Sunday, November 7, 2010


In times of stress it's time to turn to art.  It has been a challenging 6 months for me. My 88 year old mother went into the hospital just before Memorial Day Weekend  - to "get checked out" is what she told me. Just days later she was facing life-threatening surgery or the prospect of slowly becoming paralyzed with out it. Her dotors were putting more and more pressure on me to make a deision as Mom stayed in the hospital with nothing being done to address her condition. But how could I make such a decision in a hurry? Mom had multiple medical conditions which made her level of risk higher than usual She could die on the surgical table. I felt that it was her decision to make and I could not tell her what to do. So we gonized through the decision-making process together. Mom did decide to have the surgery.

Mom came through the surgery with flying colors! When she was ready for discharge to rehab I found her a good rehab facility in my town (she lies 3 hours away from me) and she came to stay in rehab for 2 1/2 months. Mom was discharged and went home in mid-August. I found a home attendant who would stay with her 6 1/2 days a week. They are still adjusting but generally seem to be getting along OK. Mom is not thrilled to have someone living in her home, but she realizes that she needs that level of help in orer to stay in her home, so she accepts it.  Not always gracefully, though.

During that entire time of dealing with my mother's situation I was totally stressed out. I had no time for art. I missed my favorite summer art retreat in Ocean Grove, NJ because I didn't have the time, energy, or financial means to go this year. For the same reasons, I just missed the Fall art retreat. I have been eating sugar like there is no tomorrow! I cut back on my gym workouts due to lack of energy. I tried to step up the pace and do more physcially by taking some classe at the gym - yoga, tai chi, and sumba, to try to make working out more interesting. I was so pleased with myself! But I have developed either tendonitis or a stress fracture in my foot, so now I am slowed down again. And the sugar calls seductiely!

Last Monday I went into work after taking off an afternoon on Friday to get a new haircut and style. I felt so good as I walked into the office with my hair swinging! I was a sexy woman that morning! And BAM!  The bosses were there having an emergency meeting and they told us that our clinic was closing down on December 1st! There would be layoffs of 4 out of 7 social workers, plus the 2 secretaries.  The 3 remaining social workers would be reassigned to a unit in the hospital. (That would be me!) So the week at work has been schizophrenic to say the least. People are crying and wondering what their next move is in this economy, they are being sent to other departments of the hospital to work, having to tell their clients that they re leaving and a new therapist will be assigned, and still having to do the day-to-day business in the clinic. Sugar has called and I have answered! Yes, my sweet, come to me and soothe me with your luscious addiction!

So, I decided that this weekend was going to be about self-care. I knew I needed rest! So I slept late yesterday and enjoyed this morning's extra hour of sleep. U spent the afternoon yesterday going through magazines for great pictures to use in making cards, collages, and art journal pages. Last night I prepared some pages as a support for collage pages in my art journal. I do feel better. Just the act of spreading the gesso on the pages and clamping them down to dry felt like "doing something creative". My mind is ready to go to the next step. I find myself thinking about what the background should look like.  Will it be blotches of color or wide sweeps of color or patterned paper? I haven't decided yet. But I am excited by the prospect of creating a page that lifts my spirits and represents the warmth of autumn. I have many pictures of apples, pumpkins and winter squash, fall foliage galore. I am eager to overlap the images, play with the edges, find the right words. This is the true healing power of art. It takes you out of yourself, away from the stress of life, and puts you in a place where you are in control of making something beautiful )or not, if you choose).

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