Life, Death, and Serendipity

Gerda, Stephanie, Joyce, Gwen once upon a time at an IAM gathering in NYC

Last night I learned of a friend’s death.
She died in September of 2015.
Joyce and I had corresponded for ten years. Not often, but once a year or so, and we spent time together each year at the International Arts Movement (IAM) gatherings. We would sit together, and share meals, friends, and stories. October 2014 was the last IAM gathering and Meaghan Ritchey did a splendid job putting it all together. That week Joyce and I wondered what would happen to the friendships of such widely dispersed people held together by this brief annual meeting. Artists and creatives from across the states and around the world. For some of us, this connection kept us going throughout the rest of the lonely year. We wondered and hoped for the best. After the glorious grand finale banquet, Joyce and I shared a cab. It was raining and icky out. I was planning on taking the subway, but my hotel was on the way to her’s so it was not an imposition. Besides, the end of something so important is hard and the cab ride extended the event a few more minutes.

 

I remember the last time I spoke with Joyce, but I do not remember when it was. Joyce called rather than write. It was so good to hear her voice. It did not seem like a goodbye.
Joyce was an important person who knew important people. People whose work I admired while it hung on the walls of my favorite museums. To me, they were abstract art gods, names on labels and in books. To Joyce they were friends. Her stories were not about celebrities, but people. Some of these people happened to be celebrities.

While she moved in big city circles, she lived in Colorado and had a western mindset and heart. Perhaps our pioneer roots connected? Or, maybe it was something more mundane and yet extraordinary that began our friendship.

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

Wait a minute, I knew about the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation from International Arts Movement (IAM) gatherings in NYC. I knew Marie Sharp! (I wrongly assumed, with the passage of time, that the woman speaking, the head of the Marie Sharp Foundation, was Marie Sharp.)

Sylvia gently, and with a good sense of humor, explained to me that I did NOT know Marie Sharp as she had been dead for quite a while. Eventually, we puzzled it out. The key had been when I told Sylvia that she looks like you.
Sylvia said, “You met my sister, Joyce!”

The world is small. Be careful what you say about people. You might be talking to their big sister.

The next year at the at the IAM gathering my friend and fellow creative, Ping, and I ran into Joyce in the bathroom. Joyce was important and we were not, but bathrooms are great equalizers so I told Joyce the story of meeting her sister. I had forgotten Sylvia’s name, but Joyce knew who had the book so it was not long before we had all the details sorted out. “You met my sister, Sylvia!” Laughter ensued and we all went to dinner and were fast friends ever after.

Joyce was both an encourager and a story teller. So I am.

The next year my oldest two children, Ruth Meharg and Forrest Davidson (I will explain his last name another time), joined me at IAM and I was able to introduce them to Joyce. We shared stories about life, art, and her grandchildren. Our impromptu dinner club kept growing.

I knit a “Generative Bunny” one year for the IAM show. Her she is, too big for her box!

Ruth, Forrest, and I stayed on in NYC for a few extra days after the IAM gathering to see sights and we ran into Joyce at the Strand Bookstore. She was adding to her children’s book collection. We compared our finds and she went back in to get a book that we introduced her to. (I wish I could remember which book it was.) 

Another year, crossing a street at night, Joyce pointed out two young men crossing from the other side. She called out and they exchanged waves. She told me who they were and shared their philosophies as creatives. Rex Hausmann, artist and community builder in San Antonio, and I connected later on Joyce’s recommendation. A new artist friend. (Google Rex. He is amazing!)  So many new friends.
Beyond art and family, we connected on faith. Joyce lived out of her faith. She rubbed elbows with movers and shakers and she was not moved. She was light everywhere she went. She was also tough. I like that combination. My life is brighter for her presence.

I am not sure how we started writing letters. Maybe I sent her a thank you note? Maybe she, a master communicator, sent me a note- I do not remember, but it started and I am thankful. Sometimes we wrote notes and other times letters. I wrote because she had sewn into my life and I appreciated her. I also wanted to share my creative journey. I think Joyce wrote back out of kindness.
I was aware that I had not heard from Joyce for a while, but she was a VERY busy woman and not busy in the fussy kind of way. Joyce got things done. I had no idea how long it had been since we visited.

I am not a linear thinker. I tend to bunch similar events together in my mind. All the IAM gatherings, in my heart and head, are one enormous, glorious event! I had some postcards printed with my artwork on them. They turned out so nice that I decided I needed to get back to writing notes. I wrote to Joyce.

Yesterday came the call from Colorado Springs, CO. The connection was bad. I could not understand who was calling. I asked her to call me back on the landline. By the time the caller finally heard all ten numbers the line had cleared. It was Kathi.

Kathi is Joyce’s daughter. She told me her mom had died in September 2015. I tried not to cry, but I cried a little.
Kathi and I had a good visit. She is a painter, too. I think someday our paths will cross. I hope so. Heck, out of 400+ people in a line I met her Aunt Sylvia and the next year I met her mom in a NYC bathroom. Meeting Kathi would be the least strange connection!

Joyce became sick in July and died of cancer in September. Kathi told me that her mom made the most of the time she had left after the diagnosis. Joyce made the most of her time before the diagnosis, too. Her last months were filled with family and friends. Her youngest grandchild heard Joyce give a talk about her vision. (I wonder if this was the grandchild that she was buying the books for when we ran into her in the Strand. (We crossed paths in the Strand two different years. If you are not familiar with the Strand, it would behoove you to look it up.)
Joyce sang in her church choir for decades. Kathi shared that 70 members of the choir came to the house to sing with and for Joyce. They left and she died a half hour later with her family close. It was a good end.

Tears welled up sporadically yesterday afternoon and evening. Joyce and I were separated by generation and distance, but she was dear to my heart. This morning snippets of that last conversation are coming to mind. Seems like she was telling me about new music the choir was preparing for the 2014 Christmas season.

The moral?

Write letters. Don’t wait. Surround yourself with family, friends, and people who sing songs.
Do what you are called to do. (Calling and job do not have to be the same to be happy.)
Buy children’s books. Go to banquets. Share cabs. And talk to strangers standing with you in long lines.

I am very glad I did.

Pelican Shadows

I am sitting in a tall chair on the second-floor balcony of Gulf Shore Condominium room 208.
I am watching a dear friend, her sister, sister’s hubby, daughters, daughter’s friends, and Jubilee playing in the sand and surf.

I am waiting for the sun to be less direct before I join in.
(Waiting did not work. I waited until 4:30 and still I am burned. It was worth it.)
Today I have been watching shadows on the dunes between my balcony and the beach.
I am watching for pelicans.
I began seeing pelicans on the drive into Port Aransas.

(I love pelicans. I hear Grammie Hannan sing-songing the pelican poem every time I see a pelican.
A peculiar bird is the pelican. His beak holds more than his belly can.
He holds in his beak, enough for a week, and I don’t know how in hellican. Every. Single. Time!
Wouldn’t the pelican be a great symbol for American. Aren’t we a nation of pelicans?
Its beak holds more than its belly can…the American way: more, more, MORE! )

For the past two days, the pelicans have been flying high above the condominium. Flying in tight formation. Gliding on air currents with grace and ease. I see their shadows before I see them.
The arrival of the shadows is dramatic.
Seeing the shadow on the ground, I know when and where to look.
Swooping in like F-16 fighter jets, I sense them before I see them.
Something about the air. I sense them with my body before I am aware of them with my eyes or ears.
The shadow is my invitation to look up and see what is there.
Seeing the shadow to know what is there?

Is there something my shadow can tell me?
I don’t see myself.
I see my hands.
I see my feet.
I see my legs.

With a mirror, I see a reflection.
With a mirror, I do not see me.

I look out from inside of my body to see the world.
Where do I look to see me?

Me lives inside of myself.
Me is not 56.
Me does not have gray hair and sun damaged skin.
Me is not 10-ish pounds overweight.
Me doesn’t have trouble fitting into last year’s jeans.
Me sees the world through my eyes.
Where do I look to see me?

Watching for the pelicans has me considering my shadow.
Looking down I know when to look up to see the pelicans.
Looking down at my shadow, might I learn to look up and see me?

My shadow is tall and lean.
Sometimes my shadow leads.
Sometimes my shadow follows.

The shadow announces the presence of the pelicans.
I am wondering what my shadow reveals.
Seeing my shadow and looking up, what will I see?
I can’t touch the soaring pelicans.
My shadow can.

But, WHERE AM I IN THE BOOK?

 

Art is not created in a vacuum.   The solitary artist is influenced by living.
The line drawn between art and artist is not often a straight line, but a culmination of what has been, what is, and what might be.
Creating is a hopeful act.   The creator hopes or the creator would not create.  Some days I am bold enough to say that without hope, creation is not possible.
I paint hope.
Hope that the mess of living will ultimately resolve into beauty.
Hope is the faith component of my work. Hope is the human component of my work.   Hope qualifies my work as a contemporary artist because I paint in response to now.   Hope, while addressing what has been and what might be,  deals directly with the here and now-today.
Awareness of past mixed and with consideration for the future empowers and enables now.
The balance is delicate.
My faith tradition is one of happy endings.
To leave unacknowledged the struggle and pain of living is disingenuous.  No life is without struggle or pain, no path is without obstacle.
This summer as a church we are reading through the book of Genesis.   I find these stories painful, partly because of how they have been preached in the past.  These are ancient and difficult stories.  So what do we do with these hard stories?  We cast them aside as fodder for the children’s programs.

Unexplored since childhood there are surprises for the adult heart.

Most of us who grew up in church heard sermons by males who failed to present a full spectrum of characters in the stories.

There are always women in the stories.
Women who are seldom considered.
Women who are dismissed, glossed over or present with bias. The female characters are presented as NOT-QUITE-HUMAN.  
(Did Michaelangelo never see a nude woman? )  The image of women is not only distorted by the greats in art but by the greats in theology, today and throughout history.

One of the joys of attending Trinity Episcopal is the consideration of the women in the stories. These women are invited to come forward, to step out from behind the wall and share their stories.    Women who have been treated as aside are treated with respect.  The women’s stories are not just included, but celebrated.
Agency is returned to the women of the Bible stories.
WHAT does this have to do with art?
Is it even remotely related?
Painting is my voice.  Visual art is my avenue to be heard.  Art gives me agency.
This past Sunday Amy Haynie, one of our priests,  shone a light on an oft-maligned or even ignored character:  Hagar.   The sermon is not yet up on the podcasts and I am so sorry for that.  I don’t know when it will go up.  I will let you know.

Here is an excerpt from the Monday morning email, this one sent by Mother Amy Haynie concerning her sermon on Hagar, “In studying the two stories of Hagar we get in Genesis, we find a remarkable woman to whom God speaks to twice. She is much more than a “slave woman.” Phyllis Trible, in Texts of Terror, wrote of Hagar,

“Most especially, all sorts of rejected women find their stories in her. She is the faithful maid exploited, the black woman used by the male and abused by the female of the ruling class, the surrogate mother, the resident alien without legal recourse, the other woman, the runaway youth, the religious fleeing from affliction, the pregnant young woman alone, the expelled wife, the divorced mother with child, the shopping bag woman carrying bread and water, the homeless woman, the indigent relying upon handouts from the power structures, the welfare mother, and self-effacing female whose own identity shrinks in service to others.” “
This is a painting of the sacrament of Holy Communion. The Eucharist. Lords Supper. 45 x 75 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg
The word Gospel means “good news.”  In today’s world, what is presented as gospel is too often wielded as a weapon of destruction.
Sunday, the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Amy offered extraordinarily good news.

Two Choices by Gwen Meharg 30 x 22″ watercolor on paper

Amy held out evidence from the Good Book that God sees women.   And not just neat and tidy women.  Women rode hard and put up wet.   Women who have thrown under and driven over by the proverbial bus.

And the proverbial bus?
It is real.
So very, very real.
The driver of that bus looks like the invented, man-made, created God revered by generations of empowered men.  Men who have failed to use their power to

Gwen Meharg in front of Transition painting.

empower, particularly failing to empower women.

The first recorded name of God is assigned by Hagar, “God Who Sees Me.”
Another commonly used name for God is God Almighty.  El Shaddai. The Breasted One.
The Breasted One is NOT driving the bus.
Giving voice to the women in the Bible takes nothing away from men.
Giving voice to women in society today takes nothing away from men.
This is my baby, Jubilee.  She is empowered by her four older brothers and big sister.  She is empowered by El Shaddai, God Almighty, the Breasted One.   Jubilee doesn’t know the bus driver and our prayer is that she never meet him.  Our prayer is that she continues as a walking, breathing, living image of God.
Hope in Bluegreen and Silver bronze
And so I paint.  I paint hope.  I paint to give voice to stories old and I paint to make old stories new.  There may be nothing new under the sun, but that does not mean there is not something new for you and me to see.
I hope you have an enlightening week.  I hope you are seen.  I hope you are heard.  I hope that your heart and mind find peace.   Sincerely, Gwen
PS  A plethora of names for God are scattered throughout the old and new testaments.  El Shaddai, the breasted one, God Almighty is in there.
NONE of the names of God is “The Penised One.”
JUST SAYING!

Blues. Greens. And a Little Gray Mouse.

Today I want to share some paintings that I had not visited for a while. What I have discovered is that my circuitous artistic journey has been less circuitous than I realized.

Looking over earlier work I can see a trajectory that began almost 30 years ago.  I plan on taking a few days at the end of each year to look back to better understand where I might be going with my art.

This post looks at paintings of greens and blues.  Heart Balance is one of my favorite paintings.   40 x 30 inches on (I think) birch panel.

Heart Balance is the first time I consciously flipped the colors:  earth and sky.

Most, maybe all, my paintings begin with the landscape. This landscape has the green on the top and the blue on the bottom. But while this is logically flipped, if you spend any time around water you are familiar with this layout. The sky, reflected in the water, lays beneath the green of the shore.

I once read that all paintings are self-portraits but I had not realized how my paintings are also landscapes.   Landscapes of the heart as often as landscapes of nature.

Heart Balance brings to mind my favorite Kandinsky mobile.  If I stand in the right place in the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and if the guards are in the next room I I use my trombone player lungs and send it spinning.

The details on Bridge Between are beautiful.  I love this painting.

I won’t identifying WHAT the bridge is between.  I have MY ideas.  What bridges are before you?   What bridges are behind you.   Are you facing any bridges in your life?  Is the bridge an obstacle or does the bridge facilitate your journey?

Maybe the bridge is between seasons of life?

Sometimes it is difficult to recognize the season we are inhabiting. Sometimes determining the season is a solo investigation and other times we are assisted by those we trust and love. (Remembering that some we love can not be trusted and some we trust we do not love.)

And on that downer note, Consideration. You can tell these paintings were accomplished during the same season. They began the same weekend after a trail ride with friends.

Cardinals are special to me. Each one is a sign of hope, a reminder to keep going.

These two are facing each other, but I do not know that they are looking at each other. I think they are looking past. They have chosen different elevations, different places to stand, but they take their stands in the vicinity of the other.

What is their attitude towards the other? Are they in competition? Is the mindset of abundance or scarcity? Will that mindset open or close possibilities? So many questions.

And the questions are often as important as the answers. Journey is a painting of questions strategically asked. Is it the horizon or a path? Is it looking ahead or looking back?

Journey doesn’t ask aggressive questions but invites the viewer to slow down and ponder. First glance it is a simple painting. Further consideration reveals an abundance of surprises to keep the eye entertained for a goodly while.

Abundance is all around us, but In a world of abundance, lack is too often our focus. Kinetic, like its companion piece, Heart Balance, invites us to consider our focus.

Everything is so interconnected and becoming more so every day. A touch here, a breath there and the world spins. (Love me some Kandinsky mobiles! I see them in my dreams.)

Here is a bold statement and one that I believe more true with each passing year.  Maybe this is wisdom?  Maybe it is a delusion.

The belief in autonomy is a false belief.

I really love this painting. It is David’s favorite. It hangs in our living room.

River Glow One is titled River Glow because I was in San Marcos talking to the owner of a new gallery and she was opening a San Marcos River show the next week and she liked these two paintings. Not remembering the titles, we named them on the spot. And, yes, River Glow One and River Glow Two do call to mind the glow and glory of the San Marcos River.

But the original inspiration was Ms. Well’s cow pastures. Ms. Wells is the real deal, an honest to goodness cowgirl. Elderly, tough as nails, and ever so elegant. She rocks her jeans and bouffant while maintaining her pasture with her big John Deere tractor.

A single road leads to and from my house and it passes Ms. Wells’ manicured pasture. The small black Angus herd is friendly. Gregarious even, for cattle. filled These are the bovine we feed grass to on our walk. The ones with the huge black tongues.

Cowbirds keep them company in a glorious inter-species dance. The lower pasture gathers runoff after rains and a seasonal pond forms surrounded by huge trees. The pond reflects the sky and the sun and the upper branches and it is magical.

Walking past Ms. Wells’ property is magical. Magic is why these paintings call to mind a spring fed river as easily as a cow pasture. Magic is the common denominator. I hope you can see the magic in these two paintings.  River Glow Two

And finally, the little gray mouse found in Perception. In an earlier curated email, I mentioned something about the stories we tell are the stories that define us. Well, this is one of those defining stories and the lead character is a little gray mouse.

But the question remains, what story is the little gray mouse telling?

When the mouse looks in the proverbial mirror is the reflection one of weakness and frailty or one of lion rescuing strength and fortitude?

Perception of self is fluid. A mix of gut and choice.

How do you perceive yourself today?

 

Framing Nature

I have been working on a grant proposal.  While I would love to be chosen, I am not even crossing my fingers.  Regardless of the outcome, I am THRILLED with the project and I will be refining my vision over the coming months.

I envision large abstract landscape inspired painting situated IN the landscape.

These will be accompanied by an empty frame inviting the viewer to see abstraction in the landscape inspired by seeing the landscape in abstraction.

Art with a side of covert art education!

I am thinking of five to ten paintings along park trails, hiking, biking, or maybe even horse trails.  If permission is slow coming then pop-up installations on Sunday afternoons at parks where families gather in the spring and fall.

Each painting will be accompanied by a frame.  A perfect place for a selfie AND and an opportunity to look through the frame and be inspired to discover the abstract qualities within nature.

If permission is slow coming then pop-up installations on Sunday afternoons at parks where families gather in the spring and fall.

Who knows what will become of my grant proposal, but I will find a way to make it happen.

The next time you take a hike or a bicycle ride or saddle up, please keep your eyes open and we will find the perfect venue for the FRAMING NATURE art installation.

Peace and freedom, Gwen!

PS I Know all these photos are of the same painting but it was hard hauling this one out to the woods.

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Living Stones. Balancing Stones. Cairns.

Christ, a living stone…. rejected… yet chosen… Yourselves… like living stones…built into
through Christ.
1 Peter 2:2-10

My strong rock… castle… crag… stronghold…
Psalm 31: 1-5, 15-16

Stephen gazed… saw… “Look!”… “I see”…but they covered their ears… and began to stone him…
Acts 7:55-60

Ebenezer  stone of help.
1 Samuel 7:12

Stones from… midst of the Jordan… bring them… a sign
… memorial forever.
Joshua 4

A white stone… a new name.
Revelation 2: 17

A new heart… I will remove… their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 11:19, 35:26

Cairn.  A mound of stones built as a memorial or landmark.  Found worldwide throughout history and prehistory.

Balancing rocks. Markers.
A moment.
A meditation.  A prayer.
Considered a nuisance by some.
Considered art by others.
A gift.

I am reminded of the church, “living stones,” when I discover a cairn or balancing rocks.  Built with stones, common and found, unique in shape and weight, formed by time and circumstance.  The individual qualities of the stones enable them to fit together.  Each stone is positioned to be supported and to support.  Together the common becomes uncommon.  A firm foundation provides stability necessary to release creativity.  The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

I am happy to answer any questions over the phone or better yet, meet for tea and cookies.  817-832-6952

Sometimes I check email. Gwen@GwenMeharg.com

You can subscribe to my occasional email via either website to be the first to see new work .
www.DrawNearToGod.com   www.GwenMeharg.com

If you enjoy social media we can visit on Gwen Meharg Art on facebook.  www.facebook.com/gwenmehargart

May 12th. It is a big deal in my family.

Today is May 12th.  |
Twenty years ago it was a very long day.   As May 13th approached I asked Margie Spencer, our midwife, if we might hurry things along as we really hoped Roy would be born on the 12th.  The 12th was Lauren’s birthday and cousins sharing a birthday seemed like a splendid idea.   We hurried things along and Roy was born minutes before midnight.  A very intense May 12th birthday.  HOORAY!

Can You Hear Them?
22 x 30 watercolor on paper

Roy did not ask to be born on Lauren’s birthday.
Roy seldom asks for ANYTHING.
Roy is content in himself and his lot.
We love him with all our hearts.

Today Roy is 20.
Today Lauren is not 31.
Six years ago, two weeks after she turned 25, Lauren was killed by a drunk driver.  Lauren is near our hearts on Roy’s birthday, but mourning is not our focus.  We focus on celebrating Roy and remembering the joys of Lauren’s short but very full life.

We cherish each moment.

Life offers no guarantees beyond death.

Today is May 12th.
Tears of laughter.  Tears of mourning.  A multiplicity of tears and emotions run paisley through the day.

The moon is full.  The sky is bright.  The breeze is gentle.  The figs are heavy on the tree.  The birds sing songs of spring.

Happy Birthday Sweet Roy David Meharg.
We love you.

The Gift of a Dream

 Collaboration is a beautiful thing.

In January my 21 year old son, Josiah, and I went to NYC for Ping and Peter’s wedding.

I had taken everyone but Josiah to NYC so the wedding  and $160 round trip tickets made the timing perfect.   (Josiah was at Air Born Basic Training the last time we went.)

We stayed at Hotel 31 for $75/night and we could see the Empire State Building from our window!.

It was a glorious week and I reconnected with beloved artist friends.  When artists meet, ideas fly!  Each meeting filled my heart and mind with months of isnpiratoin.  Thank you  Judy Krueger, Darilyn and Tony Carnes, and Eva Flatscher.

Eva Flatscher shared what she saw in a dream featuring my art.   The dream was bigger than I would have allowed myself to dream, but seeing my work through Eva Flatscher’s eyes gave me a bigger vision of what is possible.

A bridge between reality and abstraction.

Eva saw the art OUT doors interacting with the environment that inspired the paintings.    

This week I applied for a grant to make the project a reality.   I have never applied for a grant before and I am not holding my breath, but I am hopeful.  I am hopeful that regardless of whether or not this proposal is accepted that I have taken the first steps towards making it a reality.

Maybe along the Trinity Trails.  Maybe woven through the horseback riding and hiking trails around Benbrook Lake.   Maybe pop-up shows in our beautiful Fort Worth Parks.

A painting and an empty frame.

The combination inviting the viewers to look through the frame and see the beauty around them in a new way.  An invitation to look closer.  An invitation to see abstraction in nature and to see nature in abstraction.  

Not to mention a super-duper selfie opportunity.

I am excited.  Hauling a 4 x 5 foot painting over the barbed wire fences and through the weeds was slightly challenging.

Preparing artwork to hold up to wind and weather will be more so.  But oh how fun the results will be.

Art in a museum can be intimidating.  Art on a trail, not so much.   Signage in English and Spanish will offer hints for enjoying abstraction.  All it takes is little bit of  encouragement and education and a visual world opens up to those who care to see.

Maybe an encounter under the blue Texas sky will embolden viewers to visit our tremendous Fort Worth museums.  Sundays are free at the Modern and the Amon Carter is ALWAYS FREE!

See you on the trails!
Gwen

 

Organizing Daze

DSC_0586 (1)I am keeping a new schedule.
Sorta.
Kinda.
Yeah.
Okay.
Strictly speaking, I HAVE a new schedule
and I am keeping to it ISH-ly.

It is helping.
I am getting more done.
I am more aware of what I am NOT getting done.

The have done more  since last Wednesday than in the last two weeks combined.  I have had a headache since August 2016.  A nagging, ever present, drippy faucet kind of headache.

The cumulative effect like the frog that jumped into the pot of water and the heat was turned up and he did not notice he was being cooked.

I was cooked.

DSC_0704 (1)Where you in the band?  I was.
Remember the drummers?  Tick.  Tick. Tick.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom.
They were never quiet.  They tap away like an ever dripping faucet until all the sudden it was too much to handle and the band director yelled or threw his baton.

I was ready to throw my baton!

When I could not ignore it any longer I would lay down and listen to my sinuses drain from one side of my head to the other.

My face hurt.  Did you know facial pain can be a symptom  associated to lack of sleep?

Three rounds of antibiotics.  Diet changes.  Changed allergy meds.  Nothing.  I was not functioning tired.

DSC_0542 (1)Primary care physician sent me for a sinus scan in one of those big tubes.  I fell asleep during the scan.  Ear, nose and throat doctor was next.  The ENT decided sinus disease was not worth treating and sent me for a sleep study.  Sleep study reported that I stop breathing 1.7 times an hour for an average of 20 seconds each time.  Doesn’t qualify as sleep apnea.  Scheduled an appointment with another sleep specialist but not until the end of April.  AUGH!

Completely exhausted to the point of being dizzy from minor outings.
My work suffered.  My work almost stopped!

My inner critic is calling me lazy.
I am not lazy.
I am a high energy person and I was living a zero energy life.
My inner critic is so loud I wonder if the people I pass can hear him.

Pot Luck is the third Sunday after the 11:30 hippie service.  This particular pot luck was a combination pot luck, pie social and baby shower!   Win! Win!  WIN!!!  Visiting with two friends talking about life we had an epiphany.

One friend suggests, “We should …” and I say, “No, I am a lump.”
Both reminded me, “You are NOT a lump.”
Embarrassed I reply, “YES.  I AM!” and I shared my ever increasingly state of  unproductivity.

DSC_0682 (1)Both friends, without judgmentsuggest something that
I knew but chose not to know.  “You might be depressed.”

Cushioned in love, the dreaded D word came not as devastation but as revelation.
The clouds parted and a ray of sunshine shone through the stained glass windows.
The angels began to harmonize.
I am depressed.

I did not realize I could be happy and depressed.  
As soon as the words were spoken I knew they were right.

As soon as I got home I left a message for my doctor.   We met Wednesday morning.  Ran blood work.  We discussed the possibility of depression.   I was on a very low dose so she was comfortable moving up to the next dosage.  Efficacy can diminish with time and with traumatic experiences.  (The prior 18 months had been emotionally traumatic.)  Wednesday night I took a higher dose.

DSC_0490 (1)I felt better Thursday morning.  By Friday I felt alive again!

It has been a week on the new dose of anti-depressant.  My face almost doesn’t hurt.  My head only hurts a little.

SLEEP IS MARVELOUS!
I highly recommend it.
Fight for it.
I feel alive again for the first time in a very long time.

I have a lot of catching up to do.

No, that is not a healthy outlook.
Yes, had this been discerned earlier I would be further along in my business.
But it was not.

I tried to figure this out on my own.
I could not.

DSC_0694 (1)Lent began one week after I made the change.
It feels significant to me.
My mind has cleared.
The fog has lifted.

The temptation is to run forward 90 miles an hour.
I did that this past weekend and I crashed yesterday.

I cannot make up for the time lost.

I can only start where I am.

I can fight that truth or embrace it.
I am learning to embrace now.
Remembering that I am dust and to dust I will return.
My prayer, my hope, is to “serve
with a quiet mind, with gladness and singleness of heart.”

For me service includes art making.
Thank you for sharing this artful journey with me.

DSC_0714PS
Drama entered my life in May 2015.  Erupted January 2016.  An eruption in July culminated in a nuclear meltdown the week after Thanksgiving 2016.   Shunning plays a heavily in the narrative.   The details don’t matter.  What matters is forward momentum.  I realize now that part I am experiencing is grief.  Because no one died I was not allowing myself to grieve.  Grieve for lost relationships.   Grieving for what was, what could have been and what will never be.  Naming the emotions, facing the emotions, is healing.
I am not free, but I am freer.

I Have Better Things To Do With My Heart

 

I Have Better Things To Do With My Heart by  gwen meharg 6 x 4 ' Acrylic on canvas
I Have Better Things To Do With My Heart by gwen meharg
6 x 4 ‘ Acrylic on canvas

I have better things to do with my heart.

Have you considered your heart recently?

How is it doing?

Free.  Torn.  Content.  Pre-occupied.
Open.  Guarded.  Hidden.  Seen.

How is your heart?

I am usually neck deep and sinking before I remember that I have better things to do with my heart.
Before I realize I have a choice in the matter.  I have some control in where I invest my heart.

Seeking the balance between an open heart and the mandate to guard one’s hearts is tricky.  201702140CA detail DSC_0590

Quite possibly, impossible.

As we enter a new season, Lent for some, Spring for all, it is my intention to be discerning about where I invest my heart.
To consider my heart.
I tend towards passionate as personalities go.  I tend towards rescuer/fixer.
I tend towards don’t just stand there, do something.  (Fools rush in and all that.)
I tend towards believing201702140CA detail DSC_0589 in and for everyone but myself.

It is a false modesty.   And I set myself up for disappointment.
Disappointment.  Being un-appointed?
Removing the appointment.   Appointment fail!

Inspired by newly forming buds forcing the last lingering dead leaves from the trees I completed a six by four foot painting the week of Valentines Day.   I titled It, “I Have Better Things to Do With My Heart.”  Titled out of hope and frustration. 201702140CA detail DSC_0586

Frustration with myself for allowing my heart to become caught up in unnecessary and invented drama.   While some thrive on adrenaline it is not my cup of tea.  And yet.  And yet I allowed another’s overly dramatic inclinations to infect my heart.

Looking on the finished painting, “I Have Better Things To Do With My Heart,” I realized it was not just a painting the confluence of the last vestiges of winter and the harbingers of spring.   I painted a self-portrait.  A portrait of letting go and making room for possibility.   It set me up for freedom that would be offered ever so gently at a pot luck luncheon the next day.

201702140CA detail DSC_0587Letting go.
Getting help.
Clarity.

Free of the fog of a seven month headache I can think again.
Things that I intended to do and hoped to do and needed to do did not happen.
I am rejecting (daily) the temptation to “catch up.”
I am committed to starting  where I am, today.
It is the only place I can start.
I endeavor to cease the practice of self-condemnation.
I am releasing where I might have been had I more wisely invested my heart.
(I am preaching to myself.)

I had to be ready.  I needed friends call me forward.201702140CA detail DSC_0595

I am not sure what forward will look like.  I am re-evaluating
the last 18 months and making changes.
Changes that I was incapable of making a year ago.
Changes to equip the artist entrepreneur in me.

My art and I have been in hiding.

Time to embrace Spring!