Category Archives: my story

A New Home For My Art

IMG_0269

Exciting things are happening and I want to share with you.

In 2010, when I first arrived in Boulder, Colorado I was excited to check out the different galleries on Pearl Street. I walked into Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery and I was impressed. I dreamed that someday my jewelry would be included there. Fast forward a few years, I was finally ready to apply to my first gallery and I picked Boulder Arts & Crafts. Now, as I’ve left Colorado in search for a new place to call home, I’m overjoyed to share that my jewelry has a new home at the Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery. Thank you to Marguerite and all the good folks there at the gallery for choosing to include my art. And a special thank you to Elizabeth Hake for her encouragement and support. It’s an exciting time in my life, for me personally and as an artist. I’m grateful.

I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Taking the Long Way

taking the long way

Today, out on the trail, I noticed sunflowers filling the old shortcut leading to the top of the hill. Since the fence was built to prevent erosion, trail goers have been taking the long way. It got me thinking about my life, this journey that I’m on. Is there an eroding trail in my life? What needs preserving or renewing? Do I need to set new boundaries? I’m not sure. What I do know is that my life becomes all the more beautiful when I stop taking shortcuts, slow down, and take time to really live. It’s not about how quickly I reach the top. Life is about the journey — one step, one moment at a time. And the sunflowers? They remind me to be open and shine.

Where Do Bumblebees Go When It’s Windy?

Bee

Where do bumblebees go when it’s windy? I wonder as I head out in the wind for a run, trying to clear my head and lighten my heart. Being open is being vulnerable and vulnerability hurts. It’s hard for me to catch my breath.

I run past the flowering bush where I recently saw a bumblebee. So rare, now, to see big fuzzy bees. Today, as my hurt buzzes in my head and stings my heart, I think of bumblebees and the beauty they bring.

As I turn toward the creek, I stop running. The headwind stops me. It pushes back as hard as I push forward. I give in. It becomes a contemplative walk. I continue in the wind, turning uphill. Can the wind blow all of this hurt away?

I reach the path to my favorite bench by the creek in the woods. I walk across the rocks to my shady resting spot. Bees like the shade. I try to hold back my tears until I think I’m out of sight. Choking up, I look for an answer to my question about bumblebees and the wind. After a quick search, I learn that bumblebees go out in strong wind even when other bees won’t. My tears flow like this creek. As do the bumblebees, I know to keep facing the strong, powerful force, my wind, my hurt. No retreat to a hive, a home. Just keeping on despite this wind.

But, as I sit here with this hurt, in the distance I see a man. Feeling a little startled, I wonder if he sees me crying. Does he know? My eyes well up again as his wide-brimmed hat reminds me of a beekeeper. Is he coming to lead me home?

My Story, My Truth, My Art

Me in 1st Grade

Me in 1st Grade

TRIGGER WARNING: This content deals with one person’s story of child abuse and may trigger some people.

I’m finally ready to share something really important with you. I was an abused child. In some ways, I’m still that scared little girl, still hiding in the corner of the closet, terrified of people in power. Still afraid to speak, make the abuse worse, disgrace myself, or disgrace those who abused me. But, today, I’m feeling stronger and I’m ready to share my story.

When I was a little girl, my mom hit me with those big thick leather belts with huge metal buckles. She would use both the belt and, intentionally or not, the buckle, leaving welts on my legs, back, butt, and arms. If I got away from her and ran, she’d throw the belt after me. It felt like a war zone. I never knew what would set her off or when it was safe. It never felt safe.

I wasn’t safe at church, either. The preacher’s hellfire and brimstone reached us, through speakers, in the nursery and toddler rooms. I remember hearing that if I didn’t get saved, I might die in a car wreck on the way home and burn in hell for eternity. Even as the preacher called, with “Softly and Tenderly” playing in the background, I never did hear Jesus calling me. Instead, I feared Jesus, the devil, and the preacher. Sure, I did get “saved” when I was six, soon after another young girl, my peer, accepted Jesus Christ in front of the entire congregation. I had to keep up appearances. I hoped it would keep me safe from the preacher and maybe my mom. But not Jesus and not the devil. That was hoping too much. Jesus and the devil knew my thoughts, so I could never feel safe from them.

That fear went to school with me. At the end of each day, my first grade teacher would spank all the students that had not finished their work. I felt so threatened and so completely undone, that I had to be taken out of school. I wouldn’t get off the toilet because I always felt like I had to pee. Staying at my mamaw’s house, I’d sit on a tiny white pot in front of the TV watching Mister Rogers. Mamaw was always kind, always loving — thank goodness for her! Eventually, I got over my pee pot issues and went back to school. But, even now, when I smell my first grade teacher’s perfume or elementary school cleaning products, I feel sick, afraid, and unsafe.

As I got older, my mom stopped using the belt on me, using only her hand. The last time she hit me was when I was a teenager in the car. I said something she didn’t like and she backhanded me. We were on the way to see a therapist to figure out why I was so angry at my mom. I already knew why I was angry. I just couldn’t express it.

I carry my fear with me each and every day, a backpack full of emotion. I’ve felt decades of hurt, guilt, and shame. A little over a year ago, I finally started EMDR therapy to help the traumatized little girl in me. And it really has helped, a lot. I’m getting better, gradually, gratefully.

It has been a painful and powerful journey going from trauma to love. As I recently shared with my therapist, I take care of the little girl Dana by creating my art with tiny fragile beads. It’s peaceful time with her, with little Dana, showing her that it’s ok, safe. It’s quiet, calm, and really gentle in that space, that place of art. She likes it there very much.

As I become stronger, that little girl inside of me is coming out of the darkness, leaving behind the guilt and shame of abuse. I’m shining my light for her as I share my story, my truth, my art.

I want to dedicate this post to my dear friend. It’s safe and I love you. For you, and all of those like us, there is hope, help, and happiness after all. 

What I Do

tree

The work I do requires me to live in the moment, be present, and take care with the materials, tools, and myself. Recently, I’ve found myself living in the past, being distracted, and struggling to take care. Today was especially difficult.

I spent most of today trying to make progress on a piece of jewelry, but I just couldn’t focus. It’s not good and it hurts. After wasting my time trying to wire wrap, I picked up the piece of jewelry and took a photo of it. Next to it, I noticed a picture that I took over the weekend while on a hike. I’d taken a picture of a dead, twisted tree. That distorted, broken tree spoke to me. It was a cloudy day, windy with a little precipitation, gray. The weather and tree matched what I was feeling.

I’ve been struggling with something that happened recently. I’d felt the brunt of it. I got too close to someone’s emotional vortex and got pulled in.  It was stronger than me. I’ve experienced this before and the hurt lingers still. It’s something that comes suddenly, wreaks havoc on me, and then slowly dissipates. After it leaves, I feel gnarled, fuzzy, and heavy. I had gotten used to it before. I don’t think it’s OK, not anymore.

Now, I look at the handmade chain I created out of the tiny beads and ever-so-careful wire wraps. I also see that twisted, dead tree against the backdrop of the mountain. I realize that I can straighten this out for myself. I can gain perspective on it. And allow it to flow through me. It’s not me, not mine. It’s different, now.

My work is to live in the moment, be present, and take care with the materials, tools, and myself. That’s what I do.

wire wraps

Frozen Cage to Triflesphere

Looking out from my first dorm room in Anchorage, AK

Looking out from my first dorm room in Anchorage, AK

Anchorage in the winter is cold, a cold that makes me come undone.  That frozenness and the extended Alaskan darkness, intensified my isolation. It removed me from myself and the rest of the world.

Enduring the Alaskan winter, I felt immediate empathy for Minnie, the main character in Trifles. This early feminist, one act play by Susan Glaspell was assigned reading in my Women Dramatists class. In Minnie’s world, it’s below zero, winter, late 19th century. The play opens in her oppressively cold farmhouse kitchen. Her physical environment wasn’t the only cause of cold isolation. Minnie also had an abusive husband, a man who did not know warmth and was not sensitive to his wife or her joy.

Like Minnie, I had been in a relationship where my joy was subjugated. I was trying to take care of his needs instead of my own. I would get up in the middle of the night to give him a ride, buy him things that I couldn’t afford, spend time with him while neglecting relationships with true friends. I was drawn to him for many reasons, some known and some forgotten. My relationship insulated against any warmth that I could have experienced from a true relationship with myself or the few real friends I had. The pressure exerted by that coldness left me shattered like Minnie and her jars of preserves. I was a splintered mess. From the outside in and the inside out, I didn’t know what I was about, and I didn’t feel that I was worthy of anything more. It was painful knowing that, in a matter of months, I was going to be graduating from college and moving into the harshness of the real word. It’s just that my world up to that point had been harder than anything I could have imagined. In that last year alone, I was working a few part time jobs, getting good grades while carrying a full load in school, doing volunteer work, participating in a student organization, suffering from depression, facing another dark, cold winter, while being in a relationship that was supremely unhealthy for me. I didn’t feel a true part of any of it. I didn’t know what it meant to love myself. I felt perpetually wounded. It was like walking barefoot on shards of broken glass each day. I understood the pain of cutting, if not the reality of being a cutter.

It wasn’t just the piercing coldness of Minnie’s world that I related to, I identified with her caged bird. That gentle spirit, Minnie’s little canary, was broken without regard for the joy it gave. To Minnie’s husband, Mr. Wright, it was a nuisance, that bird. Something he would endure no longer; he just couldn’t be bothered. It was his house, his domain, and his will was law. The bird was property, just like Minnie was to him. He had no care for who Minnie was or what she may have wanted for herself.  What did Minnie want for herself when she had been a young girl, singing in the choir? Did she dream? Was she told what she would be? What had she wanted?

It spoke to me. What had I wanted for myself? I was about to graduate from college and I had nothing that I felt was mine. Yes, I was going to get my B.A., but not in a subject I chose, not really. My major was a forced backup, not anything artistic or creative that I wanted. I had worked really hard in school for something that wasn’t me.

In my last semester of college, before and after my Women Dramatists class, I would walk past the art rooms. Glancing in, I would see the students painting, sketching, and sculpting. It was as if I was back in the halls of my high school. Miles away, enough years later, I was again looking in to see what my world could have been. I knew what making art was to me. It was joy. I knew, deep inside of me, that small bit of joy was really my whole world — it was my triflesphere. I just had not yet learned how to be with that warmth and let myself fly. It was still winter and I hadn’t yet left my own cage.