Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Courage to Move On

I must confess something: a lot of the reason I left blogging for a while is because I felt discouraged.  I usually have thick enough skin to bounce back after something disappointing- I always looked forward to the class critiques in Art School and loved hearing the good, the bad, and the constructive.  I'm aware that art is very personal and that my art will only appeal to certain people.  I'm okay with that.  I know that to be a success at anything, you have to have perseverance.  I've always had that in my life- in all situations (becoming a mother at age 20, finishing my bachelor's degree, going through 3 custody battles and coming out of it on friendly terms with my ex).  
 
But for some reason, after confronting all of my excuses and making goals and a plan that I felt comfortable with... I gave up.  It was the Earth Day festival that ended up taking it all out of me.  I sold one print.  ONE.  I didn't even come close to breaking even with all of the money I spent on the booth fee, the mounting and packaging of prints, the huge favor I asked of my little sis with the driving and the setting up and the take down and the sitting at the booth all day with me (she was so bored out of her mind and just over it by noon).  If selling just one print weren't humiliating and annoying enough, I had to deal with the physical fallout that happens to me after a few days worth of chaos.

So once I regained feeling in my fingers, hands, and legs (about a week or so later), I decided to not do something so foolish again.  After all, where did it get me?  More into debt.  In more physical pain.  Leaning on family too much.  I hated those feelings so why continue trying at something I seemed doomed to fail at?  I put on a happy face when asked about the festival and gaily proclaimed what a great experience it was and how beautiful the weather, all while ignoring and changing the subject of how many prints I sold to anyone who asked.

I'm only professing this here because I think it's bullshit that I gave up.  I know better.  I've had time to think about where I may have gone wrong, and more importantly, where I can do things differently next time.  I also spent a lot of time out of town this summer with my son (and then alternately coming home and recovering by numbing out on pinterest  resting and taking it easy).  I know that my goal is to move back to Indianapolis at least until my son graduates high school.  Now that my mom is in remission, my only obstacle is money.  It's tough to make it work on disability alone.  

So I've got to be innovative.  And that's what I'm working on now...
Stay tuned, 'cause I ain't givin' up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Blame Pandora





And I could probably blame another year of my life passing for the whiny melancholy of my last post. I would apologize, but that's part of me. It's part of me that I've been reluctant to share at times, and at times, it just flows out of me like the fresh, salty tears that make their way down my cheeks and neck after a late night episode of Grey's Anatomy (can't believe I just admitted that). The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It's easy to just show one side of you on the web, but there are so many sides to all of us, so why not reflect that? I always seem to come back to this blog when I've been away for a while, to just... vent.

I remember last year around this time, I wrote a "letter to my sisters" about my frustration at yet another year going by without any answers- when I'm supposed to be in the prime of my life, but just going out for coffee needs to be planned for days ahead of time, so I can prepare. Luckily, I hadn't fully explored Pandora yet and didn't know that cello music could literally pull the tears from the ducts of my eyes and hold them so close to the skin that it felt like my soul was the thing doing the crying.

But I also don't want you all to think that I am depressed all of the time. Because I'm not. For a long time I thought that the way to deal with feelings was to try to ignore the difficult ones and revel in the fun ones. In this past year, I have started learning (and practicing) how to feel the range of emotions and how to subsequently deal with them, and not just numb out. I'm not completely comfortable with the process just yet, and still cling to the TV, the internet (damn you, Pinterest!), and popsicles as various ways to deal with sadness, guilt, boredom, etc.

On the upside, I finished a painting for a web designer friend of mine who built a website for my sister's business (you know, the painting I teased you about here). It was a barter situation, and there are still a few things that need to be worked out on the site (like him teaching us how to use it so we can update it!), but it was a really fun process. I asked him to send me some examples of artwork that he liked; he did and then told me I had free reign over the subject matter. I didn't hate the examples he sent me- they weren't my style, but they were colorful, and I love an artistic challenge!

So I printed out the examples, and used my muse (a metallic bust) as inspiration for the piece. Here's what I came up with and I'm glad to say that he loves it! Yea!















Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Can Cry If I Want To

I fainted today.  I haven't fainted in four years.  Back then, Ben was there- literally- and caught me before I hit the floor.  But I came to with him and a scared nine-year-old son screaming "Emily!" "Emily!" "Mom! What happened? MOM!" "Emily!".  I later went to the hospital and found out from the ER doc that apparently, I had just stood up too fast (I think I was cleaning up a spill on the kitchen floor) and my blood pressure dropped suddenly.  I was glad to know it was nothing serious, and went home, feeling thankful that someone was there to catch me.

I've been alone now for two years.  There have been a couple of men I've dated, but none that I've let get too close (and none that have wanted to be too close). Honestly, I'm not quite sure I've healed from the last heartbreak.  I'm over him and glad he's not in my life anymore, but man, did it fuck me up emotionally.  He lied so often, and about so much, that I feel I've lost my "trust compass".

So I'm alone.  And most days I'm okay with that.  But there are some moments when I hear a song, or see a piece of art, or watch a moving scene in a film, that I feel my heart lurch and immediately there is a heavy sadness in my soul.  When I woke up tonight with my legs and torso on the bathroom floor and my head in the hallway right next to the litter box, it took me probably a full minute to realize what had just happened.  And then, I felt it.  That heavy, soul-sucking sadness, and no one was there to help me up.

My elbows were stinging and I felt a dull ache in the back of my head.  I assume those broke my fall.  After assessing the situation, and getting up slowly, I gathered all of the make-up from the floor and placed it back my cosmetic bag that was laying on my chest (I must have tried to grab onto the bathroom sink on my way down).  One elbow was bleeding (rug-burn?) and the other was just raw.  I think I'm okay.  But I sent a text to my sisters anyway.  I'm not sure why.  I wanted somebody to care?  I wanted to make sure someone knew just in case it happened again?  I was extremely weirded out and needed someone to know?

I don't know.  All I know is that I fainted, when I was alone, and it was weird.

All summer long, I've been away from this blog.  I've been living life, and got to spend a lot of quality time with my son.  I've even been going to physical therapy to learn how to walk again (apparently the hip replacement only fixed so much- I've been compensating for bad hips most of my life, and the way I've been using my muscles, ligaments, and bones have been all wrong- who knew?) and strengthening the muscles around my joints.  I've even gotten a lot of compliments from people saying how good I look.

It's funny, once I start feeling any sense of confidence about my physical situation, something knocks me down.  For example, I was feeling so good (within reason) that once we found out my mom was in remission (YEA!!!), I decided that now would be a good time to move back to Indianapolis to be with my son.  I even  spent some time there this summer looking at apartments.  Then, just a couple of weeks ago, searing pain came out of nowhere and I couldn't get out of bed for a week.  I hadn't felt that bad since the very beginning of this four and a half years ago.

Just when I think I have it all figured out and boast about how good I'm eating and how I'm strength training and walking... Boom.  Out cold.  Taking a shower becomes a miracle (and takes at least two vicodin).  I give up.  I have no idea what the fuck has consumed my body and made my life miserable for the past several years.  The doctors don't know.  They just throw pills at me.  And then piss test me to make sure I'm taking them and not selling them.  And people give me uncomfortable glances when they find out I take narcotic pain medicine to help me deal with daily life.  And then I feel like a junkie.  And then I remember.  I'm Emily.  I'm Emily.

I'm Emily.  Why.  Why is this happening to me?  All I wanted was to be a mom to Quentin and make an honest living as an art teacher.  And now?  Now I'm all alone.  Fainting.  Watching life pass me by through my bedroom window.  Two hundred and fifty miles away from the person I love the most in this life. My son.

And yep- I know I'm feeling sorry for myself.  I know that.  But I've spent all summer trying to convince myself that I can walk.  I can date.  I can possibly find a part-time job.  I can move back.  And then... the universe is just like, "Nope!"  And you know what else?  It's my mother-fuckin' birthday, and I can cry if I want to.  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

More Scenery

Last Friday (in the midst of the great Blogger breakdown), I snuck in another walk before it started feeling like February again.  It’s been in the 50’s all weekend, but I guess that’s good as I’m working on a project for my sister-in-law that must get done by week’s end.  No temptation to get out of the house over the past couple of days!

So here are some pics from a walk I took before the air turned chilly:

 

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I love my new phone- it takes pics and plays music and has internet access.  I can do multiple things now while I walk (while still trying to just enjoy being).  I’m even contemplating getting back on Twitter- I’m just scared that it will take up more of my time.  Hmmm- I don’t know yet.  Any thoughts from blog land?

 

Hope everyone had a great weekend! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Enjoying the Scenery

Loving this weather, enjoying the sweet breezes, and smelling the fragrant flowers along the way.

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The first four pictures were taken at my older sister’s house; she hosted a Mother’s Day Barbeque for all the women in my family.  The last seven pics were taken today during a late morning walk.  I guess all that rain in April did something right!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Upside Down Rainbow




I'm feeling much better today, though it goes without saying, I miss my son terribly.  My little sis and I went to the park today and looked up to see this unusual rainbow. This, combined with the gorgeous weather was an instant cheer up. 

These two ducks just swam right towards us, "flew" up, and walked up to our feet.  I'm sure they were looking for breadcrumbs or something, but they were so cute! Hannah and I made complete asses of ourselves talking to them- we looked like we had never seen a duck before.  But one of them actually looked like it was smiling as he passed us.


Thank goodness for nice weather and a sister that stands by you no matter what!  Thanks, Hannah, for a great afternoon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I'm Not Gonna' Lie- I'm a Little Depressed Today



For the past three (almost four) years, I've been in St. Louis on Mother's Day while my son spends it with his step-mom in Indianapolis.  This is sort of a knife turning in an already broken heart.  If I didn't adore his step-mom's sensibilities and caring for my son, it would be even harder, I suppose.  I'm free to visit him, but I can't afford the extra trip between his spring break and summer break, both of which I get to see him and get good hugs from him to ease the pain.

So I choose to spend this bittersweet "holiday" in St. Louis with my mom.  Which is also bittersweet.  As many of you know, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer last year.  Statistics on this kind of cancer are not good.  Something like only 5% of people are supposed to see their next five years of life after a diagnosis like that.  And with my mom being a non-smoker and one of the healthiest people I know, this has caused me a great crisis of faith.

But my mom is also one of the most positive people I know, and after chemo, an additional targeted drug, and plenty of check-ups, her doctor has put her in that lucky 5%!  We all knew if anyone could challenge this monster of a cancer, it would be her.  But since her diagnosis, I've felt this looming sadness (in my head) whenever I spend time with her because I feel like I have to soak up every little bit of her goodness.

To compound on my already gloomy state, I had a doctor's appointment with another orthopedic specialist yesterday and the news wasn't good.  My hips are even more fucked up than we initially thought.  I won't go into boring details, but he told me no yoga for now (what!?- killing me) and to walk and swim only if my body can tolerate it.  He also told me to err on the side of moving too little rather than too much.

All of the research I've read and heard about osteo-arthritis and arthritis in general is that even though it is painful, moving is highly encouraged.  This guy is telling me to slow down even more which is heart-wrenching considering just 5 years ago, I was a capable single mom going to school full-time with two part time jobs.  Yes, I was exhausted, but now, I have to excuse myself from situations after I've been sitting for more than an hour and a half.  Sitting!

I'm thirty-three years old.  This sucks.  I'm going to start physical therapy next week and at least the doctors seem to be getting closer to the fact that what is going on with me is not a personality disorder (yeah- I was told that once, in the hospital), but an unlucky series of factors that fucked up my genes at birth.  I was born with most of these problems and they just took a while to surface.  But now there are x-rays, MRI's, and CT scans that show all of the degeneration.  And at least I can rest easier than when I started to believe that maybe it was all in my head.

Shit.  I told myself that I wasn't going to blab on and on about all of the bad stuff in this post, but this is just how I'm feeling this week.  Maybe by the time I do my next post, I will be feeling a bit better and more positive about things.  I know I will.  I know this mood will pass.  I just have to process all of the things the docs told me in my own way.  Sometimes, that means retreating and sleeping.  And sometimes that means making plans with my sister to lay in the sun at Forest Park.  Which we're totally doing on Friday.