Capture Your Grief Day 31: Sunset

I am posting this a day late as last night I was busy making memories with family and friends. I have to say, it was perhaps the most appropriate way I could have ended this tender month.

When I started this project, I had the great desire to post every single day, using every subject. However, this month has been very busy, especially the weekends, and I had to skip a few days as they got away from me.

I have taken so much away from this project. I have cried and cleaned out my soul, remembered, mourned, rejoiced, freed myself of inhibitions, made friends, reflected, found strength, discovered things inside of me I had not even known were there. Not being lost on me is the irony that as I cried for my first child, I am pregnant with my last, and the cycle of living life fully while continually grieving has been an epic journey. I suspect it will not be over until I reach the distant shore of eternity. I’m ok with that.

Last night, as I spent a carefree evening with my husband and daughter and some dear friends, I kept in the back of my mind that I needed to snap a picture of the sunset. Since we were walking outside Trick or Treating, I figured it would be easy to capture a perfect picture. The evening sky was clear with just a few clouds that added to the aesthetic value and I was once again envisioning an epic photo much like the one I had envisioned at the beginning of the project. However, when the moment came to take the picture, I realized we were on the eastern side of a hill and could not see the setting sun horizon because of houses and power lines, etc. So I did the best I could, snapping a shot of the evening sky. At the moment, it did not seem very epic at all, but I wasn’t bothered as much as I had been with my sunrise shot at the beginning of this project. In that moment, I felt happy and carefree, I had the people who mattered most spending time with me and making precious memories. Perhaps the deep cleaning done to my soul has helped me more than I realize, all I know is something really is different at the end of this month compared to when October started.

Letting yourself grieve is a good thing, friends. Don’t be afraid of the memories and the tears they bring. Let yourself feel the pain, allow yourself to be hurt, admit that you have wounds. You have them anyway, acknowledging them is just the first step in the direction of healing. Denying your wounded state just keeps the wounds festering. Don’t kid yourself, they are there whether you cry or not, whether or not you acknowledge them, and most of all, they are there whether or not others acknowledge them. Grief is not to be feared, use it as a tool for healing your soul and getting stronger.

I hope each person reading this finds peace, where ever they are in their healing process, whether beginning, mid way, well into the thick of it, or maybe even having yet to encounter deep grief in your life. My hope is that you always have blessed memories being made along the way, and that you are never afraid to pull them out from time to time, even the painful ones. Every memory is precious.

Day 31: Sunset
Mt Pleasant, Tennessee, USA, about 6 pm October 31st, 2012

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Capture Your Grief Day 22: Place of Care

As I’ve said before, I was pregnant with Skye out in Colorado and she spent her entire life in Kentucky, but we now live in Tennessee and I have no pictures of her place of care or birth, none that I’d like to represent this post any way. Instead, I’m going a little outside the box and posting a picture of the place that held her the longest and cared for her the most tenderly and lovingly.

My womb has held 3 babies since Skye, one is with me, one left this world before I even got a chance to process that it had been here, and the third is tucked safely inside as I type, awaiting his entrance into this world from the safety of the womb that held his sister. This picture is actually a recent one and I’m pregnant with Gavin, but somehow it is fitting to use a picture of my (hopefully) last pregnancy to illustrate my very first.

Day 22: Place of Care

Finding Myself

I am in the process of finding my style as an artist and experimenting with different techniques. You would not believe how hard it is to clear your mind of any idea or preconceived notion of what is acceptable and just paint. Blank canvas, emotion, – paint! I believe it is necessary for me to do this in order to find out who I really am in my art work. I am trying not to worry about the finished out come, what people will think, if I’ll like the finished product, I’m transferring the emotion of the moment onto my canvas and watching it evolve under the brush.

 I have always shied away from “modern art” in the past because my logical inner voice told me there was no picture. However, as I am maturing and growing into my present and future self, I find I can look at a painting for more than just its picture or likeness to a known object or place. I can look at a painting and feel it’s emotion.

 I was in 440  Main yesterday for lunch and before I left, I walked around the restaurant and examined the paintings by a local artist that are for sale on consignment. They are all various degrees of abstract in character. Some of them are identifiable as something familiar – a trio of pears, an oyster on the half shell, wine glasses. They were all beautiful in their own way, but one stood out to me from the rest. I found it almost odd that this painting stood out to me considering my past conceptions. It was large, probably about four feet square, and it was simply streaks of paint applied to the canvas with a knife. There were rough, raised areas, different colors, some blended and others standing out alone, and no picture whatsoever, just paint on canvas. I looked at it and loved it immediately but could not pinpoint why. It was so free, simple and yet complex, soothing and exciting all at the same time. I would hang it on my wall at home if I had several hundred to spend on a painting. I don’t know why, it just spoke to me and I liked it.

 I determined yesterday as I looked at that painting that I wanted to be free too, I wanted to let my emotions flow through the brush and speak to somebody through my work. I realized for the first time with not just my head, but my heart, that there is no “wrong” or “stupid” art. There is only art in many forms. Who hasn’t looked at a child’s drawing and found something to love in its simplicity and unrealistic lines? Children are perhaps the purest of artists because they draw and paint what they feel. They create art with their own interpretation and not in the confines of what society accepts or how the rest of us view perfection. If they have the inkling to make the flower blue and the sky red, that’s what they do.

 I think we should be more like children in the sense that if we feel something, we should let that flow into our work.  Sometimes that will transfer into a tranquil scene, and sometimes it will be angry splashes of bold colors. Either interpretation is acceptable because somewhere there is a person who will see it and it will speak to them personally, and really, that is all we hope for as artists.

"The Earth Without Form, and Void"

My Western World

 When I was nine years old we moved to Colorado from Florida, my birth place. All I had ever known was flat land, sand, ocean, and warm weather. Moving out West was like moving to another country. The scenery was very different, I experienced cold and snow for the first time, the people were different, the culture was even different. There is a lot of Spanish and Mexican influence out West. This can be seen in everything from the architecture to the cuisine. I had lived among many Cuban and Guatemalan emigrants in Florida (we lived a few hours north of Miami on the East Coast) and I was no stranger to the Spanish language, but upon moving west I learned there is so much more to a culture than language. Eastern and Western Latin culture is completely different.

 I embraced these drastic changes with wide open arms. At that age, we are free from the worries of adulthood and the preoccupation of adolescence. We are old enough to explore with confidence but young enough to find the littlest things entertaining and we still have a very healthy imagination.

 From the earliest of memories I have always been more or less an introvert. I had a brother that was two years older than me and a brother three years younger. I was caught in the middle, not just of age differences, but arguments, personalities, and gender identity. I was very much a girl living in the boys’ world and not fitting in to their satisfaction or mine. To play their games I was required to be a tomboy but was lousy at it. I couldn’t climb trees because I could never get down from them myself. They liked to imagine themselves superheros, I preferred being a horse or unicorn. They were constantly “fighting the bad guys” and I couldn’t even make a respectable punching noise. It was very awkward.

 In this new Western world there was fresh material for my imagination to run rampant with. I would go off by myself and imagine I was going on a long journey to the other side of the mountain on the horizon. There would be rivers to cross and wild animals to brave, but new and  unexplored places called to me like never before. Almost always on my imaginary journey I would find a wild horse and tame it and it was my best friend. I loved horses, was almost obsessed with them. I wanted one so badly growing up.

 I was very shy at first when meeting people. I was never the first to make conversation or initiate a game or share my ideas. My brothers generally thought my ideas were stupid and had no trouble telling me so. After all, I was a girl. Rather than risk criticism, I would keep things to myself. Naturally this inhibited my social life. I got to where I would turn the other direction and go out of my way to avoid interaction with people.

 I was happy with my own little games by myself. Almost always, I lived in the wilderness, outside or in some shelter I had built myself. My little imaginary animal friends never thought my ideas were stupid. In my games I was always very brave, not only could I climb trees, I could build a house in the very top and live there. I did not need to make friends, I could imagine them into being and they would climb treacherous mountains with me and sleep under the stars and keep me warm at night. When morning came we would move on to some new and exciting adventure.I don’t remember playing such games in Florida. Maybe it was the fact that I had moved from my few close friends or I had just hit a certain age.

 The thing about moving west that stands out the most is the vastness of the landscape. Those endless plains and huge mountains seemed to spark an exploration blaze within me. I had never seen a boulder ten times my size and it made me want to climb it and conquer it. Those wide open spaces that went on forever begged me to run as hard and fast as I could, knowing I would not reach the end of them before my lungs gave out and I fell in a breathless heap on the ground. While waiting to regain my breath I could face into the wind and feel like I was flying without any effort on my part. I had never felt such powerful wind as blows across those plains everyday. It is something that can’t really be explained, it has to be experienced.

 All of this together etched a deep love for the West within my soul. Life would later take me down many different paths and to very different places, but I will never feel quite as alive as I do when I stand at 11,000 feet and look out over mile upon mile of landscape or feel that wind so strong it nearly knocks you over.

 I don’t intend to give the impression that I was an unhappy or lonesome child. I do remember many times when by some miracle my brothers and I agreed on a game that made everyone happy. I recall playing King of the Mountain on an old composted pile of horse manure and dirt next to the neighbor’s pasture. One time we went off into the woods in late summer and found a myriad of wild fungi growing. They made wonderful projectiles for our variation of hide and seek/tag because they did not hurt when we threw them at each other, but upon impact they would explode and leave a brown stain, an unmistakable hit. There was no arguing over whether or not you were hit and no cheating, you had to take a 60 second time out, leaving your opponent to sneak off and hide for another attack or gather more ammo. My mother did not think this game amusing as we could only do laundry once a week at the laundromat or by hand. We only played it once.

 For the most part, however, I did better by myself. I didn’t always play imaginary games, a lot of the time I spent drawing the beauty I saw around me. Some of my favorite subjects were horses, of course, cacti, mountain landscapes, and barbed wire fences on rough wooden posts. I know I used to draw before, but it seems like my artistic nature really found wings once we moved out West.

 There is not enough time or space to detail my adventures in Colorado here. It is a whole volume of my life that helped shape me into who I am today. We spent just under five years there, but it was only recently I stopped referring to it as my home state. I currently reside in Kentucky and have actually lived here longer than I have lived in any other state, including Florida. It has slowly but surely become my home, but that is a story for another day.

 I will always harbor a deep love and passion for the beauty of the Western landscape. There is really no place quite like it on Earth. Pictures don’t do it justice, it is something that must be experienced in person. It gets in your blood and once it does, you can never really leave. You will always return, even if just in memory or imagination.