My suitcases are out. I have begun to pack for a two-week trip to the East Coast. It will be a chance to catch up with friends and to become acquainted again with my young grandson. It will also mean withdrawal from my Dremel.
Last night in my studio I worked on my latest batch of assemblages. I noted my progress with constructions. I have learned ways to hide the papier mache in the middle of the piece rather than simply smash two pieces of wood together. I have learned to use tape and armatures to hold my wood up in ways I can more easily apply the papier mache. And I am learning ways to balance tall pieces as they dry so I do not have to revert to shims to make them stand upright. Clearly, I am no longer a beginner in my art.
This break will mark another transition in my process. This time, I feel the move from an explorer in art to a “professional” artist. I will be more actively displaying and selling my art. My initial reception has been so very positive. Now I can move forward with the promised rewards.
I am also taking a few moments to reflect on the path I have traveled to arrive here. Six years ago I was taking 15 different meds each day. There were the anti-inflammatory, the antidepressants, the anti-anxiety, the knock-out sleep potions. I had a near-death with pneumonia. I still remember the soft lights, and the intentional decision to come back to life. At that moment I was reluctant but felt something good might still be waiting for me
I moved to Arizona. I sat on the edge of my bed watching GSN for six months, few friends, much loneliness. I pulled beyond this, only to face another health crisis. My weight ballooned way over 200 pounds. My liver functions pegged me at chronic hepatitis, my doctor wanted me to admit I was diabetic. Then my lungs failed. I needed round-the-clock oxygen.
Disgusted by the entire situation, I withdrew to my house. I cut way back on my eating. I announced to anyone who would hear me I was not going outside until I had a better way to walk my dogs. Ever try walking two little wiggly dogs while hooked up to, and carrying a ten-pound tank of oxygen?
For four months I remained inside. I tried to find a more portable system for the oxygen. Nothing was available in back-water Arizona. My son came to visit. We went to the Grand Canyon. He and his wife went for a hike, leaving me in a parking lot. Somehow I got locked out of his car with my tank on the front seat. I started walking. I got lost (I always do that). Two hours later I re-found the car. My son was waiting. Alarmed at being that high up without oxygen for so long, I grabbed my pulse-ox. My O2 levels were at 97! I had not needed the oxygen. I looked more critically at my clothes. I had lost a significant amount of weight. I never again stuck an oxygen tube in my nose. I walked my dogs two hours a day.
A year ago I went through another dip. Anxiety and depression came back. Chronic fatigue and insomnia racked my life. While walking my dogs, I passed out. A combination of a urinary tract infection and an overdose of Tramadol. I got to a psychiatrist and cycled off my anti-depressants, my anti-anxiety meds, cut way back on my sleep potions. I redoubled my meditation routine, chanted my left-over slogans from AlAnon.
Life took some more unexpected turns. Through a set of situations, I found myself in a different home, one with breathtaking views of the Verde Valley, right under Mingus Mountain and Jerome. I breathed in the inspiration of this setting, then learned about papier mache.
I continue with my AlAnon slogans, my meditations, my gratitude lists. I have never been happier!
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"