I want, first of all, to thank this lady for the use of her "Frozen Charlotte" photo. I have one too, and mine is a little different, having wings and no body, but a head and a flat piece of metal with a piece of writing paper inside so that a message of condolences could be given to a parent or relatives who had lost usually a child or baby. These Frozen Charlottes were a late Victorian art form for Children mostly and they had bodies with solid forms and no movement at all. The fad lasted into the 1920's, but the idea of people preserving memories of children that had died very young or perhaps were stillborn persisted into the 1950's. One of my best friends had a photo taken holding her stillborn baby, I am sure something she would always preserve. A friend with stage 4 cancer made mine for me and for years it has sat on the edge of a ledge with my collection of angels and beautiful crosses. I am spiritual, but I don't attend churches, and I have always loved these things. But for years, these lovely things in my collection have sat protected on shelves and on top of a shelf and hanging on the wall. They sat there, inanimate and going largely forgotten but still loved, as happens with many of our collections. As I took them down one by one to pack up to go to our new home, a transformation began to take shape in my mind. I intend to put my Frozen Charlotte and all the birds of all kinds I have collected for years into my peach tree, where they can move with the breeze and bring life to the area. As for my angels and crosses, I intend to put them up on a high cement wall behind our home that separates us from neighbors way above us. It will become my Garden of Angels, and when one of our beloved pets passes on, I will have a box to put it in and bury it there and it will have an angel or a cross above it. In this way, I can keep my family with me, and someday when I pass from this plane, I told my significant other, Richard, to put a cross down near my family for me too. I am donating my body to Life Science, and I really believe in that, for it will be used for study if not for replacement parts for others, and when they are through studying or using it in important ways, they will cremate it at no charge for me. Richard will do the same, and if a person is a male or female vet, they can have their ashes transferred to a VA cemetery. I have their number and they come and pick up the deceased at no charge to anyone. In this time when life is changing so much for all of us, perhaps one of the best ways we can manage is to find ways to help others. I am glad to see that happen. Something about transforming things into a sort of living "Garden" really appeals to me. Over the years, I have received a lot of bullying from grade school to being a senior, but I am letting go of that too as my personal transformation. Like my Garden of Angels, I want to live a life free of unnecessary worries and anger at others for having power over me. No one has power over me except me, myself, and I. I am ready for the future and whatever comes from it. Being a lifetime victim serves no one, and definitely not me. Some of my goals right now are to become a volunteer for CASA (Court-appointed Special Advocate) for foster children. I just finished reading two books I could not put down by David Pelzer, who was one of the worst cases of child abuse to ever happen in California, and I have read another tragic story of another foster child who became a victim of the system, which happens often. If I were not older than dirt, I would definitely become a foster parent myself, but since I am a senior, I will be an advocate instead. I have already done my training and they have advocates in every state almost. I also want to become a volunteer tutor again for special needs children and young adults and ESL students, as well as illiterate adults. And I want to finish some of my art projects to donate to worthwhile charities. There are so many needs today, so I feel that is the best use I can make of whatever art I can finish. And I want to finish a book I am compiling of all the poetry I have written over the years and hopefully benefit some worthwhile cause with my earnings. Having goals in life is important. Whether we can realistically finish them all or not, the key is to have goals and dreams to reach for as we go forward in time. You all likely will not hear from me again until we are through moving and I think we take possession of our home on the 29th, but whether we have our computers hooked up or not is unknown right now. Because we are just moving in, we have to show proof of our title and our ID but they say they can turn everything on in one day. We will see. It will all work out and things tend to do. Love and hugs to you all always, Anne
Today with all the news bombarding us and politics getting more and more ugly, and everyone seeking to understand something that simply is, and perhaps we will never understand it even many, many years from now, this cartoon seems more true than ever.
I thought of a man writing about how he was so concerned for his three-year-old granddaughter because she had open heart surgery, and many, many health issues through her little life. And I wrote him and told him that instead of focusing on the ills from which the child is suffering, why not let her know what a great will she has to live, and how she is a hero, and he is going to be happy to be there when she graduates from high school, goes on to college, and becomes some great person in this world – a genuine hero! What would it hurt? Is it confirming she is going to die, or does he really want to see her live. Then affirm life, not death, and let her know every single day what a strong fighter she is, sort of like a Ninja warrior. It can’t hurt anything, and affirming life, even in these difficult times, rather than affirming death is the best thing for all of us. Do we really want to die?
I have been through cancer, and so many traumas when I came to close to dying, but I am a strong fighter and no matter how bad things got, I guess I wanted to live the most. So I found many ways to affirm life, and when I was in my worst days, I gave myself challenges to do, like looking for a good saying every day and pasting it into my little diary, or I did a sort of collaging of life images that expressed my feelings in any given time, and it helped me get through another rough spot in life. I created art, and I wrote poetry, or I experimented with other things like mixed media art, singing and dancing. Or perhaps I played with my dollhouses and colored in my coloring books, something I did not get to do in my childhood. It is never too late to be a child again or perhaps for the very first time. Just let go and be who you were meant to be or who you always wanted to be.
Never give up until they are shoveling dirt over you. When it is your time, you will leave this world, but nothing says it will be forever. We don’t know what lies on the other side, and all the souls have to go someplace, so why not think about it that way and forget the forever aspect of it all. The world is constantly evolving, and so I know that there is no true end to things; it only happens in our minds. Take this time to make things right in your life. Rebuild fences and be a true friend to everyone you know and love.
May every day you live be a true miracle. Peace and goodness to all of you. Anne always
I absolutely love working with children and teaching them new things. Many years ago, likely in my 30’s, I served as a volunteer to teach illiterate adults how to read. It never had occurred to me that when people grow up not knowing how to read, many of them have also missed most of childhood’s best parts. They have missed not only the wonderful children’s books, generally because they had no one to read to them, but they have also missed out on a lot of wonderful childhood experiences, like being able to go trick or treating or making a costume for Halloween, or having someone help them to learn how to carve a pumpkin.
I know many of you wonder how this could happen. Think about the migrant workers, the homeless people (and yes they often have children living with them), and even my own parents never finished high school. So I went to school, but because I could not depend on my parents to be able to help me with my homework, I honestly struggled with understanding how to do my homework, and when a child cannot do well in school, they often also struggle to fit in socially.
I was bullied a lot because I wore clothes from thrift stores, ate day-old bread from the special store that was so cheap in those days, and I did not know how to make friends or talk to others. To top it all off, I quit school in my first year of high school. I had gotten married instead of choosing to go to Germany with my mother and father during the time of the wall I believe. And so I found myself pregnant, and in those days, pregnant girls did not go to school, at least not where I lived.
But some miracles happened for me. Despite the fact that I was extremely shy and had difficulty with school subjects except for writing, I really did love to read. Thank goodness it was something I learned on my own early on, partly from not wanting to go outside and play with the other children because they bullied me at home as well as at school.
Although my mother had taught me absolutely nothing about having children or anything that was physically personal, when my daughter was born, not only did I breast-feed her and my two boys at a time when women really were not doing that, but I read to my children every single night, and I decided to teach my daughter to read when she was close to two years old. I made some little index cards, and on one side, I wrote a word such as hand in big letters, and on the other side I drew a picture of a hand. I showed her the word, and then said the word, and then showed her the picture of the word, and I would also hold up my hand and say the word. No one taught me how to do this. I just figured it out on my own. Now she had a hunger to learn, and I am telling you honestly that she was trying to potty train herself at six months old in one of those little chairs for that purpose, so I guess it was the same way with learning.
One night I had put her to bed, and I had given her the little Golden Books that she liked to have me read to her after I had read her a story. Out in the living room after awhile, I heard her talking in the bedroom, and went in to see what she was reading. She was holding her book and “reading” all the words and turning the pages at the appropriate times. I could not believe what I was hearing! How could she be reading these words when I had not taught those to her yet? I sat beside her and asked her if she would read me the story, and I watched her carefully and to this day, I remember her not missing a single word, but I realized that she wasn’t reading all the words. She had memorized those stories page by page!
I would not be able to follow my children’s education. I will just say that it was truly a traumatic event for me, and shocking for someone still so shy and lacking confidence to try to stick up for myself. I had never smoked, never done drugs, never drank alcohol, or did anything but to be a mother. She was four when they all disappeared. I did not know where they were until some 28 years later, when I located at least my daughter through the Salvation Army, at that time for just $10, after barely two months. I had not been able to provide much information as I suffered from severe amnesia and PTSD. I discovered that she was a published writer, an artist, and even a fine quilter (I did those things too), plus a lot more that I never did (such as riding bicycles in marathons, etc.) She was only four years old the last time I had seen her. We were reunited but I never saw the boys again. They were too young to remember me.
In later years of my life, I would get a degree in Archaeology and just a few years ago one in Criminal Justice, and I would have careers and even my own businesses. But my favorite career of all has been working as a substitute paraeducator, aide and uncertified teacher for special needs children with physical/developmental and emotional challenges. And I became a volunteer senior tutor for illiterate adults, a tutor for children and adults, as well as a mentor/advocate for challenged adults, particularly for artists trying to establish careers.
It was during those years that I learned how illiterate adults not only frequently cannot read if at all at the lowest levels, but they have also missed out on their childhood memories – parents reading to them, helping them to celebrate rites of childhood, or getting to do things many of us take for granted such as trick-or-treating, or even getting to carve a pumpkin or make a costume. In my case I was shy and my parents could not read at a high enough level. They too had missed out on those experiences many children do have so they didn’t know how to do those with us either. We did do some things, but because I was so shy, I didn’t do as many as my brother did.
I think for the remainder of my life, I will tutor illiterate adults when I have an opportunity, and help them experience the things they missed out on earlier in life. And I will volunteer to help others who have some form of physical or other challenges as well. I can honestly say that I don’t regret any part of my life, even those times that were painful spiritually and otherwise. It has all been good. I could not have the compassion I do now for others if I had not struggled my own self. And I will remain a student of the world for the rest of my life too. I love learning, and often as I sit pouring over something I have read, I look back in my mind’s eye and see that little beautiful daughter of mine delightedly memorizing and “reading” herself one of the stories she loved.
Is my pumpkin quilt art? Why isn’t is as valuable as as earlier work I made that had a higher value? I am known for my art now (this is fiction, not truth). I have won awards in big name exhibits and shows (also fiction).
I think you can see in the piece above some of the answers. But is this true of all art? Absolutely. Art can be and eventually is inconsistent in overall style or quality for most artists who have big names. They put their ALL into pieces for a time, and then perhaps they burned out, or because they already have big names, they could ease up a little and still command good prices. Not true. All artists, not just the big names, have times in their production when their work either changes styles, perhaps to a style that is less labor intensive, or perhaps they don’t produce as often as they were. It can happen in a lot of different scenarios. The thing is that if we are realistic and honest about it, not all art by an artist is the same quality nor does it necessarily command the same values. It is human nature. Now we may see great works of art and believe that a very famous artist DID produce the same quality all the time, but remember that many artists have had workers who worked with them on a particular painting or sculpture.
We have artists like Basquiat, and Andy Warhol and I am sure any of you can think of others. Perhaps you liked their rebellious response to fine art. Perhaps you see it as something new and refreshing. To be sure. But was it? I mean, Campbell Soup labels have been around since I was a child. So every time your mom bought a can, did you stop and think, “WOW! Now that’s art!!!” Both these artists had their names made by gallery owners and publicists who sold them to the public. It’s their job and they did it very well. Both the artists led colorful, unconventional lives. Now people in the art world often like this. It is the opposite of anything they might do or be in their own lives, and there is something about such lifestyles that attracts them to it. It’s kind like fashion. What attracts people to want to buy fashions worn by women with absolutely no facial expressions, who appear all to be suffering from anorexia, wearing, say sweaters with sleeves two feet longer than their arms as they walk rigidly down the runways? Are the people in the audience anything like this? Anything about this scenario remind you of “The Emperor’s New Clothes?”
I attended a minimalist painter’s exhibit many years ago. The comments of the audience taught me all I needed to know, plus my eyes confirmed what I saw. People were commenting on the brilliance of this painter, and how it took him six months of being alone in his studio to create a single line painting – that’s right, a single line on an entire canvas. Some art collectors really don’t know that much about what they are collecting. They collect pieces because someone tells them those pieces are valuable and will continue to increase in value. And like some people who want to be part of the “in crowd,” they pick up ideas here and there form others or from galleries, whose success is based on the sales they can get from their exhibits, and they know well who will bring people out and whose works will sit there. They have to constantly try to bring in new works of a type that are different from what people are used to seeing. And they also know that if the pieces have higher prices on all of them and the represent the work of one or perhaps two painters or sculptors at best, they will likely sell better in communities that are “art savvy” because people will respect that if they are looking for something to invest in.
Around Christmas, I will put up a photo of a piece I created years ago and then took it all apart even though it had been accepted into a good venue. The truth was that I didn’t accept it because I considered it was not as good as other pieces I had created earlier, or pieces by other artists that were accepted. Today when I look back on that piece, I often feel sad because it was what my mind was thinking of in terms of creativity at the time, and it said what I wanted it to say in the way I wanted it to.
Respect your creativity at any given point in your life. Comparing it to other pieces is not a healthy activity. You need to respect the fact that you had the courage to get out materials and create something at that moment. You are not a failure because a piece of art or a piece of writing doesn’t measure up to other pieces you or others have created. The only failure is the failure to even try at all. Go ahead. Be brave. Show off your worst writing example or your worst painting or sculpture. Don’t look at your art in terms of awards, money or other superfluous things. Make creativity your joy just the way a baby feels joy at discovering its hands. Maybe someday those hands will create great paintings, or perhaps play incredible sonatas, but for now, be ok where you are and with what you have done. It is all good, even the simple little pumpkin quilt.
Life doesn’t always give us strength when we need it most. We may be ill ourselves and still have to take care of our significant other. Or perhaps we have to deal with legal issues that we are ill equipped financially or otherwise to deal with. Or a child has run away, or gone missing. There are as many things as we have to deal with as we could come up with, sometimes multiple issues at the same time.
When my significant other came home from a major cervical surgery, I was ill and had been for months with chronic bronchitis. He was not ready to be released without some form of nursing care or rehab; he could not lift his own body up from bed as his right arm was paralyzed, and he could not cut up his own food to prevent choking, or to even bathe himself or use the bathroom by himself. I am sure there are others who have been in the same situation with loved ones.
Each day I dragged myself out of bed, and did whatever was necessary to help him. During this time, I also had to get him to multiple medical appointments and back to the spinal clinic in another town about an hour away. As we were about to enter the clinic one day, I suddenly remember the lights going out and falling on my face in the dirt. Luckily some good folks came and helped me back up; my significant other could not possibly help me and he was clearly upset and terrified. My nose still feels as though it was broken and I hit my head pretty hard, and hurt my knees as well. Other than going to emergency and waiting for perhaps 10 – 12 hours, I chose to just try to make the best of it all. I cannot leave my significant other at this time.
The fault is not that of his doctors or mine. It is the Medicare and MediCal insurance that is not giving us what we need. When I had a bad infection, even though the medication was prescribed by a specialist, I could not get it for two weeks because the Pharmaceutical Department of the insurance had to approve it as it was not covered. In my younger years, I was a Regulatory Compliance Specialist for a major pharmaceutical company that made plasma derivative products, so I guess I know a little bit about that issue. During the two weeks that I was ill, the infection got worse, resulting in my still being ill after a couple of months. I file grievances on both issues, and I will follow through on it even though I am still having a difficult time as is my significant other.
The point is not to tell my own story for others to feel sorry for me. The point is that sometimes we have to stand tall when we are feeling weak. We need to remember that even though it is not easy, we have to stand up for our rights, and for those of others. No one said this life would be a bowl of cherries; there are challenges every single day of one type or another. And we don’t need to lose our love of life and the world. We need to remember that when we have our worst challenges, there are always others who are far worse off. Try to help someone else who is worse off than you are, at least giving them words of hope if nothing else. And try to stay strong in the face of many barriers to everyday life. Remember that no challenge lasts forever. STRENGTH is our friend.
As most of us prepare for the Fourth of July, with its fireworks, barbecues and picnics, vacations, and joyful gatherings with friends and loved ones, perhaps we should take a few moments to set forth some prayers for those who have not yet fully gained or even partially gained their freedom throughout the world.
Frederick Douglass had it right when he delivered a famous speech on July 5, 1852, in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, New York, addressing the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. The speech, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” In the speech, he brought out the contradictions to a celebration of liberty, citizenship, and freedom as an offense to the black slaves, who had none of those things. The Fourth of July was supposed to be directed to ALL citizens of the United States.
The times have changed, but the inequality has grown out of proportion. Today, as we prepare for the Fourth of July, let us offer a prayer for those living under modern slavery, which encompasses more than some nearly 30,000,000,000 enslaved people (as of 2013) – adults, children and babies alike – no longer black slaves alone, but all colors, races, political, religious or spiritual or other beliefs – in every manner of slavery imaginable. The highest number of enslaved people is in Asia, but the United States has a huge number as well. No matter where these human beings are located or how many of them there are, we cannot blindly celebrate without remembering those who are not as fortunate as we are.
“Oh Lord, thank you for this freedom that you have bestowed upon me and those I love. I know how precious it is when I see how many people in this world are suffering every day because they have no hope. I have difficulty understanding this inequality, and I honestly don’t know what I can do to help except to offer this small and perhaps inadequate prayer. But what my soul cries out is WHY? Why must innocent people suffer in this manner when you have provided enough for all of us? I have no answers, Lord. I want to believe that there is some power in this world that is good and that can nourish and care for people who have done nothing to deserve what they are suffering. Thank you.”
Ah, that first bloom of love, when everyone is on their best and each of us seems like the perfect person that we have been looking for. They are, at this point in fact, exactly how we have imagined a lover.
That bloom can last a day, a week, a month, and sometimes even a year or so. But it seems that all of a sudden we are looking at them with different ways. We could not have seen that the male perhaps needed a mother and caregiver more than he needed a girlfriend, or that the female was such a horrible person to deal with – never giving a fellow a break, and expecting too much of him related to sharing responsibilities around the house, and in bringing in money to help with shared expenses.
Relationships are seldom equal on both sides 100% of the time. The scales are often unbalanced for one side or the other part of the time, but it works out fine if the unbalance seems to equal out.
And sometimes unforeseen things happen to all of us – an illness, a heart attack, an accident or some sort of disaster. It can happen to both people at the same time, or one can suddenly have the issue, and the other one has to make a choice to become a caregiver or be in charge of one.
There are people who give the rest of their lives gladly to their mate, taking are of them and helping to advocate for and to protect them from others who might take advantage of them during that time.
Others, the minute the mate becomes ill or has some sort of catastrophic event that is going to require being a caregiver, find it necessary to withdraw their support for whatever reason. Many women who have been dealt the cancer card encounter this situation, but I am sure as many men also have similar experiences with other physical or mental issues.
Those of us who try to follow through and take care of our significant others often run into problems. Sometimes the other person doesn’t really want to get better. For whatever reasons, that person may keep trying to remain an invalid even when in reality he or she could get better with a little effort. Perhaps that person had to take responsibility for others most of his or her life; or perhaps the person just wants to have a form of control over his or her mate. At any rate, this is when one of the other person has to make a decision whether to stay or to walk away. It is never en easy decision in either event; the longer the two have been together the more difficult it can become.
How long should a person stay and try to work things out before walking away? At some point in our lives, many of us will encounter a similar situation. There is no easy answer. But we have to respect and honor our own selves first and foremost. If we allow ourselves to keep doing something that provides no nourishment of any kind for our souls, pretty soon we will not have any soul nor any energy left to support our own selves. And the other person will not be benefiting from this either. Something’s gotta give . . .