It’s Been a Long Time Coming Home

Koi Necklace, by Gail

Koi Necklace, by Gail

Dear Friends,

This has been a long year, and I have missed writing. Some of you may forget that you subscribed to my blog at all. I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve been on a journey. Most of it has to do with physical health, but I’ve had spiritual growth, too. All in all, I’m in a better place than I was the last time I posted.

December arrived with a diagnosis of breast cancer, again. I had a mastectomy in February and am gladly on the other side of the surgery and cancer-free once again. The general malaise I had can be chocked up to my body fighting the invader. For those of you who have had cancer, you understand the assault on security it causes and the face of your own mortality.

This Summer I was battling another of my physical conditions, post-polio syndrome. I haven’t written about my disability because who wants to read about a disability? I like to write about the love and beauty in the world. Anyway, I had an overall general decline in my abilities and it prevented me from writing and doing the things I love: writing and making jewelry.

I sell my jewelry in a shop on Etsy, and I have met some other wonderful artists and jewelry makers. It has opened up new friendships and bonds that will last for years to come. There is a link to my shop on this blog, if you’re curious. I’m not trying to sell you anything, I just love to share my design and artwork.

The Summer passed with daily observations and joy in the hummingbirds at my feeder. I can’t even express my love for the beautiful creatures. I tended to them lovingly, making their nectar every week and replenishing it before it got stale. In turn, I was delighted with their antics and sheer beauty, the wonder of the small glimpse they gave to me of their lives.

I was gifted with three granddaughters at once, when my son Jesse and his wife Ines adopted sisters. They are three, four, and five, and gorgeous, adorable, precious little people. They have been through so much in their young lives, I am overwhelmed for them. I have not met them yet, as they live far away, but they’ll visit in the Spring when another son, Ethan, and his girlfriend Andrea have their baby boy. Eric is my third child, and is single at the moment.

This post is entirely unlike my other offerings. I usually rise above the everyday to meet you in the stratosphere of poetry or daily missives on the beauty and the love that surrounds me. Sometimes I write memoir and prose. But I wanted to catch you up on my life, and in a way, give you the reasons for my absence from my blog.

I need to connect on a deep level with you.

With that, I’ll say:

Love,

Gail

On Being an Artist

Being an artist came with the territory in my family. Just like a family business of repairing cars or installing carpet or any other well respected craft, becoming an artist had its ropes to jump and came with an immeasurable amount of self doubt.

My mother was the standard bearer with her painting, her handmade items, and her seemingly endless ability to manipulate material into beautiful creations. She designed and sewed her own clothes, and did so for her daughters as well. At Christmas time our home was filled with her handmade pinecone wreathes, balsam sprays, and most notably her agile figure moving from one project to another until weeks before Christmas the house itself was a work of art. She was beautiful in an exotic way, with long dark wavy hair falling below her shoulders over the red chiffon dress she had made for herself for an annual cocktail party.

My dad was an artist too, having done characatures of his teammates when he played on the high school football team. But shortly after they married he was called up to serve in the Korean war, and knowing now what I know about his missions and how the Marines formed his character, I understand why he no longer had the inclination to create cartoons.

All of my siblings have been, collected, or viewed the world through the prism of an artist. And all have them have had their measure of history of self doubt and nonconformity. I love them dearly.

I am the type of artist who uses words to paint my pictures, and have had two books published. The first was a memoir which took five years in the writing of it. The second is a lifetime collection of poetry. I have always considered myself a poet first, and author second. But I am forging ahead on a second memoir more personal than the first. I write memoir to move through experience in the aftermath and finally purge them from my conscious mind. I imagine it’s much like laying the final brushstroke to an oil painting. It’s finished, move on.

I also design and create handmade jewelry and the discovery for me was that it’s in the act of creating I get most of my satisfaction, whether I sell them or not is important, as is with my books, but not foremost.

I have found a fiancé who supports me in all of my artistic endeavors and understands the heart and mind of my creative soul. I am lucky in that. I am loved and cherished for all of my quirks and faults and self doubt.

However, lately a pall of failure has come over me as I am not succeeding with sharing my art with an audience, whether the memoir, the poetry, or the jewelry. Writers and artists work in isolation, but most want desperately to connect with others and share their creations. This is not the time for me. I go into the Christmas season missing red chiffon, balsam sprays, and a remarkable oil painting of the ocean done live on Star Island in New England.

The only remedy for my malaise is to keep writing and creating. I am stalled on both due to self doubt.

Prose – A Flawed Life

I have a strong affection for all things and people flawed.

This goes back to my artist mother’s sensibilities, who always declared to me “I don’t like symmetry.” Symmetry was a word I learned early from her, and out of that I constructed an image of flawed representation. I grew up with her representations of her art, and she often pointed out the flaws in her pieces to me. I quickly ignored her because I was enthralled by her beautiful paintings and decorations.

A little later, I would learn the value of seeing my own flaws in my work when I became a concert flautist and always strived for perfect rendition of a piece. Back then, at the age of fourteen, I had the courage to stand solo in a packed auditorium of 2500 to play my heart out to the audience in my own flawed yet perfectly moving pieces.

Soon after I stopped performing in concerts, I taught myself how to let go of the sheet music and play improvisational jazz on my flute, which freed me to be an artist. At least in my borrowed philosophy of symmetry, I no longer was bound to meter and notes on a printed piece of paper. I looped my compositions so that they could begin and end at any point I wished and repeat with changes to pitch, melody, and breath for as long as I wanted to play. I usually played for six hours a day to my own pleasure.

No longer a throng of applause and standing ovations, but a deeper sense of myself and my creation through being a musician.

I have let go of my flute to favor writing. One day I will pick it up again and start the long road back to the improvisation which so fulfilled me and moved me.

I have had a very flawed past with very flawed people in my life. Thank goodness I have them still.