Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Gratitude

I've had a really bad attitude this week. I'd blame it on the weather, but that actually has absolutely nothing to do with it. I guess eventually I'll need to work on my anger issues.

Until then, here's a list of things I'm grateful for in no particular order.

1. The window in my office. I love having some natural light in here and being able to watch the weather change.

2. The fact that Tater and I mostly function on the same schedule. He likes to sleep as much as I do.

3. Creative friends who I can check in with occasionally when I'm feeling uninspired or need an outside design opinion that I trust.

4. Creative blogs by artists I really love.

5. Blood oranges, because yum.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Circle Game

Click, click, click, click...

It seemed like every step I took in my chocolate brown heels echoed louder than the one that came before it off of those dull linoleum floors. One of my grandmothers was in the South wing of that nursing home with the people who needed occasional care. My stepfather's mother was in another wing, dying.

I wasn't even sure what I was doing there. Alzheimer's Disease set up camp in her brain shortly after my mom re-married, mining away diligently at her memories since.

Yet there I was, saying goodbye without actually saying it. I was saying goodbye because my stepsister couldn't make it into town in time to do it. I was saying goodbye, because I remembered her even if she couldn't remember me.

I'll be honest, though. I couldn't get out of that particular wing fast enough.

Click click click click click click...

I made my way through the sterile halls back to my grandmother's wing, where they were serving her lunch. She has good days where she talks and smiles and even laughs once or twice. And then she has bad ones, where she is confused and frustrated and agitated. This particular day was pretty bad, but it was still a breath of fresh air from where I just was. We didn't tell her what was happening in the other wing. I unwrapped her plastic utensils and sat with her while she ate a plate of food that was all the same color.

One grandmother was actively dying in one room, another grandmother simply surviving down the hall. My mother was busying herself with hanging up nightgowns and gathering laundry. I was six weeks pregnant and too scared to be hopeful. Four generations in one room.

The life-and-death irony was not lost on me.


I was visiting my grandmother the other day. A year had flown by since my step-grandmother died, but not much had changed for Granny. She was having a great day, smiling and laughing at my lame jokes. I am the only grandchild that visits her regularly these days. This is partially because she lives in my town, but mostly because the other grandchildren have children of their own and thus more pressing things to do it seems. I guess they make it into town as often as they can.

"Audrey! Let me tell you something real quick before I forget!" She was so excited to have news to share. "Pam just called, said there was another baby boy in the family!"

It was true. My phone was loaded with pictures of the newest addition to show her.

The time I've spent with Granny has made me feel closer to her, and to my entire family in general. In cultures around the world, it is an honor to be the daughter or granddaughter that takes care of the family's matriarch. I am grateful for my time with her, even though she's a pain to deal with sometimes (aren't we all?) She won't be around forever, and I am honored.

I want to memorize her-- all of her, even on the bad days-- because I want to tell my children about her one day. I want to tell them about her wrinkled hands and the delicious meals she used to cook. I want to sing the songs she sang to me when I was young.

If I ever have children that live long enough to be sung to.
I wonder if I'll ever be lucky enough to have grandchildren one day to take care of me.

Right now, though, I constantly find myself fighting through this underlying resentment toward my cousins who have babies over and over and over like it's the easiest thing in the world. I'm bitter toward my mother's sisters who get to become grandparents over and over and over while my mother doesn't. I have a drink or two before family baby showers as not to feel the worst of all of the emotions-- left out. I wonder if mama feels the same way sometimes, too, but I'm too scared to ask.

Being able to talk about my most recent visit with Granny is the only way I relate to my cousins these days. They thank me for going to see her in their absence. I tell them about her nurses, the awful meal I fed her because her hands were too shaky, the verses I read to her after I tucked her into bed. It's the only way I know how to relate to them anymore.

"Our lives aren't so different," I'll say. "The baby I'm taking care of these days just happens to be 85."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Essentials

I've been working hard on eliminating crap from my lives. Physical clutter, digital noise (social media, junk emails, etc.) and real life people have been removed from my life. I was looking at my messy room life one day and was like... yeah, I can do better. I'm tired of wasting my time and energy on things and people that don't in some way encourage me to be a better version of myself. And really, who needs that many t-shirts? Really?

In the process of eliminating crap, it's easier to recognize what's important and useful and beautiful in your life, too. It's a noble thing to do occasionally.

So for this week's prompt, Miranti asked about our everyday essentials. Peppermint and Lavender are obviously essential oils (in my opinion, the most useful and practical oils of all time.) Mascara makes me look more awake, even if I don't feel more awake.

And coffee. I mean. Anyone who has ever met me or even scrolled through my Instragram feed knows that I'm addicted.


This is part of Pen + Peplum's 52 Hand-Lettered Project.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Noteworthy Reads

This article about Twitter and public shaming is the best article I've read in a long time.

I enjoyed this post, written from the perspective of an aspiring writer as she confronts the biggest question artists have to answer. Parents, significant others, bosses... what about the next five years? As an artist with a pretty traditional 8-to-5 in marketing, I don't have to answer that question very often. Five years from now I will probably be sitting behind a desk... still. But I wonder, were I to pull the trigger and go full-time artist, how would I measure that? By the world's standards, it's a question worth asking.

I really want to find a few old folding chairs to try this DIY project.

And in case you haven't gotten your art fix lately, here's a post by Alisa Burke about the magic of watercolor pencils.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A quote about love


This is all I will say about Valentine's Day. It's overrated, but I find that most single people say that so maybe that's actually a defense mechanism. So this year, I'll focus on showing love-- all kinds of love-- to all the people in my life that matter.

This is part of Pen + Peplum's 52 Hand-Lettered Project.