I’m amazed at how quickly the past three hundred days have gone by.
I took the first couple of months off to get settled, and to heal. Yes, heal. I was broken. I could hardly walk. In the 30 years prior, I owned two homes, neither of which had a second story. Now that I was in a home where not only my bedroom, but also my kitchen was upstairs, I was having trouble getting up and down the staircase.
I’d made plans about the things I would do in my new town, and I started doing a few of them. It was winter, so I couldn’t do everything right away. Some stuff had to wait until spring. I didn’t even know what my yard looked like yet! That didn’t keep me from rolling in the snow mid-sauna.
I joined the Senior Citizens Center, Friends of the Greenhouse (FROG), Dream Machines Car Club and the bike trail association. I was even hired by the city to serve on the Human Rights Commission. In April, I began full time healthcare work, and then six months later, was approved for my social security benefits. November first, I will be done working full time, and will drop down to casual as long as that works for me.
I got back into my old hobby of owning, enjoying and showing classic cars. I no longer own the two vehicles I brought with me, and I finally have an AWD daily driver, which is pretty much a necessity in the northland.
In late summer, I adopted a dog. My cats and I have known her since she was a puppy, so the transition was an easy one.
I think the gallery has sold out of all my paintings, so I’ve been working on new ones, and look forward to having more time to work on them, and get new work up for sale.
Raymond is 21, and is doing great in his new place. This month marks one year since he got out from under my wing. He has a job that he enjoys, and has made new friends where he lives, about an hour’s drive from my house.
I’ve enjoyed visits from various friends and family members in my quirky, cozy house.
To be in this house as long as I was in the last one, I’d pretty much have to live to be 100. Goals.
The church I grew up in had very strong ideas about things like playing cards, dice, movies, video games, smoking cigarettes and many other things that were never mentioned in the Bible. They just made up new rules about what constituted a sin. This set my bullshit meter off. We were allowed to play poker on church campouts if we used Rook cards rather than playing cards. Swearing, drinking and dancing were outlawed. I didn’t do these things, so they came up with something else as my vice. It was listening to contemporary Christian music. I went to a concert at another Christian college, only to get a dorm confinement upon my return because my school didn’t “condone that type of music.” This is a band that played what is considered to be Praise Music now, and some of their songs appear in hymnals. I think they just like power and finding fault. This is the problem with dogma. It is unkind, arrogant and alienating. Many other abuses occurred there that have left me wondering what the fuck. Most of us (hopefully) can look at the Salem witch trials in horror, wondering how such a thing could happen. I don’t wonder. It’s an extreme example of the kind of thinking and teaching that chipped away at my self esteem and my faith. Over the centuries, Christianity has made up a lot of rules and have convinced people that they came from the Bible. It’s really just church tradition. Does the Bible say you have to pray and ask Jesus into your heart in order for him to become your lord and savior? I must have missed that one. I remember reading you only have to believe. But I was never sure I’d prayed correctly, so I did it multiple times over many years to make sure. I was at a camp bonfire, and the pastor had everyone bow their head. He led the campers in just such a prayer, assuring them that everyone’s eyes were closed, and they should raise their hand if they prayed to ask Jesus into their heart. It was private, just between him and them. Then he asked them to come down in front of everyone. He lied, and manipulated the kids. I confronted him afterwards, asking him what a person needed to do to be saved. He quoted Acts 16:31, and admitted he had never thought of it like that before. I think about these things. I always had doubts, and asked people in the church for advice. I was instructed to act like I believed them, and that one day I would actually believe it. No thank you. It reminds me of the time I told my mom that “because I said so” was no longer good enough for me.
I’m not an atheist. I don’t believe anything that strongly. I just think we’ve collectively gotten god all wrong. I used to attend Al Anon, and was a bit shocked the first time I heard “take what you like and leave the rest.” A friend once told me she’s a “cafeteria Catholic”, meaning the same thing. It sounded like heresy, just because we didn’t get the option of leaving anything. We were encouraged in Al Anon, to believe in a higher power, and in a way I accept that. In a way, no. I see the universe as my higher power. The laws of physics and all that. The problem in it being a higher power, is that I’m part of that. I didn’t come into the universe. I came out of it, the way a wave comes out of the ocean. So I guess I’m an agnostic. But I don’t really like wearing labels.
Every single one of us must do our due diligence in life. We are responsible for what we say and what we do. There are consequences and rewards for our words and our actions. Is what you say what you really meant to say? Do you even know what you believe? When it comes to religion, politics and the shape of the earth, my truth may differ from yours. I can not believe something that is not believable to me. If I say something I do not believe in order to be accepted and validated by someone else, that would make me a liar. That is not kind, even if my view differs wildly from yours. Even if it hurts your feelings, or you fear for my immortal soul. So you can be offended if that is what you choose. You can turn and walk out of my life if our differences dictate that you do that. If so, goodbye, I love you and I wish you all the best. I’m not saying my conclusions and current opinion are right and yours are wrong. You see, I think each of us has our own truth. It comes from our experiences and our observations. I don’t begrudge anyone their faith or their understanding of things. Our relationship wasn’t based on those things in the first place. I tend to get my information from people that make sense to me, just like you do. I do not get my science from a Bronze Age book. I put even less stock in someone’s interpretation of said book. I do not get my politics from liars and rapists. My science changes when I get new or better information. I don’t believe everything I hear. Especially from people who have an agenda. I even enjoy watching fake shows about alien encounters and mythical creatures. It’s entertaining. Hate is not entertaining. Fear-mongering isn’t kind or acceptable to me. I can tell the difference between fiction and a lie. As I have often said, I would rather be kind than be right about everything. Furthermore, if the apocalypse comes, I don’t want to remain alive afterwards. If you do, good luck with that.
Sometimes I forget who I am. I forget to paint.
When I get busy, when I’m feeling down and doubting myself. At least those are the excuses I give when people tell me I should be painting. They say my paintings are beautiful. They say I can sell them and make money.
The longer I go, the easier it is to not paint. I watch tv and I feel pointless.
Today I got up all of a sudden, in the middle of a nature show, unwrapped a new canvas, and just started painting.
The early stages are messy. I just want to get some paint on the canvas. I know it’s just a canvas, and it’s just paint, but I start with blue because in my mind, I see a sky. I already know where this is going.
The simple act of applying color wakes something up inside me. I tap into that dormant purpose.
When I have a paintbrush in my hand, I unlock something and I’m able to think. Not judge. Not swayed by anyone else’s opinion, I just do what I do. I do what I like. I don’t really care whether anyone else would like it.
I don’t ask for anyone’s advice. It’s personal. It’s intimate. If someone thinks I should do it differently, that’s the painting THEY should be creating.
I am influenced by other people. I am inspired by what other people do. I take what I like and leave the rest.
Twenty seven years ago today, my daughter was born. I’ve heard other artists describe their artworks as their children. Mine are not that. As Paula Cole said, “they are only stops along my way.” Yet I feel new life coming into me when I create. Like a deep breath after swimming under water, I’m revived and I emerge hopeful.
My art changed when she was born. I went from black and white to bright color, and the subject matter changed, too. So this is a significant day for me. One to think about life and hope and color and love.
What a day to be alive.
I bought this cd from Tower Records in San Francisco on 10/16/96, when my daughter was one day old. She was in in a pack strapped to my belly.