Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Time for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving this year was really a blessing in disguise. Our initial plan was a beautiful trip to Aruba and a chance to spend time with my niece and nephew. Alex turned 16 the day before the big holiday. We had planned the trip for 3 months. Rick's father, whom we have been taking care of for the past two and a half years took an unexpected turn for the worst and was hospitalized. I had to decide to stay or go on the trip. At first, I grudgingly found myself wondering what was the right thing to do. It took only a few memories of how supportive Rick was when my dad fell ill to make the choice to cancel the trip and to stay.

Less than 12 hours after that decision, I was called to substitute teach for an art teacher who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, my mom had no one to spend Thanksgiving with, I was scheduled for a biopsy and on top of that was Jim's failing health. It felt like my world was a place about to explode in the chaos and turmoil. As many know, my brother and sister in law were also a negative factor in this equation. I found myself unable to eat or sleep, only allowing myself coffee and working at school in the hopes I could keep my head on straight.

One night, after lying in bed for hours, awake and unhappy, I heard my dad in my head. He told me to do the best I could and to keep the faith. For the first time in many nights, I rested for two hours and went to school again. Also for the first time, my father in law told me that he loved me and that felt really good. It is never too late to share that sentiment with anyone. Through persistance, we were finally able to move him to hospice the day before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving day started out with a beautiful ride on horseback for Rick and myself, the first reprieve and quiet time in almost two weeks. Then winter blew in with a vengeance later in the afternoon with gusts of winds carrying the sting of wet snow. It was just a hint of the winter weather yet to come.

Thanksgiving dinner with my mom was an interesting event with a little traditional turkey and the less traditional course of Caribou...hmmmm....not a hit, but a nice dinner with my mom who is a wonderful person to spend time with at any time. On our way home, we visited with Jim and even took Eeyore and Foxxy in for a brief visit. He woke up for the first time in 12 hours, petted the dogs and fell back to sleep. He was not conscious the next day and passed away in his sleep early this Saturday morning.

I feel relief for him. No more struggling for breath, no more pain and no more depression. We forget that a simple life, full of love is what we should all strive for at any given time. It is not money, or material things that will make us happy or satisy us. I am happy that Jim does not have to struggle or see the stupid turmoil that his family will go through after he is gone. I am glad to have spent the time with him and wish him all the blessings and peace that he well deserves.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Does a Residency Ever End?

The responsibility of an artist in residence is to help guide and sometimes transform students. Sometimes this is accomplished through skillful teaching while other times, the entire class is involved in the evolving process of each other. In this class, one of the key components has been laughter and good humor. We are proud of ourselves and proud of our classmates accomplishments. Tune in next week as we rough draft our book and enjoy a bountiful sit down meal prepared by all of us!

One student e mailed me some responses, so I wanted to be sure to show them below what I have just written.

Hi Martha,Well, I think I am the most incompetent computer user ever. I wasn't able to find a connection on the blog, so am sending everything in an email. If my daughter were home, she'd probably get right in.

Here is the small article I saw in Woman's WorldPaint away your pain! Here's a creative way to ease pain from an illness. Paint, draw, or sculpt. Researchers say cancer patients reported up to 45% reduction in pain after an hour-long session with an art therapist. Use the American Art Therapy Association's online locator service at to find an art therapist near you.

My Cinquain Poem

fluffy, white
sleeping, cuddling, barking
my little fur baby

sleeps, wet
smiling, crying, cooing
my beautiful new grandson

Becky's poem

orange, white
biting, fighting, clawing
my friend for life

Thanks for all you do for us. I have so enjoyed this session of Arts for Healing and hope you are able to come back for the next session we have. I know there is much for us to learn about painting with water colors.


Monday, November 2, 2009

First Monday in November

In our Arts for Healing program, it is always a joy for me to see and hear the response of the participants. For me, a job well done is not only personal satisfaction but also the resounding positive response from the group. There is no telling when there might be an interaction in the group that changes the perspective or attitude of someone in the group. Today my goal was to ask the simple question:

“Why do you come here and keep returning?” For many of these participants, this is not their first Arts for Healing program nor would I expect it would be their last. I conducted informal one on one interviews with each person who attended today’s class. Here are some of those responses:

Rita- “this is giving me the opportunity to tap into the artistic side of the brain….it puts you into another world and allows for time to relax and interact with others.”

Nancy- “The time goes so fast and it is quality time I give to myself! You have to nurture yourself first.”

Janet- “Before I got married and sick, I did a lot of art…..when I am doing artwork I am actually feeding myself, something I neglected to do after I got sick. Being a mom, I did not want anyone to suffer when I was not feeling well. It’s nice to use energy for myself in this class. I start to feel like I did before I got sick.”

Becky- “I love coming on Mondays just to get out of the house, away from the kids and my husband. It helps to take your mind off your illness…..this is a place to socialize and meet new friends. I enjoy making artwork and it has helped me to discover that I am an artist.”

Ron- “I enjoy people. People are my life. Most of all, I like kids the best. This class takes away the loneliness in my life. After losing my wife, it was even more important for me to be around people. I improve my own life by being here.”

Vicki: “I come to enjoy and learn. How am I going to experience things if I don’t take classes? My husband wants me to take this class because he knows I need this. I enjoy a challenge.”

Jody- “I enjoy the class. There are certain things I would like to do. Some of the things look easy for people and for me they can be difficult. I am left handed and I find that challenging in a world made mostly for right handed people. I don’t give up trying.”

David- “Previous classes provide a bond, it is like a family here. We laugh and cry together. It is a place to catch up with each other. In each class there is time to form a bond. We judge ourselves but other people don’t judge us here.”

Rose Marie- “God’s creation
Beautiful sunflower
Gorgeous butterfly
Look all around you
What has been made
He alone created all”

Cindy- “I keep coming here. The pain has not gone away. When I am here, I don’t feel the pain as much. I can take this home with me. Sometimes rather than taking another pain pill, I can pick up my brush and do some artwork. We are a family. Going to my support group is good, but this is better. Because here…I am Cindy. In my support group I am Cindy with MS. I’d rather be just Cindy.”

Loretta- “It makes me realize that there is more in my life than just pain.”