in spirit. She will always be with me, in me, a part of me, in all the gifts she has given me. Every time the light hits the window in a special way, I know the reds will shine especially brightly. I even suspect that on a particularly dark, dreary day, the reds will shine as though some inner light was illuminating them. I know where that light is coming from, and I will smile or possibly cry, but there is space for all my emotions.

.....Adam is still in a lot of pain, but he is healing slowly. His back surgery will come in its due time. He will be strong. He is so well loved and taken care of by all of us near and far. He will be put back together again in a new and stronger way and he too will shine.

.....I am on the road to recovery as my wrist begins to slowly heal. I am trying to be patient, use my hand carefully, do my occupational therapy and try to be optimistic, as I look forward to dancing at Breitenbush in June with my community and Jen watching over us all, and laughing no doubt.

And so, nothing remains the same. Beauty shifts, changes and looks differently depending on the time and light of day. My vision changes based on my mood that day as well. There is no one right way to beauty, just as there is no one right way to life. Sometimes we have to put the pieces back together, but it is never in the same way it was. We have just so much control over what is and what will become. And yes, life can be just as fleeting as the momentary light, as it passes through a piece of colored glass.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Right Brain Initiative

I am very excited about the next project that I will be involved in. It is called The Right Brain Initiative. Please check out the linked short video to get a sense of what it is all about.
The vision of The Right Brain Initiative is to achieve a measurable impact on learning by integrating the community’s arts and cultural resources into the education of every K-8 student in the region’s school districts. The Initiative is a collaboration among educators, parents, artists, local governments, business leaders, and donors who are working to achieve this vision in an equitable, systemic, and sustainable way. RACC serves as managing partner of the program. 
I will be working as a volunteer photo documentarian. I am thrilled to be able to photograph various events in the schools as well as the artists, teachers and administrators who’ve participated in Right Brain programs to present and reflect on the work they’ve completed this year. 
I am passionate about photography and have always been an advocate of the arts in education, ever since my now 27 and 30 year old "kids" were in school. I always worked in their school in the arts and this is a perfect way to meld my interests and skills!

Wrap up on The Chair Affair

Well a fun time was had by all and almost every chair found it's way to a new home.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mother Nature

"In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful" ~~Alice Walker    

But as I listen to the pouring rain, the hail, the flailing trees; as the branches fall on my roof and porch, it feels as though mother nature shares my feelings of anger and frustration at this moment.

Therapy.....With Baby Steps I Return to My Clay Chair Installation Project and More...

Over the past few days I have begun to dip my right hand and wrist in the therapeutic parrafin wax bath again. I am once again, saving the ghost hands that remain when I carefully remove the wax from my hand. I will continue this as long as I feel compelled to. I plan to culminate the collection by mounting them on a black board that will be back lit with Christmas lights that  my dear friend Katie so generously scavenged for me.

In addition, today I carefully touched clay for the first time, post surgery. I gingerly and with much trepidation took a small piece of soft clay and delicately formed a chair. I tried to move my hand only in ways that did not cause pain. I will number the post surgical chairs to join with the three pre- surgery chairs. I am going to keep making them until they no longer call to me. I am doing these things to keep from bouncing off the walls due to my worry over my son's health issues. I am seeking them as therapy for my hand and heart. Somehow the creating does not feel satisfying as I hoped and thought it would be, because my mind is elsewhere, as is my heart. I thought I could somehow heal my spirit, so I would have more to offer him, but this is not the case. I am still not able to drive and am still taking care of myself mostly left handed. I am offering all I can, and all that he needs, by just being present for him, talking with him, sending him all the healing energy a mother is capable of, and loving him. He is blessed with a wonderful loving wife to care for him, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I am also obsessively trying to buy antique pocket watches on e-bay for future sculptures and assemblages. I have not quite gotten the hang of bidding and winning successfully yet. I am trying to find comfort in gathering, collecting, nesting, thinking about time, time gone by, time wasted, wasted moments, fleeting life, memory.

I will continue to create. I realize on an intellectual level that I cannot fix my loved ones, but have yet to grasp it on an emotional level. I can only be here for him and be here for myself. I have to relinquish control over trying to carry the ones I love and trying to fix them and the world single handedly. (even I realize that I am setting myself up for a huge failure if I have that expectiation). 

Time to surrender to what is and stop seeking the reasons why. It is what it is, even though I want things to be different. Life continues to reveal this to me, yet it never seem to get easier to accept. 
Such is life I suppose~~~~~~~~~~~~

"The relation you have to yourself is the first and most important step to freedom. It is when you are centered in yourself that you really can give to others without expectations."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Although it feels like Winter..............................

“Spring has returned.
The Earth is like a child that  knows poems.”
                   ~~Rainer Maria Rilke~~

My dear friend Renee reminded me that, although I have been feeling like a spectator in life lately, watching everyone live their lives, that HEALING is an ACTIVE process! I am very grateful to her for reminding me of this important way of looking at my life in this moment. No doubt I will have to remember to keep reminding myself of this.
 I have been working a bit on the mosaic of colored glass window piece I began before my wrist surgery. I am reassembling, recreating, joining together broken pieces to create a new, colorful blending of discarded glass, that seemed to have no real purpose in their broken state. I am bringing together the once broken pieces, to solidify them into a new colorful, beautiful, purposeful whole; a new normal. Once completed, it will hang on my front porch, catching the light, and every time I gaze upon it, remind me of this new, vibrant beginning. A metaphor for my life??????????????????